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July 25, 2016

DPS: Plan First Then Get Money

We need to stop estimating how much money is needed to fix DPS based solely on industry averages and norms. Instead, the district's budget should be based on a district based plan and budget to get the job done. It is fine to have industry benchmarks to be able to make comparisons, but this in no way addresses what needs to get done in specific districts.

In Detroit's case we have state legislators representing districts across Michigan dictating what will be spent on education in Detroit. Those holding the purse strings and those in power in Lansing have no clue as to how to fix the problem.
 Instead, they are following the Governor's lead and focusing on cost alone and sidestepping a detailed plan of action to get the results desired.

A primary responsibility of government is to deliver needed services to its citizens in the most cost efficient manner possible. The first step in this process is agreeing on what services are needed. After identifying what is needed, a detailed plan or roadmap needs creating so everyone is assured that it is reasonable to expect that if the plan is implemented success will result. WHERE IS THIS PLAN?

Only after this plan is created can a legitimate, realistic budget be created. Instead, our state legislature, the local school board and the governor appointed Emergency Manager is addressing the problem backwards.

Term limits of our state legislature adds to the problem. It will take between ten and fifteen years for Detroit's schools to turn around. Our representatives in Lansing will be long gone before than. Many of them will be working for companies that were big campaign contributors while they were in office.

July 19, 2016

Trump Stinks! And So Do We!

I dislike Trump and he is an easy target to slam, but guess what. He is winning. Even with his obvious shortcomings. This says more about us, the voters, than Donald Trump. What has happened to us?

First, many of us are more prejudice and paranoid than we admit. It has to do with race and our position in this smaller world. We don't like to share. Over the last 50 years we have grown to understand as the white man starts out with a superior status in life and gradually and begrudgingly surrenders some of his power he begins to resent it.

The same is true with material status and wealth. After World War II we were the last industrialized country standing. Then we helped the rest of the world. It felt good. We were doing the right thing and it was working. Then recently we woke up and realized power is relative and in relative terms some of our world influence and power is slipping away. China has gotten stronger and challenging our influence. Europe has rebuilt and is the largest economic market in the world. We are losing control of the Middle East. Africa is still struggling, but going in the right direction.

Since power is relative, ours is slipping away. This is the expected result of choosing the right path after World War II. Just because it is the right path doesn't mean there will be days when we don't like it.

The same is true on a national level. Just because civil rights of all races is the right thing to pursue doesn’t mean there will not be times when us in the majority experience some remorse. The time is now. Let's hope we continue to have our christian values. 

June 20, 2016

Where is China Heading?

On Point Radio in March 2015 had a good discussion on China and its future. Guests included:

Damien Ma, fellow at the Paulson Institute. Contributor at the Atlantic. Author of "In Line Behind a Billion People.", David Lampton, professor and director of China studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Chairman of the Asia Foundation and Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Program and Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.

The panelist addressed the issue of whether China has peaked and whether it is the end game for the current Premier, Xi Jinping, and communism in one of largest countries in the world? The discussion is more than one year old but still relevant.

Many wealthy Chinese citizens are transferring assets overseas as Chairman Xi Jinping is redistributing wealth. There is concern that this could cause a regime change while Xi Jinping is very popular with the average Chinese citizen. With this being the case, some who monitor China would not be surprised if there was a coup quietly orchestrated by the elite without public knowledge until after the fact.

To add fuel to this speculation is China’s growth rate, which use to be in the double digits, has fallen to 7%. This is still high when compared to the rest of the world, but for China it is mediocre and perhaps indicates a smaller, more normal rate of growth in the future.

May 10, 2016

Picasso Saved Detroit Lost

Stephen Henderson, with the Detroit Free Press, and Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s Emergency Manager and now a Partner with the law firm Jones Day,, were guest on a segment of OnPoint Radio. Here is the podcast if you wish to listen. Both Henderson and Orr stated the city's bankruptcy was a success and Detroit is much better off as a result. I agree the bankruptcy was needed but the way in which it was implemented was not the best alternative and therefore its success is questionable. Success should be measured by more than how quick the municipality was removed from bankruptcy.

Henderson stated, " the bankruptcy saved us from a financial disaster and left more money for us to provide services". Henderson went on to say that “Orr knows how to maximize the potential for his clients”.

Kevyn Orr stated the purpose of bankruptcy was to “preserve value, stabilize the patient and rationalize the balance sheet.”

Both Henderson and Orr are correct that putting Detroit into bankruptcy was the right thing to do. However, the route that was chosen was not the best alternative to “preserve value and rationalize the balance sheet.” Needlessly giving away billions of dollars of assets owned by the city for pennies on the dollar is tantamount to saving the present by surrendering the future.