THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
MARCH 18, 2017
*The Cadillac News did not publish this column in print or online. It is only available on this website
There is such tornadic activity in the news cycle these days it's enough to make the propeller on your beanie break loose and launch into outer space. To be sure, the main stories capture the headlines. However, there are aspects to these that you might be interested to know.
The hottest topic this week is (without a doubt) health care. I leave it to you to evaluate the merits of each plan. However, in a somewhat odd circumstance, you might be interested to know that the counties in Michigan with the largest per capita usage of ACA/Obamacare and Medicaid expansion are those counties which voted most heavily for Trump. The majority of those counties are in Northern Michigan.
“In Oscoda County more than a quarter of residents get Medicaid – traditional or through the expansion – or bought a policy through the ACA. It’s one of the highest rates in the state. So too is the support it gave Trump, who received 70 percent of the county vote; Trump performed better in only two other Michigan counties.”
A Bridge Magazine analysis puts Oscoda county at an 11.7 percent participation rate. Locally, Wexford is at 11.8 percent, Missaukee is at 11.9 percent, Lake is at 12.6 percent, and Osceola is at 10.9 percent. That's pretty much the same as the downstate counties of Genesee (Flint) at 11.2 percent and Wayne (Detroit) at 12.7 percent. You can see all the percentages for in a nifty interactive graphic at:
A population caught in the crosshairs of the health care debate are the people in the lower to middle income bracket. You might be interested to know where Michigan's poorest neighborhoods are located. MLive has a list of the state's 48 poorest zip codes. Many of these are in big cities, but a surprising number are “up north.” Wolverine (49799) in Cheboygan county is 47, Dodgeville (49921) in Houghton (U.P) is 44, and Idlewild (49642) in Lake is 13. It will not surprise you that Flint has the poorest neighborhoods, with the 48505 zip code registering number one. That's surrounded by 48504 (19), 48506 (36), and 48503 (43). I grew up in 48504. The full list is at: http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/02/michigans_48_poorest_zip_codes.html.
One group that never has to worry about where their next meal is coming from are some members of the Michigan legislature. You might be interested to know: “Lobbyists reported spending $39.99 million in Michigan in 2016. The previous high came the year before in 2015 when lobbyists reported spending $38.66 million. The highest ranking member of the Senate, the chair of the House Health Policy Committee and a representative who helped lead the overhaul of state energy laws were among the top recipients of lobbyist-purchased meals last year.”
According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network: “Lobbyists reported spending $690,681 on food and drink purchases in 2016 with 25 different state legislators identified as recipients of more than $1,000 in free meals each.” While you much on your bologna sandwich, you can peruse the tasty details at: http://mcfn.org/node/6281/2016-the-year-of-the-lobbyist-in-michigan.
Speaking of spending money, another news topic is President Trump's proposal to spend an additional $54 billion on defense. You might like to know that: “Military spending by the United States already totaled as much as the next seven nearest countries' military spending combined in 2014.” For every dollar China spends on its military, the U.S. spends $2.77. (http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/28/world/us-military-spending-comparison/)
The U.S. defense expenditure is around $596 billion. China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France and Japan (the next seven) spend a combined $567 billion. (http://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison)
On this subject, you might be interested in the words of one of this country's most renowned generals who was also a former president. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” –
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of US 1953-1961. (http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/9556.html)
Included in this column are several Internet addresses. You might be interested to know that we are celebrating just the 28th anniversary of the Internet. It is so pervasive in our lives now, it is difficult to remember life without it. “When Tim Berners-Lee submitted his proposal for a 'World Wide Web' to help the European Organization for Nuclear Research manage its data, he didn't realize he was creating a future...tool which serves all of humanity."
While we geezers might harken back to pre-Net times, to whippersnappers younger than 28 there has never been a time without the Internet. Remember, technology is only technology if it was invented after you were born. Otherwise, it's the way things have always been.
Finally, you might be interested in trying to answer a question. Consider this. “With a firm grip on the presidency, Congress, and soon the Supreme Court, Republicans have won more political power in 2016 than in any election since at least 1928, when Herbert Hoover was elected to the White House. Republicans control 33 states governorships. Republicans control both chambers in 32 states, including 17 with veto-proof majorities.” (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/14/1598918/-Republicans-now-dominate-state-government-with-32-legislatures-and-33-governors)
Still, Republicans claim the Democrats are operating a secret deep state with a shadow government, sabotaging the administration with media leaks, wiretapping, using multiple spy tools including even microwave ovens, and implementing scores of other evil genius machinations. This requires a magnitude of monumental brainpower never before seen in the human experience.
So answer me this. If the Democrats are so stratospherically brilliant that they can orchestrate all this, why can't they figure out how to win any elections?
Jim Neff is a local columnist.