Driving through the backroads of Michigan this summer, I’ve seen “For Sale” signs everywhere. Not just on houses and property, but also on cars, trailers, lawn mowers, snow blowers, fishing boats and pontoons. It’s very sad. It’s gotten to the point where I expect everything sitting in someone’s front yard MUST be out there to be sold. I had to apologize repeatedly to that old woman sitting in the Amiga in Fruitport, and she STILL gave me the finger when I drove off.
Just kidding. I was never in Fruitport. And I have no use for an Amiga.
Such a fire sale can be hard on the nerves of the casually interested. If I had a few million sitting in the bank ready for action, I’d probably start succumbing to temptation and assemble a flotilla of pontoon boats, bass boats and jet skis. What I’d do with a flotilla, I don’t know. Float it as best I could, probably. The temptation is also there to scoop up some of the homes and property that are sitting on lake front property, but they cost considerably more than a 20-year-old pontoon. And I have no interest in becoming a real estate baron. Plaid pants make me look fat.
These are tough times for my favorite state. It always seems to be tough times here. I moved to Chicago in 1982 because of tough times, and every time I come back, it’s déjà vu all over again. Now the workers who are losing their jobs or feeling the pinch of the general downturn are trying to sell their fishing boats, which are basically standard equipment here. The “Cash for Clunkers” program might help the factories get rolling again, but the GM bailout will be forcing wages down. So even those folks who still have jobs might not be able to afford a house and a boat.
Oh boo hoo, you might be thinking. I don’t have a boat, or a trailer or even the time to use one if I did.
But it was part of the social contract here in Michigan for generations. You put your time in at the factory, and you’d be able to send your kids to school, have some health coverage, and be able to relax a little on the water on the weekends. Now that’s falling apart quickly. The state is out of money, the city of Detroit is bound to collapse soon, the small factories that fed Detroit are cutting back and/or shutting up shop, and the people who are just trying to wait for the rebound to start are going to food banks and selling the fishing boat. Maybe when things turn around, they’ll be able to buy a new one, maybe not. Sad to watch. Feels like the whole state is hunkered down, waiting to get punched one more time.