We Need Michigan’s Film Initiative Subsidy

It all started as a Tweet from actress Melissa Gilbert and an article in a local newspaper. The Tweet from Ms. Gilbert was an answer to one I had, about the Movie Credit Subsidies given to movie studios in Michigan being the best thing that has happened in Michigan in a long time and her Tweet that now they are going to disappear.

I then came upon this article in the Port Huron Times Herald. http://www.thetimesherald.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/03/11/film-incentives-make-michigan-movie-star/70171886/. Melissa read it, sent out a new Tweet with the Times Herald link and said who votes these idiots into office.

Eastern Michigan Grain Company, Emmett, Michigan

Eastern Michigan Grain Company, Emmett, Michigan

I certainly didn’t have an answer, but I looked. I found the Legislator that sponsored the bill, Dan Lauwers Republican. I didn’t know the district Mr. Lauwers was in, so decided to find out. To my astonishment he was from Yale, Michigan close to me. Even more close, was he was owner of the Eastern Michigan Granary. Wow, that is close, three miles from me.

tractor_equipment

John Deere tractor. These tractors are expensive, and this one has a GPS controlled trajectory system that can be programmed to plant the straightest and most efficient corn acreage on God’s greenest acres.

What Representative Lauwers also has is a very lucrative business. Every day during harvest time, farmers come in with their corn crop and other grains and unload there precious livelihood into large piles, piles of corn probably 2 or 3 hundred feet high. With the use of corn alcohol as a fuel as well as a grain for cattle, this has been lucrative to the farmers and to Eastern Michigan Grain Company.

separator_christmas2008

Grandpa & Grandma’s last cream separator sits proudly in our foyer.

Now my grandparents were farmers, my Grandfather Krumm and Grandmother Krumm raised my mom in Tawas City and would farm 120 acres of land and another 40 acres of land to raise many crops, sell their milk to a company that came twice a week to pick up the cream that they separated. (My wife proudly displays the last separator my grandparents had in our foyer.

grandpa_krumm_pump_dog

Grandpa Krumm, house pump & Grandpa’s collie

But my grandparents were not wealthy farmers, and they would

Mom & nephhew Nick on Grandpa's tractor

Mom & nephew Nick on Grandpa’s tractor

have good years and bad years. During the bad years they might get a government subsidy to help them. It wouldn’t be much. My grandparents were poor farmers, but they got by, using at outhouse and two outdoor hand pumps.

Now come the 21st Century and the modern Internet connected farmer, well I don’t know if they are farmers but rather Ranchers, as they are invested in expensive equipment, tractors with GPS controlled navigation through corn fields that allow them to sit in air-conditioned comfort listening to their favorite music while the overhead satellites go to work to keep their route precise to the inch.

These mega-farmers or Ranchers as I call it, do this with the help of something called,

This is one of the highest paid areas in the state!

This is one of the highest paid areas in the state!

(yes, you guessed it) a subsidy. In Dan Lauwers District some of the highest paid subsidies exist. In fact (Click here to see the top paid recipients) in the Wales, Michigan area alone, over seven million dollars in moneys have been paid since 2005. The highest paid in the county, perhaps the whole state has received over four million dollars since 2005. That is some 400,000 dollars a year.

Now I don’t know all the details and usage of the money. A farmer or rancher in my opinion is doing a very honorable job and since they are at the mercy of the elements and can have a devastating year that could through their whole operation into bankruptcy in short order. You see we need a healthy and vibrant farming community in our country, and Michigan is no exception as it is one of the viable industries this state has continued to have as the recessions of the 1980s and 2000s have given us, so harshly.

But this leads me to wonder if Representative Dan Lauwers has created some ‘conflict of interest’ when he is opposing the subsidies of an industry, (Movies) that came into Michigan with the likes of ‘Make My Day’ eminence Clint Eastwood. He came and made the move Gran Torino, filmed on location in Detroit. Many people were employed and people became excited.

A man, Jimmy Lifton wanted to build a studio that would be a permanent fixture, Michigan’s first movie studio, Unity Studios. That would have created new jobs, permanent jobs. He ended up in a dispute with the city and then left town, abandoning the movie lot.

Understandable, Michigan has been in a mess. It needs money to fix its roads. That seems to be a problem in Michigan, that other states have seemed to find a solution. They spend money, fix the roads and then they have nice roads. In Michigan we spend money, but then we still have lousy (people joke about Michigan’s bad roads) roads. What gives?

I do think that a couple people gave good reasons a few years back. Mitch Albom and Jeff Daniels spoke back in 2011. Jeff Daniels said, “Why aren’t these jobs here” and it’s about “Keeping young people in the State.” Mitch Albom said, “This is not about saving Hollywood, it’s about saving Michigan.”

I don’t know the answers, but what we shouldn’t be doing is allowing a young representative who has a business that clearly benefits from government subsidies telling the Michigan people we can’t afford these Hollywood types here, because the state just can’t balance its books.

Lets find a solution to this dilemma, because as I Tweeted to Melissa Gilbert and she agreed by Re-Tweeting, the Michigan Film Initiative has surely been the best thing that has happened to this State in more years than I care to remember!

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Why Not Google?

I have been following a discussion of what to do with the vacant land in Port Huron, bluewaterbridgefreighter740by555_23jan2011.jpgthat used to be the YMCA. It was torn down, to be the possible location of a new sea aquarium. This aquarium never materialized, cost the city thousands of dollars, and still the city remained poor.

I had at one time proposed that why not invite Google to come to Port Huron. I was even given a couple of names of people that, if this could happen, would be the ones to send to Mountain View, California.

I was also told to contact, then county administrator, Shaun Groden. I did, as I had one time before. The first time I contacted Shaun, he answered my email that very day. He was optimistic and very thoughtful about Port Huron’s problems and it’s surrounding suburbs. He had ideas, said to keep the faith and that things, were happening and for the good of the county.

Well this time I emailed shaun_grodenMr. Groden, and he never answered my letter. In fact I would write him again and then another time. The rest of my emails would go unanswered. I began to think, that perhaps Mr. Groden had grown weary of the continual fighting going on in the politics of the city and the county.

Much was accomplished during Shaun Groden’s tenure, a new axle plant was built in Marysville, Keihin built a state-of-the-art facility in Capac, Michigan and of course he put the new county administration building and new jail back on as good a fiscal path as any good CPA accountant could do. He did his job.

I miss him, though my contact with him was only by email. But I still hold to my dream of a high-technology company, like Google (and why not Google) coming to Port Huron.

google_buildingPeople say Port Huron has nothing to offer. I beg to differ. Now, whether we have the talent to make something work, as a teacher in Port Huron, from 1983 to 1998, & 2002-2010 I know we have the talent!

Port Huron also is the most southerly city on the beautiful and large Lake Huron, with an entrance to Canada which boasts the highest truck traffic in North America as well as being one of two railroad crossings, the busiest in North America.

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Let’s Help S & R Animal Rescue

One of the things I like to do is work with images, old & new, especially old Kodak negatives and prints. I am very low budget, though I take donations at my Letters From a Soldier site.

In the spirit of Christmas I am putting up a YouTube video I made a couple months ago. S & R Animals is moving to a new location. As many have known that the last two years they had been in the old Chicory building, world headquarters for the storage and distribution center of the chicory plant. Chicory was used by many people, including my grandmother to add to coffee beans that were ground. It helped keep the supply of this product which most of us use in one way or another. Andit was needed by the troops as well as in short supply during World War II.

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My Blog is Running Again

There’s a lot to be said for a blog. I think a website for a business is essential. If you offer services, a small static site will suffice, though you can have it as big as you want.

Sperrys Could Make a Great Google Outpost - Port Huron, Michigan

Wouldn’t this look good in Port Huron, Michigan

If you offer merchandise or manufacturing, you may want a more dynamic look or a store. That will require a staff to do the work for you. Should you outsource this to save money?

Answer: I will answer this for a small business in a small town, like Port Huron, Michigan. Absolutely not. We once had a County Administrator from New York. He came in with a burst of wind. He discovered problems with his accounting background. He found much money misuse. He was modest and said anyone could have done what he did. But the county commissioners, none of the members did!

He tried to do good and he was fought and criticized to the hilt. I emailed him one day about five years ago and that same day he emailed me back, thanking me for my concerns and offered that things were happening. This was around 2009.

Maybe I set the curse, by saying, I wouldn’t blame you if you left, and went back to beautiful New York State with it’s Finger Lakes, Adirondack Mountains & the Catskill Mountains.

St. Clair River with Canada across the water

St. Clair River with Canada across the water

Mr. Groden said in his email to me, ‘to keep the faith’. I did. But things seemed to stay

the same. As one county member would say, right here in ‘River City’ (a much used too often phrase) things don’t seem to change in Port Huron.

Well he must have gotten that right, because three years ago Shaun Groden announced he was going back to New York for his wife, so she could be closer to  New York City.

But I read between the lines, and it was a narrow width set of them. He saw what he calls today in New York State a need to be in a ‘Quality of Place’. And I believe he did not feel that Port Huron had that quality.

You know when he came here, he was excited, he bought a home in Fort Gratiot, was able to explore the lakes and rivers that we have an abundance of and I believe he thought we were making progress.

But he was an outsider to many in the area and I think he felt that he would be better off moving back to where he was from where perhaps he could make a difference.

huron_ship_jun2011

Huron Lighthouse Boat – an asset to the city

Well this blog is up and running and I am wondering if I will get comments and whether they will work now that is up again.

As I started saying a business needs a website but second it needs an outlet and a blog is one part of it.

I will continue this next time until then I will see you on the Internet!

 

 

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Story of Mass Communications – Tapping a Key to Tapping a Mouse

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information EmpiresThe Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished reading this book and will give it five-stars. It is not only current and relevant to today’s world, it is also a fascinating history into the early history of communications in this country. (You might want to read the Victorian Internet before reading this book, though it isn’t necessary). Tim Wu’s thesis is that the natural course of things is for new innovative technologies to destroy the old technologies and not supplement them. An early example is the telegraph being absorbed by Bell Telephone Company or AT&T.

Radio came into the lives of those in the 1920s. It was an honorable way to get news and a wonderful hobby for busy men. It was then an open technology. When motion pictures began, a movement to centralize actors, directors, theaters into a more closed group started the movement to monopolize communications. FM radio and television joined the advances in the early 20th century.

Ted Turner became a pioneer in cable networking and of course created CNN after getting his fledgling UHF Atlanta television station national exposure. This was the start of what would be ‘mass media’. The 1930s to the 1990s became an age where a viewer in New York City would be connected with one in Anchorage, Alaska watching the same program, at nearly the same time.

The Internet today has removed us, somewhat from the homogenous programming that we have been used to with the major networks of the mid-20th Century.

Today we are at a crossroads with the issue of ‘net neutrality’ and whether we as a computer literate society will have the freedom to innovate and create with the Internet today or be leashed in by conglomerates such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other corporations in our vast social media mega-interconnected world.

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Jobs Jobs Jobs

 Sperrys Could Make a Great Google Outpost - Port Huron, Michigan

Wouldn't this look good in Port Huron, Michigan

I commented on a Google+ plus post, put on by Robert Scoble, about a post by Dan Gilmer.  Both are Geek blog writers, that I do follow on Google+ and Twitter. Now this post gets on the band wagon to donate to Somalia, which has been devastated. I made some comments that may have been contrived as callous. I did not say we shouldn’t donate, as I am all for helping. the people need water and food. I am not sure if the money being donated goes to who needs it, and I would donate only to the United Nations relief agencies.

I made the comment why can’t we as a nation (United States) help each other. If we had the enthusiasm the posters on Google+ have toward Somalia donate and HELP our own citizens, that would help a tremendous amount. Then I think we would see the media and the Government help. Rather today they want to bicker right up to the last minute to make things right. Well they got it wrong last week, they waited too long, and now we are on the steps to becoming a second class country.

What I propose is that local areas like St. Clair County, help St. Clair County. Michigan should help Michigan and the United States should help the United States. I also said that Greek citizens should help their fellow Greeks and Irishmen help their Irish people.

A novel idea, in “Charity Begins at Home” or as a onetime hopeful presidential candidate said in 1968, Robert Kennedy, we are spending money around the world, but what about our own people. We have people in Appalachia that are way below the poverty line, and even dieing early deaths.

So how do you feel about this? Do you think this would work. People solving our own problems? We have the tools now, Internet, smart phones, digital cameras, and other marvelous high technological equipment, not to mention our superior minds now, thanks to our inter-connectivity on the World Wide Web.

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June 2011

Summer is almost here and I have decided to reactivate my blog. Stay tuned. I will have more pictures and things to say.

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New Blog

I have decided to start a new blog rather than import the old blog. Perhaps I will keep my LakeHuron blog for posts of local interest and include in on the website. I haven’t decided on a theme yet, but I wanted to get this one up now. If you would like to check out my other blogs they are at blog.lettersfromasoldier.com and LakeHuron.blogspot.com.

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