My Father-In-Law Says We Should Not Bail Out Detroit. I Think I'll Send Him This.

We all need to really be paying attention to what's happening in Detroit, because if they can pull this kind of thing there, every city in the nation is in jeopardy.

True
Workonomics

The Story Of Detroit's Bankruptcy And Why It Matters

So it all began in July when Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and his politically appointed emergency financial manager decided to push the City of Detroit into municipal bankruptcy.

It's the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in the history of the United States, which makes this a BFD.


But let's rewind.

Between 2011-2012, Snyder took away about $66 million that Detroit should have received as its share of state revenues. And over the past decade, the state has taken away $700 million in funding from Detroit.

Then Gov. Snyder signed a local dictator law that allows for "emergency financial managers." They can tear up cities' contracts with workers and sell off city assets. Citizens have no say in this.

Let’s keep in mind that these public employees have already worked in good faith and agreed to make huge sacrifices to keep Detroit running. This includes $160 million in annual savings from a 10-percent pay cut, health benefit reductions and a 40-percent cut in future pension benefits. The sacrifices were all one-sided.

Now, Michiganders didn't like the local dictator law that Snyder and his cronies passed. So they repealed it in a statewide referendum.

But then Snyder and his cronies pushed the local dictator law through a lame-duck session. And they used a loophole that prevents citizens from repealing the legislation for a second time.

This whole situation is kind of déjà vu. Like that time Snyder campaigned for governor assuring voters that “right-to-work” was too divisive for Michigan. But then he rammed it through during a lame-duck legislative session.

The decline of Detroit industry during the past 40 years was not the fault of modestly paid public-service workers. When Wall St. bankers and corporations helped saddle Detroit with crippling debt, public workers stayed and kept the city running.

But instead of addressing the actual causes of the city’s financial problems Snyder made it harder for the city to pay its bills. Then he declared that Detroit was in a state of financial emergency and appointed a “emergency financial manager” for the city.

Metaphorically, it looked something like this.

He claims that he didn't want to push the city into bankruptcy. But oddly enough his appointed emergency financial manager is a bankruptcy lawyer.

Fast forward a little bit and, SURPRISE, the financial manager/bankruptcy lawyer declares bankruptcy.

Now this means retired public service workers' retirement funds could get wiped out. They could get paid cents on the dollar, forcing them to choose between paying for their electricity, their house, food, or medicine.

It also means that taxpayers now have to pay about $1.4 million a month to lawyers and consultants in order to go through the bankruptcy. That is money which could be used to fund starved city services such as public safety, transportation, or firefighters.

Even the Republican attorney general says this is unconstitutional. The state constitution says clearly that cutting pension payments is illegal. Gov. Synder should be beating up on Wall Street instead of retirees and workers.

But instead of defending his actions, Snyder tried to get the bankruptcy judge to prevent him from being deposed in bankruptcy court about HIS decision to push Detroit into bankruptcy.

To put all this into perspective, these retirees don't have bling pensions. The average is only $19,000 a year. These pensions account for only 4 percent of Detroit’s budget expenditures.

I know, right?

And many of them don't receive Social Security. These public service employees worked their entire lives and made sacrifices. The pension is all they have. That means there isn’t a safety net if it gets wiped out.

Gov. Snyder, meanwhile, doled out more than a billion dollars in tax cuts to multinational corporations, many of which shipped American jobs overseas. Snyder found the money for these sweetheart deals by reducing aid to school districts, towns and cities across the state.

(Except it ain't his money)

He also announced, just days after authorizing Detroit’s bankruptcy, that some $250 million in taxpayer money would be spent to help a billionaire build a new for-profit hockey arena in the city.

Eminem couldn't believe it either.

So maybe this is a crazy thought: shouldn't we be securing retirees' pensions before paying off Wall Street banks? You know, the people who served their city for decades, took pay cuts, and have no other source of retirement income?

That $#!+ cray.

Because at the end of the day Wall St. investors and their bond insurers are going to come out of this okay. It’s workers and retirees who will suffer the most.

If you agree that retirees and working people should come before Wall St. profits then join us and show that you

Stand With Detroit.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less
Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

Keep Reading Show less

"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

Keep Reading Show less