“It’s life, Jim,” he would tell Captain Kirk. “But not as we know it.”
That’s sort of how I felt this week, as we watched the twin dramas of the state budget crisis and the sudden United Auto Workers strike.
The budget crisis has been building for years. It was clear on Memorial Day that the train wreck we are in now was coming, even though your lawmakers have had months to head off disaster.
But even though I anticipated this, part of me still can’t really believe it is happening. If you need any further proof of how crazy this all is, you have only to look at Detroit’s newspapers.
Both of them have screamed at both parties in front-page editorials, telling the governor and the legislature to do their jobs and balance the budget. Today’s headline in the Detroit News says simply “Just Get It Done.” The Detroit Free Press has two editorials dripping with contempt for our elected non-leaders.
The main one begins “Welcome to the Banana Republic of Michigan.” I have never seen our mainstream print media talk to politicians like that before. And yet, it doesn’t seem to be doing much good. They don’t seem to be listening.
Last night the governor and her nemesis, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, took turns addressing us on television. What I saw is what I am sure most people saw. Two politicians being politicians.
“Like you I have been angered by these months of inaction. But tonight I am hopeful,” the governor said.
That’s nice, but she’s been hopeful for five years now. Where’s the beef?
Mike Bishop said “Michigan’s problems are not partisan.” Then he spent the rest of his five minutes haranguing the governor to sign his partisan political emergency budget. Except that he did tell us, as Richard Nixon did in his Checkers speech, that “my wife and I are a lot like you. We have kids. We balance our family budget.”
There was nothing about the huge financial problems our state government faces beyond the immediate budget crisis.
I haven’t a clue how all this will end, but I do want to tell you about something encouraging that happened this week. I winced when I heard that the UAW was staging a nationwide strike against General Motors.
I thought this was a case of history repeating itself as farce. I feared the battered union might take itself and the weakened automaker over a cliff. But two days later there was a sweeping, forward-looking settlement.
The experts say it may set a new precedent that may finally give our signature industry a real chance to compete.
Isn’t it too bad we can’t send Ron Gettelfinger to the state legislature for the weekend?