I was sitting on the front porch yesterday evening, watching our 3-year-old grandson, Leeson, digging in the dirt that constitutes our circular drive way. He had his back to me and happily played for over two hours. I think he was enjoying some alone time as his 4-year-old brother, Aubren, had gone to play golf with his dad. His younger brother no longer likes golf after falling off the golf cart (it was parked) and getting a couple stitches over his eye. And Grandpa hasn’t liked golf since making a fool of himself the last time he played! It was so bad, the city closed down the golf course soon afterwards, though this may have been a coincidence.
Back to the driveway. I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but when he finally came in to the house to eat his dinner (or, rather, not eat it) I walked over to where he was playing and looked at his handiwork.
What Leeson had done was dig his own little pothole.
Clearly influenced by driving on Michigan’s roads, where potholes are ubiquitous, this future citizen is growing up thinking this is the norm. I’m going to have to tell him, when he is old enough to understand, that once upon a time there were no potholes in Michigan. In fact, when Grandpa and Grandma left Ghana for the United States in 1990, they naively thought that potholes were a thing of the past!
We never expected that, 25 years later, Michigan would be worse than Ghana for potholes.
Presumably, the United States has the technology to fix the roads, so that can’t be the problem. A recent letter to our local newspaper was written by a man who had driven from Florida to Michigan, driving through a number of states, and remarked on how the roads deteriorated as soon as he crossed the state line from Ohio into Michigan. He rather unkindly wrote that he didn’t need a sign to tell him he had reached Michigan – the state of the roads was enough to say where he was.
It’s been like this for a while, two or thee years. Nothing is ever done about it. For all the roadworks that seem to take place here, there are still potholes galore.
Perhaps all our taxes are going to Flint to improve the water quality before the entire population dies from lead poisoning. I doubt it. Infrastructure does not appear to be a priority.
The question is: where are our taxes going?
We pay road taxes in different ways – our gas is amongst the most expensive in the United States. Before we cross back into Michigan from Indiana, where our daughter and family live, we fill up our gas tank to save money. If we smoked, we’d buy our cigarettes there, too; and if I drank a lot, I’d buy my beer there as there’s no deposits on bottles or cans.
An attempt was made last year to raise the sales tax (on everything except food) from 6-7%, but was rejected by the voters. Quite simply, the people did not trust their government to actually use the money to fix the roads. The 6% should be enough, together with a high tax on gas and car registration fees. Again, where’s all the money going?
Michigan taxpayers had to bail out the city of Detroit to the tune of $191 million, following years of corrupt administration in the city, where officials pocketed a great deal of the local tax revenue. More recently, Michigan taxpayers have had to bail out the city of Flint to rectify its water situation. Again, the problem was caused by the local city council. The inevitable lawsuits will themselves run into millions, every dollar of which could be used to fix the roads.
Meanwhile, voters are forking out thousands each year on car repairs, made essential by the state of the roads. At least the body shops are doing well!
It’s time the Legislature made a determined effort to solve this problem. It might be more of a priority for the Governor if he didn’t fly around in a helicopter – from his perspective, the roads look fine!
To be fair, there is only one pothole in my drive. I suspect, however, that Leeson will be out there again today digging up more of our own little road, until there are a dozen potholes in the drive, making it a more authentic stretch of Michigan road!
Perhaps, 15 years from now, when he graduates from High School, Leeson can work for the Transportation Department and help fix the roads. I’m convinced those potholes will still be there.