The Michigan Senate has just made one of the most significant decisions in centuries.
Tuesday, 4 June, the Michigan Senate voted to recognize “International Talk Like a Pirate Day.”
“This decision will have crucial implications on the life of Michiganders,” explained Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw), the man who proposed the resolution.
The Colonel interviewed average Michiganians, asking their thoughts on the recent legislation.
“I think it’s awesome. I can talk like a pirate one day a year!” exclaimed Michiganer Leroy Nistik.
“I can already talk like a pirate any day of the year,” stated Michiganian Samantha Yungelbach, a rather desultory look on his face. “But at least other people can do it with me now!”
“I think it’s stupid,” said Troll Brian Coxax.
“I think he’s stupid,” added Yooper Amanda Bruninghammur, pointing to Coxax. “This is exactly what our state needs right now. It can unify us.”
The resolution is a sigh of relief to Americans everywhere. It comes at a time when senators all around the country are perfectly incapable of passing actual important legislation.
“I think I trust the Senate a little bit more now to make decisions, responsible decisions on my behalf, and on the behalf of my fellow Americans,” New Yorker Sara Silvex told The Colonel.
“I think this is the best thing any Senate has done in this country. Ever,” explained Texan Randolph Heasterbick.
This resolution also comes at a time when Michigan’s citizens are enduring ever-burgeoning economic hardship. As Michigan League for Human Services explained in its 2012 report “Kids Count: Growing poverty threatens children’s health,”
– Michigan saw a 6 percent improvement in infant mortality, although African American infants have triple the risk of mortality than that of white infants. There was also a 25 percent improvement in the rate of child deaths over the decade with 318 children (ages 1-14) dying in 2009, down from 471 in 2000.
– Worsening trends included the rate of children confirmed as victims of abuse and neglect, which rose 34 percent statewide over the decade. In 2010, 32,500 Michigan children were confirmed victims with four out of every five suffering from neglect.
– In 2010, almost half of K-12 public school students (46.5 percent) qualified for free or reduced price lunch, jumping from 36.2 percent in 2006.
– The percent of children living in poverty jumped from 14 percent to 23 percent between 2000 and 2009.
– Even more startling is the rate of children living in extreme poverty–roughly less than $11,000 a year for a family of four–jumped from 5 percent of children to 11 percent. That means that more than one inevery 10 kids in Michigan is living in extremely desperate circumstances, living at half the poverty level.
Senior Research Associate at the Michigan League for Human Services and Kids Count Jane Zehnder-Merrell explained, “Unfortunately, policymakers have cut family supports aimed at blunting the impact of the economic downturn on kids.”
Today, she would have probably added “Unfortunately, policymakers have cut family supports aimed at blunting the impact of the economic downturn [and the necessity to recognize International Talk Like a Pirate Day] on kids,” yet she was not available for comment.
As the 2012 report explains, nonetheless, this poverty is largely the direct result of decisions the Michigan Senate has control over.
Recent policy decisions that negatively impact kids include:
– Cutting the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit from 20 percent of the federal credit to 6 percent. The credit has been responsible for pushing 14,000 Michigan kids out of poverty.
– Placing stricter time limits on cash assistance for 12,000 families living in poverty, including nearly 30,000 children.
– Putting asset limits on food assistance that will impact the newly unemployed and divert needed federal aid from Michigan.
– Reducing the traditional period of unemployment from 26 to 20 weeks. The tough labor market means half of jobless workers search six months or longer before finding employment.
The national consensus (because we told you so), however, is that recognizing this crucial holiday is much more imperative legislation. Most important of all, it is legislation that both sides can agree on, unilaterally. Helping hungry, impoverished children happens to be a controversial issue in partisan politics.
“What could possibly be more important than recognizing ‘International Talk Like a Pirate Day’?!” Sen. Kahn inquired, trying to wink with the eye behind the patch.
By Schmaschdy Sennit