Ever wonder why the Far Left Marxists continually attack religion, marriage and traditional values ?  These traditional values and institutions   are the glue that keeps communities healthy and prosperous.  Marxists  do not want healthy and happy communities.  They want desperate and unhappy people who will be drawn to their siren call of equality for all.     This is an interesting article that  draws a comparison between the prosperous Grand Rapids area of Michigan and the struggling Detroit and Flint, Michigan areas.   Nancy  


A tale of two Michigans

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids and Detroit are at opposite ends of Michigan. While both cities and their broader environs have been tossed by the rises and falls of the automotive industry, the two ends of the state have generally moved in opposite directions. In the west, Grand Rapids and nearby Holland have thrived. In the east, Detroit and Flint have struggled. At the same time, the rural counties in central Michigan have collapsed, economically and socially.

Why the divergent paths?

If you’ve been to Rust Belt towns — maybe you covered Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign — you’ll be shocked as you drive around Holland and Grand Rapids. The downtowns are bustling. On the outskirts, you’ll find a small manufacturer around every turn. Grand Rapids’ unemployment has been below 4 percent for most of the past year, and it has been below 5 percent for most of the past 5 years. Holland hasn’t seen unemployment above 5 percent since mid-2014.

It’s not that they haven’t had their downturns. Western Michigan has a long reputation as a supplier for the automakers near Detroit. When GM bleeds, the pain is felt at both ends of I-96. But some places bounce back from economic body blows better than other places.

Imagine you’re a business owner in 1983 or 2009. You want to set up a business, and Michigan appeals to you for one reason or another. Statewide unemployment is around 15 percent. Economics would tell you that’s a good thing from the employer’s perspective: A greater supply of available labor means lower wages.

Obviously, employers have chosen Western Michigan over, say, Detroit or Mecosta County. Why?

Robert Brengman, a vintner from Traverse City who opened a wine bar on Pearl Street in Grand Rapids, explained that Lake Michigan and proximity to Chicago and vacation spots was a draw. But he went beyond physical factors: “It’s also about the people,” Brengman told me. “We’ve got a different kind of people here,” he says.

Gary Gunnink and Bill Stehouwer, enjoying a leisurely breakfast at a McDonalds in Holland, told the same story. Haworth, the furniture maker, was around the corner. The old Life Savers factory, abandoned in 2002, is now mostly full, with a manufacturer, fabricators, an outlet store, storage, and a different winemaker. Why do so many employers come to Holland?

“You’ve got a conscientious workforce,” is Gunnink’s first explanation. “The old Dutch work ethic,” Stehouwer pipes in.

“It’s a church community,” Gunnink adds “and a good place to raise a family.”

No one would deny that Holland and Grand Rapids are church communities. The Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church of America, with their deep Dutch roots, dominate this part of the state. Hope College and Calvin College, two Christian colleges in the Reformed tradition, help form the character of these places.

But what does this churchy stuff have to do with business?

There are at least two forces here:

A shared culture and faith builds social trust. Trust is crucial to making the gears of commerce spin smoothly. Gunnink points out that “A lot of these businesses are started by local people.” He says Western Michigan has usually had peace between labor and management largely because of this.

The Dutch are famous for knowing and sharing everyone’s business. “A community like this,” Gunnink says, “you’re not going to screw people over and then survive. It’s gonna get out in a hurry.”

Mark, an employee at Haworth for 33 years, recalls a push to unionize last decade, which was resolved (without unionization) when “Mr. Haworth” met the workers’ demands.

And as Jeff Polet, a professor at Hope who grew up in Holland, explained, owners, managers, and workers all worship together on Sunday.

But the culture here — the strong churches and the robust and tightly knit institutions of civil society — has a more important effect even than that. Strong communities cannot prevent economic downturns, but they can preserve social capital during economic downturns.

Involved parents are less likely to flee town, and so local schools are more likely to stay strong. Institutions like museums and colleges and libraries do function as employers, including during downturns. But just as important, they educate, they support businesses and families. With strong communities, it’s easier to keep your life in order.

The places that collapse are the places that lack the dense web of community institutions. When the money slows down, the most active and involved parents flee and education quality drops. Churches and Little Leagues close down, and people have a harder time raising families. An employer views, say, Mecosta County or Detroit, as communities that don’t have their stuff together. More dropouts, more teenage pregnancies, more drug use, more alcohol abuse — these are not attractive traits to a prospective employer.

That’s why a place packed with churches, where neighbors worship together, and where intact families prop up a school system that helps other people raise families, thrives economically.




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