Michigan GOP vs. the Mentally Ill

“You will know a tree by its’ fruit” – Jesus of Nazareth

Tax increases on Retired persons, and a $4.2 million annual cut to the Veterans Home of Grand Rapids were passed into law by the GOP controlled State Government.  These financial assaults on the middle class, on the poor and on vulnerable Veterans offset tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy.  Add the mentally ill to the list of people for whom Michigan Republican leaders have little regard.

Community Mental Health in Ottawa County provides services to about 2,500 people with developmental disabilities and mental illness.   County residents will vote for or against a first ever millage 1  (tax) for mental health in the State of Michigan.  With a budget of $38 million, Community Mental Health needs the millage to offset funding cuts by the State that have already caused reductions in staff and programs.  The $3.5 million raised will prevent further losses as future budget cuts by the State take effect.

As one mass shooting after another is ultimately attributed to a mentally ill person, it goes against common sense and self-preservation that budgets for mental health services are cut.  Mentally ill persons who have nowhere to turn for help end up as victims of violence, on the street or thrown into jail and a danger to their overwhelmed and helpless relatives.

Compassionate Conservatives talk endlessly about their concern for average citizens of Michigan.  I find their words to be as empty as their hearts.  Quoting a proverb attributed to Native Americans:

“I cannot hear your words over the thunder of your actions”.


1 Ottawa voters face mental health tax

Grand Rapids Press    November 29, 2015      page A5



$300 B annually   Tax avoidance by individuals  – Cayman Islands

$37 B annually    Fossil Fuel subsidies    Military budget to guard oil resources


$70B annually for free 4 year college

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Admin costs 2% for Medicare; Private admin cost 5%, but advertising and profits raise the cost to 17%

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Awkward moment #57

I install and repair television, phone and internet products and services. I’m in customers homes every work day, and most days are mundane. Occasionally, not so much.

I was speaking with a middle aged woman in her kitchen about something or other when her little dog came in view. It was going crazy aggressive on a piece of cloth. We started laughing at the dog’s antics when simultaneously we noticed it: The dog had her underwear.

I broke out laughing, she turned red and chased after the dog. With not much more to discuss, I departed.

Grand Rapids Veterans Home

* For the purpose of this letter, the acronym GOP will stand in for “Currently active Michigan Congressional Republicans” plus Governor Snyder.

Originally, I was going to express my growing dismay at the inability of Michigan Republicans to pass an infrastructure bill.  The GOP has a strong majority in the Michigan House and Senate, plus control the Governorship.  This majority was able to author Right to Work legislation, pass it and have Governor Snyder sign it into law in roughly three weeks.  While RTW affects 7% of workers in Michigan, it was so very important to the GOP that they rammed that law thru in record time.  Funding for our roads and bridges affects 100% of all citizens of Michigan, but the GOP, thru its’ inaction, continues to prove it isn’t motivated to find a solution.  * Do not blame the Democrats – Republicans proved what they can do, if motivated, with the passage of Right to Work legislation.

Instead, my concern now is the situation in the Grand Rapids Veterans Home.  You may recall that in 2012 the Republican Controlled State Government cut $4.2 Million annually from the Veteran’s Home budget.  That cut amounted to 30% of State funding.  This cut in funding caused a budget crisis at the Veteran’s Home.

And what was the GOP’s solution to this manufactured crisis?  Blame the hard working men and women who dared earn a living wage and belong to a Union.  Privatization was the next step.  J2S was “awarded” a contract to care for our Veterans.  And what a bang up job J2S is doing: Trolling for employees on Craigslist; Chronically understaffed until caught, then forcing overtime upon the low paid, low benefit contract workers.

Everybody, and I mean everybody understood troubles were guaranteed to occur.  Everybody except the privatization obsessed Republican Party.  Issues that have been reported at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home so far are the tip of the iceberg.  It is worse than what has been reported to this point.  It doesn’t take a Prophet to see that.

So far I’ve focused on laying out the facts.  Now for my opinion.  The GOP does not “Love the Troops” and it outright hates Veterans.  GOP words mean nothing.  “I cannot hear your words over the thunder of your actions” – author unknown.

The GOP did achieve its’ goal:  take taxpayer dollars away from Government (Union) Workers and redirect that money into the private sector.  Improving services and reducing cost were never the point.  The goal has always been getting tax dollars into the pockets of a private business owner.  It comes as little surprise that the owner of this business, Tim Frain, is a friend and financial supporter of the GOP.   J2S Michigan is a “franchise”, if you will.  The Head of the J2S conglomerate is also a big GOP donor.

The GOP took an Oath of Office to represent all of the people, not just the wealthy and corporations.  By privatizing service at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home, the Michigan GOP stabbed Veterans in the back.  I would tell Republicans that they should be deeply ashamed at what has transpired, is transpiring and will transpire, at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home.  I would tell them, but at this point I doubt they possess enough personal ethics to experience shame.

The GOP owes it to our Veterans to undo the damage they caused by privatization.  Return the care of our Heroes to Government Workers, even if those workers are represented by a Union.  If the GOP still feels the need to cut spending and balance the budget, it must stop trying to do so on the backs of Veterans.


James Day

Ps.  I saw in the news that the GOP recently passed a law forbidding local government entities from requiring any wage above what the State allows.  Nice slap in the faces of working people.  The GOP has time to pass a law like that, but can’t figure out how to fund roads and bridges.  But then, it’s quite obvious that the average citizen of Michigan is of no concern to the GOP.