In it for the Money: Kleptocracy

"Cynicism is the thing that dumb people do to seem wise."

Editor’s note: Nelson’s “In it for the Money” opinion column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. Nelson is sort of a long-winded son-of-a-gun. If you want to read very short things by Nelson, more frequently than once a month, you can follow him on Twitter, where he’s @SquiDaveo

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

I didn’t initially intend to write an overtly political column this month. I actually had something nice all framed out, about how to talk politics civilly with friends and family. Then Matty Moroun took to hammering me daily with his pro-Prop 6/Prop 5 craziness, and I just went totally bat-shit insane.

Here’s the skinny, in case you’re bailing on me here: A billionaire is hijacking our state constitution in order to lock-in his near monopoly on commercial access to the nation of Canada. This is a for-real super-villain-style power play. Odds are you are on the verge of inadvertently helping this one-tenth-of-1-percenter screw us all for generations to come.

Your action on Nov. 6: Vote NO on Proposals 5 and 6.

If you can’t stomach another political jeremiad this ballot season, I respect where you’re coming from. But please give me 12 minutes to convince you that no sane Michigander who doesn’t already own a bridge to Canada would ever want Prop 6 to pass. 


Detroit-Windsor is one of the busiest trade corridors in the U.S. Something like a quarter of all merchandise trade between the U.S. and Canada goes over the Ambassador Bridge – and that’s just a slice of total U.S.-Canada commercial traffic, 60–70% of which rolls through Detroit. If you’re taking freight through Detroit, then the Ambassador Bridge is essentially the only way to get to Canada. The tunnel accommodates only passenger vehicles; no commercial traffic will fit.

There’s a ferry that can carry commercial traffic, but offers pretty low throughput and is largely used for hazardous loads that can’t go across the bridge. If you’re hauling freight, your only real option is an 83-year-old bridge owned by an 85-year-old man. The bridge’s age isn’t a problem – bridges are built to last – but it’s an already overburdened bottleneck built for early-20th century volumes of international trade, and it’s seeing more traffic each year [1].

Our neighbors to the north want a new bridge so badly that they are picking up the entire tab to build one – a project called the New International Trade Crossing (or NITC). Detroit-native Manuel “Matty” Moroun – who privately owns and operates the existing Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor – would prefer to maintain his near-monopoly on commercial trucking between the U.S. and Canada via Detroit (which includes the lion’s share of North America’s international commercial trucking).

That’s the issue. On their respective sides of the bridge are a nation of 35 million very nice bilingual people with gravy on their french-fries and their 10 million peninsular pals who could really use some work. In the middle, opposing both, is a chubby Monty Burns who is such a dick and so actively antagonistic to the state, his nominal business partner for decades, that he was actually jailed for it. This is a white billionaire – one of the richest one-percenters in the United States – who was actually put behind actual bars for being a belligerent asshole.

Proposal 6: A Crazy Amendment With Crazy Claims

This belligerent asshole so badly wants to keep his monopoly on his bottleneck that he dumped millions into getting Proposal 6 on the ballot: An amendment to our state constitution mandating that voters approve any bridges or tunnels that might compete with him [2]. He, of course, gets to keep his private bridge – you know, like a troll in a fairy tale.

Moroun has gone on to spend an estimated additional $14 million on a TV/YouTube/Hulu/radio/direct mail ad campaign to convince you to vote to amend our constitution to protect his kinda-crappy, overburdened river crossing. His basic claims are:

  1. The NITC bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers lots of money.
  2. The NITC bridge will be made by foreigners using foreign steel.
  3. Besides, we really ought to spend our tax dollars on stuff that matters, like teachers, police, and firefighters.

Responding to these claims are the state of Michigan and Canada. Unfortunately, Michigan’s government is legally barred from spending taxpayer dollars (i.e., basically any of the money it has at its disposal) on any sort of political advertising. Foreign nationals – like Canada – are federally banned from meddling in U.S. elections. Prop 6 has boiled down to a political debate where only one party has the de facto legal right to speak, and it’s a corporate political action committee. Corporations really are people! More so than We the People, in this case. [3]

Canada Is Paying For The NITC – For Reals!

Moroun’s shenanigans have been driving poor old Canada nuts. At the beginning of summer it was announced that Canada would pick up the entire $2.1 billion cost of building the NITC bridge (which includes Michigan’s theoretical $550 million share for a toll plaza on our side, among other features). As quoted in the Freep, Canadian Consul General Roy Norton has bent over backwards to address the spurious “concerns” trolled by Moroun’s “The People Should Decide” Ballot Committee PAC:

We [Canada – a totally separate country with its own economy and currency that you guys constantly make fun of, but who are really good natured about it, eh?] will pay for the interchange on the U.S. side, we will backstop the private-sector builder of the bridge. If there are cost overruns, ultimately, they are on us. If tolls are insufficient, that too will be on us. The State of Michigan pays nothing for this project and faces no liability.

The NITC bridge project by itself – just the part where we join forces with Canada and build a damned bridge – will create 11,000 construction jobs over the course of its four years. As an added bonus, getting in on this deal will allow us to capture an additional, unrelated $2.2 billion in federal money that we can use anywhere in the state (like, for example, to fix up our own damned bridges here in Ann Arbor). And those are just the immediate benefits of the project. Long-term, a better international crossing will expand trade passing through southeast Michigan, raising our revenue base and spurring economic growth for everyone. None of this will require any Michigan tax dollars.

Newer Moroun ads (including one that came in my mail last week) imply that this project will use Chinese steel (and possibly Chinese workers, Christ knows why). Quoth Canada (in the person of Norton): “For that lie, and it is a lie, … frankly they should be ashamed of themselves.” How badly do you have to fib to get a Canadian to call you out? [4]

The mailer I received today – while drafting this very column – claims that we’re wasting money on a bridge “instead of investing in things we do need: better schools, more police officers, more firefighters.”

On the one hand, we do need to invest in those things [5]. But the thing is:

 Canada is paying for this bridge.

Canada likes us fine, they think we’re good people, but they aren’t putting up money for teachers, schools, cops, or firefighters; they are putting up money for a bridge. Our options are: (1) Money for a bridge (and all the jobs and economic growth, short and long term, that bridge creates); or (2) No money and no bridge. We aren’t investing in anything here; we are simply accepting a gift.

Prop 5 Hogties The People

Moroun also wants to cripple our ability to collect taxes in the form of Proposal 5, which would amend our state constitution so that new taxes could not be levied without 2/3 majority support by the state House and state Senate, or support by a majority of the voters statewide during a November election. With Prop 5 in place, just a baker’s dozen of legislators will be able to prevent increases in funding for just about anything.

For Moroun, this makes sense: Remember, he’s been actively antagonistic to the state – his nominal business partner – for years. Robbing us of the revenue we need to pursue him for breach of contract, civil contempt, and assorted other fuckery is sort of a rational choice – if you are a super-villain. Next thing you know he’s gonna blow up the moon – or dump a coupla million bucks into amending our state constitution so that he has a monopoly on blowing up the moon, or who knows what.

Now, in contrast to Prop 6, rational folks could, in abstract, disagree about Prop 5. The capacity to levy taxes – how that power is exercised and how those funds are invested – is central to a functional state. But this particular proposed amendment is opposed by nearly everyone other than Moroun himself, on both sides of the aisle.

It’s endorsed by fewer than 20 individuals (mostly legislators or legislative hopefuls), and opposed by more than 60 groups and individuals, ranging from such radical leftists as the American Federation of Teachers, Michigan Catholic Conference, League of Women Voters of Michigan, and Sierra Club of Michigan, to such rabid socialist tax-and-spendocrats as the Michigan Bankers Association, Business Leaders for Michigan, and our own Republican Governor.

That’s because this particular tax proposal does little, apart from exposing us to harm as individuals by hamstringing our capacity to function as a group. And it’s only on the ballot because an elderly billionaire put it there; we should reject such a brazen maneuver just on general principles, folks.

How Government Protects The Little Guy

This brings us to the core folly of these ballot initiative constitutional amendments. They are presented to us as a balancing feature, a way for us “Little Guys” to check the power of those Fat Cats in Lansing. Heck, Moroun is doing all his pro-Prop 6 advertising under the name “The People Should Decide.” That sounds super-duper patriotic and democratic as heck. But by short-circuiting the political process, ballot initiative amendments all too easily become avenues by which the empowered seek to prevent progress and abuse Average Janes and Joes.

Consider the filibuster. You were no doubt taught in civics class that the filibuster is the bulwark of the embattled Average Joe – quite likely after watching the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” But, at the federal level, the damned filibuster has more often been a drag on change than a protector of the weak. Filibusters have been used to obstruct countless pieces of civil rights legislation. Segregationist (and Democrat) Strom Thurmond personally rattled on for 24 hours and 18 minutes in order to bog down the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Filibusters have blocked bills aimed at preventing lynchings and workplace discrimination. Filibusters have kept pork projects in defense budgets. Most often, filibusters delay or prevent the completion of regular business – routine job nominations, budget adjustments, land transfers between different government entities – that only effect minuscule, monied interests. In 2009 Matthew Yglesias wrote a tidy piece on filibuster reform, and much of what he says goes for Prop 5 supermajority requirements, too.

In sum: A three-branch government with a bicameral legislature using simple majorities already makes governance cumbersome enough to protect average citizens from those who are more powerful. Mechanisms like the filibuster (or, really, any super-majority requirement – which is what the filibuster essentially creates) shift power into the hands of self-interested parties who know how to game the system. We don’t really need extra mechanisms like filibusters or ballot initiatives to empower the people.

Closer to home, look at what we the people managed to accomplish with a ballot initiative in 2004: Fifty-nine percent of the Michigan voters who showed up to the polls in 2004 chose to amend our state constitution to forever assure us that it’s fundamentally OK to discriminate against homosexuals here in Michigan. What the hell were the Fat Cats in Lansing up to that we needed the Michigan Marriage Amendment (MMA) to protect us? I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life, and recall no period during which homosexuals overwhelmed their fellow Michiganders with demands for wedding showers, shared healthcare benefits, or options for filing their income tax jointly.

In point of fact, some of those Fat Cats had very successfully prevented attempts by small, influential interest groups to legislate this bigotry. That’s why those bigots spent $1,930,431 gulling 2,698,077 voters (which is about 26% of the state’s population) into making it impossible for same-sex couples to live as equals in this state.

Meanwhile, 1,904,319 Michiganders – myself included – called bullshit on this amendment. In essence, a plurality of just 793,758 – less than eight percent of the state’s population – got to make the call on marriage equity in Michigan. How is that “letting the people decide”? It seems a lot more like letting a very small number of very hateful people spend a ton of money in order to force their misguided religious practice on a very large number of indifferent people.

Like the MMA in 2004, Moroun’s Prop 6 this year isn’t his first attempt to get his odious business done; he’s failed on several occasions to sway lawmakers to do his dirty work (just like the MMA bigots failed on countless occasions to get their anti-equality laws passed). Our lawmakers were successful in protecting us from this insanity, until such time as a monied interest took an end run around them with a ballot initiative.

Thank God there’s a mechanism to keep those Fat Cats in Lansing from protecting civil rights, negotiating openly with Canada, making decisions about road construction, or doing anything that might question the troll’s absolute right to rule our river crossings!

Cynicism, Political Discourse, And You

All of this aside, in and of itself, Prop 6 is sort of insane. Consider the basic premise: Why the hell should voters decide where and when bridges are built? What do I know about bridge construction? What do you know about international trade agreements? Why are we micromanaging our government?

What Moroun is preying upon is our knee-jerk “common sense” conviction that government – which is the subset of ourselves that we charge with the job of keeping the house tidy so the rest of us can earn a living – is essentially incompetent. More so than mudslinging in political ads or lies during debates, it’s this core cynicism – a cynicism we each individually carry in our hearts and reproduce over and over again with pithily captioned pictures posted to Facebook, and re-shared links to spurious infographics, and caps-locked screeds – that’s poisoning us as a nation.

Listen, I love you, so I feel like can say this: Cynicism is the mechanical thing that dumb people do to seem wise. It’s a display of our most fundamental weakness: the ardent desire to be right.

Knee-jerk anti-governmentalism is the equivalent of thinking you’re precognizant because you can look at the succulent, exquisitely prepared dinner that’s been set before you, turn to your host and confidently claim: “In the next several hours, this luxurious banquet will be rendered into fecal matter by the action of our digestive systems.” That doesn’t make you a reliable forecaster of human events; it just makes you a boor. I don’t think any post-adolescent needs constant reminders of the basics: people lie, humans are fallible, puppies become stinky old dogs, and everyone dies. We do need to remind each other that we can and should live our lives, wash that dog, help each other recover from our failures, and correct the liars.

Of course cynics are usually right: Humans really are predictably weak and petty. But being proud that you hammer on that – making it central to your understanding of collective human endeavors like government – that’s the deepest folly, and guarantees that cynics will continue to be right when they wager on the worst in us.

That Matty Moroun may well sweep this one by relying on our cynicism – that he feels it’s a worthwhile $14 million bet – says a lot about us, none of it flattering.

Let’s Save Ourselves: Talk, Email, Tweet, Share, Vote

Obviously, we should VOTE NO ON PROP 6; it’s totally whack. More importantly, tell your fellow citizens about how screwed-up Prop 6 is. There’s literally no money for the People to push back against the Troll; we need to do the talking and emailing and forwarding and Facebooking. Moroun is successfully stealing our new bridge with his ads. Set your family and friends straight now. Please. VOTE NO ON PROP 6. (I also think Prop 5 is bad governance, and you may agree. Tell folks about that, too. We should VOTE NO ON PROP 5.)

But don’t take my word on any of this. We have great resources for getting an unbiased perspective on the ballot initiatives. Here are three I’ve found really handy this election season:


[1] I’d argue that the truck ferry is only economically viable because the Ambassador Bridge is so screwed up, but that’s open to discussion. Reasonable minds differ.

[2] A recent study estimates that such special votes would cost $10.5 million each. As a bonus, the amendment itself is so poorly worded that it might accidentally require voter approval for the construction of any bridge or tunnel in Michigan.

[3] Want a really fine-grained analysis of just one of Moroun’s manipulative ads? Check out this breakdown from the non-partisan Michigan Truth Squad.

[4] To address Moroun’s “concern” directly: Will this project possibly use “foreign” steel? Yeah; that steel will be from Canada. Steel is one of Canada’s most important industries, and its production is largely clustered in Ontario, near their shared border with Michigan – you know, where they want to build this bridge. Since they’re picking up the tab, howzabout we let them buy whatever damn steel they want; they’re giving us the bridge, after all. Did I mention the free bridge? The 11,000 jobs?

[5] Which is why I’m voting YES on Prop 2; that’s a separate issue, but still important.

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  1. October 23, 2012 at 8:07 am | permalink

    How did this leech end up owning the bridge anyway? This is the same guy who destroyed the Michigan Central station in Detroit, which is now a huge abandoned hulk.

  2. By Suswhit
    October 23, 2012 at 9:31 am | permalink

    Dang, I love these columns! (But, you know, babies turn into stinky old people. Why you picking on puppies!)

  3. By Carl
    October 23, 2012 at 9:53 am | permalink

    You do realize traffic is down 40% from 2000 levels right? It isn’t going up. This is publicly available data from PBOA.

  4. By Jeff Harris
    October 23, 2012 at 10:39 am | permalink

    This is the best piece you’ve ever written. You can’t say it any more plainly than “CANADA IS PAYING FOR THE BRIDGE”. Besides, ballot proposals are a terrible way to change a state constitution.

  5. By Drew Montag
    October 23, 2012 at 11:07 am | permalink

    I just checked, and there’s a train tunnel connecting Detroit and Windsor, so that’s another option, but only for freight moving by rail, not by road. Still, I agree that the NITC is needed, and Prop. 6 is evil.

  6. By TJ
    October 23, 2012 at 11:14 am | permalink

    Minor picky point (because humans are petty): i believe the copy editor should have changed “your precongiscient” to “you’re precognizant”. [Ed. Agreed. Changed above.]

    But yet, I totally agree with this. I wish everyone in the state were required to read a short form (the bottom line bits) before crossing that “no electioneering past this point” line.

    That one clause in the amendment, the “bridges not operational before January 1st 2012″ bit, could mean that the Stadium Bridge has to go up for a vote…

  7. By Chris
    October 23, 2012 at 11:56 am | permalink

    Carl, where did you get data going back to 2000?

    The PBOA website only has data going back to 2006.

    It also depends on what you’re comparing “today” to.

    Bridge traffic in 2011 was up 10% when compared to 2009. If you compare truck traffic for those two years, truck traffic was up 12%.

    What was bridge traffic like in 1985? I remember clamoring for a new span back then.

  8. By Rod Johnson
    October 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm | permalink

    Matty Moroun ended up owning the Ambassador Bridge by buying it, in 1979.

  9. October 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm | permalink

    It’s sad that your footnote [2] is relegated to a mere footnote. Because, really, that’s one of the most whack pieces of this: that our evil genius here is so willing to rewrite the state constitution for his own personal and individual gain that’s he going to recklessly jeopardize every publicly funded bridge in the entire state to do it.

    The wording of the proposal defines “new international bridges or tunnels” as “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.” No mention of crossing national boundaries in there whatsoever! By this definition, if the Washtenaw County Road Commission wants to replace a culvert out in Lima Township, the replacement would be a new international bridge requiring a statewide vote. Doh!

    Obviously, I’m not a lawyer, but had a casual conversation with one about this point — he suggested it would take some severe, legislating-from-the-bench cojones for the courts to go in and rewrite a definition in the constitution: that if it’s defined as “any bridge”, usual precedent suggests it really does mean “any bridge.”

  10. By JoeBlog
    October 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm | permalink

    Time to revise your column. Too bad that the Governor revealed the truth that Canada has not committed to paying everything. From Crain’s Detroit [link]:

    Although a specific written agreement doesn’t exist, Canada will cover any cost overruns in Michigan for a proposed $2.1 billion Detroit River crossing — even beyond a $550 million pledge made two years ago.

    Gov. Rick Snyder, after wide-ranging interview with Crain’s staffers on Monday afternoon, confirmed that Canada has promised to cover all of the state’s costs that otherwise not picked up by the private sector orU.S. government.

    Snyder noted that Canadian officials, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Detroit-based Consul General Ray Norton, have publicly said Canada will assume all of the costs for what that nation says is its top infrastructure project.

    However, such a promise does not yet exist in a legal agreement. Snyder, who has pledged that the bridge won’t cost Michigan taxpayers a dime, expects such an agreement to be hammered out at some point later in the process.

    He and Harper in June reached an agreement to build the bridge, but the document that outlines the project didn’t directly address Canada covering all capital cost overruns in Michigan.

  11. By Jasani Gordamov
    October 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | permalink

    I liked your story, except that part that you called out the race of the billionaire troll. Trolls are trolls. White, black, brown, green, whatever the truck you want to call em. The argument of race is so yesterday yet journalists still want to beat this dead horse. Please stop the madness.

  12. By Steve Bean
    October 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm | permalink

    @11: Ditto age.

  13. By Chris
    October 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm | permalink

    I think the point with both age and race was that these are usually attributes that keep you out of jail. As a rich old white man, you really have to go some to get put into jail, rather than be able to talk/buy your way into a home detention.

  14. By Barbara Annis
    October 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm | permalink

    I find myself agreeing with you on many if not most things. That said, since I don’t immediately agree with you on the bridge issue, I am giving it extra thought, so I have questions. First of all, I am not a Synder fan. The fact that he is going head-to-head with a private individual (no matter how rich or able to fight back) makes me uncomfortable. What if it was a neighborhood of poor people that he decided to bulldoze because he could? Secondly, I have not seen compelling arguments showing that we need a new bridge. They do appear to be a bit anachronistic. Thirdly, if Canada pays for it, doesn’t that mean they own it? Might they not impose crippling tolls, or some other odious condition sometime in the future that we would have no control over? It is kind of like the Belle Isle issue. When something seems too good to be true, it may mean we don’t have enough information.

  15. By Steve Bean
    October 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm | permalink

    @14: I saw a video ad on Weather Underground’s site [link] today of Snyder and Virg Bernero (the Dem candidate in the 2010 gub. election) speaking against Prop 5.

    Even if a new bridge weren’t needed (and I’m not saying that one is), amending the state constitution is a ridiculous way to prevent it from happening.

    Tolls would apply equally to Canadian vehicles (I assume), so exorbitant tolls wouldn’t be likely.

  16. October 23, 2012 at 8:19 pm | permalink

    I don’t usually chime in, but wanted to offer folks a couple handy links:

    For the curious, a spreadsheet of bridge traffic data for all 11 bridge crossings to Canada is available as an Excel spreadsheet on the Public Border Operators Association website: [link] (it’s pretty detailed; check out the “ANNUAL” tab for aggregated data that’s easier to look at).

    Crossings on the Ambassador have been up year-to-year since 2009 (as Chris mentioned, comparing 2009 to projected 2012 show’s ~12% increase). In my humble, crossing numbers from 2000 are apples-to-oranges; 2000 is *before* an international terrorist attack that made crossing US international borders orders of magnitude more complicated. It’s also six-ish years prior to an enormous recession . You’ll note that the aggregated crossing numbers dip (with the exception of a couple of the smallest crossings in NY) from 2006–i.e., the start of the Great Recession–and then rise for *all* crossings since the nominal recovery began in 2009; if this was just a matter of truckers picking a different route to Canada, you’d expect Ambassador to fall and someone else to rise accordingly. But these are all rising.

    Joe Blog: Thanks for the link! I urge everyone to read it. The article is titled “Snyder stumps against Proposal 6, confirms Canada on hook for bridge cost overruns,” which sorta says it all (J.B., I’m gonna hold off on rewriting just yet, regardless of how mercilessly you’ve pummeled that Straw Man). The Crain’s article, read in its entirety, offers solid background on this issue. But that lede paragraph is a curiosity, as a written agreement *does* exist–here it is, executed back in June: [link] It’s long, but the summary (at the bottom of page 1) is both pithy and clear:

    “The Crossing Agreement provides a framework for a Crossing Authority established by Canada to design, construct, finance, operate and maintain a new International Crossing between Canada and Michigan, under the oversight of a jointly established International Authority with three members appointed by Canada and the Crossing Authority and three members appointed by the Michigan Parties, and with funding approved by Canada, but with no funding by the Michigan Parties. The Michigan Parties are not obligated to pay any of the costs of the new International Crossing.”

    My baby has croup and I’m exhausted! Have a great evening, everyone!

  17. By Chris
    October 23, 2012 at 8:25 pm | permalink

    For me, it is not the bridge so much as it is the ridiculous self-serving amendments to the state constitution that affect all bridges and all tax adjustments going forward. You don’t have to think hard to see the unintended consequences. For example, would you want to be put into the position that voters would have to approve property taxes decreasing with property value declines? Of course it would likely pass, but you’d have to wait for the cycle.

  18. By Chris Young
    October 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm | permalink

    Posted below is a video, with real facts about NITC: [link]

    I am voting NO on prop 6.

  19. By Rick Cronn
    October 28, 2012 at 3:04 am | permalink

    @joeblog, that’s a negotiating point. Don’t be naive. Of course everyone should have some skin in the game. To those with them most, the benefit of larger gains. Just playing the averages tells me that Detroit and SEMI stand to benefit proportionately more than most because of their current state. Imho, that’s not a bad thing.

  20. November 7, 2012 at 7:29 am | permalink


    I had tacos with Consul General Roy Norton yesterday (details here: [link] and [link] — none of which is hyperbole: In my presence Canada pledged to pay for the NITC. These folks are legit).

    And I’m very pleased with us this morning, Michigan. The Freep reports that we “crushed” Moroun’s proposals (link)–a remarkable achievement, since Moroun had poured *an additional* ~$10 million into his ad campaign *since this column was written.* He had paid workers at our polling places yesterday pushing his amendments. Meanwhile, there was virtually *no money* supporting the “No on Prop 6″ positions–and yet a clear majority of voters called bullshit on the whole mess. To my eyes, there can be no more reassuring endorsement of our unique, janky brand of democracy than this: Clearly, as individuals, we can be bought–after all, plenty of Michiganders took a paycheck to help Moroun with his scheme–but in the end, as a People, we’re not going to be gulled; we can keep each other honest. Our System itself–when we show up, when we imbue it with our own vital essence and bless it with our attention–isn’t for sale. Well played, everyone! I’m proud of Us.

    In other news, we’ve all earned free sandwiches from Satchel’s: [link] I’ll personally be there between 11:30 and noon; see you there!

  21. November 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm | permalink

    Just hit Satchel’s for my “Victory Over Prop 6″ free pulled-pork sandwich. FYI: It comes with two lil sides! I.e., not only did we thwart a presumptuous billionaire, but we *also* get a free lunch. unTANSTAAFL!

  22. By Rod Johnson
    November 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm | permalink

    It’s hard not to imagine what Moroun’s $30 mil could have done to fix up Michigan Central Station, or renovate/tear down his dozens of decrepit houses around Detroit, or just done *something* positive. As it is, he enriched a lot of ad agencies, lawyers, designers, printers and TV stations, which is job creation in a way, I guess. But basically he got nothing out of it, and we got nothing out of it but some delicious schadenfreude. Folly.