UP Store Salutes Those Who Serve, Michigan Graduated Income Tax, UP Population Losses, Governor Appoints New Commission, & The World Around Us


This Week in RI

On Wednesday we will be publishing an article by Lois Ellis and Elsa Pontbriand about a new personal development and networking organization in the Upper Peninsula called LINK U.P. that aims to “enhance the community by developing a thriving network of working talent and leadership in the Dickinson area as well as throughout the Upper Peninsula.”

Watch for this article Wednesday morning.

Upper Peninsula Store Salutes Those Who Serve America

On a recent visit to the Lowe’s store in Marquette we noticed the below picture prominently displayed:

Seems to us to be a great way to pay tribute to those veterans who work for the company and in the community who served their nation.

Who’s next? Other big box stores, small businesses, school districts, universities, hospitals, etc.. Let us know what you see in your communities around the Upper Peninsula. We will mention the names of the businesses and organizations you send us.

Thank you Lowe’s of Marquette for doing this tribute to the men and women who serve.

Graduated Income Tax In Our Future

You earn more, you pay more. That is the premise of a graduated income tax. Right now Michiganders pay a flat tax. You pay the same tax  rate no matter how much you earn.

This issue has been debated in the state legislature and in political campaigns for years and years. Time to change? What do you think? Let us know and more importantly let your legislators know what you think.

Upper Peninsula Population Losses

No secret to folks in the UP that there have been population losses in the western Upper Peninsula–especially for those Michiganders who live in the western UP.

A Bridge Magazine article (6.27.23) reports that “Between 2010 and 2020 Ontonagon County lost 14 percent of its population, as jobs dried up and people, especially the young–moved away.”

The article goes on to report that in neighboring Wisconsin the story is quite different.

Interesting article. Check it out: https://www.bridge.com.

Governor Appoints Commission on Population Losses in Michigan

Governor Whitmer announced she was forming a commission to look at population losses in the state–especially examining the loss of so many young people in your state. Michigan was 48th in population growth. The commission will have 28 members from across the state. Last week she appointed 16 of the 28 members. We expect to see more names announced in coming weeks to get the commission up to full force.

Of the first 16 names, none were from the Upper Peninsula. Both the commission co-chairs were from southeast Michigan. Many thought there would be co-chairs from the east side and west side of the state–the population centers of Michigan. Nope. Commission members so far seem to be heavily from the east side of the state. Only one of the announced commission members was under 40 years of age. One would think it would be important to have commission members under 40 if that is whom you are trying to retain in Michigan. This is a work in progress and we will keep you posted. The Governor’s office is working on it.

Do you live in the Upper Peninsula and want to help your state by serving on this Commission? If so, contact the Governor’s office and let them know you want to serve on the Commission.

We hope that we will be reporting soon on an announcement from the Governor’s office about the remaining 12 members to be appointed–including some folks from the Upper Peninsula and some commission members under 40. Keep your fingers crossed. Even if you do not want to serve on the commission, let the Governor’s office know how you feel about Upper Peninsula and rural voices on this commission.

The World Around Us

Veterans and Homelessness

The number of veterans experiencing homelessness has declined by 11% since 2020–and by more than 55% since 2010. (US Veterans Administration. 6.22.23.) It does exist in the UP.

Forgiving Student Loans

The United States Supreme Court said no, no to the proposal to give students relief from student loans that they accumulated.  This proposal by the Biden Administration would have impacted 800,000 people in Michigan with outstanding student loans.

Wait, wait. The United States Supreme Court must have overlooked that the federal government forgave Covid-era Small Business PPP loans that were given to businesses. Some of those loans forgiven were held by members of the United States Congress. Hmmmm.

Quotes That Make Us Go Hmmm

“In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Bertrand Russell.

“It’s you versus you in everything that you do.” Sabrina Lonesco.

Books Recommended By Our Readers

“The Overlooked Americans: The Resilience of Our Rural Towns and What It means for our Country.” Elizabeth Currid-Halkett. 2023.

Talk To Us

Keep your raves, laurels, rants and darts coming. Send them to us at david@ruralinsights.org. We love to read them. 

About Us

Rural Insights connects policy, information, news and culture to raise topics and stories/information you might have not seen or overlooked. We bring you original writing from Rural Insights and other researchers, change makers, and storytellers, as well as our latest research and analysis.

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David Haynes

David Haynes has served as a professor of public administration and public policy. He previously has served as President of Northern Michigan University. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.


  1. Sarah Smith on July 10, 2023 at 9:46 am

    The discussion about graduated income tax is misleading. Everyone, regardless of income, does NOT pay the same Michigan tax. They pay the same RATE, but not the same AMOUNT. A person earning $30K does not pay the same amount of tax as a person earning 100K. At the current 4.25% rate, a person earning $30K pays $1,275 in Michigan taxes, whereas a person earning $100K pays $4,250. So under the current tax scheme, higher income individuals already pay more than those who earn less. With a graduated tax higher income earners would have to pay even more.

    • Rich on July 10, 2023 at 1:36 pm

      You are correct. However you need to review the meaning of regressive versus progressive taxation. Our current flat rate would qualify as a regressive tax.

  2. Shemp on July 10, 2023 at 9:52 am

    The article about Ontonagon is a bit misleading IMO, as the town is far off of the main transportation routes, and it would take a lot more than just fixing up its downtown and having more businesses open to attract people there – but it would help to some degree. The misleading thing, or omitted thing, is that area of Northern Wisconsin they’re comparing it to has been a very popular destination for Chicagoland residents for the last century and it’s a lot easier to get to for all of those Chicago-Milwaukee denizens, the source of most of the visitors to N. Wisconsin. During the Prohibition era, Ironwood and the nearby Wisconsin towns were relatively awash in booze. Ironwood was considered by some in law enforcement to be the most lawless town in America because of the proliferation of booze and the lack of officers to enforce the laws of the misguided prohibition. There were many “blind pigs” where you can get booze in the basement of an old bar-turned-soda shop or restaurant. It may have even been one of Al Capone’s vacation hangouts. Too bad he didn’t hang out in Ontanogan, maybe?

    • Paul A Sturgul on August 5, 2023 at 10:52 am

      I think you were thinking of Hurley, Wisconsin, not its neighbor across the Monreal River, when you referred to Ironwood as “the most lawless town in America” during Prohibition”. The following is from an article, “Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars, ” from the Wisconsin Magazine of History, Spring, 2013:
      “Many Wisconsin cities never truly went dry. The most infamous was Hurley, a notorious Northern Wisconsin city with a long history of vice. Prohibiton agents staged massive raids on Hurley, but each time saloonkeepers paid their fines and went back to their usual business…Prohibition investigator Frank Buckley was most aghast at what he found in a visit to Hurley. He commented that Hurley ‘has the distinction of being the worst community in the State…Gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, and dope are the chief occupations of the place. Saloons there function with barmaids who serve the dual capacity of soda dispenser and prostitute.’ “

    • Paul A Sturgul on August 5, 2023 at 11:28 am

      I agree with you that the Bridge article contrastng the “slight”. population increase of several Northern WI counties bordering MI, with the substantial population losses, especially of Ontonagon County [, is misleading. Iron County, WI, where I live, the population increased by 3.75 % from 2010 to 2020. That is half of the population % increase [7.5%] of the USA during that same time. Almost all of Iron County’s increase was in the southern third of the county [Mercer and the Town of Sherman-Springstead], which is part of the Northern Wisconsin Lake District, centered on Minocqua-Eagle River-Rhinelander. Between 1960 and. 1970, when iron mining collapsed on the Gogebic Range, Iron County lost almost a quarter of its population, as laid off miners and their families left for jobs elsewhere, especially in Racine and Kenosha. Hurley and the other former mining communties have never reocvered from the end mining on the Gogebic. Nor have Ironwood, Bessemer and Wakefield or the rest of the “mining” towns in the Lake Superior Region. People here feel left behind. The region, once heavily Roosevelt Democratic, is now solidly Trump Republican. As an op ed piece by Thomas Edsall, in the New York Times [1/25/2023] put it, “The Resentment Fueling the Republican Party is not coming from the Suburbs.”

  3. yoopergram on July 10, 2023 at 11:15 am

    Lowe’s also offers a 10% discount to veterans. Another great way to honor those that serve.

  4. Glen Miller on July 10, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    David your name came to mind in regards to the appointment to that commission. I wish you would consider that.

  5. Randy on July 14, 2023 at 9:37 pm

    Lowe’s does offer a 10% discount to veterans, but seems to have quietly discontinued the discount for purchases of lumber. When I last bought lumber at Lowe’s and asked why my purchase was not discounted, the young cashier quietly said to me, “I’m not really supposed to be telling you, but the store has stopped giving the veterans discount for lumber.”

  6. Tom Harris on July 19, 2023 at 10:07 pm

    I’d be very leery about any additional tax revenue as the government’s appetite for money is insatiable. Their revenue & budgets grow near every year but they always want more.

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