Monday, July 22, 2013

Detroit is just the first canary in the coal mine... other cities will follow

From being the fourth largest city in the nation to filing Ch. 9 bankruptcy with an estimated $18 billion to $20 billion in debt.
Annual income $1 billion. Unfunded pension liabilities greater than $3.5 billion.
Imagine... nearly 80,000 homes or structures that need demolition.
Hardly any streetlights that work. Officially 18 percent unemployment. Unofficially, 3 or 4 times as much.
More than half the students that graduate from Detroit Public Schools are functionally illiterate. No future hope. Half of all property owners do not pay taxes. No one gets hauled in to explain why or fined or have wages garnisheed.
Police response times... tomorrow for a B&E today. Fire response time... let it 'burn baby burn,' an echo of the 1967 riots that permanently scarred the city.
A type of insanity in the early 1980s where 800 or more arsons were set on Devil's Night, the eve of Halloween. The Japanese correspondent from Kyoto to a former UPI reporter... "Why are they burning their own homes down? What is wrong with people there?"
Self-centered politicians going back to 1973. "Hit eight mile," Young said and middle-class Detroiters did, not the crooks.
Dozens of retirees earning six-figure pensions and then coming back to work in their same jobs earning double salaries.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs with benefits gone in the American auto industry collapse starting in the mid-1970s with the importation of millions of well-built inexpensive Japanese cars.
Ford producing parts in Mexico, no longer Detroit where Henry Ford started the transportation revolution and the middle class for $5 bucks a day for a good day's work on the line.
Billionaires chipping in a tiny percentage of the cost of new stadiums for the Lions and Tigers they own while taxpayers get to carry the heavy load.
It is an astounding collapse. Instead of rebuilding Europe with the Marshall plan why didn't we rebuild Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, St. Louis and other former great American cities?
Detroit's future, according to the Soothsayer, increasing population loss from the current 680,000 to maybe 500,000 within a few years.
No improvement in reducing crime, much of which is driven by poverty and substance addiction.
Somehow the spirit of hope must first move back in to the city so Detroit can be reborn.
But without safe and good schools, solid middle-class neighborhoods and rampant crime there's no way Detroit is going to turn it around.
It simply cannot generate the revenue necessary to provide basic services. So why should anyone be expected to stay?
It's likely Detroit will downsize to 250,000 and have all services outsourced. Robocop wasn't all that off target.
Sadly, there will be other large cities following Detroit's path because of the malaise that has destroyed some of the most beautiful cities in the world in this country since Beaver and Wally were trying to keep out of trouble.
The unacceptable dagger would be the sale of the DIA masterpieces for a short-term inadequate fix.