November 15, 2008

Detroit. Motor City. Motown. Ghost Town. Hellhole. Debacle. Disaster. A Rotting American Monument of Shame.

People around the world think the United States is the richest country in the world. The land of opportunity. The shining city on the hill.

I give them Detroit.

This is what happens when a country refuses to be self-sufficient. When a country refuses to make things for themselves. When a people refuse to buy the products made by their fellow countrymen. And when corrupt, incompetent greedy monkeys run once good companies and cities into the ground.

I give you Detroit.


Lost Cause said...

Are you sure that's not Chicago?

Lost Cause said...

Deserted Cities of the Heart

Anonymous said...

Detroit's problems have nothing to do with Americans refusing to buy American. Toyota and Mazda set up shop there and did fine. They employed lots of people. They just shipped the executive pay back to the old country. And this idea that it is patriotic to buy American cars is insane. People who blindly bought American effectively created a car bubble that was going to burst once times got tough enough that making a $2500 donation to the UAW and Lee Iacocca stopped being a luxury people could afford.

I grew up in Detroit and my relatives operated businesses in Detroit. The government was totally corrupt, in bed with the mafia and various other evil players. The racial tension in Detroit is unreal. It keeps any progress from being made. Most of the money in Detroit is new auto money. It doesn't care about the arts and community stuff.

After growing up in Detroit, I moved to Cleveland, which seems like it would be similar, but it is much different. The division between the suburbs and the city is not as pronounced. The racial tension is maybe 1/4 of what it is like in Detroit, if that. There is a lot of old money that supports the arts. The orchestra is world class, the art museum is pretty close. There is at least some form of mass transit.

In the mid 90's, while Detroit was hurting and Cleveland was on the rise, Detroit's leaders thought to invite the Cleveland leaders for a planning session. The Cleveland folks left frustrated claiming that all the Detroit people were just trying to figure out how to make the city better so they could make their buck. There was no care for the community as a whole.

Detroit is not all bad and Cleveland is not all good, by any means. But, even my mom, who is a loyal Detroiter, noticed the same differences right away. Cleveland had been ridiculed for so long and the people never let it get to them. I think Detroit is willing to let itself die. The suburbs pretty much wouldn't mind if Detroit itself fell into the river.

There are great people in Detroit, but the power structure is a joke. Give me a break, the mayor is in jail. The police are always getting busted for one scandal or another. And the old, old mayor probably should have been. There a lot of talented folks who want to continue to live there and the U of M graduates lots more of 'em every year. The city college in Detroit, Wayne State, has a number of good programs, also. And Michigan is a gorgeous state, without the insane costs and crowds of other attractive places. But when half the people in Detroit hate the other half, it is not going to get too far.

I'm afraid Detroit needs to act quick before more of the families start to follow their kids to the place where their kids got jobs. I have a lot of friends from Michigan who live here in Arizona and in most cases, their parents have followed them here.

Ross said...

If you're going to keep ripping on Detroit, I think you should really bring at least a picture of the mayor in one of his zoot suits to our attention.

Oh maybe it's too racist for this Obama blog to point out that a Suge Knight wannabe is running a US City?

Randall666Flagg said...

Ah, yes. Detroit; The quintessential, the epitomes of the American nation; The Birth Lair of The Great Snapper Turtle !!!

Anonymous said...

Detroit mirrors the national scene of corruption, neglect, decay, and more neglect. Every American city has elements of Detroit. I live in New Orleans, nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Not long ago, Detroit had the highest income per capita of any major city in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

...when unions protect a few at the cost of many. think about which institutions/industries are the worst in this country (public education, airlines, etc) and think about which ones have the most union involvement. good luck keeping secret ballots.

people would buy more US cars if they were as competitive as German or Japanese cars.

suzanne researched it... said...

People here talk about “turning the corner”, but no corner will be turned. We’ll have the blame passed back and forth between the blacks and the whites, the burbs and the city, the unions, the politicians, the media, globalization, etc... Lots of talk, but no real action. The overall city languishes and progressively deteriorates. It is cursed with the holy trinity of high crime, high taxes and horrible public schools.

Still Detroit does have a charm to it, anything is possible here. It is like a blank slate waiting for people to make what they want of it. Sadly the people of this city currently choose to create destruction. But pockets of hope and rebirth do exist.

I often joke to people its like Disneyland in reverse. It truly is like no other place on earth!


emmy said...

No doubt about it, Detroit is a warped area, and it seems disconnected from other parts of the country. Detroit the city is a tough, tough place, where the poverty and stress are too high and things happen that should never happen. Suburban Metro area was ubersuburbia, and the two areas divorced each other many years ago. A car is needed to get around Metro Detroit and people love their cars.
Now what? Does the suburban area disintigrate with the decline of the autos, and could that possibly be as severe as what has happened inside the city? Is that a So What question to other parts of the country.
In this part of the world, race is a big player,and certainly that was a big part of the decline in the city proper, but for the whole area the problem is bigger than that. People are insulated in their thought bubbles. "GM is too big to fail. I'm not worried." I just heard that last month from an GM engineer and mother of three and she was sincere. Why drive something small if you can drive something big? Fuel economy, that's just drivel! It's its own kingdom here, and there is simply a lack of understanding of other's point of view. The extensive disposable income along with all the neighbor"s, just fed the protective bubble these people lived in. Why wouldn't they?
It has literally gone on for generations.
Likely the Bush administration will only do token help, and GM in particular,will hold on until Jan 20th. Possibly. But if no one is buying your product, at some point the jig is up. The problem is that the Autos as a whole have very high expectations of what is acceptable for salary and benefits, and there will never be enough money from the government to satisfy this crowd.
So what does happen when the massive restructuring finally occurs? Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of thousands dispossessed.This too, in some ways is a large civil upheaval about to happen. Maybe some will say, oh well, people will get over it, and find a way. Sure, some will.
Some won't. Some will have trouble with the adjustment, heartwrenchingly so. People vary in their adaptability, and here adaptability was never a trait called into use. There will be a significant decline in this part of the country, that unless some kind of change occurs,and an industry can change/ or come in and uses the infrastructure we have here we will be echo what happened to the Deep South post-Civil War. We will become a backwater that willl take generations to overcome.
Does this matter to everyone else?
Well, I personally think so. If the calculus is correct, and three million people lose their jobs when the autos collapse, that would be a tremendous drag on the country. Tremendous...How that plays out..I don't know, especially if it happens very quickly say less than 1 year, or even in the next 6 months.
May we not live in interesting times.

Anonymous said...

The problem is with the high cost structure of the US auto industry. This forced the industry into focusing on high margin SUVs and trucks. It was short sightedness on the part of management.

RIPanic said...

What we should do to help the inner cities is to impose a "non-productive use of property" tax on any property which as been allowed to go into decay and non-productive use by its owner. In lieu of paying the tax, the neglectful property owner can deed the property to the city. The city then can sell or even give the property to people who will make actual productive use of the property.

I know all about the objections to this idea, including the likelihood that corruption will infest the system and result in the better properties ending up in the hands of the politically connected. But something must be done.

As a very insignificant but real example, I have a foreclosed house at the end of my street. For the past seven months, the bank has done nothing to secure the house, never mind actually keep it in repair. As this house deteriorates it will become a hazard to surrounding houses. Moreover, property values will be hurt. Why should the bank be allowed to let a house rot while it dithers about what to do, what to do, what to do. Tax the bank for every month of non-productive use of the house. Same with all-but-abandoned commercial and residential buildings in the inner city. I'm sick of absentee property owners who sit on their properties, doing nothing productive, in hope that someday when someone else starts to rebuild the local area, they can profit by just having held onto the property.

Let’s start giving the tools of economic growth to those who will use them.

Anonymous said...

This is where Bush-Cheney should be forced to live out the rest of their days.

A drafty, cold, miserable helhole. Chain them to a post and feed them twice a day and let them shit in a bucket.

Regina the mail lady said...

hey keith show us some of those pictures of homeless japanese, or stories about elderly japanese pickpockets and thieves in the grocery stores, or perhaps some pictures of decaying factories in China and civil unrest THERE of all places because people aren't getting paid and the jobs are shrinking because now that Americans aren't buying they are going crazy. Remember they hate americans but loved our money and now that that is going away they wonder what happened to the greedy, shopaholic american that kept rice on their tables. Show us the rotting ghettos all over the world (Venezuela, Brazil, Spain, Phillipines, European Bloc, Africa) and let's see if people can tell the difference. This youtube is a picture of WalMart abandoning real estate all over the USA for big superWalMarts, leaving devestation and decay for beautiful and new suburbs and more money and less lower income. These are pictures of buildings left to rot because these same companies left the USA to build their cheap products in China (Ford sent products to be put together in Mexico hense the NAFTA super highway, guess they are gonna scrap that idea) screwed the people in the towns and communities. Companies ran from these buildings so they could pay the people in Taiwan 50cent (a pun yes) an hour so they can live it up in Moniticito California in Masaratis and 20 million dollar homes. They are alot like S&Aers, they always wanna blame black folks but White America made sure black people owned nothing and gave them nothing so this is white flight blight, quit blaming blacks for Detroits problems, if they had been included in this society after the civil right movements in the 60's instead of being hung from trees maybe you'd see a much different America now, but if whites didn't have someone to blame then who would get a stick up the butt, never chinese or mexicans remember they are considered caucasians. So blame it on blacks, nice beautiful schools for whites, decaying schools for blacks. Looks like the pictures on this youtube to me. What do whites expect from people who have no money, the south of france. Please quit being one dimentional and look at the whole picture starting with your prejudice. Looks to me alot of those places could have been converted into lofts but if all the jobs go to China, India, Mexico whose gonna make the payments on em.

Anonymous said...

Detroit is a 'chocolate city' right?
should'nt it be paradise?

Anonymous said...

and all is well in the rest of the world? show us what's going on in your host country. how are things in the north?

Anonymous said...

I don't know which is more tragic - the corporate destruction of Detroit or the abandonment of New Orleans.

What city will we lose next?

If memory serves, US automakers had a funny way of recognizing revenue - once the newly built vehicle hit the storage lot (not the dealer lot or customer driveway) the automakers recognized revenue. Leases were even stranger, but I don't recall the specifics. Seems managers really shot themselves. I really hate the union bashing. If the company could design great cars, I believe the workers could build them.

Anonymous said...

'lost cause', if that were Chicago, those buildings would have been converted to condos by now - empty condos, but condos non-the-less.

Bukko_in_Australia said...

To the Anonymous who bagged the unions and praised Japanese and German cars -- don't forget that Japan and Germany have strong unions throughout their society. It's not the unions that are the problem, it's management that adopts an adversarial attitude and decides on crappy products.

But the problem goes even deeper than management vs. unions. It's really the American people. What makes Detroit so different from Windsor, Ontario, just across the river? It's not just black people. Too many Americans are greedy grifters, which is reflected in the political leaders they elect and the hostile, criminal society the people create.

The problem is not Detroit, it's Americans. And I say that as someone who lived the first 47 years of his life there.

Anonymous said...

I went to an Old West ghost town while on vacation last year. I blame Big Cattle, Republicans, and realtors for that town dying. Most of those poor people had to move because of greedy corporations setting up shop in other towns and states. There were a few individuals with vision who stayed. Their bodies were found a year later. I think their descendants should get some kind of payout. Perhaps a class action lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

cities like detroit and cleveland built this country!