Monday READ – 22 July 2013
Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* 25 FACTS ABOUT THE FALL OF DETROIT THAT WILL LEAVE YOU SHAKING YOUR HEAD
By Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse
It is so sad to watch one of America’s greatest cities die a horrible death. Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was a teeming metropolis of 1.8 million people and it had the highest per capita income in the United States. Now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole of about 700,000 people that the rest of the world makes jokes about. On Thursday, we learned that the decision had been made for the city of Detroit to formally file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. It was going to be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States by far, but on Friday it was stopped at least temporarily by an Ingham County judge. She ruled that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing violates the Michigan Constitution because it would result in reduced pension payments for retired workers. She also stated that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was “also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy“, and she ordered that a copy of her judgment be sent to Barack Obama. How “honoring the president” has anything to do with the bankruptcy of Detroit is a bit of a mystery, but what that judge has done is ensured that there will be months of legal wrangling ahead over Detroit’s money woes. It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out. But one thing is for sure – the city of Detroit is flat broke. One of the greatest cities in the history of the world is just a shell of its former self. The following are 25 facts about the fall of Detroit that will leave you shaking your head…
1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.
2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities. That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.
3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.
5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.
6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.
7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.
8) About one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.
It is easy to point fingers and mock Detroit, but the truth is that the rest of America is going down the exact same path that Detroit has gone down.
Detroit just got there first.
All over this country, there are hundreds of state and local governments that are also on the verge of financial ruin… […]
* MODERN RUINS OF ABANDONED DETROIT (PHOTOS)
By Matthew Neugeboren and Stephanie Valera, The Weather Channel
Symbolizing the dramatic decline of Motor City, many buildings and structures in the former manufacturing mecca of Detroit, Mich. lay in crumbling and weather-beaten ruins. In his bestselling book, “The World Without Us,” Alan Weisman (who has reported from abandoned cities such as Chernobyl, Ukraine and Varosha, Cyprus) wrote that structures crumble as weather does unrepaired damage and other life forms create new habitats. A common structure would begin to fall apart as water eventually leaks into the roof, erodes the wood and rusts the nail, he wrote. Without intervention, many of Detroit’s abandoned structures would eventually succumb to nature’s elements.
But there is a haunting beauty to the decaying ruins of a post-industrial city such as Detroit, which has become the largest American city to file for bankruptcy. And this is what photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre captured in their series “The Ruins of Detroit” (Steidl, 2011). In the images above, Marchand and Meffre document a city’s disintegration, showcasing structures that were formerly a source of civic pride. […]
* DETROIT, AND THE BANKRUPTCY OF AMERICA’S SOCIAL CONTRACT
By Robert Reich
One way to view Detroit’s bankruptcy — the largest bankruptcy of any American city — is as a failure of political negotiations over how financial sacrifices should be divided among the city’s creditors, city workers, and municipal retirees — requiring a court to decide instead. It could also be seen as the inevitable culmination of decades of union agreements offering unaffordable pension and health benefits to city workers.
But there’s a more basic story here, and it’s being replicated across America: Americans are segregating by income more than ever before. Forty years ago, most cities (including Detroit) had a mixture of wealthy, middle-class, and poor residents. Now, each income group tends to lives separately, in its own city — with its own tax bases and philanthropies that support, at one extreme, excellent schools, resplendent parks, rapid-response security, efficient transportation, and other first-rate services; or, at the opposite extreme, terrible schools, dilapidated parks, high crime, and third-rate services.
The geo-political divide has become so palpable that being wealthy in America today means not having to come across anyone who isn’t. […]
* DETROIT’S COLLAPSE REVEALS THE AWFUL DYSTOPIA THAT THE UNITED STATES IS BECOMING
By Juan Cole, AlterNet
The Motor City’s problems — deindustrialization, robotification, long-term unemployment, racial division — are America’s problems.
The big question is whether Detroit’s bankruptcy and likely further decline is a fluke or whether it tells us something about the dystopia that the United States is becoming. It seems to me that the city’s problems are the difficulties of the country as a whole, especially the issues of deindustrialization, robotification, structural unemployment, the rise of the 1% in gated communities, and the racial divide. The mayor has called on families living in the largely depopulated west of the city to come in toward the center, so that they can be taken care of. It struck me as post-apocalyptic. Sometimes the abandoned neighborhoods accidentally catch fire, and 30 buildings will abruptly go up in smoke.
Detroit had nearly 2 million inhabitants in its heyday, in the 1950s. When I moved to southeast Michigan in 1984, the city still had over a million. I remember that at the time of the 1990 census, its leaders were eager to keep the status of a million-person city, since there were extra Federal monies for an urban area of that size, and they counted absolutely everyone they could find. They just barely pulled it off. But in 2000 the city fell below a million. In 2010 it was 714,000 or so. Google thinks it is now 706,000. There is no reason to believe that it won’t shrink on down to almost nothing.
The foremost historian of modern Detroit, Thomas J. Sugrue, has explained the city’s decline. First of all, Detroit grew from 400,000 to 1.84 million from 1910-1950 primarily because of the auto industry and the other industries that fed it (machine tools, spare parts, services, etc.) From 1950 until now, two big things happened to ruin the city with regard to industry. The first was robotification. The automation of many processes in the factories led to fewer workers being needed, and produced unemployment. (It was a trick industrial capitalism played on the African-Americans who flocked to Detroit in the 1940s to escape being sharecroppers in Georgia and elsewhere in the deep South, that by the time they got settled the jobs were beginning to disappear). Then, the auto industry began locating elsewhere, along with its support industries, to save money on labor or production costs or to escape regulation.
The refusal of the white population to allow African-American immigrants to integrate produced a strong racial divide and guaranteed inadequate housing and schools to the latter. Throughout the late 1950s and the 1960s, you had substantial white flight, of which the emigration from the city after the 1967 riots was a continuation. The white middle and business classes took their wealth with them to the suburbs, and so hurt the city’s tax base. That decrease in income came on top of the migration of factories. The fewer taxes the city brought in, the worse its services became, and the more people fled. The black middle class began departing in the 1980s and now is mostly gone. […]
* DETROIT MAYOR WARNS “WE MAY BE ONE OF THE FIRST … BUT WE ABSOLUTELY WON’T BE THE LAST”
By Tyler Durden, zerohedge
Amid the furore of Sunday morning political programming, Detroit Mayor Bing and Michigan Governor Snyder have been quite vocal. Bing made it clear that “a lot of negotiations will go into fixing our city,” and when asked whether he will seek a Federal bailout, he responded, “not yet.” The decisions following this huge bankruptcy are likely to be precedent-setting as Bing noted that more than 100 urban US cities “are having the same problems we’re having.” As the WSJ reports, Bing warned, “We may be one of the first. We are the largest. But we absolutely will not be the last. And so we have got to set a benchmark in terms how to fix our cities.” Snyder was a little more hopeful that salvation will come from above as he stated that while “I don’t view that as the right answer… if the federal government wants to [bail us out], that’s their option.”
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing on Sunday left the door open for a federal bailout after the city’s bankruptcy filing, saying the nation’s response would “set a benchmark” for aiding other struggling cities.
Asked directly whether Detroit would seek a federal bailout, Mr. Bing said “not yet.”
More than 100 urban U.S. cities “are having the same problems we’re having,” Mr. Bing said. “We may be one of the first. We are the largest. But we absolutely will not be the last. And so we have got to set a benchmark in terms how to fix our cities.”
Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, appearing on other Sunday news programs, also left the door open for federal bailout money. “If the federal government wants to do that, that’s their option,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” But he added, “I don’t view that as the right answer.”
Photo by Rob Zand released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.