posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 06:35 PM
I'm from Detroit, and I can tell you that it's a far, far cry from what it used to be. All of Boston, San Francisco and Manhattan can fit within
Detroit's city borders with room to spare. That tells you how much room there is in Detroit, and how spread out the population is. Detroit's
population peaked at 1.8 million during the 1950s; estimates today put it at around 800,000, a loss of 1 million people.
The government is trying to function as if the city still has 1.8 million souls. It really needs to downsize the city, close off sparsely populated
areas and have people gather in more dense areas to make city services more efficient, because right now, everything but the most severe crimes are
either ignored or responded to a few hours later by Detroit police. Some weeks your trash isn't picked up. Street lights don't get repaired for
years while the streets and sidewalks crumble. Half of the city is abandoned land reverting to prairie and forest once again.
A nice side effect of manufacturing leaving the area is the Detroit river is healthier than it's been in 100 years. Lots of animals are coming back,
like beavers, that haven't been seen in decades. While it's nice to see nature make a comeback, the people are suffering. Unemployment in Michigan
hovers around 15%, but Detroit's rate is 30%. High school graduation is around 25% (partly artifically low because thousands of kids are leaving the
public schools to go to suburban ones or charter schools, when a kid leaves the district, it adds a tally to the drop-out list).
Why has all that happened? A mix of things. Definite racism that persists to this day. Detroit was a majority white city into the 60s, when white
flight really took off, though white flight had been going on since the 40s. Whites left because blacks were moving in from the South. In some
neighborhoods, literally, brick walls were built to separate whites from blacks. The racism culminated in the 1967 riots, which, besides physically
scarring Detroit, left the imprint that the city was not safe and if you could afford to get out, then you should.
Another reason is the extinction of America's manufacturing industry. We all know Detroit is the automobile capital of the world. It's the
birthplace of the middle class. Uneducated fathers could raise a family with 4-5 kids and a wife on a good salary from working in a car plant or a
related industry. My dad worked at a Chrysler plant and then a small tool and die shop. When those jobs disappeared, there was nothing left to replace
them. The high-tech jobs were in California and the South, and they required educated workers. The financial jobs were in New York. There was no
industry in Detroit except for the car industry.
There's also the mass corruption and general idiots in office. Kilpatrick was just one of many morons feeding off the system. There were many lower
ones taking advantage of loopholes. During a state-appointed audit of the public schools system, a lot of "employees" turned themselves in when
given amnesty because they were pulling paychecks even though they weren't technically working there anymore. There's just no oversight.
But Detroiters are strong and resilient. Many are still there because they choose to be there. When I graduate from university, I'd love to go back
and live downtown and contribute to the city's rebirth. It's probably not possible given my now-poor choice of field (journalism), but nevertheless
the Detroit papers will be the first place I look for work.
America's economy today runs on the idea of electronic wealth. The stock market creates wealth that doesn't actually exist. The countries gaining
wealth today are those that are creating physical goods in factories. China, India. You can't base an economy on numbers on a computer screen and
expect to maintain supremacy.