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September 21, 2010


George Pal

Contemporary Detroit is exhibit A in the destructive capacity of liberalism, now also officially measured in megatonnage.

To compare “modern” Detroit with present day Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Mannheim and Dresden further indicts liberalism.

Stop the proliferation of liberalism... and liberals... do it for the children.


Yes indeed--for the children.

Dewey From Detroit

Great post! I did some mini-coverage on Dewey today, but I'm thinking of doing a longer piece on "professional" unions, a phenomenon which has always struck me as incongruous.

Anyway,loved this.

Promise to post or send Potatoes Delphine soon.


It has been said that the coal and steel barons who endowed the Pittsburgh (another sick city, but nowhere near Detroit-status) Symphony were so generous that the orchestra could play to an empty hall every night forever and have no worries. If it is true, it is a shame the auto barons weren't as generous.

Mrs. Peperium

Well, I would guess the person who said that about the coal and steel barons never took an economics class at college.

The auto barons were incredibly generous to Detroit. And still would be if the Unions and the City hadn't sucked them dry.

Dewey - after being friends with symphony players for more than a decade, I only learned last summer they were union - and you could've have knocked me over with a cheese straw as that goes against all of the first principles of creativity and artistic genius.

But learning this did put so many of the bizarre political conversations we had had over the years in their proper context - I had always chalked things up to never taking an economics course at school - not because they were union...

Mrs. Peperium

George, in the last video - it is pointed out that the elderly woman lived right next to Palmer Park/ Palmer Woods - a once very affluent and gorgeous area. Through advertising I knew a lot of (wealthy) people who grew up there. One always stood out the most as he was the first guy I ever met who told me his parents were underground as in hiding as they were wanted by the FBI. (But they had lived in Palmer Woods???) Probably with eyes as big as a harvest moon I asked him why. "They're communists." He explained to me that before the '67 Riot his mom and dad had been working in the black neighborhoods --organizing. They were affluent Jewish intellectuals who also were communist party members and they had become activists. Then the riots came - he was 18 at the time. Afterward, his parents had to go underground. He hadn't seen them in years - this would've been about 1989 when he told me about this - but he did say occasionally they got messages to him or his sister letting them know they were still alive. I asked him if he knew where they lived now.

"They're still in Detroit."

Oh and he had gone to Cass Tech, U of M and was a musician who did ad jingles.

Andrew Cusack

That Krugman guy has probably taken some economics courses, and I still wouldn't trust a single word that came out of his mouth.

Come to think of it I have never taken an economics course!

Mrs. Peperium

"Come to think of it I have never taken an economics course!"

Explains everything...

Andrew Cusack

Its probably because I've never been indoctrinated by economics professors that I've kept my economic-freedom-loving sensibilities.

big spaniel

When I was a precocious schoolboy I read a great deal about Detroit, so I think I have a little more perspective that most other people who grew up in my age. I wasn't able to spend much of my adult life there -- I left home at 18 to go to school, just down the road, and later out east, and then I got my current job which has lead me outside the country about half the time. But I still identify myself as a Detroit, even though I grew up in the suburbs. But I went through Detroit every schoolday for 13 years to go to school in Hamtramck. In hindsight I think I was there when Detroit started to breathe its first last gasps. Detroit, and the nearer suburbs, never did recover from the 1973 recession, but was piled on by the late 70s one, the early 80s one, etc., etc.

Over two years I was driving out of town south, and I had a problem with my luggage carrier, so I pulled off I-75 at Caniff to fix it, and ended up in my beloved Hamtramck (which still shows some viability of an urban neighborhood). Instead of getting by on the highway I decided to take some surface streets towards downtown (it was late morning and I wasn't worried). I drove down, I think it was Saint Antoine, past where St. Stanislaus used to be, and then for the first time I understood the depopulation of the city of Detroit. I was shocked. There wasn't -- there just wasn't anything there. And then I went to Tiger Stadium, which had only been torn down half way, the outfield seats. That's when I wondered if there was anything left for me.

So what happened? First, deindustrialization. We just can't afford to make things anymore, we are outcompeted either by the south, Mexico or China. Nobody is really addressing this issue in a structural manner. There are tax and health care and infrastructure fixes that are needed, but I've never heard anybody offer up a real solution to keeping middle class industrial and technical jobs (i.e., the ones which used to be in Detroit) in the economy.

A second issue in the quality of the housing stock. Detroit led the nation in home ownership and I was proud of that. The only person I knew in the 70s that lived in an apartment was my friend who's parents had divorced, and his mom eventually bought a townhouse. But those frame houses built for the working class didn't hold their value well and they were on small lots with alleys. So as demographics change and they moved from owner to owner to absentee owner, it's not surprising that after a while they are also good for kindling. All industrial cities had this to an extent, but I've gone through lots of neighborhoods and the ones that seem to have fared better have a higher standard of residential housing.

But the third, and most destructive, strike has been the 40-year control of the educational system by the local educational establishment. Money was wasted on jobs for administrators and nobody was watching (or cared to watch or knew how to watch) whether the kids were learning. They were not. And more and more of these kids are coming from dysfunctional, most often one-parent families, a phenomenon which is probably on it's third generation by now. Even with the preexisting infrastructure and industrial sites available in the city, why would anybody set up any kind of business, much less an industrial business there? Who is going to work there that you would be willing to hire? (This at the same time when reportedly 40,000 Indian and Pakistani engineers came to work in the Detroit area, most likely for "modest wages.") Half of the people in Detroit are functionally illiterate, and not qualified for any job that does not require a shovel.

I'm at a loss. I fear there's no turning back. St. Louis was famously called "America's first dead city" but Detroit's long surpassed it towards the grave line. There are a lot of cities and town in the northeast and midwest that have been deindustralized, but they haven't fallen as fast and as hard as Detroit.

People! Citizen are economic entities first and foremost! Just look at early Germany history, it's the history of cities forming and relating to each other well before there was a German nation-state. With no economic rationale to sustain it, Detroit will become a one-hundred-year boom town, having gone on longer than most but still destined to serve as an on-off ramp for tumbleweads.

The big question for us is how the suburbs survive. Obviously the further out the better they'll do. But they're even more dependent on economics and business because they usually don't have the social amenities that only a central city can is able to offer.

I think that the worse loss for many of us is that we're no longer able to access an urban lifestyle for ourselves. I've live in a number of big cities and have enjoyed them. Where I am currently living now, Stockholm, is a wonderful, well-organized cities with all sorts of things and an incredible extensive public transportation system and is a walkable city, even in wintertime. Whereas in the U.S., there are maybe four places (outside of college towns which are all too small to really be considered) where you can live an urban lifestyle: New York, Boston, Washington DC and San Francisco. For the rest of us, our birthright of being able to live in an urban society has been snatched away from us, unless we all want to start pulling up asphalt pavement to start planing wheat and corn on.

Detroit is still my home. My mother, family and friends are all there. I read the News on-line every day. I go see the Red Wings play away games with hundreds of ex-Detroiters. Why are the Red Wings the best-supported road team in the NHL? Because so many of us are exiles, that's why!

I often wonder what would have happened if I didn't have the job I had now, and was there an option of coming back to Detroit. I probably could have gotten a job working for a government in Connecticut, but I would have tried to come back to Michigan eventually. What would have happened? I half to admit it wouldn't have been as good.

big spaniel

Oh, I'm sorry, but Nolan Finley for both Governor AND Mayor. And/or Daniel Howes. They're the only ones saying anything. You'll certainly never see anything like it in the Freep.....

Mrs. Peperium

big spaniel - I owe you biggest email ever.

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