Friday, July 19, 2013

The Paris of the West

Photo: Albert Duce

Largest Municipal Bankruptcy in US History

The City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy yesterday in the face of a two billion dollar immediate shortfall and roughly 20 billion in long term debt.

The unemployment rate sits at 16% and the population has decreased 63% from its high in the 1950's from roughly two million to 700,000 today. The population has decreased 28% since 2000 and the tax base can no longer support the city's debt and expenses.

The average police response time in Detroit is 58 minutes and only 8.7% of crimes are solved.

30% of the city's police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances are not functional.

40% of the city's street lights are not functioning.

There are over 78,000 abandoned properties in the city.

Of the 20 billion in city debt, roughly half is owed to two retirement systems, the General Retirement System and the Police & Fireman Retirement System which have sued to block a reduction in pensions.

America's Disgrace

What do you do with a city no one wants to live in?

While abandoned homes may be familiar to most of us,  the concept of abandoned skyscrapers is almost surreal.  We give away 50 billion in foreign aid every year while what was once one of America's premier cities looks like this.  It's not hard to look at Detroit on Google Maps satellite imagery and find entire blocks bereft of houses or blocks with only one or two left, and that view gives you no indication of what is abandoned yet still standing. If you need help getting started just google "Alfred Street and John R Street, Detroit, Michigan" and scroll around.

The intent of this post isn't to point fingers and place blame, for as G.K Chesterton said:

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."

The question is, what the hell do we do about it?


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