Detroit To Start Turning Out The Lights

The City of Detroit appears ready to abandon vast sections of itself to the metaphorical jungle.

In the latest sign of the continued decline of what used to be a great city, Detroit is considering turning off nearly half it’s streetlights:

Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.

As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can’t afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.

Other U.S. cities have gone partially dark to save money, among them Colorado Springs; Santa Rosa, California; and Rockford, Illinois. Detroit’s plan goes further: It would leave sparsely populated swaths unlit in a community of 713,000 that covers more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Franciscocombined. Vacant property and parks account for 37 square miles (96 square kilometers), according to city planners.

“You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,” said Chris Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer. “We’re not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas.”

Of course, once you make the decision to “darken” those run-down sparsely populated areas of a given city, all you’re really doing is ensuring that those areas go into further decline. Without sufficient lighting at night, those parts of the city will inevitably decline even further as criminal elements take advantage of the situation, which in turn will cause more people to leave the areas completely, thus abandoning it to further decline and decay. It may make sense right now, when funds are short and the logic of spending more money in parts of town that are already havens for street crime and drug gangs admittedly very compelling. In the long term, though, this essentially means that there will be entire areas of what was once known as “Detroit” that most likely will never come back. Perhaps there’s else left to do at this point, and this is the inevitable result of a city that failed to modernize in the face of a declining auto industry thanks in no small part to the fact that people kept electing a series of corrupt officials to run the city.

Jonathan Turley laments the whole darn thing:

It is truly shocking and sad. Having grown up in Chicago, I remember Detroit when it was a thriving city. It was one of the world’s great cities. It is a wonderful location near the Canadian border and has some beautiful areas. I love the history surrounding the city. For that reason, I am very angry over its demise and frankly blame a long line of shockingly bad politicians. It is not that any politician could stop the economic slide due to the decline of the auto industry, but the Detroit leadership has lurched from one criminal investigation to another over the years. It now stands as a cautionary tale for all cities, particularly in losing their tax base and diversity in population. Many black and white families moved out of Detroit to avoid rising taxes and crime rate in what became a downward spiral for the city. That reduces jobs in the city and led to more people fleeing the city (in addition to the loss of auto jobs). With whole areas of the city now being abandoned, it is hard to see how the city can recover significantly in the near future

Writing the Etan Patz post I wrote late yesterday afternoon, I was reminded of how different a place New York City was in 1979 from what it is today.  The city’s financial situation was never nearly as  bad as things are in Detroit today, but New Yorkers were only a few years removed from a financial crisis that had nearly bankrupted the city. During the 60s and 70s New York had become a grity, dirty city. Few people would’ve believed, I think, that the city was only a few years away from the beginning of a transition that would return the Big Apple to its former glory. Times Square, which used to be among the seediest places on the East Coast, is now a thriving tourist area, and the New York City subway system puts mass transit in any other major American city to shame. I doubt the same thing can happen in Detroit (or Gary, Indiana or any of the other number of Midwestern cities that have found themselves in situations like Detroit’s), but we’ve also seen smaller cities turn themselves around. Go to a city like Pittsburgh or Cleveland and you’ll see what can happen when an industrial city in a post-industrial nation finds ways to adjust to the new world. It hasn’t been perfect, but those cities are certainly in better shape than Detroit has been in a decade, or is likely to be a decade from now. That, it seems, is what happens when a city has leaders who aren’t primarily in office to line their own pockets. 

Photo via Businessweek

 

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Government, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Good blog post. Detroit indeed on many levels is a cautionary tale. The elephant in the room, however, which always seems to remain unsaid, starts with a “D” and ends with “s” and we’re not talking about Drachmas.

    As someone who grew up in NYC during the 1970’s I also wanted to comment on two of your additional musings:

    During the 60s and 70s New York had become a grity, dirty city.

    Definitely an understatement. To this day I still remember the smell of the garbage piled six feet high in the streets. I also remember the burnt out shells of buildings in the Bronx and in Brooklyn. The South Bronx looked worse than Beirut.

    Few people would’ve believed, I think, that the city was only a few years away from the beginning of a transition that would return the Big Apple to its former glory.

    Ah, but the Big Rotten Apple was not “only a few years away” from its renaissance. NYC still was a flaming train wreck of a disaster all the way through David Dinkins’s term as mayor. Crime still was rampant. The garbage still was piled high in the streets. Various places in the City continued to look like war zones. The turnaround began in 1994. Connect the dots…..

  2. AllenS says:

    I posted this earlier on the Althouse blog, and by the way, I was born in Detroit in 1946. It used to be a very vibrant city.

    One of the main reasons why Detroit is such a shit hole was the riots of 1967. Sorry to have to say this, but black people gone wild, looting and burning all the stores was the start of a city losing it’s reasons for existence.

    I was attached to the 82nd Abn. Div. at Fort Bragg during that time and we were being mobilized to go there. Do you know that our racially integrated unit was segregated with the black soldiers standing on the sidelines while everyone else performed riot drills? Not cool.

  3. DC Loser says:

    I lived in the Bronx in the 70s and had to ride the elevated subway through some of the worst areas of the South Bronx on an almost daily basis when I went to college in Brooklyn. I still remember the aftermath of the blackout in 77 and how the South Bronx burned that night. Crime was everywhere, something that many people forget today. NYC is a lot safer today than it was 30 years ago. But there is certainly some ‘character’ missing from those days.

  4. John Burgess says:

    If you look, it’s not hard to find laments about the ‘Disneyfication’ of Times Square, the loss of all that wonderful grit that inspires artistic creativity in NYC.

    I used to live in Detroit — in the Redford area, not far off Grand River Ave. and a block from Cooley High School. In the 1950s, it was a suburban area, filled with families, many of whom were immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Walking six blocks to school was common — and safe.

    Houses on my street on now on sale — and mostly in foreclosure — for anything from $6,400 – $12,000. I can’t tell from Google Maps if the streetlights still function.

    This is actually sad.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    The very fact that Detroit has lost such a high percentage of its population would require some form of shrinkage in any case. Detroit is like Chicago; a city with few geographic constraints around it, which means that historically there’s always been a tendency for sprawl. Now you take get rid of 60% of the population. Of course you’re going to have “thinly inhabited areas” of the city. It would be best if Detroit were to chop off as much surrounding territory as it could and shrink to a 60% smaller footprint.

  6. JKB says:

    I don’t understand. Shouldn’t they just tax the rich, some more? I thought that was the solution when Leftist politicians needed some cash to keep the bread and circuses going?

    Bring in some out of state bulldozers and plow it up. Cities rise and fall, there is no objective reason for Detroit now, initiative and enterprise have moved to more conducive localities.

    As for NYC, they got saved by the rise of finance. But now, they’ve turned on the cash cow and this one doesn’t even have machine tools to amortize.

    New York City has become too dependent on the financial industry. In 2008, 44 percent of Manhattan wages were earned by workers in finance and insurance; the following year, even after the financial crisis and economic downturn had battered the industry, that share stood at a still-enormous 37 percent. And the track record of one-industry towns isn’t good. source

  7. AllenS says:

    Both Chicago and Detroit have geographic constraints. Chicago has Lake Michigan and Detroit has Canada.

  8. LaMont says:

    @AllenS:

    I resent your premise as to why and when Detroit fell off. Yes there is a racial element – but that element lead to the decline of detroit way before 1967. That year was just the year the bubble burst. As a Detroiter, or so you claim, you should really grab a book and learn a little more about the history of Detroit. I’ll help you out – a great book to read is “Detroit – A Biography” by Scott Martelle.

    If you read the book you will learn that, in a nutshell, the start of Detroit’s decline began somewhere between the “great migration” (when blacks moved from the south to places like Detroit to work in the auto industry) and the “white flight” (whites moving outside the city of Detroit when laws were passed that insured that blacks could no longer be barred from living in predominantly white neighborhoods). As whites moved outside of the city of Detroit so went all the resources that sustained it. Do you realize that the entire city of Detroit does not have one major grocery store? Nor does Detroit have any major movie theaters, malls, or large restaurant chains while the suburbs just outside the city are thriving.

    Indeed it started off with a racial element and turned into a big case of haves and have nots while Detroit leaders were left to manage the Titantic (corruption notwithstanding) and anyone with money or an education with the prospect of making money moved out.

    Yes there were also key leadership decision along the way that basically closed the coffin (and leadership decisions today that are nailing the thing shut). However, my point is that no city could or would have stood a chance had it started with the same conditions (lack of corrective actions and all from the very start) as that of Detroit. Definitely a case to learn from.

  9. AllenS says:

    Lamont, I resent your resentment. I started my post off with this: “One of the main reasons why Detroit is such a shit hole”

    You understand, don’t you, that the big word there is “one”. Can you understand the concept? What I posted was not the only reason why Detroit is the way it is, but one of the reasons. I now live in a place with 500+ people. Guess what. We also have haves and have nots. Most places do. The only difference is that none of us is going to burn down local businesses. What happened during the riots was that the grocery stores among other buildings that employed people and provided services and goods were looted and burned. They didn’t return. People leave town when that happens. You were alive back then weren’t you?

  10. Franklin says:

    Cough, Coleman Young, cough cough, Kwame Kilpatrick, cough cough cough.

    Certain types of leadership trickle down through the ranks.

  11. PD Shaw says:

    Speaking of Coleman Young, his view:

    The riot put Detroit on the fast track to economic desolation, mugging the city and making off with incalculable value in jobs, earnings taxes, corporate taxes, retail dollars, sales taxes, mortgages, interest, property taxes, development dollars, investment dollars, tourism dollars, and plain damn money. The money was carried out in the pockets of the businesses and the white people who fled as fast as they could. The white exodus from Detroit had been prodigiously steady prior to the riot, totally twenty-two thousand in 1966, but afterwards it was frantic. In 1967, with less than half the year remaining after the summer explosion—the outward population migration reached sixty-seven thousand. In 1968 the figure hit eighty-thousand, followed by forty-six thousand in 1969.

  12. Jeremy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Took the words right out of my mouth.

    Detroit needs to adapt to being a smaller city, period. Pulling the city services’ back and reducing its area is what it needs to do to avoid collapse. If people want to worry about those “thinly populated areas,” they can make new cities (or towns, or whatever Michigan’s local government structure is; I come from New York which is a tad different with its civil townships) and adopt new policies that will avoid the problems of old Detroit.

    There’s nothing to lament. This is just change. It happens.

  13. WR says:

    I don’t know why you’re complaining, Doug. This is the libertarian paradise. The market has spoken, and the market doesn’t like Detroit. Sure, the city will decay and die, and those who live there will suffer — but come on, they’re losers who haven’t become rich. Why should the job creators of Michigan be forced to subsidize all these animals? Especially, as some of our newer commenters are so eager to point out, those animals are b-l-a-c-k, and thus deserve whatever they get.

    I’m surprised you’re not out front with JKB, urging the bulldozing of the city since no investment bankers live there. Come on, man, this is the predictable outcome of all your political beliefs — embrace it!

  14. @LaMont:

    Do you realize that the entire city of Detroit does not have one major grocery store? Nor does Detroit have any major movie theaters, malls, or large restaurant chains while the suburbs just outside the city are thriving.

    616 Grocery Stores: http://www.yellowpages.com/detroit-mi/grocery-stores
    23 Movie Theaters: http://www.yellowpages.com/detroit-mi/movie-theaters
    28 Malls: http://www.yellowpages.com/detroit-mi/mall
    3478 Restaurants: http://www.yellowpages.com/detroit-mi/restaurant

  15. Can someone spring my comment from moderation?

  16. LaMont says:

    @AllenS:

    My point is that it was not one of the factors rather it was a contingent part of the REAL factors that doomed Detroit from the beginning. Surely black people just didn’t feel the need to “go wild” out of thin air. As for some of the remaining businesses that were in Detroit at the time, the riots might have sped up the inevitable, but the riots themselves may not have been the reason why they might have very well dried up anyway. Furthermore, it has been 45 years since. So detroit still lacking these resources are inexcusable.

    I read somehting in an article that stated the following;

    “Causes of the Detroit Riot

    The origins of urban unrest in Detroit were rooted in a multitude of political, economic, and social factors including police abuse, lack of affordable housing, urban renewal projects, economic inequality, black militancy, and rapid demographic change.”

    http://www.67riots.rutgers.edu/d_index.htm

    The phrase that jumped out to me the most is “black militancy”. The article described further down that the black militant group were those that “felt disenfranchised and frustrated by what they percieved to be the relatively slow pace of racial change and persistant racial inequality.”

    The thing I probably resented the most in your original post is that you made a major out of what is argueably considered a minor in the grand scheme of detroit’s decline. To me, the minor is the act of rioting itself and the major is the political, economic, and social factors that led to it.

    You mentioned that you now live in a place of 500+ with haves and have nots. The real difference is not that the have nots did not burn down the place. The real difference is that the haves are not jumping ship!

  17. @WR:

    So what’s youre alternative, WR? Have like a lottery and force a random selection of people from around the coutnry to move back into Detroit to get it back up to it’s peak population?

  18. AllenS says:

    I don’t know what else to tell you, LaMont. I know a lot of people from Detroit. A lot of them are relatives. We all feel the same way. I guess you would have had to have been there. No matter how many articles you can turn up on Google doesn’t change a thing.

  19. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Either the current mayor or his immediate predecessor (a couple of years ago, I think?) already tried to cut off city services to less populated areas of the city in an attempt to reduce the city’s expenses, and effectively give back the land to nature. He was thwarted.

  20. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: The increase in the size and presence of the NYPD started under David Dinkins. Guiliani was positioned to take the ball and run with it. Sorry to let reality disrupt your narrative.

  21. JKB says:

    There is no longer any economic advantage for Detroit. Regardless of what happened in 1967, the world passed it by. Auto plants can be built more economically in other parts of the country and the world; the natural resources that feed such plants can be transported from anywhere on the globe for a reasonable transport fee; skilled workers can migrate to the location of the jobs. Detroit has a lot of old, obsolete infrastructure, a hostile workforce and thieving politicians.

    Now, someone tell me, what advantage does Detroit have that would cause productive people to move there, build businesses and create a thriving metropolis? The river? The lake? An enterprising population? Skilled workers at competitive rates? They do have large swaths of vacant land. Are the taxes competitive? Is the permitting process quick and convenient? Do they require large “community investments” of those considering building in their fiefdom?

  22. LaMont says:

    @AllenS:

    Allen, I don’t need the articles. I only use the articles to back up my argument. Me finding articles on the internet only illustrates how easily I can finds facts to back up my assertions.

    My father, uncles and aunties as well as my mother as a child all moved to Detroit from the south to take advantage of the jobs that were available in Detroit. It had nothing to do with politics, or social status, or race. They just wanted jobs and to take care of their own in ways that they could not down south. My father has a first-hand account of what it looked like before the white flight. He knows what it was like to live in a predominantly white neighborhood then to see his neighbors to his right and left move away. He knew what is was like to have access to a ton of resources right in the city only to have them dry up as more whites left the city. This was way before the riots.

    I got the stories from when detroit was great yet declining. When I realized that Detroit was once the center of the universe in the 1930s and 1940s, being a kid from one of the more dilapidated areas of detroit, I became very interested in detroit’s history and how/why it got to where it is today. The point that I am trying to make is that the riots themselves is a misreprsentation of the total story of Detroit’s decline. Why did I take offense – becuase, despite you saying it was one of the reasons, it was the only reason you used and I thought that the picking of this minor reason itself wrongly contextualized Detroit’s decline.

  23. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “So what’s youre alternative, WR? Have like a lottery and force a random selection of people from around the coutnry to move back into Detroit to get it back up to it’s peak population?”

    It’s called “taxation.” Granted, it sounds like an odd concept now, but we as a society used to agree that the citizenry would pay a percentage of their income to the government so that as a society we could build and maintain infrastructure that individuals could not achieve on their own. Over the last 30 years, we have decided that it’s much more important that the super-wealthy keep as much of their money as humanly possible, no matter what cost to society, and thus cities and states can no longer afford the basics of civilization.

    As I said, Detroit is the libertarian paradise. A Republican governor has stripped away state funding to give tax dollars back to corporations and rich people, and the poor and formerly middle class are left to battle it out in the dark.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    Paging Snake Plissken.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @AllenS: but not as many geographic constraints as places like San Francisco or Boston. Or NYC, for that matter. Think of Manhattan. Chicago isn’t limited, except on one side. It didn’t have to build itself up on a peninsula. Chicago is sprawl.

    I always freak out when I see a vacant lot in Chicago. In most of the cities I’ve lived in (London, Boston, Tokyo) something like that would have been built upon in a nanosecond.

    Detroit’s gotta collapse itself until it has a decent density of population in the areas that do remain.

  26. @WR:

    So because people in Detroit made decision that left the city incapable of sustaining itself, and so people living throught the rest of the state should have their tax dollars, which could be used to build infrastructure in their own cities and towns, diverted to bailout Detroit, without any control over what Detroit does with the money?

  27. JKB says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You don’t understand. Detroit was a city and it must not change. So what if taxes, demographics and loss of jobs caused people to move elsewhere for a better life. We must keep the old urban eyesores for, I don’t know, statist sake?

    You see, nothing can change, nothing can shrink, only expand. Lights cannot be turned out, energy and money cannot be saved. The obsolete factories filled with overpaid, and we’ll say, underutilized workers cannot close.

    And we’ll keep the lights on if we have to tax the rich at 125% of earnings. People gotta right to a world without hope, a world without change. A world frozen in progressivism.

  28. Brett says:

    There actually have been proposals to bulldoze large sections of Detroit and return it to a nature state. The only problem is that it costs a fair amount of money to bull-doze large stretches of a city and remove the waste, not to mention the legal and political delays. It would probably be faster if you just had B-52s fly over and carpet bomb the uninhabited stretches.

  29. John D'Geek says:

    @LaMont:

    However, my point is that no city could or would have stood a chance had it started with the same conditions (lack of corrective actions and all from the very start) as that of Detroit. Definitely a case to learn from.

    Hmmm … I’ll take that challenge.

    From what I’ve been reading, both sides of this argument can agree that the Detroit government has abandoned Rule of Law and is being uncooperative, yes? Well, that part’s not my forte’ … but it will be easier to gain cooperation with a reasonable plan, yes?

    Let me do some more reading and see what I can come up with. I’m sure that a (moderately) conservative approach would do wonders — especially if it’s a “bi-partisan” one.

    Let’s see … “crowd sourcing” … “serious games” … and last (because it is the nature of politics to not do so, it will have to be “crowd forced”) “bi-partisan cooperation”. yes, there are ways to turn Detroit around.

  30. Carson says:

    The idea that has gone around for decades that these “race” riots were caused by police brutality,
    poverty, hopelessness, etc. is a myth that is spread by universities and some politicians. These riots were planned, choreographed, and carried out by outside agitators and forces who’s purpose was to get these people under the control of the international one world organizations. LBJ’s antipoverty and welfare programs would then move in and have their votes forever.

  31. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes, Stormy, because we are a society. We’re not a random group of individual Galtian supermen, no matter how many libertarian masturbation fantasies go that way. We help our neighbors. We help our fellow Americans. And it’s not a one-way street — as impossible as it may be to believe it, even the Galtian supermen will make a mistake someday, and while they will have spent their entire lives saying we shouldn’t help others, they’ll come begging for help, and we’ll give it. Because we’re a society.

    Oh, wait. That’s already happened. We gave trillions of dollars to the banks that tanked our economy so that the bankers could keep get ten million dollar bonuses. And screaming about how terrible it is to bail out Detroit.

  32. WR says:

    @Carson: Time for your meds.

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    I don’t understand.

    That is apparent pretty much every time you speak.

  34. anjin-san says:

    Detroit has a lot of old, obsolete infrastructure,

    And so does America. That has been one of the gifts of the conservative movement. That is a chicken that is going to come home to roost.

  35. JKB says:

    @WR:

    We have bailed out Detroit. They are pretty much subsisting on Federal money now. But they aren’t able to make a go of it, regardless of how much charity they get. At some point, you have to accept Detroit isn’t able to make the changes necessary to become self-sufficient, ever again. Especially, at their population concentration size. I would have thought forced densification would appeal to an urbanista?

    So in a final bit of help, we help them move into a smaller area and return the rest back to nature and CO2 sequestration via vegetative growth

  36. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    We do have a lot of old and obsolete infrastructure. But there certainly isn’t a reason to renew such infrastructure in areas that no longer offer economic potential. And unless some idiot comes along designating everything in sight for “historic preservation” then if there is economic potential some terrible capitalist will come along and renew the infrastructure on their own dime.

    Of course, if you have a lot of Leftist thieving politicians and community organizers standing ready to extort anyone who tries to do something productive, the the economic potential of an area will fall precipitously.

  37. WR says:

    @JKB: Hey, why don’t we just give up on all of America besides Manhattan? I mean, that’s where the rich people live, and they’re the only ones who count, right? Why bother with rebuilding the country? That’s hard, and the money could be much better spent in full tax refunds to billionaires.

    What happened to the Right? At least they used to be patriots — to have pride in the country. Now every challenge is too hard, too messy. We can’t trust government to do anything, so let’s give up and move into gated enclaves that will keep the poor away from us.

    Sorry, JKB, I still believe in America. Too bad you’ve given up.

  38. JKB says:

    @WR: “Why bother with rebuilding the country? ”

    Feel free to build a productive economy in Detroit. Get rich in the doing. But Detroit wasn’t bombed; no natural catastrophe stuck.

    Rebuilding the buildings, the roads, the street lights and sidewalks will not make Detroit viable. First there must be productive enterprise, then the infrastructure will follow as people make a better place to live. Perhaps Detroit has lost the economic advantages it once had that inspired Henry Ford to locate his factory there? Perhaps the infrastructure built by the great entrepreneurs and manufacturers is no longer repurpose-able? Perhaps the population is no longer a skilled workforce? Or perhaps it is just the Leftist Democrat political machine has bled it dry and stand ready to sink their teeth in anyone who might seek to make a profit within their realm?

    If you wish to “rebuild Detroit,” you need to answer my earlier question

    Now, someone tell me, what advantage does Detroit have that would cause productive people to move there, build businesses and create a thriving metropolis?

    If you can answer that question, the rebuilding will happen without government intervention, and without, all these recriminations.

  39. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    Can you string three sentences together without brain dead right wing boilerplate? Just wondering…

  40. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    Please elaborate on this “brain dead right wing boilerplate.” I would love, as I’m sure others would as well, to read an eloquent rebuttal to the notion of assessing the economic viability of maintaining the status quo and prevent the consolidation of resources to give an enterprise, in this case the city of Detroit, a chance to once again become an on-going enterprise.

    Please, please, let us bask in your brilliance?

  41. grumpy realist says:

    Question for everybody: how difficult would it be to shrink the footprint of Detroit? From what I’ve read it sounds like Detroit has been struggling for some time to keep the infrastructure going in areas that it really doesn’t have the population to support. This is just a much bigger example of the areas we have in suburbia, where developers stampeded in to build large-scale developments, stampedes the local municipality to put down water and gas lines, and now everyone discovers that there isn’t the population to provide the tax base to pay for the cost of the infrastructure. So the local municipality tries to abandon having to keep the services going, and gets a lawsuit thrown at it.

    The problem is, we’re all acting as though once you buy a piece of real estate connected to a city, you have the right to city services no matter what happens in the future. People in “Detroit” are still acting though they’re in Detroit, even though the number of people has thinned out considerably. It would be much better to realize that no one has the right to full city services out in the middle of nowhere, which is what large pockets of Detroit are returning to. Cut off the sparser sections of Detroit, offer to shift anyone who wants to move into foreclosed places in the still-occupied areas (banks probably haven’t been keeping up the taxes, so the city can grab them under tax liens), and tell anyone who doesn’t want to move that they’re on their own from that point.

  42. JKB says:

    “and tell anyone who doesn’t want to move that they’re on their own from that point.”

    No problem, not city services, no city taxes. No city zoning code, no city regulators, no city council member, no city hassles. Revert back to the county. Or the locals incorporate into a new entity. That might be best, lots of little communities without the leftist politicians.

  43. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    I’m sorry, but your incessant references to “leftist politicians” make it difficult to take you seriously. “Leftist” is such a transparent dog whistle.

    and then there is this sort of idiocy:

    then if there is economic potential some terrible capitalist

    I don’t know how to break it to you, but Republicans don’t have an exclusive on capitalism.

  44. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    I don’t know about Republicans but I encourage everyone of all political philosophies to be capitalists. To invest their own resources in hopes of earning a profit. It is the only known economic method that raises the living standard of all and creates new and cheaper products for mankind. If they can resist co-opting their political connections via crony capitalism and make money from their superior product or effort, then they should be applauded.

  45. WR says:

    @JKB: “No problem, not city services, no city taxes. No city zoning code, no city regulators, no city council member, no city hassles. Revert back to the county. Or the locals incorporate into a new entity. That might be best, lots of little communities without the leftist politicians”

    It’s funny — liberals like to say that the ideal libertarian state is Somalia… and now JKB is seriously proposing we allow portions of the USA to turn into that war zone. No city services, so no cops or fire fighters, so no law enforcement. And since we know JKB believes in guns for all, he’d just let the area go to whichever warlord could amass the biggest gang of armed thugs. And he thinks this is a net positive.

    How sick do you have to be to loathe civilisation this much?

  46. @WR:

    Yes, Stormy, because we are a society.

    Well then, since we are a society, the people of Detroit should have no problem allowing the city to be controlled by a state appointed board, so that the entire society has a say in guiding the city through this troubled time?

    Or are we only a society when it comes to handing over money?

    We have similar problems in Pennsylvania with Philadelphia. For example, while the city of Philadelphia only has 12% of the state’s population, it recives 20% of the state’s support to public schools. “Because we’re a society” doesn’t explain why that particular part of society deserves to receive an outsized portion of resources, particularly given its per capita income is well above the state average and parts of the city lie within the four wealthiest counties in the state.

    “Because we are a society” is not an excuse for the cities to suck the resources out of the rest of the state so that the politicians can buy votes.

  47. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: I don’t know why you’re complaining, Doug. This is the libertarian paradise. The market has spoken, and the market doesn’t like Detroit.

    So, roughly a century of unmitigated Democratic and union control of the city has left it a desolate hellhole, and that’s the “Libertarian paradise?”

    If you were any dumber, they’d have to water you twice a week.

    Detroit’s current status is no one’s idea of a paradise. However, it was eminently predictable — and predicted by a lot of people who weren’t left-wing extremists, union suckups, or general liberal idiots.

    I’ll take it a step further, way into un-PC territory: I have no way of knowing this, but when I read John Derbyshire’s much-reviled piece (and, largely, justifiably so), I saw the line about “do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians” and immediately guessed he was speaking of Detroit and DC.

  48. @Jenos Idanian:

    You do realize that now that he’s no longer being muzzled by The National Review, Derbyshire has started explicitly advocating in favor of white supremacy?

    http://www.vdare.com/articles/john-derbyshire-who-are-we-the-dissident-right

    Leaving aside the intended malice, I actually think “White Supremacist” is not bad semantically. White supremacy, in the sense of a society in which key decisions are made by white Europeans, is one of the better arrangements History has come up with. There have of course been some blots on the record, but I don’t see how it can be denied that net-net, white Europeans have made a better job of running fair and stable societies than has any other group.

  49. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: No, I didn’t realize that. And I don’t care.

    I didn’t know anything about Derbyshire until I read about him here, and read the piece that got him fired. And, as I said, I got to the line I quoted and immediately thought of Detroit and DC. It stuck in my mind, and this brought it back.

  50. @Jenos Idanian:

    Well, I pretty much guessed you didn’t care, but wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt that you were favorably quoting a self-described white supremacist out of ignorance rather than knowing agreement.

  51. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: So the guy’s a jerk. No argument there. How is that relevant?

    I bet you’ve quoted Josef Goebbels and “the big lie” bit a few times. I know a lot of people have. And others have quoted Hitler, Stalin, and Mao frequently without the slightest bit of shame. Compared to them, reading Derbyshire and saying “I bet he was talking about DC and Detroit” is a whole lot of nothing.

    Would you like to argue that Detroit is NOT a hellhole after most of a century of being run by Democrats and unions?

  52. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Favorably quoting?” I called it ‘much reviled” and “justifiably so.” But in the two examples I cited, I’d really love to hear you argue he was completely off base.

  53. @Jenos Idanian:

    I bet you’ve quoted Josef Goebbels and “the big lie” bit a few times.

    No I haven’t, and even though you think you have, you probably hasn’t either. The quote everyone commonly attributes to Goebbels wasn’t actually said by him, and his use of “The Big Lie” is different from the modern meaning of the term. For one thing, Goebbels was not referring to his own propaganda, but was criticizing the Churchhill government. The modern idea comes more from Orwell.

    And there’s a difference between quoting a dictator as a form of warning and doing it as a form of advocating.

    Would you like to argue that Detroit is NOT a hellhole after most of a century of being run by Democrats and unions?

    Derbyshire wasn’t arguing that Detroit was a hellhole because of being run by Democrats. He was arguing it was a hellhole because blacks were allowed to live there.

  54. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Derbyshire wasn’t arguing that Detroit was a hellhole because of being run by Democrats. He was arguing it was a hellhole because blacks were allowed to live there.

    OK, now we’re gonna have a disagreement. The original quote — which I pulled from Doug’s OTB article — has this exact quote: “do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.”

    How many Detroit politicians have ended up in jail in recent history? Kwame Kilpatrick, Monica Conyers, Derrick Miller…

    If you wanted to argue that there are more corrupt cities in the US, I wouldn’t disagree too strongly (NOLA and Chicago come to mind), but I don’t think you’ll find a more potent combination of corruption and sheer ineptitude that has put a city in worse straits than Detroit.

    Hell, I remember when the underwear bomber tried to blow up the plane as it descended into Detroit. I thought at the time, “depending on where it comes down, it just might actually improve things on the ground.”

  55. @Jenos Idanian:

    OK, now we’re gonna have a disagreement. The original quote — which I pulled from Doug’s OTB article — has this exact quote: “do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.”

    How many Detroit politicians have ended up in jail in recent history? Kwame Kilpatrick, Monica Conyers, Derrick Miller.

    Unless your racist, “black politicians” and “corrupt politicians” are not interchangeable terms.

    Hell, I remember when the underwear bomber tried to blow up the plane as it descended into Detroit. I thought at the time, “depending on where it comes down, it just might actually improve things on the ground.”

    Oh? And what other parts of the country do you think might “benefit” from allowing them to be victimized by terrorist attacks?

  56. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: No surprise you’re signing on with Derbyshire’s racist screed. I’m sure you think you’ve craftily convinced everyone you’re a deep thinker, but it’s obvious to anyone who’s read your messages that you’re just another Teatard — hard right, terrified of women and minorities, desperate to hold on to priveleges you think you deserve because you’re part of the superior race and party. You think that by aligning yourself with “winners,” you’ll stop feeling like such a loser. It never occurs to you that those you suck up to so desperately think of you as some kind of bug to be stomped on as soon as it’s convenient for them.

  57. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Derbyshire wasn’t arguing that Detroit was a hellhole because of being run by Democrats. He was arguing it was a hellhole because blacks were allowed to live there.”

    And so was Jenos.

  58. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “And what other parts of the country do you think might “benefit” from allowing them to be victimized by terrorist attacks?”

    To be fair to Jenos, he is only in favor of the mass murder of American citizens if he believes that at least some of them don’t share his political beliefs.

  59. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: I just deleted several paragraphs refuting your laughably stupid assertions because 1) you wouldn’t understand them and 2) you’re not worth the effort. Instead, I’ll just simply say “kiss my ass, idiot.”

  60. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The comment about the underwear bomber was, of course, sarcastic hyperbole on the condition of Detroit. If one had to pick a (non-wilderness) area of the United States where a plane crash might go unnoticed and could actually serve as “urban renewal,” the blighted areas of Detroit would come closest to qualifying.

  61. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: No, I take that back. I want to hear how a city run exclusively by liberal Democrats and unions for almost a century somehow ends up a “libertarian paradise.” I mean, that’s no ordinary level of stupid. No, that’s industrial-strength, don’t give this guy metal utensils, someone’s mother fed this kid lead paint chips grade idiocy.

  62. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Sorry, Jenos. Don’t feel like explaining reality to someone who believes the United States would be better off if a terrorist murdered untold thousands of (liberal and/or minority) people. And yes, you explained this was your hilarious joke. And then went on to say what a good idea you thought it was.

  63. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR:You’re so cute when you get all self-righteous and prissy. Do you put on your big-boy pants for those comments?