“Detroit was betrayed by a lack of political vision, torn asunder by racial conflict, and devastated by deindustrialization. Detroit’s problems peaked in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Since then the city has struggled to recover, to build a new economy and a new polity. However noble the goals, though, these efforts have failed to reverse Detroit’s deterioration. Motown remains in the grip of the crisis that began fifty years ago.” Kevin Boyle, “The Ruins of Detroit: Exploring the Urban Crisis in the Motor City,” Michigan Historical Review (2001)
Amidst the reports of Detroit on the brink of financial collapse, Huffington Post reports that, “Detroit’s net cash position – the amount of money in the bank after bills are paid – was a negative $162 million as of April 26. The budget deficit that a few months ago was believed to be about $327 million could reach $386 million before July 1. The city also owes more than $400 million, including $124 million for public improvement projects. Its long-term debt tops $14 billion.”
So what has been the problem with Detroit? MLive (Michigan) reports on the O’Reilly segment on Detroit, stating that Fox News Producer Jesse Watters told O’Reilly that, “Half a million people have left Detroit in the last 50 years. It’s white flight. Eighty-five percent of the city is black. There are no jobs anymore. They said the auto industry bailout worked. It didn’t, 200,000 jobs have been lost. There’s no plants, half the plants have gone. And there’s just crime all over the city.”
I found this particularly interesting, as this has been a problem in the urban core of St. Louis and Kansas City. Once flourishing urban areas have become virtual war zones of crime and extreme poverty. Possibly considering the Federal Government’s role in prompting White flight (through forced desegregation and other progressive experimentation), I turned to Sidney Fine’s, Violence in the Model City: The Cavanaugh Administration, Race Relations, and the Detroit Riot of 1967. Evidently in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson ‘s Great Society helped launch the Model Cities Program, which pumped Federal money into 150 cities in order to fund experimental antipoverty programs and alternative forms of municipal government. Detroit was one of the largest Model Cities Projects, and received $490 million for the Federal revitalizing of a nine square mile section of the city. However, in 1974, major race riots broke out in many of the cities utilizing the Model City Program, and Detroit itself witness the 12th Street Riot in July 1967. The result was 43 dead, 467 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. Thousands of small businesses closed permanently or relocated to safer neighborhoods, and the affected district lay in ruins for decades.
Additionally, there’s been the issue of internal governmental corruption amongst Detroit’s leadership. For instance, Detroit Free Press discusses prior Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who “has been behind bars since March 11, when a federal jury in Detroit convicted him and codefendant contractor and friend Bobby Ferguson of more than 30 counts combined for running a criminal enterprise through the mayor’s office. Ferguson also is being detained as both men face up to 20 years in prison, maybe more.”
USA Today also writes of Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers being “sentenced in 2010 to 37 months in prison after pleading guilty to accepting money in exchange for her vote on a $1.2-billion sludge-hauling deal. She was initially sentenced at a federal prison camp in West Virginia dubbed Camp Cupcake for its cozy, sorority-like setting in the countryside.” Read the article on Detroit corruption here
And lastly, there’s been the issue of lazy financial mismanagement amongst city administration perhaps waiting for another Governmental Bailout. USA Today (May 16, 2013) states that, “Four trustees of Detroit’s two public pension funds are heading to a Hawaiian beach resort this weekend with their $22,000 tab paid for by the funds, which are mired in claims of mismanagement and said to be at least $600 million underfunded.” Read the article on Detroit’s Trustees here
So we have to wonder. Has the Federal Government’s humanist Supreme Court mandates and tax-payer funded special interest programs created a people who have difficulty adhering to foundational truth, thinking for themselves, and working hard without the prospect of a handout or a false elevation in status?