Saturday, July 27, 2013

the Decline of Detroit

When I was growing up I always thought Detroit was this cool place. I wanted to go there.

So Detroit is bankrupt. $18 billion of debt among 700,000 residents. over $25k per resident. when you account for the dependant classes, the 47% (more than that there), it's probably around $60k per actual working taxpayer or business owner. yep, that's unserviceable, bankrupt. still the band plays on. at the time of the filing Detroit was seeking to borrow even more to cover a deficit this year of over $400 million.

municipal debt is interesting in that residents can repudiate paying their share just by moving out of the district. leaving their neighbours holding the bag. meh, I don't blame them, it's not like they were consulted in the borrowing of all this debt in the first place. the people who voted with their feet and left Detroit did so for a reason.

in Canada a lot of us know a bit more about Detroit. back around 1990-1992 or so for some reason the American channels we got were Detroit. the Detroit news was so bad, all crime, murder, mayhem, racial tension.

it's strange nobody ever seems to point out that the era of Halifax race based disturbances coincided with Detroit news being beamed in. and the Detroit narrative was cut off shortly after the troubles in Halifax appeared. not missed at all. the local news out of Boston and Rochester is just so much better and more positive.

what's most remarkable to me about Detroit is the swiftness of the decline. in the 1950s it was the fourth largest city in America. in the early 1960s Detroit was the wealthiest city per capita in the country. it only took two generations to transform Detroit from the most prosperous city in the land to the blight and bankruptcy it is today.

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