The Collapse of Detroit Michigan

This fall everyone is watching the hit TV series “Revolution” which tells the fictional story of American survivors coping and fighting for their lives after the collapse of human civilization due to the sudden loss of electricity all over the world. Survivors hike through the overgrown rotted remnants of what used to be cities, towns and neighborhoods with swords tied to their waists, often fighting to the death over trifles. Death is commonplace. Hope is practically non-existent. Most people are now living like animals. You have seen at least one episode of the TV show, right? You know what I am describing.  It’s all written into the script.

“….the show presents an America transformed by calamity, a collapsed civilization living in the ruins and husks of mighty man-made environs reclaimed by nature…”

In the TV script for “Revolution” residents of big cities flee after a few weeks without electricity wrecks civilized normal life and people begin mugging, killing and kidnapping anyone they can find anywhere at any moment just to rob them for some food. Families begin to pile their belongings into whatever they can haul and they walk away from the remnants of civilization to try to find ways to survive on the land, away from the crime, death, looters, and gangs. Doesn’t that also sound eerily like what has happened in Detroit?

More than 40 square miles inside the deteriorating city of Detroit Michigan now lies vacant – that’s one third of the entire land area covered by the city. It is arguably the largest ever urban American inner city wasteland to exist within the confines of an adjacent urban city center since the founding of the nation. A city whose population was once more than 2 million people is down to less than 800,000 residents – and 58% of those residents when polled said they wanted to leave. Unemployment in Detroit stands at a staggering 28%+ in 2012. It has the fifth highest murder rate in the nation and 7 out of 10 murders go unsolved.

Detroit Michigan is a dying and disintegrating city where the grisly scenes and deadly scenarios of “Revolution” are already playing out in real life, albeit it has taken place so gradually over decades that millions of Americans don’t even know it’s happening at all. Real estate prices have imploded so severely in the Detroit area in the last 8 years that you can literally buy a gutted out shell of a formerly pristine middle class home for one dollar.

Instead of filming “Revolution” on a carefully dressed out TV set in Wilmington NC, shouldn’t it be filmed on location in the boarded up burned out neighborhoods which now litter many parts of Detroit? It seems it would be more suitable to include a little dose of present actuality into the mix of TV futuristic fantasy.  I’m just saying. And Detroit could use the money.

When part or all of a city collapses, it doesn’t always happen like a sudden bomb going off, all normalcy and civilized living disintegrating practically overnight. The collapse actually takes place in a kind of hideous slow motion, often stretching out over several decades, sadly giving the rest of the surrounding region plenty of fair warning that “something’s wrong here, very very wrong” and it needs immediate and urgent attention. Apparently for parts of Detroit Michigan that early warning cry was not heard in time, or it was ignored completely until it was too late.

It’s not as if the national news media routinely rushes in to begin to document the awful “before” and “after” snapshots which emerge from the erosion and decay of a great American city over time. That’s not necessarily a reality that the White House wants emphasized during an election year.  Sometimes sporadic local news coverage does take place, sometimes not.  I have been watching as increasingly bizarre headlines trickle out of Detroit Michigan in the alternative news media for several years now.  Many of them are really troubling. The story of the collapse of Detroit also includes many stories of greed, corruption and other financial crimes committed by community leaders who were intrusted with funds meant to be spent improving the lives of people in the region.

I collected and posted some of the emerging “Detroit” news stories on this page and it will be updated weekly.  I have become very interested to see how this story ends.

What is happening in Detroit is also happening in other parts of the country in 2012. You mostly never see it because the mainstream media is apparently under a mandate to skip over these ugly spots in the American landscape and follow the TV fake news script they are given to read instead. So if you haven’t heard about the slow motion collapse of Detroit it’s because many of the Big Media outlets are all but ignoring it, and they have been for some time. My gut tells me that the sorry story of what happened to Detroit is just one more ugly actuality behind the facade of “hope and change” fanfare that put Barack Obama in the White House four years ago. Looking in and reading the news out of Detroit, I see little hope and almost no change from the residents’ circumstances four years ago. If anything the decay is accelerating and the overall situation in the city is much worse.

Micheal Moore first brought America’s attention to the plight and blight of Detroit when he included some scenes from Detroit Michigan neighborhoods in his now famous George W. Bush era documentary “Fahrenheit 9-11.”

Here’s my brief snapshot of Detroit – before and after, over 40 years. I present this snapshot of slow-motion collapse as a series of headlines linking to the few stories out there which document in any part, what has happened to the city of Detroit Michigan since the mid-1960s.

Let’s begin here, with 100 Abandoned Houses.

Photos of the 100 Abandoned Houses, front page of the blog.

58% of Detroit Residents State They Have plans to Vacate the City: Survey Results 10.09.2012

Financial advisory board member warns Detroit could soon have cash crisis

News archive of articles by local citizen journalist “Detroitblogger John”

Poll: Detroit Residents Have Little Confidence in Their Leaders

90% of Highland Park School District middle school students are functionally illiterate when tested

Human Remains Found Scattered Around Detroit Identified

Detroit Michigan Police Chief Steps Down Due to Sex Probe

Remembering Detroit, Michigan, in the 1940s and the 1950s, and my Awakening to the Divine Light of Islam!

Michigan GOP pulls cable TV ad bashing heavily Democratic Detroit following criticism

Abandoned Castle in Detroit

Man busted by feds for allegedly flying to Detroit to meet 14-year-old boy for sex

Read more:

Pugh Alleges Detroit Police Deliberately Sabotaging Court Proceedings

Man Electrocuted Trying To Steal Copper From Pole

Detroit home squatters forced out by police

So how did all this happen? What the hell actually happened to Detroit over time which created a 40 mile inner city vacant lot which is now littered with moldy mattresses, crumbling mansions, drug gangs, wild dogs, unsolved murders, daily muggings, rapes and robberies? it took about 40 years for it to come to this. What took place over 40 years? Author John Gallagher tells the unbelievably sad and sorry story in about 3 sentences and one word: politics.

Cited from Found Michigan news blog:

John: Well, the key to understanding what’s happening in Detroit as well as all these Rustbelt cities—Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Gary, Flint, all of them—is that we blame white flight and de-industrialization, but essentially what happened after World War II is that all American cities spread out. Sunbelt cities were able to capture that growth through annexation. In 1950, Houston, Texas, for example, was roughly the same size as Detroit: Houston was 160 square miles, Detroit, 139. But today Houston is 600 square miles because it captured all that suburban growth—they annexed all their suburbs as they grew. Detroit and Cleveland and all the other older cities, however, were not allowed to do that for a variety of legal and political reasons. And so even though metro Detroit became much larger geographically, the city itself was trapped behind these rigid municipal boundaries, and the tax base went away to the suburbs. So today the tax base of metropolitan Detroit includes just a tiny part in the city and the vast majority is in the suburbs.

FM:And so that imbalance essentially starved the city.

John: Right, and so as a result you had city revenues—which were mainly based on tax base—inexorably going down while expenses inexorably went up. This became a problem as early as the 1960s; it became obvious in the ’70s and it’s been a crisis more or less ever since. Detroit has tried to deal with it over the years by creating a city income tax, having the highest property tax rates, having a utility tax—which most people probably don’t even realize they pay—borrowing very heavily—I mean, hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that they borrowed to meet current obligations—and it still can’t pay its bills. And now it’s to the point where it’s become this crisis where it’s got to be dealt with.

Right now “dealing with it” means that for the time being the state of Michigan has taken over the city of Detroit and will be running the city as a sort of temporary nanny custodian. They are calling this arrangement a “consent agreement”, but Detroit’s tax base problems won’t be addressed properly even if the state can balance it’s books and put a budget back together. That’s because Detroit’s tax base is leaving. 25% of the city’s residents have already gone. Of the residents that remain, 58% of them state they plan to leave too. You can’t exactly re-build a city with more than 70% of the former population gone. I’m not exactly sure what you could build, other than something brand new, very imaginative and innovative, very small, very high technology, with a vast resurrected “NYC Central Park” inner city wilderness recreation area where the existing 40 square mile slum stands now.

Today in spite of John Gallagher’s well intentioned book “Reimagining Detroit” there is no hope and there has been very little change in Detroit Michigan. Hopelessness has settled in. Residents are turning their backs on what has passed for leadership in the city. 58% of Detroit residents when surveyed said they want out, and plan to leave Detroit as soon as they can.

Can the Ruins of Detroit Michigan be resurrected?

The headline which caught my eye RE: this pressing question may answer the question once and for all. City leaders most likely would see not purpose in re-investing in Detroit when more than half the present residents of Detroit when recently surveyed states that they plan to leave the city for good as soon as they are able to.

“Glengariff president Richard Czuba said the survey shows Detroit residents overwhelmingly believe the city is on the wrong track and have no faith that the people in charge have a plan to turn it around.”

My take: Detroit Michigan needs a brand new sugar daddy billionaire to come in with outside talent and begin rebuilding the remnant of the city from scratch, from top down to the the ground up: new industries, new civic leaders, new architecture, new roads, bridges, condos, a totally and completely new vision for the city, something so spectacularly imaginative and unusual that young families from San Diego to San Francisco to Philadelphia to Miami would want to pick up and move to Detroit to begin a new life. Is this even possible?Could the indebted city literally be auctioned off to the highest NON-Government bidder who had pockets deep enough to take the tattered remnants of automobile greatness and begin again. I have a few ideas here:

1) Fire everyone who has been involved in city leadership in the past 20 years and bring in a fresh team from outside the city limits. Make it 57% women at least. They are less corruptible and they are smarter at solving problems without taking to the boxing rink to do so.

2) Call out the National Guard to patrol the city streets to try to stop the bleeding of good tax paying citizens out of the region. Do whatever it takes within legal means to restore law and order and keep people from leaving.

3) Bring the deep pockets of the internet community and the potentially explosive growth “private sector space industry” to Detroit Michigan. Offer jaw dropping incentives for internet companies – along with all the companies who flourish due to the wealth of big internet companies, and private sector space industries to relocate  to the region and set up shop.

4) Look outside the normal resource zones for economic fund raising. If Detroit begins to produce something that the world cannot live without in the next 100 years, Detroit can be “back in business” within 3-5 years and the become the greatest urban turn-around story in American history.

5) Don’t be afraid to fire people who continue to stand in the way. Show them where the door is, then don’t look back. You have to identify those “persons as obstacles” first then start handing out pink slips as fast as these obstructionists are identified. Begin again. It’s never too late.

6) Try just as quickly as possible to get Detroit out of the state of Michigan’s temporary nanny-care. It sets a horrific precedent that as American cities go bankrupt – many times due to their own mismanagement over decades, that the states must step in to handle their affairs. How would you feel if you had to file for bankruptcy and your own next door neighbors began knocking on your door, telling you that you no longer had the authority to balance your own checkbook, but that now they would be coming into your home to balance it for you? Well that is the equivalent of what is happening right now to Detroit.

Do I hear a “hell yeah” anywhere?  Is there anyone else out there in “internet-land” who thinks this horrific situation can be turned around? Can Detroit still be saved? Here’s what I am learning about sporadic recent efforts to restore and rehabilitate sections of Detroit:

Detroit Michigan news outlets:

The other region of the United States which I am watching that is threatened with outright collapse is parts of Southern California. But that is another story.

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