26 October 2009

Detroit, In the Last Throes

Kevin Krolicki at Reuters reports that despite a minimum bid of $500, less than 2,000 of the 9,000 homes and abandoned lots put up for sale in the city of Detroit were sold during a recent four day auction.

According to Krolicki:
Taken together, the properties seized by tax collectors...and put up for sale last week represented an area the size of New York's Central Park. Total vacant land in Detroit now occupies an area almost the size of Boston, according to a Detroit Free Press estimate.
I was born in Detroit and lived there until 1978. My entire immediate family were gone by 1982 because even then the writing was on the wall. I still have a lot of extended family up in the Flint area. It's sad, really, to see how far down the drain this once thriving city has gone. Everyone is to blame, as I see it: The local government (Coleman Young was the worst mayor of any city ever), the federal government (Reagan and Clinton, especially), and the auto industry (corporate for making shitty products for so long, and the unions for making demands they didn't deserve).

9/11 was our clarion call to do something about the auto industry and, by extension, Detroit. Alas, we didn't answer the call. Had George W. Bush been more like FDR than the Hoover-Carter hybrid he turned out to be, then Detroit might just be thriving right now - producing high gas mileage cars and trucks, perhaps using other older non-functioning auto facilities to make wind turbines for alternative power grids, etc. Our government should have made it a top priority to ween off us off Middle East oil by making it extremely easy for our auto industry to turn away from the gas guzzlers they had been making. But Bush didn't go there.

If he had, then Detroit might be on her way back today.

For their part, the auto companies should have stepped up to the plate on their own. If they were able to make the switch from car production to plane and boat production within months during World War II, then there is no reason they couldn't have done the same for this cold war-like struggle against the terrorists.

If they had, then the story of Detroit in 2009 wouldn't be so damn tragic.


I could go on and on. But you get the gist of my point.

[Shout out: David Lang]