Detroit is broke. Belly up. Busted. Bankrupt. Largest city in the history of the US to file for Chapter 9. But a city the size and significance of Detroit doesn’t go straight to chapter 9. For over 100 years, Detroit has been the leading edge of trends in America. Chapter 1 was the birth of the automobile and the creative geniuses who innovated the internal combustion engine and harnessed its power to move people from place to place much faster than horses and much more individually than trains. Chapter 2 was when Henry Ford conceived of a new method of manufacturing the car that would revolutionize industry and the economy. Chapter 3 was that mass manufacturing made the cost of a car affordable for the masses and cars became a ubiquitous fixture in American life and the symbol of upward mobility. Chapter 4 was Detroit saving America. It was precisely the Motor City’s prowess at turning steel, chrome aluminum and rubber into personal transportation to making planes, tanks, and ships that gave us the tools to win World War 2. Without Detroit, we might all be speaking German or Japanese. America must never forget Chapter 4. Chapter 5 is that after the war, Detroit once again unleashed its magic into building post-war America into a nation of industrial workers who made good money and good machines and whose heavy lifting created the Happy Days into which Baby Boomers were born and the middle class that gave their parents the steps of the ladder to climb beyond the poverty of the Depression and the pain of the war. Chapter 6 was Detroit’s contribution to the culture. It was the greenhouse of the music of our lives---from the immortal moves of Barry Gordy’s Motown sound to the hard charging guitars of Nugent, Mitch Ryder, the MC5, America’s pop culture was influenced if not shaped as much as was our taste for whitewall tires, chrome grills, and bucket seats. Chapter 7 was one of America’s largest cities being rocked by the race riots of the 60’s and the beginning of the polarization that led to white flight to the suburbs and the beginning of a population decline. Chapter 8 was Detroit being utterly ruined by breathtaking corruption of its local government and by union demands for a bigger piece of a shrinking pie both in the private and the public sector. The city’s government didn’t have the will to rein in the corruption nor the guts to say no to the unions. And that took them to Chapter 9. Bankruptcy. The saddest part of the Detroit story is that it’s not the story of a failed city who couldn’t. It’s the story of one of the world’s great and most successful cities who could, and who did great things, but then was willing to sell its soul for lesser things and to tolerate unthinkable things. It’s unemployment rate has tripled since 2000 and is twice the national average; and its street lights don’t work much more regularly than its people—40% of the street lights stay dark. It’s homicide rate is epidemic and for 20 years, it’s been considered one of America’s most dangerous cities. It takes the police an average of 58 minutes to respond to a call compared to 11 minutes average elsewhere. Just under 80,000 city structures have been abandoned. Detroit once was the leading edge of America. Now the bad news: It still is. Take a good look at Detroit in all its former glory and current gore and know that as it has been on the front of America’s trends, it still is. Detroit is today what the rest of America is on track to being in another 20 years--Reckless spending, corrupt unaccountable government, and caving in to demands from those dependent on its cowardice to never say no. If we don’t learn from Detroit’s collapse, the rest of America will be the next chapter.

Comments 1-5 of 6

  • Rick Doty

    07/29/2013 12:11 AM

    I went to work in Detroit for a few months in 1986 to help out with the work load there, being set there by a company I has just started working for in Kansas City Missouri, I had just got off active duty in the Air Force after serving ten years. I had never been in Detroit before, but I had heard it was a city with a lot of crime.

    When I got to the company office there, just off fourteen mile road. I asked people in the office what areas to stay out of in Detroit. I was told not to go south of eight mile road unless I wanted to be carjacked. I was told there was a lot of that going on. People would stop at a traffic light in that area and often some guy would come up to the car with a gun a carjack the car often shooting the driver and others in the car.

    So, after spending some time working there and seeing what that city was like, I am not surprised at all about the condition that city is in today.

  • Renee H. Young

    07/23/2013 01:11 PM

    Revelations speaks of times as this. That is the road we are on now.

  • Los Angeles,Mike

    07/22/2013 08:06 PM

    Re: One More Thought-A Redstate Comment and Personal One

    Repair_Man_Jack 7/21/2013

    "Some trusting and honest people got seriously lied to. It won't be pleasant when these people realize they are holding the bag and react accordingly."

    They need to be found and helped. I think the Governor of Michigan needs to move on this as mentioned below RoboCop scenario). And perhaps Mike you will be called to take the helm in D.C. in 2016 along with another free governor Perry as I am sure all other good governors will wish to stay at their posts to help steady all their "ships" at this time.

  • Los Angeles,Mike

    07/22/2013 07:35 PM

    Re: Detroit Tigers/Lions/Pistons -and- Chicago Cubs/Bears/Bulls a systemic problem that can be fixed.

    Governor, I really respect your long experience in governing in various capacities. It shows in your focus on the Detroit topic.

    I would like to comment on the theme of Detroit especially as it relates to some points you made on your follow up Radio Show for July 22.

    One thing we have to be careful about is fostering an attitude of: "If I do not get want I want, I will leave." I think if you get some executives at the top and some union folks demanding what they want Detroit is unavoidable. In fact, this can also harm marriage and the family, and America eventually as we are seeing.

    Instead, we need to recognize that a successful "marriage" usually is one that figures out that we are all at times "makers and takers."

    1. Shrink the footprint of unused and destroyed infrastructure.

    2. Deregulate under supervision of the governor, the remaining community that passionately knows the city and loves the state and real experts who have been working in Canada or the southern states or Japan.

    3. Perhaps you can ask John Kerry to focus on Iran problem and donate some of his wealth to a special fund and ask his former governor Mitt Romney,Bill Clinton,Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan,Oprah,Tom Cruise to use some of their wealth and time to use the year(I think you need probably more than a year) to get the city back on its feet working under the Michigan governor and former U.S. Ambassador of Japan John Roos.

  • Jim Schmidt

    07/22/2013 02:45 PM

    BRAVO, Governor... your analysis of the Nine Chapters of Detroit was accurate and timely... have forwarded and linked to my friends and associates... WELL DONE, SIR!!

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