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Detroit goes bellyup

Detroit – abandoned projects

On Friday we heard that Detroit was in deep trouble and filing for bankruptcy. When you let the rich work in your city but live elsewhere, and pay taxes elsewhere, this is what happens.

From Robert Reich:

One way to view Detroit’s bankruptcy — the largest bankruptcy of any American city — is as a failure of political negotiations over how financial sacrifices should be divided among the city’s creditors, city workers, and municipal retirees — requiring a court to decide instead. It could also be seen as the inevitable culmination of decades of union agreements offering unaffordable pension and health benefits to city workers.

But there’s a more basic story here, and it’s being replicated across America: Americans are segregating by income more than ever before. Forty years ago, most cities (including Detroit) had a mixture of wealthy, middle-class, and poor residents. Now, each income group tends to lives separately, in its own city — with its own tax bases and philanthropies that support, at one extreme, excellent schools, resplendent parks, rapid-response security, efficient transportation, and other first-rate services; or, at the opposite extreme, terrible schools, dilapidated parks, high crime, and third-rate services.

The geo-political divide has become so palpable that being wealthy in America today means not having to come across anyone who isn’t.

Detroit is a devastatingly poor, mostly black, increasingly abandoned island in the midst of a sea of comparative affluence that’s mostly white. Its suburbs are among the richest in the nation. Oakland County, for example, is the fourth wealthiest county in the United States, of counties with a million or more residents. Greater Detroit — which includes the suburbs — is among the nation’s top five financial centers, the top four centers of high-technology employment, and the second-biggest source of engineering and architectural talent. Not everyone is wealthy, to be sure, but the median household in the region earns close to $50,000 a year, and unemployment is no higher than the nation’s average. The median household in Birmingham, Michigan, just across the border that delineates the city of Detroit, earned more than $94,000 last year; in nearby Bloomfield Hills — still within the Detroit metropolitan area — the median was more than $150,000.  (more…)

By |2013-07-24T21:19:57-04:00July 22nd, 2013|Economy|Comments Off on Detroit goes bellyup

Friday Morning News Roundup

  • A couple of days ago, I talked about the craziness of our politics. I simply don’t understand why we are arguing over the debt ceiling. Sure, the Republicans think that they have the advantage and could get some cuts in some programs (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security: programs they’ve hated since their inception). They are playing with our credit and our ability to borrow. This is just nuts.
  • It looks like this shutdown of the Minnesota state government is over. I’m not sure if the citizens of Minnesota have won or lost in this battle.
  • How did the prosecutor botch the Roger Clemens trial?
  • At the British Open, nothing went as expected. Tom Lewis, an amateur, shares the lead.
  • US women beat France to advance to the finals of the World Cup. Women’s soccer. Who would’ve thought that this is the best sport for anybody to watch in America today.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed one of the craziest ideas about raising the debt ceiling without actually voting for raising the debt ceiling. This is a whole lot of mental energy so that Republicans don’t look like they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
  • In Afghanistan, President Karzai’s half brother was gunned down yesterday.

I gotta run. What’s on your mind? What stories are you following? What stories am I missing?

By |2011-07-15T06:42:32-04:00July 15th, 2011|Domestic Issues, Sports|Comments Off on Friday Morning News Roundup

I'm mad as hell, so I'm going to lash out at everybody!

This seems to be the prevailing opinion in the country today. Everybody seems to be mad. Everyone seems to be on edge. The government is to blame. Conservatives are to blame. Independents are too fickle. Democrats are too liberal. We’ve heard every explanation under the sun. In my opinion, some of the explanations are simply outlandish and others miss the point entirely. The bottom line, as I see it, is that people are working hard and getting less and less in their take-home pay. Whatever monies they make cover less and less. This is the problem.

One of the more misguided efforts to fix our problems is an organization called Get Out Of Our House. Their plan is to simply replace every member of Congress. Of course, this idea has been embraced by FOX News (see video.)

It is hard to explain just how misguided this effort is. What makes every member of Congress inherently bad? Were they bad before they were elected to Congress? If so, how do we fix the election process so that we elect “good” people? On the other hand, could it be possible that “good people” were elected to Congress and then became bad after the election? None of these questions are asked by this organization. Of course, they don’t answer the questions either. It seems to me that you would need to at least investigate these questions before jumping to the conclusion that you need to replace everybody.

In my opinion, corporate influence over policy has increased over the last 30 years. If we look at the explosion in the number of lobbyists, this would suggest that corporations are paying more attention than individuals to what is going on in Congress. This may be the place to start. How do we decrease corporate influence over our political process? How do we make our elected representatives more responsible to the people instead of to our corporations? This is the fundamental question is facing America today. Let’s thoughtfully fix this problem. Lashing out in a fruitless effort to replaced everyone is foolhardy, to say the least.

By |2010-01-20T13:52:16-04:00January 20th, 2010|Business, Domestic Issues, Party Politics|Comments Off on I'm mad as hell, so I'm going to lash out at everybody!
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