It seems no one really wants to look at Detroit anymore, a once-great industrial power become something like a failed-state:
‘Detroit’s residents can no longer count even on the most elementary social services: people have started to plan for a life in which the paramedics and police just stop showing up.’
The industry went away, but also, the Model Cities program as part of LBJ’s ‘Great Society‘ helped incentivize the city so that its politics became a system of patronage and its treasury like a cookie jar. It was a slow, increasingly corrupt decline, with many of the people who could leave having left (serious white-flight, some black-flight). The ones who did stay continued to argue over a shrinking pie as the tax revenue dwindled and the lights eventually shut off.
There were jokes made about it for years:
‘The frustration and bitterness that fills American politics these days reflects the failure of our current social, political and economic institutions and practices to deliver the results that Americans want and expect.’
The ground has shifted beneath our feet, and I suspect if you support economic growth, income-inequality to be met with a growing pie, then you’ve got your work cut out for you. There are deeper problems than the culture wars, but politics often follows culture, and a lot of people in our culture are not exactly embracing free-market solutions.
Are you optimistic? Pessimistic?
Are you looking at beautiful photos and feeling sorry for Detroit, and yourself? See Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).
Some links on this site: Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here. At least he’s sticking around.
Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either: A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’
GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’
What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine