The Economist On Detroit ‘A Phoenix Emerges’

Full piece here (soon behind a paywall…addition: As a friends puts it: The neo-liberal eye of The Economist has passed over you, Detroit citizen, as an illuminating beam cast over the economic seas from lighthouse London upon your listing freighter of a city. Be grateful for its brief warmth and piercing wisdom. Behold and rejoice.)

‘After a judge approves a bankruptcy plan objectors have 14 days to file appeals. Yet appeals are unlikely at this stage as the tough battles with retirees and creditors have all been fought. Many are now optimistic about Detroit’s chances for recovery. “It can be done,” says Mr Spiotto. His colleague, Mr Pottow, compares the city to an alcoholic who has sobered up. The question is whether Detroit will have the strength and support to avoid past temptations of profligacy, mismanagement and corruption.’

Best wishes, Detroit, but you’ve got to clear out the rubble.

Via Curbed Detroit. (via David Thompson)

Visit the DIA and see what they have.

Over five years ago, when GM stock was selling at $2 a share and the debt-holders had been wiped out, this blog put up the video below.  Here’s a brief 2:00 min explanation by Bill Ackman of Pershing Square on why the GM bailout was likely a bad idea.

Politicians reward their friends, and some of the same Detroit ideas we’ve taken national.  Americans in general are likely not going to think well of their politics for awhile, but we could first stop the bleeding, create less incentive for those looking to oversee the spoils, laws, and regulations, and figure out how to grow the economy at a faster rate:


You Can Have It

My brother comes home from work
and climbs the stairs to our room.
I can hear the bed groan and his shoes drop
one by one. You can have it, he says.

The moonlight streams in the window
and his unshaven face is whitened
like the face of the moon. He will sleep
long after noon and waken to find me gone.

Thirty years will pass before I remember
that moment when suddenly I knew each man
has one brother who dies when he sleeps
and sleeps when he rises to face this life,

and that together they are only one man
sharing a heart that always labours, hands
yellowed and cracked, a mouth that gasps
for breath and asks, Am I gonna make it?

All night at the ice plant he had fed
the chute its silvery blocks, and then I
stacked cases of orange soda for the children
of Kentucky, one gray boxcar at a time

with always two more waiting. We were twenty
for such a short time and always in
the wrong clothes, crusted with dirt
and sweat. I think now we were never twenty.

In 1948 the city of Detroit, founded
by de la Mothe Cadillac for the distant purposes
of Henry Ford, no one wakened or died,
no one walked the streets or stoked a furnace,

for there was no such year, and now
that year has fallen off all the old newspapers,
calendars, doctors’ appointments, bonds
wedding certificates, drivers licenses.

The city slept. The snow turned to ice.
The ice to standing pools or rivers
racing in the gutters. Then the bright grass rose
between the thousands of cracked squares,

and that grass died. I give you back 1948.
I give you all the years from then
to the coming one. Give me back the moon
with its frail light falling across a face.

Give me back my young brother, hard
and furious, with wide shoulders and a curse
for God and burning eyes that look upon
all creation and say, You can have it.

Philip Levine

There’s definitely some Spanish influence here, by way of Antonio Machado.  Perhaps there’s also some labor/alienation sentiment for the working man on the factory floor, but hey, it’s Detroit and it’s a well-crafted poem.

Just because I love to highlight the generally Left-Of-Center political philosophy over at PBS and NPR, there’s a link to this PBS piece about life on the factory floor and Levine’s poem.  Here’s a Paris Review interview with Levine.

Also On This Site: From Buzzfeed: ‘Why I Bought A House in Detroit For $500:’

How did Detroit get here? Very comprehensive and easy to navigate.

More from Megan McArdle on the behavior that comes with pension bonuses.Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here.  At least he’s sticking around.

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).

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’

From Urbanophile: ‘What Detroit’s Bankruptcy Teaches America’

Full post here.

Interesting read:

‘The last thing Detroit teaches us is that America too often doesn’t learn from its mistakes.  Detroit’s troubles have been evident for quite some time, yet it’s hard to see that many other post industrial cities have managed to carve out a different path.  Rather, they pretended that Detroit’s fall was somehow unique due to its auto industry dependence – and managed to ignore other failed cities as well – while embarking on the same turnaround strategy via conventional wisdom and silver bullets.’

The broader principle is that we’ll likely need some kind of renewal in ourselves, in technology, and perhaps in industry again if we want genuine growth and optimism.  The pie needs to be growing.

You don’t need a new $450 million hockey stadium when you can’t provide basic services.

Alas, Detroit:

Related On This SiteRepost: ‘A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’ 

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

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’

From Reason: ‘Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey’

Full post with video here.

Reason magazine is trying to put a few ideas to the test in Cleveland.  Of course they go after government, but they have an important piece of the puzzle.  Here are a few of their suggestions:

1.  Make it easier to attract business to Cleveland.  Zoning laws, permits, and city councils may mean well, but they ignore what created the city in the first place:  Rapid economic growth through industry.  Building new stadiums and a new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are nice, but won’t drive the growth that made Cleveland.  They use Houston as an example of a low-regulation city.

2.  Education:  Try charter schools.  Loosen the grip of the teacher’s union upon what are admittedly underperforming schools.  The problems the unions and school districts face in the city (hungry kids, violent kids, desperate for attention kids,  the sons and daughters of those originally looking for economic opportunity kids and now adrift with few skills and opportunities) may be best served otherwise.

3.  Potentially privatize public sector oversight of parking, maintenance, and management of public spaces.

Also On This Site:  Of course, there are real economic problems, but what to do about them is unclear (hipster progressives unite, it’s all a “narrative”):  From The Atlantic: Richard Florida’s ‘How The Crash Will Reshape America’…it’s all about class don’t you know: From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar Man

At least someone might be buying the houses, and some good art could even come of it, but there’s a kind of a anti-establishment tone (mixing art and politics in a questionable way):  artists buying cheap houses in Detroit.

Liberaltarianism?:  Will Wilkinson And Jonah Goldberg On Bloggingheads: Updating Libertarianism?From Reason’s Hit And Run: What Kind Of Libertarian Are You?

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