The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

If you were to compile a list of cities in the old “Rust Belt” that are on death watch, Detroit might well head the pack.  The once great center of commerce and industry has been in steady decline – in large measure because of the now no longer dominance of domestic auto production on the world market.

Detroit is one of the direst examples of what can happen to a once great city when businesses shut down, workers become unemployed and neighborhoods go into decay.  The lack of good jobs brought an exodus from the city.

According to the 1950 census, Detroit topped out in its population with just under 1.9 million people living there.  The 2010 census shows there are now only 717,000 residents – a decline of 25% in the population from the census of 2000 and the lowest recorded number of residents since 1910.

As you would suspect from these numbers, vacant housing is everywhere to be found in the once proud Motor City.  This is one source of Detroit’s cosmetic problems – and, where you have people struggling to make ends meet with little job opportunity or creation, crime is a second one.

The number of murders in Detroit increased from 344 in 2011 to 377 in 2012 – making it the Murder capitol of the U. S. on a per capita basis – if no longer the Motor capitol.  There is plenty of time for people to commit murders as the official rate of unemployment is nearly 30% in Detroit – although the Mayor and City Council members put the real number at nearly 50% of all adult Detroit residents.

But if we were to envision some magical genie who could wave his hand and all of a sudden industry were to return to Detroit – would it make a difference?  The unfortunate answer is – probably not.  Detroit has one of the lowest rates of graduating students from its high schools.  The number of boys who graduate is now at 25% and for girls at 39% – among the lowest numbers of any city in the nation.  So even if jobs returned, there would be few Detroiters who have sufficient education to qualify for them.

The State of Michigan has attempted to address one source of this problem – truancy.  Detroit school children have among the highest absentee rates in the country.  Forgetting for the moment about the quality of education children in Detroit may receive when they do attend, it should be intuitively obvious that if they don’t attend they will receive no education, period.

So the state proposed cutting off welfare and other subsidy payments to households in which a child has been absent for 10 days during the school year, in an effort to get parents more involved in making sure their kids go to school.  Needless to say, this evoked a strong reaction from concerned parents as shown in the following story and video:

Where does lack of education and lack of job opportunity ultimately lead us?  The answer is to dependence, poverty and slavery.  The following video demonstrates how desperate people react when they hear a promise of some new government sop which is being dangled before them.

Those in Washington, in our state capitols and in our city halls should all be aware of these issues  and be concerned.  If we continue on our present path, all of our major cities may start to look a lot like Detroit.


  1. nearlynormalized said:

    Now what? Wealthy immigrants and ARTISTS are coming to Detroit; slowly and hopefully with some sort of diversity the CIty will flourish. Imagination, a man like Toni Heish, his crew and others will make it happen. (wishful and hopeful thinking)

    • Forgive me but I don’t know who Toni Heish is. Do you mean Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos? I really don’t think “diversity” is the answer. In fact, I’m surprised that you would argue for it since Detroit is the finest example of the achievements of socialized economics. It truly is the epitome of the welfare “state” – or in this case city.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        Do you have any solutions? Creative management has to be applied…No work, generational welfare, what kind of creativity is going to make it happen? Is it just Detroit or the State of Michigan?

      • The first part of the solution is to realize that there are no short-term fixes for problems which we have taken generations and decades to help create. We probably should face the fact that the under-educated populace of Detroit is “lost” to any plan for repair. But their children might have a chance if we provide them with real education and equip them to take a productive place in society. Unfortunately, short-term thinking politicians seldom consider the long-term as they prepare themselves for their next election campaign.

      • nearlynormalized said:

        Noted and recorded.

  2. Detroit is probably going to have to start over at early 19th century pre-industrial levels, since that is what they’ve trained their workforce for. It’s tragic, and its not really accidental, it’s what happens when pure greed and lust for power rules.

    Artists are neat, but employ few, diversity is not the problem, the lack of honesty and a work ethic is.

  3. I visited there not so long ago and felt sad after the visit. That city has had such a vibrant past and it appeared to me that whole suburbs had either been abandoned or were victims of neglect. If I remember rightly there was some plan to rejuvinate and that would be most welcome.

    • Ths S. S. Kressge Foundation is developing a plan to revitalize Detroit. It is a 50 year plan – with few details yet available. S. S. Kressge was one of America’s largest retailers – and then changed their name to K-Mart, now a division of Sears. As you can tell from the length of time over which they are hoping to implement their plan, there is no short-term fix.

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