Monday, June 7, 2010

Tomorrow's (or the next day...) Obituary Column: Detroit

Source: Gerry Phelps

Watching the Death of Detroit

Detroit appears to be nearing its death watch .  "White flight" happened to Detroit years ago.  Now there is "Black flight".  Middle class Blacks are now fleeing Detroit on a large scale.  They are no longer willing to face the high crime rates and daily danger.  Detroit, left more and more with its least productive citizens, is struggling to survive.
Here are some snippets from the Wall Street Journal article:
This shrinking city needs to hang on to people like Johnette Barham: taxpaying, middle-class professionals who invest in local real estate, work and play downtown, and make their home here.

Ms. Barham just left. And she's not coming back.

In seven years as a homeowner in Detroit, she endured more than 10 burglaries and break-ins at her house and a nearby rental property she owned. Still, she defied friends' pleas to leave as she fortified her home with locks, bars, alarms and a dog.

Then, a week before Christmas, someone torched the house and destroyed almost everything she owned.

In March, police arrested a suspect in connection with the case, someone who turned out to be remarkably easy to find. For Ms. Barham, the arrest came one crime too late. "I was constantly being targeted in a way I couldn't predict, in a way that couldn't be controlled by the police," she says. "I couldn't take it anymore."
Many of Detroit's middle-class Blacks, like Ms. Barham, had hoped their presence in Detroit would help save it.  But now...
Ms. Barham's journey from diehard to defector illustrates the precarious state of Detroit today. The city—which has shed roughly 1 million residents since the 1950s—is now losing the African-American professionals who had stayed steadfastly, almost defiantly, loyal.
Through decades of white flight and economic distress, these diehards have sustained the city's cultural institutions and allowed prime neighborhoods such as Indian Village and Palmer Woods to stave off the blight that infects large swaths of Detroit.
Today, frustrated by plummeting property values and high crime, many diehards have hit their breaking point. Their exodus is consigning borderline neighborhoods to full-blown blight and putting prime residential areas at risk. By some estimates, this year's Census will show a population drop of 150,000 people from the 951,000 people who lived within city limits in 2000. That would be roughly double the population loss in the 1990s, when black, middle-class flight began replacing white flight as the prevailing dynamic.
When taxpayers flee, cities cannot raise taxes to pay their bills.  The more they raise taxes, the more tax-payers leave and the less money cities can raise.  Los Angeles and other cities in crisis need to pay attention to Detroit.  When tax payers leave a city, only the tax-eating slackers and criminals are left.  A city filled mostly with these cannot survive.  The only possibilities left are drastically cutting swollen budgets and defaulting on city bonds and debts.  This could crush many cities.
Want to see how to kill a city?  Try massive over-spending and massive debt, mostly to support a large part of its unproductive population.  Like Detroit.

For comments on this article go here: Watching the Death of Detroit

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