[The demise of Detroit, Michigan provides a fairly terrifying story for other large urban areas to consider, study and evaluate in view of local challenges. This is certainly true for Dallas, Texas as we search for a new City Manager, Housing Director and City Attorney. The following essay from Joseph E. Stiglitz offers much food for thought. As always, I'd love your reactions. What does Detroit have to teach us all? LJ]
The Wrong Lesson From Detroit’s Bankruptcy
When I was growing up in Gary, Ind., nearly a quarter of American workers wereemployed in the manufacturing sector. There were plenty of jobs at the time that paid well enough for a single breadwinner, working one job, to fulfill the American dream for his family of four. He could earn a living on the sweat of his brow, afford to send his children to college and even see them rise to the professional class. Cities like Detroit and Gary thrived on that industry, not just in terms of the wealth that it produced but also in terms of strong communities, healthy tax bases and good infrastructure. From the stable foundation of Gary’s excellent public schools, influenced by the ideas of the progressive reformer John Dewey, I went on to Amherst College and then to M.I.T. for graduate school. Today, fewer than 8 percent of American workers areemployed in manufacturing, and many Rust Belt cities are skeletons. The distressing facts about Detroit are by now almost a cliché: 40 percent of streetlightswere not working this spring, tens of thousands ofbuildings are abandoned,schools have closedand the population declined 25 percent in the last decade alone. The violent crime rate last year was the highest of any big city. In 1950, when Detroit’s population was 1.85 million, there were 296,000 manufacturing jobs in the city; as of 2011, with a population of just over 700,000, there werefewer than 27,000. Click here to read more.
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
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