I was asked by a journalist to answer a few questions. I’m providing the answers here for all to see.
1. Is Detroit’s situation similar/different to other cities, countries?
The city which comes closest in my travels to Detroit was when I stayed in Sao Paolo for 3 weeks, 1.5 weeks where in the downtown area. I made a long day bus trip and walk through some areas of the city which some might consider similar.
SP is the 3rd heaviest populated city in the world. People travel distances between home and work frequently and some have downtown residences during the week and weekends go home outside the city.
What is missing though is the abusive abandoning of residential housing due to lending practices and speculative investors. Banks have lured home owners into taking out additional loans and pushing a society where leveraged finances (borrowing the value of what you have) creates your financial power. This is collapsing as valuation of housing, which has been considered the most stable of values, has been in a free-fall.
2. What are the main causes of such a significant decline?
Corporate greed chasing a working population that will maximize profit. The streets of Detroit vacated as production facilities grew and moved into the suburbs with new equipment. The “upwardly mobile” thing to do was move out of Detroit and as factories were erected outside Detroit, closer to work. The core of the city was left to decay as the quest for improved production and profit was chased in the 1970’s through 1990’s. Globalization of work force and assembly, with faster forms of transportation possible expanded the crippling effect.
3. Can the government effectively reanimate business climate? What has to be done?
The government of the US are no longer working toward the interests of the people. We have a corporatocracy, where business leads government and pays politicians to carry the corporate/interest group’s agenda.
Overthrowing our government is a dream more people are wishing for, but few are engaging in the real steps toward making it happen. Militarization of our police force continues and the largest enforcing body in the world is turning its eyes back home on corporate proclaimed insurrection by activists. They call them domestic terrorists, which is a more apt name given to the corporate beasts that bully the public.
The people have to demand and claim their Commons. We have to change our value structure and move away from privatization. We have to demand transparency and following the codified, written law. We have to demand our congress stop churning law-making and allow the public to be more integral in the process of change.
4. Will it ever be the same again? What future do you see for Detroit?
The same is not possible. Technology has advanced that what Detroit had will never be the same. The future begins with neighbors greeting each other on the streets, holding meetings together.
We have to stop incarcerating our young people, removing their opportunity to succeed. The police state keeps them down and puts them on a fast track through a Schools To Prison Pipeline. Our class divide is deepening and those that believe themselves on the higher side of the chasm, slide through to the bottom quickly because most rely on leveraged value, which is being replaced with hard facts by those most in need.