The Beginning Of The End
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25 Facts About The Fall Of Detroit That Will Leave You Shaking Your Head

Detroit - Photo by Bob JagendorfIt is so sad to watch one of America’s greatest cities die a horrible death.  Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was a teeming metropolis of 1.8 million people and it had the highest per capita income in the United States.  Now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole of about 700,000 people that the rest of the world makes jokes about.  On Thursday, we learned that the decision had been made for the city of Detroit to formally file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  It was going to be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States by far, but on Friday it was stopped at least temporarily by an Ingham County judge.  She ruled that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing violates the Michigan Constitution because it would result in reduced pension payments for retired workers.  She also stated that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was “also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy“, and she ordered that a copy of her judgment be sent to Barack Obama.  How “honoring the president” has anything to do with the bankruptcy of Detroit is a bit of a mystery, but what that judge has done is ensured that there will be months of legal wrangling ahead over Detroit’s money woes.  It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out.  But one thing is for sure – the city of Detroit is flat broke.  One of the greatest cities in the history of the world is just a shell of its former self.  The following are 25 facts about the fall of Detroit that will leave you shaking your head…

1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.

2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.

3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000.

5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.

6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.

7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.

8) About one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.

9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.

11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

12) Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.

13) The city of Detroit is now very heavily dependent on the tax revenue it pulls in from the casinos in the city.  Right now, Detroit is bringing in about 11 million dollars a month in tax revenue from the casinos.

14) There are 70 “Superfund” hazardous waste sites in Detroit.

15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.

16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.

17) Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.

18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.

19) The size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade.

20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

21) Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.

23) The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

24) Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

25) Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“.

It is easy to point fingers and mock Detroit, but the truth is that the rest of America is going down the exact same path that Detroit has gone down.

Detroit just got there first.

All over this country, there are hundreds of state and local governments that are also on the verge of financial ruin

“Everyone will say, ‘Oh well, it’s Detroit. I thought it was already in bankruptcy,’ ” said Michigan State University economist Eric Scorsone. “But Detroit is not unique. It’s the same in Chicago and New York and San Diego and San Jose. It’s a lot of major cities in this country. They may not be as extreme as Detroit, but a lot of them face the same problems.”

A while back, Meredith Whitney was highly criticized for predicting that there would be a huge wave of municipal defaults in this country.  When it didn’t happen, the critics let her have it mercilessly.

But Meredith Whitney was not wrong.

She was just early.

Detroit is only just the beginning.  When the next major financial crisis strikes, we are going to see a wave of municipal bankruptcies unlike anything we have ever seen before.

And of course the biggest debt problem of all in this country is the U.S. government.  We are going to pay a great price for piling up nearly 17 trillion dollars of debt and over 200 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities.

All over the nation, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, debt levels are exploding and poverty is spreading.  We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and our share of global GDP has been declining dramatically.

We have been living way above our means for so long that we think it is “normal”, but an extremely painful “adjustment” is coming and most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.

So don’t laugh at Detroit.  The economic pain that Detroit is experiencing will be coming to your area of the country soon enough.

Bankrupt, Decaying And Nearly Dead: 24 Facts About The City Of Detroit That Will Shock You

Bankrupt, Decaying And Nearly Dead: 24 Facts About The City Of Detroit That Will Shock You - Photo by Angelique DuLongIf you want to know what the future of America is going to be like, just look at the city of Detroit.  Once upon a time it was a symbol of everything that America was doing right, but today it has been transformed into a rotting, decaying, post-apocalyptic hellhole.  Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, and in 1960 Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.  It was the greatest manufacturing city the world had ever seen, and the rest of the globe looked at Detroit with a sense of awe and wonder.  But now the city of Detroit has become a bad joke to the rest of the world.  Unemployment is rampant, 60 percent of the children are living in poverty and the city government is on the verge of bankruptcy.  They say that Detroit is just a matter of “weeks or months” away from running out of cash, and when Detroit does declare bankruptcy it will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States.  But don’t look down on Detroit, because the truth is that Detroit is really a metaphor for what is happening to America as a whole.  In the United States today, our manufacturing infrastructure has been gutted, poverty is absolutely exploding and we are rapidly approaching national bankruptcy.  Detroit may have gotten there first, but the rest of the country will follow soon enough.

Back during the boom years, Detroit was known for making great cars.  Today, it is known for scenes of desolation and decay.  It is full of vandalized homes, abandoned schools and empty factories.  The following description of what Detroit looks like at this point is from an article by Barry Yeoman

It’s hard to describe the city’s physical landscape without producing what Detroiters call “ruin porn.” Brick houses with bays and turrets sit windowless or boarded up. Whole blocks, even clusters of blocks, have been bulldozed. Retail strips have been reduced to a dollar store here, a storefront church there, and a whole lot of plywood in between. Not a single chain supermarket remains.

So what caused the downfall of one of the greatest cities on earth?

Well, here is a hint…

Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

When you are a manufacturing area, and you lose half of your manufacturing jobs over the course of a single decade, of course things are going to get really, really bad.

So just how bad have things gotten in Detroit?

The following are 24 facts about the city of Detroit that will shock you…

#1 Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, and it was once home to close to 2 million people.  But over the last several decades people have been fleeing in droves.  According to the 2010 census, only 713,000 people now live in Detroit, and city officials admit that the population has probably slipped under 700,000 at this point.

#2 The population of Detroit has declined by about 25 percent over the past decade.  The last time the population of Detroit was this low was all the way back in 1910.

#3 Today, Detroit is only the 18th-largest city in America.  It is now smaller than Austin, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina.

#4 Back in 1960, the city of Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the United States.

#5 Today, the unemployment rate in Detroit is more than 18 percent, which is more than twice as high as the nation as a whole.

#6 According to a report that was just recently released, approximately 60 percent of all children in Detroit live in poverty.

#7 Approximately one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles are either vacant or derelict.

#8 The city government of Detroit has closed dozens of schools and has decided to cut off public services to the “heavily blighted areas“.

#9 According to one estimate, there are 33,500 empty houses and 91,000 vacant residential lots in the city of Detroit today.

#10 The median price of a home in Detroit is just $9,000, and there are some areas of Detroit where you can still buy a house for $100.

#11 There are more than 85,000 streetlights in Detroit, but thieves have stripped so much copper wiring out of the lights that more than half of them are not working.

#12 Mayor Bing has announced a plan to reduce the number of streetlights in the city of Detroit to just 46,000.

#13 According to one very shocking report, 47 percent of all people living in the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate at this point..

#14 The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

#15 There were 377 homicides in Detroit in 2011.  In 2012, that number rose to 411.

#16 Justifiable homicide in Detroit rose by an astounding 79 percent during 2011.

#17 In one recent year, the rate of self-defense killings in the city of Detroit was 2200% above the national average.

#18 Ten years ago, there were approximately 5,000 police officers in the city of Detroit.  Today, there are only about 2,500 and another 100 are scheduled to be eliminated from the force soon.

#19 Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

#20 Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“.

#21 At one point, 100 bus drivers in Detroit refused to drive their routes because they were afraid of being attacked out on the streets in broad daylight.  The head of the bus drivers union, Henry Gaffney, said that the drivers were literally “scared for their lives“….

“Our drivers are scared, they’re scared for their lives. This has been an ongoing situation about security. I think yesterday kind of just topped it off, when one of my drivers was beat up by some teenagers down in the middle of Rosa Parks and it took the police almost 30 minutes to get there, in downtown Detroit,” said Gaffney.

#22 There have been reports that gangs of young men with AK-47s have been terrorizing gas stations all over Detroit.

#23 Detroit was once known for making some of the greatest cars in the world.  Now, it is known around the world as a dumping ground for the dead

From the street, the two decomposing bodies were nearly invisible, concealed in an overgrown lot alongside worn-out car tires and a moldy sofa. The teenagers had been shot, stripped to their underwear and left on a deserted block.

They were just the latest victims of foul play whose remains went undiscovered for days after being hidden deep inside Detroit’s vast urban wilderness — a crumbling wasteland rarely visited by outsiders and infrequently patrolled by police.

#24 Detroit’s public schools are an absolute nightmare.  The following is from one of my readers that actually attended one of the “best” public schools in Detroit…

The school was a new seven story building just a couple of years old. The bathrooms would often lack toilet paper & soap beyond the second floor (the main floor), the bathroom sinks would often not work. The water fountains on north side of the building on from the third floor & up did not work. The elevators would constantly break down. I even got stuck on the elevator before. I almost tripped down a half a flight of stairs because the elastic seal (it was the metal bar at the front of a treader of I don’t know the name of it.) the stairs was not properly installed.

Students would often have sex on the stairs & throughout the school. Parents actually called the school many times & reported kids having sex on the stairs because all of them had glass windows 270 degrees.

Even over in Europe they write stories about the dramatic decline of Detroit.  For example, the following is how one British reporter described his visit to Detroit

Much of Detroit is horribly dangerous for its own residents, who in many cases only stay because they have nowhere else to go. Property crime is double the American average, violent crime triple. The isolated, peeling homes, the flooded roads, the clunky, rusted old cars and the neglected front yards amid trees and groin-high grassland make you think you are in rural Alabama, not in one of the greatest industrial cities that ever existed.

For those that want to read even more about the horrifying downfall of Detroit, there are some amazing charts that graphically show the decline of Detroit right here.

So what is the solution?

How can we fix Detroit?

Well, why don’t we just build a monorail!  Of course that sounds ridiculous, but the federal government has actually committed $25 million to construct “a streetcar line” that nobody really wants and that very few people would probably actually use.  Perhaps they could be excused for wasting so much money on a bad idea if there had not already been 24 failed attempts to develop a successful public transit system in Detroit over the past four decades.

Well, why don’t we just build a bunch of theme parks instead?  After all, tourists would just flock to Detroit, right?

It has been suggested that Detroit would be ideal for an “automotive theme park”, and there is actually one group of investors that wants to turn some of the worst areas of Detroit into a “zombie theme park”.

What will they think of next?

Actually, a much better idea would have been to not allow millions of our good paying manufacturing jobs to be shipped to the other side of the world, but it is too late for that at this point.

But once again, please do not look down on the city of Detroit.  Instead, let the city of Detroit serve as a warning for the rest of us.

The truth is that the entire U.S. economy is in an advanced state of decline…

-The percentage of the civilian labor force in the United States that is employed has been steadily declining every single year since 2006.

-An astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

-Amazingly, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans with either Master’s degrees or Ph.D.s that are enrolled in the food stamp program at this point.

We are a nation that consumes far more wealth than we produce, we are a nation that is constantly bleeding jobs, businesses and wealth, and we are a nation that is going deeper into debt with each passing day.

Yes, Detroit may have gone over the edge into economic oblivion first, but the rest of the nation is steamrolling down the exact same path that Detroit has gone.

Is it too late for us to change direction?

Please feel free to share your thoughts on that question by leaving a comment below…

Detroit - Photo by Albert duce

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