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Dec 26

Depleted and Desolate Detroit: What Happened?


Depleted and Desolate Detroit: What

Happened?

By Dee Dee Benkie

Detroit started as a little fur trading post for New France many years ago. How appropriate is it now then that France is out of vogue and slowly dying economically under the weight of its socialist policies, and fur is no longer the hot commodity it used to be. In fact, wearing fur could get you assaulted with paint or worse in some places.  Alas, Detroit itself is in worse shape than either France or fur.

On December 3rd, Judge Stephen Rhodes deemed that Detroit with its 18 billion dollars of debt could enter bankruptcy.  The once renowned and envied city is now making headlines for being the largest municipal bankruptcy in United States history.  To add insult to injury, the city is now literally falling apart. Detroit is a virtual wasteland with 40% of the street lights not working, buildings in shambles, and half of its once large population gone. Parts of the city now resemble screen shots of the video game Fall Out 3, which takes place in Washington D.C. after a nuclear attack.

How did this happen? What transformed this once thriving metropolis into an urban wasteland? It was not bad luck that brought Detroit to such ruin. It was bad government, business, and, more than anything else, bloated selfish unions that made the old adage, “killing the goose that laid the golden egg,” a reality.

While at the beginning of their movement, unions did many good things for workers, they are now largely to blame for the failure of Detroit.  The Motor City is now out of gas thanks to union bosses who siphoned away money through underhanded bargains with corrupt politicians. Their handiwork has transformed a city that was once the hot rod of manufacturing into a broken-down clunker.

Everyone agrees that Detroit is not working, but people differ in their opinion about what should be done to tune up the engine of the Motor City. After the 2012 election, a member of the Detroit City Council famously stated that they had helped the president out and now they wanted some payback in the form of bailout.  While some people were outraged by this, it should not come as a surprise that the request was made.  Washington D.C. has been doing this for years by living large and throwing money around like a rock star. If you get in trouble, do not worry; the federal government will bail you out.

Thankfully, both political parties seem to recognize the stupidity of such a bailout for a very simple reason, Detroit is not the only city to find itself in such a predicament.  Chicago is not far behind with a pension fund shortfall of at least $20 billion. The foolish financial bargains brokered by shortsighted politicians and greedy union bosses have occurred in many cities throughout the United States. If other big cities see Detroit bailed out, they will soon see the pure genius of filing for bankruptcy and stand in line with their hands out.  The country simply cannot afford this.

Hopefully, Detroit’s demise will not be in vain. If we are lucky, it will serve as a wake up call to other cities, states, and, dare we hope, the federal government to stop the bleeding before the patient dies.

And what will happen to Detroit, once touted as the Paris of America? Sadly, that city eventually may become nothing more than the site of a historical marker along the road with a message, “Do not let this happen to you.”

 DeeDee Benkie

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