Demise of a Legacy: To Change Our Hearts

detroitBy Radha Butler

In Detroit, Michigan, for many years, the auto industry made cars and boomed with the making of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler vehicles. Like any major city, they had the rich areas and the poor areas, but it was a booming city, with people coming in for the opportunities. As the decades wore on to the present time, and the population declined from 2.0 million to 700,000, the city accumulated $14 billion in debt, outdoing some other major metropolises, making it the largest city in debt because of the political corruptions, decline in state aid, and lack of collection of income taxes. This is according to USA TODAY and NPR. Now the city lies in decay, due to lack of money, and the question is: as a nation, what do we do with a major metropolis that lies deserted and ruined? And if fixed, can it stay fixed, or will it deteriorate again? For a city to be fixed, there is a requirement of millions, maybe even billions, of dollars and lots of help from the state and the federal, which are all coming out of taxpayers dollars, but it’s doubtful that using all of this money will be helpful towards the reestablishment of Detroit back to its former glory, even with the provision of funds. There is no guarantee that the corruption and problems the first time around will not arise once more, but there should be help for the city of Detroit. There should be help even if the only for the sake of saving humanity.

Bankruptcy 9 is municipal (city) bankruptcy. To not help a major city that is bankrupt, when we would bail out the major banks, is hypocrisy, and yet, financial ruin was building up to happen in Detroit. Collapsing cities, such as Rome, have happened all over the world, for there lay many cities in ruin, deserted and abandoned. Detroit is an example of a financial catastrophe. The greed of corporations, the corruption of politicians, and the unethical behavior of the government, all led to the destruction of a once booming place of business and production. On the issue of greed, the city kept on spending even when there was no money so as to maintain it’s standard of living and employing, even as the only employers were the city and the education department, by the USA TODAY. On another note of corporate greed, the Huffington Post tells how banks rake in profit, while a city full of people, collapses. This is tragic on a global level because banks do this all over the world. The corruption of politicians is exemplified with the conviction of the ex-mayor of Detroit, Kilpatrick, on grounds of racketeering, extortion, bribery, fraud, and falsifying taxes, as was examined by the Huffington Post. It would be a great thing if all politicians could be taken down for corruption and unethical behavior. On the issue of ethics, Detroit gets an F, with racial slurs slung by even the highest of officials, and the racial divide persisting into the 21st century, as described in the Daily Caller. When there is such divide and lack of unity, based upon racism, in such a diverse place, there is bound to be strife and discord. All the way on the opposite side of the country, this article by the Dallas News describes the life of those who live in Detroit and how people die and nothing is done about it, whereas if it was in New York City, there would be world headlines. Dallas News talks about how, now that bankruptcy is filed, America cares that people are dying and don’t have access to basic needs. Unfortunately, this has been happening for a while. Dallas News talks about how city mismanagement, racial riots, unions, political corruption, and the bailout of the auto industry, were responsible for the demise of this major city. According to the article, this has been building up for a while. Relations with the state government, with racial tension between the white GOP and the black liberal Detroit government, were another reason for the demise of Detroit’s structural system. USA TODAY says there was the “self-inflicted” wounds by the city to itself, with the state requiring certain parameters for the city worker to get his/her pension, the over borrowing of money and increase in debt, and the decline in state funds and aid to the city.

So, because of the mismanagement of a city by its city and state politicians, whom were the very people voted in to serve and represent, the city has fallen. The cherry on top of the sundae for this whole metropolis collapse, is that 30,000 city workers will be sacrificed for the sake of 700,000 citizens left in the city, which was reported in this article by the Dallas News. In the The Economist, it tells of sad scene with a “hulking police officer” who breaks down in tears because his entire pension is gone… gone like the city. It’s really heartbreaking, for he’s one of many who have been affected. The Dallas News says it’s because of desperation, and this article’s reporter ends by saying, “There also is hope up here on the Great Lakes. We have fresh water, profitable auto companies, more than $130 billion a year in trade with Canada crossing through our city, a world-class research university and, eventually, a clean balance sheet. So come visit Detroit, my fellow Americans. Come take a look at your future. If you want your money back, come strip copper pipes and wiring from the abandoned buildings — if you can find any copper. Chances are someone beat you to it.” It’s a plea of desperation, because even the last hope of stripping the city to make a little money is gone, and this reporter hopes to bring people to a city that’s losing hope. Every city needs to survive, and by the state and country’s opinion, this city has lost its reason to exist. The people in the city still exist though, and they still hope that all will not be lost, including themselves. On that note, should we be letting Detroit fall, or should be save it, even if it’s in pieces? In the Huffington Post, Jared Bernstein feels that there is some role that the federal government can play in helping out Detroit, whether it’s helping the citizens get back on their feet because they were already in a difficult place to begin, and as he put it, “citizens there are victims of an economy that’s failed to offer them anything close to gainful opportunities for years”, or if its simply turning Detroit into a place where businesses want to start out. Bernstein also says the city needs to be turned into a place where people want to stay, and he ends strongly with, “Pretend Detroit just got invaded, not by slowly creeping globalization, de-industrialization, and bad governance, but by Canada. If that happened, we wouldn’t bail out their creditors, we’d help them defend themselves.” He is right. If Detroit was invaded, then we would defend them, and in this case, it’s been invaded by financial ruin, and from enemies within, such as the politicians who initiated the bad decisions. With the bankruptcy, the government is only helping their creditors, which include the pensioners, not get paid, but by helping the city get back on its feet, the citizens would be provided opportunities and a safe and rebuilt city with services. If this country and Michigan state can save Detroit, then we won’t be letting a city go to waste, we won’t be leaving many thousands and thousands of people behind in the dust, and though corruption runs amok now, hope for life can be restored. A good place for the helping to start, either from the state or the federal government, is for assistance with restoration of services, provision of aid, and helping with the sustaining of employment opportunities, like encouraging competition in the economic marketplace.

A commonplace idea is that this is the land of the free and the land of opportunity. Ideally, we, as a country united, we would not let this city fall, but in the land of the independent, is it our duty to save others? Yes. With the idea that once saved, they will land on their feet, regaining sure grounding, and be able to fend for themselves. We could argue that these people had no opportunities and their politicians and city workers had inflated salaries, and therefore we should save them. We could argue that the city has a legacy, and we must not leave it in ruin. We could even argue that as they are fellow human beings, we should not let them endure what we would not want for ourselves. Regardless of the argument, and the understanding that nothing is ever guaranteed in life, much less the return of Detroit to prior booming times, we should be able to guarantee one thing, and that is: if we can bail out Wall Street, then we can bail out Detroit, even if they only thing worth saving is humanity.


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