We have been following the political and economic demise of Detroit for years. Its leading officials from city council members to the former mayor to judges to lawyers in the city have been the source of endless scandals. They have coupled a shrinking economy with expanding levels of corruption and cronyism. Now, the city is planning to simply turn off half of the street lights to try to force citizens into a small living area — leaving much of the city abandoned and dark. We previously saw how the city’s fire chief suggested just let many buildings burn down to save the cost of firefighting.
Detroit covers 139 square miles but holds 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950. Some 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city does not have the money to fix them. The solution is to have citizens effectively fall back into a small enclave of living area — a perfect symbol of a city that is de-evolving back in time.
Other cities have decided to turn off some street lights, but not to this extent. This may be the best option in the short term, but Detroit has been in a free fall for decades. While other cities lost key industry, Detroit has long lacked competent leadership to try to lure people back into the city. The council did little to stop the gradual flight of both whites and affluent families to the suburbs. Politically, the city council and mayor were content with maintaining their political bases as the city’s economy fell and crime rose. Now the place looks like a sequel location to Escape from New York.
It is truly shocking and sad. Having grown up in Chicago, I remember Detroit when it was a thriving city. It was one of the world’s great cities. It is a wonderful location near the Canadian border and has some beautiful areas. I love the history surrounding the city. For that reason, I am very angry over its demise and frankly blame a long line of shockingly bad politicians. It is not that any politician could stop the economic slide due to the decline of the auto industry, but the Detroit leadership has lurched from one criminal investigation to another over the years. It now stands as a cautionary tale for all cities, particularly in losing their tax base and diversity in population. Many black and white families moved out of Detroit to avoid rising taxes and crime rate in what became a downward spiral for the city. That reduces jobs in the city and led to more people fleeing the city (in addition to the loss of auto jobs). With whole areas of the city now being abandoned, it is hard to see how the city can recover significantly in the near future. With much of the city being pushed into darkness and whole areas effectively a
A truly sad symbolic moment.