Detroit Continues To Maintain Horseshoer Despite The Absence of Horses

Detroit has long been viewed as an example of a catastrophic failure of a city with soaring crime, unemployment, and the continued reelection of corrupt or abusive politicians (here and here and here and here).  Unable to pay bills, the city has left whole areas without street lighting and even proposed allowing buildings to burn rather than spend the money on fire fighters.  However, the Detroit horseshoer remains fully employed . . . even if the city does not have a single horse to shoe.

It turns out that the water and sewerage department for the city of Detroit employs a horseshoer. Efforts to fire the horseshoer have run into problems with the local union president said it is “not possible” to eliminate positions under union rules.

The job is defined as requiring a person “to shoe horses and to do general blacksmith work … and to perform related work as required.” The article below says that the description was last updated in 1967.

A recent study found that the DWSD was bloated and required about twice the number of people to do the work to produce water than Chicago when measured in per gallon production. The study recommended that the department be reduced by a massive 80 percent. However, John Riehl, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207, insists that the department needs more not fewer employees.

By the way, the horseshoer position pays $29,245 in salary and about $27,000 in benefits.

Source: Michigan Capitol

45 thoughts on “Detroit Continues To Maintain Horseshoer Despite The Absence of Horses”

  1. As has been suggested, he may have other work. It may well be possble that department still has to repair old systems that have special iron “parts” that would have to be fabricated. I had a friend who did this for a railroad not long ago. Also, let us not use Limbaugh Gambit #345, take one extreme example and apply it to the whole. the attack on unions has done much to decrease their effectiveness in maintaining a reasonable standard of living for we non-romneys.

  2. As another commenter mentioned, I would be curious to see what other duties he performed, perhaps this is worthwhile but the title is outdated.

    Nevertheless if there was truly no need for his postion, how about a like-kind transfer to another section of the city with the same pay and benefits. Maybe the union would still object but for why? They still receive their dues payments.

  3. David Blauw,

    I was once called down for my (then) often use of self-referential comments.
    Yours was delightful, entertaining, made its point and thus was useful in that way.

    So it glads me greatly to see you and many others posting self-referentially. Even the complainer does.

  4. Woosty,

    Thanks for a reality contribution.

    And you sure can for me. Several already have if I remember right. Some prominent ones too. No names. let them speak for themselves.

    However I don’t dare use the popular name for cunnilingus.

  5. So farriering is pretty big business (and pays well).~ Kairho
    Farrier work is back breaking and dangerous. Been there, seen &tried that….it was fun for a day but …. I’m all for the guy….when you take on a position like that, you give up every other avenue to compete in the workforce. While working for this city he had to give up building up his own client-list. It is the new way in this days world the ‘Corporate’ money-set mentality has shaved everyone and everything to the bone for their ridiculously self-serving profit at all costs agenda (the all costs being payed for by anyone else but them….). The rules and regs that are imposed on ANY worker today are impossible and self-defeating. Thanks Washington, for the Corporate blow-job. (oh hell can I phucking say that????!!!!!!)

  6. The University of Florida employs at least one master farrier and, to my knowledge, they have no horses. However, the farrier is employed (possibly only part time) by the Large Animal Vet School and teaches students about the equine foot and counsels the public on proper foot care. He also consults with local commercial farriers on thorny problems.

    It helps also to know that there are two large areas of Florida (specifically parts of Palm Beach and most of Marion Counties) which are home to thousands of horses of all breeds and skills. So farriering is pretty big business (and pays well).

  7. OT OT OT

    Goibg from local to national expressed at a local level:

    Everybody (?) keeps an eye on their local scene. I do so mine in NC.

    The newspaper exposes the “corrupt your educational institute” movement in our state.
    Seems BB&T are paying out grants sponsoring studies in
    the “BB&T Center for the Study of Free Markets and Institutions, at my alma mater. Since it was only for USD 2 million it is cheap. It then mentions that several other institutions have had similar offers. If it is just NC is not clear. But BB&T has no anchoring there that I know. Just mentioned as an example of turning education into ideological indoctrination.

    Read more here:

  8. You’ll love this….. They just passed a millage….. Aka tax to support the Detroit Institute of Art…… Yes…. Tax dollars at work….. The funny thing is three counties approved it…… Wayne, Oakland and Macomb…… I kid you not….. The city is being run by the state, the school system is under emergency management…… Because they don’t have tax dollars to support them….. Yet… The DIA. Gets a whole new source of tax funding…..

  9. In the very early 60s in my little 4 block world of all life, there was a blacksmith shop. My father took my brother and I there. The blacksmith did shoe a horse once when I was there.
    In this 4 block area there were 2 corner stores, 2 gas stations 2 pharmacies, 2 bars, 2 diners, 1 “super market” 1 hardware store, 1 butcher shop, and a dentist office.*
    Each of these businesses were privately owned,. My father owned one of the pharmacies. I have not thought of this in a long time.
    Today there are chain stores everywhere. The business man of 50 years ago was part of the neighborhood. Knew the people and commonly lived nearby.
    I have a hard time thinking of this neighborhood as a standard of capitalism as expressed by Romney and his peers. This model seemed to work very well for us then.
    Profit was important (I’m sure) but I seem to remember that people were important too, We were a community. :o) The nickname of this section was known as swillburg.
    The pig farms were long gone before my arrival.
    * Also a soda fountain, a hobby shop, a sporting goods store. Small small businesses all. It seemed to work quite well.

  10. Maybe he is doing other duties. The article does not address that. Give him a chance to respond.

  11. I had a long conversation with a farrier just a few days ago. He said business was really slow, since the economy was in the tank. Horse ownership is down because owning a horse is a luxury for many people and they are getting rid of their horses. He was looking for other work.

  12. Really, Bron. You need to get a new catchphrase. First, Detroit is a city, not a state and second they’re are not built on any kind of socialist model. Detroit’s problem is the same problem it has had for the last 100 years: corruption. Now it is corruption compounded by mismanagement. But socialism doesn’t figure in to it. Corporatist fascism might be a reasonable argument, but socialism simply isn’t going to fly. Feel free to try though. You know how I do enjoy watching exercises in futility.

  13. Si triste quand Royaumes mourir
    viennent les orcs pour faire pleurer les veuves
    King Richard:A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!

    Catesby:Withdraw, my lord; I’ll help you to a horse.

    King Richard:Slave! I have set my life upon a cast,
    And I will stand the hazard of the die.

  14. Horse blacksmiths do quite well in Sweden, but not on city salaries. “Fine dining” folks have horses, who need shoes.

    However, this teaches me:

    1. Why unions ared despised, most especially public employee ones.
    2. Why Americans hate bureaucracy.

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