Should ‘Detroit’ be renamed ‘Detritus’?

I was staggered to read about the size and cost of Detroit’s cleanup problem.

A joint federal, city, and state task force has done a survey of every inch of the Motor City and discovered that fully 30 percent of it is filled with dilapidated, crumbling buildings that must be torn down.

That is 84,641 building spread out over all 139 square miles of the city that need to be eliminated, The New York Times reports. The study also found that 90 percent of the city-owned parcels are blighted.

This $850 million is only the beginning, a starting point that will deal with the blight of abandoned single-family homes or small complexes. This huge cost doesn’t address the 559 empty, abandoned, dilapidated manufacturing buildings that can no longer be used and must be torn down.

“These structures are unique because of their larger size and their potential for greater environmental issues than other structures,” the Times said the report affirms. “The cost of demolishing just a single large industrial building can run into the tens of millions of dollars,” the paper says.

. . .

Still, where will all this money come from? Detroit is a bankrupt city and hasn’t the funds for police and fire services, much less for tearing down and disposing of the debris from thousands of abandoned buildings.

The city itself and the state of Michigan is relying on the federal government for much of this money, naturally. So, the American taxpayer from Maine to Florida and all points west will be on the hook to bail out Detroit after decades of failed political policies that helped run the once vital city into a near universal condition of blight.

There’s more at the link.

I’m outraged to read that ‘The city itself and the state of Michigan is relying on the federal government for much of this money, naturally’.  Why ‘naturally’?  Why should the federal government be on the hook for this cost?  I don’t see any rhyme or reason why my federal taxes should be wasted on cleaning up someone else’s problem.  Let the city find its own solutions – including asking those drawing welfare and/or unemployment benefits to help tear down derelict buildings and clean up abandoned properties.  Let them do something useful for a living!



  1. Making people perform WORK to EARN the money that's taken by FORCE from MY paycheck? Dude, that's straight up racist. That's literally slavery.


  2. The Russians had a few tips in the WW2 color film you posted- and Detroit can't be any worse than 1945 Berlin.

  3. If you haven't watched it yet, I can't speak highly enough of the documentary "BURN", made in 2012 and built around the Detroit Fire Department. It's on Netflix streaming, and I'm sure there are other less-legitimate sources as well. It's eye-opening and heartbreaking.

  4. Give me some petrol and a cigarette lighter and I could probably take care of that for them.

    Have to wonder at what point it becomes more practical to just rubble the place and build again on the ashes.

    Used to be a city got like this, the slums'd catch fire, the whole place would burn down and a nice new city would be built.

    What they're doing feels a bit more like forcing an old cat to stay alive and suffering because you just can't bear to let it go.

    Suppose that's not totally wrong, but not only is it more about you than the cat, it seems bad form to get someone else to pay the vet bills.

  5. I would point out that Detroit didn't dig itself into this hole in a vacuum. The financial idiocy that drove the car manufacture out and undermined the city was national on a number of levels. Certainly the automakers multiple decisions to not play hardball with the unions that were bankrupting them had a lot to do with National political pressure. I'm sure other samples to National grade stupidity that damaged Detroit will spring to mind with a little thought.

    If, and I repeat IF, the system that worked on a National level to turn Detroit into Beirut West is reasonable, then paying for much of the cleanup on a National level is reasonable.

    And if it isn't, then we owe Detroit reparations.

  6. I grew up in the 'burbs of Detroit. It seems odd, how driving across 8 Mile results in such a drastic change of scenery.

    Anyway: the City of Detroit had something like 2 million residents in the 1950s.

    Most of those 139 square miles were full of neighborhoods and houses. (The pattern looked suburban. lots of single-family residences laid on in blocks which subdivided the big square-mile sections…)

    The City population started declining in the late 60s. By 1990, it was roughly 1 million. Now, it is barely 750,000.

    The population of the Metro Area stopped growing sometime in the 90s, I think.

    Back to the past…there was a time in the 1920s when the suburban townships regularly voted to become part of the City. One of the relics of this process: the suburb of Hamtramck didn't do this, so it is now entirely surrounded by Detroit.

    The suburbs that joined the City could get better water/sewer service, and more Police presence, etc. Which seemed good, in the 20s.

    Nowadays, a State politician will occasionally ask if these sections can be removed from Detroit, and turned into separate townships or cities.

    But it won't improve the political prospects of any Detroit politicians to push for that, and the State doesn't have an easy-to-implement process for a large city to split into smaller cities…

    Anyway, Detroit's finances and lack-of-population are a mess. And the easiest fix seems to be to demand money from State and Feds.

    Since Detroit used to be one of wealthier industrial cities of the nation, they think that they can still swing lots of influence Nationally.

    But if that were so, the City wouldn't be begging for money, would it?

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