June 13, 2009

Hey, everybody! Let's raze Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.

The Obama administration is considering bulldozing parts of blighted, shrinking cities:
"The real question is not whether these cities shrink – we're all shrinking – but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way," said [Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, Michigan, where Flint is located]. "Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity."...

Choosing which areas to knock down will be delicate but many of them were already obvious, he said.

The city is buying up houses in more affluent areas to offer people in neighbourhoods it wants to demolish. Nobody will be forced to move, said Mr Kildee.

"Much of the land will be given back to nature. People will enjoy living near a forest or meadow," he said.

Mr Kildee acknowledged that some fellow Americans considered his solution "defeatist" but he insisted it was "no more defeatist than pruning an overgrown tree so it can bear fruit again."
Nobody will be forced to move? People will enjoy living near a forest or meadow?

First, I'm sure people will be forced to move if this thing gets going.

Second, you can't just return to nature by removing the streets and buildings. What will these non-urban buffer zones really look like? Even if it is something like a forest — made of very fast-growing trees? — or meadow, what sorts of animals — rodent and human — will run wild there?

I don't mean to be completely negative. Just asking a couple obvious questions.

154 comments:

Fen said...

The city is buying up houses in more affluent areas to offer people in neighbourhoods it wants to demolish

Third, the more affluent areas will be ravaged by the bad ghetto habits of those who relocate. Our own neighborhood has been destroyed by one Section8 family.

downtownlad said...

Detroit is already becoming a meadow.

http://www.denverinfill.com/blog/2008/12/lessons-from-detroit.html

Triangle Man said...

Other cities have forests and green space. Won't the fauna be about the same? Lots of rabbits and squirrels, some turkey, deer, and the occasional coyote.

You do have to be concerned about lifelong city dwellers being exposed to all that light and space. It could really put the zap on their heads.

ricpic said...

I wonder when ordinary Americans will begin waking up to the Obama Administration's lust to destroy America agenda.

Ralph L said...

Why don't they move them to all those empty foreclosed houses in Florida, California and Arizona? Are they saving them for fleeing Israelis and Iraqis?

traditionalguy said...

Communism anyone? The Russians are laughing their heads off watching Obama steer us into his vision of a poor, depopulated backwater of serfs that the Russians are just now recovering from. But we get Obama's Empathetic Concern of the good Undertaker being paid to diligently arrange us for the the dirt to be shoveled onto us in a grave dug for us by the America haters of the the world. Somebody needs to alert Sarah Palin, since she is too dumb to sell out like the other Republicans.

downtownlad said...

This house is worth saving:

http://infocult.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451b88a69e201156fd3532b970b-800wi

Maybe if the Obama administration and Michigan weren't so anti-gay, they'd realize that the gays could gentrify Detroit in a giffy.

ddh said...

Our president only needs to hear a halfway plausible argument before taking the rest of us along for the plunge. It's a single step from sophomore bull session to policy.

EnigmatiCore said...

Well, we now have the answer. Is Obama not a man? He is Devo!

EnigmatiCore said...

"Maybe if the Obama administration and Michigan weren't so anti-gay"

Michigan is anti-gay?

How can this be? They've had a Democrat as Governor for a long, long time.

downtownlad said...

Michigan has banned not only gay marriage, but any rights for gay couples whatsoever. It is a bigot state.

downtownlad said...

I read the article. It is an interesting concept. As long as people are paid properly for their property, this just seems like a typical example of eminent domain.

Which is entirely constitutional. What's the problem?

DADvocate said...

In the last couple of weeks in the Cincinnati in heavily populated portions of the Cincinnati they've had to kill a wild boar (Covington, KY) and had a deer run into a Fresh Market grocery store in a busy shopping center. With juicy prey like this, are mountain lions far behind? (Read David Baron's book)

Sometimes people and forests don't mix well. Our ancestors knew that but, then again, their knowledge of nature went beyond Disney movies.

Freeman Hunt said...

Incidentally, has anyone else here seen the ghetto area of Baltimaore? It's unreal. Looks like 70's NYC ghettos you see only in movies. Maybe worse.

Plenty of row houses with no windows or doors, full of squatters. Some row houses half collapsed and left that way between other, occupied houses. Very, very bad.

Dogwood said...

In Detroit, wild turkey and pheasant have been spotted running through fields that were once housing and commercial areas.

Native wildlife will take back the areas abandoned by people. Nothing too dangerous, unless native wildlife includes bears or other carnivores.

Pogo said...

The unasked question is 'Why has this happened'?

All of these cities used to be thriving.
Now they are dying.
Why?

Loss of manufacturing base is often blamed, but why was it lost?

Taxes and anti-business policies by their state legislatures.

Why Memphis?
In Memphis, only eight counties in the entire state had net out-migration during the 1995-2000 period. "People are moving to adjoining counties, but even more importantly, new migrants moving into the Metropolitan Area are avoiding Memphis because of the crushing property tax burden." Adjacent counties, with much lower property tax rates, are booming in population growth.

Why Detroit?
Michigan.
'nuff said.

Why Pittsburgh?
Outside Katrina-Hit Areas, Pittsburgh Leads Population Declines
"There are several reasons for the losses in Pittsburgh. These lessons can be applied to several other large cities as well.

First and foremost is the burden of city and city school taxes. Not surprisingly, the four cities where city and school taxes represented the largest share of both total non-federal taxes and income saw significant decreases in population over the decade of the 1990s and so far in this decade. These cities were Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.

The second problem is a tendency for the public sector to underwrite questionable development in the name of growth. Pittsburgh and other cities that engaged in economic development strategies that focused on subsidizing glitzy entertainment venues, such as sports stadiums, tended to be on the net loss side more often than not. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Cincinnati are joined by Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee as cities that hitched their hopes to stadium-driven economic development that has not panned out as promised.

Lastly, the continuing drop in education quality is a key element in explaining the decline of many of these cities.
"


It's only 'natural' for a city to die if murder is considered 'natural'. Obama has the exact same blueprint for the entire nation, FWIW.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

This the result of 40+ years of community organizing!

Ian Argent said...

Detroit and suburbs are already returning to nature. http://www.detroitblog.org/?p=405 and some other entries on that blog.

I'm not sure I care for the .gov forcing people inside the wire; but they're going to have to de-annex some of these areas. Make it voluntary ("If you want to stay inside the city services radius, but can't afford to move, we'll swap you a currently abandoned house inside the new limits. If not, welcome to Wayne County.")

Bissage said...

I find myself awed by Triangle Man’s 7:32.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Pogo: the government can't admit it is the problem, because it is THE SOLUTION!

Cincinnati has a government project on the riverbank (that displaced several dozen businesses) and started with the new stadiums probably 10 years ago.

The project is still in the planning stages, although they broke ground over 18 months ago (after 8 years of 'study'), and is so over budget the numbers are meaningless.

It is callaed "The Banks". Interstingly enough, the city recently held a contest to rename the project, since The Banks had become such a joke.

The winning entry was...

The Banks.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I think this is a great idea, I wish all the stimulus money were spent this way. No one wants these houses, there's nothing else to do with them. Plus, it's helping people live closer together, in the parts of cities that still function.

Chip Ahoy said...

Sign of the times:

"This Wildlife Refuge brought to you by the UAW"

Bob said...

This is just helping out the national carbon footprint.
Plus, if you (a homeowner) hold out and they bulldoze around your home then you can "live out in the country" at some point in the future.

Pogo said...

Why bother moving people?
It would be much more 'green' to allow the local population return to a feral pre-Christopher-Columbus-invasion state, and quickly reverse centuries of Western male hegemony.

Plus, the health care wuold be very cheap.




The fin de si├Ęcle of Democratic utopian governance.

Fen said...

has anyone else here seen the ghetto area of Baltimaore? It's unreal. Looks like 70's NYC ghettos you see only in movies. Maybe worse.

Plenty of row houses with no windows or doors, full of squatters. Some row houses half collapsed and left that way between other, occupied houses. Very, very bad.



Coming soon to a suburb near you.

Juris Dentist said...

First, I'm sure people will be forced to move if this thing gets going.

Ah, the certainty that comes from total ignorance. Do you ever read the entire article, Althouse?

These are ABANDONED houses. Need we define the word for you.

1,000 have been demolished in Flint already. Can you name a single person who was displaced?

I didn't think so.

More puffery -- and fiction! -- from Annie A.

Bart DePalma said...

I don't suppose it has occurred to these municipal governments that they are part of the blight that is causing their middle classes to flee?

Perhaps, they would be a good place to start the pruning.

CarmelaMotto said...

When I read this I thought about all of the "urban renewal" in cities from San Francisco to NYC in the 70s and after they bulldozed neighborboods there were just empty lots. Considering the glacial pace government moves (see WTC too!), it will be a no man, no "forest" (forest? park perhaps, but forest?, and no greenland for a long long time.

Everybody remember that park Obama promised in Chicago?
http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/1050869,CST-NWS-garden11.article

John Althouse Cohen said...

Aside from one vague reference, there's not much in this article saying that the Obama administration is actually going to do this. It's says they're "considering" it. And the British press is notorious for overhyping things.

Pogo said...

"It's says they're "considering" it. "
They may or may not.

But Obama is in fact engaging in the very same tax-and-spend policies that ravaged these cities in the first place.

How the government plans to clean up after fiscally napalming the entire country seems a misplaced concern.

L. E. Lee said...

I grew up in Flint and help my family run a downtown business (Hale Hats) that we owned. I also went back to teach at the community college (Mott Community College) on a part time basis back in the 1990s. This seems to me to be a sensible approach. Also you can not view Flint using the prism of Madison, WI or a similar community that is protected from economic downturns because they are university towns or state capitals.
The reality is that some cities grow and others retreat due to economic forces beyond their control. It seems like Dan Kildee is helping to manage this for Flint.

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo writes something dumb again
"But Obama is in fact engaging in the very same tax-and-spend policies that ravaged these cities in the first place."

Pogo, you do not even have a clue as to why Flint has been in decline.

CarmelaMotto said...

JAC, I supposed that's true since the wheels of govt do move slowly.

I don't know Flint. I suppose it's more suburban than urban. Unless half of it is empty, and completely abandoned, you would still have to relocate people to the part of town they don't want to demolish.

What bothers me about the typical "urban renewal" plans is that they do not usually plan long term. There are lots of once empty (20 30 years ago) downtown areas of large and small cities that are now thriving. Soho, downtown NYC, Downtown Asheville, NC to name a few.

I hate it when beautiful buildings are abandoned and left to rot like the Buffalo Central terminal when it could have been used or rehabbed for something else (museaum perhaps). No long term planning.

jayne_cobb said...

I think I have the perfect plan for both achieving the destruction of run down parts of the cities and bringing large quantities of money back to local economies.


Simply put the cities should have all their sporting event celebrations in the crappy parts of the city.

Think about it.

The bars (of which there are always many in rundown areas) would make a killing off the sale of drinks, and the inevitable alcohol fueled rioting would destroy all the surrounding property.

The govt. could then collect taxes from the restaurants and wouldn't have to spend a dime on tearing down the houses as they would likely already be ash.


As evidence I present this years Super Bowl. You would not believe how many abandoned couches the Steeler's win helped get rid of here in Pittsburgh.

Granted this plan would only work in cities with a rabid fanbase and a chance at a championship so Detroit needs its own plan; but Philly could easily get rid of all of its urban blight in one night with an Eagle's championship.

Republican said...

Projects like this can put people to work for decades, and create small businesses in recycling and reusing the bricks, hardware, etc. recovered from the demolition of thousands of buildings.

Urbanites could take up farming, raise chickens and hogs, and be entirely self-sufficient by living off the land.

No need for urbanites to relocate to the suburbs. Ta-da.

Pogo said...

L. E. Lee said..."The reality is that some cities grow and others retreat due to economic forces beyond their control. "

That's the reality?

Since when is over-taxation and unsupportable spending beyond their control?

What are you Michiganers, all addicts or something?

Do you need a 12 Step Program to reform your besotted legislators?

Well, LE LEE, at least you've reached Step 1: " We admit we are powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable."




But you just handed over your recovery to another alcoholic.

Joe said...

New to this, please bear with me....
The problem is not the razing of the houses. It's with the ownership of the subsequent parcels.

Rather than the city, "the government" owning the land, the government ought to declare the properties vacant, sell them for the tax liens, with the provision that the land must move to a non-blighted condition within 90 days of sale...possibly by offering a break on the price.

This would put the land into private ownership, not government ownership. This is far preferable. True the land might still revert to pasture or scrub land, but when economic/social conditions improve the land can more easily be placed back into service.

Government ownership is an AWFUL idea...it will lead only to corruption. As private developers pay council persons to OK their purchase and development plans and the like.

And if not corruption it will lead to inefficiency (ies). As PETA will oppose the conversion of animal habitat into "urban sprawl" or the "Green weenies" will oppose the conversion of carbon neutral or carbon offset land into "urban sprawl". OR Al Sharpton will oppose the conversion of "historically black areas" into McMansions, solely for the benefit of "whitey" and the detriment of People of Colour. I think you get the idea. It will take FOREVER for the government to wade thru all its competing constituencies to decide what to do with the land, and what to do with the land will be based on some interest group's ideology rather than economics or demographics.

If Flint wants to be less bothered by blighted neighborhoods and abandoned houses Flint can:
1) Disincorporate certain areas, by action of the city's governing body a city can DISINCORPORATE areas, returning them to the "county". Thereby shedding the necessity of providing city services.
2) The city and county can sell the land to private owners for the tax liens...giving PETA, Earth First, the Nature Conservancy, AND KB Homes the chance to put their money where their mouths are and remake the area for the future.

Hector Owen said...

I am reminded of the Detroit raccoon hunter: "This city is going back to the wild," he says. "That's bad for people but that's good for me. I can catch wild rabbit and pheasant and coon in my backyard."

class-factotum said...

gays could gentrify Detroit in a giffy

When I was looking for my house in Memphis (the house I sold last year at a profit within three days of listing at full price, so I'm not quite sure about this idea that Memphis is in a decline), my real estate fairy godmother told me to find a neighborhood where gay men were buying -- that was a sign of improving property values.

I was to avoid, however, areas with lesbian owners, because they tended to reduce prices.

L. E. Lee said...

God Pogo, your reliance on ideology can lead you to some dumb ass places.

Madison (where I now live) New York City, San Fransisco, and many other progressive cities are doing just fine thank you. Many backward conservative communities are really struggling.

Pogo, what was your point?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I think it's a fine idea.

"what sorts of animals — rodent and human — will run wild there?"

The same that run wild there now. Rats, snakes, possums, people up to no good. That part won't change much.

But I was one of those people who outmigrated from Memphis. There are huge areas of the city for which "blight" doesn't begin to describe what you see. We lived for seventeen years down the street from a hotel that partly burned and was never demolished, though it was fenced off and unusable. Seventeen years. I used to think somebody needed to get into some of those places and doze them down because that was the only way anything different would ever happen. A meadow (and in Memphis a forest isn't out of the question, actually) would be a vast improvement.

Pogo said...

Lee, you cite New York City and San Fransisco as doing just fine?

You mean SF, the city in a state that is about to go bankrupt?

NYC, which has been shedding jobs at a record pace and is about to relive its bankruptcy years?

Those cities?? Doing very well thank you?
Heh.

And read the article; it cites Madison's neighbor Milwaukee as being more afflicted by the usual tax-and-spend destruction of population. Madison isn't any better or worse than the rest of Wisconsin, which ranks 38th in the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index.

Unless you believe taxes have little or no effect on where people live or businesses locate. In which case I'll point out Microsoft's threat to leave the US if Obama raises taxes.

Pogo said...

And Lee, I am not relying on any ideology.
It's basic economics.

Only your ideology refuses to recognize basic economics.

AJ Lynch said...

Camden, NJ has maybe 70,000 residents. The state and fed govts have spent probably $10 Billion trying to fix it over the last ten years.

I thought it would be a cheaper & better idea to pay the sorry residents to leave Camden and never return.

The govt should set up a reverse toll booth and give them $50,000 each to leave Camden. Then they can bulldoze the whole city and Walaa! Presto Chango! Instant Gentrification!

[yes I have oversimplified the pla but you get the point- we throw good money after bad year after year after year].

BTW this does not mean I agree with Obama cause this is not his idea. Obama has never had an original idea in his life- his ideas are all straight from the doctrinaire lib playbook.

L. E. Lee said...

Joe wrote
"Rather than the city, "the government" owning the land, the government ought to declare the properties vacant, sell them for the tax liens, with the provision that the land must move to a non-blighted condition within 90 days of sale...possibly by offering a break on the price."

Hi Joe. Dan Kildee is already doing this. But it only works with some properties. But there are whole neighborhoods that are pretty much abandoned. There are no developers interested owning that land and the city can not afford to keep up the public infrastructure.

class-factotum said...

Laura, what about the redevelopment that was going on on the north side of downtown? That looked good. But yes, that hotel on Peabody (was it?) should have been razed.

Of course, Memphis' big problem (and the reason that I moved to Milwaukee instead of my husband moving to Memphis) is Willy Herenton and the city council. As long as people keep electing that idiot, Memphis, which is otherwise a really nice place to live, will continue to decline.

Frodo Potter said...

I don’t have the adverse reaction that many others do. Tearing down crappy houses has been going on for centuries. If the houses have been abandoned and people are not being bullied and coerced out of them, then--carefully done--this could be a productive step. I offer some additional thoughts below.

I think downtownlad might actually be on to something here. I wouldn’t say it is a panacea, but he does raise an interesting point.

CarmelaMotto is entirely correct. This is an idea that could either produce a wonderful new cityscape or give us more crap like Cabrini Green (and I don’t even live in Chicago). The long term results are going to closely mirror the amount of careful, objective, and bipartisan (for want of a better word) planning. Historic buildings should be preserved. DTL’s thoughts on gentrification are also apropos.

Many of the commenters who noted the vagrants living in these places also have a point. A huge part of the problem is not the buildings; it is the people. Where will these squatters and Section 8 people go? Back to prison? To a mental hospital? Not likely. Then where?

Freeman Hunt said...

I will say that if areas are abandoned, it's probably better to bulldoze them than leave them as is. Better the area fills with animal wildlife than human wildlife (read: crime.)

L. E. Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L. E. Lee said...

Pogo wrote
"You mean SF, the city in a state that is about to go bankrupt?"
Pogo, Pogo, Pogo...
San Fran is doing just fine. It is the State of Cali that is hurting.
Unlike you I refuse to take a simplistic view of the world based on some ideology interpreted in a dumbed downed way. Instead, my view is that sometimes government investment and involvement is good and sometimes it is bad and we as a polity made up of reasonable individuals can make the determination of which is which.

PatCA said...

Yes, let the inhabitants return to nature as well, then charge admission to the "living museum," a reminder to all what union/liberal/statist domination does to a community. Side trip to prison to visit Mayor Kwame included!

Of course Obama wants to knock it all down. Back in the day in Chicago, it was called Urban Removal (Urban Renewal), another dandy funnel to your contributors.

L. E. Lee said...

Pogo wrote
"And Lee, I am not relying on any ideology. It's basic economics."

There is nothing basic about economics. The world is complicated. Only someone who relies on simplistic ideology would say "It's basic economics" in response to a real world economic situation like Flint, MI.

L. E. Lee said...

PatCa wrote
"...a reminder to all what union/liberal/statist domination does to a community."

The people of Flint would say "what a corporation does to a community."

rhhardin said...

Look for vandalized meadows.

rhhardin said...

Where property rights are not enforced, there will soon be no property.

wordsprite said...

After Hurricane Katrina razed New Orleans, I wrote a letter to the mayor of Saint Louis, suggesting that the displaced NO residents move to SL- the infrastructure, such as is is, being already in place, warm climate, etc. I actually got a very nice letter back that didn't just blow me off. I still think it would have been a great idea.

onparkstreet said...

Actually, Pogo and Edjumicated redneck (I don't know if I'm mispelling edujimicated correctly, can't be bothered to check), I so hear you.

What I mean is this: my heavily regulated inner-ring suburb has an interesting local governmental culture. All the cute, funky, small Mom and Pops are moving to a suburb next door. Because, wait for it, it's cheaper. Lower taxes, easier to deal with the city, etc. Our local officials use tax dollars to buy up property, push out the sturdy Mom and Pops, and then try and find a developer to come 'develop' said parcel of land, because, somehow, in the future it 'will make money for the city'. How this will happen is never really explained.

So, like, you can't blame the evil corporations for taking the development dough, but it's not the fault of the evil corporations that the local gov sets up the rules perfectly for crony capitalism. It's you guys, mr and ms I have an MA in Government from a big ole' ivy.

Blind ideology swings lots of ways....

Laura(southernxyl) said...

CF, it's at Lamar and Cleveland. They actually were dozing it and talking about what could go in there about the time we left in 2007. It burned 3 weeks after we moved there in 1990.

Yes, there are areas close to the Mississippi that have been redeveloped and look really nice. But the Lamar corridor is absolutely awful, and embarrassing since it's an interstate highway too (78).

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Oh - and you know that Herenton's going to make a run at Steve Cohen's congressional seat? Yes, the one that Harold Jr. let go of to try for Frist's vacating Senate spot. The one Cohen originally tried for when Harold Sr. turned it over to Jr. in 1996 (I think), thinking that his many years' service in the State Senate would trump the experienceless Jr's family name and race. He had his head handed to him, and said some very bitter things at the time.

Harold Sr. is sponsoring a fundraiser ... for Cohen.

Pop some corn, and read the CA online.

Pogo said...

The people of Flint would say "what a corporation does to a community."

Well the people of Flint are morons, what few remain.

Most seem to share your delusions.

And isn't SanFran still part of CA?

1990bluejay said...

Wow. When this sort of action was proposed as a solution to parts of New Orleans after Katrina, the outcry was tremendous; though the population loss versus displacement is major distinguishing elemnent. Still in the long run it may be a good action - prevent further blight, reduce criminal activity that tends to occur in blighted areas, and may even off set an area's "carbon footprint" for all those tree hugging types out there. If the cities were really smart they would put the process out to bid or sell permits to salvage companies to strip the homes of interesting architectural elements, lumber etc... Doubt that will happen and everything will be placed into a landfill.

rcocean said...

Rules for Republicans:

1) If a corporation goes bankrupt & cities become ghost towns always blame:

a. High Taxes
b. Those damn lazy workers
c. Government Regulation.

2) Never Blame:

a. Management - they're just well-paid innocent bystanders.

b. Free Trade - its always a good thing.

c. The "Free" Market - 'cause even when it produces bad results its still above criticism.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Chicago did this by plan with their Forest Preserve (from the front end rather than mostly as a regression). I was told it came out of an idealism of some women in the 1920s which led to the establishment of these zones. There are scattered houses in them. There also you 'didn't have to move,' just no new areas could have residences. Just acres of densely grown kinda scary, for me, different but monotonous forest.

onparkstreet said...

I actually asked our small businesses why they are moving - they themselves tell me it's because the government is a pain to deal with and taxes are too high. THEY SAY IT THEMSELVES.

I love how an actual, real-life situation is glossed over.

Also, our local government gives millions in subsidies to big developers. This is not the free market, and many of us in my community oppose it. It is not the small government types who support million dollar subsidies to developers.

My favorite real world anecdote? There was a barber who was told there couldn't be two hair salons on his block. The other hair salon did cuts for women and his were old guys getting buzzed. So, he upped and moved to the suburb next door. I am not making this up.

Jana said...

L.E., I've been to San Francisco, and been fairly accosted by many a street dweller demanding pocket change. Streets overrun by homeless isn't something I'd consider a success. Additionally, as I understand it, housing is a significant problem in S.F., where rents are too high for many service workers in the area. While I'm sure that many S.F. residents feel very holy and righteous about their generous social services for these street dwellers, the fact remains that they go to sleep at night A-OK with the fact that the poor of S.F. denizens either make their homes in boxes and lawnchairs on city streets, or they can't afford to live near their low-paying service jobs because of sky-high rents.

You have a lot to be proud of.

I'm excited to see what happens to the city budget once the consequences of dropping R.E. values hits the bottom line. It shall grow evermore a Progressive utopia, I'm sure. Taxes: to infinity and beyond!

onparkstreet said...

Er, he was told by some city zoning ordinance factotum.

That's what it said in the paper....

Oh, my other favorite anecdote of local good governance? City buys building housing perfectly good, but small, business. Tells business to move out. Tries to lure a developer to develop building, hoping to cash in (somehow, giving millions to a developer is supposed to generate more millions in taxes over the next 20 years. This is considered a good move, financially). Developer backs out. Building and storefront sit empty.

Beautiful.

L. E. Lee said...

(Pogo, you do not need to read this post because it does not fit into you simplistic black and white ideological world. I would not want you to strain yourself and have a brain hernia.)

In reality, I get the sense that most people in Flint think that because of changes in the world economy it just no longer made sense to make autos in places like Flint. Along with that, General Motors could not put together a management team that could compete with the Hondas of the world. Sorta like the Detroit Lions.
I am glad that there are people like Dan Kildee (his uncle is Dale Kildee, the long time congressman from Flint) who are dealing with this transition. Flint remains a great town. I go back now about twice a year to visit family. I always have a Vernors and a Halo burger before leaving town!

AJ Lynch said...

Fen:

Section 8 can not be to blame. Surely there is another factor to blame and you are overlooking it cause you are a heartless Republican Neanderthal. :)

L. E. Lee said...

Jana, it is great you have visited San Fran. It is a popular place to visit because it is one of the world's great cities. Though, it is to bad that you were shocked that there were panhandlers there. (Has that not been the case for urban areas/non-urban areas going back before the founding of Rome?)
Your post does not seem to make sense though. The rents/housing costs are high due to market forces. Many people want to live there because it is a great city. This drives up housing costs.

I guess in your world the fact that the people of San Fran want to be generous when it comes to social services for the less well off is more damnable than communities that are not similarly generous.

L. E. Lee said...

Also Jana,

I am always surprised to see so many ideological conservatives living in places like Seattle, WA. How can you stand living in such a liberal hellhole!

Beth said...

I don't have an opinion yet on this plan, but I see the need it's meant to address.

In NOLA, we have a few areas that just will not be adequately restored post-storm. Houses that were simply destroyed by the floods have been razed, but there are others now that no one has done anything with, that may be gutted or may not be, but are not able to be restored. In a few places, there are whole blocks, and whole neighborhoods like that.

The police still have to patrol those areas. Electricity, gas and water are restored, even if they're not being delivered to a boarded up house. Garbage pickup winds through sparsely reclaimed neighborhoods. All this has to be paid for - by us.

There are squatters in abandoned houses. And because of them, there is crime, and fire, and litter.

One good response is a program that allows people who have restored their homes to buy the empty property next to them at a discount from the state. Lots of people have done that, and it's improved their neighborhood. But before they can, some agency has to declare the property vacant, and knock down the house, remove the power and gas lines and dig up the pad.

I love the historic architecture and the history of our neighborhoods, but I can't escape the reality that some -- fewer than people probably assume, but still, some -- won't come back after the storm. Rotting houses, vagrants, crime and fire are not good economic engines. Green space is to be preferred to blight; it's also a good means of dealing with excess water, so it will help any area prone to flooding.

The problem I see is in trusting government to get it right. For example, right now the state is trying to plow under a huge section of a neighborhood that is coming back, and turn it in to a new development for teaching and VA hospitals, both of which we need. There's other land available, but they want Central City. Also, the commission in charge of slating houses for demolition has made some terrible mistakes, and left people homeless who had perfectly good homes, in good repair. So I don't trust this proposal just out of my initial, perhaps kneejerk, belief that government is generally prone to fucking up. I'd want to see arduous planning by neighborhood associations, who would have some sort of veto power or other means directing the decision-making, from the bottom up.

Synova said...

The idea that abandoned and run down areas of cities must be re-developed makes me think of churches with programs and no one to really serve in them but there is an idea that nothing must ever be ended so people struggle and cajole and guilt people into running the program and it's a burden and a mess.

It costs no more to raze a building and chew up the pavement and leave it "wild" than it does to raze a building and chew up the pavement and build something else on the spot with a new big building and a new parking lot.

If it's all bad or good depends on how it's all done and if they'll leave the old fellow who paid for his house in 1963 in the little cottage that will now be in the woods.

And if the people who agree to move are the people in the dying neighborhoods who paid their mortage and taxes and *didn't* loose their house... they'll probably be good neighbors in the new neighborhood.

AJ Lynch said...

Beth said:

"The problem I see is in trusting government to get it right. For example, right now the state is trying to plow under a huge section of a neighborhood that is coming back, and turn it in to a new development for teaching and VA hospitals, both of which we need. There's other land available, but they want Central City. Also, the commission in charge of slating houses for demolition has made some terrible mistakes, and left people homeless who had perfectly good homes, in good repair. So I don't trust this proposal just out of my initial, perhaps kneejerk, belief that government is generally prone to fucking up. "

Very well said Beth!

Synova said...

Oh, and the guy in the article was talking about little urban islands or whatever... so it sounds like taking a neighborhood and keeping it... just contracting it a bit... so the idea is to keep the community identity.

I think it sounds like a good plan.

The only real questions being coercion and who owns the land between and what will be allowed to be done with it. Wild spaces or even little farms would be nice to have, so long as some idiot doesn't mess up taxes.

Pogo said...

"because of changes in the world economy it just no longer made sense to make autos in places like Flint. "

Yet somehow Toyotas are made in the US.

Must be by magic!

L. E. Lee said...

Good post Beth. You seem like a very reasonable person who understands that "government" is just a tool to be used. My guess is that harnessing market forces and letting the private sector rebuild makes the most sense in NOLA. Obviously, government will still play a role. Finally, NOLA needs people like you to get involved in neighborhood associations and other community groups to help make sure good decisions are made.

L. E. Lee said...
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L. E. Lee said...

Pogo wrote
"Yet somehow Toyotas are made in the US."
Good point Pogo. Though Toyota is a well run company that does not focus on short term profit ("hey guys lets build Hummers and make record profits even though it will not be sustainable in the next decade!") Toyota also focuses on well engineered autos with a fleet that are on average much smaller in size. Finally, don't they have universal health care in Japan? How in the heck can they be so successful if they have the yoke of national health care!

CarmelaMotto said...

on park street. good point. it's not "corporations, maaaaaaan!' it's the cities vacating property (eminent domain!) for developers (atlantic yards is supposed to make Brooklyn rich!) and then a buyer never comes or..you name it.

I love what they did (and are doing) with the High Line in Manhattan. About time. Again, it took 20 years, but it was private individuals and grass roots money that did it's own studies petitioned the city. The city was just letting it rot.

For years I have been hoping for some "rails to trails" in Queens where you bike ride with dangerous traffic. We have tons of unused rail for trails. Instead of rails to trails, they have cut up the rails and paved over parts (unused lot here, unused basketball court here) or they are just rotting. No long term plans just rot and waste!

rcocean said...
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rcocean said...
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AJ Lynch said...

The American auto industry turned into job and retirement benefit factories whose by-product was cars. That "incredibly smart business plan" has led to the ruination of towns like Flint- so blame both the unions and the car companies.

By following a similarly ingenious plan, the MSM has turned its once stellar news operations into advertising delivery systems whose by-product is biased news.

There ain't nothing wrong with that but why are they afraid to admit it?

rcocean said...

Yet somehow Toyotas are made in the US. Must be by magic

Toyota makes autos here to stave off US Tariffs and quotas.

If the "free market" & "free Trade" was really at work - all the US Toyota factories would close and move to countries with lower labor costs.

But don't let facts confuse you, the "free Market" rules all.

AJ Lynch said...

Does the USA levy tariffs on foreign made cars?

And are wages that much lower for auto workers in Japan (excluding the UAW ridiculously high benefits)?

L. E. Lee said...

AJ Lynch wrote
"the MSM has turned its once stellar news operations into advertising delivery systems"

Well that is why most smart people like NPR and PBS.

Beth said...

thanks, Lee. I'm not currently living in one of the affected neighborhoods, but I'm always involved, and my council reps hear from me plenty and often!

I agree with the mix of private enterprise, with government and citizen action driving the development. I've already seen, though, big plans that fall through, and the end result is empty property that was grabbed through eminent domain, razed, and left with nothing to show for it. I assume who ever was brokering the deals made some bucks, and some politicians got some campaign cash, and that was enough. Meanwhile, there goes the culture of a neighborhood. So, we're trying to keep a close watch, but it doesn't always work. For instance, a bill in the legislature this week would have kept the hospital development from proceeding until financing was in place. That bill failed in its final committee appearance. We're up against a lot of money and power.

I want the hospitals, but I want a plan, and money, in place to guarantee we won't be razing 19th century homes and cultural landmarks and left with empty parking lots.

L. E. Lee said...

AJ Lynch wrote
"UAW ridiculously high benefits"

Damn those U.S. workers and their demand for health care! You don't see Japanese workers being so greedy! (Japan has universal health care.) Opps! Never mind.

Also, I take it AJ Lynch you do not expect health care benefits from your employer? (I am self employed.)

Palladian said...

"Good post Beth. You seem like a very reasonable person who understands that "government" is just a tool to be used."

The government is like a screwdriver. Except it's like you wake up one day and your screwdriver has grown to the size of your house and is now screwing you.

If you want to have an experience take the Amtrack train from New York City, through Philadelphia, through the Baltimore area and into D.C. A veritable "It's A Small World" ride through the ravages of the 20th century and the hopelessness of blight.

Parts of the trip, however, are quite green and picturesque.

Fen said...

Many of the commenters who noted the vagrants living in these places also have a point. A huge part of the problem is not the buildings; it is the people. Where will these squatters and Section 8 people go? Back to prison? To a mental hospital? Not likely. Then where?

To your neighborhood. And you'll be taxed more to pay for their mortgages/rent.

L. E. Lee said...

Palladian,

Take a train trip through Europe and its cities. Opps. What was your point?

L. E. Lee said...

Palladian,
Take a train trip from Florida to Texas. Opps. What was your point?

Palladian said...

Opps? Program error. Recompile. Reboot.

L. E. Lee said...

Some of America's great old cities have had a renaissance over the past twenty years. You can not say that about places like Mississippi. Calling Haley Barbour!

Palladian said...

And if you'd ever left Madison, or if you had a brain in that blighted noggin of yours, you'd understand my point. Have you ever taken that Amtrak route? Do you know where the tracks are located?

L. E. Lee said...

Yes Palladian, cities have blighted areas just like the backward conservative State of Mississippi. I got it.

Palladian said...

"Yes Palladian, cities have blighted areas just like the backward conservative State of Mississippi. I got it."

Yes, like those backwards, conservative states of California and New York.

Why do you have so much contempt for your fellow Americans? Is it something in the water in Madison?

I guess Althouse drinks bottled water and so isn't affected.

rcocean said...

Does the USA levy tariffs on foreign made cars?

Toyota makes autos here to stave off US Tariffs and quotas.

L. E. Lee said...

Palladian, I think you are confusing "Americans" with yourself. (But I like you on a personal level if that makes you feel better.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And isn't SanFran still part of CA?

Not according to the rest of us who live in California. SF hasn't been part of the State for many years.

@ Beth. 12:20 Exactly and very well said. If the Government would get out of the way, private enterprise and citizens would be able to rebuild.

Although.....one of the biggest problems to urban repair and renovation in blighted areas still remains the vermin, human and animal, that reside there.

Many of the commenters who noted the vagrants living in these places also have a point. A huge part of the problem is not the buildings; it is the people. Where will these squatters and Section 8 people go? Back to prison? To a mental hospital? Not likely. Then where?

FEN: "To your neighborhood. And you'll be taxed more to pay for their mortgages/rent."

You know....there is something to be said for living in a rural area without much public housing and where the winter temperatures are in sub zero ranges for weeks at a time. Not too many homeless here. They have all gone for greener pastures. Also since the closest "social services" freebie giveaway offices are about 100 miles away, the welfare people don't tend to congregate here much either. Too much like work to have to get your free money.

AJ Lynch said...

Lee:

I am listening to a non-profit station today. WXPN 88.5 and they run "commercials" too masked as "from our supporters".

In fact, today they ran one from The Constitution Center which is a publicly funded non-profit built with taxpayer money. So what did I just hear, a taxpayer funded non-commerical on a non-profit radio station?

Follow the money trail brother. That is my advice.

Jason (the commenter) said...

L E Lee : Finally, don't they have universal health care in Japan? How in the heck can they be so successful if they have the yoke of national health care!

They have so few children in Japan, they are working furiously to develop robots to care of their elderly.

The Japanese system is clearly unsustainable; they need massive cuts in government services to be able to replace themselves.

AJ Lynch said...

RCocean:

Any idea what the tariff amount is? This is the first I have heard of this in years.

I thought Toyota built cars here to save transport money and grow its market share by pitching "Made in America".

ricpic said...

I'm beginning to understand that under the condescending tone that permeates Leelee's posts is an absolute terror of being taken for a commoner.

Maguro said...

Any idea what the tariff amount is? This is the first I have heard of this in years.

It wasn't tarrifs so much as the "voluntary" - politically motivated - import quotas that caused Honda, Toyota and Nissan to set up shop here. There is still a 25% tarrif on imported trucks and vans, though.

AJ Lynch said...

Lee:

There is no free lunch in Japan. I am sure the auto companies pay a hefty tax to the Japanese govt for their workers "free" universal health care.

If they pay less in taxes than what GM pays to the union H&W funds, I blame GM and the unions.

L. E. Lee said...

ricpic wrote
"I'm beginning to understand that under the condescending tone that permeates Leelee's posts is an absolute terror of being taken for a commoner."

What in the heck are you talking about ricpic? I am just a small business owner. If having better arguments and observations is "condescending" then I guess I am guilty.

A.J. Lynch, of course there is no free lunch in Japan. But we all are paying for a broken health care system in the U.S. that is operationally universal (everyone gets treated here but often after the ailment/disease has reached a critical stage) that has come to make no sense. For you to focus your ire on U.S. auto workers getting private health care insurance from G.M. is beyond laughable. It seems you are an opponent of both universal health care AND private health insurance for blue collar workers. Do you prefer the Wal-Mart model instead?

AJ Lynch said...

Lee:

First I have no "ire" towards auto unions. My parents and grand parents were in unions. I worked in one for several years. But they are just like the corps who are criticized for seeking short-term profits. The unions made their own bed and now they are paying a big price. It is a tragedy what the union and GM have done to a once great auto company.

You, on the other hand, have bought the liberal talking point, that the auto companies failed because we don't have universal health care. That is BS.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

LEE said: For you to focus your ire on U.S. auto workers getting private health care insurance from G.M. is beyond laughable.

No it isn't laughable at all. The unsustainable model of Defined Benefit Pension Plans with a shrinking workforce and the volatility of investment portfolios and increasing life spans, plus the incredible gold encrusted health plans that bear no share of cost are what have destroyed Unionized industry as well as now bankrupting Cities, States and Public Utility Districts.

The Unions, killed the golden goose through greed and by making it nearly impossible to make any dynamic changes in the work force or the process of manufacturing. By refusing to compromise and take less they have now forced the rest of the country, many of whom do NOT have health care to subsidize their retirement and benefit packages. The ire against the Unions is well deserved.


"Do you prefer the Wal-Mart model instead?"

Yes. The employees have good affordable health care options and a retirement plan that is sustainable with an employer that is actually expanding jobs in this recessionary environment.

I and my husband both are small business people (two separate businesses for over 20 years) so you needn't be so snottily superior about being self employed.

It also doesn't make you any smarter than anyone else because you 'claim' to watch NPR and PBS as if no one else has heard of those news outlets. Your supercilious attitude is why you are perceived as condescending and probably that attitude it worn to disguise your own fears that you might just be a regular person like the rest of the "common" people.

L. E. Lee said...

AJ, the UAW has given a great deal back over the past two decades or more including health care. You just do not know your facts.

GM has been a failing company because it has been designing cars that people do not want. It has been mismanaged in other ways as well. In the end, like to many U.S. companies, it has focused on short term profit (and in the not so distant past it received these windfalls) at the expense of long term viability.

Finally, several years ago the UAW agreed to having the starting hourly wage pegged at $13.00. The hourly workers at GM have not been the problem. Though I know you have an ideological stake in believing so.

Frodo Potter said...

Beth said “The problem I see is in trusting government to get it right. For example, right now the state is trying to plow under a huge section of a neighborhood that is coming back, and turn it in to a new development for teaching and VA hospitals, both of which we need. There's other land available, but they want Central City. Also, the commission in charge of slating houses for demolition has made some terrible mistakes, and left people homeless who had perfectly good homes, in good repair. So I don't trust this proposal just out of my initial, perhaps kneejerk, belief that government is generally prone to fucking up. I'd want to see arduous planning by neighborhood associations, who would have some sort of veto power or other means directing the decision-making, from the bottom.”

As several others have written, well said. That is very much what I wanted to convey, but you said it much better.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

AJ, the UAW has given a great deal back over the past two decades or more including health care. You just do not know your facts.

How about you give us some then.

What is the cost of the GM and Chrysler (for a sample) health insurance plan? What does it cover? Co pays? Deductible? Out of Pocket limit? And just how much of that cost is born by the employee?

How do their plans compare to the ones that most self insured people can afford? You know....those people who are now going to be paying taxes for GM (Government Motors) and other Government employees?

How much does the Company have to contribute as a percentage of wages to the DBP? How much does the employee contribute?

I wager....little to no cost to the employee.

What is the employer's payroll burden as a percentage of each wage dollar? Including DBP, Health Ins, Social Security, Medicare, Worker's Comp (if they have to pay this I don't know) and all of the other MANDATORY employee costs?

L. E. Lee said...

Dust Bunny writes about the UAW
"By refusing to compromise"

Once again, you just don't know the facts. Being from Flint with a lot of family back there I keep up on it. (Now I am going to be accused of being "condescending" because I brought up I am Flint.)

Concerning Wal*Mart-a majority of their employees do not have health care through the company. Here in Wisconsin management steers their hourly employees to Badger Care which is a state run program. (Now I am going to be accused of being condescending because I asked a trick question and knew the facts before hand.)

Concerning the "condescending" charge-I suspect that those who are hurling it are doing so because of some of their own deep seated anxieties about their own intellects.

L. E. Lee said...

Dust Bunny Queen,

Your point is well made by the questions you asked about health care costs. Because of our patch work approach U.S. auto companies are at a disadvantage in comparison to their Japanese competitors.

AJ Lynch said...

Lee:

When you are not hiring new workers, it is a meaningless gesture to say "we agree to cut the pay of new hires to $13.00".

Before you reply, how many new hires did this affect in the last few years? Zero maybe 100?

Last year, the GOP senators wanted the auto companies and unions to have a rigid timeline plan for when wage "parity" would be reached vs. forign companies.

The unions refused and still have not done it. They did not give up one red cent in the bankruptcy when it comes to their current pay rates.

Jason (the commenter) said...

L. E. Lee : But we all are paying for a broken health care system in the U.S. that is operationally universal (everyone gets treated here but often after the ailment/disease has reached a critical stage) that has come to make no sense.

In Britain emergency patients wait outside in ambulances for hours before they are allowed to wait inside for hours. And people have to wait months for surgeries or even to get an appointment, as a matter of course. Our system seems to make a lot more sense than theirs.

Do you prefer the Wal-Mart model instead?

Having cheap clinics run by nurses to provide check-ups and minor treatments is a great idea. It was Wal-Mart to implement the idea. If we had more places like it our health care costs would plummet and become more affordable.

AJ Lynch said...

We all eventually die of something.

I am not very convinced that the problem of "people waiting til it is too late for treatment" costs us big bucks.

L. E. Lee said...

AJ Lynch wrote
"I am not very convinced that the problem of "people waiting til it is too late for treatment" costs us big bucks."

Thank you AJ. I wish most conservatives were as honest as you.

AJ Lynch said...

Lee:

You understand my point then? We pay for the health care now or we pay for it later. In any event, the cost can't be avoided unless you have found the fountain of youth.

AJ Lynch said...

The average's person incurs something like 80% of their lifetime medical costs in the last six months of their life. That should not be a shocking statistic to anyone with a brain.

L. E. Lee said...

Well AJ there might be other reasons we would want to extend people's lives beyond what it costs in terms of dollars.

AJ Lynch said...

Lee:

Then have some balls and use that as your argument.

Don't lie and say it will save money.

L. E. Lee said...

Of course there are similar horror stories told about the U.S. system.

Jason wrote
"Our system seems to make a lot more sense than theirs."

Being an optimistic guy I would hope that we could develop a new system better than either.

I think you would agree Jason that this is why we have been debating this for the past twenty years.

While I was referring to Wal*Mart in terms of how they provide health care to there employees I am for more of the kind of competition that you wrote about. Obviously, it will help to bring down costs. But I think you would agree that mosts of the rising costs have come from higher end care and administrative costs.

L. E. Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L. E. Lee said...

AJ the desire is to save money and extend health care to more people.

Right now the U.S. is spend more of GDP than most other countries and still not providing up front care to all.

Plus I never said saving money is my main argument. You're projecting again.

AJ Lynch said...

Lee -saving money was your only argument until I questioned its validity.

Yeah we spend more ? so what? I bet we spend more than other countries on just about every category you could think of. So what?

We spend more per capita on govt social programs than any other country. Does that concern you?

Steven said...

"I get the sense that most people in Flint think that because of changes in the world economy it just no longer made sense to make autos in places like Flint."

You see, that's a start, but you then have to then sit down and work out what "places like Flint" means. The reason the Japanese build a transplant in Alabama instead of on the outskirts of Flint is not that Flint's physical geography is somehow suitable for making 1929 and 1959 model American autos but not a 2009 model Japanese auto.

Cedarford said...

1. Amazing that most here blame the employers in blighted cities, or the government for "poor planning" - but not the inner city people who largely create their own fate.

2. Amazing that the people that most frequently rail at "universal health care" are the ones that also have the most contempt for blue and white collar workers who negotiate with employers to get that "wonderful, private, let the free market ring!!" sort of healthcare.

3. Japanese travel agencies are now offering "Ruins of Detroit" tours for tourists. With promises of unbelievable photos to be taken of the collapse of once great institutions and businesses - with tourists given packages of prosperous "before" pictures from the 40s through early 60s to compare the present to... Though they are too polite to say it, it must still be somewhat gratifying to see the city that played so big a part in Japan's defeat being slowly turned to rubble. Not by the Imperial Japanese Army..that could never touch a US city..but by 3rd World savages America granted rights and citizenship to. (Ah, so! If we had only waited 70 years to attack Pearl Harbor!)

Jason (the commenter) said...
I think this is a great idea, I wish all the stimulus money were spent this way. No one wants these houses, there's nothing else to do with them. Plus, it's helping people live closer together, in the parts of cities that still function.
.

The problem is that if you take the people who destroyed much of America's inner urban landscape
and move them to suriving healthy parts, you just metastasize the cancer.
Jason ignores the problem Fen alluded to. Moving the problem - which is NOT businesses, unions, or the new goat - "poor government planning bureaucrats" but shipping out and subsidizing the destructive parastic peoples many wish set into healthier sections of society.

The Atlantic Magazine did a very good spread about cops and prosecutors suddenly confronting an explosive upsurge in crime in previously peaceful, low-crime sections of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, N Carolina. Beginning in the late 90s.
It was only when they forced data from the Feds and overlaid maps of new crime hotspots with Section 8 scattered low-income housing - that it all made sense.

AJ Lynch said...

I do recall reading an article about a Memphis suburb where the detectives figured out the crime uptick had to do with public housing locations (Section 8 etc).

It seems one of the detectives knew a college prof or was maried to a college prof who had access to the HUD data and tey were able to put 2 and 2 together.

Bottom line is these urban areas are not saveable. The best thing to do is disperse the residents and hope they don't re-constitute in large numbers in one area or it will soon be ruined too.

Sounds cruel I know.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

2. Amazing that the people that most frequently rail at "universal health care" are the ones that also have the most contempt for blue and white collar workers who negotiate with employers to get that "wonderful, private, let the free market ring!!" sort of healthcare.

I have contempt for the system that didn't let the workers and the businesses fail as they should have done. Since they (the Unions) negotiated themselves out of the realms of reality and the companies that they work for are unable to sustain those costs imposed upon them by the Unions.....the companies should have been allowed to die, or go Chapter 11, restructure and do what the natural course of events would dictate.

INSTEAD. Now we the rest of public is on the hook for these gold plated benefit packages.

This is the contempt and outright anger that I feel. For the Union workers who don't give a flying fuck for the rest of the country and for the goverment that wants to make the rest of us wage serfs to support the favored classes that supported the current regime.

Pogo said...

Michigan has been absolutely ruled by unions and liberal Democratic policies for decades now.

As a result it is a federalist experiment testing which policies best result in prosperity for all.

The result?
Detroit.
GM Bankruptcy.
Crime-ridden cities.
Population decline.
Widespread government corruption.
Razing abandoned neighborhoods.

Let's go national with that idea!

Cedarford said...

I am reminded as well of what writers in the 18th and 19th Century Classical Revival wrote of, as they visited and studied the ruins of classical civilization.
Of vast swaths of green land, with illiterate, short-lived peasants tending sheep or growing turnips amid askew Doric columns poking through...All happening above the mostly buried remains of civilizations that were once great, but were normally destroyed from within.

Of men of the Enlightenment who wrote of encountering lice-ridden nomads sheltering in the shadow of the Sphinx. Boasting of slaughtering enemies who stole a sack of onions from them. But knowing only that Allah destroyed past idolators, and the Sphinx was testimony to his Divine Will, as were the pyramids Allah built to celebrate his victory over the pagans.

We are used to thinking that the Fall takes centuries. And, knowing history, we now know enough to avoid going the way of the Egyptians, or decadent Romans obsessed with "rule of law", corrupt and corroded at the same time, eaten away by barbarians from within.

But in a historical blink of an eye, Detroit has transformed into the Haiti of the North. Philadephia and Camden into Lagos..

And that may only be the 1st stage. Rome and Chin Dynasty China and Mesopotamia didn't rot down everywhere, all at once. Parts did. Then the decline spread.

AJ Lynch said...

Yeah Cford;
If the govt gave 100% of us a voucher to help you buy health insurance, I'd support that. But it is always about supporting 5% who won't help themselves.

I have no beef with blue, white, or gray collar workers- I have been each at one time or another. I don't know where you get that idea.

I am just very wary and skeptical of more and more govt programs. For instance, when Joe Biden joined the Senate, the maximum payroll tax for medicare / Fica was about $1,100. When he left the Senate this year, it had increased to $17,000 but those govt prgrams are still broke. Who is more to blame? The average American or phony dumb asses like Joe Biden?

Lifelong pols like Obama have never run a business. Obama has never even organized a softball league I bet.

Now I should trust him and his similarly ill-qualified and inexperienced minions to run 50%-60% of the economy when you include defense, healthcare, soc security, one-half of the auto industry, several big banks??

Beth said...

@ Beth. 12:20 Exactly and very well said. If the Government would get out of the way, private enterprise and citizens would be able to rebuild.

That's not exactly what I said, though. I don't trust private enterprise, sans regulation and oversight, either. There are plenty of examples of those failures, and abuses, as well.

Pogo said...

Nor should anyone, Beth. The founders well understood that people can be real bastards. The key is to keep power from concentrating into just a few hands. Gummint as referee and cop. Anything else is corrupting.

Palladian said...

"The problem is that if you take the people who destroyed much of America's inner urban landscape
and move them to suriving healthy parts, you just metastasize the cancer.
Jason ignores the problem Fen alluded to. Moving the problem - which is NOT businesses, unions, or the new goat - "poor government planning bureaucrats" but shipping out and subsidizing the destructive parastic peoples many wish set into healthier sections of society."

So... what would be your final solution to the problem of these herds of parasites?

Kev said...

Yes, let the inhabitants return to nature as well, then charge admission to the "living museum," a reminder to all what union/liberal/statist domination does to a community. Side trip to prison to visit Mayor Kwame included!


Except that Kwame wouldn't be there; he just relocated to an affluent Dallas-area suburb to start a new job with a computer company.

Jason (the commenter) said...

L. E. Lee : But I think you would agree that mosts of the rising costs have come from higher end care and administrative costs.

The higher end care and administrative costs are required by the government. Socialized medicine is just an attempt by government to fix problems it caused in the first place.

The government is even trying to shut down the cheap Wal-mart clinics. The best we can ever hope for with socialized medicine is stasis-- we'll wait around for the patents to run out on all the innovations that already exist. We won't have to worry about the cost of new innovations because there wont be any.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So... what would be your final solution to the problem of these herds of parasites?

That is a tough one. I know you what you are getting at by a "final solution", but there is a real problem that needs to be faced and not just swept under the rug or ignored because it isn't politically correct.

There IS a segment of society that creates chaos, crime and decay where ever they are. There is always that segment in any society, but it seems to be larger and more pervasive than before. Why is this so? How did it come to be so out of control? And how can we change this behaviour? Because if we don't face this, then all the urban development, good intentions in the world are not going to make things better.

I blame the culture of Welfare that broke the nuclear family and entitlement mentality for creating generations of parasites. Welfare shouldn't be an attractive/lucrative option. It should be short term and just enough to get the person back on their feet. Not a generational life style.

The solution (not final). Who knows, but we could start by making the recipients of Welfare accountable. Drug testing: and if you are on drugs you are cut off from public funds. People who work have to piss in a cup or lose their jobs. Why not make the public leeches do the same. If they are not able to take care of their own children because of drug addition or repetitions of criminal activity, remove the children PERMANENTLY from their care. Break the cycle.

Pogo said...

I agree, DBQ.

Why this cannot be a topic for discussion is beyond me.

Or rather, why this always turns into another discussion of how much more the government can do for people to solve it, and tut-tuts you for suggesting there needs to be personal responsibility, is beyond me..

NKVD said...

Let's hope this happens to DC soon, too.

Christy said...

The concept has left me confused. Since the 1980 census, we've been hearing that the cities have been undercounted. All the underclass squatting in those abandoned houses, never visited by census takers are denying cities the federal money they would otherwise be due. I thought the whole reason behind ACORN handling the next census was for them to find the hundreds of thousands of missing inner city Democratic voters. Was I wrong? So if entire neighborhoods are razed where will they pretend these voters reside?

Back in the 70s Baltimore had a vigorous Homesteading project, whereby credit worthy yuppies could buy abandoned houses for $1 and a commitment to rehab. The first couple of go rounds were so popular a lottery was held for the houses. I applied for a house at about stage 3, and although I didn't initially win, I was contacted later because the winner on "my" house couldn't swing the financing. By that time I'd watched a friend go through the rehabbing and, call me shallow, at 26 decided I didn't want to give up my dating life for half a year and I passed on the opportunity. Lucky I did. Only the very first stage was an unqualified success for the neighborhoods targeted. (City fathers may disagree.) The real success was that it encouraged privately funded gentrification in unabandoned neighborhoods. Thus we still have the areas Freeman Hunt describes.

I suspect the only reason Baltimore still has any middle class taxpayers is that we have a strong, affordable Catholic school system.

FWIW I'm inside the Baltimore beltway and have foxes and hawks.

jms said...

Apparently Obama learned everything he needs to know about urban planning from playing SimCity.

Ralph L said...

The best thing to do is disperse the residents
No, keep them concentrated and put saltpeter in the water.

Palladian said...

"There IS a segment of society that creates chaos, crime and decay where ever they are. There is always that segment in any society, but it seems to be larger and more pervasive than before. Why is this so? How did it come to be so out of control? And how can we change this behaviour? Because if we don't face this, then all the urban development, good intentions in the world are not going to make things better."

Oh I absolutely agree. I just couldn't resist getting my standard dig in at Herr Cedarford.

PatCA said...

"The people of Flint would say "what a corporation does to a community."

Now that the corporation is on the ropes and the unions have more control, we'll see.

The union is not blameless, L.E., or do you consider this a "health care" cost? Black Lake

The government and its meddling, the execs who go along to get along, the unions, the state legislators, are all to blame.

Beth said...

The government and its meddling, the execs who go along to get along, the unions, the state legislators, are all to blame.

Ah, a clusterfuck. It's true.

Synova said...

You know... I've often thought that it's not permitted to be poor in this country. All of the things that a very poor person or someone who has had a serious set-back can do to get ahead again are illegal.

Not criminal things!

That's not what I'm getting at.

Can you drive an old junker until you can afford a nicer car? No, you can't. The junker might not pass smog.

Can you sleep on a cot in the back of a business in exchange for work and a few dollars? No, you can't. You can't sleep on the cot and you can't work for less than minimum wage.

In many places there are city ordinances that limit the number of people that can share a house or apartment and building codes limit what you can legally rent out to someone.

They're working on making it illegal not to have health coverage, even if you're young, single, and healthy.

How is a mythos of the honest poor, the noble and proud person who hangs on to that supposed to survive the fact that simply by being in a bad place, hopefully temporarily, make you a criminal?

Kirk Parker said...

Synova,

Well, yes, we in the West have been cutting the bottom few rungs off the economic ladder for quite a few decades now, this isn't something new.

On the other hand, having seen Kibera and a few similar places, I'm not sure we really do want to leave every single one in place.

Synova said...

If you cut the rungs off.... how do people climb up?

But seriously... I realize that most of the rules were made to protect poor people. And I'm not even saying that's wrong, only that the laws are not without negative externalities.

SukieTawdry said...

I know what the non-urban buffer zones will look like. They'll look like the weed-infested garbage dumps they'll become.

Synova said...

And that's worse than weed infested garbage dumps with dilapidated abandoned buildings on them... how?

Darrencardinal said...

Ever notice how liberal posters seem to post more? Like they can't shut up?

They talk like that too; like they are so hysterical they just can't shut up.

And I love the way they blame society, or the government, or the free-market system, or anything, rather than the individuals themselves. I have lived in these urban areas, and seen the toxic culture, a culture that says it is ok to not work, to sleep 'til noon, then get up and drink a bottle of gin.
But I do think it might be a good idea to raze certain neighborhoods, let them return to the natural state they started from.

TAF said...

No one seems to have commented on one point I found interesting - that Flint (and Detroit...I followed a bunch of the links) have no intention of actually abandoning the areas. They'll be razed and allowed to go fallow, but they will still be part of the City. There will be no tax revenue from the areas, but the police will still have to keep an eye on things, making the benefit of this approach evaporate (No need for services? Less perhaps; not none).

So why keep the areas? Could it be that the cities knows that if they free up the land to the County, some enterprising folks might buy it up and create a thriving community (minus all their draconian rules and taxes) right on their doorstep? Might the nice suburban areas move in closer? All of which would demonstrate that a significant part of the problem is in fact the folks running these cities and their (dare I say) leftist rules, regulations, and taxes?

If we leftists can't make it work, then we won't allow anyone else to do so, either. Mustn't let folks see that there are alternatives.

Oh, I wouldn't recommend eating anything grown in these areas for many years...the lead contamination (from paint and auto exhaust) alone will render the plants unfit for consumption for a good long time.

Synova said...

"I have lived in these urban areas, and seen the toxic culture, a culture that says it is ok to not work, to sleep 'til noon, then get up and drink a bottle of gin."

I wish that instead of getting all offended some people would read the article.

At no point was this about razing populated but low rent areas of the city. It was always about those places that have been mostly abandoned. As in Flint where in some areas there are more abandoned homes than occupied ones, and deserted areas in the center of town that have no possible use than perhaps filming an apocolyptic movie.

This is not about poor people... it's about NO people.