Detroit Is an Example of Everything That Is Wrong with Our Nation


On July 18, 2013 the city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Detroit is now seeing a little life, but the city is far from where it once was. Once the wealthiest city in America, known as the “arsenal of democracy,” Detroit was the fourth largest city in the U.S. in the 1960s with a population of two million. Now it has become an example of everything that is wrong with the American economy, Detroit has become nothing more than a devastated landscape of urban decay with a current population of 714,000 whose unemployment rate at the height of the recession was as high as 29 percent, and has only decreased due to the rapidly decreasing population.

Visiting Detroit is the closest Americans can come to viewing what appears to be a war-torn city without leaving the U.S. This former powerhouse is a barren stretch of land, devastated by looters and and full of run-down, vacant houses. Rows upon rows of dilapidated structures line the streets; empty apartment buildings and factories consume the landscape. Almost a third of Detroit has been abandoned.

Unfortunately, Detroit is not alone. All across America, cities are being devastated by their own collapsed manufacturing bases. The U.S. government abandoned its manufacturing prowess when it pursued “free trade” deals that make it impossible for America to compete. The North American Free Trade Agreement all but eliminated manufacturing in the U.S,. as American auto companies were forced to relocate their manufacturing south of the border in search of lower costs. Without moving to Mexico, the American automobile industry could not compete globally with the rest of the world’s lowered labor costs and lax environmental standards.

Now the city is debt-ridden and forced to cut many of its beleaguered services like transportation and street lighting. As public services are shuttered, the poor continue to suffer. Gazing at the streets of Detroit today, where the average house price is only $7,500 (some houses sell for as little as a few hundred dollars), it is hard to imagine the Motor City’s glory days.

During the 1960s and ’70s,  Japanese cars began entering American markets. Japan came equipped with a plan: put American auto companies out of business. Congress seemed to welcome this new foreign competition with open arms. Many of these same government policies pushed American auto giants like Ford, GM and Chrysler (now owned by Italian Fiat)  out of the country.

NAFTA put the final nail in the coffin, making it too expensive for American auto companies to manufacture cars in the United States. Knowing they could no longer produce competitively, American automakers shipped their jobs to Canada and Mexico.

Decades ago, no one would have ever dreamed that Detroit would one day become the epicenter of American decline. The birthplace of the American car industry, with the highest median income and the highest rate of home ownership in the 1950s, now appears to be a city devastated by destruction. Unfortunately Detroit’s decay may only be the beginning: as the United States continues to take on debt let manufacturing fall by the wayside with an increasing push for more “free trade,” Detroit may not be the only “war-torn” city in the U.S. for long.

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4 Responses to Detroit Is an Example of Everything That Is Wrong with Our Nation

  1. Don’t laugh at Detroit. Detroit IS America. When you see Detroit decline, think of the massive decline in manufacturing – once America’s economic engine. NO! You can’t replace all those blue collard jobs with the service industry. The math doesn’t work. You don’t need more sellers than buyers or producers.
    What will power the American economy in the 21st century?

  2. BIGuru says:

    “What will power the American economy in the 21st century?”

    The finance people to print more money and do more QEs…and perhaps start a world war…starting with Middle East…

  3. BT says:

    I worked at a union (UAW) auto parts maker in the 90’s, right after getting out of college and was an accountant there, but was quickly snatched up by the manufacturing mgr who saw I had knowledge for more than just spreadsheets (I’d worked “blue collar” jobs up until graduation, I liked that type of work and have gone back to it now in my own biz, physical work at least) because the company, but mainly that plant and another local plant (we finished aluminum parts, other plant cast them and there were maybe 8 or 10 other plants owned by this company across midwest) but I soon saw the writing on the wall and started looking for a job at a company where I knew if I showed up and actually worked, I’d still HAVE a job in a year or two!

    That was the thing that I never knew until then, but the UAW and their stewards (who themselves were great workers, along with 90+% of the “blue collar” workers there, great people!) had to stick up for the clowns, the losers who were there just to get a check, didn’t give a damn about parts getting sent back (a MASSIVE cost for the company and eventually you just lose the work) or worse, the handful who magically bounced from one “injury” to the next.

    I myself came up with spreadsheets and spent enough time on the shop floor (can’t even touch a part on the line though, or one of the handful of clowns will yell and try to intimidate the “wimpy white collar” guy from the office who they didn’t know could’ve laid them out cold in seconds, I learned that when one of the clowns yelled “HEY THIS IS A UNION SHOP” when I dared to touch a part on the line, while in the course of work. Its in the course of work, so shut up “tough guy”, but I didn’t have to say a word, since one of our MANY awesome shop workers, a woman half my size told him that before I could!) to help us figure out who didn’t give a damn about their work, but it was still nearly impossible to fire them, or at least took a LONG time and batch after batch of returned parts, because of the UAW being there, or else they’d be gone after the second bad batch! I can tell when a guy/woman is there to work and do a good job and screws up, but wants to learn and fix it and which ones didn’t give a damn, they just wanted that nice UAW factory check.

    They (the lazy clowns and the magic “injury”-time to take another month off-crew) made up AT MOST 10% of the crew, but they screwed over that entire plant, along with the other local plant and eventually the entire company, now ALL GONE!!!!

    I’m not making this up either, look up “Intermet” (have to sift through all of the “internet” results, maybe try “intermet corp auto parts”) and I saw the writing on the wall back the mid 90’s, they lasted till almost 2010 or so, but they were walking dead all that time.

    I had a college degree and was just fine, all of the shop crew who didn’t lost great jobs and I knew the #s inside and out for both local plants, if we just could’ve canned the clowns and injury fakers the UAW stuck up constantly (never had to stick up for the great workers EVEN ONCE!) I’d probably still be there today, or someone would at least!

    • BT says:

      Sorry, I forgot to add that I am NOT one those who thinks unions have no place today and should’ve mentioned that, but forgot and don’t see an “edit” button. I think unions have a place even today, but NOT what we have for unions today, which from what I see and saw personally then in a UAW shop, didn’t do a thing for anyone but the scammers in that plant, only there for a nice paycheck.

      Now, some might say that check wouldn’t be so nice without the UAW and I don’t disagree, but maybe its time to start rewarding merit NOT seniority (the other issue I forgot to mention in the comment I just posted minutes ago) and STOP being a wing of one political party too! I’m NOT saying to jump to the “other” party either, but quit being their lap dogs! Go back to being relevant or go home!

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