Archive for March, 2009

Job opening in Detroit

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Looks like there’s a job opening at G.M. With Rick Wagoner gone General Motors is now leaderless. What will they do? They won’t know how to make cars or,  more importantly, how to make money…oh wait they already don’t know how to make money. In fact since they had industry insiders leading the charge towards irrelevance for decades maybe the could hire someone with no industry experience…like me, for instance. I have no idea how to manage an auto manufacturing company, neither did Rick Wagoner apparently. Rick Wagoner was paid lots of money. Oh sure, by Wall Street standards he was paid practically nothing, but compared to me, he was paid a lot. They could have paid me a lot less, and ended up in the same spot.

All kidding aside (ok, most),  Chrysler and G.M. appear to be in deep doo-doo. I wondered what Cerberus was thinking when they purchased Chrysler from Daimler-Benz. I know what Cerberus’ M.O. is, but I think they were overly optomistic, and I don’t think their plan worked out too well. Now Chrysler has to Merge with Fiat. Wonderful. So, now, two crappy car companies can make crappy cars together. Maybe, at least, the crappy cars will cost less. I know I’m bound to anger some with statements such as the one I just made, but let me make it clear, that I believe management is to blame. The Union played a role in Chrysler’s demise as well, but any time a company is poorly run, and Chrysler has been poorly run, management is to blame. Management’s job is to maker sure all parts of a company function in unison to achieve a goal. If the goal is wrong, or portions of the company are not performing, it’s always managements job to redress such issues. And, most likely what G.M. really needs is a leader who the skeptical public will believe feels as disgusted with the old ways as they do. Someone who isn’t part of the dysfunctional machine, and shows a desire for a complete overhaul.

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With two (here, and here) recent announcements by smaller companies, you have to wonder where the Big Three have had their collective heads lodged lately. Of course those cars aren’t out yet, and Tesla, and Detroit Electric have nothing to lose by making claims they may not be able to follow through on. Meanwhile the Big Three can’t afford to fall short of big claims. But that’s mainly because they’ve become the definition of over promising and under delivering. They’ve already used up their “get out of jail free” cards. Still, why did G.M. wait until the verge of bankruptcy to come up with a plan for a usable electric vehicle?

So the price to pay for such short-sightedness by the Big Three is partial socialization of a huge portion of our manufacturing industry. Anyone who’s angry about the state we are in should have spoken up long ago. It’s now a choice of pay to save the very ones at center of problem, or pay the price of doing nothing, and watching as an entire industry collapses around us. And actually there’s a third scenario as well. We may pay to save the industry, only to have it fail anyway.

Peeling paint

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The abandoned house of the week…and what’s with all of the crazies in Detroit?

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If you’ve ever been to Michigan and thought everyone sounded angry…well, they are. Just take a look at some comments randomly picked from the websites of the Detroit News and Free Press. If this is what the state’s left with when the young and educated move away,  Michigan is screwed. It would be entertaining to read the bizarre, angry, and erratic rants if it didn’t seem like these were common sentiments among many who live there.

‘Why do the “smoking Nazi’s” out there want to ban cigarette’s you ask? Because of that dreaded fantasy called “2nd hand smoke”. What a bunch of boloney.’  - Maybe you meant ‘baloney’, as in ‘phony baloney‘? And of course that second hand smoke thing is definitely phony baloney…it’s not paranoia if they’re really after you…

‘The new carpeting, paint, the glues in your furniture and new car, all should be banned. MOUTHWASH can cause mouth cancer, are they banning THAT? Politicians that sell their votes or are just stupid, and cause economic depressions that lead to shortened life spans, are they banning THEM!? DEPLETED URANIUM weapons that turn to dust, that is being blown around the world, and back onto US, are they banning them?’ - Damn politicians leading to shortened life spans…

‘Don’t these Socialist Idiot’s in Lansing have bigger things to worry about? They better start taxing and putting bans on fast food. I get sick to my stomach when I see someone inhaling a Bigmac or Whopper in two bites. This same person is wheel chair bound, or riding a “free” scooter because their legs can not support their own weight.’ - Wow…

‘Look out everyone the DO-GOODERS are after us again. Reading some of these comments just makes me wonder if I still live in America. Who cares if someone else is smoking? The argument that it won’t hurt business is bunk! Trust if bars could make more money by becoming non-smoking, they would become non-smoking in a NY minute. This is all part of a plot by the social elitist to DO-GOOD/control the uneducated simpletons. If we would just let the overeducated, civilized elitist who knows best for us to make all the “ Common Good” rules for society imagine how lousy this state will be? Look, only an idiot smokes. But a free Nation is built via all of us putting with each other’s idiotic actions. What will be next to be banned via the DO-GOODERS? A fast food TAX, A big car tax, A tax on adult movies? Maybe then a mandatory re-educational camps for smokers and fat people, political correctness training? The mind boggles. We are in more danger from the DO-GOODERS in this nation then a 100-osama bin ladens. Even if you don’t smoke remember the saga of the old Jewish rabbi who did complain when the Nazi’s took away the gays, handicapped, communist, and other outcasts. When it was time to take the Jews, there was no one left to complain to.’ - Possibly a definition of simpleton? A smoking ban is worse than a terrorist attack?

‘Unbelievable, that Democrats still get elected in Michigan. Of course, when radical-1984Obama gets done tearing up the rest of the country, Michigan will be like everyone else. . . and unemployed socialist utopia where everyone drives 1954 Chevs like Cuba. Free food. Free heallth care. Free of that nasty rich neighbor. Free, and happy at last.’ - I don’t even know where to find a ‘54 Chevy, but I’d like one!

‘Obama = “The Audacity of Hope”
BSDoggy = “Hope is a Bad Strategy”
OBAMA HAS NO STRATEGY!!
Obama = “Change you can Believe in”
BSDoggy = Your change is just what I thought it would be - spend our way into indebted socialism, that way we will alwyas be working for the “state” to keep it from bankruptcy. Thanks Hussein.’
- Yeah, thanks Hussein…I alwyas be working for the state…

‘I HOPE THESE TWO FAT PIGS, GET SOME WEIGHT LOSS PLANS IN THE POKEY!!!’ - ???

‘As if . . . . ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,’ - ???

‘Governor Scamholm,with all due respect, shut up. You have become, by the virtue of your lack of action over the past six years, totally irrelevant to the discussion.’ - Yeah…shut up…that’s good.

‘To the Governor. Please send this to the President it is for both of you

For the amount of 4 billion dollars I can solve several financial problems.

First there are about 400,000 tax paying employed workers in the U.S.

Number 1 give each person 1 million dollars tax free.

Each person must:

#1 quit his or her employment immediately, 400,000 new jobs Unemployment solved

#2 Each individual must purchase a new U.S. made vehicle Auto problems solved

#3 each individual mus purchase a home or pay off the mortgage on their existing home.
Home sales solved.

All of this for only 4 billion dollars. As large as this figure is, it is still a pittance of what has been given away to those who will never help the working person. If the Administration wants to help then give the money to us not AIG and the auto companies.’ - According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there were approximately 150 million workers in 2008. 150 million x $1 million = $150 trillion. Even using the screwed up numbers above, 400,000 x $1 million = $400 billion, not $4 billion.

The abandoned house of the week…cheap houses, a smoking ban, and mass transit?

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I’ve just begun using Twitter. I’m really just kind of eavesdropping on other peoples conversations, or at least parts of conversations. According to my eavesdropping the hot topic regarding Detroit is cheap houses. With NPR, Anderson Cooper, The New York Times, CNN, and other news organizations reporting that houses are selling for as low as $1, artists are buying up neighborhoods, foreigners  are snapping up real estate for investment, and Detroit’s rebirth is right around the corner, it seems everyone wants to buy a house in Detroit.

Some of the Tweets I saw on the topic of cheap houses in Detroit included:

“They just said on NPR that you can buy a slightly run down house in Detroit for 100 bucks.”

“foreign investors flocking to detroit for cheap houses. me want in!”

“We should all move to Detroit. $100 houses. We could live off our savings for years.”

“Are you buying a house in Detroit? Are the $8000 houses habitable, and in safe neighborhoods?”

“I think I am going to start investing in Detroit too, and so should you. Houses for $12K, thats crazy!”

A few of the articles really make it sound like a great opportunity to get in on a creative revolution in the Motor City, but if you read more than a few of the articles, and listen to some of the reports, you quickly learn what most Metro Detroiters already know; that it’s not so simple.

Listening to the NPR report you find out that even as some are moving in to a neighborhood, others are desperate to get out. Even the two artists, who are the story’s focus, admit their house has been broken into three times, and one of them has been threatened.  Detroit’s poverty rate is about as high as it gets in the developed world, the unemployment rate is above 20%, and the crime rates are equally high. Furthermore getting a house up to code in Detroit is a test of anyone’s commitment, and insuring that house, and your car (which can’t get by without in Detroit)is ridiculously expensive.

And then of course there’s Detroit’s wonderful city services. Will your garbage get picked up? How long will it take to get power back after desperate thieves steal the transformer off the pole down the street? What happens if you’re robbed, shot, or otherwise injure…how long will it take to get police (when I was trapped by a pack of wild dogs, the police operator told me it would be a couple of hours), or EMS to arrive? Where do you go for groceries? Kids? …forget it.

I’d love to go down, and buy a cheap place, fix it up, and be a part of a renaissance, but unless a couple hundred of my friends decide to do the same thing, at the same time, I’m likely putting myself, and my family in a bad situation. Is it worth it to be an urban pioneer with all of the risks involved, simply to get dirt cheap housing? The thousands that leave Detroit each year would say no. Many have struggled for years, to make the situation workable, and most have failed. Not all of the areas in Detroit are not bad, but you won’t find $500 houses in those areas. The prices in the nicer areas aren’t that high compared to other urban areas in the U.S., but they’re much higher than the prices thrown around in the recent reports.

I hope this trend continues, and some creative oases arise from the urban rubble of Detroit. I feel there are some opportunities for some special people, and maybe someday, some areas will actually attract average people who don’t want to be burglarized on a regular basis, who don’t want to pay several thousand dollars per year for auto insurance, who don’t want to have to drive back out to the suburbs for groceries, and who actually want to feel somewhat safe in their homes.

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Warning: From this point down, large amounts of sarcasm will be used.

Other topics being mentioned on Twitter include Metro Detroit mass transit, and another attempt at passing a smoking ban in bars and restaurants. Mass transit is still a ways away from reality in Metro Detroit, but at least our regional politicians are getting on board. Less than eight years ago, L. Brookes Patterson, stated on Michigan Public Radio, that “we can’t afford to invest a dime in an experiment like mass transit.” Apparently after eight long years of testing around the world, he’s concluded that mass transit is no longer experimental. Whew…glad that’s been determined. Fortunately our leaders are only about 40 years late on making a decision that the are needs a comprehensive transit system. Maybe if they get it running in another 15 years, we can really attract that younger, highly educated demographic we’re looking for.

And bar and restaurant owners, against most widely available studies on the subject, are dead set against joining the rest of the country in banning smoking indoors in public eating and drinking establishments. Obviously the ban has been detrimental to the local economies in New York, California, Italy, Chicago, and many other major cities, and countries around the world. In fact the ban is probably the cause of this world wide recession. Smokers have just stopped going to bars and restaurants. Good thing Michigan dodged that bullet.

Updated Map of Abandonment


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New Life Non-Denominational Church

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The abandoned house of the week

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Liberals are destroying everything!!!

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Since right wing blogs continue to link to The Motor(less) City as proof that liberals are destroying the country, I’ve decided I’d have to contribute some thoughts of my own. Claiming that Democrats are the cause of Detroit’s and Michigan’s woes, is simply as much without proof as claiming Republican’s are 100% responsible for our current National economic situation. Since Governor Granholm is responsible for the state of Michigan, former president George W. Bush is obviously responsible for the mess everyone else is in. Unfortunately, picking one particular piece of the equation, and tying all responsibility to it, is simply irresponsible in itself. Before Jennifer Granholm allowed Michigan to ignore pending doom, John Engler did the same. Almost all of Michigan’s politicians failed to position the State for the future. The generally Republican business leaders of the Big 3 and other industries failed to position their own companies for the future, and they were paid millions of dollars for such wonderful leadership.

I’m not a fan of high taxes. I don’t know anyone who is. Possibly the only people who like high taxes are those who don’t pay them. Responsible spending is what we all want (or none if you’re Libertarian). “No pork”, we say! Pork is bad…unless it benefits me. But then, of course it’s not pork. It’s a tax break, or a tax credit, or a stimulus bill. Whatever it is, it’s bad when it benefits others and good when it benefits us. Remember “the bridge to nowhere“? Yeah…me too. Who were the biggest proponents of that, almost undeniably pork, monstrosity?

I tend to fall into the camp that politicians generally fall into one category: self-serving. They don’t do things for you or me, unless we’re doing something for them…though come to think of it, that tends to be all job situations doesn’t it? I guess we all just like to think that politicians may be individuals who truly believe in public service, and I suppose it may be more true if we didn’t pay them so well (including benefits and post political career opportunities). The system works like this: I (or, more likely, a big company or other large donor) give money to a politician with the implicate agreement that the politician gives something in return. Conservatives, just as often as Liberals, play the game to large success. Think farm subsidies, or “clean coal” incentives.

Feel free to link to my site.  But if you simply want to use a photo as proof of some unsubstantiated belief, and you have no background information about the image, or the location it’s from…please, do some homework first. At least present your point of view with some facts. And my feelings on this are not limited to conservative blogs, but extend to any blog. Do yourself and your readers a favor. Do some of your own research. Then link to my site. And if I print a bunch of unsubstantiated b.s., please point it out. I may not agree, or change it, but I would appreciate it.

Detroit…

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I recently came across two articles that speak of feelings many from Detroit currently feel. Feeling both torn between hating the area for it’s many short comings, and loving it for some reason as well. Maybe it’s what Detroit represents (or used to anyway): hard work and ingenuity. Or maybe it’s more simple than that. Maybe it’s just that it’s home.

Either way, questions such as, can Detroit become what it once was, or more simply can it survive, are constantly asked? Survive, it will, but become the major center of a new economy, like it was before, is next to impossible. It is what it is, and through the hard work, perseverance, and creativity of those who choose to stick it out, or who have no choice, Detroit can, and likely will, become a much better place.

Motor City Breakdown

The Detroit Dilemma