Archive for the 'satire' Category

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

04210601_15_xl.jpg

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.

04150406_11.jpg

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.

Liberals are destroying everything!!!

12260701_06_xl.jpg

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.

Suggested New Year’s resolution for Detroit

09200403_16.jpg

With 2009 upon us, and the current economic situation not looking good, it’s time for Metro Detroit to make some New Year’s resolutions of its own.

Everyone knows about Detroit’s problems, and by the looks of things, the entire state is in big trouble. Detroit is not alone, however, and just like individuals, small businesses, and corporations, the city is in competition with other Metro areas, to attract (and keep) the best people and companies. Many states and cities around the country are facing very tough financial outlooks. There’s no way for Detroit and Southeastern Michigan to avoid the tough times ahead. What the area can do, however, is work together to make smart investments and chart a course for a better future. As individuals we can, in tough times, hide our money under a mattress, or make investments in our future. We can keep our fingers crossed that the job we’re in will exist beyond next week, or that the social safety net we’re relying on will be there tomorrow, or get additional training to prepare ourselves for better paying jobs in the days ahead. Corporations that fail to invest in new technologies, stop marketing, or fail to invest in there employees will be far behind their competitors that do make those investments when the economy recovers. Similarly, an area lacking a decent education system, infrastructure, and basic services, will lose out to the areas that have been making smart investments over the years.

Detroit’s got crumbling infrastructure, a pathetic school system, unreliable city services, and lacks a comprehensive transportation system. In fact the whole state has infrastructure problems and no mass transit other than a hodgepodge mix of bus systems. The area’s rapidly aging population is going to have problems getting around, particularly in the winter. Services and housing are far apart with few options for moving between them. Michigan’s mantra could be “No car?  Tough shit!” Most areas in the state lack any kind of cohesive urban center, and most have no viable plan to create one.

I could go on, but I, and others have regularly bitched, moaned, ranted, and reported on the area’s problems. So what will Detroit and the rest of Michigan do about it? Who knows…probably not much judging by the past, and the unwillingness of most to embrace change. Detroit, and Michigan, are in desperate need of change. The area needs to become better. A plan needs to be formulated and pursued, no matter how difficult. Michigan needs more than just slackers who have high tolerance for mediocrity, more than a population heading quickly for retirement (if such a thing exists any more). Detroit needs young, energetic, motivated, entrepreneurial and educated individuals who will not only embrace change, but make it happen.

So my suggested New Years resolution for Detroit is: “Stop being such a crappy place.”

01200602_18_xl.jpg

Detroit, Michigan - The best place to live in 2008!

detroit_april_fools.jpg

Well Money Magazine came out with their best places to live a little early this year, and lo and behold, Detroit finally came out on top! Managing editor, Eric Schurenberg, stated that while Detroit’s top ranking may surprise some, or actually everyone, it’s actually about time Detroit’s great economic potential, and low housing prices, combined with a top notch educational system, city services, and healthy lifestyle were recognized by the industry leading publication.

The responses on the streets were mixed. Some always knew Detroit was the best place to live. Northwest Detroit resident, Scott Smarthers, said, “I’ve always loved Detroit, but it’s gotten such a bad rap in the media. Everyone thinks it’s a bad place.”, stated Scott Smarthers, as he installed three of The Club, anti theft devices, and armed his cars security system, in front of his Northwest Detroit home.

With residences going for as low as $1300, the nations worst unemployment, and what has been called a “one state recession” going on for several years, many area residents feel the area has nowhere to go but up. A resident named Christine, but who failed to give a last name, said, “with our low cost of living, and our highly regarded mayor, who really knows how to lead, we’re just about to be discovered.”

Some other Detroit headlines include:
Detroit Sold For Scrap
Detroit Tourism Board’s ‘Hidden Detroit’ Campaign
Detroit Burned Down For The Insurance Money
Inner-City Community Bands Together To Find Missing Parent
A Strongly Worded Pronouncement