April 16, 2008

Comments

There’s something incredibly voyeuristic about watching a city like Detroit fade into scenes like this. Fascinating, sad, kind of gut-wrenching. We’re all so ephemeral.

Even well built, and grand, brick houses, are delicate, and will eventually succumb to the elements eventually. It certainly is a reminder of the temporal existence of man made things.

Detroit is the poster child for democratic party economic philosophy. Strong union control, high union wages, early union retirement. This is what could happen to the rest of the country under Obama’s politics.

Well, there’s just a bit more to Detroit’s problems than the political leanings of many of it’s citizens and politicians, but if a simple and narrow view is what you need to make yourself happy (or unhappy if that’s what you prefer), then don’t look any further.

Unfortunately high union wages, and even more so, union benefits really put the Big Three at a competitive disadvantage, management agreed to these concessions. It took two to play this game. Management was responsible for positioning their companies for the future, and they failed miserably. Management was paid large sums of money to make short term profits, not to position the company for long term sustainability. While other cities could end up like Detroit, it wouldn’t likely be due to economic or political policies, but a failure to diversify their economic base. Detroit put all of it’s economic eggs in the manufacturing, in particular, automotive basket.

Some of my liberal friends freaked out during the Bush years, and they survived. And as much as you hate Obama and his policies, you too will survive. Just don’t go through life angry for something you can’t control.

I’m not angry about anything. I am sad that a beautiful city like Detroit has lost half of its’ population over the last 20 years and is in such disrepair. Just goes to prove you can’t get something for nothing.

I’d agree with that.

And I apologize for my antagonistic attitude in my initial response. It’s simply frustrating that seemingly every conversation inevitably leads to someone claiming that the root, of whatever problem is being discussed, is because of Obama or the Democrats. Unfortunately what that does is create a sort of straw man argument that avoids the true problems. And Detroit’s problems are deep and complicated. They involve poverty, a lack of education, racial tensions, ethnic tensions, and political and corporate corruption.

It’s just not possible to point to a single cause, or lay the blame at the feet of one particular group. After all if we did, we’d have to put all of the blame for our current national situation at the hands of Bush and the Republicans, and I think that would be just as wrong.

Besides forecasting the future is a fools game. This could happen to the rest of the country under Obama’s plans. It’s probably just as likely that it won’t happen. Only time will tell.

One last comment–we cannot continue to let politicians, both democratic and republican, offer us solutions that use debt to cure our ills. Our biggest problem is going to be the use of debt to have things immediately that we cannot afford. We need to wake up and figure out how to pay cash for what we want and not get the rest. No one ever says anymore that I can’t have that. Debt that cannot be repaid is what is getting us into these problems.

Most likely I’d agree with most of your political and economic philosophies. As someone who has always lived well within my means, it’s very frustrating to watch as everyone has borrowed more and more, to spend on economic liabilities.

I think were we may disagree is when, or possibly if ever, it’s smart to borrow money. In my opinion it is wise to borrow money to get a college education, depending on the education you receive, and how much you borrow. It’s probably a bad idea to borrow $100k to finance a fine art education (and I love art), but it is smart to borrow $40k to get a computer science (or similar) degree. Of course it’s better yet if you don’t have to borrow anything. I didn’t. I worked through school, but I have to say work did get in the way of studying. Perhaps I could have gotten a more valuable degree, or learned more, if I had borrowed the money, and studied more. Who knows?

It’s also generally a better idea to borrow in bad times rather than good times. When the money is easy, it’s best to save, and/or invest it. On the other hand it is sometimes prudent to borrow during bad times. Almost everyone agrees that deficit spending during the second World War helped lift the country out of depression. Since then, we’ve never had a National debt to GDP ratio as high as we did just after the war.

Even with current projections we still won’t be as high, though I do believe we’re getting too close for comfort. After 1950 the debt to GDP ratio steadily dropped until around 1981. Since then, with the exception of the late 90’s, it’s steadily increased. I think the real question should be why did we spend so much between 1980 and 1992.

Unfortunately, it gets even uglier if we include private debt in the picture. If we do that, we’re already well over 100% debt to GDP ratio.

Who’s this John guy? So, strong union wages are what has destroyed Detroit? Detroit has always been a shithole, and it’s because of the PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE. I’m sure it was a better place to live before 8 years of Dubya. What people in Detroit need are social programs to educate and get them JOBS, so they won’t be POOR, and have to strip abandon houses and treat Detroit like a giant junkyard. But, people have got to WANT help, and if they want welfare, they should have to agree to be trained for a job so they can eventually get OFF welfare. Republicans don’t give a shit about poor people; Democrats start social programs to try to help people. They might not be perfect, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

I just visited the motorless city site and was blown away by the content, and also the pictures. Could you tell me who the photographer is?
Thanks,
Emily

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