Detroit Mayor’s Plan to Bulldoze and Consolidate

http://www.cnbc.com/id/35780958

In Chapter 10 of Five Short Blasts I pondered a future with a declining population – declining as the result of a conscious effort to reduce the U.S. population (in an ethical manner over a long period of time) in order to improve our standard of living and quality of life.  What infrastructure should be supported and which should be eliminated?  I’m sure that such a vision struck a lot of people as crazy. 

It’s an idea that seems to be catching on.  Last year I commented on a plan in Flint, Michigan to do exactly that.  (See https://petemurphy.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/de-development-underway-in-flint-mi/)  Now comes a similar plan for the much larger city of Detroit.  (See the above-linked article.)

Have you ever wondered what will become of Detroit?

Well, Detroit’s mayor has an idea: Bulldoze it.

Mayor Dave Bing is apparently working on a radical plan that would bulldoze a quarter of the city — some of the most desolate areas — and return it to farmland, the way it was before the automobile. Any residents still there would be relocated to stronger neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, instead of being the result of a conscious effort to reduce the population, it’s the result of people fleeing the sky-high unemployment of the city (currently somewhere in the range of 30%).  Vast tracts of the city are abandoned.  It’s a blight on the city and a drain on its resources.  Mayor Bing is simply facing reality.

But what I find fascinating and encouraging is that the idea that smaller, less densely populated communities can still have viable economies is actually gaining accpetance among economists:

Kildee (treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint) told London’s Telegraph that we need to get over the American mindset that “big is good.”

“The obsession with growth is sadly a very American thing. Across the US, there’s an assumption that all development is good, that if communities are growing they are successful. If they’re shrinking, they’re failing,” he said.

When this talk of bulldozing cities resurfaced last summer, some people said there was no evidence that the government had such plans were in the works.

But with Detroit taking the idea seriously, one professor says it may be time that we dared to dream — in a way we’ve never dared before.

“Things that were unthinkable are now becoming thinkable,” James W. Hughes, dean of the School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, told the AP. “There is now a realization that past glories are never going to be recaptured. Some people probably don’t accept that but that is the reality,” he said.

What the professor forgets is that the “past glories” he speaks of occurred in a world that was much less densely populated and at a time when the U.S. enjoyed a trade surplus.  Perhaps this process of back-pedaling is exactly the route we need to travel to recapture those “past glories.”  We don’t need bigger and bigger cities and more and more growth.  Where has it all gotten us? 

It’s a fascinating time to be living in Michigan where one can watch the transition from failed theories about economic growth to a stable, sustainable, prosperous – and much less crowded – future.

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10 Responses to Detroit Mayor’s Plan to Bulldoze and Consolidate

  1. Randy says:

    We’re going back to the farm, pa!

    Sure, as sharecroppers, serfdom is here.

    No doubt the “friendly” neighborhood bank will still be in Detroit. And 99.999% of the hoi polloi will have a deposit account believing wholeheartedly its a warehousing function and transacting convenience service. It will never dawn on them that the fractional reserve counterfeiters have a different kind of ring in their nose.

    But hey the jobs are back! Just give me a job so I can afford my legalized pot and beer! Whoo hoo!

  2. Randy says:

    Why doesn’t Detroit’s Mayor bulldoze the universities that are filled with Professors of Ad-hoc Metrics Working for the Financial Oligarchy?

    http://www.princeton.edu/~ceps/workingpapers/142blinder.pdf

    This quack named Alan Blinder is surely amusing. He’s got Software Engineer way up on the list of most offshorable even though Software Design is nonalgorithmic and the energy overhead can be satisfied by a small solar panel. If this industry is not worth saving then what is?

    • Pete Murphy says:

      I remember Blinder once declaring, at a time when unemployment stood at 6%, that the economy had reached “full employment.”

      • Mark Hall says:

        THE REAL SCARY PART….

        Our corporate and government leaders appear to be following his “playbook” with reckless abandonment.

  3. Mark Hall says:

    What type of crops will be grown on this “new” farmland?

    Is it to cold in Michigan for rice paddies?

    Can new settlers stake claims?

  4. mtnmike says:

    We are currently gaining speed on the downhill section of the debt crisis. To put this in perspective, to balance the budget this year without changing tax rates, our GDP would need to grow by 60%…to $23.5 Trillion.

    It has now become mathematically impossible to pay off the National Debt before we collide with the ominous power of physical limitations. But, in the mean time, we’ll have good healthcare while Middle America starves to death.

    • Mark Hall says:

      Instead of farmland maybe the soon to be vacated land in Detroit can be converted into a new national “Middle America” cemetery.

      How many acres will be required for 100-150 million plots?

      At $500 per plot, Detroit could realize $50-$75 Billion in potential new revenue.

  5. mtnmike says:

    Mark,

    What a great idea. If they would forgo the caskets, the farmland would already be fertilized. A true GROWTH industry.

  6. Randy says:

    Without dirt cheap potable “clean” energy I don’t see how a middle class can exist. The notion of geographic zones making stuff and trading it for money is obsolete because of electronic transfer. Global insurance corporations now dictate economic structure. Your nations “sovereignty” is just a few mouse clicks away from disappearing so you better stay in line. The jobs problem is going to be “solved” through deindustrialization. That traitor Jim Rogers wasn’t kidding when he said the middle class should become farmers. But it won’t involve tractors. Peasant farming isn’t a job. Therefore, I’ve completely shedded the concept of job from my mind.

    So I await the inevitable currency crisis. It will concentrate power further by the implementation of a new global fiat based on carbon emissions.

    And who is going to fight this? The inhabitants of the Movies-TV-Internet ghetto?

  7. mtnmike says:

    Randy,

    Unfortunately, I don’t disagree with your dire predictions with one exception. History provides strong evidence that desperate people do desperate things.

    We may all be surprised at the level of consciousness that is eventually displayed by the currently docile TV gang.

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