Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bankrupt Detroit

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So Detroit, to no one's surprise, has filed for bankruptcy. Such is what has happened to what was once one of the great American cities:

Detroit, the cradle of America's automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most-populous city, has filed for bankruptcy, an official said Thursday afternoon, the largest American city ever to take such a course.

The decision to turn to the federal courts, which required approval from both the emergency manager assigned to oversee the troubled city and from Gov. Rick Snyder, is also the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt.

New York magazine notes optimistically that "a bankruptcy proceeding will allow the city to shed some of the billions of dollars of liability it has and get something close to a fresh start" -- and so maybe this is the start of a long rebuilding process that will see the city prosper once again.

Or maybe not. After all, where is the money for rebuilding supposed to come from? What would the source of any future prosperity be? Will businesses ever return in significant numbers? Will people ever return? And if not, what do you do with a large and largely dilapidated city that has passed the point of no return? Would it just go the way of the cities of antiquity, falling ever further into ruin, one day perhaps a destination for historians and archeologists?

Whatever the case, Detroit's demise, like the demise of industrial America generally, is a sad thing. And if you want to know how it all happened, watch this video:

What Happened To Detroit?! from Publius on Vimeo.

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