Detroit’s Implosion is the Legacy of Unions Unwilling to Adapt

Cash strapped Detroit has lost 60 percent of its population since 1950. What’s left is a sprawling mass of vacant, worthless homes stripped of copper and anything else worthwhile.

Does it make sense to have streetlight in these areas? What about paving cracked sidewalks? What about other services? Is anything salvageable?

To save money, huge sections of the city will be left to the rats. Then again, 40% of Detroit’s streetlights do not work already. By that measure, the city has long ago been left to the rats.

Bloomberg reports Half of Detroit’s Streetlights May Go Out as City Shrinks.

Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.

As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can’t afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.

“You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,” said Chris Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer. “We’re not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas.”

Delivering services to a thinly spread population is expensive. Some 20 neighborhoods, each a square mile or more, are only 10 to 15 percent occupied, said John Mogk, a law professor at Wayne State University who specializes in urban law and policy. He said the city can’t force residents to move, and it’s almost impossible under Michigan law for the city to seize properties for development.

As Detroit’s streets go dark, some of those neighborhoods may fade away with the dying light.

360 Degree Photo Tour

Please take a look at this amazing 360 degree photo tour of several spots in or around Detroit, including the abandoned Michigan Central Train station.

Reader “Rick” who sent the link suggested “It looks like a scene from the movie Escape from New York”

Give the images time to load. They first load in black-and-white, then color. You can use the mouse to pan around but it is easiest to use the left and right arrows on the image.

Here is an image of the Michigan Central Train depot from the outside courtesy of the Wall Street Journal article Less Than a Full-Service City

At the core of Detroit’s problems is public unions, private unions, a manufacturing exodus, graft, and political pandering to unions. If you get the idea unions and politicians are a big part of Detroit’s problems, then you certainly get the idea.

For still more, please Search This Blog for Detroit.

About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.

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