It's been a long time comin'
It's goin' to be a Long Time Gone.
And it appears to be a long,
Appears to be a long,
Appears to be a long
Time, yes, a long, long, long, long time before the dawn
--It's Been a Long Time Coming, CSNY
I have no choice but to dismiss you.
It breaks my heart, but I can't expose my guests
to your firearms.
It may be wrong of them, but they value their lives
--Rules of the Game (1939)
I mean - come on! You can have a Billion Man March!
If you don't put down that malt liquor and chicken wings,
and get behind someone other tha
a running back who stabs his wife,
you're NEVER gonna get rid of somebody like me!
To me you were the greatest thing
this boy had ever found
And girl it's hard to find nice things
On the poor side of town
--The Poor Side of Town, Johnny Rivers
[Alternate title: COPD -- Chronic Obstructive Problem, Detroit.]
As Ranger grew up in Cleveland, he watches the unspooling of fellow Rust Belt city Detroit with keen fascination. Not that Detroit's bankruptcy claim is a surprise; hardly ... the nails have been being driven into that coffin for a long time.
It seems intractable: only a third of Detroit's ambulances are in service; police take 58 minutes to respond to emergency calls; 78,000 abandoned buildings; average home price: $7,000 (America's Most Miserable City, Forbes).
But idealism rears its head when he asks, "We're all Americans, right? Don't we all sink or swim together?" It's pretty to think so, no?
He asks, "Why have two Presidents used the Michigan National Guard (among others) to (re-)build two entire nations while a major United States metropolis flounders -- shouldn't nation-building begin at home?" It is biblical: "Love thy neighbor as thyself"; translated: "Don't go stomping about thinking to help others until your own house is in order." There is no answer apart from profiteering -- a time-honored human endeavor -- that answers the question.
Our friend FDChief @ GraphicFiringTable recently gave a precis of his wife's dissertation cataloging the ills that plagued that once productive city, along with her recommendations to her committee ("Heart of Darkness"). It is an apolitical, scientific approach and we can do no better than her findings.
She indicted generationally-disordered family systems, which dovetailed with a disordered city plan. Her suggestions were creative, including the idea of farming out city denizens to live cheek-by-jowl with more functioning citizens elsewhere in the hopes that they might assimilate some functional behaviors via proximity, much as average tea becomes the exceptional Jasmine through simple positioning next to the flower's blossoms, the fragrance now an integral part of its "tea-ness". Not that exposure or immersion therapy is a bad thing, but unlike inert Camellia sinensis, people are the wild card, no?
This idea parallels the actual plan implemented upon the citizens of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (2005) when scores of N.O. residents were transplanted across the nation. However, aside from the National Institutes of Health one-year study on the results of that experiment, DNORPS (Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Survey), we do not really know if new ideas can be impregnated into fully-formed humans en masse (shy of Moonie-type indoctrination.)
The core of the (our) problem is, the game's rigged. Why has Robert Kiyosaki's book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad been on the New York Times Best Seller's list for six years? Because not everyone is born sucking a silver spoon, but some people have figured out that they might like to know some of the rules of the game. We then cry alligator tears over National Public Radio's expose of the usurious 29.5% car loans that poor people take out, without asking the salient question -- which is NOT, "Why are car lots financing loans for those people?"
That sort of simple-minded question does not address the heart of the beast, which is that Capitalism is a system of profit-making, and everyone wants nice things, and credit allows people to live beyond their means. And America has always been a Scarlet O-Hara nation ("tomorrow will be a better day"), and Thorstein Veblen revealed our conspicuous consumption which has not become a source of shame but rather, a foolish pride. Pawn shops and Payday Loans exist because they are a logical presence in our capitalistic culture. If people eschewed them, or had no need of them -- voila! -- they would be gone.
We recently met a woman from Detroit, "Beatrice", who shared a sad story which for her encapsulated one piece of the puzzle. Her daughter, who taught in a program for young unwed 13-14 year-old mothers, asked her class of 25, "How many of you have been on a proper date?" Precisely two of the girls felt that they had. Now, if one is an affluent mature woman and pays for artificial insemination, that is one way to civilly avoid the date trap. But for the rest of us?
As for what to do with the dregs? Ranger suggests a "strategic hamlet"-type program in which services can be provided more readily to a concentrated population. Rather than risk a potential Cabreni-Green, why not try a social program on the scope of those in Iraq or Afghanistan? Schools, hospitals, vocational programs, all from the ground up.
We could use Ms. Clinton's "It Takes a Village" concept, outstripping Reagan's compassionate conservatism and moving beyond having churches shoulder the brunt of the burden, as if to say, "Only God can help you now, you poor suckers." This would be a multi-pronged approach to social engineering, and would be stated as such. Detroit and its denizens need more than a tweak.
Deploy the National Guard to patrol and augment civilian police. Maybe even try a stateside "Sons of Liberty" program wherein the indig are trained, armed and paid to assist the police and not kill their fellows. Oh, and we have a program title, though it sounds unfortunately like a pejorative: OAF ("Operation American Freedom"). It has ring: "We are working for the OAF's". Get another Paul Bremer type in Army boots to over see the OAF Detroit Provisional Authority.
What idea do you have that could be added to our OPLAN? How to solve bankruptcy -- moral, economic, national?
And still the question hangs: "Do we pay taxes to build other countries or to destroy ours?" This question is exclusively aimed at America, which has been in this business since World War II, with Japan, Italy, Greece and beyond that -- South Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan.
[See another perspective, here: "What Really Ails Detroit"; an extended version will be published @ The Globalist 9.15.13..]