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The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. Is the Midwestern icon actually a canary in the American coal mine? DETROPIA is a cinematic tapestry of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising. Written by
"Detropia" is a voyeuristic snapshot of Detroit as it is today but offers little insight into how things got so bad so fast. Its creators, like most of America, seem to accept Detroit's condition as the inevitable result of auto companies migrating out of the city. They entirely miss the point that citizens of Detroit have made poor decisions that CAUSED the auto companies, as well as most of the hard-working population and the good teachers, to abandon the town.
What everyone misses is that Detroit's decline began at the height of the U.S. auto boom, when everyone was doing so well here that they thought they could afford to give everything to everyone and it would last forever. Some landmarks:
-- The big 3 agree to strike demands that are obviously unsustainable including pensions, wages and even a guarantee that workers will get full salaries when they're laid off!
-- The white majority, wishing to be "progressive", elects the first black mayoral candidate that comes along...never mind that he's not qualified, hates white people and is blatantly corrupt (Colman Young)
-- The same white liberals move out of the city, taking their limousines with them
-- Detroit enacts a City Income Tax, driving the remaining productive people and businesses out of town. This money is supposed to be for education but ends up in the pockets of school administration, union leaders and mayoral appointees
-- The (now) black majority continues to re-elect Coleman Young for 20 years because he promises freebies for all
-- Like a vulture sweeping in for the remains, Quame Kilpatrick gets elected mayor and sucks up every dime left in the Detroit treasury
These are all DECISIONS made by Detroit voters (white and black) that have brought the city to its knees.
The directors of Detropia similarly avoid suggesting any CURES for the city. They blame the suburbs for not supporting Detroit when, in fact, surrounding counties have voted many tax millages upon themselves to fund the Detroit Zoo, the Detroit Institute of Arts, etc. In fact, the city has been largely supported by its suburbs and the state and federal governments for many, many years.
The appointment of a Financial Manager by the state was an absolute necessity (no one WANTED it). After 50 years of waste and corruption, someone had to become the adult in the room.
One of Detropia's directors(dreamily) said on CSPAN this morning: "It does no good to look at the past, we must look forward." (GAG!) I offer this quote: "He who does not learn from the past is doomed to repeat it".
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