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Why Detroit City is a great
a lesson in Squandering Prosperity

detroit city limit

Detroit City began as a French fort which was built on the Detroit river in 1701.  By 1802 the growing area was incorporated as a town. It wasn't until after the fire of 1805 and the War of 1812 that it really began to grow.

It's location would prove to be a vital and strategic asset spawning unprecedented economic and social growth. During the 19th century it was well positioned for manufacturing industries such as ship building, wagons and steam engines. And let's not forget the auto industry.

More industries like pharmaceuticals, engines and railroad cars continued to pop up during the 19th century and nothing seemed impossible for this city. If it was going to be built then it was going to be built in Detroit city.

Mr. Ford saw the potential of Detroit city and in 1908 when he came up with his Model T and as a result the Auto industry took off also helping the manufacturing base.

ford auto plant

Detroit city did take a big hit during the depression of the 1930's however it bounced nicely with the Second World War. No other city could boast the standard of living that was enjoyed by its residents. It was the envy of the world.

History will show that Detroit city at one time had the highest median income and highest rate of home ownership in the country. It also boasted one of the highest standards of living of any major city in America- possibly even the world. People from all over would flock there to access their chance at making the American Dream a reality.

Decline of Detroit city

detroits empty buildings

Whenever someone or something experiences failure more often than not we typically see the blame game being played by all the parties involved.

The intent of this article is not to place blame but rather to identify the root cause of the demise of a once great city and to pronounce a sober warning to other cities so the same mistake isn't repeated.

If you were to view Detroit city limits from a helicopter you would swear that you had been taken back in time and you were now looking over a war torn city possibly in Europe or even modern day Middle East.

Let me describe what this now disintegrating Detroit city would like if you could see it from a birds eye view:

  • a shiny new GM Tower
  • over 60,000 abandoned and gutted houses
  • partially burned homes
  • abandoned commercial and industrial structures
  • at night, whole patches of the city are dark
  • in many parts no one works or stands in the streets anymore, mile after mile of empty streets

So, what is the root cause of the demise of Detroit city? Two words - fiscal irresponsibility. For the most part the demise started ever so quietly and unnoticed by most everyone. There was one event that took place that everyone should have noticed because it would germinate over many years and finally lead to destructive results.  I've created a timeline and that highlights some of the key moments of Detroit city:

  • at a July 1967 Black Power rally in Detroit city the radical H. Rap Brown stoked the city's growing unrest when he warned that if "Motown" didn't make sufficient reforms , "we are going to burn you down"
  • in 1961 the reins of political power in the city fell permanently into the Democratic party hands, in the 53 years that have passed since then Detroit city has not had a single Republican mayor, only one Republican has been elected to its city council since 1970
  • the current insolvency of Detroit city can be traced back to the days of Mayor Coleman's administration (1974-1993), during his term the city was mired deep in debt and struggling with a budget deficit
  • Detroit city experienced a mini-revival during the term of Mayor Dennis Archer (1994-2001) with the advent of casinos, baseball and football stadiums
  • during Mayor Kilpatrick's term late audits revealed budget deficits unknown until then and talks of potential takeover by the state of Michigan were going around the city council
  • unfortunately, Mayor Kilpatrick was forced to leave office in 2008 after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice charges
  • Dave Bing won the May 5, 2009, election for mayor of Detroit city
  • the U.S. Census reported in March 2011 that Detroit's population in 2010 had fallen to 713,777, a 25 percent decline since 2000, this drop posed a real threat to needed revenue sources for Detroit city that were tied to a population of 750,000
  • the state of Michigan reported in 2011 that Detroit city had a mounting debt problem with long term liabilities estimated to exceed $12 billion versus an annual budget of about $3.1 billion
  • in March of 2012 Detroit City Unions accepted pay cuts and other concessions to save the city $68 million annually
  • in 2012 the state assigned the city a review team to continue working on potential consents, the team reported that the city's financial woes were due to overspending, a reliance on debt and the inability of elected officials to fix the problem
  • in July the Mayor imposed a 10 percent pay cut on all city employees
  • in January of 2013 Detroit showed that it had further grown its deficit to $326.6 million at the end of fiscal 2012

From bad to worse

detroits abandoned buildings

As bad as things appear according to the timeline above Detroit city is poised to have things become even worse. 

The official U.S. unemployment stands at 10 percent. But the real national figure is more like 17 percent and rising (according to the Labor Department's U6 employment figure which includes part-time workers who want full-time jobs and those who has stopped looking all together).

Unemployment in Michigan is currently at 20.9 percent. Half the population of Detroit city is currently unemployed. This is a rate higher than what it was during the Great Depression. There is no way with so few people working that their financial woes can improve. Remember, the review team had already determined that Detroit was in the condition that it's in because of financial ineptitude on the part of the city's elected officials. 

The property owners are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that the city can continue paying out its unemployment benefits otherwise we'll be seeing even more homes left unoccupied and ravaged by vandalism. If the Chinese ever stop loaning us money then Detroit's welfare checks will soon cease. If that happens then things will explode in the city and the notorious gangs will begin heading to the suburbs for greener pastures.

The rest of America needs to wake up and understand what has happened to Detroit. The same is about to happen to the rest of the nation if the liberal socialist agenda is not stopped dead in its tracks. If you think there's no chance of that happening then you haven't been paying attention to the agenda of the Obama Administration. This administration has accumulated more debt than all the administrations before it combined. It's a pace that can't be sustained and we should expect the results seen in Detroit to follow shortly.

As a result of America's failed industrial policy American manufacturing is finding it more attractive to offshore its facilities and jobs. These job losses are spreading to other cities. To complicate matters power hungry Unions are more interested in getting rich than in building a quality product to compete in today's international market. 

Big business is now more interested in finding short term profits above all else. Corrupt politicians looking to purchase votes are selling themselves to the highest bidder. Consumers who didn't contribute to the wealth they see all around them have grown lazy and are looking to get fat on the wealth of previous generations. 

“Detroit’s history has gone the way of Rome and Athens and Constantinople,” says L. Brooks Patterson, a longtime executive from Oakland County, which includes Detroit’s northern and more affluent suburbs. “It is what history does. History moves on. And history has moved away .… Detroit will never again be where those other cities were .…”

What's the solution?

It's no mere coincidence that so many big cities in America experienced the growth and wealth creation that Detroit city experienced. 

manufacturing plant

Throughout this country we have seen many of our cities experience prosperity that can be attributed to an ancient promise that God made - 

“Now it shall be, if you diligently [a]obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you [b]obey the Lord your God:

“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the [c]country.

“Blessed shall be the [d]offspring of your [e]body and the [f]produce of your ground and the [g]offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.

“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

“The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be [h]defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which theLord your God gives you. The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. 10 So all the peoples of the earth will see that [i]you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. 11 The Lordwill make you abound in prosperity, in the [j]offspring of your [k]body and in the[l]offspring of your beast and in the [m]produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to [n]observethem carefully, 14 and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

All the major accomplishments attributed to America are a result of this promise. No other country even comes close to assembling the resume of the United States;

  • man on the moon, 
  • used to be the largest coal, 
  • oil and steel producer, 
  • used to be the major net food exporter, once was the world's factory, 
  • used to control and own the strategic Panama Canal gateway, 
  • saved Europe from two World Wars, etc. - blessings that are a direct result of this promise.

It was God who showered blessings upon Detroit - and America. It was God who provided America with its once unrivaled levels of prosperity. And now it is because the conditions of this promise have been broken that the blessings are now removed - 

15 “But it shall come about, if you do not [o]obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the [p]country.

17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

18 “Cursed shall be the [q]offspring of your [r]body and the [s]produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.

19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

20 “The Lord will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all [t]you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me. 21 The Lordwill make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you from the land where you are entering to possess it. 22 The Lord will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with[u]the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they will pursue you until you perish. 23 [v]The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron. 24 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

25 “The Lord shall cause you to be [w]defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 Your carcasses will be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.

27 “The Lord will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed. 28 The Lord will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart; 29 and you will [x]grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you. 30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man will violate her; you shall build a house, but you will not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you will not [y]use its fruit. 31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat of it; your donkey shall be torn away from you, and will not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you will have none to save you. 32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and yearn for them continually; but there will be nothing [z]you can do. 33 A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually. 34 You shall be driven mad by the sight of [aa]what you see. 35 The Lord will strike you on the knees and legs with sore boils, from which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. 36 The Lord will bring you and your king, whom you set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone. 37 You shall become a horror, a proverb, and a taunt among all the people where the Lord drives you.

38 “You shall bring out much seed to the field but you will gather in little, for the locust will consume it. 39 You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them.40 You shall have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives will drop off. 41 You shall [ab]have sons and daughters but they will not be yours, for they will go into captivity. 42 The cricket shall possess all your trees and the produce of your ground. 43 The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you will go down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, but you will not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.

45 “So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not [ac]obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.46 They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your [ad]descendants forever.

Read these bible passages and ponder them carefully. Again, this is not mere coincidence, we have been blessed because of God's promise. The reason for our current state of affairs is very simple. It comes down to cause and effect.

We can expect sustained blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience - its a basic principle of the bible. We would all do well to remember this and to spend more time in the bible to learn what God says. If you've taken the time to read this far then you can no longer plead ignorance. These biblical principles apply to you and I personally. If we all were to recommit ourselves to drawing close to God we would surely see I spiritual revival in this nation followed by the return of God's favor and blessings.

God is willing...are you?

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