Saturday, June 13, 2009

The economic desert

Greetings good citizen,

As many of you are aware, the ‘economic desert’ in the US continues to grow. The concept of an economic desert is simple enough, it is a place where you can’t support yourself, much less a family.

Like ‘dead zones’ in the ocean (where fish literally ‘drown’) the current crisis is creating large swaths of formerly productive land and turned it into a place that can’t support its inhabitants.

What do you suppose will happen to the (rapidly ‘de-populated’) ‘economic dead zone’?

Will cities in the former ‘rust belt’ be bulldozed and returned to their ‘natural state’?

This is the topic addressed in tonight’s offering which I found posted at Cryptogon

US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive
Dozens of US cities may have entire neighborhoods bulldozed as part of drastic "shrink to survive" proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline. [I strongly suspect it is totally unfair to pin this on the Obama administration. The governments of the hardest hit States are calling for Federal assistance in dealing with the growing threat to public safety these abandoned homes represent.]

By Tom Leonard in Flint, Michigan
Published: 6:30PM BST 12 Jun 2009

The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.

Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.

The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.

Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country. [What do you suppose the ‘Charities’ want out of this? One of the longest running ‘frauds’ there is seems to be turning over public assets to private groups that ‘somehow’ morph into ‘corporations’.]

Mr Kildee said he will concentrate on 50 cities, identified in a recent study by the Libertarian Brookings Institution, an influential Washington think-tank, as potentially needing to shrink substantially to cope with their declining fortunes. [These fuckers can smell a ‘freebie’ from a thousand miles away…but it won’t be ‘free’ after they get their greedy paws on it!]

Most are former industrial cities in the "rust belt" of America's Mid-West and North East. They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis. [You won’t find any ‘blighted’ cities here in the 'oh so expensive' North East. You can’t rent a ‘broom closet’ anywhere around here for less than $800 a month! No irony should be lost on the fact that Boston is a mini NYC.]

In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside. [This does not, on the surface, appear to be a ‘bad thing’…what matters is who retains control of the ‘reclaimed’ land.]

"The real question is not whether these cities shrink – we're all shrinking – but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way," said Mr Kildee. "Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity." [Under our current system of commerce, Mr. Kildee is right, but putting the same people that caused this situation in control the land THEY stripped clean is unacceptable! Which is to say, ‘charity’ my furry right cheek.]

Karina Pallagst, director of the Shrinking Cities in a Global Perspective program at the University of California, Berkeley, said there was "both a cultural and political taboo" about admitting decline in America.

"Places like Flint have hit rock bottom. They're at the point where it's better to start knocking a lot of buildings down," she said.

Flint, sixty miles north of Detroit, was the original home of General Motors. The car giant once employed 79,000 local people but that figure has shrunk to around 8,000.

Unemployment is now approaching 20 per cent and the total population has almost halved to 110,000.

The exodus – particularly of young people – coupled with the consequent collapse in property prices, has left street after street in sections of the city almost entirely abandoned.

In the city center, the once grand Durant Hotel – named after William Durant, GM's founder – is a symbol of the city's decline, said Mr Kildee. The large building has been empty since 1973, roughly when Flint's decline began. [Hmmn, almost ten years before Reagan but a single year after Nixon abandoned the gold standard and 'opened the door to China'…]

Regarded as a model city in the motor industry's boom years, Flint may once again be emulated, though for very different reasons.

But Mr Kildee, who has lived there nearly all his life, said he had first to overcome a deeply ingrained American cultural mindset that "big is good" and that cities should sprawl – Flint covers 34 square miles. [Ironically, Boston is a ‘teacup’ compared to most US cities. It’s hardly five miles from the North End to Fenway.]

He said: "The obsession with growth is sadly a very American thing. Across the US, there's an assumption that all development is good, that if communities are growing they are successful. If they're shrinking, they're failing." [This, sadly, is true. Not the ‘obsession part’, but the ‘failing’ part.]

But some Flint dustcarts [The Telegraph is a Brit publication] are collecting just one rubbish bag a week, roads are decaying, police are very understaffed and there are simply too few people to pay for services, he said.

If the city didn't downsize it will eventually go bankrupt, he added. [Um, wrongo! Even if the city DOES downsize, it can still go bankrupt!]

Flint's recovery efforts have been helped by a new state law passed a few years ago which allowed local governments to buy up empty properties very cheaply.

They could then knock them down or sell them on to owners who will occupy them. The city wants to specialize in health and education services, both areas which cannot easily be relocated abroad. [Unfortunately, they are both areas that are heavily dependent on a ‘thriving’ economy…which ain’t gonna happen if domestic investment doesn’t go through the roof.]

The local authority has restored the city's attractive but formerly deserted center but has pulled down 1,100 abandoned homes in outlying areas.

Mr Kildee estimated another 3,000 needed to be demolished, although the city boundaries will remain the same. [So, where are those ‘green shoots’ the MSM keeps babbling about?]

Already, some streets peter out into woods or meadows, no trace remaining of the homes that once stood there.

Choosing which areas to knock down will be delicate but many of them were already obvious, he said.

The city is buying up houses in more affluent areas to offer people in neighborhoods it wants to demolish. Nobody will be forced to move, said Mr Kildee.

"Much of the land will be given back to nature. People will enjoy living near a forest or meadow," he said.

Mr Kildee acknowledged that some fellow Americans considered his solution "defeatist" but he insisted it was "no more defeatist than pruning an overgrown tree so it can bear fruit again".

This piece is hard to classify. On one hand we have something ‘positive’ being done about areas that can no longer support the populations they once were home to, but on the other hand, the proposal does nothing to restore ‘sustainability’ to the now devastated region.

It seems like such a waste to simply abandon what was once productive farmland…but it can be argued that what kept most farmers ‘down’ was a surplus of food products.

Not that we’ve ever (thanks to our badly distorted commerce model) ‘wiped out’ hunger here in the US.

Bulldozing the economic desert does nothing to solve the crisis we face of too many workers and not enough jobs.

It’s easy to see how the bulldozer will make the situation worse, not better. Once again we will see the laws of ‘supply and demand’ come to the fore.

If they bulldoze what are now ‘affordable’ housing units, those people left with no way to support themselves will be forced to pay rents they cannot afford (or abandon the area.) This will turn into a ‘race’ to get ahead of the bulldozer.

This problem is unsolvable if the root cause as to why these areas are no longer economically viable is addressed.

If we are to survive this crisis we must redefine our system of commerce and return to producing a majority of what we now import…for no good reason.

The ‘meat headed’ employers among us want all of the ‘surplus labor’ in our society to ‘disappear’…but it’s not that easy.

What this article tells us is they are conspiring to push ‘society’s surplus’ into one spot and let them get along as best they can once they’re there.

Yes, good citizen, if we abandon our badly broken commerce system there will still be a need to ‘reconfigure’ our population centers to make them more efficient but we need to leave a ‘kill-off’ out of the equation.

From what I read here, the North will be ‘bulldozed’ while the ‘Sunbelt’ is converted into a ‘killing field’ where society’s surplus is left to die in despair.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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