Well, Detroit has problems. No doubt about that. That, in my view, is primarily due to overwhelming dependence on one industry -- the auto industry. This is not to say that Detroit doesn't have a diversified future, but it will take us a long time to dig ourselves out of our current dependence. From my experience, there are more and more non-auto companies opening up. Especially, we are getting a lot of foreign companies opening their North American headquarters' in Detroit. It really is an international town with exposure and recognition across the world -- thanks mainly too our not-so-benevolent automotive-father companies.Excellent. Many more guest posters on deck. Comments? Please jump in below.
The housing market does suck. Unemployment rates in MI, OH and other "rust-belt" states has compounded the housing problem that the rest of the country is sharing in. That being said, I don't buy the doom and gloom being sold in the media about Detroit. To start with, the Census numbers are for the city of Detroit, not the Detroit Metropolitan area. The city-proper is significantly more depressed than the rest of the area. That has been true for over 30 years.
In addition, the numbers are only comparing near the top of the recent economic cycle to what is hopefully a trough or near to it. But, there are definitely problems. The biggest of them being a large geographic racial and economic segregation, between Detroit and a couple of suburbs and the rest of the metropolitan area. Lack of mass transit -- that might actually CHANGE as we diversify and become less dependent on the goodwill of the auto companies. Mass transit loosens the labor market, creates more cultural energy, incentivizes people to live downtown, etc.
End the war on drugs! Much of the crime problem in Detroit can be directly and indirectly linked to the illicit sale of drugs. If you legalize, regulate and tax the heck out of formerly prohibited drugs, we can at least monitor that the concentration of the narcotics are smaller, making them less dangerous. We can also fund drug-education programs, as well as the necessary re-habilitation programs. Now, obviously, that is not the end-all of crime prevention in Detroit. This would only be effective if we also create more opportunities for city residents to have freer access to the legal job market (see mass transit).
I grew up in Detroit, and I can testify that it is better now than it was 20 years ago. This, too, shall pass. It will be nice if we could institute some of the changes above though!
*Paul and I met as interns on the General Motors tax staff, which ranks as one of my life's most outstanding experiences. Paul went on to about 17 more internships before graduation.