Planning Detroit’s salvation

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According to a recently released report authored by SEMCOG (The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments), it could take as long as a decade before Michigan is able to extricate itself from the economic muck it is currently stuck in That’s 10 damned years, folks.  So are we really supposed to just sit around here for that long, waiting for morning to arrive?

On my block right now there are two vacant houses hanging out right next to each other across the street. One of those houses has been vacant since we moved in four years ago. The other one I watched for about a week last month as it became just another shell on the block as our former neighbors scurried back and forth, in and out of the house, carting their belongings away in a ragtag caravan of moving vans and cars. I never knew the folks that well – our block isn’t exactly what you’d call close-knit – but the guy who stayed there seemed decent enough and we spoke occasionally. I think he was some kind of a repairman. But whatever he was, he wasn’t bringing in enough to hold onto his house. And  so off he goes, family and all. Further down the street there are at least two other vacant homes, and neither of those are the ones with the for sale signs that have been planted on the front lawn for over a year.  

So yeah. Things are tight out here. And yes, SEMCOG is right that it’s gonna take more than a few minutes to get out of this thing because it took us a good 30 years or so to get  into this mess if you want to be honest. The fact that The Big 3 automakers can no longer be counted on to come to the rescue is a definite fact that should have been foreseen a long time ago, but instead I suspect we just tried to bluff our way past the warning signs.

Then again, should foreign competition from other auto companies really be considered a warning sign, or should it have been considered an opportunity to recognize that all things must change in this life? Just how long did we really expect for the car industry to rule the world? And why do some of us in Michigan still actually persist in believing that we should continue to fight to remain the King of the Hill?

Screw that. I say let’s find another hill. No, I’m not saying let’s abandon the auto industry. But I am definitely saying we need to stop holding onto it for dear life like a baby to its mother’s tit. The well has run dry, so either we move on or we die of thirst.

We also need to consider different approaches to survive in this rapidly changing economy, which mandates an entirely new method of thinking and planning for the future. Dr. Lester K. Spence, a well-respected fellow blogger who hosts the site Blacksmythe, offered some answers – as did some of his readers – that I believe merit serious consideration from anyone who considers him/herself a serious person seriously concerned not only about the welfare of Detroit but other manufacturing-based economies that are dying right before our eyes.

We will make it out of this. Of that I have no doubt. The question is how, and how long are we willing to wait for salvation before designing our own?

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~ by Keith A. Owens on April 1, 2007.

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