Once upon a time, the largest U.S. cities were the envy of the entire world. Sadly, that is no longer the case. Sure, there are areas of New York City, Boston, Washington and Los Angeles that are still absolutely beautiful but for the most part our major cities are rapidly rotting and decaying. Cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis and Oakland were all once places where middle class American workers thrived and raised their families.
Today, all of those cities are rapidly being transformed into cesspools of filth, decay and wretchedness. Millions of good jobs have left our major cities in recent decades and poverty has absolutely exploded. Basically, you can turn out the lights because the party is over. In fact, some major U.S. cities are literally turning out the lights. In Detroit, about 40 percent of the streetlights are already broken and the city cannot afford to repair them. So Mayor Bing has come up with a plan to cut the number of operating streetlights almost in half and leave vast sections of the city totally in the dark at night. I wonder what that will do to the crime rate in the city. But don't look down on Detroit too much, because what is happening in Detroit will be happening where you live soon enough.
A recent Bloomberg article described Mayor Bing's plan to eliminate nearly half of Detroit's streetlights....
Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.
As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can’t afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.
What this means is that there are going to be a lot of neighborhoods that will have the lights turned off permanently.
So which neighborhoods will those be?
According to one top Detroit official, "distressed areas" are going to be on the low end of the totem pole....
“You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,” said Chris Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer. “We’re not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas.”
City officials know that they cannot force people to move from "distressed areas", so they are going to encourage them to leave by cutting off services.
But turning off the lights is not the only way that Detroit is trying to save money.
Recently, officials in Detroit announced that all police stations in the city will be closed to the public for 16 hours a day.
It is so sad to see what is happening to what was once such a great city.
Back in the old days, Detroit had a teeming middle class population.
Today, 53.6% of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
Back in the old days, Detroit was a shining example of what America was doing right.
Today, 47 percent of all people living in the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.
Back in the old days, middle class neighborhoods sprouted like mushrooms all over Detroit.
Today, the median price of a home in Detroit is just $6000.
Needless to say, crime is exploding in Detroit and many families live in constant fear.
Many have taken justice into their own hands. Justifiable homicide in Detroit rose by a staggering 79 percent during 2011.
But Detroit is only one example of a national trend.
For example, a recent article by Jim Quinn entitled "More Than 30 Blocks Of Grey And Decay" described the filth, decay and wretchedness in West Philadelphia. Quinn refers to the drive through this area as "the 30 Blocks of Squalor"....
The real unemployment rate exceeds 50%, murder is the number one industry, with drugs a close second.
As you drive down the 30 Blocks of Squalor you meet the ghost of Squalor future for West Chester Pike. The population along this corridor is ignorant, dependent, and represents the dregs of our society.
But this area was once home to middle class families. There were once many beautiful homes in West Philly, but most of them are now either gone or are crumbling badly. According to Quinn, the physical decay is matched by the social decay....
The once proud homes are in shambles. Bags of garbage dot the landscape. Most of the people who live here are parasites on society. Personal responsibility, work ethic, education and marriage are unknown concepts in this community. Even though more than 50% of the students in West Philly drop out of high school and the SAT scores of West Philly High students are lower than whale ****, the bankrupt school district spent $70 million to build a new high school/prison to babysit derelicts and future prison inmates. The windows do not have steel bars yet, as the architect was smart to put all windows at least eight feet above street level.
One of the great things about the article is that Quinn pointed out how the retail stores in the area reflect the things that the population of the community truly values....
The Chestnut Plaza truly represents what is important to this community. This Squalor Center, as opposed to Power Center, includes a video porn store, cash checking/payday loan outlet, smoke shop, donut shop, Laundromat, and liquor store. No need for a wedding ring store or resume writing service.
Sadly, there are communities like this all over the country. As I wrote about recently, the entire state of California is slowly being transformed into one gigantic cesspool.
Yes, there are still a few areas where the wealthy play that are absolutely beautiful. If you stay in the wealthy enclaves you might never even know that the rest of the state is badly decaying.
There are really good reasons why millions of people are moving out of California. For example, a reader named Peter left the following comment on one of my recent articles....
I am a native Californian ( Im 61) and have lived here all but two years of my life. I can tell you absolutely that this state is not what it was 30 years ago. Cities like San Francisco have gone from being world-class tourist attractions to national disgraces. Los Angeles is a third-world city. San Diego is bankrupt. Even Silicon Valley, despite the recent improvements, is no way what it was in the 90′s. The retail trade is all but dead in this state. Even high-end malls like Rodeo Drive and Ocean Ave in Carmel are full of vacancies.
Throughout the state, good businesses are shutting down and hard working families are selling their homes. The void that is being created is being filled by crime and gangs. The following is a comment that a reader named Roberta left on that same article....
Yep we lived in Oroville CA back in 2007 and it was just starting to get bad then. Montgomery Wards closed, then McMahan’s furniture closed and NOW McDonalds is closing this July along with a grand slam of well known businesses are all folding and pulling out of Oroville or folding lock-stock-n-barrell. It’s turning into a gang town with wide spread rampant drug use. I feel sorry for family and friends that are still their clinging onto the hope that thnigs “will” get better. But I don’t think so.
Perhaps things are still quite good where you live. Perhaps you think that you will be immune from all this. Sadly, the truth is that this is just the beginning.
The U.S. economy is actually performing much better than it should be thanks to the trillions of borrowed dollars that Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress have been spending into the economy.
When our debt-fueled prosperity ends, a lot more cities are going to end up looking just like Detroit.
America cannot prosper without middle class jobs, and those kinds of jobs are rapidly disappearing. Just this week HP announced that it is going to lay off 27,000 workers.
We are losing middle class jobs at a time when we desperately need more of them.
Last year, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor's degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed. Yet our politicians continue to pursue the same foolish policies over and over.
So things are going to continue to get worse and America is going to continue to descend into squalor.
For more, see The Economic Collapse Blog.