The answer of sustainability is going come from what this city does once it gets help. It may get a bailout or it may restructure, but if the city does not seize this opportunity to change how it approaches government, it will be a wasted opportunity.
Detroit getting a bailout, and then returning to its time-honored tradition of waiting for the auto companies to return, would be a wrong-headed idea. Perhaps the best way to bailout Detroit is also a good way to help other cities.
In his first term, the president talked about building a high-speed rail across the country. It did not get to a serious discussion because Congress would get in the way; after all, it would cost a bazillion dollars. But let’s say that the president and Congress came to an agreement.
Let’s say that the GOP-controlled Congress went along with such a spending plan with the understanding that a successful rail system would repay the government back over a long period of time. In return, the president gave Congress his support on the Keystone Pipeline project, which would be a big “gimme” to the House and would also create a few jobs.
But how does this help Detroit? Detroit needs an identity.
Up until now, Detroit was the Motor City, the home to big automakers. But it is no longer the Motor City. When New York lost its manufacturing base, it was still the financial capital of the world. There were other pieces to New York’s identity. Detroit is in need of an identity make-over.
Put a giant national high speed rail hub in Detroit, and you have one. You have short-term jobs (construction) and long-term jobs (service industry). Detroit would also benefit from being a change-over hub for travelers.
If a national rail connects California to New York to Chicago, and does this all through Detroit, it would create a long-term solution for the city.
Let’s face it, other than the automakers leaving Detroit, the second biggest problem was that middle-class people moved out, too. Riots and a poor economy chased families out into areas like Macomb County. A good rail system would allow people to work in Detroit and still live on the outskirts should they wish.
The idea of a high speed rail, which is already a controversial issue in California, seems a little outlandish at first. But so were a lot of things early on, such as social security. This is better than bailing out a city and watching it unravel in another 20 years. This is an investment. A plan like this would give Detroit long-term sustainable growth.
Critics will point to Amtrak as an example of how dysfunctional and expensive a national rail would be. There would have to be a lot of planning ahead of time to find a way to make something like this affordable to riders.
This is a way to make travel greener, stimulate the economy, and pay the people back over time through bonds. Get a plan together with the nation’s top economists. Put someone with business acumen in charge. I know a billionaire mayor that would be great for this type of thing...and he will be available soon.
This is how to save Detroit. If the automakers want to outsource the Motor City, make it the Rail City. Then we would see restaurants and businesses build up around it. If it sounds ridiculous, remember that handing this city a blank check with no way of them making good on the money is even nuttier.
This is what we do in America, we bet on ourselves.
Trial’s over, now what?
Now that a jury has spoken on the fate of George Zimmerman, there is a lot of chatter about what's next. I am not an expert on civil rights or trial law, but the first part of this column is relevant here.
In poor areas like some towns in Florida, parts of Chicago and Detroit, there is a need for industry. Economic upturn at the lower levels would do more to avoid future shootings than anything else. Two low-income young men with uncertain futures who find each other in the middle of the night is an opportunity for a lot to go wrong.
Two young men with futures who run into each other might work better for us all. Invest, build, hire, and educate, that is the unexciting way to address what young men are doing to each other in communities across the country.
People who look at this case as a reason to make fun of Florida need to get over the 2000 election. The fact is, this type of violence is indicative of an economic problem in a lot of places.