I was thinking Micheal Moore, but what ever works.
There are similar wastelands here in Canada.
As a person who has moved well over 7000 miles (total, over a few moves) in pursuit of greater prosperity and/or living conditions, I always find myself asking ‘why not leave town and try somewhere new?’
Honestly, every North American with non-native ancestry comes from a history of moving on to find greener pastures (with the obvious exception of those who were forcibly stolen/enslaved).
So why do people stay in one place when that place is dying? Is there something ineffable about Flint that makes it holy?
Having spent a bit time in Pittsburgh over the years, this is not how I would describe it; and if that was graceful, I’d hate to see graceless shrinking… oh, wait, I guess I just did, in Flint and Detroit. Hrmm, I suppose I see your point.
It’s hard to uproot and move when you have very little, and what little you have is family and friends (which are often a very important material consideration, not just sentimental). For those who invested in the “American Dream”, what little they have is now tied up in steadily devaluing real estate.
Which is not to say that Americans don’t have a stupid obsession with place, “But we’ve always lived here!”, where “always” is ~50 years. (Don’t even get me started on “historical” American buildings.)
But make moving less economically punishing or perilous, and I think a lot of people would quickly get past that.
Yeah, I have often heard, and sort of agree with the idea of “just move”. But that is easier said than done, especially if you have like a house and a family. If you have a house in a market like that, it is very hard to sell.
If you have a more or less average job, it is hard to find new work far from where you live. Certain types of jobs are in demand and people are open to hiring out of staters and even help pay for moving costs for high demand jobs like good programmers, doctors, executives, etc. But a run-of-the-mill assembly line worker - which is what suffered the most in places like Flint - isn’t exactly in high demand. Why would they want to higher you vs someone from the local pool? Even if they did hire you, they aren’t going to help pay for a move which is expensive.
Coupled with the fact maybe your family still lives there, and people can be very timid and cold to change in general.
I went to school in Flint, it’s home to one of the best private technical colleges in the United States. It’s also the dangerous heap that everyone says it is. Every, and I mean every, business has bulletproof glass between the register and anyone coming into the door - even a good number of restaurants. Even with that in place, there were 5 clerks killed in robberies within a mile of where I lived the two years I lived on campus, and I probably heard the gunshots. Every house is robbed at some point, and while many places are still quite nice to be in during the day it’s apocalyptic at night. I’m talking a gang shooting that the gang followed the ambulance and then shot the victim again in the parking lot of the hospital bad.
That said, I liked the city and have a lot of good memories attached to it. I eventually moved south of Flint to Grand Blanc which I liked living in more, but I went to the city to do stuff every weekend and after class. Probably the best diners I have ever been to are all in Flint.
Some street views:
http://tinyurl.com/pqaymja - Atlas Diner has the best strawberry shortcake I have ever had
http://tinyurl.com/olayoej - the Machine Shop gets a surprising number of great shows
http://tinyurl.com/pl4kp5d - The Good Beans, a coffee shop that I liked and was very LGBT friendly; also a place I was trapped inside for an hour when there was a shoot out in the houses you see in the background.
If the EPA were “the agency that goes after companies that dump heavy metals, dioxin, industrial chemicals in landfills and rivers”, instead of “the agency that goes after companies that dump heavy metals, dioxin, industrial chemicals in landfills and rivers, and closes down power plants, and raises gas prices, and goes after farmers who dig a pond to water their stock”, there would be so little opposition to the EPA that no politician could win on a platform of closing it down.
I think it would take a billionaire to make a meaningful difference. Michael Moore is worth, what, $50 million? That’s enough disposable income to change the lives of a number of individuals (say, helping fund an after-school program for a few years) but not enough to save a whole city. Even if he threw his every last penny at the problem that would come to about $50 per resident.
I was thinking more like setting up some sort of business that hires a bunch of people as a start, which if grown could lead to new businesses and attract other companies in the same field. Or lobby group to attract new businesses. But that isn’t really a socialist solution. He might have better ideas, but probably not.
NYC bounced back so hard it has practically come full circle. There’s a rash of once vibrant neighborhoods being blighted by speculative landlords driving out established businesses in the hope of bagging a whale tenant like a bank branch or yet another high end retail store.
I don’t think it’s especially useful to think of “socialist” and “capitalist” as mutually exclusive ways of running a society. I can’t speak for Michael Moore but I doubt he believes everything should be socialized.
All contemporary societies have some combination of capitalism (private business, markets, trade) and socialism (publicly funded services such as roads, soldiers, teachers, police). Each are good for their own things; the trick is to find the right balance between the two. In the case of Flint, leaving big business to its own devices didn’t seem to yield an especially good outcome. Maybe some kind of government incentive program is what’s called for.
Might I guess and say General Motors Institute, now the Kettering School of Engineering? I attended GMI for the first half of the 80s; right after I started school there, GMI started the dissociation process from GM, which was largely unannounced to anyone. Students previously had guaranteed jobs with GM, which was gold-plated at that time, and their co-op program was groundbreaking. Having that dropped on you scant months after you started at GMI felt like you had been sold the Brooklyn Bridge. Even though the location next to ‘Happy Valley’ (the old Buick plant, now torn down) wasn’t exactly scenic, it was a reasonably safe neighborhood. Now a lot of it looks like Escape from New York-land.
If it is classified as a superfund site, then I guess the govt dropped the ball with all that too big to fail jargon.
I agree we can use a little of both.
It may be that GM itself didn’t cause the brownfields; it may have been their subsidiaries or other small biz services, who then went out of business and then there was no one left for the EPA to go after. Not sure on that, just posing something plausible since I’ve seen it happen with brownfield clean ups.
It’s the Environmental Protection Agency.
Not the “feel good about everything, and only do popular stuff” Agency.
They have a job to do, and if they’re doing it right, It’ll piss off most businesses, because most businesses would rather externalize and socialize risk than clean up after themselves. Because imposing externalities on the general public is much cheaper than being a responsible corporate citizen.
At least the common areas of the school will always be safe because of the tunnels and a good security presence, and the parking lots are known for being well lit, patrolled and video taped. The locals that plan on committing crimes know what is up and avoid where they will be tracked down and arrested. You just have to avoid the beach at night, and the alleyways behind houses around campus. I never got mugged, but most the people that do sort of break the social contract with thugs. I know I was around a shoot out once, but other than that it was surprisingly enjoyable to live there. You kind of get used to it after your first six months.
As for Kettering, I have had great opportunities I wouldn’t have had without the school and its co-op program. Same goes for my wife. I can’t think of another school in Michigan I would have rather gone to for a STEM degree.
I’m glad you had the opportunity to attend a good school, and it’s unfortunate that it’s named after such a vile human being.
Through the alchemy of corporate capitalism, Kettering turned base lead into golden wealth and power. He used science against humanity. He feathered his nest by poisoning his fellow man. He helped turn America into what it is now: a place where machines and banks and corporations thrive, and ordinary, non-shareholding human beings do not. Thanks to Charles Franklin Kettering and his henchmen, we now live in what could be called the Age of Lead – not only in terms of blood chemistry and soil contamination, but also of regard for truth and basic values.
Too busy lusting after the libertarian/ancap dream of Somalia