Sunday, February 17, 2008

Detroit Does Matter

Last July there was a fascinating article in Harpers (unfortunately not available to non-subscribers) that described Detroit as the first major 20th Century American city that was disappearing. It's purpose has ceased to be so it is returning to an earlier state. Urban residents are starting to farm again, using the empty lots left after condemned houses are torn down.

It's a dark vision, more akin to the post apocalyptic scenarios of movies like I am Legend. But there hasn't been a disease or neutron bomb - the city just has no reason to exist any more, other than its essential urban culture that has given so much to America. The factories and auto giants are gone, along with the union jobs that built a formidable middle class. The teams are still there (god bless them) but they are Detroit in name only and for only a few hours a week. What is Tiger Stadium really when the snows fall in February?

There's talk of two new Casinos in Romulus and Port Huron, which can only do harm to the three in Detroit. Why should these be allowed? Unlike ballparks, the Detroit casinos create decent jobs and are there all the time. Detroit needs these magnets - and that matters to this state. I'm sure Port Huron and Romulus have their own problems but Michigan needs Detroit, and sometimes you just have to say no. Governor Granholm has said she will sign the new casino compacts but I can't understand why.

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