Skip to comments.Four Reasons Philadelphia Isnít Detroit
Posted on 07/22/2013 10:28:25 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
That didnt take long. Id barely just heard the news Thursday afternoon that Detroit had declared bankruptcy the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history when a challenge to me arrived fresh from the Twittersphere:
@joelmmathis im pretty sure the pple from Michigan would not oppose Detroit seceding from the rest of the state, what do you think?
Rafalito (@IgnatiusGReilly) July 18, 2013
Rafalito, you may gather, is the nom de twit of
a rural Pennsylvanian a Philly resident who didnt much care for my column, earlier this month, proposing that Philadelphia secede from a state that doesnt realize the benefits we bring to it. Detroits bankruptcy, he concluded, provided a trump card in our ongoing debate.
Except it didnt. Philadelphia isnt Detroit.
Oh, sure, lots of people look at the cities and think theyre seeing double. Both cities had thriving, union-driven manufacturing bases that crumbled away; both have municipal debt problems, and both have an extraordinary levels of poverty. What’s more, both traditionally suffer from municipal leadership that veers between merely ineffective to devastatingly corrupt. Observers here and around the country have been linking the two cities for years some, like Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, have even eyed Detroits ruins with a bit of perverse envy.
Ideas like that are born of a desperation that has not yet gripped Philadelphia, Stu wrote in 2011, giving his approval to Detroits consideration of urban farms to replace empty neighborhoods. Maybe it should. Gotta love it when your metro columnists root for the destruction of the town they write about.
But again: Philadelphia for all its problems isnt Detroit. Thats not to say we wont someday declare bankruptcy, only that the conditions that pushed Detroit over the edge arent even close to present here at the moment. A few quick reasons why:
The bond ratings agencies think were managing our finances adequately. Thats probably a surprise, given what we know about the pension problems squeezing Philadelphias budget. But its true: Standard & Poors last month upgraded Philadelphias general obligation debt from B+++ (half-decent) to A- (decent) for the first time since 1979.
We were never a one-horse town. Detroit, once it became a car-production town, was pretty much only a car-production town and when the American auto industry largely cratered over the last decade, Detroit lacked the resiliency to survive.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, had a more diverse base of manufacturing (and, for that matter, still does). We had textiles and the Navy shipyard and even machine-making manufacturers and while most of that stuff is gone today, it disappeared in stages, meaning Philadelphia has never taken the roundhouse knockout blow Detroit has during the last decade.
And S&P? Part of the reason it upgraded the citys bonds is because of the diversity of rising economic sectors here, including health care, higher education, and services. We arent perfect, but were diverse, and thats made us better able to weather the really bad times.
Were growing. Thanks to births and an influx of international migration, Philadelphias population has grown six years in a row. Detroit, meanwhile, saw its population decline from 1.8 million in 1950 to barely a third of that today. And that makes a difference: When youre trying to run a city built for three times as many people as it actually holds, finding the money to maintain services can be difficult, if not impossible.
Philadelphias population also peaked in 1950, and did decline for most of the decades thereafter. But never at the same rate as Detroit just (!!) a quarter of the population, not two-thirds not even close. It makes a huge difference, sustainability-wise.
Were living in a bigger ecosystem. Detroit is situated within 100 miles of just two other major cities Toledo (which maybe doesnt count) and Cleveland (which does, jokes aside). Meanwhile Philadelphia counts four major cities in that proximity Newark, Jersey City, New York, and Baltimorewith Washington D.C. just 123 miles away.
It makes a difference. Go down to 30th Street Station any weekday morning, and youll find hundreds of Philadelphians waiting to get on a train to New York. They live here and work there, and yes, that means Philadelphia is something of a bedroom community were cheaper than Manhattan! but it also means were not as isolated from, say, New Yorks relative economic success. Its a cushion, and inter-city rivalries aside, we should embrace it.
Weve got our problems. The murder rate is unacceptable in Philadelphia, the schools must be fixed, and the pension crisis isnt going away. But by dint of a number of factors some of them, admittedly, involving luck this city isnt in nearly as dire a situation as Detroit. Dont let anybody tell you otherwise.
Read the above article as opposed to this:
5th Largest City in US is Effectively Bankrupt
You know a city is in deep trouble when its mayor invites Wall Street but not the press and not private citizens to a closed meeting to discuss the future, including a sell-off of city assets.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, whose municipality has the lowest credit rating of the five most-populous U.S. cities, did just that.
My translation: Philadelphia is bankrupt. However, that easily discernible fact will of course be denied until it officially happens.
CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE REST...
The First 10 City Pensions That Will Run Out Of Money
#2 Chicago...Unfunded liability: $44.8 billion Unfunded liability per household: $41,966 Solvency horizon: 2019
#1 Philadelphia..Unfunded liability: $9 billion Unfunded liability per household: $16,690 Solvency horizon: 2015
Their day in the sun is coming:
Chicago sold off the cash stream from the right to park a car anywhere in the city for the next 75 years.
Of course, the contract that solemnized that deal is only one Supreme Court decision from becoming "inoperative," but still.
If the Northeast section was never taken over, Philly would have been Detroit fifty years ago.
Still just a matter of time.
translation: Unlike former Detroit Mayors who went to prison, Fast Eddie Rendell was able to insert himself at the highest levels of the Democrat Party to ensure we remained tapped-into those sources of money.
Bull. Philly IS detroit.
And those rating agencies have such a terrific track record too.
RE; The Northeast section was and remains largely white and jewish.
What’s to stop the folks living in the Northeast section from migrating to friendlier climes OUT of Philly?
Most of the productive folks in Detroit did it over a decade ago.
when i left roxborough n manayunk were white.
lots of cops and FD.
also south philly were italians and polish. not so much now?
Bandstand vs Motown...I’d call it a push
Now if you head south of Erie Street, you are in peril no matter what color you are.
RE: Meanwhile Philadelphia counts four major cities in that proximity Newark, Jersey City, New York, and Baltimore
And these cities do not have pension and budget problems? I’m not sure that depending on cities with their own hilly-like problems is something to comfort oneself about...
(That's a Manayunk reference that only Philly natives would get)
Not only that, Philly has cheese steak, what does Debtroit have?
North Philly is America’s Mogadishu.
The only other thing Philadelphia has going for it is that the business and tourist areas of Center City are relatively safe.
W. Wilson Goode had the right idea when he firebombed it and burned down twenty square blocks of it. Urban renewal, democrat style!