Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Detroit, Heal Thyself
Townhall.com ^ | September 1, 2013 | Derek Hunter

Posted on 09/01/2013 4:18:05 AM PDT by Kaslin

I love Detroit. Although that’s a minority opinion of late, it’s as true today as it was when I was growing up there. I never knew a vibrant, thriving Detroit, but I’ve heard the stories and seen the pictures. Now it’s broke and desolate, looking for a way out, or at least a way back to even.

In that quest, many are turning their heads east, looking to Washington for a bailout, either in full or in part. The case they make is rife with moral hazard but steeped in emotion. Ignoring the horrible precedent and future liabilities it would open for taxpayers – how do you save Detroit but not Chicago, Baltimore, Illinois or California? – no lesson would be learned by politicians who empowered themselves with unkeepable promises, crony deals and corruption. And, more importantly, the residents of Detroit would not see the consequences of their blind loyalty to a political party they empowered to do this to them.

Pain must be felt. A price must be paid for this level of irresponsibility over that long of a time. No one is innocent in the death of Detroit; there are only varying levels of guilt in the city.

With a bailout (hopefully) off the table, another way must be found to dig out Detroit from the $18 billion debt-valanche under which the city finds itself. In looking forward it might be helpful to look backwards for some possible answers.

In its heyday, Detroit was a beautiful city with great buildings, a large geographic area with nearly 2 million people and an amazing art museum. Its heyday is long gone, but those things still exist and have value. Sure, in the cases of the buildings and land that value has diminished, but there’s still some.

First, the buildings and land.

The old saying about land is true, “They aren’t making any more of it.” It has value. It could be sold off not to people/companies looking to build but to create new cities. This would free it from the corruption of Detroit’s government and the hindrance of its taxes/regulation.

The beauty of the architecture in downtown Detroit cannot be overstated. These are real buildings, not these prefabricated “green” ugly glass buildings being built today. These are the type that can’t be built today – not only because of regulations, but because of the cost is too high and the skills needed to make them have long since vanished.

Their value has diminished, and the public image of what it takes to open a business in Detroit from a tax perspective would have to be changed. But their appeal to growing, thriving businesses is possible. Huge, old, beautiful buildings at a bargain price, coupled with tax advantages and the caché of helping one of America’s greatest cities, could attract some serious companies. The workforce is there; the work just needs to be attracted.

But the real dent Detroit can make in its debt problems lies on Woodward Avenue across the street from my alma mater, Wayne State University – The Detroit Institute of Arts. The DIA is not only a beautiful building, it’s filled with priceless works of art owned, in many cases, by the city.

In times of trouble an asset is an asset. The economy of Detroit may have crashed, but the art market certainly has not. There are billions of dollars hanging on the walls of a museum that doesn’t get enough visitors to support itself or justify its continued existence.

If that sounds harsh, that’s because it is. You can throw the best party ever, but if no one shows up, what’s the point? Sure, occasional school groups from the region make the trip, but the building is generally uncrowded, to put it politely. Besides, the city is broke.

Closing the DIA and selling the art won’t wipe out all of Detroit’s debt, but it could take out a large chunk.

Moreover, if the idea of selling these treasures is unappealing to some, particularly liberals, this would be a perfect opportunity for a liberal billionaire – or two or three – to step up and put their money where their mouth is. George Soros, Bill Gates or any number of mindbogglingly wealthy liberals could buy the art and leave it where it is. Progressive “charitable trusts” such as the Pew Charitable Trusts, which already have demonstrated a desire to seize art collections to which they weren’t invited when they stole the Barnes Foundation for the city of Philadelphia, could step up and put their billions to use.

They won’t do it because there’d be no return on that investment, which is the point. Having a world-class museum in a place no one visits is about as helpful as a horse on a boat. If no one or group of people are willing to practice what they preach, those masterpieces would be much better served hanging in a private collection where they will be appreciated than hanging in a museum where they are ignored.

Detroit is broke, and Detroit did it to itself. As such, a price must be paid to save itself. That price should include what anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation would have to do – liquidate what you can to pay what you owe. The buildings and the land are easy, but the art is gonna hurt. And it should. It’s where the money is; it’s also where part of the solution is.

The art collection at the DIA is estimated to be valued at $2.5 billion but, as The Washington Post reported, “the exact value is impossible to determine because it is rare for so many valuable works to hit the auction block. The DIA has more than 60,000 works spanning centuries, with nearly 90 percent of the pieces in storage.”

Nobody knows how much the paintings would fetch. But it’s more than the city has now. And that’s the point.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: detoit; michigan

1 posted on 09/01/2013 4:18:05 AM PDT by Kaslin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

MI ping.


2 posted on 09/01/2013 4:24:39 AM PDT by Squawk 8888 (I'd give up chocolate but I'm no quitter)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

IBTIBTFADP

(In Before The “I’d Buy That For A Dollar” Picture)


3 posted on 09/01/2013 4:30:44 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
helpful as a horse on a boat.


4 posted on 09/01/2013 4:33:31 AM PDT by ASA Vet (Don't assume Shahanshah Obama will allow another election.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
General William Hull was correct, give it back.
5 posted on 09/01/2013 4:34:48 AM PDT by ASA Vet (Don't assume Shahanshah Obama will allow another election.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

“The workforce is there; the work just needs to be attracted”

doubtful


6 posted on 09/01/2013 4:39:52 AM PDT by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
The art collection at the DIA is estimated to be valued at $2.5 billion but, as The Washington Post reported, “the exact value is impossible to determine because it is rare for so many valuable works to hit the auction block.

They would probably get much less than expected because as is said that many valuable works don’t go up for sale at one time, so there just wouldn’t be the money available to pay normal market prices for all of the collection.

It would be a fire sale which is appropriate; Detroit is burning down around the city government’s ears while they fight over the ashes.

7 posted on 09/01/2013 4:43:53 AM PDT by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Sad to say, but the next time a minority group in this country proves itself capable of self-government will be the first time. Detroit will continue to rot away and be a good background set for apocalypse movies until the residents decide to make themselves and their city successful. In the meantime it will just be a place for the good-intentioned or conniving to exploit some government to throw more money into.


8 posted on 09/01/2013 4:46:13 AM PDT by Bernard (The Road To Hell is not paved with good results.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: yldstrk

More work for bureaucrats who have failed to do that for the last 70 years or so. “Hey, bring jobs to Detroit and we will give you a tax break.”

That’ll work. /sarc


9 posted on 09/01/2013 4:54:30 AM PDT by SC_Pete
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
I also grew up in Detroit during the golden age, (left the city in 1965).

Detroit they always said, has a lot of potential. Selling off the works at the DIA will not directly solve the problem but it is a start and you are correct. No city wishes to relinquish her treasury of arts but Detroit does not have a choice. In order to facilitate such a program, an OUTSIDE contractor must be brought in to sell off the goods BUT the funds must be secured NOT BY city officials rather, held in a special redevelopment fund for the city.

The bottom line however must be significantly reducing the crime problems by pumping tons into the Police force so they can enforce and clean up the streets. Once the streets are safe, business will come in and the city will truly experience some kind of Renaissance. Until then, nobody wants to go or work there...

10 posted on 09/01/2013 4:54:44 AM PDT by Netz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I would sell some of it but you’ve got to have an eye on the future. One suggestion I heard from Roger Penske recently was the possibility of privatizing the museum itself, selling some of the art and putting the rest into the federal system or even renting the art out to other museums. Penske said that selling the art is a little like selling the wheels off your car.

As far as the creditors are concerned, they are as guilty as the city council and unions. They kept loaning money with every intent of the feds stepping in and giving them a taxpayer funded bailout. I’m not completely unsympathetic. I would use an old school solution of turning over vacant properties to the creditors (tax free) and they will find a way of making them profitable. Oil and gas leases alone will amount to a sizable chunk of change. I would also go after the ill gotten gains of criminal city council members.


11 posted on 09/01/2013 4:56:20 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Springman; cyclotic; netmilsmom; RatsDawg; PGalt; FreedomHammer; queenkathy; madison10; ...
Detroit fiscal.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Michigan legislative action thread
12 posted on 09/01/2013 4:57:16 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
The old saying about land is true, “They aren’t making any more of it.” It has value. It could be sold off not to people/companies looking to build but to create new cities. This would free it from the corruption of Detroit’s government and the hindrance of its taxes/regulation.


13 posted on 09/01/2013 5:02:51 AM PDT by Dr.Deth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

There is no hope for Detroit.


14 posted on 09/01/2013 5:06:34 AM PDT by SC_Pete
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Netz

“The bottom line however must be significantly reducing the crime problems by pumping tons into the Police force so they can enforce and clean up the streets. Once the streets are safe, business will come in and the city will truly experience some kind of Renaissance. Until then, nobody wants to go or work there... “

Unless there are fundamental changes made any money received by selling off assets will be sucked up in very short order by the current corrupt city politicians and unions. So, I thinking why bother?


15 posted on 09/01/2013 5:08:03 AM PDT by snoringbear (E.oGovernment is the Pimp,)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

BTW I see from the local news this morning that Kevyn Orr has fired one of two pension fund managers.


16 posted on 09/01/2013 5:10:42 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Netz
Creditors will have first dibs on proceeds from any auction. In fact, they should get the bankruptcy judge to force an auction.
17 posted on 09/01/2013 5:12:30 AM PDT by Jacquerie (To restore the 10th Amendment, repeal the 17th.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
First, the buildings and land.

The old saying about land is true, “They aren’t making any more of it.” It has value. It could be sold off not to people/companies looking to build but to create new cities. This would free it from the corruption of Detroit’s government and the hindrance of its taxes/regulation.

This is painfully naive. The land has no value precisely because of the people who live there and those who govern it.

Going into the not too distant future there will not be a need for so much land due to the worldwide drop in fertility rates.

There is plenty of land to be had in better governed jurisdictions.

18 posted on 09/01/2013 5:14:59 AM PDT by ClaytonP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All

I just read Detroit is about to demolish 4,000 structures.

That only leaves about 66,000 empty buildings and homes.


19 posted on 09/01/2013 5:25:18 AM PDT by zipper ("The Second Amendment IS my carry permit!" -- Ted Nugent)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: snoringbear

That’s the point. The auction is held OUTSIDE of city officials control. They forfeited their right to a say on any matter a long time ago. No, it must be independent of the Detroit city council.


20 posted on 09/01/2013 5:30:24 AM PDT by Netz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
I love Detroit too.

The Detroit of the early 20th century, which was one of the most beautiful cities in N. America


21 posted on 09/01/2013 5:32:52 AM PDT by VanDeKoik
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek
"I would sell some of it but you’ve got to have an eye on the future."

I'm either a dinosaur or dead and don't know it.

My comment is the same for the ironically, auto industry ...

As I age (and I assume as ALL age ... ) I tend to drift back to what used to be and ... really, really, and not for the sake of nostalgia ... believe it really WAS better back then (MY memories are 1950's-60's for the most part).

Detroit has some of the most beautiful architecture on the planet ... great and magnificent hotels, ballrooms, theaters .. and etcetera's.


SO too ... the automobiles of the 40's and 50's were beautiful examples of functional art.

Detroit needs an effort to repair and save the architecture of those 1920's and 30's.

Detroit should mass produce the 57 Chevy Bellaire.


Y'see ... can ANYone look into what the future appears to be heading and honestly .... intellectually honestly ... see an improvement in buildings (living and business) ??

Would you want a 57 with everything brand new and modern technology ?

Don't look to the future ... look to the past.

We'd BETTER if we want the future to be anything near what the past was ....

which I do.

22 posted on 09/01/2013 5:33:30 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: SC_Pete

There is no hope for the Detroit (Lions) as long as they are held in a death grip by the Ford family. The analogy to the city is clear. Once the evil (Fords or city council) clutches relinquish their control over the team (city) both will flourish. One is ownership and the other is administrative control.


23 posted on 09/01/2013 5:33:59 AM PDT by Netz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

The people of Detroit are welcome to do anything they wish to revitalize their city. So long as it does not cost this resident of Oklahoma one nickel.


24 posted on 09/01/2013 5:52:20 AM PDT by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
The old saying about land is true, “They aren’t making any more of it.” It has value.

The same could be said about the land under the Three Mile Island facility, or Chernobyl.

25 posted on 09/01/2013 5:59:32 AM PDT by Bernard (The Road To Hell is not paved with good results.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ClaytonP
This is painfully naive. The land has no value precisely because of the people who live there and those who govern it.

It would be interesting to see Detroit divided into several "towns". The towns could try different solutions to their various problems to see what works and what doesn't. It could be a learning opportunity for other communities that are about to follow Detroit over the cliff.

26 posted on 09/01/2013 6:01:26 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Attendance at the Tigers game in Detroit last night was over 40,000. I’d like to know how many were Detroit residents.


27 posted on 09/01/2013 6:04:47 AM PDT by FrdmLvr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SC_Pete
Detroit, Heal Bulldoze Thyself
28 posted on 09/01/2013 6:12:45 AM PDT by Baynative (Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Detroit, Heal Thyself

Detroit is run by democrats. Like they did before the civil war, before republicans freed the slaves, they will sell people into slavery for profit.

29 posted on 09/01/2013 6:23:31 AM PDT by Caipirabob (Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

They could lift themselves up, bootstrap-wise, just as Cairo, Illinois has!


30 posted on 09/01/2013 6:25:48 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: yldstrk
“The workforce is there; the work just needs to be attracted” HUNGRY!
31 posted on 09/01/2013 6:26:58 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: ops33

AMEN!


32 posted on 09/01/2013 6:28:44 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Bernard
You left out Hiroshima.
33 posted on 09/01/2013 6:30:14 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
"...with nearly 90 percent of the pieces in storage."

Hoarders.

Bring in the Pickers.

34 posted on 09/01/2013 6:30:47 AM PDT by Paladin2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pontiac
It would be a fire sale which is appropriate . . . .

Something like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwfYkm5ZQd0

35 posted on 09/01/2013 6:52:56 AM PDT by Mr Ramsbotham (I'll retire to Bedlam.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Closing the DIA and selling the art won’t wipe out all of Detroit’s debt, but it could take out a large chunk.

My lib family stayed behind in Detroit. I got into it with them concerning the NEA. My argument is, if an piece of art is worthy an individual or a group should be willing to sponsor it.

In their twisted little socialist minds that meant “He hates art and wants to close all of the museums.”

36 posted on 09/01/2013 7:01:10 AM PDT by Rides_A_Red_Horse (Why do you need a fire extinguisher when you can call the fire department?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ASA Vet

Smarty pants!


37 posted on 09/01/2013 7:07:20 AM PDT by Rides_A_Red_Horse (Why do you need a fire extinguisher when you can call the fire department?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Why sell off the art? That would only be temporary fix. It would be easy to do but I don't think it would solve Detroit's problem of urban blight.

Detroit needs to retract the ideas which put it in its mess.

Coleman Young, Detroit's first black mayor, during his two decade run, did not allow any white people to open businesses within the Detroit city limits.

So, the whites moved their businesses to the suburbs. And took their jobs with them.

It was just a matter of time when the beautiful tree-lined streets would be dotted with burnt out houses.

So, what would be a solution for Detroit?

There need to be tax incentives and to people who will tear down the empty, abandoned houses and huge buildings which are beyond repair.

There need to be tax incentives and discounts to rebuild and bring in businesses.

There is a good start in downtown and you can drive around Detroit and see burnt out neighborhoods lined up right next to really nice areas.

A bridge between those areas would be to entice white businesses back.

38 posted on 09/01/2013 7:34:45 AM PDT by Slyfox (Without the Right to Life, all other rights are meaningless.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: knarf
To me, one of the most irritating things about Detroit is the fact that many of the ruined buildings are owned by one of America's wealthiest men.



Matty Maroun owns the Central Station, the Ambassador bridge and many of the other iconic ruins of Detroit. It doesn't absolve the city government of blame since they've been in his pocket for decades.

Legend has it that Canada took his family home to build the Ambassador bridge and he has spent the last several decades exacting revenge on Detroit and Windsor.Windsor currently has a lawsuit against Maroun for some $10 million because he spent years buying up some 200 homes and allowing them to fall into decay just like Detroit.
39 posted on 09/01/2013 7:51:06 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

The early 1900s saw the movement of the population of our nation from the countryside to the cities. This brought the belief in big government. Farmers and ranchers can weld. City dwellers can’t. This makes the city dwellers frightened, and they turn to government to take care of them. Government can hire welders. The city-model is crumbling as the helpless city dwellers are taken advantage of by ruthless con men. Detroit is as it should be.


40 posted on 09/01/2013 8:49:03 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Baynative

Detroit is the symbol of RAT policy.


41 posted on 09/01/2013 10:58:12 AM PDT by SC_Pete
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: knarf

Speaking of old and new. This guy offered to pay the million dollars back taxes on the old Packard plant but the law doesn’t allow him to do it without going through an auction process so he’ll probably get it for considerably less.

http://www.freep.com/article/20130830/BUSINESS06/308300086/Packard-Plant-auction-deal-close-delay

The architecture firm he’s hired believes that 80% of the property is structurally sound and the developer wants to get in on the retro trend for high dollar apartments, shops, office space and what he hopes will be the nation’s largest automotive museum. Really not a bad spot since its right across the highway from an existing Caddy plant with a lot of high paid executives who have expressed an interest.


42 posted on 09/01/2013 12:45:46 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I miss the J. L. Hudson Christmas Thanksging Parade, the Hudson Santa’s Toyland window displays...


43 posted on 09/01/2013 1:27:34 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SC_Pete

I strongly disagree.

America is shrinking, and China is growing.

China is going to overtake America in a very few years, if it hasn’t already.

(suddenly, everyone is protecting themselves)

America is locked out of China. Not completely but we are. America has been manipulated into accepting unequal trade with China for far, far too long.

It is time to removed that.

It is time to truly compete. With China and with everyone

Now.


44 posted on 09/01/2013 1:36:54 PM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Cringing Negativism Network

LEFTIST policies will not create a dynamic economy. If Obama has his way, all of America will look like Detroit.


45 posted on 09/01/2013 4:25:20 PM PDT by SC_Pete
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Agenda 21 Detroit and dedicate the wild land to Black civil rights leaders and their white communist traitors who transformed it from a beautiful and wealthy city to a field of wild animals and weeds. Maybe they can spend their last million dollars on wild flower seeds...


46 posted on 09/01/2013 5:41:03 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin; fieldmarshaldj

Not gonna happen.

They’ll waste the money made from selling the art.

I have no idea what happens, I guess the city keeps losing population until it’s no longer very large.

Maybe at some point in the future some rich developer will buy it all up and rebuild it.


47 posted on 09/01/2013 10:50:34 PM PDT by Impy (RED=COMMUNIST, NOT REPUBLICAN)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson