Monday, August 6, 2007

Who Knew Detroit Was This Bad?

Urban Decay.

The National Review Online has and article by a reporter for the Detroit News on the sorry state of the city - "Unions of Urban Decay." I knew Detroit was a mess, but had no idea it was this bad. (and it can't all be blamed on the auto industry). A few sobering statistics from a once-proud city:

  • The Detroit Public School system currently graduates 22 percent of its entering freshman.
  • African-American males who drop out of high school in Detroit have 73-percent unemployment in their 20s.
  • The city has lost half its population since 1950.
  • Detroit has a 70-percent child-illegitimacy rate.
  • Detroit today sports a 47-percent adult illiteracy rate. (on par with Bangladesh and trailing the Republic of Chad).
  • An estimated 30 percent of Detroit’s population is in government employ. (Read: unionized).

He blames the city's problems on the unions, especially the teachers' union. It seems like there is a racial component too.

Michigan millionaire and philanthropist Robert Thompson, who in 2003 offered the city $200 million — $200 million! — to build 15 Detroit charter high schools. He was run out of town. Mayor Kwame Kilptrick, who sends his own kids to charter schools, advertised Detroit’s poisonous racial politics when he rapped the white businessman for trying “to ride in on a white horse” and save the city.
Or consider Dave Bing, a prominent black Detroit entrepreneur. The former Detroit Pistons star was heaped with scorn for partnering with Thompson. At a 2005 banquet hosted by the Call ‘Em Out Coalition, Bing was awarded a “Sambo Sell-Out Award” by Councilwoman Sharon McPhail.

Sad, very, very sad.

This can't help but be a huge drain on the state's economy. Detroit proper has almost 1/10 of the state's population, it's problems affect the rest of us heavily. For example, Detroit's unemployment rate is 13.8%, Michigan as a whole is 7.2%. (by my calculations, if Detroit was at 7.2% too, the statewide unemployment rate would only be 6.5%) That difference skews perception of the rest of the state.