The following letter was written in response to an article in Time Magazine on the 5th August 2013 entitled America’s Broken Cities. The letter was emailed to the Editor – as yet I have had no response.
I read with some considerable interest your recent edition on America’s ‘broken cities’ and whilst I have some considerable sympathy for the City of Detroit I think your reporters completely missed the fundamentals of why the city is broke; and why the people of that city fear for their future. The reporters I felt treated the issues of how the city got into the mess as–what Sociologist’s call–an a-historical event, that is, the breakdown just ‘happened,’ without warning, and was immediate. Whilst this may be what some people wish to believe there, is much more to the events that lead to the fiscal destruction of a city and to suppose there were no economic call-signs and signals that astute administrators could have observed and then acted upon, is folly in the extreme.
The truth must surely be consecutive administrations chose to ignore these critical indicators and what rubs ‘salt in the wounds’ for citizens of cities such as Detroit, is that some of these administrator’s would have been highly-paid ‘experts’ in their field. Who then is to blame for the fiscal destruction of the City of Detroit? Surely not the residents who were not ‘productive enough’ and now have their pensions at risk? The simple truth is the administrators are to blame for their lack of foresight which was without doubt, closely followed by a subsequent deficiency in proactive abilities and moreover, for your reporters to not stipulate that these people would have had access to a swathe of information which if they were actually dedicated to their positions, could have been used in a timely manner. To suppose otherwise is ludicrous, and worse, it let’s these incompetents ‘off the hook.’ Once again and perhaps the saddest and most unpalatable component of this ‘broken cities’ debacle is the non-admission by your reporters that, at its very core, the administrator’s of Detroit lost their duty-of-care to, and for, their citizens a long time ago.
To be sure, there should have also been the admission that in process of the city going broke the administrators did not lose their appetite for their high-paying jobs, only for the responsibilities that came with them. An all too common a problem I would say, as Athens and Madrid have without doubt also become examples of this disgraceful and negligent behaviour by those whose care is merely, a pretence.