Sunday, March 14, 2010

Detroit/Haiti-opposite directions

A Tale of Two Cities

Haiti’s President visited the White House on Wednesday to discuss his plan for rebuilt Port-au-Prince. The plan has a price tag, of course, something that I’m sure the Obama administration would consider small potatoes:

Haiti’s President went to the White House yesterday with a vision of a Caribbean paradise waiting to be rebuilt after January’s catastrophic earthquake — and a price tag that could rise to $14 billion (£9 billion).

In a document that the Haitian delegation calls simply “the plan”, the slums and rubble of Port-au-Prince make way for a model city of cycle paths, beachfront boardwalks and ecofriendly housing. The economy roars back to life, thanks to tourism and cash crops such as coffee, mangoes and freshly cut flowers, and a hugely ambitious social engineering project permanently relocates at least half a million refugees to suburbs outside the devastated capital as the beginning of a new Haitian middle class.

The Mayor is always behind “hugely ambitious social engineering projects”. Forcing half a million people from the city where they live and relocating them to the *suburbs* (whatever a Haitian suburb is) sounds like a winning idea to me. And I find it especially appealing that once these people are forced to the suburbs, they will be rebranded as “middle class”. That’s a nice touch.

Up the road and to the left - Detroit, another third-world country - has a plan to deal with its urban blight:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said Tuesday the city will focus on demolishing thousands of its most dangerous vacant homes and fixing up salvageable ones as he lays the groundwork for a long-term plan to downsize.

It’s not known, Bing said, how much downsizing might cost or how much of the 139-square-mile city could be involved. He wants to make sure residents are a part of the long-term planning process and buy into the city’s plan.

To downsize Detroit, large swaths of the now-blighted, rusted-out city would be turned back into the fields and farmland. The city would pump new investment into stronger neighborhoods, which would become pockets in expanses of green.

For much of the 20th century, Detroit was an industrial powerhouse. Now, the city of nearly 2 million in the 1950s has less than half that number. According to one recent estimate, Detroit has 33,500 empty houses and 91,000 vacant residential lots.

As with Haiti, many Detroit residents will have to be relocated out of their current mess and into a new atmosphere. Fortunately for them, they too will be regarded as middle class after they are booted from their houses.

What does the Haiti plan and the Detroit plan both have in common? They have that sweet Chairman Mao smell to them. And just like the policies of Mao, perhaps these relocated urbanites will be sent to the countryside and to the mountains to be re-educated. An American Great Leap Forward®, as it were.

Sometimes if you want to build you have to destroy first. And it’s great to see the liberal policies that have destroyed this once great city are now willing to raize Detroit to the ground and rebuild it by not rebuilding. Power and greatness through neglect. That can be Detroit’s new logo. No charge, gratis, courtesy of The Mayor.

I have an idea how we can make money off Detroit’s demise - with t-shirts. Let’s design a series of shirts with different landmarks on each. For instance, one shirt can have a crumbling GM on it, while another can have a razed Gillette building; another shirt can have a picture of a corroded steel plant. Below each crumbling infrastructure we have the words, “Razed in Detroit.”

It’s a winner, all I ask is for a small royalty

Thanks to the Mayor of Mitchieville.More to come...

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