Why haven’t you moved to Detroit?

One frustrating feature of modern society is that it values talk above action.

Do you verbally claim to support immigration while living as far away from immigrants as possible? If so, you’re clearly a supporter of immigration and a right-thinking person.

Do you complain about paying taxes but still live in a state that requires you to pay them? Then you’re worse than the guy who has fled to tax freedom but keeps his mouth shut.


Obviously, this is precisely backwards. Actions should speak louder than words.

A wonderful example of this is Detroit. It seems to me that if you believe absolute human equality, you would immediately move to Detroit. You can basically live for free in a city that’s – surely – about to become a thriving metropolis again. It must just be having a 50+ year unlucky streak.

And yet, I can’t think of anyone that’s moved to Detroit. I wonder why?


39 Responses to Why haven’t you moved to Detroit?

  1. dearieme says:

    I’ve been even blunter than that. The last chap who waxed lyrical to me about the wonders of diversity and vibrancy was asked whether his wife was black.

  2. anony says:

    this is why. Read it and weep.

    • Handle says:

      This is truly fascinating and chilling reading. My inner quant just can’t stop deep-diving into the sheer magnitude of this mess.

      I find things like the credit ratings history on page 8 frightening because you could show the same trend and interest rates for Lehman Bros or Greece. And yet you have Krugman, Yglesias, et al assuring us that low rates on US Treasuries mean that the market is confident and we ought to borrow to the moon and make hay while the sun shines; whereas Kling and Hamilton get completely drowned out when they mildly worry about future ‘rate risk’. Oh well.

      The Crime statistics are even more harrowing than they appear. Let’s say, heaven forbid, that you had a loved one living in Detroit. Here are the chances, per 100,000 residents per year, of their being the victim of the following classes of crimes but not having your case cleared (‘solved’) by police, and how that compares to the merely average-level of violence in Pittsburgh – I’ll call the Pittsburgh Uncleared Rate “PUR”:

      Murder: 42.8 (6 times PUR)
      Motor Vehicle Theft: 1,500 (16 times PUR)
      Arson: 126 (3 times PUR)
      Violent Crime in General: 1,740 (4.4 times PUR)
      Forcible Rape: 210 (27 times PUR)

      Note: I multiplied the “forcible rape” rate by 4 since it tends to only be a risk for a 25% slice of the overall population – but the ratio to PUR remains the same. These are the numbers of a third-world city – some awful place in the Caribbean or Latin America.

      It gets worse:

      50% of all of Detroit’s meager and shrinking revenues now go to “Legacy Expenditures” – that is, debt servicing, pensions, and health care. In other words, residents don’t see a shred of even corrupted real services for half of their taxes – rising to two thirds in the next five years.

      Half of those revenues are from ‘unconventional’ sources. Fully one third of Detroit’s revenues are from casino gaming taxes and State Aid. Another sixth or so is from various kinds of direct Federal Government Aid and a temporary waiver to maximize the income tax rate on out-of-city residents who earn income Detroit’s jurisdiction.

      And none of this even counts various government subsidies the residents of the city get in the form of a host of welfare-state transfers and the placement of various State and Federal institutions in the city limits.

      Add to all that the fact that Detroit still benefits from the presence of the big-3 automakers, and I challenge anyone to tell what percent of city finances or Detroit’s continued existence relies on the aftereffects of the billions in lost Federal bailout money that ended up, mostly, in the pockets of the UAW.

      At the end of the day, what you’re looking at here is a kind of open reservation with a million agencies substituting for the Department of the Interior and city residents substituting for Indians. Might as well formalize it. And build a wall.

      • Red says:

        The actual murder and rape rates are much higher. It’s trivially easy to hide a body in the city and Detriot PD hates listing anything as a homicide.

      • anony says:

        Here’s the same kind of report on Greece.

      • Handle says:

        @anony: The IMF’s Greek report is also pretty scary, but not nearly as complete in describing a bleak future as that Detroit proposal.

        You can tell a little story by walking through it though (which, of course, has no relevance to current interest rates and Central Bank purchases of US Debt, don’t even think that).

        First look at on the upper right graph on page 35 – interest rates on Greek debt. All the way up to catastrophic and now back to a stable level around 10%

        But now look at the upper right graph on page 15. The average rate of interest that Greece is now paying on its large public debt is only 3% (instead of an expected 6%, which itself seems low, doesn’t it?) – which is a saving a full 4% of GDP (upper left graph, same page).

        This is the equivalent of the US suddenly saving $650 Billion a year – which is the entire budget of the Department of Defense plus the war in Afghanistan – so a huge windfall. This is almost entirely responsible for Greece’s current account returning to balance sooner than expected (middle right chart, page 13).

        So, how’d that happen is Greece is so broke and risky and unemployment is a catastrophic 25% (bottom left chart, page 13)?

        The explanation is the chart on page 18, which you could call, “A Bail Out” by the ECB and IMF. Greek residents ownership of Greek debt collapsed by 50%, and non-resident by over 80%, and “official creditors” made up all the slack as subsidized, super-below-market rates. That’s what “saved” Greece. Or, at least, stabilized the patient in the ICU to an extent sufficient to delay the Grexit from the Euro for a few more years.

        To show you the scale of this assistance – if the ECB and IMF just forgave the entirety of Greece’s new low-interest debt but locked it out of credit markets, the impact would be about the same – another 4% of GDP.

        What this report doesn’t show, however, is Greece’s skyrocketing dependency ratio (number of nonworking adults dependent upon working adults). Look upon this chart ye Eurozoners, and despair.

        Over at OECD stats, you can see the last time employment was that low was … 30 years ago. Ouch. And it’s just going to get worse, Greeks didn’t have any kids, and the bright kids they had with options elsewhere are fleeing.

  3. Red says:

    I remember reading a story about a women who was passing through Detroit and stopped for gas one night. She was kidnapped and used as a sex slave for a couple of weeks. Gas station attended didn’t bother to report her kidnapping for 40 minutes after it happened. So even visiting is a bad idea.

    • Tarl says:

      Years ago I pulled off a freeway for gas in South Central LA. I was stopped at the light at the bottom of the offramp… looked around… and got right back on the freeway. Rather be outta gas on the interstate than getting gas in da hood!

  4. lelnet says:

    Well, if you’re in a situation where you can choose to pay no taxes, or even simply less taxes, by moving, and you don’t…well, yeah, that makes you a worse person than someone who has done his part to starve the system of the funding it needs to do evil.

    We need to start realizing this. We need to start asking ourselves, before doing anything that would result in the payment of more taxes, whether the good done by our primary act is enough to at least balance out the harm that the government will do with the extra tax money.

  5. Jqwan says:

    I know quite a few people that have moved to Detroit, most of them artists or techies or entrepreneurs looking to get their costs as low as possible. I spent 2 months there a couple years ago looking at housing options and decided against it. The environment there is just too mind-blowingly negative.

    I could go on and on about it, really. It’s the biggest industrial collapse in world history, followed by the most complete, protracted social collapse in US history. The scale and severity of what’s happened there isn’t captured in the statistics or any news coverage I’ve seen. You have to actually go there to appreciate it.

    Now that the emergency managers have moved in, the show should be over in the next few years. They won’t be able to turn it around, of course, but the losses will be consolidated, much of the city razed, etc. If you want to see the trainwreck in all its glory, now’s the time.

    • samsonsjawbone says:

      If you want to see the trainwreck in all its glory, now’s the time.

      I’ll bear that in mind, since I actually would like to see it, although I gather that the types of vacant inner-city wastelands I’d like to see aren’t terribly safe. I bet there’s a potential market for an “urban safari” guide.

      • Red says:

        It’s pretty safe to cruise around in a car. Things are so empty and spread out that all it takes hitting the gas to get out of a bad situation. I wouldn’t pull over though.

      • Samson says:

        What about stoplights? Do you just blow through?

      • Jqwan says:

        The ruins are deserted — they’re probably the safest places in the city. Some common sense and a good pair of running shoes and you’ll be fine.

        There are normal people living in Detroit. Most of the violence is of the black on black, ghetto culture variety. There are some aggressive panhandlers downtown, and I definitely took some detours when I was wandering around on foot and saw something I didn’t like, but the only thing that made me really nervous was encountering stray pit bulls deep in the ghetto (where they’re farmed). Of course, I was making an extensive survey of some of the cheapest real estate in town, which is not something most tourists will want to do.

        I was also visiting in the fall/winter, which I understand is the safest time of year. If you’re looking for a zoological expedition, you’ll want to visit in the summertime.

        The only thing I would caution against is riding the local bus routes. While I was there the bus drivers went on strike because they were constantly being attacked by passengers. My only bus ride was the express route to and from the airport, and the drivers had to stop repeatedly and oblige intoxicated belligerents to disembark.

    • Red says:

      “I could go on and on about it, really. It’s the biggest industrial collapse in world history, followed by the most complete, protracted social collapse in US history. The scale and severity of what’s happened there isn’t captured in the statistics or any news coverage I’ve seen. You have to actually go there to appreciate it.”

      The social collapse proceeded and largely caused the industrial collapse.

  6. Tarl says:

    For those who haven’t heard about it, The Slaughter of the Cities is instructive.


    What happened to Detroit didn’t just “happen”. It was the ethnic cleansing of pesky old white proles.

  7. When liberals threaten to leave the country, it’s always to someplace whiter – Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, etc.

  8. SOBL1 says:

    Because liberal beliefs or voting Democrat is all for show to state you are a good upper middle class white. You dont even need to invoke Detroit. You could do this in every metro area in blue states and cities. Ask a Brahmin from New England if they would ride the Orange Line down to Forest Hills at night.

    I always love to check city-data for crime comparisons. I agree it is most likely underreported, and even then, Detroit blows away the average American city. http://www.city-data.com/city/Detroit-Michigan.html

  9. Jqwan says:

    Does no one have any confidence in Kevyn Orr, interim king of Detroit? He seems like a real shitkicker to me. He’s already laid out the settlement, which he basically said is non-negotiable. He’s called for an investigation of the pension funds, without even sitting down with them. They’ll have one chance to respond before this goes to bankruptcy court in the next couple weeks.

    I’d have thought the reactosphere would be pleased. This is what modern colonialism looks like. You have Snyder, who couldn’t be any more of a white Republican, canceling democracy and telling the shitbirds how it’s gonna be (notice at the end he dodges the question about what happens after 18 months because he knows this will be in court for years and the training wheels may never come off):

    • Handle says:

      I’ll call your video, and raise with my own, Charlie Leduff Golf’s the Length of Detroit. Leduff won a Pullitzer and has a new book out, “Detroit, an American Autopsy” (Here’s a review by Barone in the Claremont). The part where the Chinese tourist is visiting the ruins is heartbreakingly metaphorical.

    • lelnet says:

      I’ll have some confidence in his ability to fix Detroit when the Defense Department gives him a few nuclear warheads and says “have fun”.

      Until then, I retain the belief that no matter how much shit he kicks, fixing Detroit is fundamentally impossible, whether he manages to balance the budget or not.

      • Handle says:

        Believe it or not, I don’t think this is true. Let’s pretend Detroit was a business going through Chapter 11 Reorganization instead of Chapter 9.

        1. First thing you do is completely erase all the equity and debt and retirement promises. Does that sound ridiculously harsh? It’s not enough.

        2. Since Legacy costs are over half the budget (see anony above), then Detroit’s revenues now just barely match their 2008 expenditures – still dreadful but maybe enough to survive if you do a few more things.

        3. Use eminent domain to shrink the city, concentrate the residents, and sell the land to nearby municipalities (or to new charter cities). Everyone West of Grand River (sold to Livonia and Dearborn) and everyone East of Gratiot (sold to Grosse Pointe) moves inward. Also, promise to build a giant impenetrable wall extended traffic sound barrier. You’ve just reduced the area you have to administer and police in your new “triangle city” by half – from 138 to 69 square miles. 45 thousand acres of razed urban land should generate a net billion dollars – another year of Detroit expenditure – as an emergency reorganization one-time expenses fund.

        If you did the above (far short of the Nuclear option), you might just have a shot at running an awful,but sustainably solvent, city. Since that’s the minimum you need to do, and far in excess of what is possible to do, the future remains bleak no matter how good a guy the Michigan governor is.

        Anyway, do we really want Snyder and Orr to succeed? The worse Detroit continues to fail, the better and more unignorable a case and a warning that it makes. The last thing anyone needs is to blame is on “White Republican hateful mismanagement”. Let the progressives own it completely.

      • Jqwan says:

        Well, I think you’ll both be surprised what can happen when you have competent leadership in there with some real authority. Guys like Dan Gilbert have been there for years now and are ready to play ball; the state and the feds are obviously committed, the Canadians are building another bridge on their own dime; everyone’s just been waiting for a competent partner at the municipal level. Now they have that.

        The whole point of the bankruptcy is to get the debts down to the ability to pay, and fiscal rectitude is required by state law from there on out (unlike some other municipal bankruptcies). The bondholders will get pennies on the dollar, the pensions will get even less and many of their administrators will end up in prison. That’s the easy part.

        Property and income taxes have been way beyond the Laffer limit for years and will have to come down, at least to the point where they’re competitive with the surrounding jurisdictions. They’ll overhaul the city’s master plan, sell tax liens in the salvageable neighborhoods, bulldoze the rest with state and federal grants, and end up with the biggest land bank in the country. We’ll see how aggressive they’re willing to be with all that.

        Orr has already hinted at the need to redraw the lines somehow, not just in terms of consolidating services, but recognizing that the political dynamics have to change moving forward. Even under a financial consent agreement with the state there’s bound to be major problems, so it’ll be interesting to see how they go about foolproofing everything. It looks like they’re restructuring the water and sewer department into a regional authority, for instance.

        But we can’t just point and laugh and wait for it to turn into “Cannibal Warlords from Liberia” to try and prove a point. The public isn’t capable of diagnosing and confronting reality — never has been, never will be. And in the mean time, “the oats and ventilated stabling are due.” Who better to provide it than a white Republican and his strong appointed leader?

  10. Jqwan says:

    By the way, I love Bloomberg’s idea to flood the city with immigrants. This is one situation where a little diversity couldn’t possibly hurt.

    But this guy Warstler’s proposal for slave auctions could really turn things around big time and deserves a lot more attention. The first state that sets up a special economic zone to launch this program will dominate the US economy. It’ll have to be re-framed, obviously, but Detroit would be a really good candidate for this.

    See, emergency management can be fun! Detroit just needs an extreme makeover, a la “pimp my post apocalyptic disaster zone”

  11. […] bonus: Why haven’t you moved to Detroit? – from foseti. […]

  12. I moved to Detroit about a month ago. Do i get some kind of prize?

    • Foseti says:

      Yup. Your own overwhelming sense of self-satisfaction.

      • multiheaded says:

        Hey Reactionists, have some of the Logic! and Inconvenient TRUTHS! y’all profess to love so much.


        Fuck, if you knew any better, you’d just shut up and bless your good fortune for not being screwed from the start by history and politics wherever you grew up. A shame that it left you so smug about your own socioeconomic privilege instead.

        Here’s a hint: some of us don’t feel the NEED to fear lower-class people. We don’t disavow an aversion to them out of some imaginary sense of moral superiority. If you grew up with an understanding of “There but for the grace of God go I”, you wouldn’t have been so triumphant about not ending up at the bottom.


      • Foseti says:

        “you wouldn’t have been so triumphant about not ending up at the bottom.”

        Is it really triumphalism to not want to expand the bottom? If so, I’m guilty as charged.

      • multiheaded says:

        Except that the “bottom” is made up of people more who have more similarities to you than differences, and I find I cannot fault them for wanting to “shrink the top” when the “top” displays such a let-them-eat-lead attitude.

        70-80 years ago the American elites turned away from this kind of talk for fear being “shrunk” in just such a manner. By now you’ve lost all understanding of the social-democratic compromise that held your own society together, and you want to officially split that society in two, hoping you can build ever taller walls for keeping the mob at bay. Too haughty even for sharing some resources as a pacification measure, and hoping to ramp up the socioeconomic segregation instead. Well, ask your Afrikaner friends how well that ends up.

      • Foseti says:

        “Except that the “bottom” is made up of people more who have more similarities to you than differences”

        Not so much.

      • vimothy says:

        That Reddit thread really is a rich vein of wilful liberal self-deception. Thanks for posting.

      • multiheaded says:

        Oh, SRS gets called much cooler things. “Liberal”? They’re a ruthless totalitarian rad-fem Marxist cult, they can’t stand “white liberals”. Also, always fun to see assertions of false consciousness being pulled as a last resort.

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