Coyne wrote:Frankly, looking at the situation as an outsider, I don't see any way out for Detroit. Flint doesn't trust Detroit's ability to continue to operate their system; that's why Flint is disconnecting. There's no one left to pay. The fundamental problem is that there's no work (14.5% unemployment) and the population that peaked at 1.85 million in 1950 was down to 714,000 in 2012 (Wikipedia says 681,000 in 2013).
There's always a minimum cost just for maintenance of a water system; for pipelines, valves, pumps, and etc. If Wikipedia is right, they've lost 33,000 people--4.6% of the population--in a year; I don't see how the people remaining can even pay the infrastructure costs. When Detroit can't do that anymore...no water for anyone.
Where do they go from here? Federal subsidy?
It needs federal help. An idea I came up with a long time ago (although I am probably not the first) as a general crime reduction/poverty reduction strategy is this:
Step one is a government program to subsidize repair and upgrades of homes, buildings and infrastructure in impoverished and high crime areas. This includes being homes and buildings up to code, cleaning up mold, leaks, improving the yards (possibly including a native plant or rock garden that doesn't require a lot of maintenance or water), painting homes, new carpeting, installing new doors and windows, low flow toilets, low flow shower heads, installing insulation, solar panels, energy efficient AC for homes with central air, etc. The goal is to improve health and safety, which can bring you some benefit with healthcare costs down the line, while also reducing utility consumption. Also, streets would be paved, sidewalks repaired, and just in the city property in-general cleaned up with some beautification efforts. You can also use the opportunity to lay fiber optic cable.
I suspect the psychological impact from going to a run-down neighborhood to a clean, well kept neighborhood would improve quality of life greatly while reducing crime. For doing all the work, the emphasis would be on hiring locally; this creates jobs, and makes sure a large portion of the money stays within the neighborhoods. You increase the value of property, while simultaneously increasing the incomes of the people who live there.
Step two is small business subsidies. Help impoverished people get money to open up small businesses within their cities. This, again, helps grow the areas while reducing poverty, and creating jobs. On top of this, you would subsidize job training and placement services, to help low income people find good paying jobs. You might also want to see about reducing school classroom sizes and doing whatever you can to improve the quality of the schools themselves. You could set up tutoring services for students that are behind, help people who have dropped out get their GEDs, etc.
Also, I was reading this article the other day where a similar idea was implemented:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/201 ... -gun-death