Our New Law Journal Article on the Decline of Urban America is Up on Line

Our thanks to our colleague and fellow blogger, Robert Thomas, for putting up a link to our most recent article on his blog www.inversecondemnation.com and for his kind words about our work in the most recent issue of the Michigan State Law Review.

The article is Gideon Kanner, Detroit and the Decline of Urban America, 2013 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1547 (2014). Do read it. We promise you a good read in a non-lawyerly style, and an insight into the decline (and imminent fall) of older American cities. Its point of view takes cognizance of the effects of government policies that went into effect after World War II, which is to say the policies of encouragement and financial support of a massive city-to-suburbs population move. As urban populations said “bye-bye” to older cities, they left behind abandoned city neighborhoods and general urban devastation.

Government-inspired and government-financed urban policies, such as urban redevelopment, and the construction of urban freeways, as well as the familiar litany of urban misgovernance and profligacy (e.g., bad, unsafe schools, generous but unfunded pensions, and rising crime, particularly in the 1970s) that are rarely considered in the conventional wisdom of “new urbanists” who, have executed an about-face (as compared with what they touted a half century ago), and who are now touting a yet-to-be-realized “return to the cities,” a phrase used to conjure up the unlikely vision of suburban populations abandoning their good life in the suburbs, and moving to more-or-less decrepit cities — a process that consists largely of a trickle of older boomer “empty nesters” who sold their pricy suburban homes for a bundle and are moving into “hip” city neighborhoods, and childless millenials.

If you are skeptical of what we say here, and in our article, go to Google, type in “ruins of Detroit,” hit “enter,” and see what shows up on the screen. And remember, Detroit may present us with probably the worst-case scenario, but it is not unique, even if it is the leading American urban basket case.

To get an idea (not ours, but the Establishment’s) of what the government promised, read the cover story of TIME magazine of November 6, 1964, THE CITY: Under the Knife, or All For Their Own Good, at p. 60. Then compare it with what it delivered. See what TIME had to say about that a half-century later. Daniel Okrent, Notown: Hubris, Racial Tension, Myopic Politicians and the Woeful Auto Industry Brought this Iconic American City to Its Knees, TIME, October 5, 2009, at p. 26, (cover story), and see the cover story of TIME of August 5, 2013, Is Your City Next? at p. 22, at 27, revisiting the Detroit calamity, and spotlighting Fresno, North Las Vegas, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Birmingham as the nation’s misgovernance “hot spots,” noting that there have been 36 municipal bankruptcy filings since 2010. Res ipsa loquitur.

We can’t resist asking: So how is that “urban renewal” thing working out for those guys? Renewed any cities lately?

 Anyway, whether you agree or disagree with what we say in our article do read it with an open mind, and — who knows? — you may even agree with it.

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