Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit will have to get a magic horse

This sad photo of an abandoned mansion in an upper-class neighborhood of Detroit certainly gives the impression that the great automobile metropolis has hurtled downhill like an antiquated Cadillac with defective brakes.

Not so long ago, Detroit was an American symbol of prosperity.

Yesterday, with a debt of almost $20 billion dollars, Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection. Soon, many of the city's services will probably be forced to shut down, like this Detroit fire hydrant... not to mention 40 percent of the city's streetlights and half of their public parks.

For the moment, the city's destiny appears to be in the hands of an Afro-American lawyer, Kevyn Orr. To my inexpert mind, this would appear to be just about as bad a solution as being led by a banker or a TV evangelist. In any case, a specialist has stated that "the bankruptcy is likely to be a complicated and protracted process". To obtain urgently-needed cash, maybe Detroit could sell some of the city's assets, such as famous paintings in its art gallery. But how many highly-priced old paintings would it take to buy back the city's prestige as the place where the automobile industry was created?

In the pioneering days of the American automobile industry, whenever a horse-drawn cart drew up alongside a broken-down car (a situation that arose frequently), the man in the cart was wont to yell out sarcastically to the befuddled man at the wheel: "Get a horse!" Today, I fail to believe that there exists any magical horse capable of carting Detroit back along the bumpy road to prosperity and dignity. To put it harshly, a dream has ended... and it's difficult, if not impossible, to simply replace an old dream by a new one.

BREAKING NEWS (Friday 19 July 2013): A Michigan judge has ordered the withdrawal of a federal bankruptcy petition filed for the city of Detroit on Thursday.

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