Detroit, City on the Brink of Ruins?

December 7, 2011

Political Theory


Scrolling through the news this morning I saw an update on a story I have been hearing about for some time now.  That story has to do with our nearest metropolis, Detroit.  Why was Detroit in the news this time?  Well, Governor Rick Snyder is taking a close look at the finances of the city and it continues to look ominous.  According to USA Today, “if the governor concludes that the city’s economic situation constitutes an emergency, he could dispatch a manager who could push the mayor and city council to the sidelines” (USA Today).  If Governor Snyder puts a manager into power in the city of Detroit it would be the largest city to come under state control in the history of the United States.

Skyline of Detroit

The current deficit in the city has eclipsed 150 million dollars (USA Today).  Obviously, most Detroiters as well as the city council members don’t want a state takeover of the city but it is a very real possibility.  If a city manager from the state is brought in to run the city the council goes to the wayside and this manager would have immense power.  They would be able to sell off city owned land and to privatize utilities and the bus system in the city. 

So how does this relate to the class?  This story has to do with the Lockian debate of consenting to be governed.  Locke states in order to be governed the population must give consent to be governed by the government.  As Americans, we vote which in some way gives us consent to be governed.  However, if a city manager is appointed and the city council, mayor, and others elected officials are no longer in power the people no longer have a voice.  If a city manager does come in to power in Detroit it is bound to cause a raucous throughout the city.  So the consent of the people may come into question but I’m not sure the city will be worse off with a city manager in control.

With a city manager in control there are going to be some good things that happen.  For instance, decisions will get made for sure.  Without the city council in Detroit a manager will be able to do what they want.  Whether that is good or bad it will remain to be seen.  Maybe a manager will be able to turn the corner and get Detroit to becoming a functional and thriving city again; or maybe a manager will run the city into the ground beyond repair.  Only time will tell what happens.

Personally, I don’t know what needs to happen in Detroit and I’m happy I don’t have to make those decisions.  I love the city and want to see it make a comeback.  I hear stories from my grandfather and father saying they remember when Detroit was thriving and a destination for many Americans.  I love going down to the city whether it be for a sporting event, another event, or just going to one of the wonderful restaurants the city has to offer.  I would enjoy being able to go on vacation and when someone asks me where I’m from be able to answer with confidence and pride.

Roma Cafe, the best restaurant in Michingan hands down

So what do you think?  Should a city manager come into Detroit and run the city with no city council, no mayor, and nearly unlimited control?  Do you think the people would be giving consent to that form of government?  Is it right for the local government of Detroit to be virtually evaporated?  Do you think Detroit can be saved and highlight it’s strong points again?

Watch this video to see some of Detroit’s great things.

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3 Comments on “Detroit, City on the Brink of Ruins?”

  1. chadmach Says:

    I think if it is necessary to get Detroit out of the condition that it is in, then I am in full support of a manager coming in to make sweeping changes. If this manager is willing to get his hands dirt to get things done for the people of Detroit and the greater area then what is the problem? I do think that people would give consent to this new temporary form of government because I get the feeling that most people who live in Detroit are tired of the current conditions and all would like some sort of change that would get Detroit back on the map. There are probably some things that people may not agree with, but like in the case of the Machiavellian Prince, it should be okay for this city manager to do what he needs to do if he believes it is in the best interest of his people.

    Detroit, along with the rest of the country, is in hard times and I think that the road back to recovery will be long and tedious. I do, however, think that eventually Detroit will be able to pull itself out of the trench is it in and become what it once was.

  2. finkelbr Says:

    I am absolutely for Snyder putting a manager in control. I understand that this would basically make the mayor of Detroit a political figure with no real power. I do have some concern with giving anyone absolute power but I think that it is necessary at this point. Clearly, the mayor and other politicians in Detroit do not know what they are doing. They were the ones who led Detroit into the ground, let Detroit stay in the ground, and now are not coming up with any great ideas to try and rebuild it. As admirable as Kwame was as a Detroit figure, I think its about time that we take a different approach. I do not know whether the manager will fail miserably or bring life back to Detroit. However, I think it is time that we at least find out because although I hate to say it, we do not exactly have that much to lose. Einstein defined Insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. In my eyes, we are all insane if we think that what were doing right now and have been doing will somehow change the future of Detroit.

    In accordance with the Locke argument of consent to be governed, I think the people have given consent. As you said we give consent to politicians once we vote them in. Therefore, Snyder has the peoples consent, since we voted him in, to do whatever he feels best for the state and city of Detroit. Although people may not have given consent for that exact action, putting a manager in charge of Detroit, they voted Snyder in which gives him consent to make these type of decisions.

    I honestly believe that one day Detroit will be revived. There are too many people that want to see Detroit alive again for it to never be revived. Detroit is located in a beautiful location and I think that there are too many opportunities for the city to never be where it once was back in the day.

  3. collinam Says:

    I think that Detroit should do what ever is necessary to become a thriving city again. Being from the area, I know that the city has struggled in just about every arena of its control. The school system is one of the worst in the country and crime is rampant throughout the city. This problem stems back to the now famous ex-mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick and his cohorts did a pretty proficient job of running the city straight into the ground in both of his terms. The city council which has included convicts such as Monica Conyers isn’t much better. Over the past few years, Detroit politicians have effectively shown that they only care about furthering their own interests, and don’t really care if the city suffers. This is why I think a state manager is needed.

    Obviously the people of Detroit have failed to fix the problems Detroit has themselves through normal elections. They have had chances to vote corrupt politicians out of power, but haven’t done so and decided in favor of the “hip-hop mayor”. So at this point, I think someone needs to be brought in from the outside to fix the problem. The state manager could do what is necessary to fix the problem because he doesn’t need to care what the people think of him. He could do unpopular things without the fear of being voted out of office. The problems in Detroit are by no means a simple fix, but if the manager did his job correctly, they could be solved.

    The people of Detroit would in fact have given their consent to be governed by this manager. If they voted in the election for governor, then they have given consent because they live in the state of Michigan. It is the governor’s decision to appoint this manager, so the people of Detroit have given their consent. I also think that it is right to sweep the Detroit political system aside temporarily. They have not gotten the job done, so some one needs to come in who can get the job done.

    I have grown up in the suburbs of Detroit, and whole-heart-idly wish that the city reaches its glory days once again. The city of Detroit has a lot going for it if we can fix the major problems that Detroit has such as the schools, crime, the burned out houses, and the miles upon miles of abandoned land. I hope some day in the future that I can say that I am from Detroit and be proud of it.

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