Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities

Posted by Caitlin Endyke

At the Building Movement Project, we do a lot of work in Detroit, partnering with key neighborhood groups and community activists throughout the city in order to unite Detroiters around common issues.  The picture for Detroit residents can be bleak- the city and state government continue to cut vital resources to Detroit residents who most need them. What’s been in the news most recently is Gov. Rick Snyder’s passing of the controversial Emergency Manager Law, which was defeated by popular vote a few months ago and which gives innumerable government powers to one appointed individual with few democratic checks in place. 

This is why the issues raised in this piece, featured in the New York Times this week, are most disheartening.  While the government claims financial straits dire enough to resort to an Emergency Manager system, the private sector in Detroit is on the rebound.  Downtown neighborhoods are thriving with independent coffee roasters and boutiques.  The three big auto manufacturers are reporting massive gains, for the first time in years.  There is money in Detroit.  The problem is that money is not going to the public.  It’s circling around the private sector, allowing businesses to flourish while city residents, especially those located out of key downtown neighborhoods, are left behind to fight for basic rights (though they certainly are fighting). 

In a Commons-based society, I’d imagine that there is still a place for business and the private sector.  But what we can’t allow is the creation of a real-life Tale of Two Cities- one where private corporations thrive and another where every day citizens suffer as the public sector is drowned in debt and a massive lack of resources.

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