General Motors, symbol of the decline of the State of Michigan

The bankruptcy of the automobile giant General Motors (GM) confirms the decline of an entire city and its region, dependent on the “Big Three”, GM, Chrysler and Ford. Detroit and Michigan are now waiting for a drastic change in economic and social policy to emerge from a crisis that began several years ago.

“The region is tottering after the fall of the giant”, notes Daniel Howes, columnist for the daily The Detroit News. “It’s scary not to know (…) if cities like Flint, Detroit or Warren (…) will be able to absorb the shock “, he continues. In recession since 2001, Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the United States. Recently the magazine Time had published two series of photographs showing the “Beautiful, but horrible decline of Detroit” and “The Remnants of Detroit”. By photographing the “ruins of the collapsing Motor City”, its abandoned schools and stations, one of the photographers, Sean Hemmerle, confided that he had “the impression of working in a post-apocalyptic environment”.

Real estate is also the main collateral victim of the automobile crisis. In Detroit, houses sell for nothing. The New York Times Talk about “100 dollar houses” that we now find in neighborhoods “almost correct”. “In a sense, one can find a strange and new American dream here, despite the near-majestic ruins of a half-century of industrial decline. The good news is there are still people to dream about.”, Tory Barlow is surprised at NOW, which explains why many artists come to occupy places deserted by workers.

TOWARDS A NEW START

The successive bankruptcies of two of the auto giants, Chrysler and General Motors, also come at a time of political and social crisis in Detroit. The mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, has been ousted for corruption and his replacement, Dave Bing, must fight to save public services, threatened with budget cuts. One of the city councilors, JoAnn Watson, in a gallery at Michigan Chronicle, even calls for a “plan Marshall” $ 10 billion to save the city. “Michigan is just the red flag for what will become a nationwide problem”, she believes. Daniel Howes from Detroit News He doubts the release of such aid: of the 4 billion dollars of the stimulus package for the American economy, Michigan only received 2 million, he points out.

Yet some see it as the chance for a new start for the city. In an editorial titled “After the Fall,” Jack Lessenberry of the weekly Metro Times argues that GM’s bankruptcy “could be a good thing”. “It could be a bucket of ice water thrown in the face, which would force everyone to face reality”, he writes. The editorial of Detroit Free Press defends the same idea: “It will be painful, especially for GM’s home state. But it will give this company the chance for a fresh start, and the opportunity to write a new chapter.”

While waiting to learn more about factory closures or job cuts, Detroit residents still have the sporting thrill offered by their ice hockey team, says the New York Times. Red Wings boss shares how the team manager came to tell him he was “important for the region” and the morale of its inhabitants to win the matches to come. “It’s something that allows people to come together”, says Steve Violetta, the club’s vice-president. Even if for the moment, the meetings are played outside and that most of the fans cannot afford the trip.