Thursday, July 11, 2013

Darwinian Selection Leading To Detroit Sloth

Making my way through Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy, several things have occurred to me, one of which is Darwinian.

During Detroit's boom times, there was an influx of immigrants from the South. People gathered up their belongings, packed their families in cars or trains, and moved to a new life in Detroit, mostly in search of the factory jobs the city offered. As the place collapsed decades later, some of the Detroiters gathered up their belongings, packed their families in cars or trains, and moved to a new life away from Detroit.

Isn't that Darwinian selection in action? In general, can't you say that the active and decisive people left and the slothful and uncertain people stayed behind?

As I listen to the book, I'm struck by the inertia of the populace. I keep wanting to shout at them to get up and do something. If the houses are abandoned and infested with crack dealers, tear them down. If the factory jobs are gone, pick up new skills and change your career or move. There's a telling quote in the book that goes something like, "The rich people moved their factories somewhere else, but left the workers behind." It implicitly posits two castes of people: mobile rich people and immobile workers. That construction isn't consistent with the declining population.

If Detroit has shrunk significantly, which it has, that says that not all of the workers were left behind. Some took control of their fates and moved away. That the remaining ones aren't cleaning up the mess or aren't policing their own neighborhoods isn't totally surprising. If they can't manage to move to find work then you'd think that they're not likely to take the initiative in other things.

Has Detroit just become a nest of sloths?

Not that I have anything against sloths.


Renee said...

They don't have the social supports to even move out.

Which is sad.

It's a pretty horrible cycle, but literally if you can afford a bus ticket and head way to a private Christian homeless shelter down south they could.

Delayed.Elation said...

I'm not sure it's entirely sloth, but perhaps an unwillingness to abandon their homes and communities (no matter how bad they've gotten), combined with the knowledge that the government they have will gladly punish them for any initiative they take "outside the law". Refurbishing a house could still be termed breaking and entering, standing up to gangs (never recommended anyway) assault, etc.

It's a frustrating position, to be sure. Too loyal and stubborn to leave, but so regulated they feel they can barely move.

K T Cat said...

The sloth is certainly too harsh on the people of Detroit, but it was a quick and easy shorthand for the hypothesis that certain personalities are more inclined to migrate than others.

Renee said...

I guess people will attest why I haven't left Lowell, emotional attachment to the community.

But then again, if we had to move we can afford to.

This is the things with progressive liberal, communities can not survive withOUT those who live by 'traditional/social conservative' ways.


Even in places without crime, like Maine and Vermont, they are just plain dying out.

NPR actually wrote about how gray the Democratic Party is. The 'middle' is really smooshed. Baby Boomers and their parents are retiring, they will be dependent on SS and Medicare.

The Under 30 crowd? I don't know. They are being taught no matter what, a republican/social conservative ideas are 'icky', despite some of those ideas were actually SHARED by both parties in recent past.

In reality, we value social conservative ideas and many of those ideas actual work well with social liberal ideals of the recent past.

Demographically in Canada, which is also dying out it was revealed the ideally people want to be married and on average have 2.7 children.

So what is holding the population back? What government public policies are encouraging us NOT to work full-time, marry in a stable and committed relationships, and raise a family???

It is like our government wants us to fail as a society.

Odd to say it like that.