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.|