what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, July 29, 2013

post-industrial dereliction

Detroit (briefly) hit the news recently as the first US city to declare bankruptcy. The statistics are horrific – In half a century, this blogpost tells us Detroit has gone from having the highest per capita income in the US to the lowest.
in 1950 the city had more than 1.8 million inhabitants; this year the population will probably slip below 700,000. Just since 2000, the city has lost 26% of its people. In 1950, Detroit was 82% white – it's now 82% black. 76,000 homes and buildings in once-prosperous neighbourhoods have been abandoned, with many houses on offer for 1,000 dollars
250,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Detroit in the past 50 years. 47% of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate. Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point. 60 per cent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty. The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.
And these images of the decay and dereliction are nothing short of apocalyptic 
For many of us, this is a sign of things to come – a vision of the future. Civilisations come and go – and it is fairly obvious now (apart from the millions of climate deniers) that the Western model has passed its “sell by” date. If it’s not ecological limits, it will be increasing social unrest (from wealth disparities, food prices, immigration).
For another, powerful school of thought, however, this is not just overblown but misses the point about capitalist creativity or, as Schumpeter put it, creative destruction – technology will come to the rescue; more supply will be brought forward to reduce prices. Crises create opportunities.
Two articles exemplify this way of thinking – one in The Guardian and the other, less surprisingly, in the Harvard Business Review.
However my friend The Slogger typically seesit all very differently

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