Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Industrial sized homes

Industrial sized homes in industrial sized neighborhoods. Just how many city neighborhoods throughout the country look very much the same as the picture above, but without the decay? What grew these enormous homes? Perhaps resources and PRODUCTION. It wasn't all that long ago when many people thought of Detroit as being synonymous with production. It was through the use of cheap fossil fuels, and the production of products that enabled a workforce to live in such homes.

Without question, if we replace the word "progress" with the word "production" in our inclining arc to the left or front side of Hubbert's curve, there might be very few who would disagree with that notion? So, instead of "arc of progress" we'll try on "arc of production" for size, just now? So we have an inclining "arc of production", that comes to a peak and then after, a declining arc of production, when the resource base cannot support it. As Detroit's industrial production grew, so did the population. When much of the resource base left the city, causing it to decline in production and was used at near by suburban areas, much of the population followed it. This process can be seen in many of our Nation's cities and towns, today. This process lead to what many call the "doughnut hole" effect, causing the the inner city to lose population while surrounding areas or suburbs, gained it.

If the resource base is declining, making further gains in production impossible, then perhaps making things such as houses smaller and more efficient, using less resource, only makes sense in the future? Is it possible that Detroit could return to it's former glory of being the center of industrial activity in this country again? I don't know but think, if it does it'll likely be much smaller in size comparable to the the home at the bottom than the one at the top. It would take considerably less resource to maintain the smaller house. One thing is certain, if Detroit is going to have any substantial recovery at all, much of the resource base must return to it, causing production to rise, so the people can return to it.


Nudge said...

Good morning Yooper. If I may be so bold as to comment ..

We are in the phase of rapid shrinking that inevitably follows the phases of rapid and unsustainable growth, specifically the Great Housing Bubble that lasted approximately 1997~2006. Growth of a slower and more incremental type will usually contract more slowly too, I think.

What I try to remind everyone (paraphrasing Bill Bonner) is that the sort of contraction we're in is sort of like the night that inevitably follows day, the exhaling of breath that inevitably follows the deep intake of air, the tread of the left foot that follows the right foot as we walk along. We could no more have eternal “growth” than we could banish nighttime, or keep inhaling, or run marathons on only the better of our two feet.

The sooner we all understand that these two movements are part of the same thing, the sooner we will understand that rapid growth (however much it might “feel good” in terms of being able to buy yourself a Hummer, a 60” plasma screen, and a 4000sf McMansion, all on no-money-down EZ-credit terms) is as dangerous and unpleasant and harmful as rapid decline. They are two halves of the same coin, two sides of the same sheet of newsprint, they are the seasons of winter & summer. They are twins that are cojoined at the hip and who accompany each other everywhere they go.

Any of us firmly grasping this point should have recoiled in horror to see the numbers of McCrapShacks being built in recent years, the numbers being given for “job growth”, the rate at which urban-tractor SUVs were being added to the domestic passenger fleet, the rapid expansion of the UPL military forces into the whole rest of the world as part of their “war on summer” (teehee), and more. All of these things can, and will, and must contract.

yooper said...

Good Morning Nudge! I can't agree more with your assessment here, isn't it a lot like the catabolic process? Especially liked your anaology of the exhaling of breath that inevitably follows the deep intake of air...

I could see this one coming... I'm quite sure, that if it wasn't for this last expansion, the country would have experienced a very deep recession if not a Depression like era, following the combination of the Dot.com bust and 9/11.

What really bothered me, was seeing my neighbors being taken up by the easy credit/refinacing scheme at the time, while knowing full well that this was drving the economy. Now these people are in deep trouble, many have lost their overtime/jobs, are raiding their retirement/IRA's, trying desperatly to sell their snowmachines, boats, SUV's and still coming up on the short end of the stick...Now many of them have, home for sale signs that are now buried in the snow.

What to do? This nation has pulled more rabbits out of the hat, that I ever thought possible, again and again. That process only happened when foreign investment bought into our debt, providing the resource needed into making another transition. If we cannot attract the resource needed, who knows how far and how hard we may fall?

I just don't know Nudge, rapid decline following rapid growth? Quite likely. (Btw, I'm going to lead into this). Watch places like China, India, Las Vegas, Atlanta, etc., as any place that has expanded the most is quite likely to experience the greatest contraction, or so the logic follows.

I think the Obama adminstration has 100 days to stage a recovery, if that is possible at this point, if they cannot, then perhaps, we'd better hang onto our hats as we'll likely gain speed in our descent on the great slide...

Thanks, yooper

Nudge said...

Yooper, hi again, and if I could address the last-in first-out thing mentioned in your 2nd-to-last paragraph?

China lays off more then 550,000 during Q4:

Brazil cut nearly 655,000 jobs in December 2008:

Malaysia lays off 45,000:

FARfetched said...

The third world economies are tied tightly to our own. As the West goes, they go.

There's a lot of comparisons to the Great Depression going on, but I must point out that it lasted about 4 years (1929-1933) with second dip in 1937. You breathe in, you breathe out… and unless you just died, you breathe in again. The Long Depression (1873-79) was even longer and more severe, with a full recovery not seen until the 1890s… no WW2 came along to spark the economy.

Yooper, I wonder if those homes shown in your pix might have been duplexes at one time. That last house appears to have had its neighbor "forcibly detached" at some time in the past. But cheap fuel encourages big houses and other heavy consumers of power… how many homes, even in Michigan, were un-insulated before 1973? Crank up the furnace some more, right?

But I think you're right that the places that have expanded the fastest will also come apart fastest, or at least faster than most other places. Personally, though, I think President Obama (ooo, I love typing that!) might have a bit more time than that, maybe into late October — up to that point, people mostly will be warm & fed. Next winter could tell the tale.

yooper said...

You bet Nudge, don't those numbers seem fantastic? As being suggested may not even be close. I don't even want to think about about places with such high densities and what may happen...

Gee Far, I can't remeber who it was (Rich?) that was making some startling comparsions as to what is happening now and the similarities of the Long Depression... I'll have to dig more into this... Of course, you know my position on the matter of going through another Depression of any kind, "we can't afford it".

I think, the siding has been stripped and the copper wire and possibly copper pipes removed, however I can't be sure. I don't think another housing unit was attached to it, not enough room between it and the next home..Gee, I've seen them so close the neighbors could pass stuff between each other without ever leaving the house. Ha! ha! "They're so close, you can hear your neighbor fart!" ha! ha! Heard that complaint for years! ha! Almost forgot about that!

Yes, some of these homes were converted to upstairs flats and downstairs flats. These are well built homes, believe it or not. However, I suspect some were not insulated, being drafty was another complaint. Most were heated with oil, then coverted to natural gas, that conversion happened in the early 60's.

I hope you're right Far, hopefully we'll have until next fall, when the SHTF for a great many more...

Nudge said...

To continue the apartments thread .. as much as some in the zoning dep't might memoan it, I would have to call the subdivision of standing homes into apartments a good thing IF it makes the difference between the building continuing to be usable vs the building being abandoned to the elements or the scrap metal scavengers or the partying teenagers or the homeless meth addicts.

In many parts of Massachusetts, one can find the loveliest grand old Victorians that were converted long ago into smaller apartments. They were adapted for a period of austerity; they are still in use today. No doubt there was once a time like today, when the zoning nazis forbade XX number of people under the same roof, or keeping chickens in one's backyard; and in the future, as it happened in the past, these rules will be realized to be a form of quaint useless not applicable to more challenging times. Most of my rentals have been in places like that .. I have a fondness for that kind of architecture and the interesting, non-bland floor layouts, the hardwood floors, the millwork doors and trim, etc.

About the unemployment numbers .. for sure, the reported stuff is less than what's actually happening. A case in point would be one of our competitors. We heard through our UPS shipping agent that our competitor had laid off 80 people from its facility elsewhere in Massachusetts. By then I was already scanning www.layoffdaily.com and never saw them listed there. So they did a stealth layoff and did not publicize it. What other unpublished layoff numbers might be out there?

The one I forgot to add to the list was from a couple weeks ago: the country of Turkey is seeing unemployment up 472% YOY. No, that's not a typo.

yooper said...

Hey Nudge, in the town I live nearby the same thing, some of the homes that were once of the rich and wealthy were made into very nice apartments. Some bed and breakfast's very nice.

I think in part, what has happened in the neighborhoods in Detroit, is they lost their very large population/production too quickly, and what rebounds(partial recovery)they had were to small to make much a difference in slowing down the catabolic process. I do think, there have already been periods of partial recovery, the larger homes being converted to multi-family units and they still declined along with the jobs/resource base. What's happening here, has happened at breakneck speed, for me anyway.. In a period of 30 or 40 years, it's went from thriving to desolate... We're talking about loosing half the population...

Isn't it something like this, what has happened here, exactly what your pal JHK, is suggesting to happen here in the U.S.?

The story is about to get very interesting as I reveal more about catabolic collapse in the Detroit area and what this might mean if this process of decline cannot be stopped for parts of, or the entire country... Rest assured it's not for the timid...

Thanks so much, Nudge!

technology said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

A lot of truth on your site. I think there's a lot of other comments that can be made about Detroit and any other large city or explosive growth area.

First, people have to live somewhere. There is a good amount of food, credit and all kinds of profitable activity that has to happen, with net profit and profitable use of resources for all large populations.

It's almost impossible to predict if growth is possible for one city and why and if it will happen. Because that growth can be based on a "large wave" of industrialization or credit and capital flowing into that area for some megaproject. If more growth goes into the area, than the population can support, we know it will expand with high rises, population growth and explosive job growth. When you look at any city in southeastern Michigan and look at all those houses, ask who built them?

They were literally built by carpenters and home builders, but the capital came from the mechanized assembly line. So actually Henry Ford, GM and the other auto companies build those houses, because the massive industries creating automotive and other industriall resources needed workers and "middle class" workers was the goal of Henry Ford.

There's two side to every coin as some have stated. If we take a quick tour of the Henry Ford Museum, there are posters showing 10,000 people outside the Highland Park auto plants. Where did they live and build houses? In the immediate area.

The question then is will some other huge input of capital and money cause the creation of jobs to keep the houses sustainable and provide funds to keep the boom or build a further one going.

It doesn't matter what we make, it could be widgets in cyberspace if people will pay for them, but we need a massive capital and profitable creation of wealth to have excess money to survive and thrive.

Without that Detroit or any major city will just decay and go the way of a ghost town. There are ghost mining towns that had wealth based on resources, up in the Upper Penninsula for example. They are abandoned and empty, because no wealth flows to keep them sustained.

The cities of America were built on trading waterways and in areas where fertile ground surrounded them. Strategic centers. Detroit is one of these. So it has other benefits, based on trade but you must have trade and commerce. There's a lot of variables. If we go back to a low industrial economy, meaning low energy and low production, farming cannot sustain as dense a population center as many that we see in Detroit and other large cities.

There are visions of urban farming. But that requires a lot of ground, however there are ways to make greenhouses and microfarming techniques work. Yet the infrastructer and all other aspects of urban living for example the government and tax needs to keep the government going requries a minimum economic input from an industrial system, to pay the high taxes for fees, appraised values and other aspects.

One of our problems is we have a government and technology need for defense and other safety nets that require high taxes. There is no easy way to power down.

In Detroit we do recently perhaps in the past 4 to 8 years see new construction. That is in some areas, and very interesting in that it's a new home or apartment complex next to old almost completely decayed or destroyed and burned out houses and apartments on the same block. It's hard to believe people will buy and live or rent in these new apartments next to an old burned out one. But the residents of the older ones, simply move to the newer ones and move out of the older ones. There has to be a kind of blinder and disconnect from the scenery to live in Detroit. You must ignore the bad houses and overlook them. Your shocked as a visiter, but become used to it and just overlook it if you work in the city or live there.

The other thing about Detroit which I might say is a counter opinion to some articles is the rise of crime and elimination of "racist" white police by Coleman Young. In other words the commmon man in Detroit who was black and negative press got rid of a group of police called, "stress". The stress police unit was a masked police crack down unit that operated like a SWAT team. This unit could come in and arrest criminals and didn't have any fear or restraints because they wore masks to protect themselves from fear of retribution.

Because of some alleged abuses and perhaps actual ones, this group was disbanded.

Coleman Young and many of the sub-culture, let me call it "Getto Black" mentality allowed or looked the other way for certain criminal activity. Police to some degree may have been corrupted as well. We hear stories all the time in the grape vine. This happened all over as well. Police can be bribed with a ton of money in the drug trade. Drugs flowed into the nation and Detroit is a big hub for drugs with a large population. So poor souls be they white suburbanites who party or become addicted or blacks in despair were hooked on drugs and pushers pushed them. In some cases, it's clear according to rumors that corrupt police might pick up a drug seller, and let them go with some money passed to the officer. This happened all over, and is documented elsewhere on the internet and on programs involving the Florida drug trade as well.

So what happens, is we have older houses which are rented by slum lords, and some poor people who live in older houses and cannot sell them, and wish for the old neighborhood and refuse to move. As they get old they die and the houses are abandoned. Squatters and bums move in or take what they can, the houses are often torched as well for insurance money.

It's like "the bombing of London" in slow motion. There are hundreds of neighborhoods like this in Detroit. We can put thousands of photos of these houses on the net. There's no easy way to keep up and plow them under.

There was a movement to help the neighborhoods in voting movements in the past. A few brave souls and churches try to help some neighborhoods. This kind of goes against tax breaks however for the rich projects to build big stadiums and other Downtown projects. If you have a rich man or company wanting a tax break for a stadium and millions of possible well off customers who are loyal fans willing to drive in to pay money to see sports teams, or you can try to somehow put money into section 8 rental housing, where do you put your money and emphasis? The answer is clearly most of the effort is put into trying to build up a big project infrastructure. It's easier to sell it for other grants from the Federal government as well.

The housing bubble to some extent could be laid or put as blame on the poorest classes of America where they moved into newly constructed houses and had subprime loans. If 10% of the loans in the fractional banking system are default it can bring down the entire system. Both McMansion borrowers who moved to very expansive suburbs, to get away from crime and have a dream life and the inner city poor person with much less job security bought houses with little money down. When tough times come they lose the houses.

Small houses in close suburbs are losing many owners and becoming abandoned just like we see in Detroit as well. These are become more like the ghost towns we see in parts of Detroit. When over 30 or 40% are abandoned, squatters and thieves move in, and the entire neighborhood collapses.

Detroit is full of renters as well. 70% of the people rent. Renters don't want to keep up their property most of the time. Especially section 8 housing types.

We also had the situation where large section 8 apartment complexes were build in the suburbs for poor folks to move into. These had 60% or more section 8 housing poor in them. You could have an apartment in one of these and some nice neighbors who were poor. Some might be poor and nice. Others might sit around and wait for you to go to work and watch the neighborhood to figure out when to break in and take your things. In poor complexes like this people would leave their TV on loudly when they left their house, so a crook might think someone was still home and not break in.

These kinds of things happen due to crime, not just decline. There are aspects of crime, the breakdown and entitlement ethic, hopelessness, drug use, all interconnected. It's not an easy thing to figure out or state.

We also have homeless folks, those newly homeless who have family connenctions and perhaps are homeless due to downturns. Or traditional bums who are homeless due to addictions and have no relatives that will put up with them or choose to be street people. There are two classes of homelessness.

We can see some bums or even fake homeless folks who might have some cheap apartment and write a sign to get some tax free money (a handout.) Even the poor like to eat at McDonalds. So even if they have free food or a soup kitchen nearby, they may just want a beer or a White Castle hamburger. So they will beg even if they don't need the money to survive.

I could go on and on and write about this. I've taken some pictures as well. I guess it's a matter of focus and how we want to present and frame things. Some people go to a city, try to only see the good, talk about the great old archetecture and put blinders on. Others just show the abandoned buildings and perhaps try to produce a negative piece about a city. There's truth in both sides, I guess the challenge is trying to be balanced.

We can try to help some people forever and their own addictions will cause them to waste money. It doesn't matter how much you give them they will still waste it.

In some respects high energy output and use is kind of like a drug as well for the industrialized world. So from a global perspective, some may say the entire 130 years of life we've had during the oil age, was a type of addiction and is not sustainable. That makes all the shiny toys and goals unsustainable and from a macro-economic perspective paints a pretty dire future. That might be a seperate subject, more like the fall of the Roman Empire.

Additionally there is national and international polices that can merely shift all the wealth due to policy, free trade boarders and even corporate investment, to poor developing countries.

We can shift all the production to Japan, (clothing, electronics, cars, etc.) then Korea, then Taiwan, then India, then China. We can keep going to each new poor area and keep wages down. This effectively kills the chacne for the industrial bubble recovery, because the wealth and profit potential merely flowed out to a different shore.

A corporation has no morals for the most part. It's an almost eternal corporate individual that lives to create profit. Due to the nature of competition and low price competition they are foced to compete and move where low wages are when they can. This effectively kills off the chance at sustainable middle classes for long, especially if there's more profit in building up new middle classes in an undeveloped area of the world, compared to bringing it back here.

That's the nature of the problem in a nutshell. The system based on profit and greed allows massive profits to be made by shifting units of production from one area to another. From that perspective, there is no good reason to bring back prodcution to Detroit.

There are areas of the city that had production that happened and made sense as well. For example the Vernors bottling facity across from Churches Chicken on Woodward. Not far from the Art Center. This was a profitable operation, but there were so many muggings and robberies for workers there, the company decided to move out of Detroit. Just because of crime. One of my friends said, if they would just get rid of crime and make the city safe people would move back. I'm not even sure that would even happen.

Many of your points are correct however. There is a lot of trade flowing through Detroit as well with much of the Canadian imports coming across through Detroit. So that's another benefit.

Atomicat: on LATOC (life after the oil crash.net)

Anonymous said...

Greg (Atomicat) adds:

Also a couple more points. My dad was in the Great Depression. He would talk about the effects of it and told me about his friends getting coal that fell off trains for extra fuel during the Depression.

I realized he was only 5 years old during the depression at least the years we commonly hear of as the Great Depression. I asked him how old were his friends he said in their teens.

But you were 5 years old during the Great Depression? How could your friends be in their teens. He said, no this was later, the Great Depression went on until WWII. He has a view that the Great Depression was only stopped by the outbreak of WWII and that's an on the ground view from many old timers.

So to some the Great Depression effects made it last from 1928 to 1941, which is longer than 4 years.

This is sobering, it might mean the way out of a depression is due to industrial output for warfare. And that may become the eventual thing that pulls some out of Depression, in other words, "resource wars". I have no doubt if we had about 10 Vietnam styled conflicts, maybe sending out 600,000 men and arming them and doing most of the production here in the USA, it would cause industrial revival and stop the currrent recession. That probably what McCain would have ended up getting us into.

The Obama plan is to have one Vietnam styled conflict with 60,000 troops north of Pakistan. Stop Iraq war and those expenses.

There is great interest in signing back up due to the bad economy by soldiers. This is not good news, it means there are those willing to serve for some kind of war, to avoid poverty and slow economy at home. It's not a good sign.

That with dwindling resources and peak oil spell disaster for world peace and politics.

I have the sinking feeling that this Great Depression we are heading into will be our Last Depression and there will be no pulling out of this one. We will sink to the level of something like India in the 50s. The rest of the world may sink lower. This will cause great unrest and the clamour for nationalistic and nationalization tendencies and war.

People don't know how to adapt to a paradyn shift.

yooper said...

Hello Greg! Sorry about not getting back sooner! Gee, it's snow'en and blow'en here, Up North. Btw, snowmachine traffic is down again this year, and I fear many businesses will not survive the downturn. Heh! Having fun on my '74 Suzuki Fury, riding it around the property.

Gee, thanks for your insight, especially about crime and corruption in Detroit. I can't agree more with your assessment that both played a crucial part in Detroit's decline.

As a rule, I don't like discussing race, religion, politics, as this may have distracted from the message that I was trying to get across. However, without addressing those issues and crime, a true assessment cannot be made. That is, I realize what I've conveyed here is very one dimensional and that there are many dimensions to the collapse of Detroit, I just totally ignored.

It's the dynamics of decline,the good times, followed by bad, followed by good times again, etc., that I was trying to get across. Or decline followed by partial recovery to be followed by even deeper decline, etc.. That is the dynamics of "catabolic collapse". Almost purely from a "mechanical" veiwpoint...

I'm on my third reading of what you wrote. I'm going to give it much thought.It's really indisputable and very much apart of Detroit's decline.

Again, I'd like to thank you for raising the issues of crime and corruption. The STRESS police is very interesting, lets discuss this a bit? I'd like to know more about this.

"The other thing about Detroit which I might say is a counter opinion to some articles is the rise of crime and elimination of "racist" white police by Coleman Young. In other words the commmon man in Detroit who was black and negative press got rid of a group of police called, "stress". The stress police unit was a masked police crack down unit that operated like a SWAT team. This unit could come in and arrest criminals and didn't have any fear or restraints because they wore masks to protect themselves from fear of retribution."

Gee Greg, could you describe what these masks looked like? Where they some kind of clothlike hoods or plastic masks somewhat seen on hockey goalies, or were they simply dark sheilds or visors that attached to the helmet?

This is what I found with a quick goggle search...

In the 1960s and 1970s the Detroit Police Department was notorious for its violence, particularly against minority youth. One police unit, dubbed STRESS—Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets—carried out the execution-style killings of a more than a dozen black men in the space of a few years.


and then there's this...

Detroit's history of struggle

The struggle against police brutality has been pivotal in Detroit's history. A major rebellion in 1967 was sparked by a police raid on an after-hours club. In the early 1970s the police vigilante program known as S.T.R.E.S.S. terrorized the African American community. Cop gangs invaded homes, breaking down doors.

S.T.R.E.S.S. cops stopped workers on their way to and from their shifts at the auto plants and killed them indiscriminately. The police department was predominantly white. The outrage and massive social movement against the police lifted on its shoulders Detroit's first African American mayor, the late Coleman Young, who was mayor from 1974 to 1994.

Young had fought racism in the military as a Tuskegee Airman and in the workplace as a union organizer. He stood up to the Joseph McCarthy red-scare hearings in the 1950s. Young integrated the police force and the city administration. The racist officer corps resisted to the point of inciting shootouts between Black and white cops.


Oh, btw, I sure like your Dad's reflection of the Great Depression! Heh! For the U.P., the Depression hit hardest here when men went to WWI and then to the factories "down below", even before WWII...

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the comment.

Good information about the racist tendencies of bad white cops. I agree with you that there has been and still probably will be some racism happening with folks in power.

I've heard a lot of stories as well as read stuff on the net. A guy at work for example some years back told me he was down south and ran into a couple of police who were talking with him about their jobs. They were openly talking about their racist beliefs and their desire to beat up blacks once they became cops. That was actually one of the goals of one of them as far as my friend could relate it.

You can imagine a closet racist being on the force and waiting for the "right" time to over-react.

Sometimes stereotypes will cause folks to prop up their racist beliefs to. At times I'm confronted with "statistics" by white folks who are semi-openly racist and think that these "prove" that whites are better than blacks. About all you can do after a little debate is mark it down as the stupidity of man and tendency to want to be in some kind of "tribal" mentality. That mentality can be local city against other city, ethnic group against "the others" in that other group, or "religious group as well".

Sometimes I've even heard guys who were the farthest thing from being racist say things that could be racist or could lead you to believe they were changing their views. One guy for example I talked to said, "he wasn't racist and against groups like the KKK" before he worked in Detroit. After working in Detroit and getting older and seeing a lot of stuff in the inner city, he started to worry he was developing the same racist tendencies in his own beliefs.

I also had a guy use a typical "racist" phrase which I've heard whites state, something to the effect of it's like being in a barrel with other crabs or lobsters, or something to that effect. He said, whey you try to crawl out and improve they keep trying to "pull you back down into the barrel." I had heard that type of analogy given by a white guy before or in common speech perhaps off some TV show, I knew what the analogy meant. But what was surprising was this was a black guy saying it in frustration. I had visited his house, we were working on a project together and he had a nice family and was living with his folks. They were all nice folks, it was really like walking into my own home in a white neighborhood, but his car had been damaged by vandals the night before. So he was kind of down and mentioned the analogy. I didn't know how to react actually, I was a little bit in shock and felt sorry, but what struck me was his remark being kind of like a "white racist" stereotype which he was eluding to.

Anyway, I guess the overall point is, if there's a lot of poor folks with no hope, I mean seemingly no hope and they learn the ghetto way of doing things. They can seem to in mass or at least in enough of a minority to strip a city clean. LIterally like locusts. These may be really white, black, yellow, green any color really. When they say there are 10,000 felons loose on the streets of Detroit, these guys are basically on the streets, and some who strip or do urban damage aren't even felons, just some poor guy looking to take something perhaps for a habit or some change for a beer.

Some blacks even have said, "this is not a case about folks being poor", regarding some crime and crooks. They pretty much said, these guys are just walking around and are bad and looking for trouble.

That's a pretty realistic way to put it. I think at times we emphasize racism as being the problem, but it's often used as an excuse on both sides. This doesn't change the fact of true stories, like one lady who mentioned she was raped by an old white guy in the south, being a black lady when she was young. And he mother worked for a family. This account seemed true, and of course if your black and hear of these kinds of past and even current injustices, it could cause your blood to boil.

But does this mean all whites are bad toward blacks? I don't think so. I think people tend to be indifferent toward those they don't know or don't hang around with. I also think whites (maybe it's some older ones more than the younger ones) have learned informally from their peers and certain adults to have little racist tendencies and sayings. Something they don't talk about in the open, especially not in mixed race company. It's not that they are always talking about racist or making racist remarks. Just sometimes they let them slip. So this kind of hate is a problem and a temptation for all men of all colors. There's just as much racism in black communities toward whites as the other way around. In a sense it's counter racism.

Now of course some "black" radio speakers will mention you cannot have racism without power and since the whites have more economic and political power, they can be racist, but blacks cannot be. Maybe with Obama as the most powerful person in the world and being black, he could be thought of as being able to finally be a black racist towards whites if he ever used his "power" in that way. But he doesn't seem to be that type of person. Anyway, the race card is always an interesting thing to think about.

But in reality, hey there are white junkies and street people who beg or steal, or even just innocently go about their business not causing any problems. And the average person is either intrigued and willing to offer them a small handout, because they are a tourist, or they ignore them like the plague when going to and from their workplace.

It's very hard to have a middle ground, some try with aid organizations, like the Salvation Army, etc. What can we offer as a glimmer of hope to someone who is young in the inner city like Detroit? It's very difficult to think about a way out to a better place. The solution for most is flee and try to find a better place. We can see those trying to help and they are often overwhelmed.

It's an interesting dynamic. We see variations of the poverty and loss of resources or lack of being able to be fully employed and industrious in other countries as well. For instance some poor areas of the former Soviet Union. And each culture has "ways to cope" and perhaps just ignore and opt out of the problems for a while.

Russian men, for example would get drunk and run around while the women would stay at home. These aren't "blacks" or doing something as a "racist" thing, but just acting in some kind of cultural expectation. (Russians can hold their drink or aren't afraid to show off that ability, etc.) WHole chapters of books or internet postings have ben written about this. These kinds of trends can happen in any society, and under stress we see the frayed results and decline of an area.

If we poured money like a bucket of bills into an inner city, the conventional wisdom would say, well that could provide jobs and industry for everyone. A few corporations could build up any area if they really wanted to buy the place up and offer a lot of wealth for a while to the area. So goes the money/class thought. However truthfully, even if we do this, for some folks (and I"m not talking about blacks) may just spend and waste the money and even kill themselves early. I remember a "white" guy I worked with and I met him and talked to him some years later. I had a much better job later and talked to him. He had a low paying job, and said, if he had as much money as me, he'd just party, party, party. And some of course do this.

And many like drug addicts may may kill themselves with to much money in having a big party, that was his attitude. Unfortunately lately it looks like the big money scheming elites, are doing destructive things that will kill a lot of others, due to economic insanity and greed.

I had another white guy tell me if he won the lottery, he'd be dead, because he'd blow it all on partying. He said, I can't win the lotto, it would kill me. So this is the kind of accumulated sins we can see as trends in large populations. These can network together or be isolated and thrown or bunched up together. The results to me is much like a bunch of locusts who just strip an area clean.

And it can even be "white" ghetto housing owners doing arson to collect the money, as we hear on the streets and read about in stories. It's not all a racial thing, a poverty thing, it's impossible to classify decline in a few easy terms. It's to some extent a fascinating convergence of problems and the few approaches to stop them are far outnumbered by the shear complexity of things, beliefs, attitudes, and just bums trying to strip the place clean.

I find it really fascinating to see new housing and new complexes being built in Detroit. There really is a lot of it, but it's vastly overwhelmed by the decay and burning and disassembly of old houses. One guy pointed out to me that the Book Cadillac was destroyed and we could see it's bricks laying in a pile. But on the other side of the coin, they were using reclaimed bricks to build new condos in another part of Detroit. So the cycle still continues, we just see more destruction than construction.

And my dad, when he looks at photos of the old houses, he gets a bit sad and mentions that those houses were build to last and stand up. He says, it's a shame. Peter Schiff points out houses are not just an asset, but require upkeep. When people are poor or even worse poor renters, upkeep just won't happen. I could take photos of only occupied houses and have a good theme on decline due to lack of upkeep as well. (But I mostly take shots of abandoned places, wanting to respect owner/renter privacy.)

Actually the solid construction of many of these turn of the century houses was far more heavily constructed than new housing. Some brick houses of the old style were all brick, meaning three courses of full bricks for walls. We can see how well they were built even in the "destruction photos" as bricks are removed. Modern houses use brick as facing, not like the older houses. Brick construction isn't what it used to be. Brick facing on the side of a modern wall is attached to a frame structure. These old houses were build to last and they would, but fire, destruction and decay from human locusts (be they any color) have destroyed them.

The new homes are designed differently but actually not as ruggedly as some of the older homes. How long can they hold up against the destructive forces of these groups especially in a declining economy? That's the big question.

Driving through some of these neighborhoods it's easy to see what happened. You can easily support a large project for show, but it's really tough to keep things up and keep building up the neighborhoods. The big project vs. neighborhood revitalization seemed to be lost by the neighborhoods at least 5 to 10 years ago. There is a lot more new construction, now days.

There's no big industrial and earning benefit from living in a nice house vs. a dump. But a new Hockey or sports stadium will create a draw and jobs, so these become the focus of city governments and region plans to recover.

Maybe someday the huge empty lots will change, with urban farming, etc. Maybe there will be a new landscape. But there are still a lot of two foot locust acting folks out there. It's hard to tell if there will every be enough security and watchmen to keep the place from going up in smoke.

I work in a large heavily protected building in Detroit. We have a lot of workers, mostly women and minorities as a matter of fact in this building. It's guarded, and watched all the time. There's a bigger police presence in this area. Yet from time to time windows are broken by vandals even with guards in the building. It's a constant upkeep to keep the place from being torn down.

We even had copper taken leading to the building that took out half the phone system in broad daylight. So it's a constant upkeep and battle. Without industrious workers and guards and police watching these places, without real ownership and effort and dollars, all buildings decay and are destroyed.

It's almost foolish as well to think that a building can be made so strong and pretty that it will last for many generations. That's almost a joke when we look at Detroit. I think if enough vandals were allowed into Heaven itself, they'd just look to strip it.

There can be an almost strange beauty of patterns we can see in the decay and destruction I suppose, the spray paint artists and urban artists trying to make something different or mark their territory. It can be interesting perhaps from an abstract sort of way. Overall however it gets to be old and depressing if you'll living in it. Hard to imagine even that we can avoid and ignore it as well as we do.

Successful suburb dwellers for the most part drive in through predefined routes and ignore the bad areas. They stay out of them. If to many bums appear, the police have to come out and clear the path and keep the "spin" pretend image of the city, or at least part of the city going.

Many who don't venture into Detroit are really without a clue to the extent of blight that has happened, it's amazing. And some of it also of course can be planned abandonment of areas, they are looking to condemn and rebuilt on. Not all decay and destruction is viewed as bad, sometimes old structures are torn down to put up something better.

My father thinks new construction should have "destruction" bonds or insurance as a requirement for every structure. Some fund to make sure the tear down can happen if the business fails or the structure becomes unsafe (burned out, etc). These things are interesting ways to think about dealing with blight. I don't think there would ever be a political will or ability to impliment this kind of "solution". What we see is competition towards "getting business" in each state, and that lessons the social responsibility of the company/corporation, not increasing it.

The nature of profit, seems to breed the fast decay that we often see.

Capitalism it has been argued without boundaries destroys a lot of land, earth and depletes resources. Communism just destroys the health and welfare of the worker, working them as slaves. Capitalism actually (as we have seen) seems to deplete the earth quicker and more efficiently. Both have their drawbacks.

Dreamers and planners of the future, hope to somehow find a better way to organize and plan the future. We even have books and fiction now from the "peak oil" crowd that are geared toward imagining a mild and better future.

Okay, I'm going way beyond what I should type in this post.

One last thing, check out the movie "Knowing" at the local movie houses. It's opening scenes of the earth with the buildup of housing and cities in the night scape is AMAZING. It really leaves you with a feeling of wow there's an awful lot of energy being used and how can we every really change and conserve (via peak oil thoughts). That opening scene is alone worth the price of admission to those who study energy and peak oil theories.

Atomicat on LATOC forum.