[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjP2O9Qe4Ek’]We got trouble, right here in Gary, Indiana. Business Insider reports that the city is practically a wasteland, with 6, 500 of 7,000 public properties abandoned. And that’s not all:
Things are getting so bad that Gary officials are thinking about cutting off city services to about 40 percent of the city’s land and moving residents to more viable parts of Gary, NBC reports. This is a drastic move, but it may be necessary as the thousands of abandoned properties are attracting criminals.
What went wrong in Gary is no mystery, and not very different from what happened in Detroit. Corrupt and incompetent governance, with a one party local establishment and a venal union leadership in cahoots combined with the erosion of manufacturing to drive a great American city into ruins. We suspect that the coroner’s report on the city will include some of the sweetheart deals with politically connected Wall Street firms that we’ve seen in both Detroit and Birmingham. And once the harsh light of day shines on the city’s pension plans, we suspect that some nasty surprises will pop; urban political machines thrive on pension mismanagement.The financial crisis of 2008-9 accelerated the deterioration in municipal finances and set off an avalanche of large scale local government bankruptcies. Jefferson county, Sonoma county, Stockton, San Bernardino have all fallen off the cliff and now Gary is headed for disaster. The economic recovery now taking place will, we hope, pick up steam and give troubled cities a respite. But if cities, counties and even states like Illinois don’t make some big changes, the problems will only grow worse. City services, including education, will deteriorate and millions of lives will be blighted by bad governance and knee-jerk blue thinking.The transition from an industrial economy to an information economy is a tough and wrenching one; bad governance, corruption, and knee-jerk adherence to blue model thinking will just make things worse.