Flint Guts Services to Balance Budget
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  • Randall McDonnell

    Industry develops, the people gather, they form a government, and a city is born. Then the industry goes away, the people leave, the government shrinks, and the city disappears.

    Is there a reason to keep Flint alive on life support? What purpose does that serve? I’m not talking about abandoning the people – but if they are on government assistance why not relocate them somewhere that has better economic prospects?

    • Between 1990 and 2011, Flint’s population dropped by almost a third, from 141,553 to 101,558. Based on recent developments, this trend is likely to accellerate even further.

      I don’t think a China-style mass relocation of the city’s population is a feasible solution to Flint’s problems, but there’s probably room for some imaginative policies to help ameliroate local conditions as the city approaches its end.

      Unfortunately, a lot of the best policy ideas to manage population decline have already been tried in Flint and failed. . . and the city has been studied more exhaustively by city planners and students working in this area than any other human settlement on the planet. In the 1980s and 1990s, philanthropists poured almost a billion dollars into various initiatives aimed at getting Flint back on its economic feet. No luck. In the 2000s, efforts were made to innovatively manage depopulation through “blotting” (i.e.: demolishing vacant units and selling the now-green lots to the people living next door to them at a nominal price). This approach has had some success, but it’s far from a panacea.

  • All this breast-beating over public employees losing their jobs is mystifying. It’s a job, not life. The essence of a mobile society used to be people on the move, not so they could sit in one place and travel only for vacations. To be an American means to live a good distance from your birthplace, and be better for it.

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