Talking About You, Detroit: National Media Opinions on Bankruptcy

July 19, 2013, 10:50 AM by  Alan Stamm

Detroit is even more of a national symbol of urban distress now, so we take a look at the writing on the walls -- or news sites, actually.

Here's a sampling of seven outside views posted Friday:

'Run for the hills:' President Obama says he's "monitoring" the Detroit bankruptcy and continues to stand by to further "partner" and help the city. My advice to Detroiters -- run for the hills. His kind of help you don't need any more. You can't redistribute wealth if you can't create wealth. That's a lesson Detroit, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and every major city in America needs to learn. -- Sherman Frederick, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Thursday's news brings a reminder of this notorious commentary opposing federal auto industry loans.

'Detroit needs to be restored:' Somehow, Detroit needs to be restored to its proper status as an iconic American city. More important, the rest of the country needs to learn its lessons. -- USA Today editorial board

'The only option:' I felt the same way about the auto companies as I did about Detroit from the first moment -- bankruptcy was the only option. -- Steven Rattner, New York financier, commenting in Bloomberg BusinessWeek. (He headed led a 2009 presidential auto industry task force.) 

'Unable to adapt:' It’s sort of a classic example of a city that was once at its peak and as its economic success began to go away, it was unable to adapt. . . . And when you see all of the resistance to [cuts] by especially Democrats and liberals, it doesn’t give it a lot of hope. In the end, you can have a bankruptcy for a city, but not for a country. -- Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post columnist, speaking on Fox News

'The real tragedy:' As the lawyers battle in court, the streets of Detroit will continue to suffer from deteriorating services, blight and crime. This is the real tragedy of Motown's fiscal collapse. -- Wall Street Journal editorial (paywalled)

'No clear line of partisan blame:' There is no clear line of partisan blame to draw through the Detroit disaster. The city certainly suffered under decades of bad management by Democrats, and attacking urban one-party rule is fair game. But the city’s financial collapse followed a mass population exodus that left the city with huge costs it simply lacked the tax base to handle. -- Ben White, Politico

'The curious unevenness:'  Detroit's municipal bankruptcy filing came on the same day that the Dow Jones average hit an all-time high, I also reminded of this passage from John Kenneth Galbraith's "The Affluent Society:" "The family which takes its mauve and cerise, air-conditioned, power-steered and power-braked automobile out for a tour passes through cities that are badly paved, made hideous by litter . . . Amid the stench of decaying refuse, they may reflect vaguely on the curious unevenness of their blessings." -- James Fallows, The Atlantic

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