by Michele Roger
“Capitalist Renewal” was the catch phrase for Detroit and it’s booming automotive business after World War II. Many farmers struggling in the south headed to Detroit in the early 1950’s due to its plentiful jobs and thriving economy. Soldiers returning from war also found jobs and $5,000 in grants to build a home in Detroit’s suburbs. The automotive industry was inclusive of all races and faiths. It was the shining example of the American Dream. Work hard and your job will provide you with high wages, security, and a good life, but something changed drastically from 1980 to 2007.
European markets began aggressively competing with the U.S. automakers. Shareholders in Detroit, accustomed to large profit sharing, made bad decisions. Wages for employees across the board became stagnate, and the hardest hit was the average line worker. Thousands of people lost their jobs and moved away. The tax base of Detroit became the very young or the elderly; neither of whom could support what was once a World Class city.
The Detroit City Council tried program after program to bring the city back. Mayors came and went, some with valiant effort but leaving never the less, defeated. By the middle of 2008, the State of Michigan had to take over. There seemed no solution to Detroit’s crippling decline, leaving many of its residents to deal with high crime and murder rates, abandoned homes turned into drug dens, gang violence, and homelessness. …continue reading the Summer issue of SEARCH Magazine.