Today Detroit, Tomorrow Chicago?

Wednesday, July 31, AD 2013





I view Detroit and its bankruptcy as a harbinger of things to come.  The blue state social model of ever higher taxes, ever expanding benefits for members of public employee unions and one party rule by the Democrat party is coming to an end.  The ending will be painful for people luckless enough to live in blue states, as I do, but this parasitical form of government ultimately destroys the private economy host it feeds on.  Walter Mead at Via Meadia has been prescient in seeing this:


It looks like Detroit may yet have competition for the distinction of America’s most poorly run city. The unprecedented triple-drop in Chicago’s bond rating and the city’s shiny new long-term debt figure—$29 billion—should have pols quaking in their boots. The Chicago Sun-Times has published some distressing numbers from Chicago’s recent audits:

In addition to the pension, law enforcement, and emergency response concerns that remind us of a certain bankrupt city across the lake, the report notes that three of Chicago’s four largest private employers (JP Morgan, Accenture LLP, and Northern Trust) are in finance. It seems like blue cities have a codependent relationship with the one percenters progressives claim to hate.

It hasn’t all hit the fan quite yet, but Chicago seems perilously close to real trouble. The city is all out of money, and with an imploding public education system and harrowing levels of violence, it is losing residents fast. Illinois, which itself lost more than 800,000 people to out-migration in the past two decades, is essentially Chicago on a larger scale, with hundreds of billions in unfunded pension liabilities and complete political sclerosis. The state cannot bail out Chicago, and judging by the feds’ reluctance to even lift a finger for Detroit, Chicago shouldn’t expect much more.

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7 Responses to Today Detroit, Tomorrow Chicago?

  • To be more precise, you have several problems in Detroit (in particular) and other cities.

    1. A deficit of institutions encompassing the whole of the metropolitan settlement.

    2. Suboptimal placement of service provision in the architecture of local government (e.g. police departments placed with municipal governments as opposed to county governments).

    3. Intra-metropolitan migration patterns which leave the slum neighborhoods (with their special problems and denuded tax base) concentrated in the core municipality. Detroit presents a special case of a municipality which is all slum.

    4. Public policy at all levels corrupted by the notion that the purpose of public agency is to sluice income to clients of the Democratic Party and (in general) to be convenient to the employees of said agency. (The Republican Party is amply supplied with otiose characters and sleazy careerists who are happy to be accommodating).

    5. The vested interests of suburban voters and the black political establishment which inhibit any attempts at salutary institutional adjustment.

  • Social Justice!!

    What about the children!!!

    From “Never Yet Melted” blog. Here’s how it works.

    “Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House. One is from Chicago, another is from Tennessee, and the third is from Minnesota. All three go with a White House official to examine the fence.

    “The Minnesota contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. ‘Well,’ he says, ‘I figure the job will run about $900. $400 for mater…ials, $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.’

    “The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, ‘I can do this job for $700. $300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.’

    “The Chicago contractor doesn’t measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, ‘$2,700.’

    “The official, incredulous, says, ‘You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?’

    “The Chicago contractor whispers back, ‘$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence.’

    “’Done!’ replies the government official.

    “And that, my friends, is how Government works today.”

  • Cities seem to find their way into the state coffers. My hunch is the weight of Detroit became too much for Michigan’s declining population and industry. I’d guess that Illinois is stronger.

  • There is not much wrong with state revenue sharing per se. The problem you get is when you are financing all sorts of specialized projects and granting special favors. A formulaic distribution which took into account population and per capita income and expected the subsidiary government to manage within the limits of the sum of its revenue sources would be appropriate. A problem you have is that central cities are stuck with the task of policing the slums on their own account; a secondary problem is that you have fixed costs in the face of demographic decline. A driver of demographic decline is a deficit of public security and another might be property taxes. Addressing the one can exacerbate the other.

  • What is mildly amusing in a schadenfreude sort of way about these municipal/state fiscal crises is how little recourse the left has to its usual toolkit of solutions-cum-excuses that they apply at the federal level:
    – No national defense spending to cut to generate magical surpluses (although at the state level, correctional institution budgets sometimes serve as an analogous target of progressive ire)
    – “Tax the rich” is not a winning strategy when the rich and industry are fleeing in droves
    – No sovereign currency to inflate your way out

    And worst of all for the left, there’s usually no dastardly Republican political block to blame. It’s all on you, progressives – own it!

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  • Ironically, there is a story going around right now claiming that certain wealthy Chicago businessmen of fiscally conservative leanings engaged in a conscious strategy of trying to get Illinois’ bond rating lowered, in order to gin up public pressure for state employee pension reform:

    Upon closer examination it appears (if we take what Fahner says at face value) that what actually happened is that certain members of the group in question (Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago) encouraged bond rating agencies such as Moody’s and S&P to “go or get off the pot” with regard to their continual threats to lower Illinois’ bond rating. However, they later backed off in order to avoid any appearance of trying to manipulate the bond ratings, or pursue a “destroy the village in order to save it” strategy (which the questioner in the video phrases as “sometimes you have to be irresponsible to be responsible”).

Detroit: Canary in the Mine for Blue States

Friday, July 19, AD 2013




Detroit has been de facto bankrupt for a very long time and yesterday it became de jure bankrupt with a Chapter 9 bankruptcy for the former Motor City.  Hard to believe that during World War II Detroit was the heart of the American industrial machine that produced more military equipment than the rest of the world combined.  How did the city that helped this nation win a world war end up looking like one of the bombed out cities of Europe circa 1945?  There are many culprits involved but W.R. Mead at his blog Via Meadia knows who the chief villians are:

Detroit has been spending on average $100 million more than it has taken in for each of the past five years. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners, who are slated to receive less than 10 percent of what they were promised. Between 2007 and 2011, an astounding 36 percent of residents lived below the poverty line. Last year, the FBI cited Detroit as having the highest violent crime rate for any major American city. In the first 12 years of the new century, Detroit lost more than 26 percent of its population.

And now Detroit’s desperate request for a bailout has been turned down by the Obama White House.

Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate.

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12 Responses to Detroit: Canary in the Mine for Blue States

  • How stupid an investor do you have to be to hold Detroit bonds, ie to be a Detroit creditor? Don’t they deserve pennies on the dollar?

  • Obama in 2012 said, “We refuse to let Detroit go bankrupt . . . (under his breath)until after the Election.”

    This is just one of the 50 or so disasters needing to be ignored causing the Zimmerman verdict to get 24/7 propaganda air-time.

  • As I’ve long noted, Detroit exists so that Cleveland has some place to feel superior to.

  • Detroit’s population loss was second only to New Orleans, but N.O. has nature to blame. The blame for Detroit’s woes can be laid squarely on the shoulders of its residents for voting for the same people, the same policies and the same party for half a century, which is how long it’s been since it’s had a Republican mayor (Chicago, for its part, hasn’t had one since Herbert Hoover was president. Can it be far behind?)

  • “Can it (Chicago) be far behind?”

    Not so fast. Yes, Chicago does have some of the same problems in the form of pension liabilities, crime rates, population loss from the city (not nearly as drastic as in Detroit, but still significant), persistent cronyism and corruption, etc. However it has one significant asset that Detroit did not have: a more diverse economy not dependent upon one industry. A downturn or collapse in, say, the farm commodity market would not devastate the entire economy of Chicago the way that the collapse of the American auto industry destroyed Detroit. That said, there are certainly danger signs that bear watching, keeping in mind that if Chicago ever does go de facto bankrupt the entire State of Illinois would be dragged down with it (although a sovereign state cannot declare bankruptcy in the same fashion as a municipality).

  • Just to point out, the ratio of population of Chicago to its suburbs is 0.47. That for Detroit is 0.21. The dimensions of the Detroit municipality hardly transcend (if at all) the dimensions of slums of the Detroit metropolis as a whole. The homicide rate in the Chicago municipality bounces around a set point of 16 per 100,000. That for the Detroit municipality bounces around 40 per 100,000. The public schools in Chicago are appalling, but there are broad swatches of agreeable neighborhoods and many urban assets. Chicago needs a decent and capable human being in the mayor’s chair. Detroit needs a conservator. Two quite different situations. (Both would benefit from the creation of a metropolitan authority and a redistribution of functions between states, encompassing authorities like counties, and municipalities).

  • Dale Price lives in the area. I would be pleased to hear his take on this.

  • As I’ve long noted, Detroit exists so that Cleveland has some place to feel superior to.

    You know, though, Cleveland has was a punchline for Rowan and Martin. Detroit did not really hit the skids until the 1967 riots, although disquieting signs were manifest a decade earlier. By around 1976, the place was considered the country’s A#1 urban disaster.

    I recall that around 1987 Irving Kristol pulled up stakes and moved from New York to Washington. He offered that in 20 years, New York would look like Detroit, and he would prefer to spend his old age in more agreeable surroundings. New York chose the right future, and that you would not have expected.

  • Detroit’s population loss was second only to New Orleans, but N.O. has nature to blame.

    New Orleans has a homicide rate which exceeds Detroit’s by about a third (i.e. about 53 per 100,000). Keep in mind that the New Orleans municipality encompasses more than 40% of the New Orleans metropolis. Jefferson Parish, suburban to New Orleans, has a homicide rate of 10 per 100,000. The Detroit suburbs have a rate of 2.4 per 100,000. Police forces in Louisiana tend to be understaffed, but their judges are quite happy to incarcerate people. Prison admissions per capita are half again the national mean (though mean time served is about average). Louisiana has most years the highest homicide rate in the nation; something is seriously wrong with the culture down there.

  • “Louisiana has most years the highest homicide rate in the nation; something is seriously wrong with the culture down there.”

    Louisiana has the second highest rate of single parent homes (MS has the highest.) In some areas of NO and Baton Rouge the number of single parent homes is in the 80’s. This alone is sufficient cause for a higher crime rate.

    Throw in that the effect of single parenthood on delinquency increases as the number of single parents in the neighborhood increases, then I think we have a lead on a large part of the problem. For example, Baton Rouge has a high murder rate. Almost all of that is black on black crime in, if I recall correctly, three zip codes. These are all areas with 80+ per cent single parent homes.

  • Hmmm.

    I have had a look at the descriptive statistics for Louisiana. You have a background rate and then spikes at particular locales. The locales in question are New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and three small towns (Bogalusa is one and the other two I forget). The excess over the background rate is far higher for New Orleans than for Baton Rouge and notably higher for Baton Rouge than for Shreveport and the three towns. (Shreveport has what would be a normal inner city homicide rate most places up north).

    In New York, the background rate is between 1.3 and 2.8 per 100,000 and you see the spikes in dodgy inner city neighborhoods all over the state (worse Upstate than Downstate). That pattern is repeated in Louisiana. It is just that your background rate appears to be about 9 per 100,000. A post-industrial mess like Utica has a homicide rate on a par with what you would expect to see in the generic suburban or countryside locale in Louisiana.

  • To hear my (now 84-year-old) father tell it, when the family lived in NOLA back in the early 60s, there was no 9th Ward to speak of. It was a swamp (like what it’s right next to now) which was drained under LBJ’s Great Society in order to ship in Democrat voters.

    Little wonder the residents have stayed away in droves – the machine used them for a generation-and-a-half but utterly failed them when the tables turned.

The Day Brother Andre Bessett & Father Solanus Casey, Two Future Modern Day Saints Met

Thursday, October 14, AD 2010

In the Early and Medieval Church future saints seemed to often cross paths. However in our day and age this is a rarity. On a sunny Detroit afternoon in the summer of 1935 two potential saints did just that.  If they lived today they would stand out like sore thumbs, two men belittled by some of their superiors who took no umbrage and continued on with their duties. In today’s world someone who chose the same path would be looked at as if they had written kick me on their backsides. After all this is the age, when our popular culture demands that any slight be met with a meltdown or protest, the louder the better. However, (Venerable) Father Solanus Casey OFM and (Blessed) Brother Andre Bessette CSC were holy men. Brother Andre will be made a saint October 17 (or is already a saint depending upon what day you read this.) Perhaps in his humble way Father Solanus Casey will be gently nipping at his heels.

Alfred Bessette (he would take the name Andre when he was ordained) was born in 1845 to a large Quebec family. Sadly for young Alfred, he would lose both parents by age 11 and would spend the rest of his childhood raised by an older sister. Twenty five years later, and several hundred miles west, Barney Casey (he took the name Solanus when he was ordained) was also born to a large family, in rural Wisconsin. He was the eldest of 16 children. His childhood was filled with hard family farm work, while at the same time that work was done under the umbrella of a faith filled home, where the Church was the glue that held the family together through tough times.

Both the young Casey and Bessette toiled at many jobs, ranging from farm labor to lumberjacks. While many were not surprised at their eventual vocation, both men carefully discerned their calling and concluded they were called to Holy Orders. Their lives wouldn’t be any easier once they were seminarians, or even after they were ordained. Ironically both men for many years worked as door men and porters, helping those who were visitors at their respective religious orders’ seminaries and monasteries.

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19 Responses to The Day Brother Andre Bessett & Father Solanus Casey, Two Future Modern Day Saints Met

  • Great post. I have a copy of an older (mid-60s) book about Father Solanus called “The Porter of St. Bonaventure’s”. It contains numerous testimonials from persons who knew him and from people who experienced miraculous healings, conversions, etc. after he prayed for them.

    Up until the early 20th century when Fr. Solanus was ordained, it was more common for seminarians who didn’t pass all their classes or who showed some other sign of intellectual deficiency to be ordained “simplex” priests permitted only to say Mass, and not to preach or hear confessions. Sometimes they were granted faculties later, sometimes they never were.

    If I’m not mistaken, St. John Vianney himself started out as a simplex priest and was only granted faculties to preach and hear confessions because the local bishop was really, really desperate to find a pastor in Ars.

    Fr. Solanus’ main problem seems to have been slowness or difficulty in learning Latin. Were he entering the priesthood today he’d probably pass seminary with flying colors. (Assuming, of course, that it was a well-run, orthodox seminary)

  • Thank you!

    Of the many blessings I have received, today I recall my visit to St Josephs Oratory atop Mount Royale in Montreal.

    I could sense the holiness of the site. And, the crutches and canes that testify to the miraculous healings!

    “Bless the Lord God on every occasion.”

    Faith, Hope and Love. Moderation in all things except virue.

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  • I too had the same book The Porter of St.Bonaventures…I lent it to someoen and never got it back..the life of Father Solanus Casey has always fascinated me..I hope and pray that he will be raised to the sainthood someday,he certainly deserves it.I also hope someone in the film industry(not Hollywood)may consider making a film based on his life and work..may God bless these two holy souls and may many more come to know them and be inspired by them..especially priests.

  • Praise be Jesus, God sends us such great Saints. I remember being blessed by someone who had the Oil of Bl. Solanus and it was a very powerful moment.
    Thand you for this very moving article.

  • This was inspiring, because today the elites make fun of or ridicule people who tell simple truths. Today’s youth are bombarded by the message they need to sing, dance, model, or be a sports star. All in a vulgar, provocative way. They are given names of inanimate objects or names of ideals often spelled in gross phonetics. Where are the Marys, Annes, Josephs or Marks? The Catholic schools should bring back study of the saints. Students should know the life of the saint their school is named after.

  • What a great comparison bewtween two wonderful men. The work of porter seems to be a means toward sanctification of a number of saints throughout history. St. Conrad of Parsham, and Ven. Jordan Mai to mention two.
    One correction if I may. The religious names ie., “Andre” and “Solanus” were taken when these men received the habit of their orders, not when they were “ordained”. Bro. Andre was never ordained. He was a religious brother and professed religious vows.

  • Great article, though I have a rather big quibble terminology-wise: Saint Andre was NOT ‘ORDAINED’; he received his ‘religious name’ of Andre when he was received into the novitiate of Holy Cross. And he was ‘PROFESSED’! ‘Ordination’ and “Profession of Vows’ are two different things. So could you fix the terminology in the article?

    On a ‘nicer’ note, I’ve read four books on St. Andre: ‘The Wonder Man of Montreal’, by Father Paul-Henri Bergeron; ‘The Miracle of the Mountain’, by Alden Hatch; ‘Blessed Brother Andre’, by C. Bernard Ruffin; and ‘Brother Andre According to the Witnesses’, by Father Bernard LaFreniere. I’ve also been to St. Joseph’s Oratory four times in my life (1972, 1974, 1975 and 1994). Loved the place-and I’m so happy that I have lived to see Brother Andre CANONIZED A SAINT! WOO HOO!

  • Dave, great post on Father Solanus and Brother Andre! From time to time I read your great posts on Church and secular matters and always enjoy them. I miss your site and think about the times we had the honor of defending God, Church and our beautiful Catholic faith! God bless you and your family.

  • I have been blesssed to have read numerous books on Fr. Solanus Casey after first hearing about him through the owner of Diocesan Publications, a national Church Bulletin Company- Mr. Robert Zelke. Mr. Zelke’s parents were unable to conceive a child for years. They went to Fr. Solanus Casey for prayers and shortly thereafter, Mr. Robert Zelke was conceived. The books on Fr. Solanus Casey explained that his seminarian education was in German- a German speaking seminary in Wisconsin. That was the major difficulty in his education. “HIS CHARISM IS: THANK GOD AHEAD OF TIME!” The faithful would come to him filled with prayer requests, and Fr. Solanus would ask them: “What will you do to thank God ahead of time for your healing!” He was asking them to display TRUST in God before the healing, as it was GOD WHO WAS THE HEALER.

    I was later blessed to make a 19 hour drive to visit St. Josephs Oratory and Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal with my sister. We could only stay over one night, but the 19 hour drive each way was nothing compared to the spiritual graces and blessings received.

  • I love the topic of this article. I used to draw some of these same parallels between these two men of God when I was a tour guide at the shrine Saint Brother Andre founded.

    But I’m rather disappointed in the lack of proper research done. This article is peppered with factual mistakes: Bessette is spelt with an ‘e’; Brother Andre was never ordained nor did he feel called to holy orders because he was a brother; he lost his parents by the time he was 12, not 11; his sister didn’t raise him, his aunt & uncle Nadeau did; brother Andre could speak some English since he had worked in New England for a few years before joining Holy Cross. Thank you.

  • Just a note about a couple of posts asserting that I made a mistake in my research. First of all I do apologize for leaving out the e in Bessette (in the title of the article) It was my mistake for which I apologize. However, I can’t correct it otherwise it would throw the entire web address off and the link would be unavailable. The other points brought up are all conjecture. Some biographies say Saint Andre was raised by his sister, others by an aunt. With regard to his knowledge of English; some believe he might have known some English working in New England. However, most believe that since he was working with others from Quebec, he may never have had to use any English. Every account I have read states that when Brother Andre met with Father Casey, Brother Andre knew no English and Father Casey knew no French, so they simply blessed each other and moved along. Thank you.

  • There was something similar in another meeting between St. Andre and Blessed Father Frederic Jansoone (spelling?) when the Brother made a visit to Ste-Anne-de Beaupre. Father Frederic was a Franciscan priest from northeastern France who worked in the Holy Land and lived at Three Rivers (Trois-Rivieres in French), near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape. Father Frederic knelt before Brother Andre and asked for his blessing. Brother knelt in turn and said, ‘No, Pere Frederic-it is for you to bless me.’ Father Clement, an early chaplain of St. Joseph’s Oratory whose eye ailment was cured by St. Andre, found the two of them kneeling face to face.
    With regards to Brother Andre and the English language: I read in C. Bernard Ruffin’s book that he was able to switch to a passable English when speaking with visitors from English-speaking Canada and the United States. Else how he speak with the people who came from outside Quebec province?

  • Yes, Brother Andre spoke English!
    Society of St. Pius X in Canada
    January – March 2004, No. 18

    Those Who Truly Live, The Saints
    The Miracle Man of Montreal
    Blessed Brother Andre
    {1845 – 1937}

    By Mr. Roger Zielke

    “In 1863, when Alfred was eighteen, he joined the many French Canadians going to work in factories in the United States. Because of the American Civil War, factories in New England needed all the help they could get, to feed and equip huge federal armies. French Canadians could work wherever they were needed and went from one town to another, as new factories were opened and higher wages were offered. Alfred ended up in Connecticut and worked in a few towns there, but from time to time he was forced to leave his work at the factories due to poor health, and take up lighter farm work. Between 1863 and 1867, he learned to speak English, which would be a great asset in his later years.”

  • My parents met Brother Andre in Springfield ,Mass.Many people are related to him in New England.I myself was brought to St Joseph`s Oratory as a baby for a blessing,as most young infants were at the time.This was 1943,of course.But people had great faith in St. Joseph.I once studied for priesthood as a young man,I wasn`t that great a speaker and knowledge of latin. If I had known of a Simplex Priesthood,I might of stayed in the order.But my faith is much stronger now,anyways.Michael we were at your retreat in CT. Great day of reflecting our faith. Peace,Richard

  • I didn’t read all comments to see if anyone else posted this. Just wanted to mention that technically it’s Solanus Casey OFM Cap. He was a Capuchin, not an OFM.

  • A couple of other “saints” in modern years who’ve crossed paths … Karol Wotyla (when a young bishop I believe) visiting Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotundo and being told one day he would be Pope (and a couple years later requesting prayers from (Saint) Padre Pio for a lady who had cancer and then was healed miraculously. Then (Ven.) Pope John Paul II who had a deep friendship with Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and met on several occasions.

  • If there was a time i would have liked to have been a fly on the wall, this would have been it.

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