The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

A spit shine for the Super Bowl, but not even a Kleenex for residents

Jan 2, 2006

The City of Detroit will be implementing budget cuts with the start of the new year. It plans to drop all bulk trash pickup, close nine recreation centers, transfer management of the Detroit Zoo to a private organization, and close the Detroit Historical Museum. In addition, there will be layoffs for at least 260 other workers.

What’s left in the city where people can take their families? The city already junked its participation in the Detroit Institute of Arts – meaning entrance fees go up. It moved a children’s museum out of its cultural center to a more dangerous neighborhood. It closed Fort Wayne and other rec centers. So this isn’t the first time the city has made this kind of cuts.

But the current cuts hit you in the face when you see the shiny new construction in the downtown area. Buildings that were dilapidated for decades were torn down and replaced – with the help of Detroit tax money. Old office buildings were given a face lift. There are two new stadiums, one for football and another for baseball, paid for directly or indirectly with city money. There is a brand new park in front of Compuware’s corporate headquarters, complete with a skating rink. Most residents of the city can’t afford to skate there, but it’s not there for them. It was built specifically so it can provide a few days of winter-style festivities for visitors to the Super Bowl. And all this was done for one baseball All-Star game and football’s Super Bowl.

Big hotels and restaurants in the whole region may benefit – for a week – from this extravaganza. But the city’s tax coffers will get little or nothing in return. So while the downtown has been all spiffed up, the rest of the city is allowed to rot.

Where will all the bulk trash go? It will pile up in the neighborhoods. When landlords evict people, their belongings will be put out on the curb, as they are now, only they’ll just sit there, collecting rats, not for a few weeks but until residents get fed up.

Detroit presents a perfect microcosm of class society, with nothing to do for the families of working and poor people, and a playground for the rich.