Bloomberg suggests all immigrants be channeled toward Detroit

A few years ago, I proposed the passage of an Urban Homestead Act that would incentivize people with skills to move into Detroit. Here’s a clip from that post:

…And I’m not sure what urban homesteading would look like, and how exactly properties would be apportioned. I’m thinking, however, that there would be an application process, seeking people with certain proven skill sets. You would essentially give them a home and property for free, with the understanding that it will belong to them if they inhabit the property as their primary residence for some number of years, and improve whatever structures are standing on it, bringing them to code, etc. Maybe entire blocks are given to young architects, builders, farmers, co-housing developers, inventors, artists, etc.

Maybe there’s even an accompanying reality television show following the progress of these groups as they break soil. It could be a national test bed.

Detroit could be the laboratory for the future. Why not be ambitious with the stimulus money and try to build a sustainable modern city from the ruins of early city that had been written off? Even if we gave away the land, and provided people with a stipend of, say, $25K a year for three years, and access to 0% loans, I’m guessing that you’d still be able to pull it off for less than a small fraction of what we’re investing in the banking sector… I wonder if Levin and Stabenow ever allow themselves to think big, crazy, hopeful thoughts like this?…

It’s not exactly the same thing, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed a similar thought a few days ago on Meet the Press. His idea was to open Detroit up to immigrant populations. “If I were the federal government… assuming you could wave a magic wand and pull everybody together,” Bloomberg said, “you pass a law letting immigrants come in as long as they agree to go to Detroit and live there for five or ten years.”

I’ve heard a few people express concern about the Bloomberg plan, saying that there wouldn’t be jobs for these people, but I suspect that you could tailor your appeal so that you were just looking to recruit individuals with a certain level of education, some savings, and a decent business idea. Not all the businesses would succeed, of course, but enough might to make the undertaking successful. God knows that something needs to happen, and I’m all in favor of trying new things. Personally, I think my idea was better than Bloomberg’s, but anything is better than staying on the course we’re on.

Here’s the video:

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23 Comments

  1. Knox
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    But I’m sure this idea runs contrary to Snyder’s vision of turning Detroit into a prison colony like the one seen in Escape from New York.

  2. Posted May 5, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Being skilled shouldn’t be a prerequisite. Cleaning ladies and farm workers are just as important to the economy. Immigrants create jobs for the rest of us because they need professional help from doctors, lawyers, and teachers.

    Didn’t the US government institute a policy not long ago restricting settlement of refugees in Detroit? I swear I heard something like that.

  3. Boy O Boy
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Bloomberg said his immigration idea can revive the city where they would “start businesses, take jobs, whatever.”

    Yah. That’s what we “need”. More immigrants to come and “take our jobs.” To top it off let’s give them a handout from tax paying legal Citizens of free land and money to help them take OUR jobs?! More liberal insanity.

  4. Brainless
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Yep, they’re gonna take all those tens of thousands of jobs in Detroit that have gone unfilled. Why, just the other day I recall Detroit sending emissaries to the great metropolises of Chicago and New York and Los Angeles just begging those kind folks to send a few of their unemployed to Detroit to start soaking up the limitless supply of living wages that wander the Motor City looking for love. Let us prevent this senseless immigration. We need to leave those neighborhoods open for the land rush that, well guldurnit, I’m sure is just around the corner.

    Come on, “real” Americans! If we work together, we can prevent more dirty immigrants from mucking up our job situation. “Never again” to the likes of:
    Louis Chevrolet
    David Dunbar Buick
    George W. Romney
    William Ford (father of Henry)
    Tom Gores (new Pistons owner)

  5. Boy O Boy
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Wouldn’t be smarter to give the $25,000 Americans who are unemployed to move to Detroit? Wouldn’t it be even smarter to bring factories BACK to Michigan so Americans can have jobs? People are leaving the state because there are no jobs! Do you “think” those that moved were less capable than immigrants at creating jobs? This is a twisted marriage of failed Leftist policy: failed welfare programs, failed social engineering, failed immigration policy. Three lefty wrongs do not make a right! If you want People to move back to Detroit get rid of regulation that kills innovation and let the businesses keep their profits to invest jobs. Then People will move to Detroit just like they always have when business was FREE to prosper and hire!

  6. Brainless
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Um… uh… “lefty” uh…. derp… “liberal”…. duh…. herp “i love inappropriate quotes”…. plural marriage be smart…. limbaugh, ditto, limbaugh, ditto….

  7. Kim
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Getting more people into Detroit would be a good thing. And, from what I’ve seen, immigrant communities are hard working. I see no problem with opening our doors to immigrants, especially those with advanced degrees and proven track records. Is there a risk that they might come over, not be able to find employment, and hasten the fall of Detroit? I suppose so. It’s also quite possible, however, that they come over and create businesses. It’s also possible that employers, looking for industrious knowledge workers start to settle in Detroit, in hopes of attracting these people. I think it’s a risk worth taking.

  8. kjc
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    now, kim. do you want hard workers or people with advanced degrees?

  9. Tom
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as a working class person, I’m insulted by the insistence that shuffling a mass of professionals into a city equates to a vibrant, fulfilling, creative, productive, and democratic environment. That is what you are implying by the ‘needs’ of Detroit right?

    Honestly, I don’t need any more arrogant order givers hanging around and pretending their presence is a godsend. I need a public life and workplace that allows for genuine dialogue, challenging work, and participatory innovation. I don’t get that from another enclave of people whose work roles monopolize that kind of empowering condition. And are likewise rewarded for it more than the mostly boring junk the rest of us have to endure for the bulk of our lives.

    If you want professionals to come, make them share the burden of that boring stuff in exchange for the knowledge they have to pretend to own.

  10. Robert
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    All we have to do to bring factories back to Detroit is find out what level of regulation is in effect in the places where they relocated and then make sure we are even more deregulated. Problem solved.

  11. mSS
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    End the minimum wage. Price floors create demand shortage. If you can’t graph that, please don’t respond.

  12. dragon
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I can graph!

    Highest minimum wage:
    1 Washington $8.55
    2 Oregon 8.40
    3 Connecticut 8.25
    4 Vermont 8.06
    5 California 8.00
    5 Illinois 8.00
    5 Massachusetts 8.00

    The five states with no minimum wage:
    Alabama** NA
    Louisiana** NA
    Mississippi** NA
    South Carolina** NA
    Tennessee** NA

  13. Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mean it as any kind of insult, Tom. If you look at the demographics, though, Detroit is seriously lacking when it comes to the kind of individuals that tend to build thriving, high-growth areas. The last stats I saw showed that Detroit had something like a 26% high school graduate rate. I haven’t verified it, but I’ve also heard that the literacy rate among adults is around 50%. There isn’t a lack of unskilled labor. The hole in the ecosystem is somewhere else. And, while this proposal might not be perfect, I appreciate the fact that people are talking about how to fill that hole. What’s being done right now clearly isn’t working. I don’t think you’d find anyone saying that Detroit, as it is today, is a functioning city. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t successful neighborhoods and good things about the city.

    So, I wasn’t saying, “Rich, smart people from abroad, please come and save the people of Detroit.” I was saying that I think that everyone would be better off if the city had more than 750,000 people, and if a good number of those people could pay taxes. And, better yet, what if some of those people could actually start businesses?

    Clearly, though, as you point out, there’s more to society than just job growth and tax revenues. That’s part of having a dynamic ecosystem that can weather problems like this.

    I should also add that I don’t think every community needs these kinds of people. My impression of Hamtramck, for instance, is that they’re doing fine without a thriving technology-based economy. They got, at least as far as I can tell, a community that works, at least when compared to the rest of Detroit. There are plenty of other areas, though, where that’s not the case.

  14. Posted May 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    And I long for the day that Michigan is thriving like Mississippi. If we act quick and roll back all of our child labor protections, we might even surpass them!

  15. mSS
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I didn’t think you could’ve missed it by that far. Sorry.

  16. Posted May 6, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    We’ve got 10,000,000 people in Michigan – rather than trying to bring in folks from other countries, why don’t we just stop subsidizing the ones we have to move further and further from Detroit?

  17. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I see where Tom was going with this (I think–sorry if I am running far afield). Personally, I get tired of hearing how the “young professionals” and “creative class” will save the state. Remember Granholm’s Cool Cities thing? We do need some of both, definitely, but we also need workers. That’s great if the entire state is a bunch of young folks who work 1000 hours per week at the law firm but that isn’t going to get stuff made, right? (I think it’s just the term “young professional” that grates on my nerves…it smacks of workaholism, careerism and bourgeois, three things I don’t abide).

  18. Tom
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Mark, I agree with you that in order to realize growth, a certain element of empowering knowledge needs to be injected into the city. Sometimes that means making room for folks whose trade is primarily knowledge-based, but I want to add that it should come with riders. In the economic sphere, I’d like to see an upsurge of cooperatives that are designed to equilibrate workers’ circumstances so that they all benefit from ‘growth.’ This isn’t a utopian fantasy – it works elsewhere – have a look at the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, or the many worker coops around the continent. City politicians are getting behind this stuff and seeing differences in people’s lives as they participate in creating their own workplaces. It doesn’t just mean manual labor, which is where I fear most of Detroit’s current residents will be relegated from a misguided but well-meaning influx of ‘successful’ people; structurally, the game would remain unchanged.

    Secondly, I think a campaign for participatory budgeting in cities and counties should be under way so poor and working class residents can have a more substantial say in how local money is spent, and how business develops and benefits communities. As it stands, I think the dominant ideas favor the interests of businesses that have no obligation to overturn poverty and racial segregation. Instead their top priority is profit, which means not very good things for the rest of us.

    I also think development of a viable community land trust should be high priority. Housing is a serious problem in southeastern Michigan, but it doesn’t have to be. If we want to see vibrant, healthy communities, we can’t continue to allow the market to dictate who deserves a home, much less a home that a person or people own and are ensured for generations. We can’t expect poor folks to enjoy the same public life as the professional class if we don’t consider those kinds of strategic aims. People should move to Detroit only if they expect to give up a lot of their wealth and privilege in exchange for the security of knowing their neighbors are free, happy, and empowered people too.

  19. Edward
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I heard on the radio that NYC announced today that, going forward, their taxi fleet would be either Honda or Toyota. If Bloomberg was really concerned about the people of Detroit, he could have shown it there and chosen an American company.

  20. Redleg
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Fuck Bloomberg. I remember way back when, before Mikey got into politics, when he was merely a Wall street hot-shot, he was quoted as saying that anyone who didn’t pull down at least 125 grand, was nothing more than a chump………..

  21. mSS
    Posted May 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    So, really, nobody can draw a supply and demand chart showing the effect of a price floor?

  22. CuriousGorgeousGeorg
    Posted May 8, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    What is a price floor?
    If the US channeled all its immigrants to Detroit, would that slow immigration?
    It just might work.

  23. TaterSalad
    Posted May 15, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Pakistan, better known throughout the world as Pornistan has a whole country of perverts running around looking for goats, chickens and video’s and pictures of naked women. So much for the burqa and Sharia Law.
    http://schott.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/pornistan/

    ……….and with the above perverts in Pornistan, we have learned that the HMFIC of terrorism had a stash of porno all hidden away for late night fun and viewing:
    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/porn-found-osama-bin-laden-evidence-trove/story?id=13599025

    Allah…the “Perfect Man”? Far from it. He was a “perverted killer”!

    http://crossmuslims.blogspot.com/2010/12/perfect-man-of-islam.html

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