On Sunday, American Flyer and Chicago Cub enthusiast George Will describes an also-ran that's less-than-lovable.
You have a city, 139 square miles, you can graze cattle in vast portions of it, dangerous herds of feral dogs roam in there. 3 percent of fourth graders reading at the national math standards, 47 percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate, 79 percent of Detroit children are born to unmarried mothers. They don't have a fiscal problem, Steve, they have a cultural collapse.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel offered a different interpretation.
I find that really insulting to the people of Detroit. I think there is a serious discussion about the future of cities in a time of deindustrialization. But in many ways, Detroit has been a victim of market forces.
Richard Longworth was not on the panel. That victimization was with the complicity of the commercial and political establishments of the Rust Belt.
Mr Longworth argues that both leaders and the Midwestern work force took the persistence of broadly shared prosperity based on manufacturing and farming for granted. Because those lines of business were subject to business cycles, sometimes of great amplitude, many interpreted the turmoil in autos and steel that began in the late 1970s as simply one more nasty recession (to some extent it was) that would pass (but some things changed permanently). Those lines of business enjoyed protection from the rest of the world: with the full power of the government in the case of farming, by default in the case of autos and steel, with that era of broadly shared prosperity the prosperity of a temporarily closed market extracting rents from others. (But if you say that too loudly, people will squawk.)
The next day, Ed Schultz returned to daytime television with a segment devoted to "What an Evil Person George Will Is."  Among the ripostes, the ever-prissy Joan Walsh noted that bastardy rates among whites have reached the level the Moynihan Report viewed with alarm among blacks, early in the Great Society.  Yes.  "One could as easily argue that a crass and degraded popular culture, again, long before Jerry Springer and Jersey Shore, meant more guardrails removed from people who might not have been properly socialized to the guardrails by parents or schools."  In such a crass and degraded popular culture, there's more to poverty and inequality than the machinations of hedge-fund managers.

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