Rotting, Decaying And Bankrupt – If You Want To See The Future Of America Just Look At Detroit

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

Eventually the money runs out.  Much of America was shocked when the city of Detroit defaulted on a $39.7 million debt payment and announced that it was suspending payments on $2.5 billion of unsecured debt, but those who visit my site on a regular basis were probably not too surprised.  Anyone with half a brain and a calculator could see this coming from a mile away.  But people kept foolishly lending money to the city of Detroit, and now many of them are going to get hit really hard. 

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has submitted a proposal that would pay unsecured creditors about 10 cents on the dollar.  Similar haircuts would be made to underfunded pension and health benefits for retirees.  Orr is hoping that the creditors and the unions that he will be negotiating with will accept this package, but he concedes that there is still a "50-50 chance" that the city of Detroit will be forced to formally file for bankruptcy. 

But what Detroit is facing is not really that unique.  In fact, Detroit is a perfect example of what the future of America is going to look like.  We live in a nation that is rotting, decaying, drowning in debt and racing toward insolvency.  Already there are dozens of other cities across the nation that are poverty-ridden, crime-infested hellholes just like Detroit is, and hundreds of other communities are rapidly heading in that direction.  So don't look down on Detroit.  They just got there before the rest of us.

The following are some facts about Detroit that are absolutely mind-blowing...

1 - Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, and in 1960 Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

2 - Over the past 60 years, the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.

3 - At this point, approximately 40 percent of all the streetlights in the city don't work.

4 - Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.

5 - 210 of the 317 public parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down.

6 - According to the New York Times, there are now approximately 70,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit.

7 - Approximately one-third of Detroit's 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.

8 - Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.

9 - If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

10 - According to one very shocking report, 47 percent of the residents of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

11 - Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

12 - Ten years ago, there were approximately 5,000 police officers in the city of Detroit.  Today, there are only about 2,500 and another 100 are scheduled to be eliminated from the force soon.

13 - Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

14 - The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

15 - Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to "enter Detroit at your own risk".

16 - Right now, the city of Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.

As Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr noted last week, it took a very long time for Detroit to get into this condition...

“What the average Detroiter needs to understand is that where we are right now is a culmination of years and years and years of kicking the can down the road,” said Orr, adding that his proposal should not be seen as a “hostile act” but as a step in the right direction.

Does that sound familiar?

It should.

U.S. politicians have also been kicking the can down the road for "years and years and years".

But eventually you can't kick the can down the road anymore.

Sometimes it is helpful to step back and look at what we have done to ourselves over the past several decades.

For example, back in 1980 the U.S. national debt was less than one trillion dollars.  Today, it is rapidly approaching 17 trillion dollars.

And our debt binge has greatly accelerated under Barack Obama.

During Barack Obama's first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

Isn't that insane?

In fact, if you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

The following are a lot more facts about our exploding national debt from one of my previous articles entitled "55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know"...

#1 While Barack Obama has been president, the U.S. government has spent about 11 dollars for every 7 dollars of revenue that it has actually brought in.

#2 During the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. government took in 2.449 trillion dollars but it spent 3.538 trillion dollars.

#3 During fiscal year 2011, over a trillion dollars of government money was spent on 83 different welfare programs, and those numbers do not even include Social Security or Medicare.

#4 Over the past four years, welfare spending has increased by 32 percent.  In inflation-adjusted dollars, spending on those programs has risen by 378 percent over the past 30 years.  At this point, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  Once again, these figures do not even include Social Security or Medicare.

#5 Over the past year, the number of Americans getting a free cell phone from the federal government has grown by 43 percent.  Now more than 16 million Americans are enjoying what has come to be known as an "Obamaphone".

#6 When Barack Obama first entered the White House, about 32 million Americans were on food stamps.  Now, 47 million Americans are on food stamps.  And this has happened during what Obama refers to as "an economic recovery".

#7 The U.S. government recently spent 27 million dollars on pottery classes in Morocco.

#8 The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar at a time when more families than ever are having a really hard time just trying to put any food on the table at all.

#9 During 2012, the National Science Foundation spent $516,000 to support the creation of a video game called "Prom Week", which apparently simulates "all the social interactions of the event."

#10 The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the largest snack food maker in the world (PepsiCo Inc.) a total of 1.3 million dollars in corporate welfare that was used to help build "a Greek yogurt factory in New York."

#11 The National Science Foundation recently gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000.  They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.

#12 If you can believe it, $10,000 from the federal government was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes up in Michigan.

#13 The National Science Foundation recently gave a whopping $697,177 to a New York City-based theater company to produce a musical about climate change.

#14 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is studying the benefits of watching reruns on television.

#15 The National Science Foundation has given 1.2 million dollars to a team of "scientists" that is spending part of that money on a study that is seeking to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing World of Warcraft or not.

#16 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $548,731 to a team of researchers that concluded that those that drink heavily in their thirties also tend to feel more immature.

#17 The National Science Foundation recently spent $30,000 on a study to determine if "gaydar" actually exists.  This is the conclusion that the researchers reached at the end of the study...

"Gaydar is indeed real and… its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features"

#18 Back in 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

#19 The U.S. government spends more on the military than China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined.  In fact, the United States accounts for 41.0% of all military spending on the planet.  China is next with only 8.2%.

#20 In a previous article, I noted that close to 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.

#21 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year.  Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.

#22 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.

#23 During 2010, the average federal employee in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.

#24 The U.S. Department of Defense had just nine civilians earning $170,000 or more back in 2005.  When Barack Obama became president, the U.S. Department of Defense had 214 civilians earning $170,000 or more.  By June 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense had 994 civilians earning $170,000 or more.

#25 During 2010, compensation for federal employees came to a grand total of approximately 447 billion dollars.

#26 If you can believe it, close to 15,000 retired federal employees are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  That list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#27 During 2010, the federal government spent $33,387 on the hair care needs of U.S. Senators.

#28 During 2010, U.S. Senators pulled $72,370 out of the "Senate Restaurant Fund".

#29 During 2010, an average of $4,005,900 of U.S. taxpayer money was spent on "personal" and "office" expenses per Senator.

#30 In 2013, 3.7 million dollars will be spent to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

#31 During 2011, the federal government spent a total of 1.4 BILLION dollars just on the Obamas.

#32 When you combine all federal government spending, all state government spending and all local government spending, it comes to approximately 41 percent of U.S. GDP.  But don't worry, all of our politicians insist that this is not socialism.

#33 As I have written about previously, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government back in 1983.  Today, that number is sitting at an all-time high of 49 percent.

#34 Back in 1990, the federal government accounted for just 32 percent of all health care spending in America.  This year, it is being projected that the federal government will account for more than 50 percent of all health care spending in the United States.

#35 The number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#36 In one of my previous articles, I discussed how it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

#37 If you can believe it, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#38 In the United States today, more than 61 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

#39 Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

#40 When Barack Obama first took office, the U.S. national debt was about 10.6 trillion dollars.  Now it is about 16.7 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of 6.1 trillion dollars in a little more than 4 years.

#41 The federal government has now run a budget deficit of more than a trillion dollars for four years in a row.

#42 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

#43 If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#44 Some suggest that "taxing the rich" is the answer.  Well, if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

#45 If the federal government used GAAP accounting standards like publicly traded corporations do, the real federal budget deficit for 2011 would have been 5 trillion dollars instead of 1.3 trillion dollars.

#46 The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.

#47 At this point, the United States government is responsible for more than a third of all the government debt in the entire world.

#48 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.

#49 Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.

#50 The U.S. national debt is now more than 37 times larger than it was when Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard.

#51 The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

#52 The U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.

#53 Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent.  If the average interest rate on U.S. government debt rose to that level today, the U.S. government would find itself spending more than a trillion dollars per year just on interest on the national debt.

#54 A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.

#55 Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that the U.S. government is facing a gigantic tsunami of unfunded liabilities in the coming years that we are counting on our children and our grandchildren to pay.  Kotlikoff speaks of a "fiscal gap" which he defines as "the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue".  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the federal government is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We are in the process of committing national financial suicide and time is rapidly running out to do anything about it.

Just like Detroit, a day is rapidly approaching when America will not be able to kick the can down the road anymore.

Sadly, our politicians don't seem inclined to do anything about it and most of the population seems to think that our exploding national debt is not a significant problem.

By the time it becomes clear how wrong they were, it will be far too late to do anything about it.

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F. Bastiat's picture

Not shocked at all. 

If you've been to Detroit, ever, how could you possibly be shocked by such predictable inevitability?


Pool Shark's picture



"By the time it becomes clear how wrong they were, it will be far too late to do anything about it."

It's already too late...


Timmay's picture

Agreed. Obama is Nino Brown and we are all living in "The Carter".....

markmotive's picture

Yeah but the $6000 Detroit house you bought a year ago is now worth $6780.

How's that for the wealth effect?

Shocker's picture

Its sad but its probably true. Detroit is just an example, of what may come.

Layoff / Business Closing List


Richard Chesler's picture


Paul K.

nope-1004's picture

All of your empty factories are because to us.


ACP's picture

Sure makes for some great photography though:

ZerOhead's picture

Detroit is coming to America!...

James_Cole's picture

This is not 'kicking the can,' this is intentional neoliberalism. Do you see the rich folks going bust or gettin' richer? It seems the people going bust are a highly concentrated group.....must be a coincidence.

As far as the debt, basic math people..

For the math illiterate:

French children are told a story in which they imagine having a pond with water lily leaves floating on the surface. The lily population doubles in size every day and if left unchecked will smother the pond in 30 days, killing all the other living things in the water. Day after day the plant seems small and so it is decided to leave it to grow until it half-covers the pond, before cutting it back. They are then asked, on what day that will occur. This is revealed to be the 29th day, and then there will be just one day to save the pond. 

JoeSexPack's picture

Let's get to the point, shall we?


Africans (other word gets me banned?) revert to African-norm in any system, absent subsidies. In this case with subsidies.


Any questions?

James_Cole's picture

Any questions?

Yeah, what do white folks revert to?

Blizzard_Esq's picture

Religion and Farming. Blacks are there to rob them and deal drugs. 

The system is the way it is because of blacks. Education to working, everything has been lowered by liberals to advance negros at the expense of white people. Just look at the dumbing down of schools to pass black kids, everyone suffers. The day this country stops proping up black people this country can be number 1 again. Hopefully before China decides to eradicate the white and black races. 

Sorynn's picture

Your ignorance is astounding. 

The system is the way it is because we have sociopaths running it, and they will say or do anything for the advancement of their own personal power.  Some of those sociopaths are of African descent, some are of Jewish descent and many, many of them are of caucasian descent. 

The average sheeple has no idea this is going on and they propagate the system for their own detriment, and there are ample examples of that across all racial lines and the false left/right divide.

Lebensphilosoph's picture

Human beings in Eastern Europe and East Asia have seen decade upon decade far worse poverty than the animals running amok in Detroit, but have not turned to widespread rape, murder, and gangbanging because of it.

GetZeeGold's picture




Welcome to Eastern Europe America.....finally it's your turn.


Have fun!


King_of_simpletons's picture

Robocop will fix this mess in Detroit and save the city.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

"The fiscal crisis in Michigan is setting up as a gigantic clash between bondholders and city retirees over what money Detroit has left to pay them. Public finance experts have warned that broad societal problems could follow a loss of faith in municipalities' commitments to honor their pledges"

honor their pledges? laugh of the day.

Kaiser Sousa's picture

wow..23 confirmed ignorant, misguided, bigots thus far on ZH...very sad but truly american...the bankers salute u...

James_Cole's picture

Lot of stormfront folks on here, astounding levels of ignorance are their hallmark. 

LongBallsShortBrains's picture

Without us, it turns to Africa.....see Detroit 2013.

Without them it is heaven........see Detroit 1940

Get rid of us, you are left with Africa. Get rid of them, it becomes heaven........

Nah, let's run it all into the ground, because equality is such a high goal, that it is worth ruining civilization to attain........

McCarthy and Wallace were both right.

They trynna catch me ridin dirty's picture

Also Henry Ford. The Dearborn Independent, he predicted it all.

Kaiser Sousa's picture

"Without them it is heaven"...

Typical whitey...yeah," it's all (fill n with ethnicity other than cracker) their fault"...

you got a bright future indeed..

They trynna catch me ridin dirty's picture

The host ("whitey") is forbidden from criticizing the parasite(s).

El Viejo's picture

It's just a coincidence in time. Them just wanted the same thing everyone else wanted: a good job. Unfortunately moar demands of the stockholders and labor unions sent the jobs to China. Just another case of unrealistic expectations. Prepare for trickle up poverty. Locusts always want moar. The meek shall inherit the earth.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Inherent in the system of usury, fractional reserve banking, w/ fiat currency.

francis_sawyer's picture

I ain't fallin' for no banana [republic] in no tailpipe!

duo's picture

Manchester, England, was 60 years ahead of Detroit.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Is that where they test the missiles?

whoopsing's picture

Thanks for the link ACP

tarsubil's picture

Gives a whole new perspective to those Roman aquaducts in the French countryside. The American Empire is falling.

macholatte's picture



Just numbers:

Area of Detroit = 140 sq miles

Debt = $20,000,000,000

Debt/Sq mi = $142,857,143

Debt/acre = $223,214

Debt/sf = $5.13


If I can get a loan from Benny for the $20B (non recourse) I'll take Detroit at $5/sf --- but I want everybody out by the end of the month.


Temporalist's picture

Why would you pay retail when you could get it for wholesale?  Don't you know how to negotiate?  Point out all the flaws, how poor the economy is, etc. and you're sure to get it for a smooth $1/sqft.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Yeah, but it's free money...err...Benny Bux, so who cares.

francis_sawyer's picture

Benny bux?... Cute ~ Like he invented them all on his own the limestone building he works him prints them all by itself...

Ignatius's picture

Detroit can be a place of opportunity, but not without washing out the debt, the corruption and the mental and cultural blocks to the imagination.  This might mean clearing vacant blocks for agriculture, light or heavy industry and refurbishing and retrofitting existing structures, etc..

Detroit needs to disempower the crooks and parasites and the opportunities will be great.

$1/sq ft or $5/sq ft.?  Man, were I younger....

marathonman's picture

At $1,000/derelict house, how much could it cost to just take a track-hoe and a D9 to recover some pulp wood and aggregate and have some farm land?  The security costs of keeping out the crack heads might eat you alive though...

Ignatius's picture

To work, one has to enter that community and engage the locals.  A real commitment that requires demonstrating and sharing the interests and the benefits.  One needs real partners.  The other path is plain thuggery which seems to have the upper hand at this time.

Reformed Sheep's picture

Screw even paying for it - offer to erect a 20 foot wall around the lot and you could probably be PAID for constructing a brand new private prison!


WillyGroper's picture

Gotta replace the ones catching on fire.

The PK stimulus plan.

Mr. Magoo's picture

The only reason for the increase is the devaluing dollar, At this time next year a house may be worth close to 20,000

Matt's picture

But if it is a foreclosed home, the city will want another $5000 in back taxes.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

That's the question I aksed also.  Look, just BTFD!


Cabreado's picture

"It's already too late..."

You forgot to include your definition of "it."

And no, it is not too late, regardless.

The only "it" that is gone is the current rendition of "comfort."

G-R-U-N-T's picture

Obviously Liberal politicians in Detroit have there shit together, real pillars in the community!

Cabreado's picture

You should look beyond "liberal politicians" because real leadership has nothing to do with politics.

But we still confuse the two... go figure.

Perhaps put your energy into discerning the real problem that ails us all.

And for the record, Mayor Bing's only fault was that he did not appreciate the sickness of it all.

It is up to an as-yet-unknown force whether or not the current dynamic drives it all into the ground.