There’s been much national attention and coverage of Detroit’s water shut offs over the past month. One piece from the New York Times, “Detroit’s Drought of Democracy,” particularly stood out to us. It’s by a philosophy professor at Yale University, and discusses both the shut offs as well as the decision to install Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
Rarely does one get to read about Detroit, Plato, James Madison and the Federalist Papers, along with Martin Luther King, Jr., all in one piece. While some of Stanley’s historical assumptions are debatable, it’s refreshing to have a thoughtful piece, with historical and philosophical perspective, on some of the biggest issues currently facing the city.
And Detroit makes an appearance in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog as one of the top 10 unhappiest cities in America. To be fair, most of the Midwest shows up in red on this little map the East Coast newspaper has assembled.
The piece offers some interesting historical analysis as to why these “Rust Belt” cities were settled in the first place, if the assumption is people are so unhappy in them. Detroit indeed was settled for industry, and obviously not for its climate (as most “happy” cities are). But now that much of the industry is gone or hobbling along, why do people live in Detroit? And are they all truly unhappy?
Further, have our priorities for choosing a place to live changed much since the 1940s and 50s, when Detroit at least offered a job and promise of a better future?