Detroit might be the canary in America’s proverbial coal mine.
Consider the opening chapter of Edward Luce’s book, “Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent.” Early coal mines had poor ventilation systems and – since canaries are sensitive to gases – they would detect danger long before it became fatal to miners.
Michigan, the Detroit canary is on its last legs. Wake up! There is hope for Detroit – and America – if drastic action is taken.
While President Obama has been golfing with Tiger Woods and Congress is on yet another vacation they both been telling us the “sky is falling” if sequestration goes into effect at midnight tonight. Their collective behavior is reminiscent of Thelma and Louise heading for the cliff.
Luce’s book is a compendium of American problems. Boiled down, it shows we are collectively burying our heads in the sand as we ignore problems at the local, state and national levels and continue to pretend and spend as if nothing has changed. But everything has changed – and keeps on changing.
Luce brings a fresh, albeit a center-left leaning liberal, perspective to America’s ills as a Washington, D.C.-based columnist and commentator for The Financial Times. Luce crisscrossed America, meeting with the average person and American leaders in an attempt to understand what ails the country and determine what actions must be undertaken. His conclusions are as ugly as the problems we have allowed to pile up without being addressed by our leaders.
He reminds us that if you have a hole in your roof, pretending to fix it does not keep the rain out. We have attempted to ignore, deny, patch and hope our problems away. Soon, Detroit and America must get serious about fixing the multiple holes in their roofs.
We cannot continue to pretend, borrow and spend our way to the top. The upward trajectory of other nations, like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, adds to the struggle to fix our problems. Having traveled extensively in China for more than two decades and can assure you it is not slowing down while we get our act together.
Greatness does not travel in straight lines. Detroit and America have the DNA to self correct and to regain and continue its leadership role on the global stage. The question remains — will we?
There is no guarantee that we get to remain at the pinnacle of greatness simply because we’ve been there. Detroit is the canary — does anyone smell gas?