Monday, June 15, 2009

The Rise and Fall of Civilization

This story was linked on Drudge late last week.

“The government, looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.”

Slowly, quietly, seemingly unknown to the population at large, once great cities in the United States are dying. I was taken aback by the names on the list. Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Memphis. Buck and others have blogged about the decline of Detroit, but I had little idea that the problem extended so far. My initial reaction is one of sadness. I try to imagine the plight of the people forced to walk away from their homes, losing their investment, and perhaps their dreams, moving to someplace unknown in search of better opportunity.

However, upon stepping back and casting an analytical eye toward this, one realizes that this is simply part of the cycle of civilization. Cities have sprouted, thrived, and withered into history for centuries. Carthage. Spartus. Troy. Thebes. Once, thriving metropolises which are now relegated to names in the history books. Why should we be any different? Because we are modern? More civilized?

I could bloviate, ad nauseum, regarding the reason these cities have declined. Politics, race, business, you name it. The reasons are what they are, and ruminating about them now will not change the facts.

Regarding the razing the abandoned portions of these cities. I'm sure some will rail against the thought of tax dollars being used for this reason. I for one am in favor of it. We need to clean up after ourselves. Return these areas back to nature. The die has been cast as far as the Stimulus Package goes. We cannot put that tiger back in it's cage. The effort to raze the abandoned sections of these towns will at least create some jobs for those who are still holding on.

And it simply makes sense. If the city is physically smaller, it will reduce the stress on basic services, such as fire, police, and sanitation. Give these areas a shot at survival.

Now, if only we could convince them to raze Seattle.


Buck said...

Flint was at the end of the beginning of its decline (if that makes sense) when I moved to Detroit in 1985. I had occasion to go up to Buick City (GM's flagship plant in Flint, at the time) numerous times in my early days with EDS, and remember Flint as a still-vibrant, yet VERY fearful city. Everyone seemingly could read the handwriting on the wall, but I doubt anyone suspected it would be this bad 25 years on.

I agree with you, though... declines happen; it's the way of the world. Let's hope some good comes out of the Flint experiment.

mark said...

A trip through some of the ghost towns of the west is a lesson in such reality. It's hard to imagine that they were thriving towns and cities only a century ago, now left to dust and decay. For whatever reasons they petered out. Best to just accept it and move on.

alison said...

What's wrong with Seattle?!

I think it's kind of sad. Yes great cities have declined. That's happened here - Liverpool, Manchester, man even London when it was flattened. But they are slowly regenerating. Some faster than others depending on the reason for their initial decline.

I think the days of pioneering, moving on and creating ever new citadels are over. At some point unless new cities spring up eternal you have to focus on some regeneration somehow.

Buckskins Rule said...

"What's wrong with Seattle?!"

Alison, for a conservative such as myself, there are too many things to list. Andy doesn't refer to it as "moonbat forward operating base alpha" for nothing.

Arthurstone said...

Be nice Buckskin. Some of us kind of like Seattle. Besides if you razed our city we'd all head over to your neighborhood!

This was a very interesting read:

Alan Wiseman, 'The World without Us'

Buckskins Rule said...

Touche, Arthur!

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'm going to get my hands on a copy.

I sometimes think that humans are nothing more than a bad case of fleas as far as the earth is concerned. When mother nature is done with us, we will be exterminated in short order.

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