Detroit.Unfair Comparisons To NY.The Giuliani Myth.

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

Quartz today had a piece on rebuilding Detroit by tearing it it down. The basic idea here lies in the large amounts of development land available in Detroit from years of exodus by it's residents. Much of which has come from the tearing down of thousands of homes.

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If you've visited Detroit you know what the landscape looks like with boarded up homes lining the streets of an eerily still downtown. But the comparison made in the article to NY in the 90s is inaccurate. And while it isn't a direct comparison, NY was not seeing a mass exodus and it certainly didn't share the economic instability or influence of large firms that are comparable to the automotive giants. 

What NY did have was a mayor that decided to drive lower income families further north and east from Manhattan by encouraging rising rent prices and the closure of soup kitchens and other social welfare programs in proper Manhattan. This has always bothered me. Giuliani received credit for cleaning up New York by driving the perception that he drove crime and instability in Manhattan down, when in reality all he did was displace it elsewhere. But it was enough to convince Mexico City to hire him as a consultant to clean up areas like Cuatepec, Tenayo and the infamous Tepito. I was living in Mexico City at the time as a missionary and recall the skeptical reception Giuliani received. And rightly so, because a year later after collecting his consultant fee he left town. 

I write about this today not because I don't like Giuliani, but because the above is an example of creating a story (he cleans up ny), believing a story (if n.y. then d.f.), and ultimately trusting in the anecdotal; if he can clean up N.Y. he can clean up D.F. What Mexico City should have done and all of us should do is to examine every problem or challenge in isolation without experience bias, critically think through it, and not look for easy solutions. Accept the best one. 

- arturo gutierrez