The City of Detroit



ruin broke (2) mismanagement
decay telegram taken their toll
recall emblem kick the can down the road
wheel after all put America on wheels
rival restore forget/forgot/forgotten
loser avoidable public sector
penny obligation pennies to the dollar
owe anxious bankruptcy
debt affected emergency
try structure restructure
urban decision poster child
declare fortune


Video: The City of Detroit



Detroit has woken up to a new reality: it’s financial ruin is complete. Years of decay, mismanagement and population decline have taken their toll: the city that was once a symbol of America’s industrial might, has gone broke.

Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan: “Now’s our opportunity to stop 60 years of decline. This is fundamental. Has anyone liked the Detroit of five years ago, ten years ago, 50 years ago? How long can this go on? And people have said ‘stop kicking the can down the road and do something’.”

It wasn’t always like this.

“The automotive industry opens war on unemployment. Packard and Chrysler have sent telegrams to thousands of employees, recalling them to the factory.”

Detroit helped build the country’s middle-class. After all, Motor City put America on wheels.

The Packard plant became an emblem of its industrial might.

Now it stands as a monument to better times.

Packard was a luxury car; locals say it was like Rolls-Royce or its hometown rival, the Cadillac.

Today though, the brand is almost forgotten. And the ruins of its plant — a symbol of Detroit’s decline.

The biggest losers could be city employees who collect a pension. And those working in the public sector are also anxious about their financial future.

Joseph Barney, of the Detroit Emergency Medical Services explains.

“At this point, I don’t exactly know if I’ll receive a pension; or it will be pennies to the dollar. The middle-class is dying.

And the rest of America should look at Detroit. And their cities are not far behind unless we change the way we operate in this country.”

Detroit may not have a choice but to cut pensions.

About half of its debt, around $9 billion is owed in pensions and health care, obligations to the city’s 10,000 workers and nearly 20,000 retirees.

But it’s not just public sector workers who are affected.

At the Wash Rack Car Wash in the west side of town, there’s a sense that the bankruptcy was unavoidable.

“I really don’t like it. But if it’s going to help the city try to restructure itself, that’s what needs to be done. Hard decisions need to be made. And they haven’t been made in decades.”

Detroit has become a poster child for urban decay. While something needs to be done to restore this industrial icon, bankruptcy may hold important lessons for the rest of the country.


*     *     *     *     *     *     *


1. Detroit is a prosperous, successful city. True or false?

2. Does Detroit have a serious financial crisis? Why does Detroit have serious problems?

3. Who is Rick Snyder? How did he feel: happy, cheerful, proud, disappointed, frustrated, helpless, annoyed?

4. “Detroit helped create the American middle-class” How did it help?

5. What is the history of Packard? Have you ever heard of Packard?

6. Describe the situation of city employees such as Joseph Barney. What does he say about the middle-class?

7. Why does Detroit have so much debt?

8. Detroit’s crisis or problem is an isolated one. Yes or no? Does Detroit offer lessons for the rest of the United States?
A. I have seen movies with a similar setting and backdrop to Detroit. Yes or no? Does this look like a science fiction movie?

B. Are there other cities with fates similar to Detroit?

C. What had happened to these cities? Why did these cities become decrepit?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. Can these cities be turned around? What is the solution to their situation?

Share Button

Email this page

Comments are closed.