Forbes magazine has released its list of the most miserable cities in the United States. Detroit, the city long dominated by General Motors, was designated as tops in the misery index, along with nearby Flint MI - the city where General Motors was born.
Their misery was measured according to surveys on unemployment levels and their financial standing. In 2011, the official debt for the city of Detroit was calculated by state officials at $12 billion. Mayor Dave Bing said in his annual State of the City address that he is confident, however .“The picture is not all doom and gloom,” Mr. Bing said in his annual State of the City address. “Every day there is more hope and possibilities. Like many Detroiters, I, too, am a fighter. We can’t, and won’t, give up on our city.” In addition, his administration says that city spending is down from $1.4 billion in 2009 to $1.1 billion in 2012. Hundreds of city officials have been laid off, while essential government services, such as police/fire protection and street lighting, decline.
Forbes said Detroit's problems started four decades ago "paralleling the slide in the US auto industry". The influential magazine said the decline of the auto industry has reduced this "onetime industrial behemoth" to a picture of decay.
Forbes said Detroit had consistently ranked as one of the most crime-ridden urban areas in the US, with over one thousand one hundred violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The city is plagued with high unemployment, a dwindling population, a financial crisis, foreclosures, high taxes and bad weather. The average home price in Detroit is just $7,500 because no one wants to live there. Many residents refuse to pay their property taxes, reasoning that they are not receiving the municipal services that they deserve.
Evidencing a bizarre sense of humor, when the murder rate dropped in the city in 2012, Mayor Bing joked that the reason was that "there is no one left to kill." Hundreds of murder cases have gone unresolved.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, because of the city's fiscal emergency and potential bankruptcy, has appointed an emergency manager to lead it out of insolvency and its economic downturn. Detroit managed to edge out Miami, which was the titleholder in 2012, on the Forbes list. Flint, Michigan, Rockford, Illinois and Modesto, California followed.
Flint, Michigan, is an auto town that has long been a microcosm of Detroit. Spiraling debt, outmigration, and crime also plague that city. Currently, a state-appointed manager is attempting to address the systemic problems facing Flint that have eluded a solution by elected officials. Mayor Dayne Walling, who is a Rhodes scholar and a holder of a doctorate, nonehtless is calling for an end to the reign of the manager and a return to control by local officials. The crime rate is bad enough in Flint that two years ago, members of the city council asked for the National Guard to occupy the city to stem the violence. Currently, state troopers are supplementing the city police in fighting the largely drug-related violent crime.
Chicago, where President Obama's former chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel is mayor, also made the list.
Following is the top 10 'most miserable cities' as defined by Forbes Magazine:
1. Detroit, Michigan
2. Flint, Michigan
3. Rockford, Illinois
4. Chicago, Illinois
5. Modesto, California
6. Vallejo, California
7. Warren, Michigan
8. Stockton, California
9. Lake County, Illinois
10. New York, New York
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.