G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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You know, I’m not as down on Matt Yglesias now that he writes for Slate. Compared to his Think Progress days, he shows less of the mealy-mouthed progressive-liberal side that used to just make me cringe. But today in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” segment, he wrote in response to a question about the high number of vacant properties in downtrodden cities like Flint and Detroit:
This is an interesting issue. One problem that I know they have in Detroit is simply that the municipal records about who owns the vacant structures are a distaster. They need to get that data up to par, and then maybe the lots can be passed on to remaining homeowners.
In general, I think tearing down buildings is a sad idea. Can’t we find someone to give these houses to? Even if nobody in America wants one, there are lots of worse places in the world than Flint. In Hait (sic) there are people living in tents. Why not let them come to Michigan?
That might solve several problems for the Haitians, but would that solve any problems for Michigans? Unless the feelings of houses in Detroit and Flint should enter the calculus here. If you throw a number of people who are only consuming housing but who come here without any skills to make a living, you’re not making the systemic changes you’d like to be making. You’re just giving Haitians houses, but it’s not like they’ll have the capability to earn income to pay the bills to keep these houses operational. I mean, maybe they’ll grind it out. But it’s more likely they’ll grind it out in ways that are not beneficial to the overall community. Even with Detroit/Flint’s low bar, they’ll still be a net drag on the local economy.