Urban Decay, Unemployment, and the Great American Tale of Greed

By Kristen Johnson

Urban decay, poverty, joblessness, homelessness, unions, access to healthcare and public transportation – all are covered in the moving and visually stunning documentary, Detropia. In a sort of Roger & Me update, it details the current bleak situation in the once great city of Detroit.

I was blessed to view the documentary Roger & Me during college (which likely prompted my first teeny-tiny babystep towards liberalism). Unfortunately, I would say that the situation in Detroit has not only not improved since the 1970s (when that documentary was done), but the situation has worsened.

Detropia is a bleak, compelling, and sobering look at Detroit as it remains today. Dozens and dozens of homes and buildings are being torn down day after day and those that remain are in complete disrepair and likely to be torn down any day. The population has dwindled at a shocking rate over the past decades. As the big automakers started shutting down factories and shipping the work to other countries, the city has suffered irreparably. People are jobless because there are no jobs to go to. Thinking about the beautiful metropolis that Detroit once was, to the jobless, dirty city that it is today should be a reminder to corporate America what their greed ultimately causes. Unfortunately, greed is greed and it seems that the rich corporations continue to get richer while the middle class workers who continue to make those corporations richer continue to suffer.

I think that the film maker intended to show the grit and determination of the people remaining in Detroit, but I found nothing but despair. What are people to do when there are no jobs? What are people to do when their neighborhoods are literally crumbling around them, the city is bankrupt, and the federal government doesn’t care? The answer is oftentimes to simply leave the city (which accounts for the dramatic population loss) and also to resort to gangs, drugs, and other criminal activities.

I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have a solution. All I know is that, as usual, I am angry with big corporations for their greed and I am angry, as usual, at the local and federal governments for continuing to make cuts to things like medical care, education, and social services. Why we continue to let the general public continue to suffer in places like Detroit is beyond comprehension.

I will continue to pray for our leaders (goodness knows they need it) and to pray for people in inner-cities like Detroit. I know that God is listening, and that Jesus loves the people of Detroit. I also know that it is my job to be the “hands” and “feet” of Jesus for these people until Jesus returns. I just don’t know how exactly to do that, other than to continue to fight corporate greed, to vote with my pocketbook by continuing to refuse to support corporations that abuse people, animals and the environment, and to continue to lobby and fight against a Republican-controlled Congress that continues to gut social programs.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NRSV): Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute.[aSpeak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io



7 thoughts on “Urban Decay, Unemployment, and the Great American Tale of Greed

  1. I live here. Matter of fact I actually moved here 6 months ago, and there are a whole bunch of jobs. All you have to do is go on indeed, craigslist, or drive around. There are jobs everywhere. Do people qualify or want the jobs available is the question. And that documentary is from a few years ago. Detroit is changing for the positive, and although there is blight, it’s more hope here then the media tells you it is.


    1. David – I love that you too are hopeful of, and now seeing the beginnings of renewal in your home city. When I looked and saw those homes being removed, it occurred to me what a wonderful opportunity it could be. No one wants to live there, or at least the homes have deteriorated past safe habitation, so the land can be used to produce food.

      At least temporarily, it may be possible to use a lot of those old front and back yards for this purpose.

      In one of our local suburbs, they are using the footpaths to grow food. Fruit and Vegetables. Since 2009, this has grown to 11 streets participating. Google “Buderim food footpaths, Australia”

      With Kristin’s permission, I am posting a link to the story here. I know this idea is working in other places as well, and the local administration is embracing the concept and helping it all happen as well.


      Detroit is well known in Australia as the automobile capital of the USA, and I would like nothing more than to see renewal in the once proud city, and peace and prosperity return. In the meantime, there are many creative things that can be done to involve youth, and strengthen that sense of community and togetherness.

      Hope that didn’t go too far off topic, David – and I pray Detroit heals well.



  2. Kristin – I fully empathize with your journey from Conservatism to Liberalism, having been raised a conservative, but can no longer identify with the corporate greed we endure here in Australia.

    Many essential services (chiefly water and electricity and health by stealth as private companies supply more hospital ancillary serves by the day) are being privatised.

    The reasoning is that this will create more competition and force prices lower, as efficiency improves, driven by the industrious corporate overseers.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The natural monopolies of water, energy and health ensure a distinct lack of competition, and where these services are split – eg as in the supply of gasoline to the local petrol bowser, collusion takes over which is hard to detect. It is not difficult for opposing executives to call a truce and fix pricing to mutual (and illegal) advantage.

    In Australia, electricity and gas prices have gone up through the roof – a very contentious issue here right now. These things evoke political cynicism in me, and I struggle to rid myself of this bitter emotion.

    Last night a verse from Isaiah 40: 31 came to me unexpectedly: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

    I share that because it grounds me with a perspective of never needing to find the solution to things I cannot fix, and all that is required of me, by the Grace of God, is to keep on taking it all to Him in prayer. He is not blind to these things, and He sees and knows exactly what is happening to His people.

    Finally – I like occasionally to Google the Matthew Henry commentary on some of these verses, because in Henry’s time (1662-1714 – 52 short years) he was not influenced by Fox Television or iPhones and so on.

    It was mainly him, and the Lord, and the Word.

    Keep up the fight, but always remember Whose battle it really is.



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