My ancestors helped build Detroit. The Fourniers were fur-trappers and farmers living hard by the Detroit River until the fledgling auto industry beckoned in the early 1900s with a better deal: $5 a day and a pension.
In the 1960s, my father opted out of the family business to be a police officer. He served Detroit for 25 years as part of the elite motorcycle unit that doubled as the riot squad. One of my earlier memories is of my parents, dressed in church clothes, leaving our house to attend the 1967 funeral of a riot cop.
Mom and dad raised four children at 15285 Coram in the city's northeast corner, the same block upon which they were raised. All this to say: I love my hometown. And I hate what Detroit's demise might bode for our country.
Wrenching economic change … income inequality ... political corruption … ineffective government … rigid institutions … chronic debt and racism -- these are the things that bankrupted Detroit, morally and fiscally, and they're an exaggerated reflection of the nation's challenges.
Economy: Detroit failed to adapt to the global economy and to diversify for the postindustrial era. "Sometimes the losers from economic change are individuals whose skills have become redundant; sometimes they're companies, serving a market niche that no longer exists; and sometimes they're whole cities that lose their place in the economic ecosystem," wrote economic columnist Paul Krugman in today's New York Times. Sometimes, the victims are whole countries, a fact that seems lost on Washington, where the leadership is polarized and smart ideas go to die.