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Four Reasons Philadelphia Isnít Detroit
The Philly Post ^ | 07/22/2013 | Joel Mathis

Posted on 07/22/2013 10:28:25 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

That didn’t take long. I’d barely just heard the news Thursday afternoon that Detroit had declared bankruptcy — the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history — when a challenge to me arrived fresh from the Twittersphere:

@joelmmathis im pretty sure the pple from Michigan would not oppose Detroit seceding from the rest of the state, what do you think?

— Rafalito (@IgnatiusGReilly) July 18, 2013

“Rafalito,” you may gather, is the nom de twit of a rural Pennsylvanian a Philly resident who didn’t much care for my column, earlier this month, proposing that Philadelphia secede from a state that doesn’t realize the benefits we bring to it. Detroit’s bankruptcy, he concluded, provided a trump card in our ongoing debate.

Except it didn’t. Philadelphia isn’t Detroit.

Oh, sure, lots of people look at the cities and think they’re seeing double. Both cities had thriving, union-driven manufacturing bases that crumbled away; both have municipal debt problems, and both have an extraordinary levels of poverty. What’s more, both traditionally suffer from municipal leadership that veers between merely ineffective to devastatingly corrupt. Observers here and around the country have been linking the two cities for years — some, like Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, have even eyed Detroit’s ruins with a bit of perverse envy.

“Ideas like that are born of a desperation that has not yet gripped Philadelphia,” Stu wrote in 2011, giving his approval to Detroit’s consideration of urban farms to replace empty neighborhoods. “Maybe it should.” Gotta love it when your metro columnists root for the destruction of the town they write about.

But again: Philadelphia — for all its problems — isn’t Detroit. That’s not to say we won’t someday declare bankruptcy, only that the conditions that pushed Detroit over the edge aren’t even close to present here at the moment. A few quick reasons why:

The bond ratings agencies think we’re managing our finances adequately. That’s probably a surprise, given what we know about the pension problems squeezing Philadelphia’s budget. But it’s true: Standard & Poor’s last month upgraded Philadelphia’s general obligation debt from B+++ (half-decent) to A- (decent) for the first time since 1979.

We were never a one-horse town. Detroit, once it became a car-production town, was pretty much only a car-production town — and when the American auto industry largely cratered over the last decade, Detroit lacked the resiliency to survive.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, had a more diverse base of manufacturing (and, for that matter, still does). We had textiles and the Navy shipyard and even machine-making manufacturers — and while most of that stuff is gone today, it disappeared in stages, meaning Philadelphia has never taken the roundhouse knockout blow Detroit has during the last decade.

And S&P? Part of the reason it upgraded the city’s bonds is because of the diversity of rising economic sectors here, including health care, higher education, and services. We aren’t perfect, but we’re diverse, and that’s made us better able to weather the really bad times.

We’re growing. Thanks to births and an influx of international migration, Philadelphia’s population has grown six years in a row. Detroit, meanwhile, saw its population decline from 1.8 million in 1950 to barely a third of that today. And that makes a difference: When you’re trying to run a city built for three times as many people as it actually holds, finding the money to maintain services can be difficult, if not impossible.

Philadelphia’s population also peaked in 1950, and did decline for most of the decades thereafter. But never at the same rate as Detroit — just (!!) a quarter of the population, not two-thirds — not even close. It makes a huge difference, sustainability-wise.

We’re living in a bigger ecosystem. Detroit is situated within 100 miles of just two other “major” cities — Toledo (which maybe doesn’t count) and Cleveland (which does, jokes aside). Meanwhile Philadelphia counts four major cities in that proximity — Newark, Jersey City, New York, and Baltimore—with Washington D.C. just 123 miles away.

It makes a difference. Go down to 30th Street Station any weekday morning, and you’ll find hundreds of Philadelphians waiting to get on a train to New York. They live here and work there, and yes, that means Philadelphia is something of a bedroom community — we’re cheaper than Manhattan! — but it also means we’re not as isolated from, say, New York’s relative economic success. It’s a cushion, and inter-city rivalries aside, we should embrace it.

We’ve got our problems. The murder rate is unacceptable in Philadelphia, the schools must be fixed, and the pension crisis isn’t going away. But by dint of a number of factors — some of them, admittedly, involving luck — this city isn’t in nearly as dire a situation as Detroit. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; News/Current Events; US: Michigan; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: bankruptcy; detroit; philadelphia
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To: EEGator
North Philly is America’s Mogadishu.

That's why I left in 1994. The irony is that I ended up in Memphis, which is only about half as bad as Philly.

21 posted on 07/22/2013 11:05:35 AM PDT by blackdog (There is no such thing as healing, only a balance between destructive and constructive forces.)
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To: blackdog

It could use a MOAB right about now.


22 posted on 07/22/2013 11:06:39 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: blackdog

Memphis isn’t much better is it?

Just less people to murder?


23 posted on 07/22/2013 11:07:23 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: bigbob
"Bandstand vs Motown...I’d call it a push"

Ah, BUT! The kids of Bristol are still sharp as crystal when they do the Bristol Stomp!

24 posted on 07/22/2013 11:11:40 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: EEGator
Memphis is much better, despite it's national recognition. Remember, anything in the south is at a media biased disadvantage.

I live in the midtown area of Memphis, equivalent to Chestnut Hill in Philly. A series of a few three and four bedroom homes, one with a gunnite pool. I rent them out to rich trust fund kids who attend a very high priced university within walking distance. I live in the one in the middle.

25 posted on 07/22/2013 11:13:58 AM PDT by blackdog (There is no such thing as healing, only a balance between destructive and constructive forces.)
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To: blackdog

Okay. It sounds like you have it pretty good down there. Make some decent cash, and you get to keep an eye on your places.

Rhodes College?


26 posted on 07/22/2013 11:21:07 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: SeekAndFind

5. They aren’t spelled the same way. I was our fifth grade spelling bee champ.


27 posted on 07/22/2013 11:21:50 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: SeekAndFind

Phillys just a little smarter as their wage tax is higher. The magic bullet wage tax ya know.


28 posted on 07/22/2013 11:27:56 AM PDT by keving (We get the government we vote for)
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To: blackdog

too funny.try going UP green ave.
lost my master cylinder on shawmont ave. age 16.
just got my DL. OMG


29 posted on 07/22/2013 11:53:20 AM PDT by Donnafrflorida (Thru HIM all things are possible.)
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To: EEGator

Yep!


30 posted on 07/22/2013 12:10:09 PM PDT by blackdog (There is no such thing as healing, only a balance between destructive and constructive forces.)
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To: GeronL

The fact that the author is bragging about an abysmal A- bond rating is indicative of how low they have sunk.


31 posted on 07/22/2013 12:26:17 PM PDT by expat2
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To: SeekAndFind
I guess not. Philadelphia's Detroit is spelled "C-A-M-D-E-N" and is in another state. Philly does manage to have a more balanced economy, a livelier downtown, and some big-time colleges. Detroit was lacking all those things (sorry, Wayne State).

But even if Mathis is right, he's wrong. Getting into a flame war with an anonymous commenter -- not being able to avoid settling petty personal scores -- is a sign that a media person has no taste and no class.

32 posted on 07/22/2013 12:39:10 PM PDT by x
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To: SeekAndFind
These writers are delusional. Almost every city in America has a government pension time bomb ticking down. Yes, Detroit has suffered abandonment by manufacturers but so has every city. It is the governments that refused to change and adapt. Not only that, those governments were elected by the government unions who campaigned, voted and financed their elections. Boston suffered race riots, had burned out abandoned sections of the city and huge manufacturing losses as well. I grew up in Boston and trust me, Boston of the 70’s is long gone. The government did not rebuild Boston, the people did. Boston's government pension system is in about the same shape as Detroit's. We will even add a casino just like Detroit did. No, we don't have abandoned factories rusting out like we use to but our city government looks the same as theirs. Those unions voted for those elected officials, they created their own mess.
33 posted on 07/22/2013 1:06:48 PM PDT by outpostinmass2
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To: outpostinmass2

The First 10 City Pensions That Will Run Out Of Money

#10 Fort Worth...Unfunded liability: $2 billion Unfunded liability per household: $7,212 Solvency horizon: 2023
#9 Detroit...(already Obamasized)

#8 Baltimore...Unfunded liability: $3.7 billion Unfunded liability per household: $15,420 Solvency horizon: 2022

#7 New York City...Unfunded liability: $122.2 billion Unfunded liability per household: $38,886 Solvency horizon: 2021

#6 Jacksonville...Unfunded liability: $4 billion Unfunded liability per household: $12,994 Solvency horizon: 2020

#5 St. Paul...Unfunded liability: $1.4 billion Unfunded liability per household: $13,686 Solvency horizon: 2020

#4 Cincinnati...Unfunded liability: $2 billion Unfunded liability per household: $15,681 Solvency horizon: 2020

#3 Boston...Unfunded liability: $7.5 billion Unfunded liability per household: $30,901 Solvency horizon: 2019

#2 Chicago...Unfunded liability: $44.8 billion Unfunded liability per household: $41,966 Solvency horizon: 2019

#1 Philadelphia..Unfunded liability: $9 billion Unfunded liability per household: $16,690 Solvency horizon: 2015

http://www.businessinsider.com/first-city-pensions-insolvent-2010-12?slop=1#slideshow-start


34 posted on 07/22/2013 3:49:22 PM PDT by TurboZamboni (Marx smelled bad & lived with his parents most his life.)
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To: Jimmy Valentine
I hate it when you young-uns get the lyrics wrong. Just like "Nuke" LaLoosh in Bull Durham singing "She may be wooly"

Bristol Stomp refrain goes:
"The kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol
When they do the Bristol Stomp
Really somethin' when the joint is jumpin'
When they do the Bristol Stomp"

Just Remember what The Orlons claimed:
South Street is the hippest street in town

35 posted on 07/23/2013 4:56:27 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine's brother (01-21-13, Obama declares war on The Constitution of the United States)
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To: SeekAndFind

Yet.


36 posted on 07/23/2013 6:49:35 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: Jimmy Valentine's brother

I need to see what “The Geeter with the Heater” Gerry Blavit has to say about that.


37 posted on 07/23/2013 7:05:28 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: Donnafrflorida
Without further immigration, ethnic neighborhoods cannot survive. There hasn't been sizable Italian immigration since right after WWII, hence no more "Italian" neighborhoods.

South Philly today is an amalgam of Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexicans, white trash, black trash, and a handful of elderly folks of Italian heritage.

38 posted on 07/23/2013 2:56:59 PM PDT by Clemenza ("History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil governm)
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To: Jimmy Valentine
I think you mean Jerry Blavat - the Geator with the Heator; the Boss with the Hot Sauce; the King of Philly Rock & Roll.

You kids.

39 posted on 07/24/2013 4:41:59 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine's brother (01-21-13, Obama declares war on The Constitution of the United States)
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