Skip to comments.Four Reasons Philadelphia Isnít Detroit
Posted on 07/22/2013 10:28:25 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
That didnt take long. Id 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 didnt much care for my column, earlier this month, proposing that Philadelphia secede from a state that doesnt realize the benefits we bring to it. Detroits bankruptcy, he concluded, provided a trump card in our ongoing debate.
Except it didnt. Philadelphia isnt Detroit.
Oh, sure, lots of people look at the cities and think theyre 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 Detroits 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 Detroits 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 isnt Detroit. Thats not to say we wont someday declare bankruptcy, only that the conditions that pushed Detroit over the edge arent even close to present here at the moment. A few quick reasons why:
The bond ratings agencies think were managing our finances adequately. Thats probably a surprise, given what we know about the pension problems squeezing Philadelphias budget. But its true: Standard & Poors last month upgraded Philadelphias 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 citys bonds is because of the diversity of rising economic sectors here, including health care, higher education, and services. We arent perfect, but were diverse, and thats made us better able to weather the really bad times.
Were growing. Thanks to births and an influx of international migration, Philadelphias 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 youre 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.
Philadelphias 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.
Were living in a bigger ecosystem. Detroit is situated within 100 miles of just two other major cities Toledo (which maybe doesnt count) and Cleveland (which does, jokes aside). Meanwhile Philadelphia counts four major cities in that proximity Newark, Jersey City, New York, and Baltimorewith Washington D.C. just 123 miles away.
It makes a difference. Go down to 30th Street Station any weekday morning, and youll 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 were cheaper than Manhattan! but it also means were not as isolated from, say, New Yorks relative economic success. Its a cushion, and inter-city rivalries aside, we should embrace it.
Weve got our problems. The murder rate is unacceptable in Philadelphia, the schools must be fixed, and the pension crisis isnt going away. But by dint of a number of factors some of them, admittedly, involving luck this city isnt in nearly as dire a situation as Detroit. Dont let anybody tell you otherwise.
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.
It could use a MOAB right about now.
Memphis isn’t much better is it?
Just less people to murder?
Ah, BUT! The kids of Bristol are still sharp as crystal when they do the Bristol Stomp!
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.
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.
5. They aren’t spelled the same way. I was our fifth grade spelling bee champ.
Phillys just a little smarter as their wage tax is higher. The magic bullet wage tax ya know.
too funny.try going UP green ave.
lost my master cylinder on shawmont ave. age 16.
just got my DL. OMG
The fact that the author is bragging about an abysmal A- bond rating is indicative of how low they have sunk.
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.
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
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
I need to see what “The Geeter with the Heater” Gerry Blavit has to say about that.
South Philly today is an amalgam of Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexicans, white trash, black trash, and a handful of elderly folks of Italian heritage.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.