BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Paul Mason
« Previous | Main | Next »

Gary, Indiana: Unbroken spirit amid the ruins of the 20th Century

Paul Mason | 10:47 UK time, Tuesday, 12 October 2010

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.



I'd been to Gary, Indiana before. In April 2009, when the Obama fiscal stimulus had just begun, the city's mayor had told me that all the city needed was $400m of stimulus money in order to "fly like an eagle and make our country proud".

To put this in context you have to know that Gary, home to what is still US Steel Corp's biggest plant, is suffering from one of the most advanced cases of urban blight in the developed world. Its city centre is near-deserted by day. The texture of the urban landscape is cracked stone, grass, crumbled brick and buddleia.

Gary is one third poor, 84% African American, and has seen its population halve over the past three decades. If crime, as the official figures suggest, has recently dropped off then - say the critics - that is because population flight from the city is bigger than the census figures show.

Gary in the end got $266m of stimulus money and has, according to the federal "recipient reported data" created a grand total of 327 jobs. That's $800,000 per job.

I went back determined to find out how the stimulus dollars had been spent; to get beyond the ideology and recriminations and see why President Barack Obama's stimulus has failed to turn the country around.

Because - if anywhere needs a stimulus it is Gary. If there were ever an easy win to be gained from state spending you would think it might be here.

David Tribby, professional photographer and son of a local steelworker, specialises in exploring urban decay. I persuaded Mr Tribby to take me into some of Gary's wrecked architectural masterpieces.

The striking thing is that they are all structurally dangerous and yet totally accessible. I did not have to cross a single piece of wire, tape or fencing to get in, nor did I encounter a security guard or dog patrol. The city seems to have given up even securing these ruins.

Urban dereliction

We toured the City Methodist Church - built in the 1920s with local stone. We stood on the once-sprung floor of the ballet studio in the Methodist School. We tramped through the remains of the post office, opened by Henry Morgenthau in 1936 as a New Deal reconstruction project, its wood-block floor coming apart; the peep-holes in the overhead walkway showing where Depression-era managers would check on the work-rate of the postal workers below.

I sat on the back row of the Seaman Hall, its seats creaking dustily, and imagined the young steelworkers and their girlfriends in the 1950s, playing Big Daddy and Maggie the Cat in an am-dram production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, whose playbill is still peeling off the stage door amid the crumbling stonework of the proscenium arch.

I stood where Frank Sinatra stood on the day he came to Gary in 1945.

It was a feisty occasion because hundreds of white Gary school kids had gone on strike against the right of black kids to swim one day a week in the same swimming pool, and share the instruments in the band room.

Ol' Blue Eyes cancelled a $10,000 gig, rushed to the Gary Memorial Auditorium, told the audience this was the most shameful event in the history of education, warned them he could "lick any S.O.B in the room" and then sang.

He did not, as in this 1945 propaganda film accuse them of being no better than a bunch of Nazis, but he did sing the song from that film - "The House I Live In" - a schmaltzy paean to what were then seen as core American values: religious tolerance and anti-racism. It was a film that would win Sinatra an Oscar, shortly followed, as the political climate changed, by a hounding from Senator Joe McCarthy.

What Sinatra fought against, three decades of industrial decline managed to complete. There has been "white flight" from Gary. More precisely there has been "middle class flight" - ie the salariat, including many of the steelworkers, has moved out, or moved into landscaped and patrolled communities on the edge of town.

Brink of bankruptcy?

So what's the story with Gary and the stimulus? The mayor believes the city is "last in line" when it comes to federal money - because the money is dispensed via the state of Indiana, which is Republican controlled. Mayor Rudy Clay tells me:

"I guess they thought, well, Gary voted in large numbers for the president, enabling him to take the state of Indiana, so he will look after them."

But it is more complex - Gary's public finances are a mess. It owes tens of millions of dollars to other entities. Its great get-out-of-jail card - tax revenue from casinos - turned out to be a busted flush. Its convention centre is dark most of the time. The one-time Sheraton Hotel, right next to the City Hall, is derelict.

With no ability to raise a local income tax it is reliant on property tax. But the State of Indiana passed laws capping tax raising powers, so by 2012 Gary's tax income from property will halve.

At that point, according to the fiscal monitor appointed by the city, it will lack the revenue to fund even its police, fire and ambulance services. The monitor calls for much of the rest of Gary's services to be privatised - but as city officials point out, once privatised they cannot enforce job guarantees that allow the city to employ local people. Says the monitor, bluntly:

"The city will simply have to give up some long-standing - and often important - services that are the responsibility of other governments, even when it is likely that those governments will not provide the same level of service."

In summary, Gary is about two years away from bankruptcy and is being forced to cut taxes and cut spending even as the federal government tries to pump money through.

In this context, with the stimulus money not available to fix the core financial problem, the results were always going to be patchy.

In the event the stimulus dollars have mainly gone to a one-off schools re-organisation project - you can see some of the results of that in my report tonight - and to street renovation, and beefing up the arsenal of the local police. Gary's police have to combine The Wire style policing with a kind of armed social work amid a Gary's night-time chaos of "recreational shooting" and domestic disputes.

Philosophical divide

When I speak to the Republican governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, about Gary's plight, he is blunt. He blames Congress for micromanagement of where the stimulus could be spent. Could nothing more have been done?

"If there been more flexibility about the funds [from the US Congress], it could have, but I think it's important to be charitable here - Gary has been a disaster for many, many years. It is a tragedy what has occurred there and in some other cities here in the US. There wasn't going to be an immediate turn around, no matter how many borrowed dollars you showered on the place. "

But, how can you enforce fiscal austerity on a place like Gary, at the same time as the official policy of the federal government is to reflate the economy? Surely, I ask Mr Daniels, something has to give? He says:

"Gary's the most extreme case that you could find in our state, but there are many others that are a lesser version of that same story, and as I say to those communities - their leaders - all the time: people aren't leaving here because you didn't tax them enough, because you didn't spend enough money on this or that public service - they left because you taxed them too much or you simply did not create the conditions for a private sector to flourish."

And that brings you right back up against the philosophical divide in American politics.

Large parts of the Indiana population believe all taxpayer dollars spent on Gary are wasted. Some Republican candidates in the 2 November election are standing on the explicit message that there has been no positive impact at all from the stimulus.

Whereas in Europe, and even parts of Asia, the national government would have taken charge of vectoring regeneration money to a place like Gary, the US does not seem in a mood to do public regeneration.

Uncertain future

Gary's city officials are well aware that there are templates for resurrecting their city, and they've got the basic first steps defined - demolishing 3,000 derelict homes, installing new street lights. The stimulus money applied for in each case has been slow in coming and less than asked for. Beyond the ideology, the American public sector seems very poorly geared to spending money, full stop, despite being in charge of quite a lot of it.

Gary's uncertain future fascinates economists and urban planning experts - along with cities like Detroit and Flint in Michigan it is in danger of just being reclaimed by nature. One of the black community leaders I met in Gary was passionately advocating that they simply raze whole blocks to the ground and set up urban farms.

When you go into the wreck of the Palace Theatre on Gary's Broadway - just across from the wreck of VJ Records, which released the Beatles' first ever single in the US - you get a sense of the splendour of an industrial community at its height.

When it opened, the theatre - like so much of Gary's architecture, built in the "Mission Revival" style - contained blue fountains and crushed velvet, each seat arm moulded into a Moroccan-style arch.

In the orchestra pit there is a squashed grand piano, made in Chicago by Adam Schaff, surely the original one installed there in 1927. I banged its grime encrusted keys and discovered to my astonishment that, amid the clunks and groans, a clear D-sharp three octaves above Middle C.

It took just a single century for Gary to rise and fall. Its people still carry that relaxed pride you find in black communities across the industrial mid-West. It's a developed and quite mature urban culture - where everybody seems to know each other, an edgy community but not really a broken one, despite the night-time drug and gun antics of some young men. Go into the schools and you can feel that its spirit is not broken. What is broken is the landscape.

If it is ever one day fixed we will know that America has found a way to cope with the urban collapse that comes with industrial decline. Conversely Gary may be just the first leafy oasis of a post-industrial dystopia that awaits, maybe a century down the line.


Watch my report from Gary on Newsnight at 2230 on Tuesday 12 October 2010. Or catch it afterwards on the BBC iPlayer. On Wednesday I explore the new penury of America's middle class - and the political discontent it is stoking up.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    May be not a century more likely a few decades as the decline seems to be accelerating. America's political system seems to force short termism and the interests of capital on its society. This in sharp contrast to France where the roots of American democracy can be traced. With China and climate change the USA has met its match and perhaps its nemesis.
    If Gary is maybe unknowingly pioneering a new USA what are the consequences for the world of the trauma of transition of that country?

  • Comment number 2.

    ''One of the black community leaders I met in Gary was passionately advocating that they simply raze whole blocks to the ground and set up urban farms.''

    That is probably the best you can do, in a highly mechanised world where there will never be enough jobs again for everyone, unless you want to invent millions of futile non jobs that make people miserable doing them and in so doing them add no value to society.

    If you can not get a full time job, and possibly never will because all you are qualified to do is now done by machines, I have long suggested that a baseline form of a sustainable community model could provide such long term unemployed with a sense of positive purpose and life satisfaction.

    The modern approach seems to be to train them to death for non existent jobs while simultaneously just giving them enough cash to survive and get Sky plus plus a crate of cheap lager a week. The fundamental issue is being swept under the carpet not proactively assessed and dealt with like an engineer would analyse a problem and develop asolution.

    If it were down to me I would be looking to try to create a system where generally people worked less and that communities have a certain ammount of in-built sustainability which provides abaseline maintenece and food production role for those whom may never be able to get 'jobs' in the current economic model sense. It would work something like a Kibbutz for baseline human needs with everyone contributing, but that would not detract from inventing and trading new products and services as well for those suitable gifted and trained to act in that kind of sphere.

    Such a society would provide a base level sense of self worth and value to society without (hopefully) compromising the excitement that comes with a capitalist dynamic. You could call it sustainable capitalism or intelligent capatalism or managed capitalism if you like.

    From an engineers perspective such a system looks like it would go some way to address the issues of our time, in part brought about by our own sucess as a species.

    The continual frustration for me is that it seems so obvious and so right as an approach but you will not find it expressed as amainstream media view anyway. The whole debate is dominated by media, political and financial leverage which is sucessfully by-passing democracy by what amounts to , essentially, a policy of mis-information to maintain the status quo.

    It is all so very very frustrating, pointless and contributes massively to the burden of unecesarry human suffering.









  • Comment number 3.

    Fascinating - good journalism.

    Barbarism is coming fast!

  • Comment number 4.

    ..If it is ever one day fixed we will know that America has found a way to cope with the urban collapse that comes with industrial decline..

    caused by which country and its currency manipulation?

    the assumption here is that 'market forces' are at work rather than China's marxist nationalist economic warfare.

    the chinses currency should be the strongest in the world and the usa and gb among the weakest. so jobs should be flooding into the the usa and uk but its not because china keeps its currency weaker than usd and gbp.

    In the same way some see crime in terms of failure of law some [usually on the left] see currency manipulation in terms of the 'failure of capitalism'.

  • Comment number 5.

    #2 Jericoa

    "If it were down to me I would be looking to try to create a system where generally people worked less and that communities have a certain ammount of in-built sustainability...Such a society would provide a base level sense of self worth and value to society without (hopefully) compromising the excitement that comes with a capitalist dynamic."

    Doesn't an analysis of capitalism show that only one value matters - the value of money?
    Capitalism is all about accumulation - growth for the sake of growth - money making more money.
    It is fundamentally at odds with nature & the root cause of the ecological crisis.

    To have any chance of living sustainably humanity needs to gain its freedom from the profit system - we need to replace capitalism.
    We need to take control of the reproduction of society by directly controlling the means of production (preferably through direct democracy rather than some paternalistic dictatorship).

    The enemy of nature is capitalism.

  • Comment number 6.

    Paul, I'm glad your are covering all of this, but over three years ago I recall posters on the NN blog eferring to this from America's ETS.

    http://www.ets.org/perfect_storm

    Why did the BBC never cover it? It isn't as if many others in this area of work hadn't been warning about it for years. Now, in your programmes, you cover what was heralded. Why does nobody cover the underlying causes as set out here (in the video especially)?


    "4. At 1:37pm on 12 Oct 2010, jauntycyclist wrote:
    ..If it is ever one day fixed we will know that America has found a way to cope with the urban collapse that comes with industrial decline..

    caused by which country and its currency manipulation?

    the assumption here is that 'market forces' are at work rather than China's marxist nationalist economic warfare.

    the chinses currency should be the strongest in the world and the usa and gb among the weakest. so jobs should be flooding into the the usa and uk but its not because china keeps its currency weaker than usd and gbp."

    Can you not see how you are confused? China has a managed Planned Economy, the USA has a libertarian, free-market economy. They are on the same planet, but they operate with different Constitutions. You have to look at each system from within it's own system and not look at each in terms of each other. Each consider themselves democracies.

    Look up Uderdetermination of Theory by Evidence, it's one of the Three Indeterminacies. This is a matter of mathematical logic and language, which you can not get around. Whilst you are at it, look up Ontological Relativity. To bring that down to earth with a a bump, try to understand that you can generate the same low level code from more than one high level language. You are doing so now as you write comments. China manages its population and its government has a primary duty to its people, not the rest of the world or to shareholders (who could be anywhere in the USA given the NYSE etc). If US companies don't want goods from China and don't want to set up factories in China, it does not have to. It is Americans who have done this, to enrich a minority.

    They only care about the other Americans as consumers. What will happen is that US based businesses will look for consumers elsewhere in the world, in developing markets. They have no national loyalty like China does.

    Stop referring to China as if it is another USA which is not playing by the USA's rules. Why should it?

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi, there are attempts to legislate Livable Communities Acts which go toward Federal and local government coordination of regeneration.The shrinking cities programmes might have some influence on policy.At least US politicians are paying it attention, including Sen Dodds.

  • Comment number 8.

    6. At 3:20pm on 12 Oct 2010, tabblenabble01 wrote:
    ...Stop referring to China as if it is another USA which is not playing by the USA's rules. Why should it?
    ---------------------------------------------------
    For once a agree with what you say.
    It is often said that the role of the IMF is to push countries into the US economic model, with an agenda to try and get most of the world into the most compatible style of commerce as in free market capitalism.

  • Comment number 9.

    Very heartbreaking. If the private sector can rejuvenate a town or city that is in post-industrial decline then it will be in places like this in the USA. Until then, us Europeans will use 'socialist' methods to rejuvenate our post-industrial cities.

  • Comment number 10.

    There are advantages in getting older: in this instance I have a sense of deja vu as I started life in a wrecked town: it was called London.

    Of course the circumstances are wholly dissimilar but there are resonances in that resources are short, the people behave stoically and the worse has already happened. It can only get better.

    The only way for government to manage this is to facilitate the local people to improve their own environment. Seed money is critical, the jobs it creates go to locals including those who are to train the locals. Some sort of training audit has to be conducted among the population.

    Above all else the local people must be facilitated to take control for themselves. This does not take money, it does not need a bureaucracy: all it needs is the common consent that comes from people gathering together to get the job done.

    Sure, the town will shrink because its economy has shrunk but this does not mean that the community need die. Yes, the community will have to evolve economically so that it can eventually become more self-sustaining but that is not impossible even though it seems a long way off at the moment.

    I have no idea how this will fit into the seemingly important structures of political philosophy that people get passionate about. Some might call this socialism, others might call it self-help, and some will rattle on about social capital. However, in my view we just need something that works, so lets get facilitating.

  • Comment number 11.

    This isn't news.
    Gary, Indiana fell apart 40 years ago.

  • Comment number 12.

    8. At 3:51pm on 12 Oct 2010, Kit Green wrote:

    "For once a agree with what you say."

    Or maybe for once you understand what I say? The World Bank and IMF are USA creations (like the UN). Look into who the presidents have been and are. Be sure to get you Null Hypothesis Testing kit out when you do too.
    When you look at the Nobel Prize for economics, bear in mind that that isn't really a Nobel, it's just a business creation. Look at observed vs expected frequencies of its winners and think how Hollywood etc promotes its wares..


    10. At 5:40pm on 12 Oct 2010, stanilic wrote:

    "I have no idea how this will fit into the seemingly important structures of political philosophy that people get passionate about.
    Some might call this socialism, others might call it self-help, and some will rattle on about social capital. However, in my view we just need something that works, so lets get facilitating."


    One of the things we have to do here is look at our assumptions. Gary was not bombed.

    Secondly, if one were to inject a stimulus into say Lagos, would its economy pick up? Would law and order improve? If so, why haven't lots of companies done exactly that to make use of the readily available labour (Nigeria like Bangladesh and Pakistan have become three times the size of the UK population in just the last half century). Note, at the same time, the UK population would have been obviously shrinking were it not for our immigrants.

    Thirdly, you appear to have missed a crucial part of what Paul wrote:

    "Gary in the end got $266m of stimulus money and has, according to the federal "recipient reported data" created a grand total of 327 jobs.
    That's $800,000 per job.

    I went back determined to find out how the stimulus dollars had been spent; to get beyond the ideology and recriminations and see why President Barack Obama's stimulus has failed to turn the country around.

    Because - if anywhere needs a stimulus it is Gary. If there were ever an easy win to be gained from state spending you would think it might be here."


    If one looks at the ETS video listed, one should begin to see where the problems lie. For that to work though, one has to abandon some cherished assumptions about how plastic people are in response to environmental stimuli. THAT I suggest is a prejudice which most of us since the end of WWII have never adequately questioned. When more do, a lot is going to change. Until we do, it will, I suggest just keep getting worse like a very slow train wreck.

  • Comment number 13.

    A world run for profit results in a world not worth living in. Gary wasn't profitable, so the city and its people have been discarded. The United States has always been a business run society, but it has become increasingly extreme in the latter 20th and early 21st centuries. It is being run for the exclusive benefit of 1% of the population, often at the direct cost to the other 99%. Infrastructure is breaking down everywhere and we are become a third world nation. This is a direct result of having a one party political system masquerading as a two party system. We have a business party called the Republican Party and we have another business party called the Democratic Party. The former is far-right and the latter is a little less far right. Then we also have a national security state that keeps the leaders in line and executes people occasionally to make a point. It is a sad conclusion to a promising beginning, and in just a little more than two centuries. And Britain has been going the same way.

  • Comment number 14.

    For anyone that misses the Bush era policies and practices, wait until the republicans run the govenor of Indiana. You won't be disappointed.

  • Comment number 15.

    12

    Not unexpectedly the point I was trying to make has been missed. This was that the government should facilitate the local people to take control of their lives.

    This is not a stimulus in the traditional sense with all the associated bureaucracy and political glad-handing, it is about enabling ordinary folk to turn their local economy about. The joke is that it won't cost much.

    When it comes to missing something, I remarked that the experience of London immediately post-war is wholly dissimilar to that of Gary today. The resonances are in the attitudes of the people who want to start over.

  • Comment number 16.

    The video referred to by tabblenabble01 has been pushed on the BBC blogosphere by a variety of similar sounding individuals at different times. Are they shareholders, employees, or managers in this commercial organisation? Other bloggers need to know in order to measure their attitude. Even if these people have no direct association with this company have they obtained the approval of this business to associate themselves with the firm?

  • Comment number 17.

    @5 duvinrouge "We need to take control of the reproduction of society by directly controlling the means of production"

    This is yet another empty phrase from you.

    1) Who do you mean by "we"?
    2) Significant parts of the "means of production" for the UK are abroad. For example, I presume "taking control" doesn't involve invading China? The UK consumes rather more than it produces. The balance largely is ripped off from the world's poor by the financial system. Britain's "poor" exploit the majority world's poor - albeit unwittingly.
    3) As for our own means of production, how are the urban population - the majority - going to "take control" of the farms for example?
    4) How will "direct democracy" work? Shall we have mass meetings to decide where to plant potatoes, or whether to reopen some coal mines?

    Look at the real world, and not your sterile Marxist textbooks. Try coming up with a practical plan as to how to start to improve the real world and your own community. Where are YOU going to start?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEqi0cs-Crw

    PS - I don't think it's necessarily going to be "alright".

  • Comment number 18.

    Gary in the end got $266m of stimulus money and has, according to the federal "recipient reported data" created a grand total of 327 jobs.
    That's $800,000 per job.


    It was mentioned in Mark Mardell's blog by an American poster (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2010/10/mid_terms_tea_party_nevada.html Post#97) that we also have to take into account jobs saved by the stimulus too, not just jobs created.

  • Comment number 19.


    Gary's population change

    1940 111,719 11.0%
    1950 133,911 19.9%
    1960 178,320 33.2%
    1970 175,415 -1.6%
    1980 144,953 -17.4%
    1990 116,646 -19.5%
    2000 102,746 -11.9%
    Est. 2008 95,920 -6.6%

    U.S. Census Bureau

    "The racial makeup of the city was 84.03% African American, 11.92% White, 0.21% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.97% from other races, and 1.71% from two or more races. 4.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race."Wikipedia

    "Gary was rated the 17th most dangerous city in the United States according to Morgan Quitno's 2007 analysis of crime rates (City Crime Rankings, 14th Edition), down from 10th highest in the 2006 edition.
    This is indicative of the progress Gary has made in reducing crime since the 1990s.[citation needed] The city recorded 51 homicides in 2006, a
    13.5 percent decrease from the previous year. In 2007, Gary had 71 homicides — almost a 40 percent increase over 2006."


    As a comparison the homicide rate for the entire England & Wales homicide rate for 2008/9 was just 648

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jul/16/crime-figures-recession-impact


    13. At 7:42pm on 12 Oct 2010, Jessica MacGilvray wrote:

    "This is a direct result of having a one party political system masquerading as a two party system."

    Most of what you've written is indeed true of Britain too, and whilst you're probably mainly right, the primary driver is probably mainly the slow change in demographics (births and non-births across groups) given that so much of behaviour )which includes preferences) is largely genetic. What is almost impossible to circumvent is the environmentalist (i.e that money or education is a fixer) which one protected elite group has peddled for decades to its own advantage at the expense of the majority. Too few look into that vested interest

  • Comment number 20.

    "16. At 8:35pm on 12 Oct 2010, stanilic wrote:
    The video referred to by tabblenabble01 has been pushed on the BBC blogosphere by a variety of similar sounding individuals at different times."

    Oh dear. No. What you need to grasp is that ETS has been responsible for most of the national testing in the USA since the 1940s. They should, I suggest, be seen as the monitors of the nation's (genetic) abilities. The NAEP for instance is known a The National Report Card.

    What ETS found most remarkable was that despite this all being well known in the profession, most people just still don't get what's going on. Why might that be do you think? Did you pick up on the demographics of Gary?

    It isn't that different people pointing this out deserves attention.
    It's that despite the force of the message, people like yourself don't get it. People with low genetic cognitive ability can't "turn their local economy about" any more than those in Lagos can. Why can't you get this?

  • Comment number 21.

    In the US and UK the great and good [self appointed of course] have been telling us for years that manufacturing is dead in our countries and our future lies in financial services. Well in the last few years we have all seen where relying on the geniuses in Wall street and London has got us. The countries that have planned and fought to keep a strong manufacturing sector,Germany, Japan and France, have not suffered as much as us. How do our financial geniuses explain the ever increasing wealth of China when they keep telling us that manufacturing is no good to us and we will make our living from saving energy and selling each other expensive services we cannot afford.

  • Comment number 22.

    I know someone who lived near Gary, Indiana, for a brief time in the 1950s.

    I was told that back then it was a flourishing town, predominantly white blue-collar and middle-class, that had prospered from the demand for steel in World War Two and the post-War years.

    I was also told by this person that they were totally shocked by the very apparent signs of racism towards African-Americans by some of the white populance back then.

    The person I know was glad to get out. Never went back.

    Reading about the city in recent years, and watching Paul's intro video above, the place looks akin to a war zone than a city in the World's richest and most powerful country. Very sad.

    Didn't the Jackson family, of Michael Jackon and The Jackson Five fame, come from Gary?

  • Comment number 23.

    @5 Actually, you've done me a favour. What am I going to do?

    1) Form a local branch of the Green Party.
    2) Argue in the local/national press for green taxes, capital gains taxes and redistributive taxes.
    3) Campaign for financial reform on the basis of social credit/abolition of fractional reserve banking.
    4) Encourage mass demonstrations against the government (peaceful - though I think the City of London needs a non-racist Kristallnacht.)
    5) Work harder on my vegetable garden.

    First I need to pass my OU exam next week. In 6 months time I hope there'll be a progress report, or I'll give up blogging.

    Of course, I already raise money for charity via my choir, run their website, write press reports etc. You may sneer at charity - Marxists tend to, but as well as keeping the lifeboats going, hospices going, cancer nurses going and so on, it's also being part of a COMMUNITY, without which we have nothing. One thing is clear to me: TALK on its own is no good!

    http://invereskstreet.blogspot.com/2007/09/that-alex-glasgow-song.html

    I have a CD of Alex Glasgow, and I'll upload this song to my Youtube channel soon, together with "Close the coalhouse door".

  • Comment number 24.

    20

    The message being given out is quite obvious, loud, clear and quite obnoxious.

    Ethnicity has nothing to do with poverty and a lack of aspiration. For too long the handout has been used to condition people to live in poverty and squalor. What is needed is a hand-up, opportunity, and education.

    It is so often the case that abusers uses the conditions in which the abused are forced to live in order to justify their abuse.

    There is that old hippy slogan that a person has to decide if they are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution. This has become a bit of a cliche but it does rather define attitudes.

  • Comment number 25.

    Capitalism and Banking will be celebrated at the annual Lord Mayor's Show on 13th November. How about a counter-demonstration with a counter-float?* Make it an annual event.

    * A little bit of "gallows humour" involving effigies of Sir Shred et al?

  • Comment number 26.


    See some lovely pictures of Detroit here http://www.photojpl.com/themes/detroit-ruins/ or http://seedetroit.com/pictures/mcsweb/.

    I think the majority of Americans don't care about these cities. It seems to be a case of 'well I'm alright Jack'. It is their cultural history they are losing.

  • Comment number 27.

    "24. At 9:45pm on 12 Oct 2010, stanilic wrote:
    20

    The message being given out is quite obvious, loud, clear and quite obnoxious.

    Ethnicity has nothing to do with poverty and a lack of aspiration. For too long the handout has been used to condition people to live in poverty and squalor. What is needed is a hand-up, opportunity, and education."

    Sadly, sometimes truths are unpleasant, and this is one which is well known to professionals. What one has to do is face up to this or live a life of make-believe.

    Did you watch http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11505193 Louis
    Theroux in Lagos ? This is not so much about race, as about people and how far they have developed (or matured) because of how they are made genetically.

    If you think have the evidence to the contrary, I promise you have a large number of eager professionals out there who would just love to see your data. Your thoughts on the others hand, they will just politely ignore as refuted wishful thinking, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 28.

    Mason wrote: "There has been "white flight" from Gary"

    You have no idea what "white flight" really means or why it happens.

    In #22, tawse57 wrote: "I know someone who lived near Gary, Indiana, for a brief time in the 1950s"

    I never lived in Gary, but I traveled there for weddings and funerals, as I lived in the vicinity for a long time. And my experience is much more recent than the 1950s.

    In #22, tawse57 wrote: "they were totally shocked by the very apparent signs of racism towards African-Americans"

    In the 1950s, there was racism everywhere, including in London. So what?

    Let me tell you why "white flight" occurs.

    My cousin was a mild-mannered boy and grew up to be a mild-mannered man. As his Chicago neighborhood became more and more black, he started getting beaten up by the new residents. Eventually his parents moved away because they were afraid he would be permanently injured. They had to sell their house for much less than it was worth just a few years before; no one wanted to be the last white family to leave and black families would not / could not offer much money. Many of my relatives and friends lost money on their houses in this manner and I'm not talking about 10-20% losses.

    A white teenaged girl I know got lost driving in the south side of Chicago. A police car actually drove up behind her and told her via the loudspeaker to leave the neighborhood.

    A woman I know was driving down a major street in the south side of Chicago. At a stoplight, a few black boys brazenly entered her car and demanded to be taken to a specific address. Luckily for her, all they wanted was a ride. After that, we all locked our doors while driving in Chicago.

    I could go on and on, but I suspect the general mood here is too liberal to listen.

    P.S. Yes, the Jackson family hails from Gary.

  • Comment number 29.

    #7 Shireblogger

    Interesting and unexpected snippet of information that which I will look into once I am free from my own leveraged gross capitalist system (i.e the company I work for) tomorrow, as it happens. looking forward to it actually.

    To 'raze blocks and turn them into urban farms'' is definitely an option that should be actively pursued with stimulus money, it is far more likely to leave a positive legacy than ' digging a hole in the road so you can pay someone to fill it in again' . I would add sustainable energy technology to the urban farms as well, be it a wind turbine or a 'waste to energy' plant.

    That is the kind of thing we should be turning our energy and technology towards to release people from a life of debt servitude in one form or another. Gary would be an excellent test case to make such a thing work.

    It is heartening to know that such things are being looked at by some people (at least) with influence.

    #5

    I like bits of capitalism (the dynamism and creativity mostly) as much as i hate other aspects (the greed and debt servitude it creates).

    I like bits of communism ( the idea of a baseline equality) as much as i hate other aspects (the drabness pseudo equality seems to make).

    If you can develop a system of governance that actively walks the line between the two and actively modifies it accordingly in line with prevailing geo political and resource issues are prevalent in any time then you should get the best of both worlds.

    I guess the trouble we have is that the illusion of democracy (as is the case now) is supposed to be able to provide that, but it has been hijacked by leveraged media, political and financial hedgemoney such that it no longer can.

    What those interests know is that the people will vote for what is put in front of them based on the information that is provided to them. control those 2 things and you control democracy as effectively (if not more so) than the former USSR controlled its population by giving them the illusion of choice.

    The russians often say even now, the USA is just like russia, except they are better at disguising it.

    The more you look at recent USA behaviour (Iraq and afghanistan, being the most obvious) the more you relaise the truth of this.

    In theory the internet being a 'free for all'' medium should be able to bust this unspeakable cartel, but on that score, thus far it has failed.


    I guess all one can do is keep trying. At least having being thrown out of a micro free market capitalist system now ( my company) i may have alittle more time to work on it, the funny bit is they threw me out because i was always challenging the way they did things and they rarely could find a way counter my arguments, the paradox being that they have had to pay handsomely for the privelidge of doing so.


    #23

    The world would be a better place if there were more people like you.

  • Comment number 30.

    #24 stanilic wrote:

    '20

    The message being given out is quite obvious, loud, clear and quite obnoxious.'

    -------------------------

    You just don't get it do you!

    I strongly suspect that your education is arts/humanities biased?

    What is your IQ?

    I propose that you do not have the mental ability to understand what tn01 is talking about.

    In essence, you are trying to argue with data/numbers.

    Trust me, you will always lose!

  • Comment number 31.

    Superb item. One of the best on Newsnight in a long time.

    Although it only scratched the surface of American decline, and touched upon the racism behind that decline, it reminded me of the incisive and questioning documentaries that Charles Wheeler used to make about the States.

    I can think of no higher praise.

    Gary is a warning of what may be yet to become of numerous other cities in the North-West USA - again most of them predominantly populated by African Americans - especially with so many US cities on the brink of bankruptcy being in debt to the tune of several billion dollars each.

    Avery Brooks, otherwise known as Captain Sisko of 'Star Trek - Deep Space Nine', hails from Gary, Indiana. Part of his role in Star Trek was to play 'The Emissary of the Prophets' of an enslaved alien people and lead them through turmoil and war to freedom and peace.

    I doubt even 'The Emissary of the Prophets' could save Gary now. Certainly not the one in the Whitehouse.

  • Comment number 32.

    Paul Mason.

    just watched your report on Newsnight, very interesting. I was particularly impressed (depressed?) by the telling visuals, the US of A in 2010 is still, evidently, deeply racist.

  • Comment number 33.

    Oops, I got my compass mixed up - in my previous post I meant the North-East and not the North-West.

  • Comment number 34.

  • Comment number 35.

    I wish I could watch this whole show however this does not seem to be possible outside of the UK. I was born and raised in Gary and I currently live there. I am white and I have never been beaten up, robbed at gunpoint or threatened, nor have any of my relatives or friends. I have black and white neighbors. I witnessed the racism and white flight of the late 60's and 70's and it was devastating. However the decline of Gary is mainly due to the massive loss of jobs at US Steel due to computerization and mechanization, and the loss of property tax revenue when the state revised the method of property tax calculation. This resulted in a dramatic reduction in the tax bills of major companies like US Steel and BP Amoco. Governor Daniels is correct that Gary has always suffered from massive corruption in local government, and he has refused to help Gary in any way because of this. I don't find this to be a realistic approach to our problems.
    In any case I thank the presenter for pointing out that the city may go bankrupt in two years, that is a timeline I had not heard before. It has got to the point where I have to check the BBC and the Economist to get local news.

  • Comment number 36.

    Not only is this article created for the purpose of entertaining the anti-Americans who take joy in problems in the US, but was also made with the knowledge that the anti-Americans will inevitably sabotage any efforts to have a realistic debate about this by polluting it with anti-American ignorance and schadenfreude.

    You people don't care about anyone's plight, in fact you take joy from this simply because it occurs in the US. Focusing on and distortion problems in the US allow you to divert attention from your own and to help you cope with areas of inferiority that you want to pretend you don't have with regards to how you compare to America.

    For that purpose you will a) exaggerate problems in the US and b) create larger, baseless political conclusions from them in order to add to a narrative you've been hearing that you want to be true but really is not.

    Gary Indiana is not by any stretch of the imagination status quo for the US. It's an anomaly. It's the worst possible case that exists in all of the US and to say that it can be used as a symbol for the entire US is completely absurd. The way that Brits and mainland Europeans fiendishly obsess about places like Gary, Indiana is pretty hilarious. It's just another example of how ant-Americanism is almost always, always based on focusing criticizing the US to the exclusion of any sort of self-criticism.

    Europe is not fairing better than the US. There several instances of former industrial urban areas seeing population decline throughout Europe, including the UK, especially the north of England. I've been to Liverpool and I saw more derelict buildings there than I have in any city I've been to in the US. The European economy is not outperforming the US, but European media is certainly dedicated to creating the illusion that it is, despite the fact that unemployment is higher in the Eurozone than it is in the US. The Eurozone sans Germany was harder hit by recession, declining more and recovering less than the US has thus far. Every single major European government actually has a higher debt relative to GDP than the US does, as shocking as that may seem. European governments are making massive cuts in expenditures, which have provoked riots.

    But hey, everyone. Look at America instead. It's more comfortable that way.

  • Comment number 37.

    #23 Sasha Clarkson

    You are clearly a very community minded person who cares about the world we live in.
    There are many good people in the Green Party, such as Caroline Lucas.

    Perhaps once you have an active local branch you may want to set up a local social forum bringing together all those who want another world where people & the planet come before profit.

    Best of luck.

  • Comment number 38.

    30

    Hullo, Debt Juggler.

    I see you have been spending some time honing your man-management skills.

  • Comment number 39.

    27 tabblenabble01

    I must apologise for not spending my life glued to the television. I tend to go out and about in the world and employ my own observation. I might then choose to qualify these observations against objective data.

    Might I suggest that objective observation of the human condition can help to constrain autophobic responses.

    The unknown can seem frightening but given time and understanding it is possible to break through to most people.

  • Comment number 40.

    Paul
    Completely off topic but a measure of how far we have come...
    2010 - Chile in process of rescuing 33 miners after massive effort, professional counselling on hand and media relations coaching.
    1934 - North Wales 266 miners killed in pit explosion and fire at Gresford Colliery - owners elect to seal off section of pit affected preventing proper assessment of cause of disaster.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/northeast/sites/wrexham/pages/gresford_colliery5.shtml
    never forget, mining is a dangerous industry even after 76 years.

  • Comment number 41.

    I can’t comment on the situation in Gary. What I can say is that the current economic problems are caused by an uncontrolled unregulated capitalism. This type of capitalism has a Darwinian streak through is hearts that is survival of the fittest. Here in the UK and the US Tea Party Movement’s solution is to feed capitalism with more capitalism by promoting the private sector. It’s a solution does not work because the private sector has to produce goods that people want. If people can’t afford or don’t want these goods, the sector does not create new jobs, there is no extra money in people’s pocket, hence the cycle starts all over again. Even in the greatest growth periods the private sector has never created the amount of jobs needed to create a sustainable capitalism.

  • Comment number 42.

    "32. At 11:28pm on 12 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:
    Paul Mason.

    just watched your report on Newsnight, very interesting. I was particularly impressed (depressed?) by the telling visuals, the US of A in 2010 is still, evidently, deeply racist."

    If one really wants to make socialism look ugly, just colour it, and then, magnify that demographically through the birth-rate to make it unsupportable. That's what you're really seeing. It's not racism,. it's anti-socialism.

    Socialism requires a managed (balanced) population. In the 30s, dystopias were written about that idea too (ironically by Julian Huxley's brother, and then an another Blair all but buried Fabianism with his '1984'. That's why Gary is Gary, but few will grasp that. All they will see is racism, as that's what anarchists (Libertarians) want them to see.

  • Comment number 43.

    For 30 years or more, occident of whom USA and Europe are delocalisating their fabrics and industries into poor countries in the aim of more profits.

    The result of this globalisation and wild free market is taht millions people have lost their job, and whole region and towns have been brought to bankruptcy.

    We all know that the problem will grow and become harder, because when people have no more jobs ( gone in Asia or "south countries")nothing can bring back prosperity.

    The search of easy money in Asia is now destroying USA and EUROPE and even AFRICA, we all (occidental countries) must make a u turn and to create a "new deal" over the planete.

    Globalisation will kill us.

  • Comment number 44.

    "39. At 09:48am on 13 Oct 2010, stanilic wrote:

    "I must apologise for not spending my life glued to the television. I tend to go out and about in the world and employ my own observation. I might then choose to qualify these observations against objective data."

    Really? You need to learn how to accurately use the words objective and subjective, as you currently misuse the former as the latter. You also need to look into what is so unreliable about what you say you do above as it is precisely the opposite of how researchers are trained to behave. What you are describing is how the irrational behave.

    The above tells us all we need to know about your grasp of empirical reality and how you go about assessing what's true and false.

  • Comment number 45.

    All people who follow world news and learn datas know that the mean problems on earth are :

    - 1) really too many people on earth : overpopulation above all in Asia and Africa ( that's not racism but real facts)
    - 2) lack of energy

    - 3) hegemony of Asia upon Industrial and economic jobs
    - 4) very bad distribution of the profits of the work

    Tha bankruptcy of Gary Town is beacuse of this world globalisation, and the killing of fabrics and plants.

    It's no use to try anything if we don't fight the mean reason : you cannot bring life in an area where there is no more jobs at all.


  • Comment number 46.

    tabblenabble01

    I suggest you Google 'Indiana Klu Klux Klan' or 'Gary Indiana Klu Klux Klan' and have a read.

    Indiana became the centre of Klan activity and so-called power in the US.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan

    Racism is racism is racism.

  • Comment number 47.

    44

    Alexander Fleming had to notice the mold in the laboratory dish before he could do the research that identified penicillin. This was a subjective observation on his part that made him ask how is that and why. He then researched the phenomenon using the scientific method and came to the conclusion we all now take for granted.

    So the argument that I do not understand empiricism is absurd. The process has to be observation, measurement and evaluation. The initial observation is always subjective which is why it has to be measured objectively.

    This is the reason why I always treat articles in the media with a certain caution: particularly television programmes, as sensation sells. The argument that the medium is the message is quite relevant.

    It would appear that you take TV progammes at face value, particularly those that reinforce your stereotypical perceptions. East Enders, anyone?

  • Comment number 48.

    #41 AM

    I think you are getting close to the root cause of crisises - the accumulation problem.

    It's not a simple problem to understand, but here's my take:

    The circuit of capital is money purchases labour & means of production, the production process creates commodities that are sold at a higher value than cost to return a profit, & the circuit continues all over again.

    But to be able to sell the commodities, effective demand has to be greater than the amount of capital initially laid out (the wages paid to labour & the capital spent on raw materials & replacement machines).
    Where does this new effective demand come from?

    Keynes was on to this, which is why effective demand is at the heart of his approach.

    The credit system plays it's part - hence why debt levels are so high.
    But this isn't a long-run solution.

    Accumulation requires new labour (e.g. Chinese peasants) & the looting of raw materials from the earth.

    The credit system & fictitious capital has gone almost as far as it can in the realm of exchange.

    Similarly, production is now hitting supply-side constraints.

    Accumulation, & so capitalism, is now in serious crisis.

  • Comment number 49.

    The readers of this blog would be well served by an examination of what works in the US, not simply what doesn't. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan (pop. 200,000), an industrial city two hours by car north of Gary and two hours west of Flint. Grand Rapids is in the midst of a cultural renaissance driven by the energy of local business leaders who refused to allow their town to die. These people believe in local reinvestment. Moreover, unlike Flint, Detroit and Gary, Grand Rapids was never dominated by concentrations of heavy industry such as steel or automobiles. While we had our share of General Motors factories, their closure did not signal the end for us. The US is still a place of great dynamism and inventiveness. It is now in the process of reinventing itself according to a capitalist model, albeit one that must be willing to rein in its worst impulses. To suggest that Gary is representative of the US as a whole is totally misleading. I invite Mr. Mason to visit Grand Rapids and see for himself.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    46. At 12:04pm on 13 Oct 2010, tawse57 wrote:

    "Racism is racism is racism."

    Indeed, but my point is to prompt others to question what political
    purposes
    anti-racism has served, i.e to whose beneficial ends?

    The way one should rationally try to answer that question is by looking at inequalities in outcome. To rationally do that one has to assume equality (the Null Hypothesis) and statistically compare observed vs expected frequencies. That requires disciplined, intelligent, objective, analysis, not emotion. One has to explain all inequalities (unexpected relations). Where is the money managed in the USA? Who are the elite?

  • Comment number 52.

    46. At 12:04pm on 13 Oct 2010, tawse57 wrote:

    Let me tell you something about prejudice.

    Prejudice is a rational part of any objective analysis and judgement where one empirically compares prior expectations (conditioned by empirical data already available) with observed data, and determines whether what one finds can be explained by chance (e.g. sampling error) or some contingent relationship. In Discriminant Analysis (a multivariate statistical technique where categorical cell frequencies comprise the dependent variable but is otherwise like Regression
    Analysis) one has 'priors' or empirically expected probabilities still based on chance but weighted for sample size. These are prejudices based on how the data is. There is in fact a mountain of empirical evidence for human group differences in all sorts of measures. Ignoring those differences is not just a prejudice itself, but is ignorant and would be treated as professional incompetence in many areas of human endeavour.

    For instance, diseases occur in different frequencies by human group because of different risk factors associated with gene frequencies in sub-populations brought about by assortive mating (you do accept that most whites mate with whites, blacks with blacks etc?).

    What many people term 'racism' is a slur designed to make other groups ignore well established empirical facts. Look through the internet for special interest groups other the KKK, you will find black groups, Jewish groups, Chinese groups etc. What is frowned upon is White groups.

    Why?

    Why is White grouping racist but not the others? Once you start asking questions like that you will begin to look at this objectively.

  • Comment number 53.

    Its clear from this film that what money has been allocated to Gary has been wasted - street lights? pavements? That does not improve the economic environment.

    Best to let nature take it's course - I'm sure that there are more deserving communities, with better investment plans.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    "So the argument that I do not understand empiricism is absurd. The process has to be observation, measurement and evaluation. The initial observation is always subjective which is why it has to be measured objectively."

    I'm not arguing with you, I am instructing you. There is a difference.

    What you have failed to notice is all of Fleming's 'prejudices'. These were acquired through his objective training as a research scientist. We call them skills. He became a professor in 1928, in his mid/late 40s, which is when he discovered penicillin. People discover things after years of learning their discipline. That is how research works.

    You have clearly learned to prize arguing more than researching. There is a very important difference. One (research) is about building and testing, the other is about construction and destruction with words alone. Your behaviour here tells me that you are not professionally trained in science or engineering and that, to be fair, puts you amongst the 'creative' majority. Whether that puts you in good company or not is quite another matter, and it's something, along for your disrespect for those who try to helpfully enlighten you, speaks volumes about where we are collectively headed.

  • Comment number 56.

    #36 Kent -

    YES! The BBC is a mass communication tool for manipulation of public opinion. The Republican govornor of Indiana Mitch Daniels said that Gary was an annamolly; the worst case of 'urban blite' in Indiana if not America. And, it's only 1/3 'poor' (i don't know how they are deffining that). I don't know what the ratio of 'poor' to rich is in the North East of England where I happen to live, but I wouldn't say we are any better than Gary. We don't have any major industries and un-employment is high.

  • Comment number 57.

    #49

    Good to see some contribution from over the pond, Gary is of course an exception, but by examining the dynamic behind the exception it does afford the opportunity to learn from what is going on.

    It is clear that there is an awful lot of good things going on in the States as well, you dont get where you are by that not being the case. Perhaps there is acreeping recognition that the States really will have to re-invent itself in a radical way and that will mean being somewhat less of an influence on the world stage for a while until the spirit of 'Grand Rapids Mitchigan' can prevail again.

    I also note that some of our friends accross the pond have taken offense at the journalistic approach and some of the comments on here.

    I for one am not 'anti American' nor do I revel in Americas current serious problems, nor do I pretend that things are any better here.

    #36 in particular, if you trace back comments on here and past articles you will see that we tend to be much more critical of our own economic state of affairs and politics ( UK and the broader Europe included) as we are of the USA.

    American positivism is a good thing generally, and we could do with some of that over here for sure, equally, sometimes, it is important to be critical of oneself and take along hard honest look at your situation and recent behaviour on the global stage. It needs abit of humility to do that, I think in my humble opinion, that the USA would benefit from that kind of introspection and in so doing turn this around in apositive way before the humiliation part happens anyway. A little bit of humility now in the US would go along way to avoid a worse future scenario.

    The question is are nations (and I dont just include the US in this) mature enough in behaviour to avoid the current crisis escalating into a full blown currency war.

    Compromises are available for all, but they can only start from amutaul position of humility. The more drum banging that goes on the less positive the outcome for all is likely to be. Free market capitalism at l;east as embodied by the US (and here) has been shown to have grave failings and needs a radical overhaul. There still seems to be lot of denial about that pretty plain for all to see fact, particularly in the States I would say but also just about everywhere else in the western world.



  • Comment number 58.

    TabbleJuggler, why was your post at 50 removed? Too much noise in the echo chamber? Clearly the spirit of Fernando Pessoa lives on.

    Let me tell you something about prejudice. Even accepting that there are between-group differences in sets of characteristics, which is nothing to get excited about, judging an individual of one group by the average of the group that they come from is not just irrational prejudice, it “would be treated as professional incompetence in many areas of human endeavour”.

    “Look through the internet for special interest groups other the KKK, you will find black groups, Jewish groups, Chinese groups etc. What is frowned upon is White groups.” Ignoring for a moment that most Jewish people I know are white, perhaps some of these groups share a common special interest? Perhaps historical persecution by “white groups”? Whatever “white groups” might mean.

    @Kent and Saucymugwump, don’t be so defensive. Paul’s one of the rare journos who makes no attempt to sensationalise. I can’t recall Paul stating anywhere in the report that Gary was representative of America. Paul was pretty upfront in saying that it was an extreme case, and if you had seen or recalled any of Paul’s reports from the North West of England earlier in the year then you might change your mind about this more recent report being about bashing America. Pretty much the same thing as is happening in Gary is happening in Burnley, Stoke, Wigan, and Middlesborough and Sunderland in the North East. And like you say, in many other places in Europe.
    And I agree with you totally about The Guardian. The British press in general is almost unreadable, that’s why News Night is a breath of fresh air. And you don’t even need to read to enjoy it, so perfect for you septics.

    But just to pick up on your Piccadilly anecdote. 1) London is not Britain; 2) not many people crossing at Piccadilly Circus could be called locals, most are drifts of tourists; and 3) “I guess Brits never think about whether someone they know is in the ambulance”: surely in a decent society you would make way for an ambulance whether you thought someone you knew was in it or not. There are plenty of lamentable acts of antisocial behaviour in every city in every country, but occasionally people’s humanity does shine through. The tales of self-sacrifice during the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London being a good example.

  • Comment number 59.

    Wonderful and depressing and shocking all in the same measure. It's the USA and an economic model in miniature. The last few minutes are devastating as Paul tip toes through the theatre. The camera man must have taken his life in his hands to take those last few wide angle shots form the balconies.

    Bravo! More than justifies my license fee.

  • Comment number 60.

    36. At 05:10am on 13 Oct 2010, Kent wrote:

    "You people don't care about anyone's plight, in fact you take joy from this simply because it occurs in the US."

    Not true, few decent people want to see this blight befall those in Gary or anywhere else.

    I suggest you view Paul Mason's piece(s), and most of the rational comments here, as epidemiological, as we have very similar problems in the UK, and for essentially the same reasons. Sometimes studying the process abroad helps one look at the facts more objectively. There's a major problem with Libertarianism which few have yet seen. I suspect most of its protagonists don't see this either.

  • Comment number 61.

    55

    It is through argument that new ideas are formed. However, where one person assumes superiority over the others then the issue becomes one of control and not intelligent debate.

    If you want to control then you need management skills. No doubt you disdain such for being creative.

  • Comment number 62.

    Where the US goes our leaders make sure we follow.

  • Comment number 63.

    "57. At 2:50pm on 13 Oct 2010, Jericoa wrote:

    Gary is of course an exception, but by examining the dynamic behind the exception it does afford the opportunity to learn from what is going on."

    I take it that the ETS video has not quite sunk in yet? What else has failed to sink in? Why is that?

    Watch the video, and listen out for NAEP. Then look up the NAEP data nationally. They have also targeted major cities. What do you notice?
    The OECD does the same via PISA. We do it via SATs.

    Pay attention, and you may learn something from comments here which you don't learn from the BBC (they seem to be a bit slow on the uptake).

  • Comment number 64.

    "58. At 2:52pm on 13 Oct 2010, MyNames wrote:
    TabbleJuggler, why was your post at 50 removed? Too much noise in the echo chamber? Clearly the spirit of Fernando Pessoa lives on.

    I posted to the wrong blog in error, so asked for it to be taken down.

    "Let me tell you something about prejudice. Even accepting that there are between-group differences in sets of characteristics, which is nothing to get excited about, judging an individual of one group by the average of the group that they come from is not just irrational prejudice, it “would be treated as professional incompetence in many areas of human endeavour”."

    Correct, but the issue here is not about individuals, it's about groups and massive demographic changes in the liberal-democracies brought about by Libertarianism (anarchism). Watch the ETS video, study the data referred to by ETS (NAEP, SATs), and remember, this was back in February 2007. Researchers in this area have been warning about this for years (decades).

    Again, I urge you to suspend your beliefs, listen to what the ETS people had to say very carefully, and then, question your assumptions, because many of them are false (or muddled). Have a look at infrastructure and crime in Lagos, and cities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and ask why they are the way they are, as SES/GDP is a primarily function of educability and not the other way around. This is why the OECD runs PISA.

    PS. I am not Debtjuggler, and if you persist in lumping together all of the people who espouse what people like us post, you will just be making a serious Category Mistake. That many people have this all wrong is a fact, but it's a serious error which some people are trying to correct to most people's benefit. Did you see Dershowitz on the Sanchez affair?

  • Comment number 65.

    In #59, _SiD_ wrote: "It's the USA and an economic model in miniature"

    You just proved that you have never traveled in the USA and that you are willing to accept any story that reinforces your established bias.

    Geographically speaking, most of the USA is filled with largely dull, but safe, cities like Des Moines, Omaha, Wichita, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland (both Maine and Oregon), Grand Junction, Sioux Falls, etc. The more religious a city is, e.g. just about any city in Oklahoma, the safer it is for all people, contrary to the ravings of foreigners. Gary is not remotely representative of the USA. Gary needs large quantities of dynamite to start fresh; Detroit's mayor already said that large parts of the city need to be leveled.

    Also contrary to certain ravings, racism is not the primary reason for Gary's decline. It is a national embarrassment that Detroit has a 50% unemployment rate for blacks. We have been sold down the river by corrupt politicians and greedy capitalists.

  • Comment number 66.

    This is the legacy of President Ronald Reagan's union-busting trickle-down economics. During the 1980s, US industries, especially the steel industries, were devastated by unfair competition from foreign companies as steel jobs were shipped overseas, the welfare system was dismantled and the social contract was broken. They don't call this the Rust Belt for nothin'. Learn more in the books "America: Who Stole the Dream" and "America: What Went Wrong?" by Barlett and Steele, the Pulitzer-winning team of journalists.

  • Comment number 67.

    From the late 1950s to the 1970s, I lived in southeastern Cook County, Illinois, on the border with Indiana. When I first learned to drive, my father warned me about going to Gary as it had a reputation as a dangerous town. When I asked him where it was, he took me out in our yard and pointed at a brown smudge hanging in the sky, some twenty miles away. "That's Gary," he said. By the mid-70s, the brown smudge was gone and Gary was already half a ghost town. Most of the steel mills had closed and downtown Gary was deserted.

    The urban blight of Gary was a harbinger of things to come. From the east coast through the prairie states, the blight has spread, with only pockets of prosperity remaining. From Pennsylvania through Illinois is know as the "Rust Belt." The prairie states are called "The Big Empty." Boarded up towns and deserted farm houses outnumber those from the Dust Bowl era.

    As went the Soviet Union, so goes America.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    I grew up in Gary Indiana. And its hard to believe that Chicago, Illinois is only 30 minutes away, or that any other of the small towns that neighbor Gary are flourishing, surburban sprawl at its best. The town I live in is a stones throw away from the City, and you would never know. The fact that the schools in these towns, Merrillville, Crown Point, Hobart have brand spanking new facilities. And the city that my parents grew up in, the city that my grandparents came to in search of opportunity and relief from the harsh racist south mirrors war torn countries of World War 2.

    I applaud you Mr. Mason for shedding a light on the brutal reality of Gary. Most of my peers who has family in Gary but who have escaped the grips of that city we laugh at our past, and at the present situation. The beauty that Gary once possesed, explained to me by my parents has now faded away. And all I've seen is the ugliness, the abandoned buildings, the gunshots that I became used to as a child. The broken glass and numerous amounts of drug addicts that were as common to me as the sunrise. It desensitized me. I laughed at Gary, but now it almost brings me to tears. Everyone can say what they want but until you have seen the actual desolation and seen the prosperity that lies 20 or 30 km away you can't really take in what this article really means.

    It touched my spirit and woke up my soul. But Gary will NEVER recover until its citizens want to. Businesses have tried to bring opportunity to the city but due to sheer ingnorance and a massive crime rate, they never last long. And the new generation who has left the area, gotten educations, and seen the world refuse to return to contribute for the exact same reasons. Myself included. Not only white flight but black flight as well.

  • Comment number 70.

    It seems like all of the talk of racism here is very 1-sided and assumes the racial problems were only brought about by racist white Americans. As is so often the case the issue of black American racism never sees the light of day. And black racism toward white people was a major factor in Gary, Detroit, Atlanta, Memphis and many other cities. Another factor ignored was the effect all that anti-white rhetoric had on business. Shipping manufacturing and industrial jobs overseas became a no-brainer when they considered that there would be no productivity losses blamed on racial issues. Since 2000 more than 42,000 factories have been carted up and shipped out of the country which displaced around 15 million American workers. EVERYONE who fans racist flames in ANY direction can be blamed for this. The business world wants to rise above this crap. And so they have. Nobody even hints at corporate racism when the bulk of the work is done outside of America. The fact that Obama is president and not working on a farm is certain proof that America has indeed come a very long way since the 50s. When you consider the windfall of white votes he got you begin to realize that being white is not in itself an act of racism. I only wish more of the world felt this way.
    Grobbbbbbbbbbb

  • Comment number 71.

    The scene in Gary is played out throughout the Midwest and South, where formerly middle class Black communities have literally withered away. The benefits of economic integration -- being able to shop where you want -- have largely been lost on Blacks. They didn't get to participate in retail management in the new integrated establishments as they had to in the Jim Crow era.

    I just hope this isn't a precursor for what is currently happening in middle-class communities throughout the USA. The entire economy is moving at best at half speed or slower. The instinct, especially here in Ohio, is to foment Republican socialism ... aimed at creating a permanent, unchanging, tax-exempt overclass ... at the expense of basic research into more efficient energy usage. If we don't get into that competition, the Chinese will be taking our lunch ... our dinner and breakfast too.

  • Comment number 72.

    This is an example of White American capitalism and the salted Earth theory. The big corporations moved, took the jobs, the white people who had the jobs left, the retail industry left, services disappeared. This pattern exists all over America in inner cities. Chicago, rich as it is, has had huge areas the size of Gary that looked just like that until gentrification. The emphasis in this article is buildings, architecture. Those material things come and go. The people who built them had the helping hand of big business and did not go it alone in raising themselves up by their bootstraps. The only helping had the people who live there now is the government and they don't have boots.

  • Comment number 73.

    65. At 4:10pm on 13 Oct 2010, saucymugwump wrote:

    "You just proved that you have never traveled in the USA and that you are willing to accept any story that reinforces your established bias."

    Then why is ETS (and many others) saying precisely the same thing based on national data? Why did Herrnstein and Murray warn of this in 1994 (and Herrnstein in 1971; 1990; Michael Young in 1958 etc)?

    You don't understand. You can't go on the basis of your personal travels. That is not what drives government policies. Data drives policies, and Gary is a good example of the decay in the USA highlighted by ETS and others. Obama is well aware of this.

    Both the USA and UK governments know all about this demographic problem.
    The problem is how to deal with it in a liberal-democracy. People posting here who say it isn't the case are either showing that they don't know what's going on and what the major concerns to our libertarian governments are (trapped though they are by their own ideologies) or else are facilitating this decadent process themselves wittingly or unwittingly. Most of the nay sayers just don't understand.
    What's a little worrying is that they would rather cling to their false beliefs than seen to be instructed too. :-(


    67. At 4:20pm on 13 Oct 2010, hemingdale wrote:

    "As went the Soviet Union, so goes America.

    Sadly, yes. Look into Solzhenitsyn at the ethnopoliticsonline.com site.
    Then think of the major influences on the US economy in the last century via NYC. It's been a slow process, but a devastating one for all but a few. Note the Russian Oligarchs?

    Look into what happened to the USSR in three phases: 1917-1928;
    1928-1953 and finally 1953 onwards. In the last phase China nearly went to war with them for being revisionist. In the middle phase many thought the USSR led the world politically (see the Webbs and Richard Acland of the 1941 Committee). Many of those responsible for the first phase above came over from NYC. The post war Cold War can be seen as in large part a consequence of what happened in 1928 after which there was a major team change in the USSR, which was then replaced after 1953 to the USSR's ultimate cost.


  • Comment number 74.

    To those that say: "Reduce taxes and the businesses will come" clearly don't run businesses. I wouldn't move my family to Gary even for a large pay rise, let alone set up a business there. The state needs to bail the city out until it becomes attractive to set up shop there again, no one will move there until the streets are fixed, derelict buildings are torn down and law is properly restored. The only alternative is to just abandon the city altogether and offer to rehouse its suffering inhabitants elsewhere.

  • Comment number 75.

    @34 I've edited and re-uploaded the two Alex Glasgow songs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B96qKs4-EI8

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGPSqE74F0Q

  • Comment number 76.

    #65 -"You just proved that you have never traveled in the USA and that you are willing to accept any story that reinforces your established bias."

    "We have been sold down the river by corrupt politicians and greedy capitalists."

    Admittedly I haven't travelled extensively in the USA, mostly on the East Coast. However, I have travelled extensively in Ireland/UK, two countries who largely ape American culture and economic approach. Traveling in the UK/Ireland feels more like the USA than it does Europe (where I have travelled extensively).

    Parts of Ireland and the UK, although not displaying the devastation portrayed on Paul Mason's film, are experiencing the exact same economic pressures that may eventually lead to such devastation.

    Paul's piece almost mirrors David Byrne's Journal entry a few weeks ago.
    http://journal.davidbyrne.com/2010/09/092310-dont-forget-the-motor-city.html

    This is what happens when big industry can simply pack it's bags and do a moonlight flit. You're either of the opinion that it (business) and government has responsibility for communities left behind - or they don't.

    In this respect I share your conclusion.

  • Comment number 77.

    @74

    The craziest thing is that Gary has beautiful, large homes, a great lake front community and most of these neighborhoods have extremely low property taxes..but the crime rate, the desolation it is almost to much to bear.

  • Comment number 78.

    I grew up just south of Gary and have seen that city up close too many times. The collapse of that city was caused by "white flight". As the blacks moved in, the whites moved out and crime rose. I am sure I will be called a racist, but this is what happened. The steel mills still operate, there are still jobs in the area, but the population there has been corrupted by crime, drugs and gangs. No one in their right mind would waste money in that town. Anything new that gets built there is destroyed by the locals. The police get shot at, ambulances and fire rescue get shot at, but hey, it's not the fault of those that live there, let's find a million other reasons than looking to the obvious.

  • Comment number 79.

    luckyday123, you have it backwards, the blacks moved in, the whites left but the steel mills remained. As the black population increased, so did poverty and crime which drove retail and other businesses away. Your attempt to blame this on "white capitalism" is baseless and ignores all of the facts before you. The real problem is a lack of education among the minority communities and those that will not face facts, but choose to just blame others. Do you know what the dropout rate is among minorities? How about the number of kids raised by single mothers? No, it has to be those evil whites, not poor life choices that caused Gary to collapse. Wake up.

  • Comment number 80.

    @saucymugwump

    I don't know where you live in the USA but the 'ambulance' behaviour you witnessed in London happens every time you see any emergency vehicle in New York.

  • Comment number 81.

    In 80, simon wrote: "I don't know where you live in the USA but the 'ambulance' behaviour you witnessed in London happens every time you see any emergency vehicle in New York."

    I have lived in many parts of the country: Chicago, LA, and now Denver. In addition, I have traveled to most of the states. One of the few places I have not visited is NYC; bed bugs are something I can do without. I have never seen the aforementioned behavior anywhere except London. In the Midwest, many people almost run into each other trying to get out of the way of ambulances. At the risk of generalizing, perhaps certain large cities contain large numbers of selfish numbskulls.

    Years before 9/11, there was the creation of the "I love NY" campaign, with "love" represented by a red heart. In response, in Denver we had bumper stickers that read "If you love NY, take I-70 east." For those of you who do not retain a map of the Interstate Highway System in your head, I-70 is a major east-west highway running through the center of the USA.

  • Comment number 82.

    My parents were born in Gary and remember their teenage years during the "hay day" you refer to fondly. Once while driving around a blighted Gary, I asked my Grandmother what Gary had been like and she said it was beautiful, the jewel of Lake Michigan. It has been deteriorating since the 1970's. As sad as the thought makes me, I don't think it could ever be as beautiful as it once was.

  • Comment number 83.

    First off - this is a GREAT piece of journalism. Pretty objective I would say and very eye-opening. I live in Southern California and while we have poverty, we do not have rows and rows of abandoned buildings.

    For the conservative vs. liberal argument one only needs to look at the blame-game. The mayor - a Democrat blames the state. The state run by Republicans blames the Fed (Democrats). Honestly the blame I believe is 50/50 for the state and the mayor. I mean 266 million and they buy tons of police cars? How about mowing down some of those abandoned houses and removing the awful blight? How about getting a business development fund going? Yes - that takes tax money - but when tax money is WELL spent I don't think many of us have a problem with that.

    Too many hands in the stimulus pot made this not work out I think.

    The bright spot in the entire piece was that wonderful and hopefully future president who said that while they might sing like Pavorotti without education that doesn't mean much. She also said they represent the future doctors, lawyers, and even Presidents of the US.

  • Comment number 84.


    regarding someone`s comparison between Gary (USA) and Liverpool (UK)I am obliged to say that Liverpool was and still is one of the great port cities of the world. There is a fair amount of derelection concentrated in the back to back housing areas, deserted by people preferring greener neighbourhoods, but the city centre is thriving while Gary`s or Detroit`s are almost dead. The central district is protected by Unesco as a world historic area. The number of skyscraper and apartment buildings built and regenerated in the last decade in Liverpool is stunning. The new shopping quarter, L1, costed 1 bn pounds and is visited by over 30 million people every year. It is almost 100% full and provides for thousands of jobs. The local John Lennon Airport is thriving, the port is planning massive expansion and the three local unis are bursting at the seams, concentrating almost 60.000 students from all over the world. The city is got a world class new arena and conference centre by the Mersey. Liverpool is a world famous brand name. The number of people living there is increasing. Even the car manufacturing industry, represented by Vauxhall-GM and Jaguar Land Rover is growing these days. The city has been through some difficult times but has been helped by the public sector and is getting back on her feet again. Americans, public money is not panacea but neither is private investment. One has to know how best they can combine to get the required result. Liverpool is a beacon for depression infected american cities.

  • Comment number 85.

    Paul, incisive reporting as usual, thanks.

    Kent, if you think this serious, detailed reporting is such a threat to your self esteem, I suggest it's YOU with the problem - or just too used to the shrieking, fact free emoting of FOX?

    Why would any sane person find pleasure in this economic crisis and it's effects?
    Face it, greedy, under-regulated bankers and their shills on Capitol Hill did what Bin Laden failed to do with his attacks in 2001 - cause a Western economic meltdown.
    (And the US I used to admire - men on the Moon in 8 years, the WW2 'Arsenal Of Democracy etc, would have re-built those towers bigger and better and done it fast - not engage in nasty, bigoted racism about some minor centre somewhere near the (still) construction site. Each time I see those hate filled demonstrators, I think of that award winning pic of the American Muslim woman cradling her son's grave, he died fighting in the US Army for the USA in Afghanistan).

    There are 'Post Industrial' cities all over the West, with many of the same problems, however it does seem the worst - or just most notorious ones - are in the US.
    I recently saw a film about Detroit - it was heartbreaking.
    Of course the Motor City of old had a great cultural resonance all over the world, not just the well known Motown label either. Tragic to see the Grande Ballroom now a ruin, the seminal first (and live) album by thr MC5, 'Kick Out The Jams' was recorded there.
    No one is laughing, except maybe in your own mind.

    Quit the denial - the under regulated system caused the crash, not 'Europe', or 'China', it also happened BEFORE the current President took office.
    The first step towards solving a problem in life is first to acknowledge it in the first place.

    Really, these US rightwingers and the Salem style mob of the Tea Party, are like those in the former Eastern Bloc who were shell shocked when that system - inevitably - fell.
    Everything they'd thought was true was not, they'd been fed a lie, many for their whole lives.

    Some good news, it seems GM has turned a corner, govt loans being paid back, many jobs gone but many more saved.
    Why do I think the Tea Party types will have nothing to say on that?

    Saucymugwump - you seem just as deluded too.
    Just come off the Guardian (site centre left in the sane world - not yours), lots of opposing political views there, all over the blogs - some of the columnists are centre right too - you take your untruths elsewhere, it took me mere minutes to find them. You can tell the ones from right wing Americans - usually little more than childish insults, in the past, death threats too .
    Massive self esteem issues for those who trawl international sites looking for things to be offended by - if you are so threatened by a mere foreigner doing his job as a journalist - ask what your media are doing.
    More to the point - not doing.

    And all 61 million of us are snooty then?
    Who told you that, Hollywood? (Bit of a giveaway your use of a cliche - also London is, like New York, like Hong Kong, like Berlin - to name three, a world city. Full of those from all over the world living there as well as visiting. Do you even really have a passport?)
    You can see stuff you don't like in any major city - I've seen almost 3rd world landscapes in some US cities.
    I've seen soup kitchens in New York.
    But I've always seen more good than bad.
    Helps if you don't go around with that unattractive stance of many on the US right, the mix of fear and self pity.

  • Comment number 86.

    Terrible journalism.
    Using Gary Indiana as an example of a "failure" of the stimulus is like saying the Titanic shows the failure of shipping. There is either a deep misunderstanding of the forces that resulted in the current state of the city or a deliberate propaganda against government policy. I know because I grew up in - and moved away from - Gary.
    This paints a picture that Gary was some utopia gone wrong - it wasn't. From the beginning it was a gold rush boom town and you can find these ghost towns all over America as the gold (steel mill jobs) dried up and the people moved on. No one in the US assumes the demise of Tombstone Arizona represents a "decline" of civilization as a whole and neither does Gary, Indiana.
    Gary was formed as a "company town" to fuel the new steel mills and, as the forces of capitalism often do, another company found a better location, cheaper manufacturing, access to labor, etc. and the company relocated. Just as the auto industry it supplied has relocated to Kentucky, Pennsylvania and even California, so the steel industry has decentralized. If anything, it is a text book example of capitalism in action.
    As this report points out the decline in Gary started 40 years ago. 18 months and $266m was never expected to magically turn it into Disneyland. At best it was expected to provide enough police to supervise the last few people that don't have enough money to leave. On that measure I think this report shows some success.
    Yeah, whats left of the town is a cesspool but it certainly isn't and example of the decline of western civilization or the failure of a current government policy. I think the reporter failed to explain that very important point.

  • Comment number 87.

    As you no doubt observed when you spoke to Daniels, he just doesn't care. When the state went for Obama, that sealed the fate of any democracy left in Indiana. When a state legislature votes to pass a law to check the ID's of 60 or 70 year olds in order to buy a beer, that shows the level of intellect of the party controlling the state.

  • Comment number 88.

    Sandy, Gary has been a dead city for around 40 years. How simple can you be to put the blame on current politics?

  • Comment number 89.

    So - Jay - what is your solution other than to let people fend for themselves caveman style? How about some solutions vs. "it's a dead city"? If people are living there - that means it's not dead yet.

  • Comment number 90.

    Gary may have it's share of problems I am proud ogmy city and the person it has helped me become. Gary has been on a downward spiral but not all hope is lost. As government funding from all levels had continued to help recover the city. The young in the video from Emerson spoke about being the future and the youth hold a key to the success of Gary in the future.

    I grew up in Gary, attend public schools there and benefited from a number of programs and opportunies made available by government funding. Yes there are gangs, crime and drugs. I know people are "lost to the streets" but I know just as many in college, in the military or working.

    Again all hope is not lost. I was raised on the East Side of Gsry by a single parent with a low income. I am now doing a study abroad semester at Reutligen University in Reutligen, Germany via Kettering University in Flint, MI where I study Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. I recieved a full tuition scholarship to Kettering University. Kettering is the only university in the country that requires students to have cooperative education at a company. I work in the Human Resources Department at STEMCO, LP in Longview, Texas 6 months out of the year. GARY, INDIANA MADE ME EVERYTHING I AM!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Good for you Deana - and congratulations on your success! This discussion is more about systemic problems in the US - which unfortunately manifested themselves in Gary. Since you are from the area - is there anything we're missing from the discussion? What do you do with a city that has the problems that Gary does?

    Difficult choices - if it were easy - it would have been done already.

  • Comment number 92.

    Hello and thank you so much Paul Mason and Great Britain! That is my billboard that is shown about 2.5 mins into the show. I packed up everything I own and moved to the Gary area from Pennsylvania USA about 6 mos ago to answer what I believe to be a higher calling. I have spent literally 1,000's of dollars out of my own pocket to try and help the folks in Gary see a better tomorrow. Physical support is beginning to pick up speed as well as well wishers from Great Britian, you guys have no idea how much this means to me. By co-incidence only I have been interviewing a lad from London who has now flown here to invest in my model. I have an amazing plan that will work as long as I have honest folks behind me. I have the support of the IDOC here that will allow me some work force, my non profit status is near completion (60 days or so and another $850). I am in process of creating what I am calling the GTTC, or Garts Time Transition Center to house re-entry level residents and provide the critical education needed to help the folks learn that picking up a hammer instead of a gun is a much better deal. Again thank you so much for airing this and especially stopping your cameras on my sign. [Personal details removed by Moderator] thanks again and God Bless you and your country, Roger Hayward, [Personal details removed by Moderator] [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 93.

    In #85, SONICBOOMER wrote: "if you are so threatened by a mere foreigner doing his job as a journalist"

    You are having delusions of grandeur. I never wrote anything like that.

    SONICBOOMER wrote: "Guardian . . . lots of opposing political views there"

    As long as you do not speak disparaging words regarding Muslims espousing sharia law.

    You and I have a different definition of "range of views." For me, opposing political views are not restricted to a small slice of the British political system. For you, that is sufficient.

    For me, any political views are acceptable as long as the participants refrain from using four-letter words and racial epithets. For you, and many Brits, expressing an opinion radically different than your own is tantamount to demanding that all Jews be sent to concentration camps.

    SONICBOOMER wrote: "And all 61 million of us are snooty then?"

    All of the ones I saw that day blocking the ambulance were; there were hundreds, and I seriously doubt that they were all tourists.

    SONICBOOMER wrote: "Do you even really have a passport?"

    I have visited 2/3 of the states and 20 countries, from the UK to Russia and many places in between. I am on my third passport.

    SONICBOOMER wrote: "You can see stuff you don't like in any major city"

    Have you ever been to Volgograd, Russia? I didn't think so. Altenburg, Germany? Of course not.

    So much for your assumptions.

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    Watch the video, it's not about Gary. It was Feb 2007 too - listen carefully.

    http://www.ets.org/Media/Education_Topics/perfectStorm/perfectStorm.html


    A generation ago, 3% of the UK population went to university (the brightest and best in the Normal (Gaussian) Distribution). Universities did not used to be businesses. The target recently was set at 50% of the population to go to university. A massive dumbing down.

    It shows.

  • Comment number 96.

    #28 Described the replacing of one ethnic group by another, and the consequences that came about .... this is a stark warning to all western countries including the UK. The truth is that 'white flight' is the key to 'Garys' decline, with them went the skilled workers, to be replaced by less well skilled, and more welfare orientated groups.

    This took private sector jobs away, and left only welfare recipients and 'public sector' employees, which just ain't enough. Incidentally this was a model the UK seemed to want to follow, with a massive increase in public sector employment, coupled with a sharp increase in non EU immigration under New Labour.

    Anyone with eyes can see the same effects elsewhere in many of the 'rust belt' cities in the the US, and let's be honest in the UK, Netherlands, Italy and Germany. The BBC is carrying stories from the UK and Germany today, and earlier in the week from Holland, all based upon the fear of the same basic premise as the 'Gary Indiana' experience of ethnic replacement or dislocation.

    In all these countries there are mass relocation's being undertaken in some cities, including emigration, but it's not discussed because of the outright fear of being 'labelled' for talking about a real issue. I expect that we will continue along our current path with, as one of today's BBC UK stories describes it, 'some of the most "reckless and unpopular" government policies in generations' until the inevitable occurs, but by then its way to late.


  • Comment number 97.

    Al in SoCal, the solution is simple, raze the town and replace it with something new. There is no hope for a town full of criminals who only want to destroy everything that's given to them while sticking their hands out for more. Not everyone or everything is worth saving. The steel mills are still there, jobs are still in the region, the surrounding communities are doing well, but Gary, East Chicago and Michigan City are all hurting. The local parks are in ruin and these towns are not safe to be in after dark. The crime is rampant and people want to save these gang oasis'? The hard facts that everyone wants to ignore is that as the black population rises, the crime, poverty and uneduaction rates rise as well. Fix the schools first and the other problems will fix themselves. Poor education is the leading cause for the decline in the minority communities.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    The Governor of Indiana has a salary of $110,000 and has given back $15,000 during these tough economic times. The Mayor of Gary earns $150,000+ and is constantly crying how poor he is. You can imagine how well this is received in the state capitol. Even the Democrat controlled lower house is not fond of Gary.

    Gary has large income flows from casino gaming, the remaining steel mills on Lake Michigan, and other reliable income. They get approximately $60M in taxes to run his city. The problem is that they want to spend $80M. Last year's fiscal audit of the 2008 books noted that Gary runs on a cash accounting basis and that there were large chunks of money that nobody could account for. Cash accounting is fine for a hot dog stand, not a major city. The problems with how they spend their money ran over 150 pages.

    This year they've finally instituted modern accounting but didn't quite sweep all the dirty laundry under the rug. They openly reported in June that in 2009, the city directly contributed $1,300 to Democrat party organizations, a major no-no. The accountants were so astonished at all the other improper giving that they actually didn't notice.

    Oh, and the 100,000 population? It's a fiction, 10 year old numbers from the 2000 census. We're counting again and the private bets are somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000.

  • Comment number 100.

    I live in London now, but grew up in Gary in the 50's and 60's, and recently returned for a week. It is true that the urban decline is horrific, but it's not clear that after the war years the economy could ever have supported a grand city so near to Chicago. Even in the 60s there was not a sufficient audience to fill the Memorial Auditorium (which was, I believe a gift from US Steel, like much of the early infrastructure). The relatively prosperous surrounding community is only prosperous relatively. The big money that results from making steel has always kept its distance, and is no longer interested in paternalistic gestures to the people who tend those mills.

    But back to my week back home. You didn't have time to show us the natural beauty that underlies the ruin. There are miles of sandy beaches, and dunes populated by unique flora along the Lake Michigan shore. Much of the east side is now a national park. I rented a beach house (yes, within Gary city limits)and woke to the sun rising over the water (and yes, over the steel mills to the east), deer grazing in front of the house, monarch butterflies drifting through milkweed, water birds of all descriptions, red shouldered hawks, humming bird quarrels. The sunsets magnify the clearly visible Chicago skyline across the lake in the evening. and no, I did not feel threatened at all. It was beautiful, and the sound of the freight trains and the immovable bulwarks of the mills on the shore made it all the moreso.

    I agree with the activist who suggested simply razing the unused buildings. Too much has been unsuccessfully spent trying to restore a Gary that never really became what it tried to be. I saw with my own eyes that nature can make a swift comeback there. Let's accept a smaller community and let's get behind those kids that we saw in your excellent documenatary working to create beauty, and lives for themselves. Given a few tools, which surely we can afford, perhaps they can create an environment worth staying for, as well as coming back to.

 

Page 1 of 2

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.