Detroit’s Bankruptcy… and Toronto

What’s particularly interesting about the description of the “problem” of Detroit’s bankruptcy by Robert Reich (right) is that it also describes what happened to Toronto (though on a very different scale, and without the racism that is inherent in the Detroit mix). But the city of Toronto lost its tax base to the surrounding suburbs, much like Detroit and other cities: where all the rich fled, and of course we couldn’t tax the businesses and companies that replaced the people. So the city slowly lost funding for the city services and social benefits that come as being part of a large urban location. We chose to try to fix this by “amalgamating” the five suburb cities into the one larger Toronto megacity. It seemed logical at the time; after all, those suburbs were benefiting from their proximity to the city and the economic core. That, in fact, was how many of those “rich” became “rich”. They were in the right place at the right time… and the right place was Toronto. After exploiting the many benefits of being so close to the province’s (the country’s?) financial core, they could certainly give something back.

Problem is: they didn’t see it that way.

And when you change “the boundaries”, as Mr. Reich suggests, bringing those outside inside…… you have to give them the power of control. Indeed, they become the majority and are all too happy to impose their tyranny. That is exactly what happened here in Toronto. Today, we continually lament the results of amalgamation; services work slower, if at all, and the old suburbs don’t want to be taxed to support the “greater good” of the larger city. Like our cousins in America, they don’t like “taxes”; they don’t want to pay for things like roads or bridges, urban parks or libraries. Instead we get a mayor like Rob “Respect for Taxpayers” Ford who wants to cut taxes by decimating the fundamental social services and infrastructure provided by the city. So we end up like Detroit, with “even worse municipal services, lousier schools, and more crime”… and we didn’t have to go into bankruptcy.

All we did was “Stop the Gravy Train”.

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