The Pittsburgh Penguins just defeated the Detroit Red Wings to win the NHL’s Stanley Cup. Thus ended Detroit’s any further claim to glory as the Pens drove the last nail in Detroit's coffin. Chrysler, Ford, GM (as we have noted before, http://mr20.blogspot.com/2007/06/is-detroit-dead-as-dodo.html and http://mr20.blogspot.com/2007/07/is-detroit-dead-as-dodo-part-2.html), Lions, Pistons, and Tigers are all losers. Motor City has lost over one million in population in 50 years, to now become the 11th largest city in the U. S., just behind San José. Unemployment in Detroit today is 22%, and 30% of the population live on food stamps. This is sad and heart-breaking, and our heart goes out to the ones who are struggling for no fault of theirs.
So, what led to Detroit’s decline? If you are a geeky database/OLTP person, you have heard of ACID (no, not the one you get high on, but Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability). If you are a more enlightened, liberal arts person, you can relate to Elizabeth Kübler Ross’ seminal works on death, dwelling on stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, Hope…Yes, that’s what killed Detroit.
Arrogance: the Big Three (2½) thought they were invincible from the days of macho, gas-guzzling, chrome-rich cars when gas was 33 cents a gallon.
Complacency: “We are the Big Three, no one can touch us.” This is how the ancient Chinese, Greek, Persian, and Roman empires collapsed—they were all destroyed from within and not from without.
Ignorance: Not knowing how dumb they were and not foreseeing the inevitable games to be played by OPEC and other oil-rich countries.
Denial: Underestimating the Japanese onslaught from all sides—gas-sipping, not gas-guzzling, small cars; well-built mid-sized cars; luxurious high-end cars; and even odd-looking, funky cars like the Honda Element, Toyota Scion, and Nissan Cube that turned Saturn and Pontiac Aztek into a laughing stock.
Many folks have concluded the end of manufacturing in the U. S. and handing it over to China spell a death-knell for the U. S. We are not sure. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, almost 80% of American labor was in agriculture. But once massive mechanization took over, agriculture became secondary to the point that today less than 5% of the U. S. labor population is in agriculture.Yet, folks in early 20th century felt the end of an agriculture-based economy would mean the of the U. S. as we knew it then. But, today we not only grow enough food to feed ourselves, the U. S. government provides subsidies farmers not to grow more food! In early 20th century no one had heard of electronics, aerospace, jet aircraft, rockets, microprocessors, PCs, mainframes, transistors, TV, cassette, 8-Track, VHS, diskette, SSD, DVD, DVR, BlueRay, cell phones, iPod, iPhone…you get the point. So, what are the next killer products that will bring America back to its glory days? Biotech, personalized medicine, nanotechnology in all aspects of our lives, systems biology, optical computing, robots ruling your lives...? Your guess is as good as mine.
I am a short-term pessimist and a long-term optimist: America is sick, not dead, and will come back with a roaring revival that the rest of the world will envy. At least, that's my hope!
GOD BLESS AMERICA!