By on July 20, 2013

IMG_0682Mustang II Concept from 1963

It was once hypothetical, but now that the City of Detroit has filed for municipal bankruptcy, and since no legislation has been passed in Lansing to prevent it, it’s possible that a bankruptcy judge will order that city assets, including the art collection of the city owned Detroit Institute of Arts, estimated to be worth $2.5 billion or more, be sold to satisfy creditors, mostly public employee unions and city pensioneers. A less well known collection of artifacts more closely related to Detroit’s role as the Motor City, and perhaps nearer to the hearts of our readers (not that you’re Philistines who can’t appreciate fine art, but this is not The Truth About Art), could also be sold off to give creditors a few more pennies on the dollar.

Detroit Institute of Arts Rivera Mural detail

A city once famous for its heavy industry and more recently infamous for its poverty and urban decay owns one of the world’s finest art collections, the Detroit Institute of Arts. Founded in the 1800s by James E. Scripps, who started what is now the Detroit News, and supported for most of the 20th century with the wealth created by the American automobile industry, the DIA is one of America’s most significant art collections with over 65,000 items, a number of of them individually worth many millions of dollars, including works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Warhol, Van Eyck, Copley, Rothko, Matisse, and Bruegel, each of those worth tens of millions or more. Selling just a dozen of the museum’s most valuable pieces would fetch close to a billion dollars by themselves. The DIA building itself is artistically valuable and itself worth many millions since it incorporates the world famous Diego Rivera murals commissioned by Edsel Ford. One of Rodin’s own castings of The Thinker sits in front of the building, a gift from Horace Rackham, Henry Ford’s lawyer and early business partner. The Institute’s collection is wide ranging, including old masters, American masters, modern art and a fine collection of art from African, Oceanic and New World cultures, originally endowed by Edsel Ford’s widow, Eleanor, with a million dollar bequest upon her death in 1972.

img_0226Replica of Charles Brady King’s car, made in 1946 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first automobile ride in Detroit

However, the Detroit Institute of Arts is not the only museum and collection that the city of Detroit owns. It also owns the Detroit Historical Museum. An agreement between the Detroit Historical Society and the city in 2006 transferred operations to the non-profit Society, ensuring the museum’s survival when the city could no longer fund it. The city, though, retained legal ownership of the Museum and its collections. While its true that most of the historical artifacts owned by the Historical museum and related institutions pale in auction value when compared to the the fine art in the DIA, the historical museum has a number of pieces that would unquestionably fetch six and possibly seven figures at auction. The auction houses involved, though, would more likely be RM, Gooding, Mecum or Barrett-Jackson, not Sotheby’s, though on second thought, many of these items wouldn’t be out of place at one of Sotheby’s or Bonham’s high-dollar specialty auctions. I’m talking, of course, about the museum (and city’s) collection of cars

Mustang II Concept on display in 1963

Because the Detroit Historical Museum’s building doesn’t have a large gallery for cars, the vast majority of the museum’s collection of about six dozen historically significant automobiles cannot be seen at the museum on Woodward in Detroit’s New Center region. As a result, the collection is just not very well known to the public.

img_0145Cadillac Clark Street assembly plant “body drop” installation at the Detroit Historical Museum

Only four cars are rotated in and out of storage for public display at the DHM, along with the Cadillacs and components associated with the Clark Street Cadillac plant’s assembly line “body drop” that the museum salvaged and installed as a permanent exhibit.

Some of the remaining cars in the collection are kept in controlled storage at Historic Fort Wayne but at any one time half or more of the cars in the collection are given out on loan to other museums or car shows so the public can see them. Contrary to numerous published reports, according to the Museum’s curator their cars are not mostly languishing in bubbles.

IMG_0185Curved dash Oldsmobile

Now one would expect the Detroit Historical Museum to have historically significant models of cars, but looking over the catalog of the automotive collection, there are a number of vehicles whose specific history and/or provenance makes them not just significant but effectively one of a kind and potentially very valuable to collectors. Due to its location in Detroit the museum has been the beneficiary of gifts of cars directly from the domestic car companies themselves and also from the personal collections of automobile executives and their families.

Helen Newberry Joy’s Detroit Electric. Her husband Henry B. Joy ran Packard.

For example, the museum owns Henry Leland’s personal 1905 Cadillac. Leland founded Cadillac along with Henry Ford’s backers, out of the remnants of Ford’s second failed automotive venture, the Henry Ford Company. Leland was famous for his engineering skills, making Cadillac the standard of the world.

1954338001-14Henry Leland’s personal 1905 Cadillac, “Osceola”, said to be the first car with an enclosed body

The Dodge brothers were, by reputation, among the best machinists and engineers in Detroit, second to only Leland. Before they went into business selling their own cars in 1914, they supplied Henry Ford with everything from engines to complete rolling chassis.  John Dodge’s personal 1919 Dodge Brothers four door sedan is also in the collection, donated by his widow. His brother Horace’s 1919 Dodge coupe was gifted to the museum by Horace’s widow as well. Electric cars were popular with other women of Detroit’s automotive aristocracy. Clara (Mrs. Henry) Ford drove a Detroit Electric that’s currently in the collection of  The Henry Ford Museum. The Detroit Historical Museum owns the Detroit Electric driven by the wife of Henry B. Joy, who ran Packard.

IMG_0289Vintage mercury arc rectifier electric car charger

Stout Scarabs are rare, perhaps 9 of the experimental cars were made, most of aluminum. The Gilmore Car Museum near Kalamazoo currently houses William Stout’s (who also designed the Ford Trimotor Airplane) personal fiberglass bodied Scarab. That one of a kind car is owned by the Detroit Historical Museum as well, donated by Stout himself.

chryslerturbineIMG_0248_rDetroit Historical Museum’s Chrysler Turbine Car, currently on display at the Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, MI

Not one of a kind but bound to draw serious money if it was auctioned is the museum’s Chrysler Turbine Car, one of only 50 that were made and 9 that still exist. Chrysler donated this Turbine Car directly to the museum in 1967. Jay Leno owns one but most are in museums. For example, there are two on public display in Michigan, one at the Henry Ford Museum, and the Detroit Historical Museum’s Turbine Car is on display at the Gilmore. A third Turbine owned by the Chrysler company is at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, but that recently was closed to the public.

Museums can be just as acquisitive as private collectors. If this Chrysler Turbine were to be auctioned off to pay Detroit’s bills, rich collectors and museums would be outbidding each other and I’m sure that it would be at least a million dollar car. The museum also owns a Chrysler Turbine crate motor, a complete drivetrain actually.

img_0373William Stout’s fiberglass Scarab Prototype, currently on display at the Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, MI

In recent years, concept and show car collectors like Joe Bortz have demonstrated the historical and monetary value of vehicles that automakers used to crush rather casually. There was a time when last year’s show car was yesterday’s news. Today, though, a 50 year old show car is a museum piece and car companies now save their concept and show cars and don’t destroy them as they used to do. The Detroit Historical Museum owns a number of prototype and concept cars, from a period when few of those survived, that would get attention from serious collectors. Ford Motor Company in particular has been generous with the DHM, donating the museum’s 1963 Cougar II concept and the ’65 Ford XD Cobra concept, Ford styling chief Gene Bordinat’s personal car. How much do you think an original 1960s vintage small block Shelby Cobra chassis is worth? Both the Cougar II and the XD Cobra were built on such a Cobra chassis. The Cougar II still has its original 260 CI V8, not a 289, so that’s a very early chassis. Add the one-off show car bodies and direct-from-FoMoCo provenance and either one of those cars could get very serious (or silly, depending on how you look at it) money on the auction block.

fordcougariiconcept2Ford Cougar II concept

During its 2003 centennial year, Ford auctioned off scores of concept and show cars to raise money for charity so it’s not that uncommon to find a Ford concept in a museum or private collection and they do cross the auction block from time to time.

packardpan1951 Packard Pan American show car

Packard concept cars, on the other hand, are a bit rarer since Packard was out of business before that ’63 Cougar II was even built. The city of Detroit, via the history museum, owns the only 1951 Packard Pan American convertible show car and one of five 1952 Pan Americans that Packard built for the show circuit. The Pan Americans were Packard’s idea of a sporty two seater, with bodies that were chopped and channeled. The ’51 Pan American was also known as the Macauley Speedster, after Packard stylist Edward Macauley, who used it as a personal car and whose family (which had a long relationship with Packard) donated it to the museum. Macauley’s diamond encrusted logo is on the doors.

pack11table1001952 Packard Pan American show car

Fairly mundane American convertibles from the 1950s now regularly get well over $100K at auction. Quasi show cars like the Buick Skylark and Oldsmobile Fiesta convertibles from 1953 have been fetching between $150K and $200K recently year. Nice mid 1950s Packard Caribbean convertibles tend to go for those kinds of prices as well so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pan American show cars sold for a quarter of a million dollars or more each, were they to come up for sale at an auction.

Ford Mustang II concept, 1963

While Ford concepts are not that uncommon, there is one Ford prototype in the Museum’s collection that would undoubtedly get frenzied bidding going into the stratosphere because in a manner of speaking it’s the first Mustang, the “Mustang II” concept of 1963. As I said, Ford has sold off and donated concepts and prototypes before but it’s hard to imagine Ford letting this particular pony leave their corral. Well, that is until you consider that the company donated the 1963-65 pre-production Mustang prototype to the Museum in 1975, when it was busy selling Pinto based production Mustang IIs as economy cars and wasn’t touting Ford’s muscle car heritage.


That heritage included the original Mustang II concept. The Mustang I concept was a Mustang in name only, as we know that name today. It was a small midengine four cylinder powered two-seater that today is, like Clara Ford’s Detroit Electric, in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum. By 1963, the decision was made to go with a Falcon based four seater.


Based on a pre-production 1964 1/2 Mustang body, the Mustang II carried over a few of the styling cues from the Mustang I, popular on the show circuit, while in general previewing the design of the first generation of production Mustangs. Equipped with a Cobra 289 V8 and four on the floor, the Mustang II was shown in 1963 and in early 1964, before the introduction of the production Mustang at the New York World’s fair in April of that year. As close as it is to the production car, I say that the Mustang II concept could lay strong claim to the title of the first Mustang.

Mustang enthusiasts about about as fanatic as they come. Resto-modded “Shelbys” and “Eleanors” that left the factory as six cylinder secretaries’ cars can now draw prices seen by genuine Shelby Mustangs not that long ago. Those stupid George Barris Sonny & Cher Mustang convertibles went for big money (okay, so they were bought by the least knowledgeable car collector in America, but someone was bidding against Tammy Allen). Enough people collect vintage IMC scale model kits of the Mustang II concept that Lindberg put them back into production.

Hot Wheels has also recently sold die-cast models of the car to collectors as well. With that kind of interest in the car itself and the level of enthusiasm shown by Mustang fans, how much do you think the real Mustang II concept would go for if the city of Detroit auctioned it off? My guess is that the Henry Ford Museum just might outbid and other well-heeled collectors in order to put the Mustang II concept next to the Mustang I concept in that museum’s new Driving America exhibit, that opened in early 2012.

Nobody’s selling any of these cars just yet, though. As with the art institute, many of the items were donated conditionally and lawsuits would likely tie up any potential sale of the city’s art and collectible cars for years. Still, the possibility of the sale of city of Detroit assets may turn out to be a good thing. Before you read this post you probably didn’t associate the city of Detroit with fine art. Now you know about the DIA’s collection and something about the very unique and cool cars in the Detroit Historical Museum’s collection as well.

Descriptions of some of the cars in the Detroit Historical Museum’s automotive collection can be found here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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101 Comments on “Never Mind Detroit’s Rembrandts & Van Goghs, to Pay Off Creditors Will the City Sell the First Mustang?...”

  • avatar

    Nice article .


  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Interesting post! Thanks. I hope Detroit doesn’t sell their collection, though I am sure the Mustang concept would command a good amount. Emergency Mgr. Kevin Orr said yesterday on WJR that they wouldn’t plan to sell everything. We are living in “interesting times” in SE Michigan!

    The Cadillac body drop photos remind me of the body drop at the Oldsmobile main plant. In 1969, we built 95 jobs an hour, Cutlass, 88 and 98 on the same line. About one body dropped from the second floor onto a moving chassis every 38 seconds! I had an assignment to stand in the pit under the chassis line to monitor a new cage nut design for the body attaching bolts to make sure they didn’t strip or cross thread. During the assignment, we had no problems, which would have been terribly disruptive to the assembly operation with off line repair required. It was fascinating to observe the teamwork of the men on the second floor dropping a complete body onto a moving chassis with men in the pit marrying the body to the chassis as it moved. They made a complicated timing operation look easy! I suppose that is because they got to practice 95 times an hour!

    • 0 avatar

      My favorite part of the line in the newer plants like OK City was in the body shop where the right and left halves of the body were merged with the center. At the right moment, flashing amber lights would start up followed by fixtures holding the sides would sweep across the wide aisles on either side of the line with the center portion of the body. Then it was followed by flying sparks as crews on either side welded the parts in place.

      It was dangerous. But, the body shop was always my favorite. Sparks flying seemingly everywhere and the smell of metal being welded! You wouldn’t want to be standing in the aisle at the wrong time in the wrong place. In the early days of OK City, a women that was a member of the crew welding the vehicle side to the center had her foot caught between the two parts when they came together. Her co-workers had to help her limp down the line until they reached the point where the side fixture pulled back and released her foot. Dangerous work.

    • 0 avatar

      What? Only 95 cars assembled in a hour? Typical lazy, union, thug behavior! If it were up to me, and Rush, you’d have been assembling 300 cars an hour, at gun point, for 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a bowl of gruel, until you were dead, and your lazy, worthless urchin kids would have tightening lug nuts right along side you!

      Lousy unions ruined this country!

      • 0 avatar

        @ skor Thank you for the insight. I think I’ve been called all those names at one time, or another.

        Only folks that have had the “assembly line” experience, truly know what its all about.

        Rush?… Now there is a first class as….. On second thoughts I’ll not share my opinion of Rush.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe guns would be considered part of a “modernization” plan. After all It took considerable training for overseers (management) to learn how to crack a whip properly.


      • 0 avatar

        Can’t you quit and find another job? Or create jobs?
        That’s what men do when they don’t like their jobs.

    • 0 avatar

      @Doc… Wow! 95 JPH, with a body drop. 95 now. that’s fast. The best we got out of the old B line was 63. We ran the early FWD 6000 in the mid eighties, with a three rail, and one marriage station. That was no easy feat.

      I just can’t imagine life in the body drop, side pit at 95 JPH.

    • 0 avatar

      When you pay workers by the hour, of course they’re going to milk it.

      Dock their pay for errors and quality goes way up.

      Funny how that works.

      • 0 avatar

        @DenverMike…I mostly agree with your comments. Got call you on that one.
        What about real lousy engineering that makes it near impossible to assemble correctly?

        What about management errors? Rick W ran GM into the ground. Did Rick get docked? He only got 20 million and a guaranteed pension.

        Just saying.

        • 0 avatar


          Had the bankruptcy proceeded as it should (instead of the unions being bailed out with taxpayer funds and via ripping off the secured bondholders, i.e., everyone else’s 401k), Rick Wagoneer would have probably lost most of his pension.

          You got what you wanted; enjoy it now!

        • 0 avatar

          I had a relative(now dead) that worked at Ford Mahwah Assembly.

          Management would penalize the line workers for having a repair rate that was too low.

        • 0 avatar

          @Mikey – Good point, but a different argument. There’s no excuse for mistakes at assembly. Even if it takes more hands on deck, better hands on deck, and or updated/fixed parts.

          There’s no excuse for mistakes at the engineering or foundry level either.

          Or is there?

  • avatar

    That was one of your best, at least for what has been at TTAC. I’d really like to think that these items could avoid liquidation, as once such a rich collection is gone, it is gone forever. Maybe one of the “forces” that manages to keep hyper wealth criminals out of jail will somehow spare these wonderful collections. Unfortunately those very types are licking their chops on how much they can profit from liquidating this sliver of America. Its as good as gone.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the nice words. Now, please allow me to politely disagree with your other comments.

      I don’t see how wealthy people in the private sector could likely benefit from Detroit’s bankruptcy. The bulk of the $18 to $20 billion that the city owes are pension and health care obligations to city employees and pensioners.

      There is at least irony in the possibility that treasures endowed to the people of Detroit by civic minded rich folks in the private sector will be sold to pay off public sector employees and retirees. Though the city government financially supported the museum from the 1920s until the 1990s, most of that funding was operational. Some acquisitions were indeed done by the “City of Detroit” during that period, but that money came from taxpayers, not public employees.

      The reasons for Detroit’s overall decline are manifold and include the VA and FHA housing programs, expressways, changes in manufacturing (an assembly plant needs a quarter of the people to produce the same number of cars), Japan and Germany’s recovery after being pretty much leveled during WWII, the issue of race, and a number of other factors, but the immediate fiscal reason for the bankruptcy is that the city government promised city workers unsustainable contracts and now doesn’t have the money or the tax base to pay up.

      The bankruptcy is not a case of some fat cat bankers waiting to scoop up the assets of a valuable, but badly run, enterprise. This is a failure of the city government, including elected officials, public employees and the voters.

      • 0 avatar

        I think both you guys are right. Public folly and inexorable outside forces led to the bankruptcy, but the artwork is still going on the block, subject to any individual bequest stipulations, so why won’t wealthy private buyers be enjoying a fire sale?

        • 0 avatar

          I think this is all premature.

          Obama will bail out Detroit. The precedence was set by Shrub in 2008. It is now national policy and accepted by both sides of the political aisle.

          The US tax payers need to suck it up and deal with it. This is the new America. A bailout nation, we are.

          We’re going to nationalize Detroit’s debts and shortfalls just like we did GM and Chrysler.

          It’s too bad we can’t give away Detroit to Italy, like we did Chrysler.

          Maybe if Sergio becomes mayor of Detroit?

          There’s nothing to worry about here though. Even this exquisite collection is safe.

          • 0 avatar

            Back when Texas was Confederate they tried to bring down the Union by sending troops.

            Then they found that sending presidents was way more effective.

          • 0 avatar

            I caught something on TV while eating dinner with the in-laws last night about a county judge ordering that a federal bankruptcy filing was against Michigan’s State law and that a copy of her order was to be sent to Obama.

            That was followed with Biden saying that “they just didn’t know” how they were going to help Detroit.

            This is just a bunch of political maneuvering for advantage, a jockeying for position if you will. A pandering to the unions.

            In the end Obama will bail out Detroit and the vast majority of both houses of Congress will vote in the affirmative.

            Even Bernanke will get involved with a QE of Detroit, buying a ton of their worthless paper, more than enough to clear up whatever ails them and give them spending loot to boot.

            This is the State of the Union. The majority rules, and this is what the majority voted for.

            Those who oppose it, like myself, just have to deal with it, and move on with their lives.

          • 0 avatar

            Truth be told, friend, I’m not overly upset that my life is nearer its end than its beginning. I see no way out of this for the average person and only a mafia existence for the elites.

            America truly was exceptional, if short-lived.

          • 0 avatar

            Feel the same way! I had a miraculous life and I’m thankful every day to the almighty to be living in America. I could have been born in Portugal, the land of my father. Or I could have been born in Germany, the land of my wife’s father. Perish the thought!

            That said, I was never handed anything I didn’t have to work and sweat for. Never qualified for food stamps, WIC, free phones and whatever other freebies the Obama administration gives away these days at tax payer expense to the freeloaders.

            Aside from my work as a part-time cafeteria worker in High School, I have had only one employer during my life and that was the US Air Force.

            Once I retired after 20 years at age 38, I fended for myself, and looking back at age 67, I did OK. No bail outs for me. No freebies either. It’s time to collect now for all the blood, sweat and tears I shed.

            Whatever I get from Uncle Sam these days, and it ain’t much, I earned the old fashioned way. I worked for it!

          • 0 avatar

            High Desert Cat, you’ve been retired for nearly 30 years? Did I read that correctly?

          • 0 avatar

            Daygonit what was that movie where John Ritter was president and to pay the national debt he sold or auctioned off areas of the country.

          • 0 avatar

            @raph a quick wikipedia search turns up… Americathon from 1979 predicting a dystopian 1989

          • 0 avatar

            Watch the Fed Banking Cartel on this one and here’s why… they have already floated the idea of eventually stopping the bond buying and monetizing of debt in order to reduce the drag on THEIR dollar. If Detroit gets a bailout, other munis such as Chicago, and the big ones – California and Rhode Island- will follow. This will no play well with the Federal deficit nor Wall Street. There is already too much liquidity in the world banking system and I doubt Uncle Ben’s masters want to print even more for these places. I could see them thumbing their nose at everything (except maybe California) and then the big finance world coming in to buy everything at fire sale prices.

            Although on the flip side people far more intelligent than I have already argued once they go down the road of money printing there is no turning back, and Barry can go down as the one who let it all go.


          • 0 avatar

            28-Cars-Later, Barry has already gone down as being a worse president than even Jimmy Carter was. America gets dissed by all sorts of third-rate two-bit rulers. That didn’t happen with Shrub, Clinton, Bush the Elder or Ronald Reagan.

            I don’t think that Barry knows enough about anything other than community organizing and his liberal democrat advisers of the first administration did not serve him, or the nation, well.

            So my belief is that Detroit will get a bailout, probably called by some other name like “$20B loan”, but in essence it will help more people than the bailout of GM and Chrysler did, and in turn the entire State of Michigan AND ALL of Detroit’s creditors.

            Sounds like a much better deal than the bailout of dead GM which served no one except the UAW. We should have done the same for GM that we did for Chrysler.

            I get it that a bailout of Detroit will not be looked upon favorably by many and in fact dent our national self-esteem even more, but at this point Barry can’t do any worse, unless he gets us involved in a hot war in Syria.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Sell Detroit to the Canadians, like the Russians sold Alaska to the US.

            Detroit must be worth a few grand an acre.

          • 0 avatar

            “High Desert Cat, you’ve been retired for nearly 30 years? Did I read that correctly”

            shelvis, I retired from the Air Force in 1985.

          • 0 avatar

            @ highdesertcat:

            I sense a certain irritation at people who have to lean on the government. Well, I’m one of them. A few years back, I had to live off unemployment to feed my family. I’m 49, have a college degree, and have been a taxpaying citizen since about 1980. I have been as hardworking and productive as anyone else I know. But when the boom dropped, it devastated me financially. With some help, and some luck, I’ve made it back.

            I’ve come out of this more strongly in favor of helping my fellow Americans when they need it than ever before – not as a hand out, but as a hand up. I used it. Millions of others have too. I don’t begrudge them. No one should.

            Shit happens. It could have happened to you but for the grace of God.

          • 0 avatar

            Do I read this correctly: You’ve been mostly living of a taxpayer-funded pension since the ripe age of 38 yet you seem to be upset with people who have to rely on support from the taxpayer?

          • 0 avatar

            FreedMike & Vaujot, I’m very much against bailouts, handouts and nationalization of debt, where the tax paying public works not only to enrich themselves but to keep others living the highlife too, at the tax payers’ expense (i.e the UAW).

            When I was a young airman I was dirt poor and didn’t get any help from anyone. Simply didn’t qualify for food stamps, welfare, except sub-standard Air Force Housing, like a trailer home at an airport trailer park. Such a dump!!! Worse even than the luxurious Katrina trailers.

            So my wife and I did our fair amount of suffering and even though we worked very hard, held down two jobs each, there still was never enough money to go around ’til the next payday.

            When I retired from the Air Force I resolved never to be employed again, never to be dependent again on someone else for my income. Which doesn’t mean I have been sitting on my dead ass since I turned 38.

            I’ve built our family home, from scratch, and work very hard restoring/renovating/remodeling the homes my wife and her family buy and rent out as part of their real estate business. We’re doing pretty good these days.

            What you guys may not know is that a very large portion of people who retire from the military, civil service or other state, county and local government jobs, do not return to the workforce.

            But not all of those people play golf every day or spend the day enjoying leisure activities.

            This is not the venue to discuss these things but people need to help themselves instead of having the taxpayers feed and clothe them, and pay for their health benefits.

            There are plenty of jobs unfilled in America. Most people are just too proud to do them. I’ve washed dishes and I’ve cleaned toilets so I don’t have room for “understanding” why some people feel it’s below them to do certain work.

            In the days of the pioneers, there was no such thing as welfare and handouts. People made do. That’s what made America the greatest nation on earth.

            What we have now is a nation of wimps, too proud to find work in spite of the fact that there are millions of jobs vacant and we have to import people from foreign nations to do them for us. H1B, anyone?

            The reality is that the majority of voters in America voted for the welfare state, and the majority rules. Recipients loves them “freebies”, he said with a Southern twang.

            Hey, I’m not going to rush out to find a job so I can pay income taxes to help support others. They can worry about themselves.

            There are a great number of Americans who choose not to work, each for their own reasons. Let the ones who believe in social welfare pay for it all.

            (Sorry about the delayed response. I was locked out from making comments last night by ttac. Whatever I sent ttac disappeared into the irretrievable great void of the ttac servers with the return comment “Looks like you said that already.”

            Yeah, but where in the fock is it?

            Happened before and it’ll happen again. It’s not on my side of the equation.)

      • 0 avatar

        Ronnie, I didn’t mean to imply that fat cat bankers caused Detroit’s decline. That decline can be shared by management, labor, and government in both the Federal and local level. What share belongs to each group is likely where we would part company. What I was trying to imply is that it seems the very cream at the top can get away with destroying industry, people’s lives, and our very economy and there is zero ramifications on a real level. Witness the economic meltdown. These people knew their practices were not sustainable but continued anyway because they were able to line their pockets. The loss of such a cherished piece of America really bothers me, and in the end, the very cream at the top will scoop up this collection, coming full circle. That is frustrating to me.

      • 0 avatar

        So, if you’re a retired employee of the city, what happens now. Are you at risk of losing your pension and your healthcare?

      • 0 avatar

        Before anyone sells off anything, the good people of Detroit need to demand that the head of the DIA (salary: $600K per year), the executive director (salary: $350K per year), and the head of the Detroit Film Theater (salary: $250K per year) be fired and not replaced. That’s over $1M saved per year.

      • 0 avatar

        @ Ronnie:

        “…the immediate fiscal reason for the bankruptcy is that the city government promised city workers unsustainable contracts and now doesn’t have the money or the tax base to pay up.”

        Yes, but they weren’t unsustainable when they were initiated. Why? Because the city was far larger, and had need for more employees.

        It’s like building an eight lane bridge that is initially fully utilized, only to find 20 years later that only four are needed. You can’t shrink the bridge, and you can’t shrink how much you pay for it either, unless you want to risk collapse. You can’t shrink Detroit either.

        Clearly no one thought of “sustainability” when they wrote those contracts for benefits, but who thought that in 2013, this city’s population would bottom out the way it has?

    • 0 avatar

      «once such a rich collection is gone, it is gone forever»

      What part of “Only four cars are rotated in and out of storage” didn’t you understand?

      A warehoused collection is worthless to the public or to collectors.

      Sell the assets, baby, sell!

      • 0 avatar

        What part of “at any one time half or more of the cars in the collection are given out on loan to other museums or car shows so the public can see them.” did you not understand?

    • 0 avatar

      Wouldn’t New York go bankrupt unless Federal Government bailed them out? Why Obama Administration did not intervene to save Detroit? My guess is that Democrats do not care about Detroit or Big Three for that matter since absolute majority of despise American car and Michigan votes are taken for granted.

      Detroit is not the only miserable place to live in USA. From Wikipedia:
      “In July 2012, Stockton became the largest city ever to file for protection under Chapter 9 of the US Bankruptcy code.[4] Also in 2012, the city was ranked one of the most dangerous cities in America, coming in 10th place, and is the second most dangerous in California (just behind Oakland).[5] In 2013, Stockton was ranked as the third least literate city in the U.S. in a study by Central Connecticut State University, with less than 17% of adults holding a college degree.[6] In February 2013, the city was ranked one of the most miserable cities in the U.S.[7]”

      Did Obama bailout Stockton? People deserve what they get. It hurts but there is nobody to blame but yourself.

      BTW Russia is a huge country – went bankrupt couple of times in the last two decades. But it was bailed out by oil money and mafia thugs.

      Germany went bankrupt in early 30s. National Socialists were laughing stock in 20s. Nobody took them seriously until republican Germany defaulted and then National Socialist Workers Party became very popular and during their rule Germany witnessed an economic miracle while US was stuck in never ending depression. Would thugs from Rot Front save or bailout Germany? Don’t think so. But thugs from NSDAP did.

      The conclusion is that right wing thugs are capable of bailing out country while left wing thugs (or communist) not.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Inside Looking Out

        That’s quite a powerful comment. Almost disturbing.

        It doesn’t matter whether its from family to a business to a country, if you live on more than you earn and invest in the wrong areas you will eventually go bankrupt. Investing is also pensions.

        From your comment there is one element that has to be removed to bring a country/state/city back on its feet, that is empathy. That is to remove compassion from decisions. People will hurt, just like selling the art and cars to museums interstate and overseas.

        Many families lost their homes and family jewels when they go bankrupt.

        • 0 avatar

          Agree. Communists and National Socialists are ruthless. They take any measures required to save the country and move forward (just watch China) and the first thing they do in every country – they terminate liberals and anarchists. Yes communists did it too and in fact they did it first in Russia. Liberals and anarchists started revolution as a Social Democrats but after the anarchy took place Communists took over and arrested and executed every Social Democrat and who did not escape from the country and the majority of educated people who did not 100% collaborate.

          That is how all revolutions end – socialist or nationalist or both. Hitler was not as ruthless and stupid as Stalin but he also cleaned up SA from original membership who preferred anarchy and socialism and scared people with money whom NSDAP needed on their side. And SA was the engine which propelled NSDAP to the glory.

  • avatar

    Wow… I hope someone steps in to make sure these treasures stay intact to be enjoyed by future enthusiasts

  • avatar

    “the art collection of the city owned Detroit Institute of Arts, estimated to be worth $2.5 billion or more..”

    Pawn Star Rick: “Uhhhhh….no.”

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen figures that range between $1.5B and over $3B. In May, the Detroit Free Press ran an article based on checking with art appraisers, auction results and other experts and came up with this admittedly speculative list of the DIA’s most valuable pieces. I presume that if just 10 pieces are worth about $700 million, a figure worth billions for the entire 65,000 piece collection is not unreasonable. These are just the pieces worth many tens of millions or more, there are many items in the collection that are “just” worth in the single digit millions and it’s a very big collection. It adds up. My guess is that the DIA has single items in storage that are worth more than the Harrison’s entire store.

      Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “The Wedding Dance”
      Circa 1566. Oil on oak panel. 47-by-62 inches. City of Detroit purchase, 1930.

      Legendary DIA Director William Valentiner bought the painting with $38,000 in city funds. Peasant life in all its exuberance, joy and earthly sensuality explodes across the painting, a coded message to the elites of the day that everyday folks’ lives have value. Estimated value: $100 million.

      Vincent van Gogh, “Self Portrait”
      1887. Oil on canvas. 14-by-10.5 inches. City of Detroit purchase, 1922.

      The first van Gogh painting to enter a public museum in America, this iconic self-portrait captures one of the most recognizable faces in art in one of the happier periods in the life of the tormented artist. Estimated value: $60 million.

      Tintoretto, “The Dreams of Men”
      Circa 1550. Oil on canvas. 7-by-12 feet. City of Detroit purchase, 1923.

      This enormous Venetian masterpiece, installed on the ceiling, captures the artist’s famed energy, dynamism, lighting effects and manipulated perspective. The meaning is enigmatic, emerging from a web of symbols exploring dreams, fortune and opportunity. Estimated value: $100 million.

      Rembrandt, “The Visitation”
      1640. Oil on oak panel. 22-by-19 inches. City of Detroit purchase, 1927.

      A remarkable and virtuoso visual glow and emotional richness emanates from the central figures in the narrative telling the story of the meeting of Mary (pregnant with Jesus) and her cousin Elizabeth (pregnant with John the Baptist) — quintessential Rembrandt. Estimated value: $60 million.

      Frederic Church, “Cotopaxi”
      1862. Oil on canvas. 48-by-85 inches. Founders Society purchase with funds from several sources, 1976.

      A landmark of American art, Church’s awe-inspiring 7-foot panorama balances the fiery danger and intensity of an erupting volcano against the sublime glow of the rising sun — a possible metaphor for the Civil War. Estimated value: $70 million.

      Henri Matisse, “The Window”
      1916. Oil on canvas. 57.5-by-46 inches. City of Detroit purchase, 1922.

      A masterpiece by one of the seminal artists of the 20th Century, this subtly abstract large-scale interior illustrates the French-born master’s deceptive style. The alluring beauty immediately speaks to the eyes and the heart, but lurking below is a complex use of color, form, line, pattern and flattened space. Estimated value: $150 million.

      Mark Rothko, “Orange Brown”
      1963. 90-by-69 inches. Oil on canvas. Founders Society purchase, 1965.

      An especially arresting painting by one of the defining American abstract expressionists, known for poetic fields of intense color and light. Estimated value: $70 million.

      Jan van Eyck, “Saint Jerome in his Study”
      Circa 1440. 8-by-5 inches. Oil on linen paper on oak panel. City of Detroit purchase, 1925.

      A small, brilliantly painted devotional work by a 15th-Century Flemish master, “St. Jerome in his Study” is stuffed with symbols for intellectual pursuits (books), mortality (hourglass) and much more. Estimated value: $50 million.

      Nicolas Poussin, “Selene and Endymion”
      Circa 1628. 48-by-66.5 inches. Oil on canvas. Founders Society purchase, 1936.

      The 17th-Century French artist’s work illustrates a famous mythological tale while informing the scene with dramatic use of light and all kinds of painted subtleties. Estimated value: $30 million.

      Andy Warhol, “Double Self Portrait”
      1967. Screen print in paint on canvas. 6-by-6 feet. Founders Society purchase, 1968.

      Warhol at his best, still in the sweet spot of his career: The self-portrait was a leitmotiv of the pop art innovator’s career. Here, the sly provocateur stares us down from the photo booth, offering a peek behind the curtain of his public mask with the indulgent colors and silk screen process defining the age. Estimated value: $80 million.

      • 0 avatar

        You are so damn hard working…

        Still, the buying public at the Great Masters level has to be as exclusive and tiny a coterie as can be. Why wouldn’t they collaborate to hold out till Detroit snaps up a dime on the dollar?

        Then again, this will attract global art sharks and some of them will have instructions that cost is no object. They’ll be hung in air-conditioned tents.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Most of that list is older than Detroit, which means they’ve resided in other locations before their present visit to southeast Michigan.

        • 0 avatar
          TTAC Staff

          Detroit is one of the oldest cities in the country, founded in 1701, so only half of them are older than the city.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @TTAC Staff
            When I was in Paris recently I went to some of the art Museums and they have many of the works by some of the artists mentioned. So there is a global market for this art.

            If the art is to remain in the US, then someone or something has to buy them. They have to be placed in a city where more access is given to the art.

            Really how many people go to Detroit to look at art compared to Paris, New York, Washington, London etc.

            Detroit was a global city in its heyday, but it isn’t anymore. What made Detroit a global city going back several decades or more was the influence the US auto industry had on the world.

            The US represented more than 50% of the total globes vehicle sales.

            This isn’t so any more. It will go down in history and be recorded.

            People will have to adjust to this. Look at where Florence and Venice are. In their heyday they were the beginning of capitalism like we know it. These cities were powerful for their time, but not anymore, they are a part of history and that is the best you can hope from Detroit.

            What makes a city endure through history are the attributes that it can offer. Successful cities have more than one or two positive attributes. Detroit relied on the auto manufacturing industry. It isn’t a centre of trade, finance, government, transport, etc to make it successful and enduring.

            This event occurs to most cities since recorded history and before.

  • avatar

    Seeing those 1987 C body Cadillacs in a row sends chills. Approval.

  • avatar

    Wonder if Ford claimed that the Mustang II had bumpers hidden behind those front and rear panels?

    The Cougar II looks more like a Corvette design study than anything else.

    I lived next to the city in Southfield, MI from 2000 to 2002 and I didn’t even know any of this existed. We’ll see how this bankruptcy shakes out for Detroit.

  • avatar

    Eeeww..Ick! Look at all the hard plastic surfaces in the Mustang II’s interior!

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Amazing on how the Ford stylists of the time were so accurate at predicting the future of car interiors.

    • 0 avatar

      The rich supple vinyl seating surfaces from the rare Wisconsin Nauga were cutting edge… and a little sticky

      • 0 avatar

        We’ve got some eco-terrorists out here in the woods that still have it in for Ford because of our Nauga extinction.

        Showcars like this helped the idea catch on with appliance manufacturers…. interior walls of dishwashers, fridges and freezers killed off all our Nauga.

        • 0 avatar

          I guess they have all gone into hyding….self preservation…

          • 0 avatar

            Nah, they’re protected in their natural habitat in the frozen rain forests of south central Wisconsin, have been since 1975. From their site…

            “In appreciation for the value that Naugas provide to them when they shed their hydes, a consortium of companies that produce products made from Naugahyde fabric established an extensive benefits program for Naugas in 1975. Funded with a contribution made for each hyde shed, the Nauga Defense Fund (or NDF) plays a central role in making sure that Naugas are protected and cared for throughout their lives.

            The NDF Legal Program was instrumental in passing laws prohibiting the testing of cosmetics on Naugas.”

            You see them all the time when driving in that area

          • 0 avatar

            “You see them all the time when driving in that area”

            Only if they want you to.

          • 0 avatar

            Ha!… you thought they were extinct

        • 0 avatar

          Save the alcantaras!

  • avatar

    Excellent Post Ronnie. Thanks for your tireless work – including your replies – and insights into Detroit’s World Class Museums.

    I’ll bet most people in the USA and even right here in Detroit have no idea of the artistic value of the DIA and the opportunity to view these pieces right in their own backyard.

    I would personally throw myself in front of any dock, exit, driveway, armored vehicle … to keep any of these works of art from leaving Detroit. I already told the wife I might be taking a few vacation days and camp out at the DIA in the near future.

    • 0 avatar

      Think about it…if I have prize petunias growing in my garden hidden by a high fence, do I go over to the biker hangout next door and say

      “Oh, boys… care to see my prize petunias? But *do* be careful as they’re *ever* so fragile..”

  • avatar

    Good article, Ronnie.

  • avatar

    Surprises me Detroit never floated a bond series using the art specifically as collateral. A missed opportunity to dig the debt-hole even deeper, an odd omission given the perverse talents of that municipality’s management.

  • avatar

    If I was benevolent Dictator for a day I would keep the art and sell what cars I could.

    What money came in would go to fund pensions and employee obligations.

    The banksters would get nothing.

    • 0 avatar

      Cars != Art in your mind eh? I find them to be one in the same.

      I agree with the basic premise of “screw the banksters”, but I wouldn’t reward muni employees with one red cent. In fact with dictatorial powers I would restructure their fatcat retired-at-50 pensions to be more in line with the reality of the doomed city they helped create. Detroit in 2013 needs to pay back what it can and wipe the slate completely clean if it has a chance to come back, and this includes unrealistic obligations from 20-40 years ago.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m not necessarily an art fan. I’m just your humble benevolent Dictator. :)

        The thing is most of the pensions go to in the trenches workers. Police, Fire, Water, Public Works. Also the employees played by the rules. They have put in the time (and no doubt made contributions from their paychecks into the system). If it is anything like where I live municipal workers are paid less that private sector. The promise is after 20-30 years they would receive a pension as a partial offset.

        Oh, I have no issue cutting pension for all upper level officials.

        Time and time again it has come out where large banks manipulated interest rates and engineered financial products that border on fraudulent.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree with you there are always people/firms/funds/sith lords looking to defraud munis and investors, they actually run the economy. I’m not sure there is much that can be done about it other than to remember beware of Greeks bearing gifts, as it were.

          I have a little more sympathy for emergency services workers than the other arms of municipal gov’t, although some of the same problems creep up with their dept’s as well. Case in point, my brother is a municipal employee and in the police union. Our city has been in and out of bankruptcy since about 2000, and in 2006 the police union voted to allow the city to discontinue the lifetime health benefits for all police employees hired after 2005. My issue with this is it shows how the union and its perks are literally one big Ponzi scheme and over time it creates privileged classes within city gov’t. Its one thing as a union to recognize “this is unsustainable to our employer” and on the same token take actions to exert “we’ll as long as I get mine screw the next generation”; it shows a deliberate mindset of greed. I imagine a similar scene played out in Detroit over the last 20-40 years. Cities are no different than business, you have up and down periods. When your company overextends itself and goes bankrupt, you will probably lose your job, benefits, and other perks. Sure maybe it wasn’t your fault directly but the axe still falls, but ultimately life goes on. I hope wise men and wise actions ultimately prevail in Detroit… or they could always just elect Robocop.

          • 0 avatar

            Most Police and Fire employees risk their lives EVERY DAY. That has to count for something.

            I for one would not want cites to outsource essential services . Example: private prisons. They have been a debacle. Rife with mismanagement, neglect and abuses.


          • 0 avatar

            I can’t speak for everywhere, but the police and fire department of my city are paid quite well for the service they perform, difficult as they may be. The right amount of compensation is certainly up for debate but the key is it must be both reasonable and sustainable. Gov’t generally speaking tends to not be reasonable or sustainable simply because (1) there is little accountability in gov’t at large, (2) gov’t can always raise taxes and (3) gov’t can simply issue bonds to raise money beyond taxes collected to kick the can down the road a bit. If even some progress could be made on those areas I would be thoroughly impressed.

            Not sure what private prisons have to do with anything.

        • 0 avatar

          You are living in the past man. Don’t be sorry for public employees – they are doing just fine, better than you I assure. And get pay raises every year unlike most in private sector. And pensions and healthcare for life and beyond.

          As an example – how about $400K salary with 170K pension for the life? Like this:

          “Looking for a good gig in these tough times?

          How about one week on, one week off, for $400,000 a year, and a pension of around $170,000 after 20 years of service?

          Not that being a San Francisco Bar Pilot is without risks and responsibilities. As one of an elite group of approximately 60 marine pilots, you’re in charge of navigating giant container vessels, oil tankers and cruise ships in and out of Bay Area and Northern California waters, considered to be among the most treacherous in the nation.”

          It is not Fox news – it is liberal

          • 0 avatar

            InsideLookingOut: Does not make sense to focus on just one exceptional case. How about the typical case. The average pension received by a NYC retiree is about $38K. Sure there are still a few Tier 1 folks out there, but even those outsize pensions are averaged into that $38K.

            Civil service has been under assault just like everybody else. Using NY as an example again (I live nearby) virtually all civil servants have been working without a contract for the last several years. That means 0% raises for the last 2 to 4 years. Retroactive raises are very unlikely.

            Civil service work started looking really good in this economy because in the private sector, employers had the upper hand and began squeezing workers for longer hours with no compensation, or in the case of less-skilled jobs, fired them outright and covered those hours with multiple part time workers. No benefits to pay. Most of that does not happen to the municipal workers. But during most times, the civil service guys get paid less. That was always the trade off of choosing a civil service job. You received a pension, good health benefits, and stability. The trade off is that your annual salary is typically less than you could make in the private sector. For me, I feel that by being a high value, respected professional, I would not need that safety net, and so far so good. Just hope it stays that way.

          • 0 avatar

            Public employees still earn more in average than those in a private sector. At least here in state of CA. How do you think the country is one step away from bankruptcy? One little event will dramatically change the fortunes of America and this event is return of treasury interest rates to the historically normal levels. Then the debt will explode and then Obama or whoever replaces him will finally have his back against the wall and it is then when we will need the real leadership not cheap talk in the White House. Nothing can be kept artificially low for extended period of time. Reality always catches up.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t care for banks, but this notion that Detroit’s creditors are nothing but evil mustachioed capitalists in some Manhattan tower is silly. Who buys muni-debt? Not high-rollers and Ferrari-driving quants. Grandma buys munies. Parents buy munies for their kids. Those people, far more than Jamie Dimon laughing it up in the Hamptons, are Detroit’s creditors. You stiff Detroit’s creditors to keep their pension flush and you’re likely robbing somebody else’s.

      Detroit asked to borrow the money, people lent them the money, they have every right to be paid back – even if the clearing-house middleman is Chase My Money, or Goldy Sux, or any of them.

      • 0 avatar

        Every bond carries a risk of default. That is why they are rated.

        As it is several large Banks committed fraud in paying bribes to win contracts to refinance debt. Last time I checked it is illegal to offer or pay bribes.

        And don’t forget the LIBOR rate rigging scandal.

        Little old ladies these are not.

    • 0 avatar

      “What money came in would go to fund pensions and employee obligations.

      The banksters would get nothing.”

      Why should the people who supplied working capital get less than the people who supplied labor? A supplier is a supplier. Do the children of people who supply steel or working capital not need clothes and food too? It seems that today, some animals are more equal than others.

      In any case, it’s not the bankers who screwed Detroit. The bankers didn’t give campaign contributions to politicians who negotiated unsustainable contracts with public employee unions.

      As I pointed out in a comment above, Detroit’s creditors aren’t so much the big bad “banksters” of your nightmares, the vast majority of the $20 billion owed, about 90%, is owed to city employees and pensioners.

      The naivete of those who refuse to see the inherently corrupting nature of public employee unions is almost charming, almost. Spend a little time researching just how bloated city government is in Detroit, how it costs something like $70 just to cut one check because of how many people they have featherbedded in the accounts payable department. All those oh so noble workers in the trenches you cite are the ones who have taken all they can from the city, they’re the ones who take an hour to respond to a 911 emergency call.

      Now, literal treasures, mostly donated by the private sector, will be looted to pay the pensions of those same “workers” that have helped make sure Detroit is how it is today.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m far from naive. I can guarantee you I have more of an ax to grind with the public employee system than you.

        Unless you have been sexually assaulted by three coworkers like me.

        But the generalizations that public equals bad and private is good. And banks and Wall Street are sweetness and light.

        Now that is naive.

        Peace out. I’m going bowling.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Ronnie Schreiber
        I wonder if people understand that Detroit as it currently stands is paying 38c in every dollar it collects in tax to pay down debt and cover pensions.

        As the city continues to decline this percentage of debt will increase.

        There are a lot of nice hard working people in the world. I feel sorry for them, the only way out is to reduce their pensions.

        I can see the Federal government bailing Detroit out to a degree, but again it is still someones taxes, or I should say US government borrowings paying for this.

        And, still send those cars to the Museum of American History in DC. Maybe Obama can pay for that. This will help Detroit pay back 12.5% of it’s debt.

        • 0 avatar

          Can’t help but wonder if in 1979 the X cars were as good as Hondas, and those 800,000 Citations resulted in happy buyers, where would the City of Detroit be today…

          ….The naivete of those who refuse to see the inherently corrupting nature of public employee unions is almost charming, almost…..

          Well, public service unions are certainly not angels as removing concerns about being fired does bring out the worst in those so inclined, but if we would like to mention “corrupting nature”, Wall Street wrote the book.

          • 0 avatar

            “if in 1979 the X cars were as good as Hondas”

            Excellent point. It was the 2nd Battle of Midway and we lost. Except the BofM was decided by sheer luck more than any gross incompetence.

          • 0 avatar

            The differences between private sector corruption and public sector corruption are that an Enron can only steal from as many people as it can con, the government can abuse everyone. Also, there is competition in the private sector. For example, I’m not thrilled with the business ethics of a particular kosher meat processor, so when I have the option, I patronize other firms. I can’t pick another government agency, at any level of government, local, county, state or federal.

            I don’t think anyone can accuse me of being ideologically anti-union, when it comes to the private sector. I’m not thrilled about the policies, politics and work rules of private sector unions, and I’m not sure that a business owner should be compelled to negotiate with a union any more than he or she should be compelled to buy office supplies from a particular office supply firm. Labor is just one thing that goes into a product. Still, Americans have the right of freedom of association and they also have the right to contract with others, so if you want to form a labor union and your employer is fine with buying labor from that union, I don’t have a problem with it.

            Public sector unions are a completely different kettle of fish. Before we had a supposedly merit based, supposedly politically indifferent civil service, there was the spoils system. Things may have been crooked, but when political fortunes changed, so did the bureaucracy. Now we have a permanently entrenched public sector labor force that has undue influence on the political process. Letting public employees form labor unions made a mockery of impartial civil service. Because governments have a monopoly on many services, a public employee union that has the legal right to strike can effectively blackmail the public to get what it wants. Then there’s the actual corruption, though it’s legal, that comes from political contributions and in-kind help to politicians from labor unions for stuff like get out the vote and phone banks.

            I’m not naive and know that there is more than a little crony capitalism in this country and plenty of businesses have sweetheart deals with politicians and government bodies, but I don’t think anywhere else in America is paying politicians for favored treatment more brazen than it is with public employee unions that give money to the politicians that then negotiate contracts with those same unions on terms most favorable to the unions. It isn’t real negotiation because they’re both on the same side.

            I can empathize with a private sector union member. I’ve been an employee with little leverage and I’ve also had more than one boss who was a rectal orifice. Start a public employee union, though, and you just made me the boss and I can’t empathize with you, your hand is in my pocket. I think that the labor movement as a whole made a bad strategic error putting its eggs in the public sector basket.

            All of this is in addition to the poor customer service, surly attitude, entitled attitude, double standard expecting behavior where there’s two sets of law enforcement – for them and for us. You get treated better by a midnight clerk in a 24 hr Rite Aid than you do by just about any government employee, except for maybe Tarah, the very competent and friendly postal clerk at my local Post Office. She seems to be the exception, though. Her coworkers are surly and uncooperative. The postmaster there is a joke.

            And no, I don’t want to privatize the US Postal Service, unlike most of Washington D.C. delivering the mail is a constitutional job of the federal government, but I think Detroit is the canary in the coal mine for the “blue” model of governance.

      • 0 avatar

        Bonds are investments and carry risk like any investment.
        Pensions are a delayed payment of wages owed.

        • 0 avatar

          So pensions owed for labor should be treated like any other unsecured creditor. Why should money owed for labor be treated any differently in a bankruptcy than money owed for raw materials or for rent?

          • 0 avatar



            Yeah this stuff needs to be renegotiated something quite tragic (and unsustainable) about selling off heirlooms to pay off the grocery bill but dem’s da breaks eh?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I would hope the collection is sold as a complete set to someone like the Smithsonians’. Set up the collection in Washington DC.

    As for Detroit, well let it resolve its own problems. Historically as one city dies another is born. Detroit is in its current shape because of its own management and external mismanagement.

    Even as Detroit was dying the West Coast and Sunshine regions in the US were advancing.

    People are sort of like moths that are attracted to light, we are attracted to money and lifestyle. Detroit obviously couldn’t compete as a place to live and work for many.

  • avatar

    When I visited Detroit on my way across the US, it was extremely derelict( looked a bit like a war zone in parts). The population than was 900,000. It is now I hear roughly 600,000 That is frightening to contemplate. Sad monument to the US Automobile industry. At its height Detroit has 1.5 to 2 million in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    What struck in my mind about Detroit was the tiny house that Phil Spector used as a low tech studio to produce the “Motown” sound.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    I kike the sign telling employees not to loiter around in the new Cadillacs.

    No telling what really went on in there.

    New owner: “What are those stains on the back seat?”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al–Canada doesn’t want Detroit even if we gave it to them. Canada has its own problems with Montreal and Toronto. I agree with Highdesert cat that the Federal Government will end up loaning Detroit the money. I also agree with Ron on this as well it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback after Sunday’s game is over. This is not as easy as Fox News would like to make it out to be or some of the talking heads. The entire economy of the US has shifted from a mostly production economy to a more service economy for better or worse. What is left behind are the decaying remains of a once thriving US industry which is typical around the Rust Belt of America. Dayton, OH on a smaller scale is like Detroit with GM, Delphi, Dayton Tire and Rubber, and NCR long since gone. The blame is financial mismanagement, lack of adaptability to change, and a shift in industrial base.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Jeff S
      I do know many Americans have a soft spot for Detroit because of why it rose to be a prominent US city. But this isn’t the case anymore.

      Detroit was larger than LA and that was less than 60 years ago.

      Detroit, sadly doesn’t have what it takes to relive its glory days.

      It will always be there, but not as a huge metropolis.

      There are some people who still view manufacturing as the status of a country, this is no longer the case. Manufacturing is still important, but like agriculture, most any country can manufacture a car or grow crops.

      Look at us in Australia with our car industry.

  • avatar

    In Socialism man takes advantage of man. With Capitalism it is the other way around.

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