Why did crime rise so much during that era? I think Kevin Drum has made a very convincing case that the answer is leaded gasoline. Lead exposure, particularly in early childhood, stunts the parts of the brain that are responsible for impulse control. And criminals, by and large, have very poor impulse control.WOW! Does anyone agree with this? Not sure I could, but lest anyone over reacts to this it just underscores how very important it is to ensure clean air quality. A major city should not be built upon automobiles.
So it’s probably not a surprise that Detroit was particularly hard-hit by the crime waves of the 1960s through 1980s; Motown was a city created by and for the automobile. Generations of kids were growing up inhaling tiny particles of lead, making them less employable and more prone to crime and violence.
In any event, in spite of this the other arguments here as far as economics, bad government, or crime makes sense. Well the crime thing in spite of the statement you see above makes sense. It's safe to say Detroit will be saddled with this as they've filed for bankruptcy:
Jonathan Chait describes the toxic politics that Detroit’s poisonous racial history left behind:I need to see what Detroiters are really saying about this? The only picture I get is from national sources, but I could get a clearer picture from local sources that I need to find and pronto!
“White and black politics were locked into mutually reinforcing pathologies. Whites fled the city, blamed blacks for its destruction and, in many cases, gloated in its failures. Hostility toward the white suburbs shaped Detroit’s politics, which frequently amounted to race-to-the-bottom demagogic contests to label the opposing candidate a secret tool of white interests, with the predictable result on the quality of government. The worse Detroit got, the more whites hated and feared, fueling black racial paranoia, which made the city worse still. (Some national commentators recently suggested that Mitt Romney be brought in to turn around the city, which is a bit like suggesting that Benjamin Netanyahu would make a great Prime Minister for the Palestinians -- hey, he’s from around there!)”