Look in any direction from Bianca Bates’ north Flint home, and you’ll see graffiti-covered siding, boarded-up windows and overgrown lots.
About half of the homes on her block are burned out or vacant magnets for drug dealers and squatters. It isn’t where she thought she’d end up, but it’s all she can afford to rent.
“It’s a dangerous place to live,” said Bates, 21, who lives on East Russell Avenue. “Everywhere you look, these houses are empty around here.”
Property abandonment is getting so bad in Flint that some in government are talking about an extreme measure that was once unthinkable — shutting down portions of the city, officially abandoning them and cutting off police and fire service.
Temporary Mayor Michael Brown made the off-the-cuff suggestion Friday in response to a question at a Rotary Club of Flint luncheon about the thousands of empty houses in Flint.
Brown said that as more people abandon homes, eating away at the city’s tax base and creating more blight, the city might need to examine “shutting down quadrants of the city where we (wouldn’t) provide services.”
Reminds me of Hamsterdam in The Wire. If police were to leave drug dealers in the area alone, it will presumably develop a fairly vibrant economy, and the removal of government monopoly provision of these services would open opportunities for entrepreneurs. This would be a very interesting natural experiment in free-market anarchy. Would an oppressive government emerge, or competing protection agencies which meet people’s needs? I very much doubt that such a government retreat from troubled areas is politically feasible, and I’m pretty sure that government would return if the area were to become revitalized by the lack of government. A boy can dream, though.