Let's Homestead Detroit Back to Recovery

Friday, 26 Jul 2013 08:13 PM

By Bradley Blakeman

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Our nation’s great western expansion was possible through the federal government’s policy of “homesteading.” The government allowed people to stake a claim to land at no cost provided that they used the land for a specific beneficial and intended purpose and use within a certain period of time — be it farming, residential, business, industrial, etc.

In 1862 the U.S. government passed a law that allowed any family to claim 65 hectares of land, which they had to farm for 5 years and then they could claim it as their own. The 'Homestead Act' saw thousands of immigrants from Europe heading west to claim the land. After the Civil War when slavery was abolished, freed black slaves also claimed land on the prairies.

Despite all the hardships many of the homesteaders managed to claim their land and built thriving communities and farms. The arrival of the homestead families helped bring a more civilized lifestyle and also law and order to the prairies.

Did you also know that the homesteaders were also known as Sod Busters? This was because they often built their homes from sods, or blocks of earth. This was because there were very few trees on the plains to provide them with the wood that was needed for their homes.

The government understood that is order to vitalize an area that was inhabitable it needed to give citizens the incentives necessary to get people to invest their money, time and efforts in new places.

Homesteading can and should be used by government today especially in the blighted areas of Detroit.

The federal, state and local government should join together to offer a homesteading plan that would allow citizens, businesses, schools, and industries the incentive to invest their money, blood, sweat and tears in revitalizing the city. Land should be given along with tax breaks to those who promise to develop the lands for a needed purpose. Housing can be rehabbed, neighborhoods developed, schools built, businesses opened, infrastructure repaired and improved, and industries returned.

America bailed out the automobile industry and now they should take up the cause to return the Motor City to its glory days. The American automobile manufactures should be encouraged to return jobs to Detroit.

Recently I read a terrific article in the New York Daily News by Robb Todd, which reminded me of just how great Detroit, was and is. This is what Robb reported:

“Yes, Detroit has fallen on hard times, but, somehow, it is still easy to have a good time. If any city has what it takes to stay afloat and rebuild itself, this is the city, and beyond all the politics it’s just a hell of a lot of fun — and that’s before mentioning hockey, baseball, basketball, football, opera, monster truck rallies and casinos.

The rise of America is tied just as tightly to the rise of the automobile as it is to the rise of the Mississippi or the gold rush. Detroit is inseparable from America’s past and many have opined that it is also America’s future — a grim one.

Detroiters make what they can out of what they have and they seem to be making it well. That spirit is on display everywhere, from Cliff Bell’s jazz club to Heidelberg St. to the B. Knectar mead brewery and the Eastern Market.

The city that gave us Motown, and Kid Rock also boasts the world's oldest operating jazz club.Music has been pumping out of Baker’s Keyboard Lounge since 1934.”

Detroit is a great American city steeped in history and import. It would be a shame to let the mismanagement of politicians and greed of unions kill her off. I say lets try and save her.

The best way to breath new life into Detroit is to get it new leadership, vision, and policies that will entice and encourage people to return, stay, or come.

In recent times Mayor Giuliani redeveloped Time Square when other mayors failed through government incentive and leadership. There was no more blighted area in the heart of the “Big Apple.”

Government may have been the cause of Detroit’s woes but it can also be the solution.

Public/private partnerships worked in the early development of America and throughout our history. There is no reason why the tried and true policies that work cannot be modernized and tried again as the perfect prescription for the medicine needed for Detroit to return to full health.

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.

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