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Budget cuts

Third-world America: Michigan city cuts power, removes street lights due to inability to pay electric bill

Wednesday, November 09, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: budget cuts, street lights, health news

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(NaturalNews) In response to financial problems, some US cities are choosing to cut basic public services like trash collection, fire and police forces, and road repair just to stay afloat. But one city in Michigan has decided to cut its power instead, which has left more than 11,000 local residents without street lights.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that Highland Park, Mich., a small city embedded within the heart of Detroit, was unable to pay its roughly $4 million electric bill this past year. So to eliminate this expense, the city not only turned off all 1,000 of its street lights, but also had them completely removed from the ground.

Located in an area already plagued by high crime and widespread urban decay, Highland Park has essentially signed a proverbial death warrant by cutting public power. The city has already lost nearly half of its residents over the past two decades and is reportedly $58 million in debt -- but the elimination of its street lights basically ensures its continued downward spiral.

"How can you darken any city?" asked Victoria Dowdell, a resident of Highland Park who, along with her neighbors, must now deal with pitch-black public streets after dark. "I think that was a disgrace."

Detroit has also cut various city services over the years as it edges towards bankruptcy. Mike Shedlock from Business Insider wrote last December that "Motor City" has been headed towards financial insolvency for many years. An attempt to stave off collapse, city officials there have also cut major services like street repair, garbage collection, and police forces in some areas (http://www.businessinsider.com/detroit-garba...).

Other cities that have cut essential public services in response to unmanageable debt and loss of tax revenues include New York City, NY, Philadelphia, Penn., and Lake Elmo, Minn. Meanwhile, the Times Union reported back in September that more than half of all US cities are having to make significant cuts in response to financial troubles (http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/C...).

Some see this cutting of essential public services as a sign of the nation's progressive decline towards becoming a type of third-world country. Rather than help the situation, cuts made to essential public services like trash pickup and street lights actually turn cities into hotbeds of crime and homelessness, from which there may be no opportunity to recover.

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