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The Dead of Winter

This is why I was so pissed a few months back at the callous hatefulness that went on full display from many so-called pundits in the wake of the ruckus at Cobo Hall last fall.

"This is obviously a tragic situation, but possibly one that could have been avoided," Simons said, adding that assistance programs are available.

Yeah. "Possibly."

Sure, the chaos at Cobo made for easy headlines and even easier cracks about Detroit and poor people. And it served as a great launch pad for the phony moral outrage of the gasbags who love to attack social safety nets, working-class and underclass Americans and anything Obama. But truth is, fear of tragedies like this is exactly why those lines wrapped around the block, why so many poured into downtown at the mere idea of getting a little help to stay warm and indoors this  winter, why they were willing to jostle and fight for even a sliver of relief.

Because in Detroit's poorest quarters, not only can winter kill — so can your best efforts to stay alive.

I don't know if any of those who perished in this fire were actually in line at Cobo last fall — their heat had been cut off in 2008, according to reports — and I'm not suggesting that they couldn't have done anything different, smarter, whatever. They "possibly" could've.

My point is that, while fat cats in TV studios and radio booths concerned themselves with insulting our city, pointing sanctimonious fingers and openly scoffing at even the idea of government offering relief to the worst off among us, many of those people stuck in that line downtown knew enough to be anxious about something a whole lot more basic and whole lot more real: death.

And once again, we've been reminded why.

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  • 1

    A better headline for that Free Press article would be "Free Market Kills 3 In Detroit."

  • 2

    When people are freezing to death they're not going to stop and think about the most correct way to get warm, they'll just do what works. I keep picturing that poor man that was frozen in ice last year (near the MI Central train depot), and I long ago stopped thinking that people outside this area could rustle up even a tiny shred of sympathy. And winter is just beginning.

  • 3

    Once again Mr. Dawsey....I commend you for speaking "truth to power." The majority of citizens in the city of Detroit are living each day in abject poverty. Poverty can control peoples behaviors the same way greed sometimes fuels the behaviors and mindsets of rich folk. It is beyond sad that the national media focused its stories on the bad behavior of a few instead of the patience and fortitude of so many who are in need of so much. The nation should quickly realize that if help is not sent to the citizens in urban centers like Detroit, then the whole country will pay a very high price for neglecting and judging those among us who have the least. Thanks again Mr. Dawsey for providing a voice for those among us who HAVE NOT !!!!!!

  • 4

    I hate to paraphrase Pres. Clinton, but......

    "It's the jobs, stupid."

    Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs says it all.

    We need a call to action, to a plan. Is there a leader who has a plan that can share with the state? A leader with a plan and the power to work together?
    Bing is on twitter @davebing I feel like I am connect when he communicates with us. Call the people to action Bing!

  • 5

    It's larger and more serious than the simple quip, It's Jobs stupid!"

    The people understand work and want to. Problem is that advancing technology is replacing them.

    So face it a new WPA needs to come into existence big time and it might even have to be permanent.

    The rapidly increasing marginal utility of the human being is the cause of this.

    Obviously they can't all work at McDonalds...

    So it's about time to decide what needs to be done and get onto it. And it must be done quickly. Or the summer will see some nasty stuff emerge.


  • 6

    Bing schming.

    This is a national issue.

  • 7

    It is easy to criticize when we have no experience being caught in a situation where ones life was in jeopardy. Having said that most of us have succumbed to situations much less life threatening that should give us a glimpse of how easy it is to ignore safety when even comfort is concerned let alone a life threatening situation occurs. For smokers - How many have smoked around their children knowing that this is harmful to them because you felt you needed a cigarette. Or you have had a headache that has not gone away and have taken more medication than was safely recommended. Or after an injury or operation took more pain medication than was prescribed. Or have used an inhaler beyond safe recommendations during an asthma attack. Misuse of perscription medication is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. Now imagine you feel your very survival or families survival is at stake. What would you be willing to do? The good people of Detroit need our support not our criticism. Helping Detroit is helping ourselves. We are all in this together.

  • 8

    [...] The Dead of Winter – The Detroit Blog – [...]

  • 9

    I'm so grateful to you for starting this conversation. There is certainly a lack of empathy and understanding in our nation when it comes to poverty.

    I just wanted to share some interesting research that BusinessWeek recently highlighted in the article "Poverty, Poor Education Shave Years Off the Life Span" ( indicating that poverty has a greater impact on longevity than smoking or obesity.

    I hope that research like this, in combination with a better understanding by society of the perils of being poor in America, will help to transform policy conversations around poverty.

    Thanks again!

  • 10


    Keep making a difference....

  • 12

    [...] choices onto those least equipped to bear the brunt of subzero temperatures and pounding snowfalls. As I've said before, if it's not the cold that kills you, then it's the very tools used to stay ahead of the cold, the [...]

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