Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Not a time to celebrate, unless you're at the MGM Grand re-opening party

The day after Republicans and Democrats in Lansing reached a temporary solution to Michigan's budget crisis, the MGM Grand hotel/casino re-opened in Detroit.

It is the best of times and the worst of times in Michigan. It's obscene and perennial: court the uber wealthy in full view of the destitute. Say it will help.

According to conventional wisdom (or the wishful thinking of Michiganians desperate for good economic news) the facility will jump start Detroit as a travel destination. John Conyers says we're competing with Las Vegas and that now we have something Chicago lacks. The press is following suit, fawning with terms like "Detroit's palace of dreams." The local papers managed to quote enthusiastic visitors comparing the place to the best Vegas offers -- beautiful, wonderful.

Chicago is not trying to compete with Las Vegas; it doesn't have to. It already has a vibrant economy, education sector and arts and entertainment culture. And its real estate market is not tanking.

Yesterday, George Boyer, MGM Grand Detroit's president and chief operating officer must have repeated several hundred times that the facility took "the chic of Manhattan and combined it with the sizzle of Las Vegas and brought it to Detroit."

Yes, and dropped it down blocks from blighted neighborhoods filled with people in need of economic assistance, better education, health care, protection from predatory lending and a giant infusion of hope.

The Free Press reports:

With three permanent casinos -- plus one in neighboring Windsor -- the metro Detroit area can claim Midwest gambling dominance, much as Las Vegas owns the west and Atlantic City has the east.

Well, that should take the sting out of massive losses of high paying manufacturing jobs. More low paying service jobs (about 1000) in a facility catering to the wealthy from elsewhere -- and the suburbs. Take that, Detroit.