Can Detroit Be Saved?

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
May 30 2014 10:16 AM

The College, Why Bother? Gabfest

Listen to Slate's show about Elliot Rodger's violent misogyny, the Obama administration's plan to rate colleges, and Detroit's $2 billion blight problem.

Become a fan of the Political Gabfest on Facebook. We post to the Facebook page throughout the week, so keep the conversation going by joining us there. Or follow us @SlateGabfest!

To listen to the discussion, use the player below:


On this week’s Slate Plus bonus segment, David interviewed Emily about the most recent Supreme Court decisions handed down, and why they matter. Slate Plus members get an ad free version of this podcast with bonus segments. Visit and try it free for two weeks.

On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, David Plotz, Emily Bazelon, and special guest Jake Tapper discuss Elliot Rodger's Isla Vista massacre and #yesallwomen, and the Obama administration's plan to confront the student loan debt crisis through the creation of a federal college ratings system. They also talk about a proposal to revitalize Detroit by razing its crumbling neighborhoods and infrastructure.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • On Friday, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger unleashed a wave of violence on a Santa Barbara college community, killing six and injuring 13. Rodger’s vitriolic videos and manifesto revealed a deep hatred towards women, leading to scrutiny of “the manosphere,” and spurring a national dialogue about misogyny’s affect on American society.
  • The shooting may have been prevented by authorities checking up on Rodger weeks before his rampage, but as the Washingon Post notes, detaining the mentally ill without their consent can be legally and ethically tricky.
  • California is now considering a bill that would allow law enforcement officials and individuals to file restraining orders against people who may be unstable or possibly violent, restricting their ability to own or purchase guns.
  • #YesAllWomen is necessary to highlight pervasive cultural sexism that Rodger’s extreme violence grew out of, Sasha Weiss writes in The New Yorker.
  • President Obama wants to ease America’s college debt and tuition burden by implementing a national college ratings system.
  • A new Pew study reports that the income gap between those with college degrees and those without is widening.
  • The outcomes for students who graduate from universities that are not prestigious still fare much better than those who do not graduate or those who do not attend at all.
  • Private schools, specifically for-profit universities and colleges, are to blame for the increase in student debt, Jordan Wassman writes in the Atlantic.
  • Colleges are spending their money the wrong way, paying college presidents and builing facilities to attract prospective students, writes Ronan Keenan in the Atlantic.
  • A task force evaluating the state of Detroit’s vacant and dilapidated infrastructure estimated that the city needs to spend almost $2 billion dollars to completely eliminate or repair buildings responsible for urban blight.
  • Detroit’s geography does not favor a central business hub, and it’s hindered by a poor public transportation system.
  • Detroit’s tax base shrank significantly when affluent white residents left the city for the suburbs.
  • New Orleans offers a model for comparison because of similar problems of population decrease, blight, and arguments for rezoning, writes Campbell Robertson in the New York Times.

Emily chatters about rising tennis star Taylor Townsend.

Jake chatters about the BBC show Luther.

David chatters about the brilliance of Laline Paull’s “The Bees.”

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. The email address for the Political Gabfest is (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Max Tani.

Emily Bazelon was a Slate senior editor from 2005 to 2014. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The Only Good Thing That Happened at Today’s Soul-Crushing U.N. Climate Talks

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.