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.

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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 is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and 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.



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