No Utopia for Detroit

Until the Motor City fixes its services, liberal and libertarian renewal ideas will remain fantasy

As Detroit declared bankruptcy, some liberals started shrieking about the Mad Max future that awaits America if government is scaled back. Meanwhile, some libertarians celebrated the upcoming utopia that unfettered individuals would build out of Motown's rubble. But if liberals are being absurd about the Motor City, libertarians are being Pollyannaish.

In July, MSNBC host Ari Melber declared that Detroit's "bombed out infrastructure" has made it "the most libertarian city in America." His colleague, Melissa Harris-Perry, asserted that Detroit is what results when "government becomes small enough to drown in a bathtub"-a famous formulation by the limited-government activist Grover Norquist.

Harris-Perry's bathtub must be the size of a Great Lake. Detroit isn't a poster child for libertarianism; it's a demonstration project on the vices of big government. Taxes are sky-high and government is Detroit's largest employer.

It's true that some libertarians are excited by Detroit residents resorting to "Lockean homesteading principles" to repurpose vacant properties, as one blogger put it. Likewise, Detroiter Karen De Coster, an anarcho-libertarian economist who writes a great eponymous blog, is convinced that Motown is undergoing an entrepreneur-led renaissance. "This insolvent city…lacks a police force to keep up with serious crime, business are, for a large part, left alone to conduct business as they wish," she observes.

But government in Detroit is nowhere close to withering. The danger is that future municipal governance will combine the worst of both worlds: too inept to provide basic services but strong enough to thwart private alternatives. Just because City Hall doesn't have enough police officers to control crime doesn't mean it can't find enough inspectors to harass residents. Earlier this year, the city launched Operation Compliance. The goal: to shut down or force compliance from 20 "illegal" businesses operating without proper permits every week. Expecting entrepreneurs to spearhead a renaissance under these conditions would be like expecting the Lions to win the Super Bowl.

Detroit boosters have long fantasized that the city's rock-bottom real estate prices-the median home price in 2002 was less than $10,000-will eventually lure back development. Cheap land might indeed work for some niche lifestyles, such as urban farmers and childless artists. A thriving city, however, needs more diversity. This requires decent public services. Effective services lower transaction costs for different life projects. A neighborhood where someone else keeps the streets safe allows moms to stay at home or become day care providers or offer consultancy services. More people will move to an expensive, high-tax city like New York, than a cheap, high- tax one like Detroit because of the massive differential in services.

Libertarians point to Detroit companies such as Threat Management Center (TMC) that are compensating for government failure. TMC responds within minutes to clients confronting criminal threats, compared with the hour it typically takes police. This might make the city more livable for existing residents, but it's hard to imagine potential migrants being attracted by the notion of paying out of pocket and taxes for the same services.

Liberal idealists have always believed that there's nothing wrong with Detroit that enough selfless do-gooders can't fix. Now libertarians are echoing similar kumbaya solutions, waxing eloquent about the emerging spontaneous order in the city.

Sure, individuals have installed benches at bus stops (subsequently razed because they weren't authorized), removed blight, and banded together to patrol the streets. But voluntarism alone can't be the basis for a recovery. Barring committed altruists, most people won't opt for a city requiring a huge personal commitment and considerable risk. Entrepreneurs and urban pioneers can't build a viable city atop widespread government failure. Detroit's renaissance depends on reforming its government-or actually making it small enough to drown in a bathtub.

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  • Rich||

    The website is not working the way it should for everybody -- there's no sugar-coating it.

  • Ted S.||

    Was there an earthquake in the LA area or something?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    There is no sugarcoating it, the time is not currently 9:00:00 AM EDT.

  • Ted S.||

    Will they backdate the AM Links post when they finally put it up around 9:30?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I am starting to think #3 on my list of awful features of Reason (after, of course, missing-alt text and a mobile site without comments) is articles whose headline is not a link back to the article. So I think backdating may get bumped down.

  • Rich||

    I understand that you can post comments by calling 1-800-HITNRUN.

  • PapayaSF||

    They'll email you a PDF that you can print, fill out, and mail back.

  • Lord Humungus||

    There is no sugarcoating it but Reason hates its commentators.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    There is no sugarcoating it, Humungus is absolutely perfect at this meme.

  • Lord Humungus||

    There is no sugarcoating it but my lack of social skills makes this premise doubtful.

  • John||

    People are wonderful at coping with dysfunction. And if Detroit lived in a vacuum where people were not free to move other places, the collapse of the government might produce some real good. But it doesn't. No one with any choice is going to voluntarily move to Detroit. So, you are never going to achieve a critical mass of skilled and motivated citizens there to rebuild the city until you give such people a reason to move there. And you will never get that as long as you have a horrible government, even if it is collapsed and bankrupt.

    It would be great if the Prog vampire would abandon Detroit and allow it to be a laboratory for small government since it has been a laboratory for all the worst of big government for the last 70 years. But they will never do that. They are both too fanatical in their beliefs and too terrified of another approach working and putting lie to their beliefs. So Detroit will just linger on in sort of a half dead state.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Detroit will be the Newark, NJ of the midwest.

    But I'll tell you what John, I'll take you up on your offer of using Detroit as an experiment in running a town with no EPA, no Labor Laws, no public schools, no pensions, no healthcare coverage. We can just trust companies not to pollute. We can see how many people will come to work for less than minimum wage and pay their childrens education/health and save for retirement.

    I'd love to see how it would work out.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    We've already seen how the opposite works out.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Not really.

    What you've seen is the product of companies just picking up and leaving for cheaper labor in another country.

    New York State is the UBER Liberal world and is nothing like Detroit.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    What you've seen is the product of companies just picking up and leaving for cheaper labor in another country.

    Yeah! You tell him Alice! If Detroit was a true liberal paradise, they would have forced companies from leaving! High five! Woo!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    California and Texas are good political contrasts.

    Intellectual-based capital flows to CA while low-labor based capital flows into TX.

  • Lord Humungus||

    and let's not forget CA's highest poverty rates in the U.S. Go get 'em, tiger.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Cite? That is a whopper this time.

    I want a per capita statistic given CA's huge population.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Poverty? In the United States?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Poverty (in the US) definition: Any family that can't afford more than basic cable and/or has fewer than two flat screen teeeveees.

    When capitalism defeats poverty, simply change the definition and proclaim failure.

    /prog

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Clueless or mendacious?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    "Geographically adujusted"? What a load of horse shit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....verty_rate

    Change your name to "Shills for rednecks".

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Change your name to "Shills for rednecks".

    California's 35th, Texas is 46th.

    If California's doing better, it's only in relative terms.

    Change your name to "Shills for Cornballs".

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    And by the way, the "geographically adjusted" measures are cited by the census in the very wiki article you cite.

    Try reading the things you link sometime, moron.

  • ||

    Hi John,I'm new here,and I've been reading your comments,and I have to honestly ask you,are you actually a Libertarian?Because so have to say,I don't think a Libertarian can seriously say California is more business friendly than Texas.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Clueless or mendacious?

    Can't it be both?

  • Sevo||

    "Can't it be both?"
    Not only can be, but that's the odds-on favorite.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Alice down thread uses the tired old proglodyte excuse that globalisation creates race to the bottom.

    Which is obviously nonsense. However, CA is an example of a state being fucked as a consequence of globalization - just not in the way that Alice and here comrades imagine possible.

    In CA the uber wealthy elites make their money nationally and internationally and have very little connection to the on the ground economy of the state where they live.

    This liberates them to support and push policies that cause enormous damage to the local economy and the residents of the state, to pursue aesthetic fantasies like various flavors of environmentalism and 'fairness'.

    In short, Hollywood and Silicon Valley millionaires and billionaires don't give a shit about a million farmers pushed into poverty in the Silicon Valley - that's a price worth paying to them to protect a bait fish. Likewise they don't give a damn about record powerty and unemployment in the state - both are acceptable cost in pursuit of pristine air quality and views unblighted by industrial development.

  • ||

    Fifteen minutes driving around Austin will convince you what horseshit that is.

  • John||

    Last I looked the too most educated cities in America were Austin and Huntsville Alabama. Shreek is just an amazing ignorant retard. Everything he says is a lie including "and" and "the".

  • prolefeed||

    Intellectual-based capital flows to CA while low-labor based capital flows into TX.

    Apparently, in PB World, Dell, IBM, Apple, Applied Materials, Flextronics, etc. employ unskilled minimum wage workers churning out low rent stuff.

    And that link is just for Austin. The other big cities in Texas are also attracting intellectual capital based employers like crazy, because comparative freedom is better than less freedom for creating jobs.

    http://www.austinchamber.com/a.....loyers.php

  • John||

    The problem with that theory is that every city in America has seen its original industries pick up and move. They closed the Kansas City stockyards in 1990 and there hasn't been a meat packing plant there since the 1970s. If there is still a tool and dye manufacturer in Cincinnati, I would be surprised.

    Yet, those cities didn't turn into Detroit despite losing their original industries that created them. Why? Because other businesses grew in their place. Moreover, the auto industry didn't leave America, it left Detroit. America still produces cars like crazy, they just don't do it in Detroit. Why? Because Detroit created an enironment where doing so competitively is impossible. There is a reason why BMW built its plant in South Carolina and Subaru built its plan in Indiana. Why not do it in Detroit? That is where the skilled labor was. The reason is that Detroit's insane government made it impossible or certainly crazy to do so. No sane person would ever try to build a new auto plant in Detroit.

    Look Alice, your policies murdered Detroit. Why can't you be honest and accept some responsibility here? You don't help liberalism by living in denial and never admitting much less accepting its flaws and excesses. You and people like you and thinking like you are doing here is going to kill liberalism one day and maybe the country along with it. You can't deny reality forever. Eventually, even the Communists couldn't deny it anymore.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    There is a reason why BMW built its plant in South Carolina

    Two, actually. A sweetheart deal to escape state and local taxes and a state hostile to labor concerns.

  • John||

    It is only a sweatheart deal, becuase it stands in contrast to the high taxes of Detroit. Maybe Detroit should have given some deals rather the viewing business as something to be looted.

    Thanks for further proving my point retard. You need to not just paste the talking points, but understand them. Alice understands the talking points and gets the message out. You just fuck them up and embarrass your own side.

  • prolefeed||

    A sweetheart deal to escape state and local taxes and a state hostile to labor concerns.

    "Lower taxes and a good business climate" is both more honest and succinct.

  • Sevo||

    ..."state hostile to labor concerns."

    Yeah, so hostile people are moving out right?
    You lying pile of manure...

  • Bill Dalasio||

    So "hostile to labor concerns" that it's citizens actually can find work doing labor, as opposed to Detroit.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Like I said John, I am agreeing with you. Let's give Detroit a try with a Libertarian Society.

  • John||

    And Detroit will never be Newark. Newark has New York City sitting across the river from it to keep it from totally going down. Detroit doesn't have that. As bad as Newark is, it would be a huge step up if Detroit could even get to that level.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Newark is slowwwwwwwwwwwwly coming back.

    John, I mean slowwwwwwwwwwww.

    Since the MLK roits of the 60s, it's been terrible.

    Again. It wasn't liberal policies that destroyed Newark. It was, simply put, no one wanted to invest there, no one wanted to create jobs there, and for some reason, people just remained living there for generations upon generations.

  • John||

    Yeah, Alice, it was just bad luck. I mean being in close proximity to New York didn't help the burbs in Connecticut or anything. And I mean it is not like anyone ever moved out of New York to Jersey or anything.

  • ||

    It wasn't liberal policies that destroyed Newark. It was, simply put, no one wanted to invest there, no one wanted to create jobs there

    Kulak wreckers!

  • prolefeed||

    It wasn't liberal policies that destroyed Newark. It was, simply put, no one wanted to invest there, no one wanted to create jobs there

    Wanna give about 10 seconds of thought about what kind of policies resulted in people not wanting to invest or create jobs there?

    I'll give you a hint -- it wasn't a policy of laissez-faire economics. That was tried in Hong Kong, and it turned an empty mosquito-filled swamp into, well, Hong Kong, in about half a century.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "Again. It wasn't liberal policies that destroyed Newark. It was, simply put, no one wanted to invest there, no one wanted to create jobs there,..."

    This is parody, right? You do understand, don't you, that there might actually be a reason no one wanted to invest or create jobs there? I mean, as John has pointed out, Newark sits right across the river from NYC. It's right next door to gentrified Hoboken.

  • Stephdumas||

    Also, another factor to consider is the demographic change in Newark like Compton, California got.
    http://mag.newsweek.com/2009/0.....mpton.html

  • Edwin||

    I dunno what you guys are talking about, Newark has plenty of good spots. If you're near the PATH, you're paying rents just as high as the party town Hoboken, and the area is just as nice/low crime. Plus there are the universities there. If there are horrid ghettos in the city, it's only a question of municipal boundaries the city isn't horrible as a whole just because it has horrible areas, anybody who's anybody can always move to a reasonable area. Pretty much every area of New Jersey has nice areas in it, and will as long as New York booms and we have competent policing

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What you've seen is the product of companies just picking up and leaving for cheaper labor in another country.

    LOL

    All of the counties surrounding Detroit are doing fine.

    What you are seeing is what happens when the cost of government greatly exceed the benefits provided by that government.

    Which to a proglodyte is unpossible because they believe the cost-benefit of government is a straight line and not a bell curve.

  • prolefeed||

    Which to a proglodyte is unpossible because they believe the cost-benefit of government is a straight line and not a bell curve.

    Oh, it's more or less a straight line all right. It's just that liberals are confused about the slope of said line.

    The line of the "benefits" of government is roughly the same line as that of the "benefits" of a parasite increasing in numbers upon a host.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Slope of a line?

    /prog

  • Sevo||

    "What you've seen is the product of companies just picking up and leaving for cheaper labor in another country."{

    Even allowing that Alice posted this, it is mind-numbingly idiotic.
    Yes, companies left. They are supposed to make a profit for their owners, you imbecile.

  • KDN||

    New York State is the UBER Liberal world and is nothing like Detroit.

    Has NOBODY been to Buffalo?

  • John||

    It would be the most powerful industrial city in the world again within a generation. As NEM points out, we have already seen how that works out. We did it in the last half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th Century. The result was the richest city in America and the greatest industrial city in the history of civilization.

    Yeah, I would confidently take that bet if I had the power.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    I'd love to see how it would work out.

    Oh fuck you. Any improvement you would ignore, but anything that remained unimproved you would point to as proff it doesn't work.

  • Alice Bowie||

    No really.

    We need a real solution to the fact that we are globalizing. And as a Liberal, I'll admit that our approach would have worked fine had the JOB-CREATORS were not allowed to obtain labor outside of the free world.

    We live in a different world in which we will have a abundance of cheap slave labor in places like Africa and Latin America and other places where there are no labor and safetly laws.

    Things will need to change now that we are a global community.

    What I don't want to change is our standard of living at least when it comes to safety and health.

    If libertarains are going to be in power and we have to live without minimum wage and public schools, I guess the rest of us would just have to swallow that.

    But please, please, can we keep the EPA and safety statues? At least in the USA?

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Ha, ok. It will be libertarian paradise, but will still be overseen by bureaucracy. Thanks Alice.

  • SweatingGin||

    Alice, there's always a minimum wage. Even in SweatingGin's dictatorship of liberty.

    In fact, it's the same as it is today!

    It's ZERO!

    Let's say people can't work for less than $15 per hour (why so stingy?) Guess what? They'll be not working.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Then let's try this in Detroit.
    Eliminate the minimum wage in Detroit.
    It'll be better than nothing.

  • ||

    Lol. Are you hoping someone will eventually disagree with you?

  • prolefeed||

    Then let's try this in Detroit.
    Eliminate the minimum wage in Detroit.
    It'll be better than nothing.

    Yes, let's try that. At least some of the currently unemployed kids then would be able to find a job, and liberals would gnash their teeth at having their economic theories disproven.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    We need a real solution to the fact that we are globalizing.

    Yes, increasing wealth from more trade is a threat to proglodytes.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    We live in a different world in which we will have a abundance of cheap slave labor in places like Africa and Latin America and other places where there are no labor and safetly laws.

    God you are mendacious.

    Do you have any idea how those companies increase the standard of living in those places. They make 10 and 20 times what they'd be making if the company wasn't there. Their workplace safety is VASTLY improved over what it was. They fall all over each other for those jobs. WHY? BECAUSE THEY GREATLY IMPROVE THEIR STANDARDS OF LIVING!

    da furriners stold r jerbs and gived dem to da slaivz.

    derp

  • Bill Dalasio||

    derk-a-derrrr!!!

    /Alice

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    But I'll tell you what John, I'll take you up on your offer of using Detroit as an experiment in running a town with no EPA, no Labor Laws, no public schools, no pensions, no healthcare coverage.

    Right--because none of these institutions would crop up in any form in a libertarian society.

    Stop conflating communitarianism with communism, and libertarianism with anarchy. It just shows how fundamentally dishonest you are.

  • Brian||

    Alice Bowie said:
    We can see how many people will come to work for less than minimum wage...

    This implies that people will have plenty of opportunities to work for above minimum wage. This implies that we'd be at full employment everywhere, meaning supply of labor was low, pushing wages up, making the minimum wage meaningless.

    Is this correct? If so, why the hell do we need a minimum wage in the first place?

    If people don't want to take a job below minimum wage, you don't need a minimum wage.

  • Arn0||

    "But I'll tell you what John, I'll take you up on your offer of using Detroit as an experiment in running a town with no EPA, no Labor Laws, no public schools, no pensions, no healthcare coverage."

    And no taxation at all ? I am in !

  • Geoff Nathan||

    The problem with this comment is that people are voluntarily moving to Detroit. Thousands of apartments and lofts have opened in the central core in the past few years, and the occupancy rate is virtually 100%:

    http://www.deadlinedetroit.com.....mZ9ZChUdNs

    All young professionals and empty-nesters. They work for all the businesses that have moved into the area (Quicken Loans, EPS, dozens of media and similar companies, Compuware). Surrounding the core is still bombed-out destruction, but the revival is spreading westwards to Corktown (home, for example, of Slows).

    You're all welcome to visit and I'll give you a guided tour--I'm right in the middle of it here at Wayne State.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I've never been to Detroit. Perhaps I'll look u up and take you up on your offer.

    My question is, are progressive policies destroying Quicken Loans, EPS and others?

  • ||

    Your policies generally only fuck poor and young entrepreneurs who are primarily affected by the barriers to entry. Established players generally don't have to worry so much about that.

  • Brian||

    That, and players without union shops. Union shops are progressive clusterfucks on their own order of magnitude.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Love to see the Kochtopus buy it and implement the great libertarian experiment. In 20 years Detroit would be a model city and shitbags like AB would be forced to shut the fuck up while excreting great big salty ham tears.

    I can dream.

  • Stephdumas||

    The "Kocktopus", good one. :-) Between the "Kocktopus" and the "Sorostopus", time to guess which one is the less evil of the 2? ;-)

  • Acosmist||

    Probably the less evil is the one that is not an unrepentant nazi?

  • Alice Bowie||

    Everyone needs to stop blaming LIBERALS for the downfall of Detroit.

    What we are seeing is the result labor and industrial jobs being shipped out. This was not done due to liberal/conservative/neo-liberal policies. This was done because labor in the third world is cheaper and not subjected to Environmental and other laws.

    Companies would had still been profitible had they stayed in the USA and, God forbit, had to curtail their manufacturing practices to comply with EPA rules and paid the people that make them rich a living salary. Why pay an american $20/hr when you can pay a person in the 3rd world $2/hr.

    Unfortunately, the ship has sailed. And, many other industries and workers will enjoy the ride while we race to the bottom in standard of living and wages.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Everyone needs to stop blaming LIBERALS for the downfall of Detroit.

    Totally unrelated, I am sure:

    This was done because labor in the third world is cheaper and not subjected to Environmental and other laws.
  • ||

    What do Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Vallejo, Newark all have in common? You have five minutes to make a list, then turn in your blue books.

  • Brian||

    +1 lack of self-reflection.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    This was done because labor in the third world is cheaper and not subjected to Environmental and other laws.

    So the American South is the third world now? Your premise is laughable.

  • Brett L||

    Well, I mean, have you been to Tennessee?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Well, other than Memphis' effort to be the Detroit/Baltimore/Newark of the South, it's a helluva lot better than Detroit.

    Yes, I know, rhetorical question for comedic effect, blah, blah.

  • prolefeed||

    Tennessee is a great place. I was thinking of moving to Nashville or Chattanooga after driving through the state.

    People who say derogatory things about TN prolly haven't actually been there.

  • Brian||

    In other words, progressive policies didn't fail Detroit. The world not being static is what failed Detroit. If only the world would sit still, progressive policies would be great.

    I guess you can't blame progressive policies for failure to adapt. They just go on, blaming reality for not matching their policies.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    ANd this is one of the great ironies of "Progressivism." They actually want most of the world to be static. So, progress through stasis. Makes perfect sense...

  • Rich||

    Melissa Harris-Perry, asserted that Detroit is what results when "government becomes small becomth thmall enough to drown in a bathtub"

    FTFY

  • ||

    As Detroit declared bankruptcy, some liberals started shrieking about the Mad Max future that awaits America if government is scaled back.

    Bubba Zanetti for mayor!

  • Lord Humungus||

    hey!

  • ||

    Frankly, I would have voted for the NightRider as he's a fuel injected suicide machine, the rocker, the roller, the out-of-controller, but i think only voters are allowed to be dead in Detroit, not candidates

  • ||

    +1 long bony hand.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I'll take you up on your offer of using Detroit as an experiment in running a town with no EPA, no Labor Laws, no public schools, no pensions, no healthcare coverage.

    Most importantly, no peak derp.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    But the robber barons!!!!

  • ||

    no EPA, no Labor Laws, no public schools, no pensions, no healthcare coverage.


    The fundamental flaw here, of course, is that the writer of that ignores the many alternatives that libertarian writers have proposed to protect the environment and workers.

    It also assumes that government is the sole provider of education, rather that the one agency that has done the most harm to it.

    And finally, the only way to make it so their were no "no pensions, no healthcare coverage" would be to prohibit people from saving and/or planning for those things.

  • SweatingGin||

    no Labor Laws

    Good spot to toss my favorite UAW story again.

    Summer before college, I worked vacation replacement in a Chrysler plant. Thursday before I started, a guy was fired for being drunk on the line. UAW had him back driving a hilo by Tuesday.

    No documentation for it? No, I don't have documentation for it. But they did it again last year:

    Chrysler workers fired for drinking on the job? Hired back.

  • PapayaSF||

    "You can't treat the working man this way! One of these days we'll form a union, and get the fair and equitable treatment we deserve! Then we'll go too far, and become corrupt and shiftless, and the Japanese will eat us alive!"

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It wasn't liberal policies that destroyed Newark. It was, simply put, no one wanted to invest there, no one wanted to create jobs there

    Undoubtedly just a bizarre coincidence.

  • John||

    Bad luck Brooks. It was just bad luck. This is what progs actually believe.

  • ||

    Worse. Fucking kulak wreckers.

  • Sevo||

    "Undoubtedly just a bizarre coincidence."

    Nope.
    All the business owners in America came over one evening for a swim in my gold coin pool and we just decided to fuck Newark.
    And here Alice figgered it out! How clever of you, Alice!

  • coma44||

    Said it before and I'll say it again.

    Build a 30 high wall with a 60 foot high fence on top of said wall. let the place be just as it is with all of the Progressives trapped and now having to live with their own poor choices.

    This will show the rest of the world that bad choices have bad outcomes, something that is not part of the liberal mantra today.

  • mtrueman||

    It is strange to see those who oppose progressive politics bemoaning Detroit's loss of standing as one of the world's most important industrial cities. The city gained its status in the first place through years of progressive policies. The recognition of unions led to Detroit's workforce being the highest paid in the world. Government investment in roads and protection of big oil were very positive to Detroit, as were years of protectionist policies. You probably don't remember US tax payer funded trade representives in Japan brow beating their Japanese counterparts to promote the importation of Detroit-built left-hand drive autos into Japan, but it happened, even under supposedly conservative presidents like Reagan.

  • PapayaSF||

    That's a bit like saying that you can't blame meth for your personal destruction, because for a while it helped you be very energetic and got a lot of work done. Lots of things seem to work well at first, but have negative consequences down the road. For a while being a UAW worker was great: blue-collar work that paid enough that workers could afford a house, a stay-at-home wife, kids, a vacation home, and a boat. But it couldn't last.

    The fall of Detroit has many causes, but a few big ones were Wagner Act unionism (which entrenched obsolete and inflexible work rules), and liberal Democrat political policies, starting with raising taxes on city residents in the early '60s, accelerating the flight to the suburbs.

  • mtrueman||

    I agree with you. The same progressive policies that were responsible for the rise of Detroit led also to her downfall.

    Out of curiousity, are there any other cities in the USA today where a single blue collar worker can provide adequately for his family, giving them an affordable home, vacations etc? If not then we should be looking at Detroit in its glory days as the apex of the empire and its decline as just another chapter in the decline of the nation as a whole.

  • mtrueman||

    I agree with you. The same progressive policies that were responsible for the rise of Detroit led also to her downfall.

    Out of curiousity, are there any other cities in the USA today where a single blue collar worker can provide adequately for his family, giving them an affordable home, vacations etc? If not then we should be looking at Detroit in its glory days as the apex of the empire and its decline as just another chapter in the decline of the nation as a whole.

  • PapayaSF||

    I don't know about today, but back then ('50s-'60s) Detroit autoworkers seemed to have perhaps the best deal as far as blue-collar jobs went. The auto industry (and the Cold War manufacturing there, e.g. Chrysler tanks) was hugely successful and dominant. It helped a lot that most of the rest of the world was either recovering from WWII, behind the Iron Curtain, or some ignorable Third World backwater. Back then even Japanese cars were kind of a joke, and the idea that Americans would ever buy Korean cars would have been a joke (if anyone had even thought of it).

    Thankfully, manufacturing decline isn't the same as decline.

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