Hit & Run

Shikha Dalmia in the Washington Examiner on Why Bankruptcy Won't Mean a Fresh Start for Detroit


"I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York's boom days," F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote. It's a good thing he wasn't talking about Detroit , notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst in the Washington Examiner. That's because Detroit's formula for economic revival is ass backwards and bankruptcy, even though a long time coming, can't fix that.

Detroit's leaders for two decades have tried to jumpstart the city's moribund economy by showering subsidies on rich investors. At the same time they have crushed local entrepreneurs, who have no means to eke out a living in this jobless city except through self-employment, under mountains of regulations. This year Mayor Bing took this loopiness to new heights when he made harassment of small businesses his official policy with the launch of Operation Compliance. Writes Dalmia:

The program seeks to cure the city's blight by shutting Detroit's 1,500 "illegal" businesses — tire shops operating from backyards, second-hand appliance stores perched in abandoned warehouses — if they fail to comply with city regulations. But worrying about blight in a city fast returning to the wild is insanity.

So a mayor who pleads he doesn't have the resources to provide street lights to half the city or arrange timely trash pickup or control Detroit's soaring murder rate nevertheless has enough inspectors to unleash on poor residents…

Go here to read the whole thing.