Thursday, July 25, 2013

Detroit: From Model City to Ghost Town

This past week, the city of Detroit, Michigan had
filed for bankruptcy. Now, imagine the magnitude
of this event: think of who files for bankruptcy in
order to get court protection from creditors when
debts cannot be paid off; individuals, businesses
(including large corporations), houses of worship,
even small towns do this when they are hard-pressed
to make good on their financial obligations while not
nearly enough income or assets are on hand to do so.
Well, so can and do large cities, as evidenced by
Detroit, the largest city in our country's history to
take this drastic step.

Detroit was once one of America's model cities for
beauty, vibrancy, industry, and livability. The
American automobile industry fueled the prosperity
of the city; the assembly line was perfected there,
and copied by other manufacturers in other industries
throughout the country and the world. During World
War II Detroit produced planes and tanks that
helped our country to win the war. In the coming
years, Motown Records produced music that
gave joy to many Americans. And many, many jobs
were created from it all, as many other businesses
sprang up, providing still more jobs as well as needed
goods and services for the inhabitants of Detroit.
The city became one of the most populous cities
in the United States, peaking at 1.8 million in

Visit Detroit today, and where there were once
gleaming office building and storefronts along with
bright, cheerful looking apartment buildings you'll
now see decaying husks of these edifices, many
having been abandoned and boarded up. Crime is
rampant, with a wide range of the criminal element
from muggers and looters to gangs roaming the
streets. If accosted by any of them, you almost may
as well not bother to call the police, for the average
response time to a call is about 54 minutes; the
national average is 11. The unemployment rate
in Detroit is 16% (the official rate, that is; like
with that of the country, the actual rate is most
certainly higher). Businesses and individuals have
fled the city steadily over the past few decades.
The public schools are a write-off, what with a
reading proficiency rating of just 7% for Detroit's
eighth graders. And fiscal management? More
like fiscal mismanagement, malfeasance, and
non-feasance! Unaffordable borrowing, state
grant rip-offs, never-ending taxing and spending,
and deferment of public pension contributions
have been the order of the day for too many days.
And Heritage Foundation's Alison Acosta Fraser
and Rachel Glazer tell us that "Detroit's tragic
downward cycle has reached its end." Detroit's
population is now approximately 700,000.
Will the last person to leave the city please turn
out the lights? That is, unless thugs shot them
all out.

The culprit(s) behind all this? The Democrats who
have controlled the city council and mayor's offices
steadily since 1962. Throughout their reign of
error and corruption there have been sweet deals
for public employee unions as well as slipping money
under the table to cronies who backed the mayors
and council members for election. Rather than
spend any revenue for repairing streets and street-
lights, any other infrastructure, or ensuring that the
police could do their jobs with speed and efficiency,
the so-called leaders of Detroit lined their pockets
along with those of their pals. And they have long had
very stringent gun control laws; isn't it funny how
cities that have such laws have more gun crimes than
those that have no gun laws, or at least less strict
gun laws? Your loyal Peasant will have more to say
on this phenomenon in the near future.

The state of Michigan has taken over the budgetary
aspects of Detroit's government, insofar as deciding
what will be spent on what and when. Michigan is
being the parent to Detroit's reckless, irresponsible
child, and it is a sad but necessary measure. Michigan
also passed a bill making the state a right-to-work
state, which will introduce competition and make the
state more business, and therefore more employer,
friendly, which will benefit both businesses and
employees. Michigan also lessened the strength of
public employees' unions, which should help both
the state and local governments reduce the pension
promises that took a huge toll on Detroit's finances
when combined with the city's government's cavalierly
ignoring same pension obligations. By the by,
Michigan's state government is now largely in
Republican hands; the GOP holds majorities in both
legislative chambers and the governor's office.
It is not difficult to see who are the grown-ups and
who are the unruly children in this scenario, and thank
heaven the grown-ups have the upper hand! But
wouldn't you know, the lefties are blaming Detroit's
sad state on the Republicans; never mind that there has
not been a Republican mayor there in over 50 years
and that you can count the number of Republicans
having served on Detroit's city council in all that
while on the fingers of one hand! Don't you love
the way that the left-wingers in and outside of the
Democrat party blame the Republicans for the
messes that these lefty crybabies make?

The workers in Detroit will be aided by the higher wage-
growth and superior compensation than what their
counterparts in non-right-to-work states have, and that
will make for a repaired tax base, Vincent Vernuccio of
the Mackinac Center avers. But in the meantime, this
once great and proud city lies on its deathbed, awaiting
either a miracle of epic proportions or the arrival of
the Grim Reaper. And if the latter occurs, the coroner
could state as the cause of death an overdose of


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