July 21, 2013

Reason.tv – Detroit’s Tragedy and How to Fix It

Filed under: Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:12

The key things about Detroit’s bankruptcy are that it didn’t happen overnight – and it didn’t have to happen at all.

Detroit’s long, sad slide started in 1950, when the Motor City’s population peaked at nearly 2 million people. Now it’s around 700,000.

The hollowing out of the city was on gut-wrenching display in two recent exhibits at the National Building Museum, featuring photographs by Camilo Jose Vergara and Andrew Moore.

In fat times and lean, the city’s pols and power-brokers chose to focus their energy, and the residents’ tax dollars on gigantic, big-ticket development scams while ignoring the basics that let cities thrive — or at least survive.

Detroit’s leaders poured money into a never-ending assembly line of sad-sack projects such as the Renaissance Center, the Fox Theater, Comerica Park, Poletown, the People Mover, and Ford Field.

But unlike Pompei and other cities crushed by Nature’s wrath or God’s wrath, Detroit’s destruction is completely man-made and thus can be reversed. The city that midwifed the Model T and the Cadillac, Bob Seger and Eminem, Ted Nugent and the Insane Clown Posse, still has tremendous assets in terms of infrastructure, location, and people.

Like Buffalo, Cleveland, St. Louis, and other dead cities scattered across the map of the industrial Midwest like so many cigarette burns, Detroit can stage its own comeback by reducing crime and picking up garbage; by freeing kids, parents, and property values from an abysmal school system; and getting the government out of everything that isn’t essential.

In other words, Detroit’s leaders only need to do what they should have been doing for the past 50 years. And the city’s dwindling supply of residents needs to keep them honest this time.

Because Detroit is finally out of next times.

Produced by Jim Epstein. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Additional camera by Meredith Bragg.

1 Comment

  1. I can think of some Canadian cities that should learn from this. Winnipeg, for one. City government must focus on their primary responsibilities before wasting money on crap art projects and other social experimentations. Infrastructure, security such as Police, Fire and Ambulance, etc first should be priority, not projects like the Human Rights museum and football stadiums. In cases such as those a judicial use of tax credits instead of cash should be offered. You are getting no money in from them anyway, so don’t spend money on them and defer or lower taxes on them for a period that allows them to grow and prosper, and then hit them up for a normal tax bill.

    Comment by Dwayne — July 22, 2013 @ 10:41

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