Why Detroit Failed...And Will Continue To Do So

Now that Detroit is in the throes of bankruptcy and everything that goes with it, it might be a good time to look back to see how it all came about. For the most part it can be summed up thus: short-sightedness, missed opportunities, bad decisions, and in one case, karma.

Detroit is broke, but it didn’t have to be. An in-depth Free Press analysis of the city’s financial history back to the 1950s shows that its elected officials and others charged with managing its finances repeatedly failed — or refused — to make the tough economic and political decisions that might have saved the city from financial ruin.

Instead, amid a huge exodus of residents, plummeting tax revenues and skyrocketing home abandonment, Detroit’s leaders engaged in a billion-dollar borrowing binge, created new taxes and failed to cut expenses when they needed to. Simultaneously, they gifted workers and retirees with generous bonuses. And under pressure from unions and, sometimes, arbitrators, they failed to cut health care benefits — saddling the city with staggering costs that today threaten the safety and quality of life of people who live here.

The Detroit Free Press article goes into depth, digging out the various factors that caused Detroit's financial demise. What it all comes down to is that the various administrations failed to take action when the opportunities presented themselves. While some did make an effort to deflect the coming fiscal train wreck, they either weren't able to do enough or in one case were prevented from making the necessary changes by forces outside their control.

With all of that one would think the city of Detroit would be trying to do everything possible to help businesses thrive inside the city limits. But that hasn't been the case. It isn't even that the city is doing nothing to help foster the growth of businesses. Instead it has been targeting businesses, and specifically small business, forcing them to pay exorbitant fees and file reams of needless paperwork or closing them down altogether. How anyone in the city bureaucracy thinks that by crippling or closing small businesses it will somehow foster Detroit's return to financial health is beyond me. Things are seriously broken in the Motor City and unless there is some major housecleaning in city government Detroit will soon become nothing but a ghost town, a monument to decades of socialist cronyism, profligate spending, and the lack of political will to fix things before everything came apart.