What Doomed Detroit

Both Brent and I have our opinions as to why Detroit has gone from being one of the wealthiest and most productive cities in the world to a Third World hell-hole rife with crime, political corruption, and cronyism. Regardless of our opinions, the fact is that Detroit is a shadow of its former self, poverty is widespread, and the city government is corrupt and ineffectual. City services have been cut back to a bare minimum, fire and police protection are there in name only, and large portions of the city resemble the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.

Kevin Williamson lays out what caused this once great city to fall.

...Detroit has two major problems. One is that it has what I suppose we have to call a ruling class — you know, a political establishment that is so entrenched, so corrupt, so greedy that it essentially looted the city and drove out all the productive people, enterprises, businesses, that sort of thing. And this came along with things like high taxes. Detroit was one of the first cities to institute a city income tax and that sort of thing, which didn’t drive people out of Michigan, necessarily, but it certainly drove them out of the city of Detroit.

And then the second thing you have in Detroit, which is, if not unique to Detroit, at least expressed in a more fully poisonous form there than most other places, which is this horrible, horrible racial politics they have there, which goes back to the transformation of the city in the early part of the twentieth century, where from 1910 to 1929 it goes from having something like 5,000 black residents to 120,000. They’re met with hostility by the local Democratic authorities, as African-Americans tended to have been all over the country, whether they were in the south or elsewhere. And these were your, sort of, old-fashioned, white, ethnic, Irish and Polish American Democratic city machines, and they just simply didn’t want blacks living in the city.

From there it went all downhill. It came to resemble a kleptocracy just like any you would find in the Third World, only it was more organized and effective at stealing from the city and its citizens for decades until there was nothing left to steal. Today we are left with a bankrupt and decaying city that some think will be looking for a bailout by the American taxpayers.

Should we bail out the once-great Motor City? No. There's no way we should foot the bill for the long-running corruption that has been endemic in Detroit for decades. To bail them out will not fix the problem. It will only delay the inevitable and make it even more expensive in the long run because the corrupt politicians and their cronies are still in power. Any bailout money will merely go down that same rat hole into which the previous tax revenues disappeared unless things are changed.

Another take on Detroit's fall from grace comes right from Atlas Shrugged as it adequately describes what was in the hearts of those who set it on its course to decay:

Look around you: what you have done to society, you have done it first within your soul; one is the image of the other. This dismal wreckage, which is now your world, is the physical form of the treason you committed to your values, to your friends, to your defenders, to your future, to your country, to yourself.

Nothing more need be said.