detroit: the liberal utopia

Detroit has recently declared bankruptcy, a declaration overturned by a judge. It is going broke as its residents flee. Humorously, the city was featured in the Survival TV show Apocalypse Man, about how to scrounge for food and shelter in a post-apocalyptic world. Abandoned buildings and houses were plentiful in this real world post-apocalyptic city. What is especially telling is that this city was once the richest city in the US, until the leftists began their programs:

Imagine a city where all the major economic planks of the statist or “progressive” platform have been enacted:

-A “living wage” ordinance, far above the federal minimum wage, for all public employees and private contractors.
-A school system that spends significantly more per pupil than the national average.
-A powerful school employee union that militantly defends the exceptional pay, benefits and job security it has won for its members.
-Other government employee unions that do the same for their members.
-A tax system that aggressively redistributes income from businesses and the wealthy to the poor and to government bureaucracies.

Would this be a shining city on a hill, exciting the admiration of all?

The article continues:

In 1950, Detroit was the wealthiest city in America on a per capita income basis. Today, the Census Bureau reports that it is the nation’s 2nd poorest major city, just “edging out” Cleveland.

Mises.org adds:

Detroit is bankrupt, and its problems appear to be unsolvable. Its population peaked in 1950 at 1,850,000 only to fall to 706,000 in 2011, surely representative of people voting with their feet.

So the most liberal city in American destroyed itself in about 60 years, but don’t worry. Unable to provide police to stop crime, gardeners to maintain parks, and garbage pickup, the State will spend its time cracking down on unlicensed businesses.

Another funny side note, one of my friends used to work for a demolition company and he was detailing to me accidentally destroying the wrong house in Detroit. There are entire blocks of empty houses in which people live with literally no possessions! This is the utopia that socialism creates.

About christopher fisher

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5 Responses to detroit: the liberal utopia

  1. bridgeboy says:

    The problem with your list is that many other cities have everything you mentioned and have not gone into bankruptcy. You have to demonstrate that these policies have been pursued to a greater degree or that they were enacted earlier than many other cities or that some additional circumstances made Detroit more susceptible than most major cities.

    • Fernando says:

      It is in the text: http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/12832

      Detroit: The Triumph of Progressive Public Policy

      How did this great city fall so far?

      Imagine a city where all the major economic planks of the statist or “progressive” platform have been enacted:

      – A “living wage” ordinance, far above the federal minimum wage, for all public employees and private contractors.
      – A school system that spends significantly more per pupil than the national average.
      A powerful school employee union that militantly defends the exceptional pay, benefits and job security it has won for its members.
      – Other government employee unions that do the same for their members.
      – A tax system that aggressively redistributes income from businesses and the wealthy to the poor and to government bureaucracies.
      – Would this be a shining city on a hill, exciting the admiration of all? We don’t have to guess, because there is such a city right here in our state: Detroit

      Detroit has been dubbed “the most liberal city in America” and each of these “progressive” policies is alive and well there. How have they worked out?

      In 1950, Detroit was the wealthiest city in America on a per capita income basis. Today, the Census Bureau reports that it is the nation’s 2nd poorest major city, just “edging out” Cleveland.

      Could it be pure coincidence that the decline occurred over the same period in which union power, the city government bureaucracy, taxes and business regulations all multiplied? While correlation is not causation, it is striking that the decline in per capita income is exactly what classical economists predict would occur when wage controls are imposed and taxes are increased.

      Specifically, “price theory” predicts that artificially high business costs caused by excessive regulation and above-market labor compensation rates imposed by so-called “living wages” will lead to an increase in unemployment. Detroit’s minimum wage is more than $2 above the federal minimum wage; and pressure groups are pushing for more. Additionally, any company contracting with the city must pay its employees $11.03 an hour if they offer benefits or $13.78 an hour if they do not.

      Such high wage mandates are especially hard on individuals with a poor education and low skills. If struggling and heavily taxed businesses cannot pay such high wages, then they are more selective about the few workers they do hire or simply go out of business altogether. Those who have promulgated these polices may be well-intentioned, but mainstream economists have warned for decades that such policies were very likely to bring about the abject poverty and unemployment that characterize Detroit today. The city has the highest unemployment rate among all large U.S. cities.

      A similar pattern has played out in public education. It is now conventional wisdom among the political class that higher pay for teachers and increased spending per student lead to improvements in teacher quality and student performance -— Detroit Public Schools strongly suggests that this theory must be rejected. It has chronically underperformed state averages, yet reforms are vehemently opposed by the system’s powerful school employee union.

      At the same time that union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, has won rich salary and benefits packages for its members. Detroit spends one of the highests amounts of money per student nationwide and the district’s spending per pupil is eighth highest out of Michigan’s 551 school districts. For all that, by almost any measure Detroit schools have for decades failed their students: test scores, safety, drop out rates, etc. Detroit’s public school students perform among the lowest in the state. On a 2009 test for urban districts from the U.S. Department of Education, DPS students performed “barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers.”

      In the private sector such failure would result in mass firings for unsatisfactory performance. No doubt such a response would be condemned by the progressives who support the school employee unions that have made similar actions impossible in their institutions, and have opposed major transformation at every turn.

      For example, in 2003 philanthropist Bob Thompson offered $200 million to build 15 charter public schools in the city in which he would guarantee a 90 percent graduation rate. In response, the DFT balked because charter schools are not unionized. The outcome was that the union jobs trumped better outcomes for children.

      People vote with their feet, and all the above suggests why, over the past decade, DPS has lost about 10,000 students each year to charter, independent and suburban schools.

      Of course it would be unfair to place all the blame for the city’s decline on public employee unions. Detroit is home to the Big Three, whose contracts with their own powerful unions provided the model for those public employee arrangements. The UAW successfully extracted wages and benefits estimated at $73 per hour before the recent shake-ups began.

      This is about $25 more per hour than the amount foreign-owned U.S. auto manufacturing plants pay their non-unionized American workers. Due to this disparity, Japanese car companies earn some $1,000 to $2,000 more on each car sold than their American counterparts. The outcome has been a relentless loss of market share that, among other things, has devastated the economic engine that once powered Motor City prosperity.

      In addition to being a model of progressive economic, labor and education policy, Detroit is also a case study in welfare statism. Tom Bray, former editorial page editor for The Detroit News, has made the following observation:

      “Detroit, remember, was going to be the ‘Model City’ of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the shining example of what the ‘fairness’ of the welfare state can produce. Billions of dollars later, Detroit instead has become the model of everything that can go wrong when you hook people on the idea of something for nothing – a once-middle class city of nearly 2 million that is now a poverty-stricken city of less than 900,000.”

      Today, Detroit is down 25 percent over the past 10 years; to just over 700,000 and dropping fast.

      Progressives will complain that this portrait oversimplifies the factors involved in a great city’s decline. Perhaps it does, but with this question in mind: At what point does the weight of evidence and logic make it impossible to avoid concluding that in the case of Detroit, correlation is causation?

    • Fernando says:

      And: https://mises.org/library/declare-detroit-free-city

      Declare Detroit a Free City

      JULY 26, 2013

      We who advocate the free market as the sure path to peace and prosperity often hear that the US economy has to get much, much worse before any real reforms will be allowed. Why must we continue to wait before taking serious action to throttle back parasitic government? A common response is that we need to wait until things are so bad that no one will be able to deny that government is the problem and not the answer. Then even died-in-the-wool socialists will give the free market a chance.

      Well, what if we hit the brink and people want more government and not less? The result would be fascism in the US. Given a choice, I for one prefer not to wait for such an eventuality. I would rather have an American test case to illustrate that radically less government leads to peace and prosperity.

      Detroit as a test case for economic freedom

      The decades’ growing tragedy of a now bankrupt Detroit provides a unique opportunity to test our fundamental principles. What if Detroit became a free city in which government provided for public safety, honest courts, protection of property rights, and little else? Might not unabated free enterprise take hold as it always has in America?

      Detroit is bankrupt, and its problems appear to be unsolvable. Its population peaked in 1950 at 1,850,000 only to fall to 706,000 in 2011, surely representative of people voting with their feet. As British politician Daniel Hannan has written, the Detroit disease may be well advanced in the rest of American cities and perhaps in all of America as well. Before the disease can kill the rest of America we have the opportunity to give free market reforms a chance in a fairly controlled setting — the bankrupt and dysfunctional city of Detroit.

      All that Detroit really needs is economic freedom and secure property rights. Give Detroit its freedom from all manner of government, including the federal government. Declare Detroit a free city. (You can rest assured, Detroit, that America will come to your rescue if those bloodthirsty Canadians attack!) In other words, no one would pay any federal taxes whatsoever or be subject to any federal regulations whatsoever. Wouldn’t it be nice not to pay federal taxes, not even Social Security and Medicare taxes? Do the same with Michigan taxes. No taxes BUT also no federal or state aid either.

      A Free Detroit would have absolutely no labor and workplace regulations, including minimum wages, mandatory insurance, equal opportunity rules, occupational safety rules, etc. People would be allowed to work together cooperatively for whatever terms their marginal productivity of labor will secure.

      End all red tape that thwarts business startups and hobbles its expansion, such as licensing, public health regulations and inspections, zoning restrictions, etc. Do not be concerned that people may be employed in low wage, dangerous jobs against their will. The reality is that business owners must recruit workers and not dragoon them and chain them to their workplaces. Nor are business owners interested in harming either their workers or their customers. If they do, normal civil and commercial law will suffice.

      Privatize all government services, such as garbage pickup, water and sewage services, and allow for unbridled competition in these and other areas, even fire protection. Sell off city property (who needs offices that are empty of government bureaucrats anyway?) and deed public housing to its current occupants, making them responsible for their own abodes. You may be surprised how responsible people can be with their own property. End public education and all its costs. Allow the people to get the kind of education that they desire, whatever that may be. Since half the current population of Detroit is functionally illiterate, what’s the risk?

      Do you want a safe society? Then let people arm themselves without any licensing requirements. Since it takes Detroit police approximately an hour to answer a typical 911 call, this is simply a practical solution to the basic human right of self-defense. Above all end welfare. The destructive cycle of dependency is driving American cities to the financial and cultural wall.

      Do not expect overnight success, but who knows? A free market always surprises us with new innovations. At first one can expect lots of mom and pop startups, sidewalk vendors, unlicensed and untaxed services such as simple property repair, home schools, private taxis, etc. But if Nike and other American businesses are enticed by lower costs and fewer regulatory burdens to outsource their manufacturing operations overseas, why would they not take a good look at a Free Detroit? Expect to be amazed.

      Allow Detroit to become a safe, cooperative city that represents the best that America can be. Economic freedom will ensure the rebirth of Detroit. This city can become the beacon of true prosperity to the rest of America and to the world.

  2. Fernando says:

    These libtard losers know that Detroit is the prime example of how the Democratic Party and “progressive” policies don’t work. So they have to try and blame Republicans, when Detroit has been run ENTIRELY by Dems since 1962

  3. “Its population peaked in 1950 at 1,850,000 only to fall to 706,000 in 2011” :-( :-( :-(

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