NEW YORK — It was a nice summer day. Kids were enjoying their summer break, diving for murder weapons in the Detroit River, when news of the city filing for bankruptcy broke. “I am shocked,” said no one. Even Motown’s Stevie Wonder saw it coming.
As we do an autopsy on Detroit, once the symbol of American industrial might, we learn several undeniable facts. The city's bankruptcy is the direct result of decades of insidious liberal rule, heavy-handed union thuggery and a dependency culture. Sound familiar?
An endless succession of corrupt mayors propagated the untenable notion of equal outcomes through a flawed notion of economic and social justice. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of large-scale corruption. As punishment, he should have been sentenced to serve another term as mayor.
While the city continues to heavily tax its citizens, it cannot provide even basic services. In Detroit, it takes 58 minutes for police to respond to a crime; the national average is 11 minutes. Perhaps it can change the 911 number to 912 to lighten the load on police responders. Maybe George Zimmerman will relocate there and start a Neighborhood Watch. Detroit is an embattled and divided city, one of the few with a North Korea-town.
Perhaps the feds will bail it out using some archaic regulatory justification like Detroit being a sacred burial ground of Mafia leaders. Maybe to keep the police force employed, tax credits could be offered to criminals to attract them back to the city to keep them employed as well.
Detroit's population has gone from 2 million to 800,000. Airlines and bus services have gone bankrupt: they cannot compete with feet. Detroit has two seasons: winter and killing.
Half the people do not pay their property taxes. 45,000 homes have been abandoned; many have become crack houses. Mayors probably demanded the owners be taxed half their crack profits to fund the shortfalls of government union pension funds. The city has seized property for taxes. This caught the attention of the Obama administration, which is always looking for fresh new ideas.
Any substantive reforms proposed for Detroit raised the specter of racism for even the suggestion of fiscal sanity. Liberals love crises they create because they can promise more, take more, and blame their enemies. They then continue to play the card they know best, crying racism when the poverty rate is three times the national average. That game eventually ends, as it has in Detroit.
Left behind is a disillusioned city of uneducated citizens raised on dependency. Dependency robs people of their ambition, pride, and ability to see beyond what politicians tell them they are "owed."
The liberal solution is always to throw more of someone else’s money at the problem, money that filters through corrupt, graft-grubbing hands. The reason Detroit city councilmen are so upset about the bankruptcy is that they have lost control of the city budget and can no longer demand bribes.
As happened recently in D.C., corrupt politicians make it hard for non-union businesses to come to a city. Wal-Mart, which could provide a poor population with needed goods at great prices, as well as jobs, was targeted. Only politicians in Detroit and D.C. would accuse a 99-cent store of price gouging. The result: good businesses move elsewhere, resulting in a Mad Max, apocalyptic, hellscape of a town.
The process of bankruptcy is a good one. It helps you and others who watch it realize how you got there. I really hope Obama will not butt in. As it does in corporate America, reorganization purges bad management and cleanses debts to provide a fresh start. I hope the process will be unfettered by the Detroit-in-Waiting, Washington, D.C.
Detroit exemplifies the anxiety we all have about what could happen to America. Our trajectory is that of Detroit, given the liberal Obama administration. Denial is not a strategy. We must look at Detroit and determine if that is what we would like to be. To paraphrase our president, “If he had a city, it would look like Detroit.”
No city or country can expect to survive when its people take more than they give. Until people reject the lies that liberals codify into law and reject the ideology of “progressivism,” they will continue to go financially and morally bankrupt. Detroit is a warning to us all.
Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator, can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com