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Detroit's Failure and the Blue Model's Shame


If Detroit were a country, it would fit comfortably into the Failed States Index. The NYT’s front-page analysis today asserts that the city’s daily struggle to survive is worse than the estimated $18 billion in debt, worse than the potential fire sale of the city’s art, its parks, and its airports. Detroit’s residents can no longer count even on the most elementary social services: people have started to plan for a life in which the paramedics and police just stop showing up.

The accounts given to the Times by the citizens of Detroit are shocking. One hospital worker said, “If you have a heart attack, you’re dead. There is no such thing around here as ‘in case of emergency.’” A nurse practitioner claimed she “urges her patients to treat health concerns before they become acute because, she said, ‘if they find themselves calling 911, it’s probably too late.’” More:

“The city is past being a city now; it’s gone,” said Kendrick Benguche, whose family lives on a block with a single streetlight, just down from a vacant firehouse that sits beside a burned-out home. The Detroit police’s average response time to calls for the highest-priority crimes this year was 58 minutes, officials now overseeing the city say. The department’s recent rate of solving cases was 8.7 percent, far lower, the officials acknowledge, than clearance rates in cities like Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and St. Louis. […]

Ms. [LaTanya] Boyce goes to the park for exercise, wearing a fanny pack that at times contains a gun—“Do you see any city police here?”—and bemoaning several locked restrooms that have portable toilets planted in front of them.

Make no mistake: when your city can’t find enough money or manpower to fulfill the minimum requirements of law enforcement and emergency response, you live in a failed enterprise. When citizens try to treat medical emergencies themselves, carry handguns in public parks out of fear, and lose faith in public officials faster than those officials can resign, you don’t just live in a city with a debt problem; you live in a social and political cataclysm for which the label “free society” is wholly inappropriate.

This is one of the most traumatic and heart wrenching stories unfolding in American life today. The NYT has been covering it more as of late, but the MSM and Democratic coalition generally have failed to give it the attention and concern it deserves. Decades of blue policies and corrupt, one-party machine politics created this mess. Those who cheered it on while it careened off a cliff should at least be forced to look at the wreckage down below.

[Image of abandoned theater in Detroit courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Corlyss

    “This is one of the most traumatic and heart wrenching stories”

    Let’s not get emotional about people suffering from their own excesses. There’s lessons to be had here, which will be lost when the bailouts start coming in, just as they were lost on the PIIGS when the EUCB rushed in with the German-made fix. It’s the ant and the grasshopper writ large. They need to learn the lessons.

    • jeburke

      Let’s be fair — and accurate. A lot of Detroit residents have no responsibility for any “excesses” but suffer anyway.

      • Pete


        • dawadu

          So you believe that is perfectly acceptable and proper for individuals who do not have responsibilities for the excess and yet suffer from the consequences?

          • Pete

            Many innocent are inflicted due to the wrongs of the guilty. That’s the way the world works.

            Is it ‘perfectly acceptable?’ No, but so what? What the alternative? And where do you find the perfect anyway?

            Example: Why did I, as a taxpayer, have to pay to bail out people over their heads with their home mortgages. And why did I, as a taxpayer, have to bail out the financial fat cats?

          • dawadu

            Many innocent are inflicted due to the wrongs
            of the guilty. That’s the way the world works.

            I agree with the first part
            of your statement; “Many innocent are inflicted due to the wrongs of the
            guilty” but I disagree with “That’s the way the world works” for to me that
            means there is nothing we as people can do to change it so we should just lay
            back and accept it. If what you are trying to say is “that is how the world is”
            I will agree with that. You may think I am playing semantics but to me there is
            a difference. One is basically saying there is nothing we can do and the other
            is not saying that.

            Is it ‘perfectly acceptable?’ No, but so what?
            What the alternative? And where do you find the perfect anyway?

            I am not saying there is a
            perfect way (because there isn’t any) but I disagree with “throwing up our
            hands and saying there is nothing we can do” and walking away. For Detroit
            right now, it’s in a world of hurt and unfortunately there is no realistically
            feasible solution. Any solution for
            Detroit will take several years (>10) to show significant results (if any).

            Example: Why did I, as a taxpayer, have to pay
            to bail out people over their heads with their home mortgages. And why did I,
            as a taxpayer, have to bail out the financial fat cats

            Regarding bailing out people
            who had bad mortgages, I don’t know how much you pay in federal taxes but I am
            willing to bet given the low dollar amount(from the federal budget
            perspective) that went to those people
            your share probably is maybe $1.00 at the most.
            You may be like me where money isn’t the issue but there are lots of items
            where my tax dollars go where I don’t want it to, but that is our political
            system (for better or worse).

            Last but not least, your
            comment about the financial bailout;
            When the crisis hit, all of our so-called experts said if there is no
            bail out our country will enter financial apocalypse. I have the feeling that
            you did not believe that (fwiw nether did I) but there is no way of proving
            that we were correct.

          • Jim__L

            “One is basically saying there is nothing we can do”

            Nothing we can do? No. Only a limited amount that we can do? Yes.

            The problem with Leftist thinking is that they assume because the resources of the government (and taxpayers) are large compared to any given problem, they are infinite (and thus capable of solving all our infinite problems), and that our economic system can have as much removed from it in taxes as Leftists wish without adverse effects on the system.

            Last generation, the USSR proved that is not the case. Europe is in the process of proving that is not the case today. If you need more proof, cautionary tales pop up out of South America and Africa on a regular basis, past and present.

      • Corlyss

        Yes, let’s be fair.
        To the extent that the suffering residents voted for the pols that caused the suffering, I don’t have a micron’s worth of sympathy.
        To the extent that the suffering residents voted for some other politicians thru the years, I am mildly sympathetic – they could always move to the ‘burbs, or better yet, completely out of the state.

        • Jim__L

          I believe they have — hasn’t Detroit’s population dropped by about half in the last few decades?

          • Corlyss

            Yes. The ones who stayed most likely would never blame the perps or themselves for what’s happened to the city. Their plights are all caused by white racism, ya know. You have only to look at the character of the howls raised when the governor tried to appoint a receiver, or Special Master, or whatever they call the hatchet guy he sent in to get control of Detroit’s finances.

  • Nick Bidler

    But you will only ever hear local politicians Blame Whitey. Post-colonial Africa had the excuse of ‘colonial powers extracted everything of use,’ what does Detroit have, other than a memory of auto manufacturing?

    • Kavanna

      And few African political elites make such arguments any more. That whole strategy ran out of gas when the Cold War ended. Many African countries have changed their orientation and are doing pretty well. But abandoning “post-colonial” thinking was essential.

      Detroit won’t get better until and unless the federal and state money stops. The powerful interest groups that made this happen need to have their power canceled. Only then can anything change.

  • three_chord_sloth

    Detroit is what you get when the internal locus of control people leave and the external locus of control folks try to run the show.

    The city hires folks mostly on the basis of nepotism and connections. That kills the public sector, but the citizenry does nothing about it ’cause maybe they can someday get a job that way themselves.

    The public sector exists to bleed the treasury dry. That kills the city’s budgets, but the citizenry does nothing about it ’cause maybe someday that’ll be them or their kids getting paid.

    The schools cannot teach. That kills the future, but the citizenry does nothing about it ’cause its too much work, and as long as the checks keep coming from Uncle Sugar, does it really matter so much..?

    Detroit will fester until Detroit decides to fix itself… and the first order of business is the extinction of the culture of dependence.

    • Kavanna

      Only when the external supports are gone will anything change.

  • bpuharic

    WRM loves Detroit as the epitome of ‘blue state’ policies. But he fails to note:

    -TX executes more people than any other state in the nation but its violent crime rate is higher than 15 of 17 stats that abolished the death penalty
    -New Orleans is the most violent city in America and one of the most violent in the world
    -Massachusetts…as blue state as you can be…has a lower infant mortality rate and teen pregnancy rate than TX

    WRM cherry picks data because most of his readers are hard right. But the fact is the TX economy is growing in the 3rd world model. The blue states are doing pretty good while the red state create jobs that are fine for McDonalds and Burger King.

    • Joseph Blieu

      The Detroit Free Press had an article last month with the FBI’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, The 10 most violent cities ar 1. Flint MI, 2. Detroit, 3. Oakland CA, 4. St. Louis, 5. Memphis. 6 Stockton CA, 7. Birmingham AL, 8. New Haven CT., 9 Baltimore, 10. Cleveland. San Pedro Sula in Honduras has 173 murders per 100,000 and is the main challenger for most dangerous city in the world not in a war. New England is exceptional and with honesty superior in culture and particularly education, all the way back to the Puritans. They certainly can be proud of their institutions, and they have sent this culture out to the rest of the states to large or small degree. Texas is an immigrant society that is exceptional in growth and technology. NASA at Houston and Texas Instuments at Plano created a new scientific world in the 60’s that went from Texas back to MIT. My perspective anyway.

      • bpuharic

        Immigrants have a LOWER crime rate than Americans, but the right loves the race card

        And NO has the THIRD highest murder rate. Sorry. Guess the red state successes just keep it in the top 5

        • Tom

          Most of the immigrants that are in Texas are poor. Which might have something to do with low-paying jobs you’re complaining about.

        • Joseph Blieu

          The FBI factors in rape, manslaughter and armed robbery too which are also indicators of most violent city not just murder. I believe the FBI’s stats and they are not a “Red” organization at this time. Which of the top ten are Red city successes? I think they all are democrat controlled, even St Louis. It is demonstrated by data that Immigrants do not unfortunately commit less crime but that the next generation commits less than the initial generation. BTW I don’t reall care much about Red or Blue politics but I do like accuracy in assertions.

          • bpuharic

            Criminal and social policies are controlled by the states. That’s WHY WRM references red and blue STATES. I realize the right wing would prefer to look at each individual household in a desperate attempt to plead its case but the fact is red states are violent, are more religious and more social dysfunction than blue states.

        • Jim__L

          Immigrant populations tend to have a much lower rate of reporting crimes, giving you error bars on those statistics that render them nearly useless.

          • bpuharic

            So you’re saying they’re more often victims than perps?

            Yeah, I’d agree with that.

          • Jim__L

            You can’t really say anything about whether they’re perpetrators, victims, or both, without reliable data.

          • bpuharic

            Sure you can. Victims report crime. If Americans were being victimized by illegal aliens we’d have the data because Americans would report it

          • Jim__L

            Immigrant-on-immigrant crime would tend to drive up the “immigrant crime rate” that you claim (without firm basis) is “lower”. While this would also drive up the “immigrant victim rate”, that was independent of the point you were trying to make.

            In fact, a higher “immigrant victim rate” carries with it its own problems for assimilation. If victims develop a cynical attitude towards the legal system, toleration of corruption in that legal system is far more likely.

            One of the big advantages that the US has over places south of the border is a legal system with a (relatively) Puritanical basis, which skews it towards honesty and transparency. Places like Detroit and New Orleans, where the Puritanical streak is weakest, suffer greatly.

            If that weakens across the country, that would mean America would lose one of its tremendous advantages, both in terms of economy and quality of life. It’s an argument against massive, unassimilated immigrant populations that doesn’t get nearly enough airing in the media.

          • bpuharic

            How could it do so if it’s not reported? You can’t have it both way.

            And America has survived ‘massive’ immigration before. There’s no proof Hispanics will be different than other populations in assimilation.

          • Jim__L

            We don’t make an effort to assimilate anymore. In fact, in some political circles (like mainstream Democrats) “assimilation” is a dirty word, going counter to the Multiculturalist agenda.

            What has happened before in terms of assimilation is less likely to happen now because we’re not trying. Pop culture has taken over, spreading some of the most malignant cultural practices known to humanity. (Feel free to include capitalism unrestricted by traditional morality in this category, if you’d like.)

          • bpuharic

            Mainstream democrats have no problem with assimilation regarding of what Rush and the boys tell the True Believers. There is no such thing as a ‘multiculturalist’ agenda and you’d be looking long and hard to find it in the Democratic party plank.

            But that won’t stop you from swearing…cross your heart…that it’s there.

          • Jim__L

            Tell that to anyone who’s had any contact with the educational institutions of this country. They could probably use the laugh.

  • ljgude

    Well, it seems terrible, but it is just reversion to normal if you reflect that all these terrible things in Detroit were as bad or worse in Dodge City back in the day. Or in many places around the world today where I have had the pleasure of rediscovering that I am on my own recognizance. Indeed, the citizens of Detroit have regained the level of freedom that our forbears risked lives and fortunes to attain. You take responsibility for your own safety, health, and improvement – material, moral and intellectual. This is called Devine Providence.

    • Jim__L

      I’m curious if any kind of vigilante system or other community-based law and order will arise in these areas, now that the central city government is on track to fail.

      Knowing Detroit’s luck, it will be warlord / gangland style, rather than Old West style.

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