Steven Rattner is calling for a bailout of Detroit.
No one likes bailouts or the prospect of rewarding Detroit’s historic fiscal mismanagement. But apart from voting in elections, the 700,000 remaining residents of the Motor City are no more responsible for Detroit’s problems than were the victims of Hurricane Sandy for theirs, and eventually Congress decided to help them.America is just as much about aiding those less fortunate as it is about personal responsibility. Government does this in so many ways; why shouldn’t it help Detroit rebuild itself?
We can get behind this concept, but only in exchange for much tighter oversight of the city, accompanied by some meaningful political changes and housecleaning. Pumping more money into a dysfunctional system, no. Helping the city to a genuine fresh start, especially if this involves some help for pensioners—many of whom retired long ago, didn’t vote or live in the city, and have little to no personal responsibility for the meltdown—yes.But the pre-conditions for something like this have to be serious and real, perhaps including prosecutorial scrutiny of what went wrong. Maybe Congress should hold hearings?[Photo courtesy Getty Images.]