Detroit: Why Pay for Nothing?   Leave a comment

My husband and I were scanning Netflix a couple of weeks ago and we ran across a documentary film from 2008 (I think). In it, a Detroit woman was documenting the deterioration of her city. At a townhall meeting, the mayor warned that the city would no longer keep pace with the cost of services and suggested that people who wanted to continue to receive services choose some built-up neighborhood in the core of the city and turn their abandoned homes into farmsteads. That was the only way he could see to save the city. I guess he came up with another one — stop providing services.

Detroit is what happens when government grows too big and too expensive, so that people can no longer afford to pay the taxes that support the government. In Detroit, people who could moved away. People who couldn’t or wouldn’t stopped paying. Now the city has applied for bankruptcy.

May I suggest this is a (potentially) good thing. Detroit’s city workers were unionized a long time ago, which means they receive high wages and lush benefits regardless of the city’s financial situation. Somewhat like Hostess and the car companies that built Detroit, the only choice to get out from under these legacy burdens is to file bankruptcy. Detroit could (potentially) be the city that reorganizes and returns as a healthy, vibrant urban center with an engaged tax-payer base.

Maybe. And, it won’t happen quickly. It’s going to take time for people to wake up and realize that THEY were the problem — that the services that they no longer receive and rarely pay for were the problem. In the absence of city trash pickup, what’s going to happen? Well, there’s going to be a mess … until someone (maybe an out-of-work former city garbage collector) says “Hey, I could do that.” He goes to the homeowners in his area and says “I’ll haul your garbage for this much.” They say “Well, we can afford this much.” He thinks about it a while, goes around the neighborhood finding out that he’s charging too much, and then he comes back with a reasonable offer and VIOLA, Detroit has private garbage service in one of its neighborhoods, which inspires others to do the same and ….

The market will find a way if the government gets out of the way. In Detroit, maybe the government needed to be TKO’d for that to happen. Maybe other towns will wake up and smell the burning coffee beans and start privating services before they fall victim to Detroit Syndrome.


Posted July 27, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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