Sunday, July 21, 2013
City Of The Left
This is what "progress" looks like.
Leftists bemoaning the presence of Republicans in Congress and in state and local governments could point to, over the past half-century, one notable oasis of unrestrained "progressive" policymaking and public sector and trade union dominance. Detroit, formerly the 4th largest city in the U.S., has had not one (zero!) Republican in government for 44 years. Louis Miriani, voted out of office in 1962, was the last Republican mayor of Detroit. He was also the last of his party to hold a seat on the city council, retiring in 1969. Since then, Democrats have had unanimous control of the city. And without the mitigating effects of the entrenched, vibrant, and in some cases, centuries old academic institutions of eastern Massachusetts or the natural riches and optimal climate of California, Detroit was left exposed to all the noxious effects that "progressivism" has to offer.
Mark Steyn and Kevin Williamson on the city's downfall.
40 percent of Detroit's streetlamps don’t work; 210 of its 317 public parks have been permanently closed; it takes an hour for police to respond to a 9-1-1 call; only a third of its ambulances are driveable; one-third of the city has been abandoned; the local realtor offers houses on sale for a buck and still finds no takers...
To achieve this level of devastation, you usually have to be invaded by a foreign power.
To any American time-transported from the mid 20th century, the city’s implosion would be literally incredible: Were he to compare photographs of today’s Hiroshima with today’s Detroit, he would assume Japan won the Second World War after nuking Michigan. Detroit was the industrial powerhouse of America, the “arsenal of democracy,” and in 1960 the city with the highest per capita income in the land. Half a century on, Detroit’s population has fallen by two-thirds, and in terms of “per capita income,” many of the shrunken pool of capita have no income at all beyond EBT cards.
Forty-seven percent of adults are functionally illiterate, which is about the same rate as the Central African Republic, which at least has the excuse that it was ruled throughout the Seventies by a cannibal emperor. Why would any genuine innovator open a business in a Detroit “innovation hub”? Whom would you employ? The illiterates include a recent president of the school board, Otis Mathis, which doesn’t bode well for the potential work force a decade hence.
Given their respective starting points, one has to conclude that Detroit’s Democratic party makes a far more comprehensive wrecking crew than Emperor Bokassa ever did. No bombs, no invasions, no civil war, just “liberal” “progressive” politics day in, day out. Americans sigh and say, “Oh, well, Detroit’s an ‘outlier.’” It’s an outlier only in the sense that it happened here first. The same malign alliance between a corrupt political class, rapacious public-sector unions, and an ever more swollen army of welfare dependents has been adopted in the formerly Golden State of California, and in large part by the Obama administration, whose priorities — “health” “care” “reform,” “immigration” “reform” — are determined by the same elite/union/dependency axis. As one droll tweeter put it, “If Obama had a city, it would look like Detroit.”
Detroit has lost nearly two-thirds of its population. The decline of the automotive industry alone is not responsible for that: Ford by itself still employs enough people that it could employ one member of every family in Detroit. GM and Ford together could employ the entire working-age (18–65) population of Detroit, along with every man, woman, and child in Flint, Mich., and every man, woman, and child in Pontiac, Mich., and would still need to fill a few vacancies. That’s to say nothing of Chrysler, the American operations of firms such as Toyota and BMW, or Mercedes-Benz’s SUV business — or the countless manufacturers of automotive parts, components, materials, etc. What do most of those firms have in common? They do not want to be in or near Detroit.
The hunt for low wages is not the explanation for that fact. Motor Trend named the Mercedes-Benz GL Class the best SUV in the world this year — prices for that truck cross the $100,000 mark — and it is made in Vance, Ala. Does anybody really think that Mercedes, a company used to paying its German workers very attractive wages, is in Alabama so that it can pay Third World wages to toothless hillbillies to build its flagship SUV? A quick look at the numbers confirms that this is not the case.
Here’s a wild guess: Mercedes is in Alabama because nobody wants to live in Detroit except Kwame Kilpatrick, whose most likely next option is a six-by-eight cell, and the gentlemen of the United Automobile Workers union and their associates. The UAW, having helped to destroy the automotive industry in and around Detroit, is currently in the middle of its third attempt to unionize Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama and elsewhere in the South, having committed tens of millions of dollars — where will that come from? — to the project. Joining the UAW is like joining the European Union — no matter how many times you vote against it, there’s always another vote, until it goes the other way, and then there are no more votes.