When we do sufficiently-similar things, we should expect similar results. And Provo’s current path of violating rights, multiplying laws, centrally planning the economy, taxing-and-borrowing-and-spending, et cetera, has arguably been trodden before by many other American cities, including Detroit, which spent five decades intensely governing itself from prosperity into penury.
Detroit in the 1950s was America’s fourth-largest city, and its residents enjoyed one of America’s highest per-capita incomes. But its residents began favoring politicians who were less interested in defending people’s God-given rights than in running their lives. These central planners began compelling Detroit’s residents to fund inefficient ineffective public goods/services, as well as to waste their tax dollars on big-ticket scams that benefited corrupt crony business special interests rather than the general public. And this mix of socialistic centralized-command-and-control plus fascistic public-private partnerships slowly-but-surely devastated Detroit’s thriving economy.
As Detroit’s politicians increasingly violated their constituents’ rights rather than defended them, its police likewise began to increasingly ignore actual rights-violations like murder and rape and plunder, and to instead focus their attention on enforcing countless trivial regulations (such as “proper” sign placement), for which they either levied fines or else (sometimes) accepted bribes for overlooking non-compliance. Some residents eventually began to hire private security firms to assist them with self-defense in the absence of police protection, which represents a growing trend by Detroit residents to look toward private agencies to perform services that public agencies are no longer either willing or able to fulfill.
Such political degeneracy has encouraged Detroit’s many residents (including its employers), in the absence of a local “iron curtain” to prevent them from escaping, to gradually relocate to freer (and safer) places elsewhere in these United States. And, as Detroit’s population slowly dwindled, its standard-of-living likewise declined as its landscape slowly changed from one of prospering industry to one of crumbling ruins. Its remaining impoverished residents, too many of whom are now unemployed or even criminal, increasingly struggled to afford to pay either their horde of expensive public bureaucrats (both current and retired), or their municipal creditors, which is why Detroit declared bankruptcy in 2013. In a sense, Detroit governed itself to death, somewhat like the former U.S.S.R.
We Provoans can’t follow Detroit’s path without arriving at Detroit’s destination. We might not have a money-losing People Mover, but we had a money-losing iProvo, and we’re now building a costly Bus Rapid Transit system to satisfy a nonexistent public demand. We need to stop such reckless boondoggles before Detroit’s bleak existence becomes ours, as well.
(For more Problems, please see Envisioning Statism.)
- ReasonTV: “Boondoggle in the Motor City: Detroit’s Train to Nowhere” (2010 Oct 13)
- FOX News: “How did Detroit fall into the abyss?” (2013 Jul 20)
- ReasonTV: “Detroit’s Tragedy and How to Fix It” (2013 Jul 20)
- ReasonTV: “Operation Compliance: Detroit’s War on Small Business” (2013 Sep 17)
- ReasonTV: “The Mower Gang: #Anarchy in Detroit, Part I” (2013 Sep 23)
- ReasonTV: “Detroit Threat Management: #Anarchy in Detroit, Part II” (2013 Sep 23)
- The Economic Collapse: “Rotting, Decaying And Bankrupt – If You Want To See The Future Of America Just Look At Detroit” (2013 Jun 16)
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