It is all but impossible to conceive of a more vivid example of the devastation wrought when a coalition of liberal Democrats and Big Labor bosses holds unchallenged sway for five decades over a beautiful, prosperous and growing American city like Detroit circa 1960. In that first year of the 1960s, Detroit was America's fourth largest city and its 1.8 million residents enjoyed the highest per capita income in the country. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors dominated the automotive market, profits flooded their coffers and hundreds of thousands of workers enjoyed high pay and generous benefits.
And today? In a bracing five-part series published July 22-26, the Washington Examiner's Sean Higgins described the city's fall in these terms: "Detroit is now the most dangerous big city in America, according to FBI statistics, with a crime rate five times the national average. The city's economy crumbled, too. Unemployment was 7.2 percent in 1970 but soared to 19.7 percent by 1990. Today it is a staggering 18.6 percent, far above the national rate of 7.6 percent. The city is nearly $20 billion in debt. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager in March. It may be decades before Detroit digs itself out of the financial pit into which it has fallen."
|More than anywhere else in America (with the possible exception of Chicago) Detroit has been a one-party union city.|
Things are so bad in Detroit, according to National Review's Mark Steyn, that "40 percent of its 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 drivable; one-third of the city has been abandoned; the local realtor offers houses on sale for a buck and still finds no takers." This is Detroit, the city once described as "the arsenal of democracy" because its factories so quickly switched from making Fords to Flying Fortresses. The city that put the world on wheels and drove the American economy to previously unimagined prosperity.
The last time Detroit elected a Republican mayor was 1957. Only one Republican has made it to the city council since 1970. More than anywhere else in America (with the possible exception of Chicago) Detroit has been a one-party union city. Democratic politicians backed by the United Auto Workers and public employees unions have ruled virtually as they pleased. Along the way, many of the politicians ended up in jail on corruption charges and the bureaucrats made out with sweetheart deals on pensions and health benefits. Those sweetheart deals now account for most of the $20 billion in debt that put the city into bankruptcy.
There are too many disturbing parallels between Detroit and America. The national debt of $17 trillion gets a lot of attention, but the reality is the government's actual debt, counting the unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and federal employee and retiree benefits, exceeds $86 trillion, according to former congressmen Chris Cox and Bill Archer. As they say, things that can't go on forever, won't.