Detroit is the poster child for economic decline. The city’s policies and politics over the past half-century should serve as a “do not” guide for policymakers across the country.
There’s a great deal lawmakers in Washington can learn. The first is understanding that Detroit’s demise was the result of big-government, liberal policies promoted by self-interested politicians and coercive public employee unions.
In the wake of America’s manufacturing decline, Detroit enacted policies that drove out businesses and residents. Rather than reduce the size of government as its population shrank, the city instead sought higher levels of government spending. City leaders acquiesced to unions by increasing employee benefits and ceding control and flexibility over employees.
To pay for it, Detroit continually increased taxes and engaged in prolific borrowing when the tax increases did not close the gap. And yet, despite the growth in government taxes and debt, Detroit’s citizens experienced ever-declining city services, the most troublesome result of which has arguably been the steep rise in crime.
A federal bailout of Detroit is not the answer.