Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Death of a City

Detroit: Can it be saved? Matt Labash gives a tour of the wreckage. Time to send in the Marines? Long essay, but worth the reading.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Giuliani saved New York City, so Detroit can be saved. Whether it actually will be is altogether another question. But the city can be brought back, and made better than ever.

Detroit can be saved because Giuliani saved NYC? I'm not sure I follow...

What can be done for the Big Apple can be done for Detroit.

The problems aren't that dissimilar.

Whether it will be saved is very much in doubt, {I personally tend to think that Detroit is going down in flames...} but the city can be turned around.

It's just that Democrats aren't the ones that are up to it.

I grew up in Detroit and I witnessed first-hand the disintegration of Detroit starting in the mid-1960's through the early 1990's when I left the area for good.

Detroit can be saved, but it would require more than anyone is willing to admit, and more than anyone in Detroit is willing to allow.

By that I mean this -- the cancer at the very heart of Detroit is intentional racial divisiveness. Since the beginning of the Coleman Young administration in the early 1970's, power in Detroit politics has been maintained by setting up blacks as victims of white oppression, though in truth very little of that actually existed. But it was an effective political prop. Trouble is, it became part of the very soul of Detroit governance and remains to this day. The city of Detroit is utterly bankrupt, not merely financially but morally as well.

The only way to save it is this:


  • The city must be taken over by either the State of Michigan or the Federal authorities
  • Every single elected official and most administrators in that city must be removed from their office
  • A limited form of marshal law imposed
  • Vast stretches of the city must be bulldozed. A vacant lot is better than a rotting hull of a house.

Once the "Detroit of the Past" has been killed -- utterly destroyed -- then and only then can it begin to rebuild.

And that would require what will not come from current Detroit politics, or current Democrat politics ... a form of "enterprise zone" with low taxes, no unions, and a significantly reduced burden of entrenched bureaucracy.

My two cents.

I should add -- Kwame Kilpatrick's behavior and attitude was not at all surprising. It was, in fact, completely in keeping with the moral bankruptcy at the heart of Detroit, which I cited above.

The current Mayor of Detroit is no different. Wait and see.

Kilpatrick was simply doing what Detroit politicians do ... they feel it is their entitlement.

The city must be killed before it can be reborn.

I confess I find it hard to believe necessarily anonynmous's statement that "though in truth very little of that actually existed," mainly because the story of Detroit's black power politics, which I primarily know through Tamar Jacoby's excellent book Someone Else's House, is simply so shocking that I suspect that the treatment of blacks in Detroit had to have been extra bad, as things went in the North, to have elicited such vengeful voting and "governing." Maybe other Detroiters ex or existing can chime in on that. I take n.a.'s implicit claim to be that the mere potency of black-grievance politics, and not their basis in in any peculiarly Detroit grievances, is what caused things to become so bad so quickly. Nor do I agree with n.a.'s prescriptions, which seem more for rhetorical effect than offered as truly serious.

But yeah, while the Labash piece is good reporting, full honesty would have said outright that black power politics killed Detroit.

And yet it lives on...and n.a. might well be right that it has become an inherently dysfunctional city, so that our best hope for the people of Detroit is that most of them will be able to leave it.

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