Detroit used to be such a nice place. In the 1950s, it was a vibrant, bustling city. The richest, on a per capita basis, in the nation. The fourth largest of all the great American urban centers and the home of the American automotive industry. A city of arts and science and the sounds of Motown. A city of tourism and renowned sports teams.
But today, according to most reports, Detroit is either dying or already dead. They just haven’t turned off the monitor yet. Unemployment in November was 11.9% (BLS Economic News Release). The combined obligations of the city to unions, pension funds, and vendors is forcing the State of Michigan to impose plans for a managed bankruptcy and the population has dropped over the last decade from more than $1 million to less than 700,000. The ship is sinking, and those who can are leaving to avoid being sucked under.
In a story by Al Hajal with MLive, the economic picture is even more bleak for those citizens that remain, with a median income for Detroit residents that is less than half the national median ($25,193 vs. $50,502). Detroit families are living in poverty at a rate more than three times higher than the national average (35.5% vs. 11.7%), and children in Detroit are living in poverty at rates more than twice the national average (57.3% vs 22.5%).
And, as if that wasn’t enough, Detroit was listed by Forbes as the most dangerous city in the United States in 2012. In fact, the level of crime is so bad that a poll by the Detroit News in October of this year showed that more than 40% of residents plan to leave in the next five years, if they can.
So, what is the reason for such a dramatic, and possibly fatal, collapse of Detroit’s fortunes.
The simple answer is Democratic governance and imposition of the progressive social agenda in the inhabitants of Detroit.
Starting in 1962, Detroit has had an unbroken string of Democratic mayors that implemented the full spectrum of progressive social and business policies and politics. Public employee unions were fostered and allowed to raid the public purse with exorbitant wages, gold-plated retirement programs, and efficiency-strangling work rules and requirements. The favorable climate for Democrat-supported private unions raised business costs and drove the mainstay of the Detroit industrial community, the automobile industries, to the South where right-to-work rules and lower taxes made it possible to remain in business.
At the same time that progressive politics were destroying the business community and tax base, progressives turned the Detroit public school system into a wretched cesspool of drugs, violence, and failure. With the full backing of the National Education Association, progressive politicians turned a school system where America’s elite used to send their children into one offering nothing but economic enslavement. Today, according to a U.S. Department of Education report, only 7% of Detroit 8th grade students can read at grade level. All but a handful of Detroit public school system students are functionally unemployable and doomed to a lifetime of government dependency.
But the danger doesn’t stop in the classroom. Democratic mayors implemented the full panoply of progressive social policies on crime and crime control. As a result, for students, the trip to school can be fatal. In the Denby High School area alone, in 2011, more than 1,000 students were robbed, sexually assaulted or raped, beaten, or killed. And, as noted above, those who survive school and stay in Detroit live in what is considered to be the most dangerous city in the nation.
Fifty years of Democratic rule and progressive social experimentation have dragged Detroit from its pinnacle as one of America’s great urban centers into a dying war zone where citizens tread in fear, government can’t afford to collect trash or criminals, and where the children are forced into a future of economic enslavement and government dependency.
And what is really frightening is that the policies, programs, and attitudes that destroyed Detroit have now been adopted in Washington and the fate of Detroit may soon be what befalls us all.