Why isn’t Detroit a Paradise?

As a Michigan resident since 1993, Murdoc wonders the same thing. In Cicago Boyz:

In 1950, America produced 51% of the GNP for the entire world. Of that production, roughly 70% took place in the eight states surrounding the Great Lakes: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The productive capability of this small area of earth staggers the imagination. Virtually everything that rebuilt the industrial bases of Europe and Japan came from those eight states. Cars, planes, electronics, machine tools, consumer goods, generators, concrete – any conceivable item manufactured by industrial humanity poured out this tiny region and enriched the world. The region shone with widespread prosperity. People migrated from the South and West to work in these Herculean engines of industry.

The wealth, power and economic dominance of the region at the time cannot be overstated. Nothing like it has existed in human history.

Yet, a mere 30 years later, by 1980, we called that area the “rustbelt” and it became synonymous with joblessness, collapsing cities, high crime, failing schools and general hopelessness.

What the hell happened?

The main thrust of the article, of course, is that overly-powerful unions and economic policies like those espoused by Barack Obama spell unmitigated disaster, even for situations that appear to be unbeatable.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of visiting the Motor City, let me just tell you that it’s a pit. It is easily the dirtiest, dingiest, most depressing US city I’ve ever visited. And it’s not just the heart of the old downtown area that’s run down. It isn’t just a few old, poor neighborhoods that suffer. The bad times are virtually everywhere.

Also, Detroit barely noticed the economic heady days of the mid-90s and the decent days this decade. Even when gas was cheap and SUVs sold like hotcakes, even when the stock market was way, way up and the national unemployment rate was way, way down, Detroit remained a discouraging, despairing pit. And no one looked at SUVs and said “Wow, the Big Three are really making a comeback.”

Sure, it’s not all the fault of Democrats. I’ve said a number of times that I sure wish I could blame Michigan’s economic woes solely on Jennifer Granholm, but I don’t think anyone could fix Detroit. No one. Michigan’s economy has probably been hit as hard or harder than any other state’s by NAFTA-type business decisions, though moving jobs to Mexico makes as much sense as it does in part because of the onerous unions.

If things had been done a little differently in the 1960s and 1970s, I doubt that GM would be looking for (and failing to get) government help to merge with Chrysler.

The Detroit area votes overwhelmingly Democratic in every election. So overwhelmingly that, like in many other states, a few urban counties can solely determine which presidential candidate the state goes to or which senator goes to Capitol Hill. Detroit-area state politicians are almost always strong Democrats/Liberals and I doubt that many locals are what would be considered strongly Conservative.

Yet here an injured Michigan sits, with Detroit amounting to a festering wound that just won’t heal. And, as far as I can tell, we’re going to do it again.

Why isn’t Detroit a paradise? Because voters don’t want it to be. Look around. Michigan voters insist that things keep on keeping on. (via Instapundit)


  1. Gee wiz, who would have thought thuggish unionism, inept management, and the highest corporate taxes in the world would hurt business?

  2. Wit apologies to Coolio.

    ” ‘Been living all my life in this worker’s paradise.

    Windows broken up & down the street, and the folks here don’t have much to eat.

    But we make ro with beans & rice, living in this worker’s paradise.

    Obama says I won’t have to pay for gas, or my mortgage if I’ll just kiss his @ss.





    Been living all my life in Detroit ROCK CITY! paradise.

    got a ’40 & a fattie and my life is nice living in the worker’s paradise.

    An Obama fan, he be the man wit the plan, gonna grow our worker’s paradise!

    Free food & money, car & house that’s nice! Gotta love dis worker’s paradise!


    Remember, elections have consequences. Vote. Obama wants to remake America. Look how well his side has done so far. VOTE!

  3. Yea, between Big Labor being in goose lock step with the tax happy Dems in this state, and the free trade agreements giving Big Management a license to sell us out overseas…….it sure ain’t pretty. It tickles me what a big deal both Detroit papers make about all the movie biz coming to town to film, since the Governor and Detroit area made it good business sense to do business their. Think they’ll ever wake up and realise it might work for other types of business too. Nah! Didn’t think so.

  4. There are simple ways to bring back business to that area. Make it a right to work state (which will sadly never happen), lower the business tax rates to make them competitive with any other prosperous state, and either provide or encourage job retraining and placement. If the economic climate is conducive to business life, it will come all on its own. If the climate is poisoned against business, it will not. And it has been poisoned for thirty or so years. I know that’s all obvious to anyone that read your post, Murdoch, but it bears repeating in plain terms. The liberal mind reads that and thinks, “that’s not fair. Business should do the socially responsible thing and just pay more for labor and in taxes to to business here. They are the bad guys.” That mindset is so prevalent, and causes the problems that they say they want to solve. Ford and GM are not charities. If they can’t sell their product for more than they paid to produce it, they will cease to exist. The worker has as much at stake in the success of the company as the CEO. Strangling profit off by demanding unsustainable wages and benefits just screws everyone.

    Cue Obama “spreading the wealth around.” Some lessons just refuse to be learned.

  5. Toejam,

    Heh… Sadly, my day job (one of them, anyway) is as a musician.

    I play the blues a lot better. Seriously. 🙂

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