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)