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Detroit and the End of ‘Big Unit America’ (Michael Barone)
National Review Online ^ | June 3, 2013 | Michael Barone

Posted on 06/03/2013 10:10:02 AM PDT by neverdem

The Motor City shows that the era of big government, big labor, and big business is long gone.

Detroit, once one of the nation’s most vibrant cities, faces imminent bankruptcy. That’s the headline from the report last month of emergency fiscal manager Kevyn Orr, issued 45 days after he was appointed this spring by Michigan governor Rick Snyder to take over the city’s government.

“The path Detroit has followed for more than 40 years is unsustainable,” Orr said. “And only a complete restructuring of the city’s finances and operations will allow Detroit to regain its footing and return to a path of prosperity.”

The police department, his report says, “is in disarray.” Nearly one-quarter of fire-department operations could be “largely inoperational” on any given day. The city-owned electric grid “has been a disaster,” and the city’s water system, which serves a region with 4 million people, “has a history of dysfunction.” The city’s 78,000 vacant structures and 60,000 vacant land parcels “present an ongoing public-safety and public-health concern.”

It’s a tragic situation that one could regard as merely the fault of corrupt public officials. The most recent former mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, has gone to prison. So has former City Council president pro tem Monica Conyers, the wife of Representative John Conyers (who has been in Congress for 48 years).

But Detroit’s problems are more fundamental. Detroit is an extreme case, but similar problems afflict many of our central cities.

As it happens, I was, in some small sense, present at the creation. I grew up in Detroit and in affluent suburban Birmingham, and in the summer of 1967, I was an intern in the office of Detroit’s liberal mayor, Jerome P. Cavanagh. That was the summer of Detroit’s six-day riot, in which 40 people were killed. Part of the time, I found myself in the misnamed “command center” with the mayor and Governor George Romney.

In my childhood, Detroit was proud of being the fifth-largest American city, the center of the auto industry, and the home of Hudson’s, the nation’s second-largest department store. Detroit’s inventors, entrepreneurs, and financiers made it the second-fastest-growing city from 1900 to 1930, behind only Los Angeles, which started off much smaller. Newcomers poured in from eastern and southern Europe, from the farmlands of the Midwest and Ontario, from the hills of Appalachia and the Black Belt of Alabama to work in the factories.

Detroit was the prime example of what I have called “Big Unit America,” in which the heads of large organizations — big business, big labor, big government — made the big decisions and hundreds of thousands of people below them, small cogs in a very large machine, carried them out.

For a time, Big Unit America seemed to work splendidly. The Big Three automakers, with some cooperation from the United Auto Workers and at the behest of big government, made Detroit “the arsenal of democracy.” Arthur Herman tells the story in his most recent book, Freedom’s Forge.

The big units’ prestige lasted for a generation after World War II. General Motors’ president was Time’s man of the year in 1955. John Kenneth Galbraith’s 1967 book, The New Industrial State, argued that big automakers could manipulate demand through advertising and should share more of their inevitable profits with union members and the government.

That was just about the time the big units started to sputter. Detroit’s leaders didn’t notice. White flight to the suburbs accelerated after the 1967 riot, and in 1973 Detroit elected its first black mayor, Coleman Young — smart, charming, politically shrewd.

But his 20 years in office were disastrous for the city. He ended what he considered police brutality, and crime rates soared. There were hundreds of arsons every year on Devil’s Night, October 30. Young relied on big units for economic growth. Big government paid for projects such as the People Mover, which moved few people. The city condemned one of its few viable neighborhoods to make way for a General Motors plant. Unions developed a stranglehold on city finances.

Numbers tell the story. In 1950, there were 1,849,568 people in Detroit. In 2010, there were 713,777. White flight was followed by black flight; there were fewer black residents in 2010 than there were 20 years before. General Motors and Chrysler were forced into bankruptcy in 2009, and Hudson’s downtown store was demolished in 1998.

Now Detroit has ineffective public services and overwhelming public obligations. Bankruptcy looms. The “big unit” model doesn’t work anymore.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor, and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. © 2013 The Washington Examiner


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: colemandung; colemanyoung; detroit; michigan

1 posted on 06/03/2013 10:10:02 AM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Eh heh heh heh....big unit.


2 posted on 06/03/2013 10:14:41 AM PDT by YourAdHere (Why is Hillary Getting Fatter?)
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To: Springman; cyclotic; netmilsmom; RatsDawg; PGalt; FreedomHammer; queenkathy; madison10; ...
The city has a free market future that doesn't rely on the big 3. One big advantage is the fact that private companies can compete with the city to provide services.

 photo MIPing_zps6ed55a1c.jpg

Michigan legislative action thread
3 posted on 06/03/2013 10:15:15 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: neverdem

I wouldn’t look for it to get any better as long as they elect Democrats to run it.


4 posted on 06/03/2013 10:15:17 AM PDT by Venturer
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: neverdem

Democrats want big government, big labor and the way they get it is by kissing big crony corporate a$$. Detroit is one of many cities that are reaping the rewards of democratic party politics.


6 posted on 06/03/2013 10:20:02 AM PDT by ThomasMore (Islam is the Whore of Babylon!)
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To: neverdem

Detroit. 97% Democrat. Literally.


7 posted on 06/03/2013 10:21:21 AM PDT by Darren McCarty (Abortion - legalized murder for convenience)
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To: neverdem

They should film a Godzilla movie in d-town.


8 posted on 06/03/2013 10:24:28 AM PDT by Impy (All in favor of Harry Reid meeting Mr. Mayhem?)
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To: neverdem
The parasites got greedy and killed the golden goose.

In the 1960’s Detroit had by far the highest household income, home ownership, automobile ownership, personal wealth and income of any city in the world. Then the liberal democrats took over and tried to steal the results of other people's hard work. The Democrats encouraged the criminals and the thieves and ruined everything. Then they declared themselves victims and demanded more free handouts.

9 posted on 06/03/2013 10:28:21 AM PDT by detective
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To: Impy

” They should film a Godzilla movie in d-town.”

It would have an X rating.


10 posted on 06/03/2013 10:29:25 AM PDT by stephenjohnbanker
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To: stephenjohnbanker

Actually Godzilla would probably get sad and just leave.

Or wonder who beat him to the punch and trashed the place.


11 posted on 06/03/2013 10:30:55 AM PDT by Impy (All in favor of Harry Reid meeting Mr. Mayhem?)
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To: neverdem

Won’t read Barone’s articles. He is the quintessential RINO.


12 posted on 06/03/2013 10:31:48 AM PDT by fwdude ( You cannot compromise with that which you must defeat.)
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To: neverdem
The Motor City shows that the era of big government, big labor, and big business is long gone.

Its not gone. It was moved to Red China.


13 posted on 06/03/2013 10:49:58 AM PDT by Count of Monte Fisto
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To: Impy

Godzilla would be afraid to go there........


14 posted on 06/03/2013 10:50:47 AM PDT by Red Badger (Want to be surprised? Google your own name......Want to have fun? Google your friend's names........)
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To: Impy
They should film a Godzilla movie in d-town.

What's there to ruin? Where's the fun in that?

15 posted on 06/03/2013 10:52:06 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (An economy is not a zero-sum game, but politics usually is.)
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To: detective
In the 1960’s Detroit had by far the highest household income, home ownership, automobile ownership, personal wealth and income of any city in the world. Then the liberal democrats took over and tried to steal the results of other people's hard work.

A microcosm of the "Fundamental Change" that awaits the rest of America under Obama.

16 posted on 06/03/2013 11:17:43 AM PDT by Art in Idaho (Conservatism is the only Hope for Western Civilization.)
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To: fwdude
Won’t read Barone’s articles. He is the quintessential RINO.

Suit yourself. I can see why some think that way. He's way too smart to ignore, IMHO. Are you aware that he wants the USA's immigration system to use the Canadian and Australian models, i.e. we just take those with high skills and plenty of money?

17 posted on 06/03/2013 11:17:56 AM PDT by neverdem (Register pressure cookers! /s)
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To: neverdem

Threads about Detroit are not something FR should be proud of anyway. Self Righteous ignorance seems to be a proud standard of FReepers when speaking of Detroit.

Things are changing in Detroit a great deal due to GOP control of the state but sadly some just can’t bear the thought of losing a favorite whipping boy when plenty of others are far more worthy of the “honor”.

Conservatives should be builders, not bitchers and Detroit provides the best opportunity to prove it that we’re gonna get.


18 posted on 06/03/2013 11:38:11 AM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: fwdude; neverdem

Michael Barone’s more of a conservative Democrat, but whatever.

Barone knows more about U.S. politics than anyone else alive. Ignoring him won’t make you any smarter, or wiser.


19 posted on 06/03/2013 12:07:16 PM PDT by AuH2ORepublican (If a politician won't protect innocent babies, what makes you think that he'll defend your rights?)
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To: neverdem
For a time, Big Unit America seemed to work splendidly. The Big Three automakers, with some cooperation from the United Auto Workers and at the behest of big government, made Detroit “the arsenal of democracy.” Arthur Herman tells the story in his most recent book, Freedom’s Forge.
While Detroit is certainly important in Freedom”s Forge, the book is actually about the national effort to produce for the British war effort and simultaneously prepare for American direct participation in WWII. The effort to help Britain before Pearl Harbor is the explanation for the fact that the US military was so ill-equipped in December, 1941 - and the effort to lay the groundwork for all-out production which had gone on concurrently and was essentially complete at that time explains why US production of war materiel was far greater than any other country’s. That effort included taking the New Deal boot at least partially off of the neck of American corporations, which is the real reason that the Depression ended. I found the book to be fascinating.

20 posted on 06/03/2013 1:45:56 PM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (“Liberalism” is a conspiracy against the public by wire-service journalism.)
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To: Count of Monte Fisto
Shanghai good!

Communism good!

Communism answer to problem in Detroit!

21 posted on 06/03/2013 2:59:14 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (This space for rent)
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To: fwdude
Won’t read Barone’s articles. He is the quintessential RINO.

Well, do as you wish. You're missing some smart analysis.

22 posted on 06/03/2013 3:57:39 PM PDT by BfloGuy (Don't try to explain yourself to liberals; you're not the jackass-whisperer.)
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To: Carry_Okie

That’s the point, he could smash some empty buildings without killing anyone. ;p


23 posted on 06/05/2013 9:29:19 PM PDT by Impy (All in favor of Harry Reid meeting Mr. Mayhem?)
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To: Hot Tabasco

China isn’t communist, it’s totalitarian. Big difference. There economy is not centrally planned.


24 posted on 06/05/2013 9:34:38 PM PDT by RinaseaofDs
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To: neverdem; cripplecreek; Perdogg; AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ..

Thanks neverdem.


25 posted on 06/07/2013 8:58:36 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (McCain would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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