Skip to comments.Democracy failed the Motor City
Posted on 08/01/2013 5:22:48 AM PDT by outpostinmass2
DETROIT In 1860, an uneasy Charles Darwin confided in a letter to a friend: I had no intention to write atheistically but I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars. What appalled him had fascinated entomologist William Kirby (1759-1850): The ichneumon insect inserts an egg in a caterpillar, and the larva hatched from the egg, he said, gnaws the inside of the caterpillar, and though at last it has devoured almost every part of it except the skin and intestines, carefully all this time avoids injuring the vital organs, as if aware that its own existence depends on that of the insect on which it preys!
Government employees unions living parasitically on Detroit have been less aware than ichneumon larvae. About them, and their collaborators in the political class, the question is: What. Were. They. Thinking? Well, how did Bernie Madoff or the Enron executives convince themselves their houses of cards would never collapse?
Here, where cattle could graze in vast swaths of this depopulated city, democracy ratified a double delusion: Magic would rescue the city (consult the Bible, the bit about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes), or Washington, D.C., would deem Detroit, as it recently did some banks and two of the three Detroit-based automobile companies, too big to fail. But Detroit failed long ago. And not even Washington, whose recklessness is almost limitless, is oblivious to the minefield of moral hazard it would stride into if it rescued this city and, then inevitably, others that are buckling beneath the weight of their cumulative follies. It is axiomatic: When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate.
This bedraggled citys decay poses no theological conundrum of the sort that troubled Darwin, but it does pose worrisome questions about the viability of democracy in jurisdictions where big government and its unionized employees collaborate in pillaging taxpayers. Self-government has failed in what once was Americas fourth-largest city, but is now smaller than Charlotte, N.C.
Detroit, which boomed during World War II when industrial America was the arsenal of democracy, died of democracy. Today, among the exculpatory alibis invoked to deflect blame from the political class and the docile voters who empowered it, is the myth that Detroit is simply a victim of de-industrialization. In 1950, however, Detroit and Chicago were comparable except Detroit was probably wealthier, as measured by per capita income. Chicago, too, lost manufacturing jobs, to the American South, to south of the border, to South Korea and elsewhere. But Chicago discerned the future and diversified. It is grimly ironic that Chicagos iconic street is Michigan Avenue.
Detroits population, which is 62 percent smaller than in 1950, has contracted less than the United Auto Workers membership, which was more than 1 million in 1950, and now is around 390,000. Auto industry executives, who often were invertebrate mediocrities, continually bought labor peace by mortgaging their companies futures in surrenders to union demands. Then city officials gave their employees who have 47 unions, including one for crossing guards pay scales comparable to those of autoworkers. Thus did private-sector decadence drive public-sector dysfunction government negotiating with government-employees unions that are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself to do what it wants to do: Grow.
Steven Rattner, who administered the bailout of part of the Detroit-based portion of Americas automobile industry, says apart from voting in elections, the 700,000 remaining residents of the Motor City are no more responsible for Detroits problems than were the victims of Hurricane Sandy for theirs. Congress, he says, should bail out Detroit because America is just as much about aiding those less fortunate as it is about personal responsibility.
There you have todays liberalism: Human agency, hence responsibility, is denied. Apart from the pesky matter of voting in elections apart from decades of voting to empower incompetents, scoundrels and criminals, and to mandate unionized rapacity no one is responsible for anything. Popular sovereignty is a chimera because impersonal forces akin to hurricanes are sovereign.
The restoration of Americas vitality depends on, among many other things, avoiding the bottomless sinkhole that would be created by the federal government rescuing one-party cities, and one-party states such as Illinois, from the consequences of unchecked power. Those consequences of such power incompetence, magical thinking, cynicism, and sometimes criminality are written in Detroits ruins.
Specifically, your desire to be an erudite thinker of ideas, and in your defense of the United States of America as a Constitutional Republic has been sorely lacking.
You appeared on TV and in columns and essays as a moderate "thinker" willing to appease. I've watched you and read from you for as long as I can remember and I'm sick and damned tired of your treatment of America's enemies (Obama and his ilk as a legitimate functioning government with America's best interests at heart.)
I don't really care what you have to say only to say you are not a voice for anyone - you are a voice for our opposition. These people are our enemies, and you fail to fight back like they are.
Democracies will always fail because responsibility shared is responsibility shunned.
Now that is a "Behavioral Insight".
Democracy is no guarantor of freedom and without economic freedom, you will not have prosperity.
The unions were given the power by the state to dictate to industry. In a normal balance of equal treatment, striking workers that demand too much are replaced, and workers that do not wish to join the union keep working. If they then attempt to intimidate or disrupt, they are arrested and charged.
Democracy without fair treatment under the law and respect for individuals is just mob rule.
100% dem rule. 100% black rule.
Democrats failed the Motor City, you moron! They ran out of other people's money!
There is no future for responsible states in staying in a country that would bail out Detroit when said country is almost $17 TRILLION in debt itself. Can you say “suicide”? There is no honor in going down with this ship.
There, fixed it.
Odd isn’t it. The party that preaches diversity the most is actually the party least likely to use it.
My take from this piece is that the people of Detroit voted for these leaders time and again, over decades. Detroit essentially is in this shape now because of past actions taken by these leaders.
George Will should know better, but then he’s always been an MSM lackey with an “R” after his name that they can parade out on Sundays under the pretense of a politically balanced approach to the issues of the day.
Do the so-called govt leaders in Detroit have any viable solutions? Nope—they are still all about taxing viable enterprise to kingdom come. How about letting investors buy the distressed property an not hit them with huge back tax burdens. Who wants to be ruled by morons and sucking leeches? So scrooge Mogadishu west and its lovefest with Rats. Be poor and stupid by willful choice and enjoy the ride.
I stopped taking Geo Will seriously when he helped Clintoon into office
America is following in the footsteps of Detroit.
Certainly we all have sympathy for the poor and the homeless and the needy, but when half of the country is the poor the homeless and the needy the other half cannot support them. America is importing more poor homeless and needy in illegal immigrants, hoping that they will do the work that our own subsidized poor ,homeless and needy refuse to do. Instead we are just adding to the numbers of poor Homeless and needy.
Management of the Big 3 American automakers knew what had to be done. Look back at the 1970s. What would have happened if the head of GM had sat down with the UAW and told them there were going to be cuts in wages and benefits in order for GM to remain competitive? Strike. Union goes to Democrat party. Democrat party goes to media. Media shows daily stories about starving union babies. GM management is called “Greedy baby-starvers” by media. GM capitulates and GM management is dismissed and branded as “baby starvers”. There was no Internet back then. There was no FOX News. It would have been the same results that we have now. The head people at GM knew how to war game the possibilities. There was no winning for the company as long as there was a Democrat party. What would you have done? Either way, the outcome is that The Big 3 automakers lose. Why not take the big bucks and hold on as long as you can? The Democrat party must be dismantled so that the nation can survive.
“Democracy” is a really stupid idea. It is especially moronic when people who pay no taxes and suffer no consequences for their actions get to vote.
BULLSHIITE!..... It was 'democracy' that doomed it from the beginning! Democracy is mob rule, pure and simple. They got what they deserve...............
Very well-stated, Gaffer. Thanks. I haven’t read anything by George Will in years. This article is a reminder why. I clicked on the heading because it was about the Motor City (I grew up in and around it). I was through a couple of paragraphs before I looked up to see who wrote it.
“Detroit, which boomed during World War II when industrial America was the arsenal of democracy, died of democracy.”
Detroit is a microcosm of - death by criminals/socialists and their collectives/gangs.
Need a bigger example?...
BIG GOVERNMENT IS CRONY SOCIALISM
DEFUND their collectives, foreign and domestic.
Will is wrong. “Democracy” didn’t fail Detroit. “Democracy” did what it always does. To expect otherwise is foolish [cf. Aesop re scorpions]. What has happened to Detroit is precisely why the Founders abhored “democracy” and favored a representative republic.
Democrcy didn’t fail the Motor City; Liberal/DemocRAT Idiocracy killed it.
“Democrcy didnt fail the Motor City; Liberal/DemocRAT Idiocracy killed it”
Isn’t that what the voter’s elected? Hence they voted for it, now live with it.
I thought it was a good article. He says that the Dems claim the people of Detroit aren’t responsible for the mess, because all they did was vote for the corrupt pols. However, he disagrees and says that you can’t deny human responsibility for the situation and make it sound like some kind of impersonal force like a hurricane. They voted again and again for corruption and mismanagement and tolerated it because Detroit is a one -party town, and he doesn’t think the rest of us should be asked to bail out these many dysfunctional Democrat towns and cities that are collapsing under the weight of their own corruption.
One thing that no one mentions about the elections in Detroit is that the ballot is nonpartisan. “Democrat” could be right wing for some of these people.
I tend to agree with you. This is a danger of democracy. I have heard it defined as two foxes and a chicken voting on what to have for dinner...
I am now reading “Detroit: An American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff, late reporter of the Detroit News and now at FOX.
Fast-paced horror stories full of vulgarities. I’m half way through, but what really epitomized Detroit’s fall to me was when he described the plight of the firemen. Fighting the interminalable fires with worn out equipment, coming back to the station to find the food they were eating when the alarm sounded was stolen from the mess hall, as well as the appliances and one of the guy’s pickup trucks.
They couldn’t slide down the brass poles (they still use them?) as the city sold them for scrap. The fire alarms didn’t work but the fax telling them where the fire was did, so some ingenious guy, using a door hinge, a length of wire and a screw, hooked up the fax to the alarm so it would ring.
I’m at the point where he’s describing the antics of the politicians who ran the city - mostly black. If you think you’ve heard/seen it all - you haven’t.