Skip to comments.Remake Detroit, or Empty It
Posted on 07/22/2013 7:36:25 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
If Detroit were its own city-state a bizarro version of prosperous Singapore it would be a place the U.S. State Department would regularly issue travel warnings about, where long-term, protracted conditions make a country dangerous or unstable. Detroits murder rate, for instance, would be higher than that of all but a handful of other countries. The Democratic Republic of Detroit would also be relatively poor, with annual per capita income of around $15,000, making it a middle-income country like Mexico.
Except Detroit would be a nation in decline rather than on the rise. Detroit would be a nation literally dying off, its shrinking population abandoning territory the central government could no longer afford to supply with basic services. Oh, yeah, its disastrous public finances. Well, maybe those would be a minor bright spot in this alternate reality: Detroit could always pay creditors, at least for a while, with devalued Fords, the local currency named after one of its founding fathers.
Eventually, however, this shrunken, crime-ridden, impoverished city-state with no one willing to bail it out might be forced to make a choice: capitalism or collapse. Out of options, it might just make the China choice. A key part of Deng Xiaopings pro-market economic reforms in 1979 was the creation of four Hong Konginspired special economic zones of liberalized labor laws and tax incentives to attract foreign investment. One of these little pockets of economic freedom, Shenzhen, located just north of Hong Kong itself, is now a center for technology manufacturing and one of Chinas richest cities. The stunning success of Chinas economic experiment showed economist Paul Romer how better rules and institutions could work wonders for economic growth. Romer has proposed that developing nations allow the creation of charter cities, where the host nation would provide a large, uninhabited piece of land to be governed by market-friendly rules and perhaps run by a foreign government. Workers, businesses, and investors from anywhere could move in and out freely. Basically, Hong Kong in a box, ready for delivery. For example, instead of giving foreign aid to some poor African nation such as Mauritania, New Zealand and Norway might partner together to run a charter city there. With good governance in place and cheap land and labor available, the theory goes, private investment would pour in.
Although Romers concept remains just a fascinating thought experiment a deal with Honduras fell through in 2012 and was intended for what used to be called Third World nations, why not turn abandoned Detroit into New Detroit, a business-friendly charter city where taxes are low and regulation light? Governance could be guaranteed by some outside entity. Although neighboring, well-run Canada is an obvious choice, maybe an American city could play the role in exchange for a cut of future tax revenue. Reason Foundation analyst Shikha Dalmia suggests Houston as a candidate.
All this may sound like it could be the plot from next years remake of the 1987 film Robocop, in which a bankrupt Detroit sells itself to a private company with plans to transform the city into an enclave for the 1 percent. But no one would be forced to live (or invest or create jobs) in New Detroit. As Romer said in a TED speech addressing criticism that charter cities are a neo-colonialist plot, This model is all about choices, both for leaders and for the people who will live in these new places. And choice is the antidote to coercion and condescension.
And whats the alternative? A decaying urban core surrounded by reclaimed farmland? As Edward Glaeser documents in Triumph of the City, Detroit spent decades trying to counter the decline of the auto industry by building things a monorail, sports arenas, office complexes rather than trying to attract smart, wealthy, entrepreneurial people.
If Detroit cant fix itself, maybe Washington could help, with an idea proposed by economist Enrico Moretti, author of The New Geography of Jobs: People living in areas of high unemployment, such as the Motor City, could receive part of their unemployment check in the form of a relocation voucher. The idea might even inspire a film, Escape from Detroit.
James Pethokoukis, a columnist, blogs for the American Enterprise Institute.
Personally speaking, because I live near there, I think the only way this city will ever reemerge as a great city is if the people in the surrounding counties Oakland, Macomb and the wealthier side of Wayne come down there en masse and clean it up. This could be the biggest bon fire in history. Then they would have to hire a legitimate Police and Fire Department and start to rebuild and move down there again.
“If Detroit cant fix itself, maybe Washington could help...”
The last thing Detroit needs is for the idiots and morons that populate DC to get involved. That’s the kiss of death for certain in Detroit’s case.
Give them a couple more years of “Hell Nights” and there won’t be anything left anyway... Free urban blight remedy...
Most are sitting around, waiting for the government to do everything for them. The ones that would be desirable additions have already punched out of that buring wreck known as Detroit!
The problem is the residents of the city would elect to govern it whoever promised that they could live free off someone else.
A population of lazy illiterates means the city can't be fixed until the residents are gone.
“maybe an American city could play the role in exchange for a cut of future tax revenue. Reason Foundation analyst Shikha Dalmia suggests Houston as a candidate.”
In my opinion, Houston is prosperous in spite of its city government, not because of it. With the right mayor, city council members and city department heads, we could do so much better.
The unions, too.
And it goes without saying, the Liberal corrupt politicians also...
Absolutely. It'd have to be an insular, independent entity that wouldn't have to answer to the city's corrupt, ineffective "leadership."
Bulldoze the whole works and build a mountain out of the rubble.
Is it racist to even ask that question?
It’s called the Commonwealth of Belle Island.
About 25 years ago, I worked in the ghetto houses for a company that did weatherization rehab work. It was apparent than the 25 years of neglect had destroyed the structure of most of the homes I worked on. 25 years of neglect later results in a 100% loss rate of these structures.
My solution is to make large parts of Detroit No-Go zones. Turn off all services and make the tenants move out. (there are almost no owner occupied dwellings in the city.
Then, rent out the area to SWAT, Nation Guard, military, fire departments, Coast Guard etc. for whatever urban assault or rescue training they desire. If you get caught in the crossfire, bummer because you were in a no-go zone. The millions of dollars raised from rent would go toward cleaning up the torn up buildings and removing all the infrastructure, including the sewers for a fresh start.
The problem with nuking Detroit are several including but not limited to radioactive fallout , nukes are very noisy & tend to alarm the neighbors needlessly , nukes are also expensive .
It would be cheaper to find a group of teenage firebugs & give them a gallon can of gasoline & a book of matches along with instructions that they can down structures in a given area that has had fire breaks bulldozed around it. this is a more methodical method & cheaper to.
IIRC the City of Detroit made just such an offer to the DoD & the military said NO the reason why ? The military would be on the hook for all the injuries incurred by training in this dump on a regular basis & the cost of that & repairing equipment damaged /destroyed would be prohibitive.
Well, it WAS sarcasm. We could always go for the solution currently in the news: send contractors to the wrong address, and have them raze the building.
Several hundred thousand times. I’m sure we could break 80-90K buildings gone before ANYONE would notice. . . (evil grin)
So what kind of 'liberalized labor laws' is the author suggesting?
None of us own Detroit a dime.
If Detroit’s bailed out it sends a message to every other corrupt city that they can continue buying votes with ‘great union contracts’ and skimming off the top - BECAUSE when it all goes down some guilty white fool will step in to make it all better.
That’s what’s called a perverse incentive - an incentive that will turn one city after another into a hellhole... and make fools of people running cities in honest ways.
God, can we be this stupid?
Why on earth would we want to move the citizens of Detroit someplace else?
Why would they want to move?
The only reason I can see is that Detroit gangs are falling on hard times - not much left to steal. Most homes have been stripped of anything that can be sold - copper, appliances, etc. - not much 'loot' left. Yeah, that's sad for the criminals but no one's starving in Detroit. And they're living the way they created for themselves.
So we have to assume that's how they like to live. We need to quit imposing 'white' standards on these people. Detroit WAS a beautiful city by white standards. Now it's a beautiful city by black standards... Whites created the white 'beauty' and blacks created the black 'beauty' of the city. Who are we to judge?
I’ve suggested this already. Create a greenline separating the city into socialist and capitalist sides, just like Berlin or N Korea and South Korea. Pick the measures and measure them in year 1, 3, 7 and 10.
Whichever side wins, go national!