Detroit has been de facto bankrupt for a very long time and yesterday it became de jure bankrupt with a Chapter 9 bankruptcy for the former Motor City. Hard to believe that during World War II Detroit was the heart of the American industrial machine that produced more military equipment than the rest of the world combined. How did the city that helped this nation win a world war end up looking like one of the bombed out cities of Europe circa 1945? There are many culprits involved but W.R. Mead at his blog Via Meadia knows who the chief villians are:
Detroit has been spending on average $100 million more than it has taken in for each of the past five years. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners, who are slated to receive less than 10 percent of what they were promised. Between 2007 and 2011, an astounding 36 percent of residents lived below the poverty line. Last year, the FBI cited Detroit as having the highest violent crime rate for any major American city. In the first 12 years of the new century, Detroit lost more than 26 percent of its population.
Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate.