Lets talk about Detroit
Armstrong Williams | 8/22/2013, 11:07 a.m. | Updated on 8/22/2013, 11:07 a.m.
It is important to note that the government bailed out GM for years of terrible decisions—decisions that were strikingly similar to those made by Detroit’s city fathers. Year after year, they both made financial promises based on rosy assumptions of endless growth—promises that would ultimately be someone else’s problem some other day.
The left has said the city of Detroit should get the same federal bailout treatment. Another mulligan. So again, the rest of the country has to pay for the mistakes of a few profligate fools? Run your company into the ground? Here is your federal bailout. Run the economy into the ground? Here is your federal bailout. Run your city into the ground? Here is your federal bailout.
The problem with Detroit, with GM, with the banks and modern progressive thought can be boiled down to two issues: the lack of personal responsibility and focus on the present to the detriment of the future. A corporation has a responsibility not only to make money, but also to make the best decisions that ensure its long-term viability. Taking care of its workers is noble, but making commitments that cannot be kept dooms both the company and the employees. An employee’s paycheck exists only as long as the company survives. Economics is not some zero-sum game. Decisions have consequences.
Likewise, a government is responsible to its citizens. Making wild promises for votes does a disservice to all. Yet again and again, we allow politicians to do it. Even worse, we encourage groups to twist politicians’ arms to make those ill-conceived promises into inane policy. So yes, the right is correct that Democrats ran Detroit into the ground making selfish decisions. But they had an enabler. The true murderer of Detroit was the people. They elected glib politicians over serious managers. Those who were able, fled, leaving the results to the less fortunate masses. Those remaining kept doing what they always did and voted for more of the same. When other people’s money ran out, as it always does, the bread and circuses stopped.
The Tigers went through a terrible 15-year stretch, from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, bottoming out in 2003. But a smart management team, led by an owner willing to invest his own money in building for the future, led to a remarkable turnaround. I am not a fan of publicly funded stadiums; however, the Tigers’ owners financed 83 percent of Comerica Park themselves and the people of Detroit voted to fund the remaining 27 percent. This made the Tigers directly beholden to the voters. The Tigers’ organization responded by building an organization that its fans, players and employees could be proud of.
Imagine if government, for once, acted accordingly. Maybe then the Tigers would not be the only thing in Detroit worth cheering about.
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