There are signs, however, that the city’s government has seen the light. “Our role is to support. And sometimes, our role is just to get out of the way,” Karla Henderson told National Review. Henderson heads up Mayor Dave Bing’s efforts to remove urban blight by helping people “navigate around some of these government bureaucracies that are sitting in the way.”
Detroit also needs to get a handle on crime. With all the empty buildings, arsonists strike more often in Detroit than anywhere, with more than 10,000 fires per year reported. Forbes magazine has named Detroit the most dangerous city for four straight years. Its murder rate is one of nations the highest. And in 2012, the city’s crime rate hit its highest level in 20 years.
Help may be on the way, though, following some common sense political reforms.
In a statewide election in Michigan last year, voters soundly defeated Proposal 2, a measure that would have made union collective bargaining a right and given collective bargaining agreements the force of law. Voters shot down the union-backed measure 58-42 percent.
Then in December, the Michigan legislature struck a blow for workers’ rights. It passed a bill to become the nation’s 24th right-to-work state. This simply means that workers will no longer be forced to join a union, though they remain free to do so.
It’s possible that free-marketers will eventually rebuild on the ruins of Detroit. For now, though, it serves as a cautionary tale. Even a city with everything going for it can collapse under the weight of bad economic policies. The rest of us must learn from Detroit, not repeat its mistakes at the national level.