The 6/12/16 Detroit Free Press's witch doctors (editorial page) are still trying to convince the emperors in charge (government) to annex (loot) the suburbs in order to make Detroit prosperous again. This time it is staff writer John Gallagher's editorial "Detroit is smaller than El Paso. Wait, What?"
Mr Gallagher correctly points out that metropolitan Detroit's population in 1950 stood at 3 million while today it is at just over 4 million. "All of that growth occurred in the suburbs, while Detroit bled itself to feed the sprawl" he said.
Now what does he mean by 'bled itself'? Did Detroit build the suburban roads, bridges, hospitals, schools? No it didn't. So he must mean that Detroit bled itself of people. But how did that happen? Aside from the 1967 riots, the urban renewal fiasco (dubbed urban removal), the insane war on drugs, a hostile attitude towards business as such, several decades of neglect by police and fire caused by corrupt city governments, it's really not surprising growth preferred the suburbs. In a rights respecting nation though, people are free to move into or out of cities. So how did western cities not bleed themselves of people?
"Using annexation, Sun Belt cities captured most of their post-war growth. Cities like Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and yes El Paso, gobbled up their expanding suburban regions and made them part of their city proper, capturing the growing population and tax base."
It may be true that western cities were able to annex suburban land and Detroit could not. But in my view, so what? If a city can no longer afford to provide services whether directly or by annexation, then the morally proper thing to do is to stop offering them. Why force the population to put up with substandard services? When a school loses enough students it is closed down. When a business no longer has a product or service the public wants, it goes out of business.
You can't force nonexistent students into schools. A business cannot force customers into its doors. Only government with its legal monopoly on force can foist a failing infrastructure on citizens and force those citizens to pay for it. And only such a government can legally limit competition.
There is no reason cities like Detroit can't do what families and corporations do when facts call for it, downsize. Detroit should actually get smaller. Sell off outer parts of the City to surrounding suburbs. Sell or auction off city services to private or nonprofit entities.
But nowhere in Mr Gallagher's oped is there a call for privatizing or downsizing of any kind. This tooth and nail resistance to taking the responsibility for providing so-called infrastructure is proof again that providing infrastructure is not the goal, government control of it, is.
But let's look at other places that put quality services ahead of government control. Sandy Springs, Georgia is a city next to Atlanta that was facing bankruptcy a few years ago. It privatized all services except police, fire and some public schools. According to this Huffington Post article and 8 min video they have no long term debt. Since then 5 other nearby cities have adopted the Sandy Springs model. (I strongly urge Detroit and Flint city leaders to read this article and watch the video.)
In the summer of 2007 City Journal had a good article on "The New Privatization" about how more and more cities are making big bucks privatizing services.
I know Detroit and Flint are strong union cities and unions want nothing to do with any privatization. That will have to change eventually.
What has to be challenged today is the religious like devotion to the idea that government must be the one to provide infrastructure services instead of the market.