Monday, August 19, 2013

Lessons from Starnsville — AKA Detroit

I’m not surprised the City of Detroit recently declared bankruptcy. The last time I was there about a year and a half ago for an automotive-related event, I was shocked at the 8-lane downtown streets — with no traffic on them. Downtown Detroit, all around the Renaissance Center and Cobo Hall was a virtual ghost town at noon on a Wednesday.

Detroit has always been the "Model City" for big-government. Since 1962, every single Detroit mayor has been a Democrat. It has the dubious distinction of being the place where if a big-government bad idea failed anywhere in America, it usually failed first in Detroit.

Detroit has an income tax that’s the third-highest of any big city in America. Is it any wonder two thirds of the population has moved out?

While Detroit’s automakers got billions from Obama in federal bailouts, in the case of GM, it was at the expense of stockholders and creditors. The main beneficiary of the bailout was the United Auto Workers union (UAW) and its pension fund — not the company itself. As part of the bailout, we taxpayers bought 17 percent of GM and handed it over to the UAW. Meanwhile, many stockholders who depended on dividends for retirement income saw their entire life savings wiped out. Many of the creditors were small Detroit-area businesses that went bankrupt because of GM’s government takeover. Where was the government bailout for those folks?

According to the Detroit News the City has 47 unions, and in 2011 employed just about twice as many people per capita as cities with comparable populations — including a “horseshoer” — even though it has no horses. Makes you wonder if Obama will bail out the city as well, since the UAW was the chief beneficiary of his original largesse.

Egotistical politicians believe they know what’s best for all of us, but refuse to understand their power doesn’t include changing the laws of economics — coupled with the fact too many of them are clueless about what those laws actually are. Constant government meddling, high minimum wages, easy to obtain welfare (Detroit has a huge radical Muslim population that has turned exploiting welfare into a science), coupled with bureaucratic, featherbedding union rules, are simply not the formula for success. But just like here in Washington, as long as unions support their re-election, those politicians turn a blind eye to the ongoing damage being done.

Meanwhile, a county judge wants to stop the bankruptcy on the grounds that Michigan state law forbids Detroit to cut government services. However, that judge has offered no plan for how Detroit is actually going to continue paying for those unsustainable public-sector pensions and support its bloated workforce. 

Democratic politicians have micromanaged the city into bankruptcy, and yet continue failing to address the root causes. As usual, those very “we know what’s best for you” politicians believe more of the same is the answer. They're proposing new taxpayer-funded stadiums, transportation mega-projects and other expensive "solutions." And if you criticize them, Democratic politicians like former Mayor Coleman Young will publicly call you a racist and a bigot. Young has been quoted as saying, “To attack Detroit is to attack black.” That tends to shut critics up, as they don’t want be condemned by the leftist lamestream media for simply speaking the truth.

I read where a member of Great Britain’s Parliament once compared Detroit to the fictional city of Starnesville in Ayn Rand’s prophetic 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged — an auto manufacturing city that became a ghost town after drifting into socialism. In Atlas Shrugged, Starnesville’s demise is the first clue the entire society is heading for collapse.

There is a huge lesson in Detroit for Washington State — if anyone is actually paying attention. Detroit is Starnesville. Meanwhile, Seattle’s buffoon Mayor Mike McGinn is trying to dictate private sector wage rates to gain a union re-election endorsement. He's threatened to use land-use rules to hold up construction of a Whole Foods grocery store — for no other reason than they’re non-union — unless they agree to pay union scale. That’s nothing more than a case of blatant Detroit-style Democratic Party abuse of political power in action.

Insulated from serious criticism by the lamestream media, as well as economic reality, buffoons like McGinn — and many of the Democrats in our state Legislature — fail to understand that the laws of economics still apply. If Democratic, Detroit-style thinking goes unchecked — and companies like Boeing continue to expand outside of Washington because of its onerous business climate that legislative Democrats seem determined to make worse — eventually Seattle will become Starnesville West. And as goes Seattle, so goes our state.