Aug. 5, 2019

What hurt Detroit? (Hint: It wasn't hard work or capital)

By Edward Pozzuoli

It’s said that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality.

So it is both fitting and appropriate that the next round of presidential debates is taking place in Detroit, which has been assaulted with the real-world consequences of two generations of liberal Democratic rhetoric and misrule.

The Motor City hasn’t had a Republican mayor in my lifetime – the last one left office in 1962, months before I was born. And what is the resulting reality of decades of Democratic rule?

A population drop from 1.8 million in 1950 to around 700,000 now – with entire neighborhoods of abandoned homes simply being leveled to combat urban blight (by one estimate some 30,000 remain). A bankruptcy declaration in 2013 under the weight of at least $18 billion in debt – with half from worker-related liabilities such as pensions. The second highest violent crime rate in the U.S.

One often overlooked factor for Detroit’s demise, per Michael LaFaive of the Mackinac Public Policy Center, was “making capital unwelcome” via high taxes, overregulation, unresponsive services – and just plain corruption.

Hmm. Other than the last item, this list sounds vaguely familiar to the pie-in-the-sky, disconnected-from-reality progressive “solutions” now being offered as campaign platforms by the Democratic White House wannabes.

Take Bernie Sanders’ $15 minimum wage, which – oops! – blew up in his face when it was demanded by his own campaign workers, who got their wish only when the candidate cut their hours. Did Sanders learn from his experience? No, he has doubled down instead.

Small business owners beware. Just like Bernie Sanders campaign, $15 minimum wage has caused a less productive workforce and less employment opportunity for those who need it most. Look at the impacts to small business and employment opportunities in places like Seattle.

Take also Elizabeth Warren’s plan to give away more than a trillion to repay student loans – a concept that’s already breeding resentment among people who’ve worked hard for many years to pay their debts, and that would encourage bloated university administrations to keep overcharging for an under-delivering education. Freedom of contract comes with responsibility. Even the New York Times has warned of unintended consequences of wiping away $640 billion of debt as a straight pandering giveaway.

Or the apology campaign of Joe Biden repudiating almost everything he’s ever stood for in 50 years of politics. In today’s environment, Biden has even backed away from the Obama administration’s position on immigration and deportations (which is remarkably similar to the current position of the Trump administration).

And how about pretty much the entire Democratic field saying they would open our borders to illegal immigrants while offering them free health care – insane notions that are going over like lead balloons among voters?

Most troubling of all is the crazy turn that the Democratic Party has made towards full on socialism.

American ideals such as hard work, personal responsibility, upholding the rule of law or decency and civility in political discourse (a lesson that, admittedly, knows no party boundary) have now been absolutely abandoned by the left. I doubt we will hear from candidates on the debate stage about the enduring principles of the “melting pot” or respect of our shared ideals as Americans represented by our Constitution, our flag and our freedoms.

Most important, will there be a commitment to JFK’s axiom that a “rising tide” – of capital-driven growth – will “lift all boats” out of poverty and despair into prosperity and hope? It’s that kind of hope that is beginning to revitalize Detroit – not via the stifling heavy hand of 57 years of Democratic government, but on the wings of committed private investors, entrepreneurs and local small business.

On the crowded debate platform in Southeast Michigan, can the candidates make room for timeless ideals that have propelled America? Or will they continue to careen left into an abyss – setting the stage to be mugged by the reality of electoral disaster in 2020?

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