Sunday, June 23, 2013

Detroit - What Lessons?

"When people ask me why I moved from liberal to conservative, I have a one-word answer: Detroit."
"To get a feel for what this particular hell is like, you should read Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy. LeDuff is a reporter who left the New York Times for the Detroit News and left the News when an editor took all the good stuff out of a story on a local judge. He's now a reporter for Fox 2 and you can get an idea of his personal style by watching his clips on YouTube. Detroit is a personal story for him: he grew up in the not-affluent suburb of Westland (named after a shopping center, as he notes) with a divorced mother who ran a florist shop on the east side of Detroit but who couldn't keep her children from dire fates. A daughter who became a streetwalker and died violently left behind her own daughter who would overdose on heroin. Three of LeDuff's brothers are working at just-above-minimum-wage jobs or not working at all (one pulled out a tooth with pliers). Charlie was lucky. He went into "the most natural thing for a man with no real talent. Journalism.""

As I read this summary, I see how it illustrates everything forecast by "The Road to Serfdom." Central governments are unaccountable, don't have the information needed to apply tyranny to create good, and thus result in nightmare that is a city like Detroit.
But why didn't these things happen in every big city with too much government? Perhaps I could figure that out if I read the referenced book, which I may - though the prospect horrifies me.
My leading theory for now is that Detroit was built on a model of union tyranny that doomed the manufacturers to waste their time fighting unions when they could have been making better, less expensive cars that would have left them less vulnerable to competition from those world wide auto makers who understood what quality was.
One can also see how power corrupted, and how the poor pay more than the rich when politicians misbehave - the politicians all the while escaping blame for those who they've killed by their pretense of competence and compassion.

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