Don't let this happen in Arkansas
David Overy guest writes for today’s post. He recently went for a visit to the Detroit, Michigan area and writes about the downturns of that city and what we should all hope doesn’t befall any towns or cities here at home.
As fall rolls in, the people of Detroit will be hanging up their short-sleeve shirts and be bringing out their sweaters to prepare for the colder weather. A common sweater one sees around Detroit, all black, with the front in white lettering says, “Detroit vs. Everyone,” which symbolizes the attitude around the city. Similar to Arkansas, outsiders in Detroit don’t come into town and change traditions and the people of the city take pride in getting a job done with their own two hands. Faced with $18 billion in debt, bankruptcy, and a city under the control of emergency financial planner, Kevin Orr, the harsh winter will have an extra bite for Detroit this year.
Life does not look very optimistic in a city that had a population of 1,849,568 in 1950 and is now barley 713,777 and where property value has fallen by over 77% in the past 50 years. Let’s start with just a quick review about how Detroit reached its financial crisis. Detroit has suffered from many different problems, but none as larger as corruption in the city government and wasteful spending. In 2001, Detroit elected a local native, Kwame Kilpatrick, into office as Mayor who is now facing 20+ years in federal prison; Kilpatrick put Detroit $2.8 billion in debt while restructuring the pension fund and hosting parties at his luxurious mansion. Moreover, the city had increased spending on health care by 46% during his time as Mayor, too. The story of spending never stops, Detroit is filled with wasteful spending which are destroying the foundations of hard work the city was built upon. Dreams to prosper are being crushed by poor leadership who refuse to give liberty and freedom of choice to the people who take pride in taking care of themselves. Now, I don’t know about you, but I was raised to believe that I was born in a country where I could achieve my dreams if I was willing to put the work into making them come true. No one ever said that the most likely thing to hinder someone from achieving those dreams would be paying taxes and paying for licenses to an organization that hurts a business and a community’s prosperity more often than it helps.
So why shouldn’t Detroit pay higher taxes to cover their costs and pay for more programs? Well, Detroit has the highest property and income tax in the state and the city has hit a 60-year low in tax revenue and when Detroit does collect a lot of money in tax revenue, they go and spend $1.9 billion of it on bonuses for city council members. Higher taxes have not created prosperity in Detroit, they have hindered progress. These taxes have left the people of the city with no money and no program to help them. The taxes have stopped businesses from coming into Detroit which have hurt the jobs and the pride of the hard workers who live there.
The city of Detroit and the people are facing a crisis with bankruptcy that will impact the future of the city. However, it is often overlooked that the city has been given a fresh start to create a community that is free to economically prosper. Companies like Compuware have taken advantage of the cheap property and have revitalized parts of Detroit like its riverfront. The entrepreneur attitude of Detroit can save it. The people are waiting to be free to start their own businesses and take ownership of their own communities. Bureaucratic burdens have hurt the city and left many dependent on state services. Once the people are economically free, the city of Detroit will flourish at a rate our country has never seen. The people are ready to reap the rewards from the work they did with their own hands, it’s time that taxes are reduced and people are free to keep and use their money to take back ownership of their city.