Abandoned Packard Plant in Detroit

Failing Cities: A Legacy of Big, Centralized Government

A continuing series of discussions of Mark Levin’s new book,
The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic

(Discussion #15 – Our Cities: The Real Misery Index)

Almost anyone can tell you things are bad in Detroit. It’s Internet Common Knowledge. Most people today probably assume that things have always been bad in Detroit. (Given the quality of journalism, who could blame them?) However, few people outside of Michigan were ever aware of the greatness of the Motor City prior to the race riots of the late sixties. Not many Americans outside of the industrial Midwest knew how wealthy auto workers were, compared to the rest of the labor force. Very few people today have actual memories of how vibrant and thriving was the center of industry we called the Motor City.

It was a “deal” of Bidenesque proportion.

During the first few decades after the riots, Detroit fell into in a long spiral of corruption, short-sighted business practices, population exodus, and grinding social unrest. As our major industries gave up their competitive edge in consumer electronics and autos (causing job losses and store closures) the money flowing into municipal, county, and state coffers dried up. Instead of mayors, responsible council members and administrators paring down expenses to the very essentials—as a business or family would do—the grievance hustlers stepped in, galvanized political action based on the pretense that everyone living in Detroit was due the same sort of life as the city provided when times were booming. The game became one of funneling American taxpayer money into the cities to help achieve that dream.

It’s ever only a dream, of course; taxpayer money sent into those cities lands where the politically powerful can dole it out to buy votes and maintain power. In other words, it rarely does much for the city or its residents.

With each successful application of a Grievance Hustle, a connected politician manages to bring federal and state funds to the region. The grievance hustler of record poses for a photo op with the politician and the requisite poster child to show the taxpayers something seems to be getting done. Meanwhile more buildings are abandoned, more infrastructure crumbles, and crime rates continue to climb. This is what happens when the most significant money is controlled by central planners.

When GM, Ford, and Chrysler paid a lot of people high wages, those people each got to direct where they wanted money to go. That’s what makes for a thriving community. When that source of cash dwindled, the taxpayer-sourced money that replaced it did not go directly to the people the way payrolls do. Instead, the money went to the politically connected. The results are as we see today. Click the image below, and please take a good, long look:

Link to image search

When you replace capitalism with government control, this is what you get.

Unfortunately, the Keynesians and Socialists in the Administration and Congress refuse to look at what they’ve done to Detroit. When confronted with the hard facts, they resort to blaming political opponents. Unfortunately for that argument, the people who run most major cities are not their political opponents. Opponent or not, one thing is clear: our failing cities are all run by the same sorts of politicians: men and women who rely on the federal government to solve their local problems.

Accurate or not, people attach the President’s face to the times in which they live. This is Obama’s America, and people need to face up to the reality of it. The Bush years already seem to be something from a bygone era, when communities could bounce back from hardship without the government wading in to take control over everything. And make no mistake: In the Age of Obama, Detroit is totally under control of external governmental agencies.

The reason this is important, and the reason we make Detroit our case study today, is that Detroit is not alone among cities living near or beyond bankruptcy. East St. Louis, Gary Indiana, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and other large cities are in serious danger as the economic meltdown continues to define the Transformational Presidency.

Sadly, the growing list of churches, theaters, and factories being abandoned in these towns is something Easterners have been living with since the steel mills closed and created the Rust Belt. It’s no longer shocking, even though the problem has gotten so bad.

But places like Las Vegas are new members of the Ghost Town phenomenon hitting our nation’s urban centers. The images you see of abandoned developments in the Las Vegas environs look like something out of a coffee table design book or photos of the Inca Plains or pyramids of the Aztecs. Compared to the heavily-used real estate crumbling in the rust belt, these properties are like collectables still in the package. Collectables that nobody is buying.

Montage of abandoned Las Vegas developments

Abandoned and incomplete housing developments near Las Vegas
(Images excerpted from a great article at Wired)

The real stinger about Las Vegas is that it likely would have been in much better shape if the President hadn’t made such a big deal about corporations sending their people on trips to Las Vegas when he was selling his economic stimulus package. But this is no surprise. Every time a community or city is poised to make things better in some way, the politics of power get in the way. Whether it’s growing businesses that get shutdown due to over-regulation, or improvements proposed by outside investors like Wal-Mart, government intervenes and the effort dies. The irony is, the people living in the worst cities in America keep voting the same way, year after year.

If you’re curious why Las Vegas and Atlantic City are struggling, it isn’t just because of the general economy, which is still awful. More casinos in more cities (“Hey, it worked for Las Vegas! Let’s build one!”), and online gaming seem to be taking their toll.

Expecting a different result from doing the same, old thing seems to have our collapsing cities trapped in a downward cycle. Unless something major happens to change the economy in the regions that are failing, many more will join Detroit in the bankruptcy pool.

Of course, we could always hope they will elect different people in these places and choose a different path. But even if they are slowly coming around to that idea (perhaps due to the additional burden of Obamacare), it will take decades to make a difference to a place like Detroit.

So what do we do?

Forget about politicians. What would help would be if the people most involved in the solution are the same ones making the decisions, just as they did when Ford, GM, RCA, and GE were industrial powerhouses. That’s exactly what happens when each of you decide how to improve your own lives by using your own resources. It’s called liberty, and it’s the reason America grew into the leadership position of the Free World.

But just like our cities, liberty is also crumbling. It’s crumbling for many of the same reasons: central control from a distant bureaucracy, and a federal system that has ignored its Constitutional limits and now, the law. When a President can declare a law to be changed on a whim (over nineteen times!), it’s proof that our federal system cannot fix itself. Like the fictional SkyNet, it has taken on a mind of its own.

In the time we have left before things devolve to a state of mass upheaval, the only legal pathway available to us for getting it under control is via the Article Five second process for Amending the Constitution. As our friends at ConventionOfStates say, “It’s the only solution as big as the problem.” (Anything else, like “electing more conservatives” is too small, too slow, and too inconsistent to work.)

Until our cities are strong again, the misery will continue. Please help us restore the balance the framers built in our government. Call your statehouse representative today and ask them to support Bills in application of an Article Five Convention. Do it for Detroit. Do it for your children. Do it for yourself.

ArticleFiveProcess update:

The scoreboard works, people, but we need data! This process requires each of us to call our state representatives and ask them about supporting an Article Five Convention.

And it’s easy: they aren’t insulated members of Congress. They probably live near you. Your kids might know their kids. Just casually give them a call and see what they say. Yes, no, or maybe, you then need to go to the ArticleFiveProcess Data Engine (click on the shield, then visit the Scoreboard) and let us know what they said. It’s that simple, and it only takes a phone call or an email.

We aren’t asking for money: just data. How cool is that?

Okay, we’re begging for data, alright? So far only a handful of folks have submitted entries.

And here’s a special offer: If you’re shy or lazy like me, you can spend some time googling your state reps and see if they ever mentioned an Amendments Convention or Article Five. If you find a news item where they’ve spoke up, then go add it to the database. I mean right now, while you’re swilling eggnog and reading the Internet (I’ve already read the Internet, so I know how it ends. I’d say wait for the movie.)

Look: you all keep wondering, “What can I do?” Well this is your way to use small steps (very small, low-cost, low-risk, “don’t even have to put your pants on,” steps) to change the world. But it only works if you take those steps. Please help us light up that heat map, and show the people this process is going to happen!

Oh, and one more thing: A very Merry Christmas to all of you who read and comment in the RightScoop community; and to Scoop, Caleb, “Duckie”, and Sheriff Ken.


God bless us, everyone.


Discussion #14: The Missing Balance and the Many Applications
Discussion #13: Activism, and the Scope of the Problem
Discussion #12: Cutting Back The Bureaucracy
Discussion #11: ArticleFiveProcess site news
Discussion #10: The Article Five process is how we go on offense
Discussion #9: the filthy habit of continuing resolutions
Discussion #8: Naysayers
Discussion #7: Tracking Our Progress
Discussion #6: Amendments on Spending and Taxes
Discussion #5: How much power do the states have?
Discussion #4: What If They Hijack the Convention?
Discussion #3: An Invitation to Our Friends on the Left
Discussion #2: Run Away!
Discussion #1: Zombie Doctrine, Tactics, and the Liberty Amendments

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