Detroit, Michigan, or state impotence exposed

The city of Detroit, Michigan, USA, is perhaps the most visible, current and obvious example of the state’s inability to fulfill the missions supposedly justifying its existence.

By J. Sedra.

The city of Detroit, Michigan, USA, is perhaps the most visible, current and obvious example of the state’s inability to fulfill the missions supposedly justifying its existence. The municipality is bankrupt, unable to finance even the police or local courts, let alone maintenance of the roads, fire brigades or social services. But this is only a still too complacent way of presenting the situation of the city.

Faced with ever lower tax revenues despite (or rather because of) the increase in taxes, municipal officials knowingly cut first the budgets of the most essential or most visible services, in order to rally public opinion to them. : This dubious strategy is called the “Washington Monument syndrome”, a term that derives from the detestable habit of the National Park Service of threatening to close the Washington Monument (very popular and appreciated) at the slightest sign of a possible budget reduction.

For example, there is no longer any garbage collection if not very partially and irregularly, and the police (managed by the municipality, as in the whole country) has seen its staff reduced but above all asked to concentrate on “profitable” missions. »Like inflicting the maximum number of fines on motorists, neglecting the protection of citizens and the maintenance of order. Thus, the 911 emergency line is only really open during office hours, with victims being asked to “call back at 8 am”. Even a disappointment in public schools, another clearly visible service: at present only one in four pupils reaches the level equivalent to the baccalaureate. Likewise with the bus lines, where the absenteeism of civil servants and the level of dilapidation of structures reach new heights.

The Packard plant, at least what’s left of it, like the city’s municipal services.

Why such carelessness? It is in fact, for the mayor (Democrat) Dave Bing, to continue his work without questioning as long as it is technically possible. He has thus persisted in increasing public spending against all odds for years, on the basis that in any case it would be necessary for the taxpayers, local as federal, to bail him out once faced with a fait accompli. When this strategy failed and the municipality found itself de facto in a bankruptcy situation, he decided to force the hand of the population, once again: for example, after reducing the most visible municipal services (see above), he proposed a sale of municipal bonds for a targeted amount of $ 100 million, touted as the only hope to restore these services – but also used to justify begging Michigan and the Federal Congress for a ” bailout” … one more.

At the heart of this perverse and coercive method is the key concept that claims to justify the legitimacy of the state: the idea that only a public monopoly financed by force (by taxes and duties) can provide the services that have, in Detroit, was indeed taken hostage, and that there is no alternative.

Ironically and despite himself, Mayor Bing could be the gravedigger of this belief.

How the free market picked up the torch of a resigning state

Ask a government official, and he will almost always assure you that without a State society will inevitably turn into chaos, clan strife and disorganization, that the poor will be left behind while the rich few will be left behind. war by private militias interposed to seize the territory, etc.

The reality of the facts, in Detroit, a city already well abandoned by its state, is totally contrary to this delusional and complacent fiction.

Tired of the inefficiency of the police, the inhabitants have armed themselves, retaliate against the criminals and have even already organized and financed their own law enforcement services. For example Threat Management Center, which in practice turns out to be much less violent and intrusive than the “real” police and much more effective (90% reduction in crime and delinquency wherever they operate), for less, and above all which protects the most deprived for free, unlike municipal services. Whenever its founder, Dale Brown, offered to cooperate with the local police, the latter declined because they were not very interested in the pure prevention objectives pursued by TMC.

In terms of buses, there are quite a few students who have tried to compensate for the resignation of the municipality on their own… but it has firmly prevented them from doing so. It was therefore local entrepreneurs who took over, and founded the Detroit Bus Company, in defiance of the municipal monopoly on public transport. An initiative that works: instead of following fixed lines at fixed times, the buses run continuously, you call, send an SMS or click on a dedicated smartphone application, and the vehicles, decorated in an “urban” style and equipped with Free Wi-Fi hotspots, pick you up shortly after and drop you off at the destination served. The ticket, valid all day and for all of Detroit and (for now) part of its suburbs, is only $ 5. And unlike municipal buses, they offer a full refund if the service fails.

Photo credit: Debbie Merlo.

Similar private initiatives spontaneously took over from the resigned municipality in many other areas: low-cost private car parks, children’s parks, bars, underground market places, etc.

Even abandoned buildings and land, left in ruins or fallow land by the municipality, which is generally content to barricade them with barbed wire, began to be reclaimed, rehabilitated and reused by the inhabitants, for example creating an organic agricultural offer and local to supply the shops of the city center at a lower cost.

The cultural side is not left out: without a license, authorization or municipal permit, the inhabitants launched a series of beer festivals with local sauce, Beer garden on the model ofOktoberfest German, or even popular “picnics in white”, helping to recreate an identity in the city.

In a nutshell: Detroit could not begin to truly revive and progress until it got rid of its government. The permanent demise of the state might just be the best thing that can happen, and maybe – who knows? – transform the whole area into charter city, a free city under private law. Emptied of bureaucracy, coercion and the condescending attitude of municipal services which killed the spirit of community, the place was finally left free for the expression of real solidarity, integrity and pragmatism of the inhabitants, driven by the needs , desires and passions to act freely, rather than by a dominating desire to maintain the authority of some over all, at all costs.

More information, photos and testimonials are available on Karen de Costner’s blog.

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