Ed Driscoll

The Downfall of Detroit

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Conservative documentarian Ben Howe does a brilliant bit of intercutting and juxtaposing between the mid-’60s words of self-styled JFK wannabe Jerome Cavanagh, the first of an uninterrupted line of Democrat mayors of Detroit, and its current enfeebled state. At the Breitbart.com group blog, Debra Heine notes that Howe’s documentary will debut on January 21st at the DC Auto Show, and will then be freely available on YouTube afterwards.

Cavanagh’s words were written as part of a script for a 1966 pitch to convince the Olympics to come to Detroit; the riots the following year would permanently shutter that dream, along with any notion of the city as a model of mid-century liberal central planning, as Thomas Sowell noted in 2011:

Detroit is perhaps the most striking example of a once thriving city ruined by years of liberal social policies. Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit’s black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent.

It was not despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair. Detroit’s population today is only half of what it once was, and its most productive people have been the ones who fled.

Productive citizens aren’t the only ones fleeing Detroit these days, as Steve Hayward of Power Line notes in his link to Howe’s trailer:

In the short trailer below, I especially like the item about how people are actually having deceased family members disinterred to be reburied outside the city.  Things are really bad when it’s thought unfit for even dead people to stay inside city limits.

To be fair, I’m sure Detroit’s politicians will be happy to grant its deceased former residents dual-citizenship status for at least one day in November, every two to four years.

While Steve calls Howe’s film, “Detroit, The Movie,” it’s not the first time in recent years that the now ossified Motor City has been featured in cinematic form. As Kevin D. Williamson noted in his recent Encounter Books Broadside, What Doomed Detroit:

Its notional unemployment rate was 16 percent in April 2013; its real unemployment rate is probably closer to 50 percent. Its murder rate is about 11 times that of New York City. The median value of a home in the city is $9,000. When the Cold War classic Red Dawn was remade in 2012, the producers saved themselves some of the cost of creating a postapocalyptic United States by filming in Detroit, though filming had to be stopped when councilwoman JoAnn Watson, in a car with municipal plates, parked in the middle of a scene and refused to leave.

In other news from the intersection of automobiles and crony socialism, UAW is setting up an organizing committee at Tesla’s Fremont California factory, in intense Blue-on-Blue action, or “parasite explores new potential host,” as Glenn Reynolds noted yesterday.

In 2008′s Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg wrote, “There’s a reason liberal economists joke that General Motors is a health-care provider that makes cars as an industrial by-product,” foreshadowing GM’s bailout by the Obama administration the following year. Tesla itself is a byproduct of Obama’s crony socialism, so it’s already one jump ahead of the corporatist cycle.