Monday, July 22, 2013

Daniel Hannan on Statism and Detroit: My Analysis

For those who aren't familiar with Daniel Hannan, he is a Member of the European Parliament, representing the conservative party in South East England. He is a Euroskeptic, a prudent Jeffersonian, and a rebel with a cause. He digs Ron Paul, and he has appeared in the American media with Ron Paul and Judge Napolitano. He is also a very active (and talented) writer and blogger. I like Hannan - a lot

Hannan has published a new article in The Telegraph, "Statism is turning America into Detroit – Ayn Rand's Starnesville come to life." Several folks forwarded this article on to me, asking for comments. Since Detroit is the media darling of the world these days, and Hannan has offered his attention to our plight, this article is worth a few comments. (See my post "Out of the Wreckage Comes Detroit ... the Brand.")

Unlike the majority of the outside media critics who write about this city from behind their Google Glasses, Hannan actually came here to experience a small taste of reality.
I spent a couple of weeks in Detroit in 1991. The city was still functioning more or less normally, but the early signs of decomposition were visible.
The big joke about me in the workplace is that I am "so precise." A poster child INTJ. I actually enjoy my boss, and others, teasing me about my peculiarities. All in good fun. To be precise without excessive wordiness, Hannan has way over-simplified the truth in this statement for the purpose of making a point that fits into the editorial parameters of his platform. Luckily, I have no such restrictions.

In 1991, Detroit was in a stage of advanced decomposition, so "early signs" is not an accurate description at all. In fact, in 1992 the city was, for the most part, a mega-shithole under Marxist rule, with a serious decline in city services, rampant criminal activity, racial disunion, and the city was under siege to the point of making international headlines for its Devil's Night chicanery. At about this time, Ze'ev Chafets published his book, Devil's Night and other True Tales of Detroit. His book was an accurate portrayal of Detroit at the time. Also at this time, I was living in Detroit's East English Village on the East Side. I had secured a house in that neighborhood when I was one day past the age of nineteen, hoping to figure out the city and its reputation by making my own tracks and forming my own opinions based on my experiences.

In December 1991, one block from my home, a man twice my size tried to stuff me into the back of a Chrysler New Yorker that was occupied by three other co-crazies blanked out on dope. Using my athletic prowess, I escaped the grasp of my attacker, and I immediately realized that had I not been able to throw off the attacker, I probably would have been just another number in the city morgue archives: gang-raped and dumped in an alley, only to be found several days later by someone cutting through the alley on the way to nowhere. My husband and I packed our bags and left the city the following spring. After ten years, we were done with The Experiment. The Marxism, crime, anti-white racism, tax rates, and lack of stable neighborhoods chased us out of town.

In reality, the city died in 1967, with the riot that changed the city for decades. The decomposition occurred immediately thereafter. My father, a firefighter, worked a 72+ hour shift during the riots, putting out fires while being shot at by rioting civilians. He told me stories about the lack of police protection, and thus having to fight off gangs of rioters and looters by pulling out what is know as the 2 1/2 inch handline, the ultimate firefighter tool.

Hannan also invokes the downward population argument - as if downsizing from a mega-city is a bad thing. Big cities = bigger governments ... meaning more political control, more organized corruption, more taxation, more bureaucratic theft, and less freedom for the entrepreneurs and individuals who actually contribute to the development of a thriving city. My advice to Hannan and others is to stop invoking the less taxpayers = less prosperity rationalization. Decentralization and downsized government is clearly a step in the right direction, which is the exact reason why Detroit is riding the popularity train in 2013. I celebrate Detroit's downsized return to independence and prosperity on my blog, Detroit: From Rust to Riches.

Hannan, in the rest of his article, is right about public sector salaries and pensions. The public sector, under Marxist control for almost three decades, robbed the city by borrowing from its future. And he is right about the catatonic-robotic masses who would rather obsess on Trayvon Martin and Obamanomics, and how that leads us down the road to Starnesville. While many neighborhoods in Detroit are Starnesville on steroids, the more dense areas of the city are blooming roses thanks to the population downsizing, affordable opportunities, and vigilant entrepreneurs.


  1. I think the argument regarding Detroit shrinking has to do with Michigan's Constitution: the city has to provide certain services to residents, even if those residents are living in abandoned neighborhoods. Because of the economies of scale involved in funding/running these services (e.g. water, sewage, electricity), it's a wholly inefficient use of resources to continue providing these services to sparsely populated areas of the city. If there were more residents/taxpayers, then each would have a significantly smaller tax burden but be able to receive the same services, due to greater economies of scale.