Detroit: It Didn’t Have To Be This Way

Dr. Harry Veyser knows Detroit. He grew up there, lives and works there now, and has spent time studying the city in great depth. Dr. Veyser is the Professor of Economics at the University of Detroit Mercy, and he is the perfect man to explain what has gone wrong in Detroit over the last 50+ years. Dr. Veyser has just written a book called “It didn’t have to be this way,” which is a critique of the interventionist system of government which Dr. Veyser sees as the chief reason for Detroit’s troubles today.

In 1951, Detroit had the highest standard of living in the world. One of the most important factors in Detroit’s success in the mid-1900s was the ability for entrepreneurs to start businesses. Taxes were low, regulations were not oppressive, and people were flocking to the city to find work.

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Dr. Veyser sees the beginning of the end in Detroit with the election of Jerome P. Cavanagh to Mayor in 1961. Mayor Cavanagh introduced the income tax to the city of Detroit, and almost immediately Detroit began to lose some of the businesses which were built there.

Taxes have been the key destructive factor in Detroit’s fall from grace in the 1950s.

Java PrintingIn fact, the Detroit of today is the outcome of a fully progressive system of governance. It’s the outcome of top-down planning. Detroit was at her best in the 1950s when the city was developed from the bottom up. The problem was that the city came under progressive leadership beginning in the 1960s and moving through modern day. The basic premise of the progressive was the idea that central planning was the best way to develop the city. Sadly, that’s not what happened.

The great hope for Detroit now is that the bankruptcy might force the cleansing of much of what has caused problems within the city. As Dr. Veyser says, “It’s not going to come back from government planning. It’s going to come when they get out of the way.”

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