Detroit as Starnesville

Monday, July 22, 2013

Writing in the Telegraph, Daniel Hannan notes a striking similarity between a recent description of Detroit in the Observer and Ayn Rand's description of Starnesville in her "dystopian" Atlas Shrugged. (He quotes each at length.) Not lost on Hannan is the fact that Detroit has hemorrhaged over a million residents since Rand's novel was published.

After reporting that one native blamed his city's poor state of affairs on a failure of capitalism, Hannan further notes that capitalism is one thing Detroit hasn't had for half a century and correctly names statism as the culprit.

Of Detroit's $11 billion debt, $9 billion is accounted for by public sector salaries and pensions. Under the mountain of accmulated obligations, the money going into, say, the emergency services is not providing services but pensions. Result? It takes the police an hour to respond to a 911 call and two thirds of ambulances can't be driven. This is a failure, not of the private sector, but of the state. And, even now, the state is fighting to look after its clients: a court struck down the bankruptcy application on grounds that 'will lessen the pension benefits of public employees'.
Hannan, taking note of financial parallels Mark Steyn draws between the federal government and Detroit's, also warns that the United States as a whole is headed down the same path, ending on the following note:
Oh dear. No wonder the president would rather talk about Trayvon Martin. If you want to see Obamanomics taken to its conclusion, look at Starnesville. And tremble.
It is refreshing to see the truth spoken so plainly. It is too bad that, as a commenter here recently pointed out, that one generally has to go to a foreign news source to hear it.

-- CAV

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