Detroit’s problems

Posted Thursday, Sep. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Saturday’s letters package (“Patriotism and car purchases”) included a couple on Detroit from conservatives eager to suggest that liberals ignore reality. Both attributed Detroit’s problems to unions and to Democratic politicians.

Detroit’s problems are almost exclusively due to two factors, and liberals had nothing to do with either.

The first is the decline of the U.S. auto industry, which was caused by the car companies’ management decisions to design and build lousy cars for decades. Thankfully, they saw the light and in the 1990s began to build excellent products, but by then customer loyalty — and millions of jobs — had been lost.

The second is white flight, as hundreds of thousands of whites, terrified by the thought of actually living in proximity to African-Americans, took their money, businesses and tax base to the suburbs.

And Republican politicians outside Detroit, while benefiting from state revenues generated by jobs and political contributions from what remained of the auto industry in Detroit, were unwilling to replace lost local tax revenue with regional or statewide assistance for the city’s crumbling infrastructure.

It was so much easier to blame Democrats and unions for the problems than actually to solve them.

— Brian Farrington, Fort Worth

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