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Connecting the Dots: What happened in Detroit and why it matters?

This week the Census Bureau released the numbers for the state of Michigan and there are some astonishing revelations in there. In the last decade the city of Detroit has lost 25% of its population, 61% since the city’s peak in 1950. Detroit’s population is falling faster than the president’s approval rating, and that is saying something. Michigan was also the only state in the country to actually lose people. Everyone knows these numbers are bad, but some are doing back flips trying to avoid the reason behind the decline.

I have lived in Michigan since I was three years old and went to college and law school there. Many of my friends have left the state to start new careers and many of the ones who remain are planning on leaving shortly. The truth is they did not leave by choice, but because their education and talents can’t be put to use in a state with few jobs and growing financial troubles. If you read today’s various reports about the population loss they focus on the struggles of the auto industry and Detroiter’s moving to the suburbs. However, these things are just empty excuses that are ignoring the real causes. If people were just moving to the suburb then why is the whole states population in decline? And the auto industry has only declined recently, so what can explain a population decline that goes back almost 60 years?

Well the truth is there likely isn’t just one reason, but one fact that liberals keep covering up is that the city of Detroit has not elected a Republican Mayor since 1961. Similar facts are true of almost every major city with a high poverty rate. At some point even the media and many democrats will have to realize that this is not a coincidence. The real reason for the economic and social decline of a once great city is a series of liberal policies that have hampered the population and prevented growth. As Thomas Sowell identifies in a recent column, “the Detroit pattern– increasing taxes, harassing businesses, and pandering to unions” has been the real cause of the decline. For those of us that carefully watched and studied Detroit’s decline there is no doubt about the truth of this assertion and yet the residents and media continue to elect politicians that pander with promises to continue this pattern. At some point Detroiters will have to forget about the false promises and say enough is enough, we tried it the liberal way now let’s give the free market a chance.

For those that care about Detroit and the state of Michigan, the only chance to restore both is to change the pattern. Many of the people who left are not coming back, but we can stop the decline by facing the reality of the root cause. However this problem goes beyond just Detroit or even the state of Michigan. These liberal policies have been dooming the populations of many cities to continued failure and poverty for decades and now many of us fear these policies are being adopted at a federal level. Unless we want an America that looks like Detroit does now we must combat and expose these policies at every turn. If experience is the best teacher, then surely we can all connect the dots in this history and look to change the future.

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