Lessons from the Ruins of Detroit

Devastating photos of the once booming American city Detroit, Michigan were brought to my attention yesterday. Watch this video as photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre reveal the Ruins of Detroit.

What would lead to such devastating outcomes? I would argue several factors.

1. Industrial Exodus: Probably the most dramatic and immediate factor for the decline as major companies either went out of business or packed up operations and moved to more favorable business climates. One thing I cannot document without detailed research is whether the companies moved to other states or oversees altogether. I would presume that the majority of these companies moved to southeast Asia where labor is cheaper.

2. Impact of Unions: Most likely the rising influence of unions over the last few decades probably led to an increase in the cost of doing business. This probably forced these companies to relocate to right-to-work states or oversees where labor is cheaper.

3. Increase in Corporate Tax Rates: Another indirect result of raising taxes on Michigan-based companies, the cost of doing business increased on these companies which led to their demise or departure to more tax-friendly business climates.

4. Decline of an Ownership Society: As government and business interests conflicted, more people lost their jobs and ended up dependent on government to survive. With no personal investment in owning property, the result is no pride in ownership.

5. Inherently Doomed Public Education System: a union-controlled public education system with a voracious appetite for a rapidly declining tax base and no desire to be innovative is probably the major reason for a population of individuals who lack even basic math and reading skills. (I’d like to see how the private schools are doing in comparison.)

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to read other’s thoughts and comments about what happened in Detroit and especially how Arizona is different in the factors I’ve mentioned.


  1. Paula Pennypacker says

    Tears rolled down my eyes as I watched this video. I have always had a passion and desire to stop the decay of urban centers across America.

    That is why I ran for mayor in my hometown, Toledo, Ohio. Not once, but twice. Hoping to reverse the direction this once-great city was taking. I was a Republican in a sea of union Democrats. It was not meant to be as I moved to Arizona because I thought saving Democratic-controlled, automobile-manufacturing-dependent Toledo was hopeless.

    Toledo placed 12th in Forbes Magazine’s top-20 list of the most miserable cities this year.

    Detroit placed 15th. For all the reasons stated in this article. However I would like to add a few more:

    The failed war on drugs, our failed welfare policies, and the fact that these once great cities have been run by Democrats for decades.

    I was wondering if you happened to see this Super Bowl commercial by Eminem? (See link below)

    Eminem — though not a stellar example for our children — is from the Motor City and would like to see Chrysler, as well as Detroit, make a comeback.

    I pray his efforts to re-brand his hometown by using the slogan “Imported from Detroit” is the first step toward putting this once-great city back to work.


  2. Scott in 85013 says

    The statement about a town run by Democrats in interesting. I look at the economy of Austin, a town always under the leadership of Democrats that has a much stronger, robust and vibrant economy than Arizona. Arizona, conversely has focused on recreation and house construction. The state was previously focused on Copper, Citrus, Cattle and entered into Construction.

    Penny, don’t blame the Democrats. Blame your state leadership for its failure to embrace changes in how goods are produced. Meanwhile, my house in Austin appreciates in value while I will hopefully sell my Scottsdale home without losing any money.

    Your statement about Detroit and its leadership is all hyperbole. This state is playing games with education and in about 20 years, will see its short-sided logic. PS: Ronny Raygun and Bill “I don’t need the Canal” Clinton are both idiots and failed as leaders, as did Bush and Obama.

  3. Paula Pennypacker says

    Scott —

    Comparing Ohio to Texas is like comparing apples to oranges. TX is a right-to-work state and has no personal or corporate income tax. Ohio is no where near as business friendly!

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