By Michael Lafaive
The recent announcement that philanthropic foundations may donate $330 million to help the Detroit Institute of Arts, which would also help city pensioners avoid the consequences of Detroit government mismanagement, sounds like great news.
Unfortunately, there may be a hook: A requirement that the state treasury contribute, which would convert voluntary private generosity into a coerced taxpayer bailout.
A state bailout of Detroit is a terrible idea. It creates moral hazard and adds to the overly generous financial support the city has for years received from state taxpayers.
“Live now, pay later,” might have easily supplanted the national motto of “E Pluribus Unum,” instead of its supposed replacement, “In God we trust.”
Aside from the obvious reference to unearned hedonism and individual irresponsibility, it should be noted that governments derived from such careless individuals as the “live now” crowd can bring all of us even closer to being debt slaves. Yet without even the notion of pleasure as an advance reward to leadership, the function of government runs unabated. One might find it differently in private enterprise however, according to Jack Spencer:
“In the private sector, businesses can’t ignore economic reality by giving in to unrealistic union demands. They open their books and say, “look, we’ve had a lousy couple of years. We have to cut back or go under. We can’t give you what you want.” That reality check doesn’t apply to government, which is always bargaining with other people’s money. Those “other people” are us, the taxpayers. Over the decades, when faced with unpopular choices of cutting services or raising taxes, government officials have given unions most of what they asked for and left the tab to be picked up by future generations.”
In a nutshell, that is it.
I’ve been there. In fact, I have been in both places simultaneously. At the business owned by my wife and I, folks haven’t received raises in three years, yet as a county commissioner in 2012 I was present while union employees received automatic 1.5% increases. It made no sense to me that it should be so easy for a nearly unanimous Republican board to approve of such a thing, but over the years we have discovered that fiscal insanity is a scourge that has set upon both Capulet AND House Montague.
And it is generational too. So much so, that entire infrastructures are collapsing from the weight that has long had its supports removed. Pensions as a part of governmental financial negligence as referenced in the Cap Con piece above are responsible for cities literally falling apart, and legitimate public safety services being eliminated.
Some of the ideas are familiar, but limited in ways typically embraced by establishment Republicans.
Rand Paul’s visit to Detroit was precipitated by a conference call being reported by the Detroit News. In it, Senator Paul speaks of enterprise zones, with taxes so low as to “bail yourselves out”. Adding to this an loosened visa incentive for a flow of foreign “entrepreneurs” into the city.
Paul, widely considered a 2016 potential presidential candidate, said he will introduce legislation Monday to create “economic freedom zones” by dramatically lowering taxes in depressed areas and loosen visa rules to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to immigrate to the city.“We hope to create taxes so low you essentially are able to bail yourselves out,” Paul said Thursday in a conference call outlining his plan.
So now instead of “jobs that Americans don’t want to do,” perhaps we will be talking about cities that Americans don’t want to live or work in.
I wonder how that would work?
Maybe something like this?
“Mr Chen, you are welcome to stay, invest, develop, and work in our country. However, you are limited to this particular region. If for some reason you are not satisfied there, I guess you are out of luck.”
Or in other words,
“Welcome to the Hotel Detroit. Love it, or get the hell out of our country..”
Right, somehow I can’t see THAT happening.
Which of course begs the question of what happens to those who emigrate, and decide to move somewhere a little safer than Baghdad of Michigan? When “loosening visa requirements,” it seems that a genie let out is a little hard to stuff back in the lamp. Its hard to imagine ‘restrictive’ movement placed on those who simply seek a better life, and upon finding out that Detroit is no better than the hole they left, it is highly likely that they will indeed “seek” such a place.
And it seems we have heard those words about foreigners feeling welcomed before.
Compassion does not necessarily equal ethical behavior.
What someone might call “the right thing to do,” might be anything but that. Especially if it requires that a crime be perpetrated in order to follow through. Most acts of compassion by an individual cannot be questioned. It is self sacrifice; or giving, that heals, nurtures, grows, etc. It becomes a very different act when perpetrated through coercion upon some for the benefit of others.