The failure of Detroit is only the latest dramatic illustration of the practical failure of liberal-progressivism, standing in contrast to the great successes of free markets and conservative governance. If you are Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist, this sort of thing ought to give you pause about the connection between your big-government ideas and reality. Instead, it is only the latest example of how Krugman simply writes off any facts he finds inconvenient.
There are influential people out there who would like you to believe that Detroit’s demise is fundamentally a tale of fiscal irresponsibility and/or greedy public employees. It isn’t. For the most part, it’s just one of those things that happens now and then in an ever-changing economy.
This at least is less egregiously dishonest than the chorus of left-wingers engaged in arguing that Detroit was done in by conservative racists rather than the actions of its own wholly Democratic, wholly liberal government and population over the past six decades (with a big assist from the State of Michigan, which has been far more often in liberal Democratic than conservative Republican hands over those years – think Jennifer Granholm – in large part due to the voting power of Detroit). But it’s also sadly symptomatic of how Krugman deals with contrary examples.
Dealing with the disparity between job growth in Texas and a stagnant national economy outside Texas, Krugman insisted that “Texan experience offers no useful lessons on how to restore national full employment.” Krugman contended that Texas is unusual because of its growing population, ignoring the fact that much of that population growth came from an influx of people looking for work they could find in Texas but not in, say, California or Illinois or Mexico.
How about Greece? To Krugman, in the same column discussing Detroit, “the truth was that Greece was a very special case, holding few if any lessons for wider economic policy.”
It’s true, of course, that the same economics and public policy will play out differently in different times and places, but eventually you run out of ways to explain away failure by saying everything’s an exception.