Causation, Correlation and Detroit

Let us stipulate that the collapse of Detroit, MI and its recent Chapter Nine bankruptcy filing represents an all-American train wreck of inexcusable dimension. Detroit went from being considered by some the Athens of The West to having a credit rating and crime problem more reminiscent of the Mogadishu of The Midlands. So many people are blamed for the current state of Detroit. But most of what you read is patently illogical.


Those who have no desire to deal with the truth tend to deliberately invert the mechanisms by which Detroit, MI was reduced to an ash heap reminiscent of Hiroshima without the expenditure of thermonuclear ordnance. The general technique of obscuring what went wrong in Detroit is to deliberately conflate causation with correlation. I’ve read a lot of biased writing over the last few days about Detroit. In every case, the thesis of the article, editorial, or blog post involves describing a result of Detroit’s stupidity as the fountainhead of the stupid itself.

If you read the left, it’s all the fault of Redneck Rick Perry and other Southern-Fried Governors stealing all the good union jobs. If the Left isn’t slamming Rick Perry as its Boogeyman with no rhythm; then the culprit must be White Flight. Michael Moore’s Roger and Me questions the ethics of anyone who moves corporate jobs out of an urban combat zone with illiteracy rates north of 40%. Three decades ago, it was Mr. Roboto’s fault. At least Michael Crichton made a killing off the xenophobia.

You’ll find people on the far fringes of the Right who are five or six hot dogs and a few IQ points short of Michael Moore. I’ll surmise without linking the particular website that caused me the toxic reaction. The Detroit Thesis of the Racial Right reads about like this. Detroit has a 90% black population. Therefore, you can expect illegitimacy, crime, illiteracy, vandalism, sloth, indolence and then bankruptcy. The site in question describes these vices as the typical conditions you would find in BRA (Black Run America). In a world devoid of evil minds, I would just be making that up. But that is exactly what is being said by some about Detroit, MI. That is what is being said by white racists who don’t want to admit that whites are no more successful than blacks in operating a government when that government is too big, too expensive and too powerful.


The problem I have with both the Establishmentarian Left and the Racial Right on this is that they are both equally full of fertilizer. Each strain of opinion places cart ahead of horse. Detroit’s jobs and market savvy entrepreneurs left and Detroit’s popular majority currently consists of poorly educated urban minorities. These are both results of Detroit’s fifty year trip to hell in a bucket. Neither of these things caused the downfall.

Since all the cool kids come up with acronyms for the bad guys in their internet posts, I’ll introduce one of my own. It was neither the blacks nor the capitalists that killed Detroit, MI. I blame the LLC (Limousine Liberalism Corporation). The LLC has been running Detroit, MI since the mid 1960’s. They’ve presided over job-losses, boondoggles, frauds, race-riots and now collapse. The governing philosophy that William Russell Mead describes as the Blue Model, should sell like a GM, because it runs no better than a Trabant.

African-Americans didn’t uniquely and solely kill Detroit. A lot of the biggest victims of this disastrous Liberal governance are very honest and hard-working blacks who were promised generous municipal pensions like they were told they could keep the same doctor under ObamaCare. A certain wife of an African-American member of Congress and a pair of totally dishonest former Detroit Mayors happen to be black and happen to have helped themselves to the road kill. This, however, occurred well after it was too late to dial 9-1-1. Not that that works too well in Detroit anymore…


Certain auto manufacturers followed poor and outdated business models and got their clocks cleaned by less arrogant and more customer conscious foreign competition. Once that started happening, and Detroit became a worse place to find steady work and safely raise a family; its white population made like Willa Cather’s pioneers and lit out for the territories. I blame people participating in white flight from America’s dysfunctional urban areas as much as I blame Aeneas for leaving Troy once some idiot let the hollow-horsey in through the gates.

So instead of the blacks and the banksters; I blame the LLC for the slow-motion nuking of Detroit. Mark Steyn gives us some data as to how it happened.

Given their respective starting points, one has to conclude that Detroit’s Democratic party makes a far more comprehensive wrecking crew than Emperor Bokassa ever did. No bombs, no invasions, no civil war, just “liberal” “progressive” politics day in, day out. Americans sigh and say, “Oh, well, Detroit’s an ‘outlier.’” It’s an outlier only in the sense that it happened here first. The same malign alliance between a corrupt political class, rapacious public-sector unions, and an ever more swollen army of welfare dependents has been adopted in the formally Golden State of California, and in large part by the Obama administration, whose priorities — “health” “care” “reform,” “immigration” “reform” — are determined by the same elite/union/dependency axis. As one droll tweeter put it, “If Obama had a city, it would look like Detroit.”


(HT: National Review)

One thing I fault Margaret Thatcher for was her egregious optimism. She once remarked that Socialism eventually ran out of other people’s money. Thanks for playin’, Maggie! Just because Detroit is bankrupt, doesn’t mean that it can have a bankruptcy. That particularly applies to bankruptcies that according to Judge Rosemary Aquilina dishonor President Barack Obama. Whether the municipality in question can pay its bondholders is less critical and not subject to anyone’s Writ of YAFKM.*

Michael Barone gives us more explanation of how the LLC killed NoMoTown.

Liberal city government is expensive—Cavanagh instituted a city income tax raised later to 2.5%—and increasingly ineffective. The Detroit News reported that 47% of property owners didn’t pay their 2011 property tax. The public employee unions, just starting up in the Cavanagh years, have long been pushing for salaries, benefits, and pensions that are increasingly unaffordable. So the city has let its physical facilities go to ruin, as LeDuff notes again and again…

LLC advertises itself as Santa Claus. You vote for them, they give you Christmas. Those Rethuglicans sure have a dubious progeny when they have the gall to tell anyone that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Well Santa Claus doesn’t exist. NoMoTown will soon join it in non-existence. They bulldoze the abandoned houses to support urban farming these days. Detroit’s demise is as compelling an argument written in ruined stone as you will ever need to hear in favor bulldozing LLC.


No wonder people feel like blaming blacks, corporations and hick politicians. It sure stinks having to grow up and admit Santa isn’t real. Maybe the Tooth Fairy can leave a bailout under Mayor Bing’s pillow. That seems to be the only alternative out there right now to allowing the bankruptcy and facing the rather depressing music of Liberalism’s unavoidable ruin.

*-Writ of YAFKM = Writ of You Are (Expletive Deleted) Kidding Me.


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