In 1950 Detroit was the richest city in the United States on a per capata basis. There was nearly full employment, the city services worked, and a host of businesses were operating. What happened? Detroit became a laboratory for Progressive policies. It became the poster child for welfare statism. In 1967 it became the scene of one of the worst race riots in recent history. Tom Bray, former editorial page editor for The Detroit News, has made the following observation: “Detroit, remember, was going to be the ‘Model City’ of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the shining example of what the ‘fairness’ of the welfare state can produce. Billions of dollars later, Detroit instead has become the model of everything that can go wrong when you hook people on the idea of something for nothing – a once-middle class city of nearly 2 million that is now a poverty-stricken city of less than 900,000.” And now some government bureaucracies want to make Detroit and large areas of the United States “Livable Communities.”
Big Timber is absolutely nothing like Detroit in 1950 or 2010, except for one thing. The ideas which ruined Detroit are still around, and some still embrace those failed ideas. Guess where most of those true believers work? If you can stand it, read Senate Bill 1619, cunningly named “The Livable Communities Act.” For a shorter version, read this article, or this one. It wasn’t just Detroit that got the Model Cities treatment. Oakland and Newark were prime victims. In Chicago, Mayor Daley’s machine was strengthened but the rest of the program was a resounding failure. The newest Progressive effort, Senate bill 1619, would bring policies that failed Chicago and Detroit half a century ago to Sweetgrass County and Big Timber.
There will be more from SGCCI on this subject, but we thought a short history lesson might put things in perspective. Failed policies not only waste money, they also damage everyone, particularly the most vulnerable. In Detroit’s case, those policies and programs devastated a once healthy and wealthy city.