Free Markets, Free People

What happened in Detroit? Well, frankly, “Atlas Shrugged”

You have to read this article by Bill Nojay in the Wall Street Journal.  Nojay was hired as the COO of the Detroit Department of Transportation, on contract, for 8 months.  His litany of woes is, as Insty notes, almost straight out of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. 

It is all but an article of faith on the left and certain pseud-intellectuals that Rand was a crackpot.  Yet here we are watching what she wrote become reality:

Micromanagement by the council was endemic; I once sat for five hours waiting to discuss a minor transportation matter while City Council members debated whether to authorize the demolition of individual vacant and vandalized houses, one by one. There are over 40,000 vacant houses in Detroit.

Union and civil-service rules made it virtually impossible to fire anyone. A six-step disciplinary process provided job protection to anyone with a pulse, regardless of poor performance or bad behavior. Even the time-honored management technique of moving someone up or sideways where he would do less harm didn’t work in Detroit: Job descriptions and qualification requirements were so strict it was impossible for management to rearrange the organization chart. I was a manager with virtually no authority over personnel.

When the federal government got involved, it only made things worse. A federal lawsuit charging that the DDOT did not fully comply with the law in accommodating disabled riders had dragged on for years because of idealistic but painfully naïve Justice Department attorneys seeking regulatory perfection. I felt like a guy in the boiler room of the Titanic, desperately bailing to keep the ship afloat for a few more hours while the DOJ attorneys complained from their first-class cabin that their champagne wasn’t properly chilled.

Detroit’s other municipal departments had similar challenges. I would often compare notes with managers trying to run the city’s street lights, recreation programs, police departments and smaller offices. All of us faced similar gridlock.

The “government is the answer” crowd have a lot to answer for when considering Detroit.  In that city, government was as much of the problem, in fact, likely the biggest problem the city faced.  It couldn’t get out of its own way.  And as the city deteriorated and taxes skyrocketed in an attempt to offset the deterioration, the producers finally fled.  They shrugged.  They said, “no more.”  This country is headed in the same direction.

It just may take a little bit more time to reach the depths of Detroit and suffer the same result – but there’s little if any question it’s on the same road as Detroit.  It has passed through the stop sign, busted through the road closed sign and is headed toward the cliff.  The only control anyone may have now is how fast the whole contraption reaches the edge.


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

17 Responses to What happened in Detroit? Well, frankly, “Atlas Shrugged”

  • You know their answer will be – “that won’t happen here”, where ever ‘here’ might happen to be.
    Besides, the left assure us this disaster was a result of Republican policies, not the policies of the left.
    And I’m very very very sure that not a few democrats look at the demographics in Detroit and then cruise back to their predominantly white suburbs in areas that are next and tell themselves (when ‘those people’ aren’t around) it’s because ‘those people (who we love and support of course!) just aren’t good at managing their own affairs because…well…you know….)

    • Just in case anyone isn’t getting the not veiled nuance, I’ve come to the conclusion that a good number of democratic voters AND leaders, are closet racists.

      • Closet? They don’ need no stinkin’ closets.

      • What could be MORE racist than forgiving a race of people any moral responsibility for their conduct?  That strips them of their humanity.

        • I understand helping out…. deliberately ‘educating’ people to be dependent is wrong.
          Goes along with the long held slave owning excuse “they’re just children”.

        • I believe it was Reagan who said the democrats prefer the racism of lower expectations.

  • The ghetto mentality/tribal culture permeates an entire city!
    Now, it’s coming to YOUR city! YOUR nation!

  • This bloat is more of graft, patronage, nepotism, and (personal) cronyism, than policy. 

  • Atlas didn’t shrug in Detroit…..reality cracked the blue state model out with a baseball bat is what happened

  • This is why “more money” won’t fix anything. The article essentially details that the city has management “process” issues, but those are not interesting to most voters or politicians.

  • Atlas Shrugged, conceived as a warning, some paid no attention, some actively hid the truth.
    I have said before, here and other places, our own press does more to hide the corruption than the corruptors do in creating it.
    The press is offered special protections under the Constitution as ‘watch dogs’.
    When they fail to warn, or worse, actively hide and abet those sins, they themselves become the biggest threat to Liberty.

    • a warning…
      I’m sure the left views Atlas Shrugged right up there with Lord of the Rings as far as telling them something useful.

  • The major thing keeping this country from making a hard turn back to Capitalism is the Christian Conservatives inability to grasp and promote true Capitalism… and the main thing keeping Christian Conservatives from grasping and promoting true Capitalism is their foolish, irrational, and un-Christian love affair with the morality of Altruism.
    Tell your Christian friends that Christians need to get their intellectual and moral act together. They need to reject Communism by rejecting Altruism.
    Egoism or Communism – Christians Must Choose :