As Long As The House Is On Fire …

So Detroit is in bankruptcy, hemorrhaging jobs and businesses. A sensible mayor would say, “Hmm, what can we do to bring businesses back to Detroit?”

Detroit does not have a sensible mayor:

Amidst a bankruptcy and a fast-dwindling population and tax base, the city has prioritized the task of ensuring that all businesses are in compliance with its codes and permitting. To accomplish this, Mayor David Bing announced in January that he’d assembled a task force to execute Operation Compliance.

Operation Compliance began with the stated goal of shutting down 20 businesses a week. Since its inception, Operation Compliance has resulted in the closure of 383 small businesses, with another 536 in the “process of compliance,” according to figures provided to Reason TV by city officials.

But business owners say that Operation Compliance unfairly targets small, struggling businesses in poor areas of town and that the city’s maze of regulations is nearly impossible to navigate, with permit fees that are excessive and damaging to businesses running on thin profit margins.

Emphasis mine.

Does it surprise anyone that Operation Compliance is targeting those without the resources to fight? Does it surprise anyone that they are crushing the competition to larger more powerful businesses? The thing is that the city often does have the law on their side: Detroit’s regulations are such a nightmare that many business owners just say “screw it” and open up rogue businesses. The result is a model to “prosperity” that goes like so:

1) Write excessive and labyrinthine regulation.
2) Wait for businesses to open.
3) Hire a bunch of public employees to shut down businesses for violating those regs.
4) Profit!

This is insane. This is something that could only be thought of by a city government that sees prosperity entirely in terms of the size of power of government. They look at bigger more prosperous cities with large public sectors and think that the large public sector created the big city, not vice versa. They have the stated goal of closing hundreds of businesses a year. They are anti-matter to Hong Kong, one of the most prosperous cities on Earth, where a business could once be opened with a single form (I don’t know if this is still true since China took over).

Detroit is doomed. I see little indication that they even understand what the problem is, let alone are taking steps to solve it.

Comments are closed.

  1. InsipiD

    Detroit is doomed. I see little indication that they even understand what the problem is, let alone are taking steps to solve it.

    This would be greatly more effective if the department were tasked with closing other government departments rather than businesses.

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  2. Dave D


    You outsiders don’t understand. Detroit is run SO poorly that they aren’t even able to file paperwork on time to get free federal money. Millions of dollars lost. They control the lighting and water for the area and hundreds of thousands of street lights that were thought to be non-functional simply had no bulbs in them. The ONLY way the water system remains working is because they RAPE the surrounding communities with ever-increasing rates in an area that boasts the highest level of fresh water in the world.

    Mayor BIng is an honorable man, but I bet this is the ONLY thing he can do in a vain attempt to grasp at straws to try to fix things. He will be finished in two months and has essentially been a lame duck with no power since the emergency manager was appointed by the state.

    I do have hope for the new mayor, as Mike Duggan (a Democrat, but with a proven track record) will probably win the election. He would be the first non-black mayor since the 60’s in Detroit. Not that that is that significant, but it tells me that some in that city are capable of putting performance over race in a city election.

    The most interesting thing for me is that this contrasts with Governor Snyder, who is a Republican and has the state of Michigan in a very nice recovery. Why this is not contrasted more on a national scale is beyond me.

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  3. Mook

    Mayor Bing may be honorable by Detroit standards, but his decision to target and drive out small businesses over relatively minor infractions (if the article can be believed) seems like one of the worst targets if he was truly looking to “fix” things. The city is in deep doo-doo economically. Targeting non-criminal businesses will make things even worse.

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  4. Thrill

    So they created an underground economy with their policies and now they’re further bankrupting themselves to destroy it? Sublime.

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  5. Miguelito

    Why this is not contrasted more on a national scale is beyond me.

    It doesn’t fit the desired narrative. They’d also have to admit that a republican governor was doing positive things and growing his state’s economy, something that quite a few are doing but little reporting of said is done in the mainstream media or by the feds.

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