Sources at bottom of article
The parasitical nature of state intervention, rather than anarchy, has turned the once prosperous Detroit into a lawless and chaotic shell of its former self. Anarchy may be the only hope for Detroit going forward as the city’s government is so bankrupt and so corrupt that it cannot perform even basic functions that most people expect governments to provide.
When you include unfunded liabilities the city’s debt stands at a staggering 18 to 20 billion dollars. This amounts to about $25,700 to $28,500 per man, woman and child in Detroit. Detroit has become the largest bankruptcy in the public sector in American history after recently filing for Chapter 9 in federal court. Predictably, massive debt is accompanied by soaring taxation levels. The city’s tax burden per capita is about twice as much as neighboring cities. This, of course, drives more of the population to escape the city which perpetuates the budget problem. Only 700,000 citizens – a population that has plummeted 28% since just 2000 and 61% in the last 60 years – down from a 1950 peak of 1.8 million – share the burden of the 1.1 billion dollar revenue the government brings in per year. Detroit has the highest property taxes of big cities nationwide (which relies on inflated property value assessments) and nearly half of the 305,000 property owners simply did not pay their property taxes last year. When you see what kind of “services” they receive you might understand why. Services, it’s worth noting, that are funded with only 40% of the budget while the rest goes strictly to interest on the debt.
Imagine you made $50,000 a year and $30,000 went straight to interest payments on your $1,000,000 worth of debt – never even touching the principal.
With one of the biggest local governments in the nation it is no surprise that Detroit society has become one of the most violent in the nation. The more wealth the parasitical class extracts out of its host population and the more economic regulations enacted that favor the politically well-connected, the higher the poverty rate will climb. This is without taking into account the devastating effects the American welfare state has on the poor – and the families of the poor. Additionally, less than a quarter of Detroit high school students are graduating from the government run and funded schools. In a city with an economy already shattered, they don’t even have a high school education with which to compete in the job market. When people have nothing, they have nothing to lose. There is no higher crime rate in any major US city.
Here are your chances of being victims of crimes in the third world city of Detroit compared to NYC and the country at large (excluding crimes committed by the state):
Chances of being a property crime victim:
- Nationwide: 1 in 34
- New York City: 1 in 44
- Detroit: 1 in 16
Chances of having your vehicle stolen:
- Nationwide: 1 in 436
- New York City: 1 in 613
- Detroit: 1 in 62 …Motor City doesn’t make cars anymore. They take cars.
Chances of being a victim of violent crime:
- Nationwide: 1 in 259
- New York City: 1 in 126
- Detroit: 1 in 46
Chances of being either a victim of violent or property crime:
- Nationwide: 1 in 30
- New York City: 1 in 33
- Detroit: 1 in 12
There were a record 411 murders in 2012 in Detroit, up 9% from the previous year. Keep in mind, this is in a rapidly shrinking population. The murder rate has reached a 40-year high in the city. Crime rates are exacerbated by other factors as well. There are 78,000 abandoned structures in the city providing numerous avenues of escape for potential thugs. 40% of the city’s street lights do not work at all, casting a cloak of darkness over the city allowing for criminals to more easily be hidden from view.
The police force has been cut by 40% in the last decade. There are warning signs on the outskirts of the city warning visitors that they enter Detroit at their own risk because the police are grossly understaffed. Police response time is about 58 minutes compared to a national average of 11 minutes while most stations remain closed 16 hours a day and only take calls during business hours. Detroit’s police solve less than 10% of crimes and if you take into account property taxes that rate is far lower. If you are a victim of a violent crime, not only are they unlikely to bring the perpetrator to justice, but your outlook for receiving medical attention is dim with only one third of the city’s ambulances operational.
Even after all the damage that local, state and federal governments have done to Detroit there is hope. People are coming together voluntarily and working to overcome the lawlessness and chaos caused by Detroit’s particularly violent government. As Robert Taylor of PolicyMic puts it, “One needs to look no further than the city of Detroit to find the spontaneous order, civic cooperation, and peaceful market forces that take over when government simply isn’t around.”
In the area of security, the Threat Management Center has stepped up to provide real protection and crime prevention for nothing or next to nothing for the poor. According to an interview with Dale, the director of operations, law enforcement is more concerned with prosecution while the Threat Management Center is more in line with what people want – a violence free life. The firm achieves this by focusing on prevention, which they call “Opportunity Denial”. Dale says their business model is centered around creating conditions for a good quality of life in order to prevent violence from occurring in the first place. Embarkations – searching buildings before their client arrives – and escorts are integral parts of this policy. The private security firm has been preventing hijackings of cigarette trucks – which used to be a major problem – for a company worth $300 million and they more recently began performing the same service for a $100 million company. This has allowed them to perform services to others for free, which they take full advantage of. On Saturdays in Detroit they put on a television show called “Threat Management Center” which covers self-defense techniques including gun and knife disarms. They provide instruction and emphasis on psychology, law and skill (in that order) for people to use should they need to defend themselves. “Free Family Friday” is a Friday class that they hold weekly for free at their facility and people can attend as many times as they would like. Self-defense is taught in person at their facility. The focus is on escape, but other options are provided for worse case scenarios. Stalking and domestic violence victims go to the TMC for protection, another free service the company provides. Amazingly and in direct contrast with their state counterparts, in twenty years not one person who has sought their help has been killed or injured; not one of their staff members has ever had to go to court for civil or criminal reasons; not one person on their staff has been killed, although six have been shot. The director, Dale, who initially started the company by himself, originally designed a self-defense system based on knowing the law and tactics but later improved his system after learning the importance of psychology. This led to strategies for manipulating the aggressor into not escalating the situation, leading to less violence all around – the free market at work in discovering best practices! Nothing compared to the stagnant bureaucratic train of non-progress of the state.
In addition to safety efforts being pursued without the unsafe and counterproductive practice of taxation, there are other community efforts under way to counter the manufactured societal collapse caused by the greedy politicians. “Fireweed Universe City” is a “grassroots movement to realize a sustainable eco-friendly community” where “everybody has the opportunity to self-actualize,” according to affiliate Mars Psyence. The group has taken shelter in and tended to abandoned properties. The community has artists, gardens, rainwater collection (which is illegal in some parts of the nation) and it took people in when Occupy Detroit ended. Mars reports that the surrounding area has been welcoming, but noting that his bike shop is however on the city’s bulldoze list and local drug sellers are upset with the gardens because it’s bad for their business. His bike shop takes in old bikes, fixes them up and gives them out for free to children who do a little painting or other community service, which for children under five can simply be calling their grandmother once a week. “Grand River Creative Corridor” is another group focused on beautification. It’s located on a half-mile stretch of Grand River between Rosa Parks and Warren Avenue with fifteen building with murals and outdoor art galleries on vacant land. The group does massive clean-up days sometimes attended by over 300 volunteers. “Free Detroit” is a market anarchist group intent on buying up houses from the cheap housing market and creating a libertarian enclave in the heart of the beast.
There is even a bus service – yes, shockingly public transportation can still be provided. As PolicyMic reports, “The Detroit Bus Company (DBC) is a private bus service that began last year and truly shows a stark contrast in how the market and government operates. Founded by 25-year-old Andy Didorosi, the company avoids the traditionally stuffy, cagey government buses and uses beautiful vehicles with graffiti-laden exterior designs that match the heart of the Motor City. There are no standard bus routes; a live-tracking app, a call or a text is all you need to get picked up in one of their buses run on soy-based biofuel. All the buses feature wi-fi, music, and you can even drink your own alcohol on board! The payment system is, of course, far cheaper and fairer. Comparing this company’s bus service to say, my local San Francisco MUNI transit experience, is like comparing the services of local, free-range, organic farms in the Bay Area to the Soviet bread lines.”
These are just a few examples out of many ongoing peaceful efforts. There are the “Food rebels” running local community gardens; private parking garages are appearing; Detroit residents are using Lockean homesteading principles on land left in the wake of the Fed’s housing boom and bust; and community events like Biergartens are being organized without permits (pure anarchy!). The peaceful, spontaneous order has even influenced the city’s flourishing art scene.
If you want to get an idea of where the United States is heading, Detroit is a glimpse into the future. If $28,500 in debt per capita is enough to bankrupt Detroit, what does that mean for the debt per capita of the country? If we consider the feds’ official debt numbers to be accurate, the national debt is just over 17 trillion dollars now. Divided by the population of 310 million that comes out to $53,000 per capita. If you include the official CBO’s estimates of unfunded liabilities, the debt exceeds 202 trillion which puts every American on the hook for $650,000. That’s over twenty times the debt per capita in Detroit. What does this mean? It means the Federal Reserve has no choice but to keep injecting $85 billion worth of economic heroin into the economy per month, while the markets crash every time the Fed talks about reducing it to 50 billion out-of-thin-air dollars a month. The only question that remains is not if, but when the patient will overdose. If Detroit is any indication (not to mention technology advancements in general), there might be cause to be optimistic about the future. There are already reports out of Houston and Oakland that citizens there are employing private security firms in their cities.
Is Detroit a utopian free market society? Not even close, but the market is stepping up where the government, big business, and big unions fight it out in court for what little remains of the city’s wealth. Fortunately, history has shown that freedom tends to expand where governments go broke.
The Truth About Detroit’s Bankruptcy
This is What Budget Cuts Have Done to Detroit … And It’s Freaking Awesome
The Local Focus: Free Detroit Series – Threat Management Center
The Local Focus: Free Detroit Series- Fireweed Universe City
Fireweed Universe City: #Anarchy in Detroit, Part III