Ben Howe of RedState has created an excellent 40-minute documentary called “Bankrupt: How Cronyism and Corruption Brought Down Detroit.” It’s one of the most important cautionary civic tales in America – not just a requiem for a once-mighty city, but a warning to all the others lined up to fall in much the same way.
A recurring theme you’ll pick up from “Bankrupt” is that many fateful decisions were made in Detroit on the assumption that tomorrow would never come… and then it came. Rarely has a phrase like “legacy cost” carried such apocalyptic meaning. And you’ll notice that the people who make these ticking-time-bomb decisions have a gift for using the power of government to escape the consequences. Most of the people who tell you debt and corruption don’t matter are confident they won’t be around on the day when it suddenly does.
Decades of accumulated obligations leave very little room for anyone to maneuver when a crisis occurs. We should think not only about the costs we expect the next generation to bear, but also how many choices we are taking away from them.