What motivational guru Ralph Marston laid out in the Tweet above is instructive in why Detroit so lags the rest of the world.
Metro Detroit is the world capital of zero-sum thinking. Any jobs that go to blacks or to women via affirmative action are seen as taking away from the jobs white men should rightfully hold. Any jobs that go to well-paid union members had to come at the expense of Timmy or Johnny, who doesn’t hold a union card but would gladly work for less. While the world is using BitCoin, we’re stuck fighting over rolls of quarters. We don’t think in terms of growth here, but in terms of redistribution.
Regionalism? That’s a four-letter word in these parts, where economic cannibalism rules the day. Even though it could save us all money.
For decades, it was Detroit’s suburbs that poached businesses from the city center, exploiting Detroit’s faults for their gain. Now that Detroit is en vogue, companies are moving from the suburbs to the city center. There are efforts to bring in non-native companies to the area, such as Twitter, which has an office in Downtown Detroit, and Whole Foods, which is opening a store in Midtown. But the thinking here seems to be that while bringing in new business is good, poaching it from a local competitor is even better. We don’t grow the pie. We wage pitched battles for every last piece of blueberry.
Southeast Michigan is the region that brought us Home Rule. That mentality is why most every two-stop light town has its own police force, school system, fire department and City Hall. Coming together in a regional sense would mean less fiefdoms to rule over, less police and fire chiefs and mayors and superintendents and office staffs on the payroll. And less of a tax burden in the long run. But we like our fiefdoms.
The good news is, we are all free to make better choices than that. Let’s put our focus on growing the pie, not just on eating a bigger share of it like we do in Metro Detroit. Maybe in a few years we’ll see construction cranes downtown again.