Today, Chicago residents can count on their streetlamps working tonight and the police responding to emergencies in well under an hour. Unless they demand immediate action to address public employee retirement costs, that may not be true tomorrow.
It's easy to blame Detroit's problems on corruption, unions and overly generous pension benefits, but none of which were the primary cause of bankruptcy. Detroit may have mismanaged finances, but the state's cuts to revenue sharing doomed the city.
Poor Detroit. The City's been getting a ton of abuse over the past week or so ever since it was announced that they were filing for bankruptcy. It's just not fair. Detroit's a cool town. I can think of at least 10 good reasons why moving to Detroit isn't such a bad idea at all.
I feel bad for the folks in Detroit right now because it already sucks to live there, plus the Lions are usually bad, and with this new bankruptcy filing, it's just another blow to the hometown spirit.
The refrain on repeat across news outlets includes some combination of the following: decades of mismanagement, a shrinking tax base, the decline of industry, and corruption. All of these factors doubtlessly contributed to Detroit's financial distress, but as an explanation for it they are woefully incomplete.
The world will shrug when Detroit's art collection is put on the block, when cops are fired, when schools close and when real people suffer. But don't pay back bondholders and attention must be paid.
The Windy City is likely the next shoe to fall. Above all, elected officials around the country must take this lesson from Detroit: Do not spend money you do not have because one day, the bills will come due.
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