The following is an excerpt from the August edition Dollar Vigilante’s Homegrown newsletter. If you would like to get more articles similar to this subscribe to The Dollar Vigilante.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months then you know that Detroit has been going through some rough times lately. The economy of the city has been a slow speed train wreck for quite some time as bloated unions and statism in general has strangled the free market and driven all productive jobs out of the country. As a former poster child for American exceptionalism, the demise of the economy of Detroit is a great example to watch to see what the future may hold for the country as a whole.
We can all remember President Obama biting his lip and forking over 20 billion dollars to GM and Chrysler under the pre-text of saving those good ol’ American jobs. Since then the newly government owned car manufacturers have been enjoying the taxpayer funded interest free gravy train while employing people in countries where the labor is cheaper and less regulated. Final- ly, after Governor Rick Snyder appointed a team to examine the situation he was simply shocked to find out that Detroit was severely insolvent. After these revelations on July 18th of this year the municipal- ity of Detroit filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy which has turned out to be the largest bankruptcy in United States history. Things still drag on however as there have been several appeals to the bankruptcy as being unconstitutional. The final hearing date is now scheduled for October 23rd, 2013 on the cities eligi- bility for bankruptcy. Even once that fight is finished it is inevitable that Lord Barack will come along with his big bag of bucks and bail the bastards out once again. Rand Paul has said that the Federal government will bail out Detroit “over his dead body”, with the level of thugs currently occupying the levers of power I think he may not understand how much of a possibility that could be.
The full implications of this bankruptcy are still uncertain but as the politicians try to wriggle out of their hollow promises the people of Detroit will surely continue to have the rug pulled out from under them. The situation is surely beak for those that trust government and have refused to except the inevitability of the collapse of the local government. The picture maybe completely different however for those that are looking to rebuild things and step into the markets where the government has left a gaping hole. The “Free Detroit” movement is encouraging entrepreneurs to come and take advantage of the lax laws that have come about because of the underfunded city enforcement and offer private solutions in a low cost environment. I was lucky enough to talk to Katie Testa who is one of the main organizers of the movement and get some information on the actual events in Detroit.
James Guzman: Hi Katie, thanks for speaking with me today.Can you tell me from the ground level what exactly is going on in Detroit? What do you see as being the main cause of the problems with the economy?
Katie Testa: In Detroit, the government is incapable of providing even the most basic services to the city, evident by the deplorable police response times,crumbling infrastructure, and entire neighborhoods, once thriving and beautiful, are nearly entirely abandoned.
While many will point to a changing global economy, the tragic fall of the automotive industry, the evaporation of once abundant manufacturing jobs, and a history of sometimes violent racial tension, one culprit has remained hidden in plain sight: the state. A belief in the myth of authority, the idea that one person has the right to determine what another person may or may not do, expressed through electoral politics, taxation, and all other related government bureaucracy is clearly at the root of it all. As Mises wrote, “Each new intervention is an attempt to reverse the unintended consequences of the previous interventions.” A solution lies within changing the psychology of the people, and as a result, the culture in Detroit, and hopefully the rest of the world will follow suit.
JG: OK, so going forward what do you predict will happen with the local government?
KT: Going forward, I don’t anticipate any significant or meaningful changes in the local government. The city will continue to implement coercive policies it is unable to effectively enforce, while pillaging the hardworking and productive individuals that are actually capable of restoring the local economy. Given the city of Detroit’s history of corruption and lack of transparency, and the fact that anyone still seems to think the government is capable of handling the community’s problems, clearly there is very little incentive for accountability. Fortunately, and this is part of what makes the scene in Detroit so unique, many people are beginning to rec- ognize that the government is failing where the people are succeeding. Free Detroit aims to demonstrate that peaceful, voluntary, and mu- tually beneficial exchanges will pave the way to a more prosperous and free society outside of the government.
JG: Now that the public services have disintegrated in such a way can you tell us about some of the private services that have come forward to fill the void?
KT: There are new solutions to the problems left behind in the wake of government cropping up every day. The creativity and entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by the people here is really inspiring. There are a number of different organizations and services that come to mind. The Detroit Bus Company is a private transportation outfit offering a revolution private and public transit services, bus rentals, and tours of the city. Threat Management Center is a unique community service organization providing private security solutions far surpassing those offered by the police and other law enforcement agencies. The Mower Gang is a volunteer group that maintains the grass in public parks so kids have safe places to play. Still other groups board up homes, collect recycling, and mow lawns. First responders are now outfitted through charitable contributions, which brings an unprecedented level of connectedness between the community and the services they employ. It’s a very unique environment here in Detroit right now.
JG: How did the “Free Detroit” movement come about and what are your plans moving forward?
KT: The movement really arose spontaneously as anidea between a small group of individuals who are a part of The Michigan Peace & Liberty Coalition, which is a decentralized Michigan based organization founded on the philosophy of voluntarism. After a short discussion, the idea really took off and developed a life of its own. Free Detroit is an intentional direct action movement which aims to enable like-minded sovereign and peaceful individuals to find one another and establish meaningful friendships locally, while advocating the use of education, persuasion, and non-violent resistance as the primary means to bring about freedom in our lifetime. The primary strategy for doing so in the context of Detroit, is to develop a community of like minded entrepreneurial, self reliant individuals who purchase their own properties in close proximity to one another, essentially creating a high density level of individuals with shared values that is meaningful enough to create a connected community feeling as well as affect cultural change in the area through agorist means, from which a truly free society outside and indepen- dent of the state (government) can flourish.
JG: Many people that may be thinking of living or investing in Detroit may be concerned about the security. Can you address those types of concerns?
KT: Absolutely. Detroit is notorious for being one of the most dangerous cities in the US, and so this is one of the primary concerns of people interested in becoming involved with the project. That being said, I don’t think it is as big of a problem as it is made out to be. The false sense of security one has when the responsibility for one’s safety and security of one’s property is deferred to a government ser- vice is more dangerous than doing nothing at all, in my opinion. Ultimately, defense is the individual’s responsibility, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Solid doors, locks, lighting, and basic self-defense skills are important for everyone to have, not just those living in Detroit. I think the sorts of individuals interested in a community such as Free Detroit will most likely value self-reliance, and because of this will be proactive when it comes to security. I also think a cultural shift in the com- munity is possible, by developing relationships with neighbors and creating a community reputation known for being proactive in crime prevention. Also, the aforementioned Threat Management Center is entirely capable and willing to provide private security services for those interested in hiring them, and their rates are surprisingly affordable.
JG: Have you been getting support for you efforts with “Free Detroit” and what can people do if they would like to help?
KT: The outpouring of interest and support from around the world
has been absolutely amazing and inspiring. From those offering their own unique skill sets and services, to contributions of creative ideas, to a desire to offer financial resources, it is clear to me the possibilities for a community such as this being proposed are really limitless. There is more information on our website, livefreedetroit.org, for those wanting to get involved on the ground here in Detroit, or from home.
Free Detroit Facebook Page
Free Detroit Website
The Michigan Peace & Liberty Coalition Website
The MPLC Facebook Page
The Local Focus Facebook Page