A year has passed since John H. Fund of the American Spectator argued that Detroit should be sold to private investors or to Canada. While I am hesitant over Mr. Fund’s proposal, such an overhaul should not be taken off the table. I would rather Detroit sell what is in Detroit (such as the contents of the Detroit Institute of Arts) rather than Detroit itself being sold.
Grandiose plans of revitalizing Detroit by pumping more and more funds into its dilapidated neighborhoods treats the symptoms, but not the disease. In my eyes, one of Detroit’s worse plights, but
by no means the only plight, has been its government.
There has been no shortage of explanations for Detroit’s present woes from the 1967 riot, to white flight, or the Great Recession.
I am not advocating that Detroit be made into another ‘unigov,’ ‘unigov’ being the Indiana Legislature’s 1970 consolidation of Democratic-controlled Indianapolis and Republican-controlled Marion County into one Republican-controlled ‘unigov.’ I am advocating that Detroit be made into 11 municipalities.
But isn’t dissolving a city government – let alone dicing one up – or dissolving any local government illegal, a flagrant violation of the right of self-rule guaranteed in the Constitution? Actually, it’s entirely legal, and no such right to self-rule for local governments exists under the Constitution.
The federal government cannot dissolve a state, but the states may dissolve whatever local government they wish. According to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Hunter v. Pittsburgh, local governments are entirely subordinate to the state government. They may be created, altered, or dissolved at the whim of the legislature.
According to Dean B. Stansel of Florida Gulf Coast University, Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn is one of the least economically free metropolitan areas in the nation. If it even fancies the idea, Lansing can and should dissolve Detroit, creating 11 new polities in its place.
Whichever powers are vested in the city of Detroit, Lansing should vest in its 11 neighborhoods, to the West Side, the East Side, the Palmer Park Area, the North End, the New Center Area, to Midtown, the Eastern Market Area, to Corktown-Woodbridge, to Southwest Detroit, to Downtown, and to the Jefferson Corridor.
The U.S. not only competes with the rest of the world; 50 Americas compete with each other first. Let 11 Detroits compete with themselves too.