Detroit Policy From a Free-Market Perspective

Ideas for the city in advance of the Detroit Policy Conference

I’ll be at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Policy Conference today.

I’m especially interested in the panel “Strengthening Detroit: Partners in Economic Development.” With Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, city Planning Director Maurice Cox and vice presidents from the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Detroit Regional Chamber on the panel, it’ll be up to moderator Stephen Henderson from the Detroit Free Press to bring any skepticism to the discussion about the value of command-and-control “economic development” programs for the people of Detroit. As we’ve pointed out time and again, broad-based economic liberty drives economic growth more than targeted subsidies to politically connected developers.

As a Tigers and Red Wings fan, I mourned the death of Mike Ilitch and look forward to hearing Chris Ilitch speak about the development around Little Caesars Arena. But my sports fandom doesn’t mean I can overlook the fact that it’s my ticket purchase and not my taxes that should be paying for those teams’ stadiums. (That goes for the Pistons, as well.) Unfortunately for sports team owners and the government officials who love to give them free money, academics continue to disprove the concept that stadiums drive economic growth in a community. Rather, they’re “an expensive psychological boost.”

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It will be very interesting to hear Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy talk about the city’s criminal justice system. In addition to being a moral endeavor, preventing crime is one of the most fiscally responsible things a local government can do. Post-conviction, there are policies such as reformed juvenile justice solutions, “swift and sure” parole accountability and other ideas that reduce recidivism, fiscal cost or both.

For more insight from Mackinac Center policy experts on issues of interest to Detroit:

I’m especially proud of the stories we’ve told through our “Working in Detroit” series, celebrating entrepreneurs who are succeeding in the city. See their stories at www.Mackinac.org/Detroit and then make plans to join us to meet the next generation of entrepreneurs at the Detroit Children’s Business Fair co-hosted by the Mackinac Center and Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan. This year’s event will be held at the Detroit Historical Museum in Midtown on May 13. Learn more at www.DetroitChildrensBusinessFair.org.


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