Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business has an article titled, “Many dollars, little sense: Projects that seemed like good ideas at the time…,” which looks at high-profile government projects long on promises but short on results.
Shea cites AutoWorld, the Detroit People Mover, Pinnacle Race Course, Unity Studios in Allen Park, Asian Village and the Jefferson plant deal.
Unfortunately, because of the incentives for politicians and the coverage from the media, these “bold” government projects too often are the norm. In recent years, this has included film subsidies, MEDC select business deals focusing on “green energy” and the “cool cities” project. It even led one former legislator to say that the MEDC should “stop believing its own press releases.”
If there is one lesson from Detroit and the “lost decade” in Michigan it is that flashy government projects do not make for sound public policy. Legislators should focus on the basics of government service and leave the rest to the private sector.
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