Just what Detroit needs

Rod Meloni discusses Detroit police chief's call for higher taxes to ensure better police force

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®


Ask anyone in Michigan what Detroit needs and you are likely to get some interesting answers.

I would bet very few would say higher taxes. Yet that is precisely what Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee and the Detroit Police Commission and Mayor Dave Bing's office believe. Their belief is so strong they today asked Detroit City Council to ask Detroit residents to vote on a police millage this November. They want 500 more police officers on the street and the best way to get them [they in unison proclaim] is to have Detroiters vote to raise their own taxes yet again.

Read more: Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee proposes tax increase

This puts Detroit City Council members between a rock and a hard place. They no more want to suggest raising taxes in an election year than they want to keep current police staffing levels. It's a Faustian bargain at best. It is no secret there aren't enough cops to cover the city. It becomes painfully obvious when your house has been stripped or your car has been stolen and the cops don't show up to take a report for a couple of days! Sadly in Detroit, property crimes take a distant back seat to violent crimes. Unless you are being shot at and the 911 operator hears the gunfire, you may still have a long wait for a cop to show up! [And getting an EMS ambulance to the scene is a total crap shoot]

This may be the best and most shining example of the political struggle over taxation in this country right now. Consider that the City of Detroit's taxpayers suffer under the yoke of the highest tax burden in the entire state. They, at the same time, suffer with the highest poverty and violent crime levels in the state. Detroiters are paying a premium for the absolutely worst services. It is like paying $50,000 for a brand new car and having the dealer deliver you a tubercular junk yard hulk. This is why you hear the small government crowd screaming that when you're digging yourself into a big hole the best answer is simply to stop digging! Those who believe big government, with its high taxes and bureaucracy, are the solution to such difficult problems. Let's just step back for a second and look to see which is working.

Detroit has long been run by the notion that when things get bad, or there is a problem that needs fixing, raising taxes is the best answer. And here we are again. Detroit desperately needs more cops, more stability and more security yet it can see no other way to cope with this problem than to raise taxes on those already carrying a crushing tax load.

What Detroit needs is a system where you as a taxpaying citizen get what you pay for. What Detroit residents needs is a new philosophy that incentivizes participation. Right now people [and especially businesses] have left the city and its high taxes, crime rate and poverty. Reversing that trend requires you to stop digging that deeper hole! Margaret Thatcher, the "Iron Lady" of Great Britain once said the problem with big government [and socialism in particular] is that at some point you run out of other people's money. Well, as much as Detroit City Council would like it to happen the Federal Government is not sending the City of Detroit any money to solve these problems.

The State of Michigan has made it clear it is not sending any money to solve these problems either. The City itself has neither the cash nor the borrowing capacity anymore to solve these problems either. Somebody else's money has run out! At some point perhaps someone with any economics background in the city might look at this situation and realize the old AA adage: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

That is what Detroit needs!

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