NEWS + ANALYSIS
SHIKHA DALMIA

NEWS + ANALYSIS

WITHOUT BIG CHANGES, DETROIT WON’T HAVE A SECOND ACT

September 2, 2013 | by Shikha Dalmia

"I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York's boom days," F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote. It's a good thing he wasn't talking about Detroit. The bankruptcy of Detroit, the largest of its kind on U.S. soil, is a lesson for the whole world. Anyone who thinks that government officials can micromanage something as complex as an urban economy ought to study Detroit closely. That this once-great American city seeks protection from its creditors—its accumulated debt totals $20 billion and its employee-pension program is $3.5 billion short—speaks volumes about man's ability to plan the economic and social order, which can thrive only when it is permitted to develop spontaneously in an environment of secure personal and property rights.

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