Detroit Needs Capitalism!

P. J. O’Rourke has a reputation as a humorist but he is spot on with his analysis of Detroit/Hong Kong — and having been to Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, O’Rourke is absolutely correct that Detroit could be regenerated IF some, many, or I would argue all of the economic policies of those entities were instituted.

Ain’t no chance, of course.

Now, admittedly, some of those radical capitalist solutions run up against our sensibilities, but…

Just yesterday, I wrote about my liberal Commanding Officer (who was a great CO), even if he did ban me from discussing politics in the Wardroom of our Submarine. Today, with O’Rourke’s article it becomes apropos to mention why my CO banned me from discussing politics.

We were leaving our patrol are area enroute to Hong Kong, five of the six officers of the Wardroom were discussing what we were going to buy in Hong Kong.

Knowing the liberal leanings of my CO, I asked if my CO opposed child labor?

He said, “Absolutely.”

I asked my CO if he supported minimum wage laws?

He said, “Absolutely!”

I asked if my CO was going to buy what the rest of us were going to buy — custom built shoes, custom shirts, jackets, etc.

He said “Certainly”

I said, “You know that there are no minimum wage laws in Hong Kong, no child labor laws, and in fact no government welfare or support systems at all! Shoes are normally constructed by six to ten year-old boys, custom clothing sewn by 80 year old women. No “unemployment Insurance”! In Hong Kong, it is work or die!”

It was at this point that he banned me from discussing politics in the Wardroom!

He called me into his stateroom a few days later, apologized (saying he had overreacted), and said the ban was lifted.

I suspect that radical capitalism is a bit dog-eat-dog for most people, but the closer one gets to that system the more economically successful an geographic entity will be. North Korea cannot compete with South Korea. East Germany could not compete with West Germany. Cuba and oil-rich Venezuela cannot sustain themselves much less compete.

O’Rourke is absolutely correct about Detroit. A first step would be to use Detroit to test the Jack Kemp proposed Enterprise Zones of several decades ago. That will not happen in a Democratic administration, or course, but it would jump-start Detroit like nothing else can.

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