Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Detroiters Must Think Differently If They Want Change by Akindele Akinyemi
If we began to invest in our inner city capabilities to integrate the City of Detroit into global networks of knowledge and creating prosperity and stability we may have a fighting chance to save it. This will mean confronting and overcoming a triple failure: corruption and abuse of power by black controlled governments, predatory practices by extractive industries, and the waste of resources by an uncoordinated and ineffective health care and educational system.
However, as long as there are issues such as prolonged violent conflict, bad governance, excessive external interference, and lack of an autonomous policy space. Alone, money cannot solve Detroit's economic development problems. Many families are leaving Detroit and therefore you have a depleting tax base.
Free market economics are the key to solving Detroit's economic development problems. It is they who can drive the city's economic growth and it is they who can make city governments better. If money is invested engaging the organic and transformative potential of local entrepreneurs, Detroit will flourish. If money is poured into government bureaucracies – which hold back these entrepreneurs – Detroit will continue to fail like it has under liberal rule for over 50 years.
Lastly, there is another way of solving this problem and it is being illuminated by, of all people, some of the poorest parents in the city. These parents are abandoning public schools en masse to send their children to charter or private schools. Overseas within the shantytowns of Lagos, Nigeria, for instance, or the poor rural areas surrounding Accra, Ghana, or in Africa's largest slum, Kibera, Kenya, the majority of schoolchildren – up to 75% – are enrolled in private schools.
Clearly, money alone does not solve problems here in the City of Detroit. What is needed instead are business, social, and political entrepreneurs who take responsibility for, say, making sure medicines reach the poor, rather than more grandiose slogans about comprehensive administrative solutions that only serve as publicity vehicles for raising yet more money for ineffectual aid bureaucracies. Entrepreneurs would be accountable for results, in contrast to the aid bureaucrats and rich country politicians who make promises that nobody holds them accountable for keeping.
If Detroit wants to come back to Earth then the people here must think differently.