The United States has the most productive economy in history and leads the world with fast growth, rising real incomes, and wealth creation for all citizens. These are the fruits of the American institutions of limited government, individual rights, and a culture of innovation.
However, when you come to Michigan and especially Detroit we see a backwards view of how the economy is supposed to run.
Detroit must reestablish the role of its founding principles in shaping its politics, education, and economics by guiding policymaking and defining the grounds of self-government. Detroit must restore the courts to their constitutional role and enforce limits on government instead of special interests.
This is why I developed the Covenant for Detroit. It is a model that urban conservatives can begin to promote to bring back prosperity to our city.
There have been many attempts to discredit free market economics here in Detroit by many paranoid politicians who people elect by name recognition. However, most of them inadvertently actually provide sufficient evidence of its efficacy as an economic system for Detroit. Many proponents of a failing economic system envy the European model of social welfare systems but forget to point out that economically many run market systems that allow competition amongst the private sector. The capitalist system is efficient precisely because it generates wealth and jobs which in turn provide tax revenue to Government to provide the social welfare schemes we would like for poor areas in Detroit to copy. For example, some of the countries cited here (such as Britain and Scandinavian countries) are some of the most well run free market economies with huge multinational firms, like, BP, Nokia, Philips, British Airways, and KLM.
In Detroit, a Covenant For Detroit is a platform that is necessary to transform the city. It is deeply rooted in policies, not just social ideologies.
The Covenant for Detroit is rooted in 3 deep core principles:
Accountability: The government is too big and spends too much, and the Detroit City Council and unelected bureaucrats have become so entrenched to be unresponsive to the public they are supposed to serve. The covenant restores accountability to government.
Responsibility: Bigger government and more city and county programs usurp personal responsibility from families and individuals. The covenant restores a proper balance between government and personal responsibility.
Opportunity: The American Dream is out of the reach of too many families in Detroit because of burdensome government regulations and harsh tax laws. The covenant restores the American dream.
No one is talking about these points very loudly because it could cost them political suicide. However, we are constantly electing people on name recognition and we are still receiving the same results. Our Detroit City Council, our Detroit School Board and Mayor are such negative distractions that I am calling on those who are serious to run for council or school board on this Covenant because it will bring solutions. Implementing the Covenant for Detroit is a three year process that both urban conservative and moderate candidates will run for office:
1. Detroit State Representative, Judicial and Wayne County County Commissioner races in August 2008.
2. Detroit Mayoral, Detroit City Council and Detroit School Board races in 2009.
3. Gubernatorial, Detroit State Representative, Detroit State Senate, Judicial and Wayne County County Commission races in 2010.
Look at how primitive we are fighting among each other on social and political power when 70% of our city lives in poverty. We are fighting the wrong fight. Economic engines are needed to increase job growth and prosperity for our future children.
The entrepreneurial spirit in Detroit has been increasingly stifled by burdensome taxes, regulations, and other government-imposed requirements that discourage risk taking by business and diminish the freedom and flexibility of Detroit workers. Entrepreneurship in Detroit is also currently dampened by overcriminalization in the judicial system, deteriorating public education, and a broken immigration system which discourages highly-skilled knowledge workers from coming to Detroit. If left unchecked, these obstacles to entrepreneurship will have an increasingly negative impact on economic growth, Detroit’s competitive position in the world, and ultimately our very liberty itself. It is therefore imperative that we unshackle Detroit’s entrepreneurs and allow the power of economic creativity to flourish.
A Covenant for Detroit is necessary because the married family in Detroit plays an important part in promoting economic opportunity: children raised by never-married mothers are seven times more likely to be poor when compared to children raised in intact married families. Meanwhile, religious institutions and individuals form the backbone of Detroit’s thriving civil society, providing for the welfare of individuals more effectively than government programs. Yet the role of these institutions in maintaining ordered liberty is poorly understood, and policy and social developments have factored in undermining their important contributions.
Our leadership in Detroit has proposed to expand government intervention in family life and to curtail religious influence in the public square. With this Covenant our goal is to build support for policy changes that strengthen marriage and the family and advance a robust understanding of religious liberty and the role of religion in society. The Covenant for Detroit's approach on family and religion emphasizes the empirical evidence about these permanent institutions’ contribution to the common good. Our objective is to convey the indispensable role of family and religion in our American order and in our conservative philosophy. We seek to shape a healthy public discourse that appreciates the historic and continuing significance of religion and moral virtue in Detroit civic life. We aim to strengthen and expand the current pro-family constituency and to unite religious and economic urban conservatives more effectively.
Widespread ignorance of modern day history is but the most recognized symptom of the troubling decline in popular knowledge of fundamental principles. We face an education system that upholds mediocrity in the name of relativism; an ever-expanding and centralized government, unmoored from constitutional limits; judges openly making laws and shaping society based on pop-philosophy rather than serious jurisprudence; and growing confusion over Detroit’s legitimate role in the world, made all the more apparent by the fundamental threat posed by radical extremists. At the root of all these problems is a pervasive doubt about the core principles that define Detroit and ought to inform our politics and policy.
As the leading authorizers focused on inner-city liberty, urban conservatives must lead the call to awaken our city and get it back on course. This is why the Covenant for Detroit is crucial to our survival. We must recall the city to its first principles, reinvigorate public policy, and revive the sturdy virtues required for self-government. We must restore the core principles of Detroit to their proper role in the public and political discourse, influencing public policy and reforming government to reflect home-rule limits. We must rebuild and unify a robust conservatism around, and in defense of, these core principles, and identify and develop current and future policymakers, opinionmakers, and leaders who understand, articulate, and will promote these principles. In short, our vision, building on the great successes of the modern urban conservative movement, must now be to save Detroit by reclaiming its truths and its promises and conserving its liberating principles for ourselves and our posterity.
Every year, thousands of children pass through Detroit Public Schools without receiving a quality education that prepares them to succeed in life, to compete in the increasingly competitive global economy, and to maintain the blessings and responsibilities of a free society. Among African American students in DPS, for example, only 24 percent of students graduate from high school. This widespread failure imposes unquantifiable costs on individual lives and our communities. As a city, it imperils our city, county and state security. For years, policymakers have sought to improve Detroit schools by increasing government control. But decades of increased spending and increased federal control have yielded little improvement in student performance.
Under the Covenant for Detroit every child in Detroit should have an opportunity to receive a high-quality education. An average student entering kindergarten today will have more than $100,000 spent on his or her behalf by taxpayers before finishing high school. We believe that families should have greater control over this investment: specifically, the power to choose a safe and effective school for their child. Giving families this power will encourage innovation and improvement that Detroit education needs for the twenty-first century. For these reasons, we are pushing to support policies that move educational control out of Detroit Public Schools and right into the families.
The result of so much government control is that health care is one of the most highly regulated sectors of the overall American economy. Government financing means government control, and government control means less personal freedom. Do we really want more government controlling health care (Universal Health Care in Michigan). Under the Covenant for Detroit laws and regulations would be changed at the federal and state level to enable individuals and families to own and control their own health care policies and to take them from job to job without tax or regulatory penalties. Currently, only nine percent of Americans directly purchase their own health insurance. Individuals and families in Detroit should be able to buy the health care plans they want at the price they wish to pay. Health plans and providers should be forced to compete on a level playing field in a free and open market where government will not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Finally, individuals and families should be free to choose health plans that accommodate their own ethics and morals.
Without REAL urban leadership Detroit will become a more dangerous place – for Detroiters and for freedom. If left unchecked, the growing dangers will only get worse and may reach the point where Detroit’s very existence is at stake. Transnational terrorism, rampant anti-suburban propaganda, unaccountable public school institutions, family proliferation, and regional conflict all represent real threats to peace and prosperity. We can deal with these grim challenges. Just as this Covenant for Detroit will help devise the strategies and plans to win the crisis in our city, it can and should do the same with respect to helping Detroit win the global war of ideas for freedom and security.