- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The disintegration of Detroit has been occurring for well over half a century (“Detroit files for bankruptcy,” Web, July 18). If you grew up there, as I did, you still cannot believe what has happened.

In years past, an autoworker with an eighth-grade education could work on the line and make enough for a house, a new car every few years and, if they were really industrious with their sweat equity, a lakeside cottage. The lower peninsula is pocketed with dozens of inland lakes.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is probably the first honest politician to grace the city in decades. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr is erudite and well-spoken, with demonstrated competence. Unfortunately, it’s too late for Detroit’s neighborhoods and residents’ pensions, their children’s educations and their livelihoods.

It’s not like there was no warning. Columbia University history professor Kenneth Jackson documented the challenges for inner cities in “Crabgrass Frontier” in the 1980s. Douglas Rae of Yale University wrote “City Urbanism and Its End” to document what happened to New Haven, Conn., which had the nation’s highest per-capita infusion of federal “progressive” urban-development funds.

Detroit was the nation’s leading example of one-party rule, and a laboratory for every progressive social-engineering experiment that has ever emanated from Washington. At this point, progressivism should be regarded as a disease. Ignore this advice at your peril; if you think Detroit cannot happen to your community or even your country, you are dead wrong.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston