- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Could smoking reefer and having risky sex with hookers be the solution for an economic crisis? That’s what a prominent Midwestern Democrat thinks. This “sin solution” exposes a desperate attempt to distract voters from the fact that a morally bankrupt Democratic Party is driving the nation over a cliff.

On “Michigan Matters,” a local TV show on Saturday, Geoffrey Fieger recommended that Detroit - long known as the car-producing capital of the world - should rebrand itself as a new, more risque Sin City. If he were mayor, “I’d tell the police department to leave marijuana alone and don’t spend one dime trying to enforce marijuana laws,” he said. “I also would not enforce prostitution laws, and I’d make us the new Amsterdam.” Supposedly all the bread and circuses and debauchery would give the Motor City economy a needed shot in the arm. “We would attract young people. You make Detroit a fun city, a place they want to live, and they would flock here,” Mr. Fieger explained. The same empty promises were made when casinos were approved in Detroit 15 years ago.

Before you write this guy off as some loser ex-hippie stuck in the 1960s, it’s important to know that Mr. Fieger was the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor in 1998. He received more than 1 million votes for the Great Lakes State’s highest office and is one of the most successful trial attorneys in America. Michigan State University’s trial school is named after him. Not shy to embrace controversy, Mr. Fieger burnished his reputation defending Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian, the trailblazer of the assisted-suicide movement who was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison for snuffing people out in the back of a dingy, rusted-out 1968 Volkswagen van to ostensibly end their lives with dignity. The big-ticket lawyer’s sex-and-drugs program perfectly encapsulates what the party of FDR, LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama has come to represent: bad economics and worse morals.

Mr. Fieger’s right about one thing, though. By just about all economic and social indicators, Detroit is the pits. Motown’s unemployment and illiteracy rates are stuck around 50 percent, and infant mortality is worse than in hellholes like Syria, Russia and China. Miles and miles of abandoned property have created a moonscape taken over by packs of wild dogs and truckers dumping industrial waste in the middle of the night. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl once observed that Detroit’s urban wasteland reminded him of what his country’s bombed-out cities looked like after World War II. None of this means it can’t go to ruin faster; giving drug dealers carte blanche would only escalate the chaos. The Las Vegas area, America’s reigning den of iniquity, is one of the few places with a worse foreclosure rate than the Rust Belt, proving vice isn’t the best economic model. Abandoning the last vestiges of human decency will only make a tough place rougher.

Peddlers of New Amsterdam social policy might want to consider how officially-sanctioned immorality has worked out for the Dutch, where it’s normal to start smoking pot at 13 and drug addiction is skyrocketing. The low birthrate of native Hollanders has spawned an influx of Muslims into the Netherlands to pay taxes to keep the welfare state afloat. As a result, “integration and immigration” and “living together” are among the five national problems that worry the Dutch the most, according to a government report. Ethnic tensions are heating up there faster than a junkie’s spoon. From every angle, marketing wickedness is a bad move for places struggling during the Obama economy.

Brett M. Decker, a Detroiter in exile, is editorial page editor of The Washington Times.

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