December 11, 2014 On Detroit and Mismanagement
I got into an argument recently about the decline of old Rust Belt cities such as Detroit, and my co-arguer raised the old chestnut that Detroit’s problems were due to mismanagement. Obviously, Detroit has had plenty of mismanagement and even corruption, just like plenty of other places.
But I’m not sure you can show a causal relationship, for at least two reasons. First, there’s no real way to quantify mismanagement- so how can you say for sure that Detroit is more mismanaged than anyplace else?
Second, if you respond that Detroit’s fiscal and social failure is evidence that Detroit’s mismanagement is unusually atrocious, then you are saying: Detroit’s failure is a result of mismanagement, and the evidence of the mismanagement is the failure. Isn’t that a circular argument?