Politics & Prejudices
Too little, too timid
Mayor Bing punts on the ballyhooed Detroit Works program
Published: August 3, 2011
In other words, like a true politician, he punted. That's what politicians do. Statesmen, on the other hand, make hard and sometimes unpopular choices. Detroit has boatloads of those.
Always did. We need a few statesmen, and that's what a lot of people thought Dave Bing was when they elected him.
So what's the solution? Frankly, the odds were that, at best, even a well-executed "Detroit Works" scheme would be a way for Detroit to fail more slowly, or to arrest decline ... for a while.
What's needed is to reverse the decline, and the population loss, and there is a clear way: immigration. Detroit should throw its doors open and open its arms wide to any educated immigrant, or any that promised to create jobs. That's what the city needs.
There is a huge prejudice against increasing immigration, under the wrongheaded idea that immigrants take jobs from poor people. Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth. Ask Steve Tobocman, the former state legislator who now runs something called the Global Detroit Initiative.
Immigrants are job creators, not job takers. In Atlanta, which has six times as many immigrants as Cleveland, the unemployment rate among inner-city blacks is considerably less.
Newcomers to this country created one-sixth of all new businesses started in Michigan during the most recent 10-year period we have hard figures for. What's more, they created almost one-third of all new high-tech, new-economy firms.
Vancouver got to be prosperous by encouraging panicky Chinese to move there after Hong Kong was taken over by the mainland in 1997. We could come up with a similar strategy.
Whatever else you think of him, Rick Snyder, who made a fortune in high-tech, gets that too. Immigration made this nation, he told a conference at Wayne State recently, and "is going to again be the key to our success in the future."
Incidentally, if you aren't foreign-born yourself, there's a simple way to study the descendant of a successful immigrant, one whom Geronimo would have considered an illegal one.
Look in the mirror.
> Email Jack Lessenberry