excerpted from Robert Taylor for Business

Detroit is absolutely bankrupt. The city faces a cash shortfall of more than $100 million by June 30. Long-term liabilities, including pensions, exceed $14 billion. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wants to bail out Detroit’s city government even further. Thanks to the financial situation of Detroit, emergency services like police and fire departments are being severely cut short. 911 is only taking calls during business hours. Homes have been abandoned making parts of the city look like a ghost town.

The Detroit Bus Company (DBC) is a private bus service that began last year and truly shows a stark contrast in how the market and government operates. Founded by 25-year-old Andy Didorosi, the company avoids the traditionally stuffy, cagey government buses and uses beautiful vehicles with graffiti-laden exterior designs that match the heart of the Motor City. There are no standard bus routes; a live-tracking app, a call or a text is all you need to get picked up in one of their buses run on soy-based biofuel. All the buses feature wi-fi, music, and you can even drink your own alcohol on board! The payment system is, of course, far cheaper and fairer.Comparing this company’s bus service to say, my local San Francisco MUNI transit experience, is like comparing the services of local, free-range, organic farms in the Bay Area to the Soviet bread lines.
Not surprisingly, the city government, which has no time to protect its citizens, does manage to find the time to harass peaceful citizens in this spontaneous, market order. Charles Molnar and a couple of other students from the Detroit Enterprise Academy wanted to help make benches for the city’s bus stops, where long-waits are the norm, equipped with bookshelves to hold reading material.1_photo-detroit-busDetroit Department of Transportation officials quickly said the bench was “unapproved” and had it taken down. Silly citizens, don’t you know only governments can provide these services?
The Detroit Bus Company is just one of the more visible examples of the market and voluntary human cooperation reigning in Detroit. “Food Rebels,” running local community gardens, are an alternative to Big Agriculture and government-subsidized factory farms. Private parking garages are popping up. Detroit residents are using Lockean homesteading principles to repurpose land amongst the rubble of the Fed-induced housing bubble. Community events like Biergartens and large, civic dining gatherings (with no permits or licenses!) are being organized privately. Even Detroit’s artists are beginning to reflect this anarchic, peaceful movement in their artwork.Detroit’s city government may be in shambles financially, but the citizens of Detroit are showing what happens when people are given their liberty back. For centuries, libertarians have been arguing for strict limits on state power, the benefits of private, civic society, and the bottom-up, spontaneous order that arises where free markets and voluntary interactions dominate. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so scared and sicken with political Stockholm Syndrome the next time politicos fear-monger over budgets cuts.




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