If there’s anything to be learned from the downfall of Motown, the former jewel of American free enterprise, it’s that we need more unfettered government interference in our nation and its cities, right?

Or not! But this is what we’re hearing now – it’s the market’s fault. Clearly though, that’s just an excuse. Something else must be going on here, because somehow – absent any kind of government coercion, regulation, redistribution, or health-care program – Detroit came to be in the first place.

Absent government control, the automobile industry sprang forth. Absent government regulation, the city developed. Absent government health-care programs, many people came to have health-care.

The community thrived for one reason – productivity! It built a product with a balance of features that most people wanted and constrained by a price that most people could afford. The industry built the product efficiently – by reducing costs, in a manner that provided both benefits and profit; profit – the price of productivity.

People of all races, creeds and colors benefited from the resulting prosperity. Prosperity – remember that? Prosperity came with the opportunity of employment.  “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

While prosperity did not solve all social problems, nothing ever has and nothing ever will produce utopia. Prosperity did not exist there before, and, despite all attempts, cannot be legislated into existence since. For a while though, it provided a great standard-of-living for many more than would have had one otherwise.

After a time, success began to be taken for granted, to be preyed upon, to be ruled and regulated. Government and public-sector unions fed off it.

Government is the ultimate monopoly.

Without competition, there are few constraints on cost or quality; there is little reason to be productive.  Government and unions priced themselves out of the market.

Every regulation, large or small, carries a hidden cost. Politicians tend to pander with benefits and to ignore their costs.  Regulation begets regulation. We end up with a highly-regulated state that most can’t afford to live in, and that few want to live in. Industry is bound-up like Gulliver, tied-down with Lilliputian regulation.

We used to laugh at the Soviets for doing this sort of thing.

Motown went from producing cars to producing government, so people left. It’s really as simple as that.

People cannot print money or raise taxes to make ends meet. If we can’t work, we can’t pay. If we can’t earn enough, we go broke. There might not have been a single straw to break the camel’s back, but there was a tipping point.

And now, even the City faces these limits. As the good professor Glenn Reynolds often says, “Something that can’t go on forever, won’t.”

Why then, with all our brilliant politicians, do we only see this in the rear-view mirror? You who are so averse to all things Conservative might want to take note.