After my article on the tragedy of Venezuela, here is Harry Veryser, economist and native of Detroit talking of the reasons for the decline of the city that in the 1950s had the highest standard of living in the world. I have visited Detroit several times and my memory of it is of a city that has been abandoned. There is block after block of empty and very often burnt out shells of buildings. I would say that it looked like a bomb site, but Detroit city has even had the money to flatten the ruined buildings. They are a standing monuments to economic mismanagement. The enormous once beautiful railway station is greatest (or perhaps I should say least) among them. In the reasons that Harry cites, there are parallels with the decline of Venezuela in which government tries to control the economy centrally with disastrous consequences.
Harry, who heads the Masters program in economics is an advocate of the school of Austrian economics. His book, It Didn’t Have to Be This Way – Why Boom and Bust is Unnecessary portrays a compelling case for an economic system that allows the human person to flourish. He stresses constantly the importance of the culture and for local communities to be strong for the economy to prosper (we hear this in his remarks about Detroit too). He is also a committed Catholic and he draws on Catholic social teaching as the moral underpinning for the policies that he advocates. My review of his book is here.