Detroit’s Decline and the Folly of Light Rail

Harvard’s urban economist Ed Glaeser wrote this little essay last spring. US president Obama and his advisors really need to spend some time with Glaeser. Here’s a fragment of Ed’s concluding paragraph:

(…) The defining characteristic of declining cities is that they have plenty of infrastructure relative to the level of demand. Detroit didn’t need the People Mover—an expensive monorail that glides over empty streets. And today, a Light Rail project is being pitched by the federal government, which seems to have learned nothing from the failures of past follies.

Neither Detroit nor the U.S. suffer from any profound transportation problem that can only be fixed with vast federal spending. The country doesn’t need more People Movers. It needs unleashed, educated entrepreneurs—and they will only be held back by taxes being funneled into fanciful make-work projects in a futile attempt to fix our economic malaise.