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Time to privatize Detroit?
A street sign showing Detroit's city limits is shown near where a former Chrysler McGraw glass plant is being torn down along Ford Road in Detroit, March 22, 2011. (AP)

Time to privatize Detroit?

Hillsdale College professor Gary Wolfram sees the potential:

Suppose that portions of Detroit were simply sold to private developers to create private cities. This would require new statute, but imagine the possibilities. ACME Development Company might purchase 640 acres and build residences, both single family homes and multi-family. It would provide police and fire protection, roads and other infrastructure. There would be no property or income taxes, but residents would pay a fee much like condominium owners do now.

Schools would be charter schools and private schools. The developer would either build the school buildings and sell or lease them to the schools, or would lay out the city so schools would purchase land and build the schools themselves.

We cannot know the details of what such a development would look like, but I could not have known 30 years ago that my phone would be at my side all the time, take video, play music and surf the web.

The market would create incentive for innovations to occur in all sorts of areas of urban living, including what public services will be delivered and how they would be delivered. Detroit has reached the stage where it is time to do something drastically different. An experiment in allowing the market economy to produce housing and residential services would offer opportunities beyond our imagination.

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