What do you get when you take the nanny state too far? Detroit, Michigan could give us some clues

We can see what America could become if we go down a path toward more big government, and it’s not a pretty picture.

Detroit, Michigan, formerly one of our finest cities, is a stark reminder of what can happen when big government programs are taken to the nth degree. The nanny state has made life dangerous.

The police in that city are now warning that visitors enter there at their own risk. For example, on Saturday, officers held an “Enter At Your Own Risk” rally to make it clear to outsiders that the police cannot protect everybody.

Donato Iorio serves as an attorney for the Detroit Police Officer Association. He told a reporter with the CBS affiliate: “Detroit is America’s most violent city, its homicide rate is the highest in the country and yet the Detroit Police Department is grossly understaffed” (Source: Kathryn Larson, WWJ, 10/6/2012).

He also added, “The DPOA believes that there is a war in Detroit, but there should be a war on crime, not a war on its officers.” And he noted that out of a force of 2,000 officers, hundreds have left the department since June.

And he pointed out that the situation has gotten desperate: “These are the men and women who we look to protect us… and police officers can’t protect you if they’re not there. Officers are leaving simply because they can’t afford to stay in Detroit and work 12 hour shifts for what they are getting paid… These police officers are beyond demoralized, these officers are leaving hand over fist because they can no longer afford to stay on the department and protect the public.”

So what does this have to do with the rest of us? Detroit is a picture of big government run amok. It’s a picture of what America could look like if some politicians get their way and we change from a network of free enterprise zones, with personal and family responsibility and private sharing into a planned command economy.

Of all the video shoots I’ve been on (and I’ve been on many, all over the country, and even a few overseas), our visit to Detroit a couple years ago was among the most memorable.

As you drive around Detroit, for miles and miles you see ruined houses everywhere. Often there are blocks where most of the houses are completely abandoned and in shambles. But then there’s also one or two families living in one of the houses.

A local black pastor, Levon Yuille, was our guide. He also got a “lookout” for us, to watch our backs during the taping for our program. Pastor Yuille said, “We are not in a Third World nation. This is Detroit, Michigan.”

Yuille noted, “In the ‘50s, Detroit was the number one industrial city of America. It was the gem of middle class prosperity….Detroit used to be one of our most vibrant cities, but now it’s lost half of its population and has a skyrocketing crime rate….The homicides here in the city are just out of control, and only about 10 percent of them are solved.”

Only about 30 percent of the children of Detroit graduate high school. About a third of the population is on welfare. About 50 percent are unemployed. Many factories are closed down.

What happened to a city that was once the 11th largest city in the country?

Pastor Yuille says that big government programs played a key role. He told me, “The design of welfare was to make things better for people. And I think with good intentions, folks thought if you go in and you give folks something, rather than motivate them—you know, the old cliché, ‘If you give a person a fish, they’ll never learn to fish, but if you take and teach them how to fish, they learn how to be self-sufficient.’ Welfare didn’t teach them how to fish; it taught them how to wait for somebody to do for them what they could’ve done for themselves.”

Furthermore, the big government programs broke the back of the family. Yuille laments, “When you had a mother that may have seven or eight kids and, you know, no dad in the home, and welfare discouraged a dad from being in the home, and so, that diminished the quality of life in the community as well as discipline in the home…[that] contributed so much to the demise of this community.” I still believe in a safety net, but this is complete abuse of the system.

Joseph Farah, founder of WorldNetDaily says, “Americans need to see what that city looks like, because that city is an illustration of what happens when you’ve got big government in charge. All the big government programs of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, all contributed to the blight that we see today in Detroit. And of course, the crumbling auto industry now taken over in part by big government, once again, doesn’t make it any easier.”

As we toured ruined neighborhood after neighborhood, Pastor Yuille added, “It breaks my heart to see what’s happened in the last 42 years. There was a time when these neighborhoods were beautiful, the lawns were well maintained, and you had houses in every one of these vacant spots. And to think that this is what’s happened to a city when the government said they were going to take care of people, this is the tragic end result.”

Yuille sees a warning for the whole country in the “enter at your own risk” city: “If we continue to do what Detroit did for 40 years—give people things they didn’t work for, give them social programs—we can expect this to happen all over America.”