Saving Detroit: The Privatized Solution (Part 1)

By David Docekal, The Hypercapitalist


Let me start first off by saying that I am not from Detroit nor do I visit it often but my theory for a solution to the problems plaguing the historic city can be applied universally if given the chance. My ideas for privatizing a large American city are not exactly original. Detroit was used for that very scenario in the Robocop movies however I have thought this out in a little more detail. I really am confidant that privatizing the city would not end with large robots equipped with big guns terrorizing citizens.

Detroit needs a reboot. It needs the confidence of its citizens and leadership. It needs the confidence and investment of the State of Michigan. There are dark days here now and there will be more ahead but renaissance is coming.

As I do more and more research, it seems more feasible. The question becomes ‘how?’. That is what I plan to address in this series.

It all comes down to money. This is true in pretty much every aspect of our lives. Money will be needed to save the city but where will it come from? It will come from the State of Michigan and the citizens of Detroit but not from tax money. The money will be raised with the purchasing of stock in the city. Michigan wouldn’t be bailing out the city, it will own part of it as an investment.

Privatization gets vilified in the Robocop movies but lets set that fictional account aside. The question is: would citizens take more pride in their city if they had actual equity in it? Had a direct stake in the city’s performance? I guess you could argue that with property taxes but pride in ownership goes a long way when its a private investment.

As I do research and post in this blog, I will go into more detail but for now lets reflect on what this could mean for the people of Detroit and the nation as a whole.

I welcome your feedback..

Please see comments. More info and feedback provided.

5 thoughts on “Saving Detroit: The Privatized Solution (Part 1)

  1. Hmmm… this is an interesting idea. Where would the ROI come from? Would the investments go to local businesses that would be then required to share their earnings with investors? What about private residences? There is no money to be made from private residency without taxes, would that incentivize investors to pull eminent domain on residential areas? Would a city run purely on profit motive feel any need to provide public services like libraries and parks? I would be curious to see how this would work. Would city services like police / fire / parking be handled by private companies? Interesting indeed… I feel like I need to watch Robocop, you are the second person I’ve heard mention the movie this week.

    • The return on investment would come in the form of shares of stock to investors in the city corporation. The shares would be valued by a marketplace set up specifically for the buying and selling of stock in the city. The value of course is worth the demand. Citizens of the city would automatically get a certain number of shares without having to purchase upon their first tax return (to prove residency) living in the city. That gives them the ability to be vested in their hometown without having to suffer a possible burden of purchasing shares. It would otherwise be like owning any other stock in a company. It would have the chance to increase in value and be sold as needed.

      Additional shares can be purchased anytime. However, they would be designated “non-voting” until proof of residency is provided. Then they would be converted to voting stock.

      The investment account could be managed online, on the phone, through your regular broker or at an office for the Department of Shareholder Affairs. This would accommodate low income stockholders who may not have access to the internet or even a phone.
      Residents would be able to buy voting shares in the company. The annual voting would elect a board of directors that would in turn hire a CEO and vice presidents to manage the city day-to-day. Executives would receive sizable but not outlandish bonuses based on the city’s performance for that fiscal year.

      Outside investors (or non-residents) can buy shares in the Detroit Corporation but they would be non-voting. This would minimize the risk of outsiders deciding city management but would afford the opportunity for the rest of the world to put their faith and support into Detroit. Non-voting shares are also given to any corporation regardless of residency. Voting shares are designated for resident individuals only.

      This would all be backed up by the “I Own Detroit” ad campaign featuring everyday residents along with celebrity residents, like Eminem, sharing their pride in ownership and pride in their hometown.
      The point is to promote pride, faith and commitment in the city. And above all: accountability.

      Taxes would still be a factor. Property and Income Taxes would be used strictly for infrastructure, payroll and other day-to-day city services. Investment capital would be used for capital projects such as beautification, stadiums, parks, etc.
      Other revenue would be from sales tax that could be partly allocated to a special fund for low-interest loans for qualified locally-owned small businesses provided by the company’s banking subsidiary. Other money would be donated to registered, accredited food pantries within city limits.

      The corporation would take possession of all current city services including emergency services, schools, libraries, infrastructure, etc. Each department with a dedicated vice president appointed by the CEO.

      This is only the beginning…

      • I think this is a cool idea. I don’t think lack of pride is where Detroit faltered. I think it had more to do with bloated government, unsustainable pension systems, etc. But a people “owned” government (which is what governments are supposed to be anyway) would go a long way to relieve some of those issues.

  2. Privatization isn’t the monster people make it out to be. In many cases, it’s far more efficient than unaccountable bureaucracies. I used to believe the baloney that my leftist teachers taught me but now I see it doesn’t correspond to reality. People need incentive. Big governments rob people of that when they become dependent on hand-outs. On the other hand, people take pride in the things they own when they have a say. History shows the chronic failure of socialism and the blessing law-abiding capitalism brings to society.

    • Bruce,

      I completely agree. With incentive comes involvement. With involvement comes pride. I think that the model of privatizing the entire city as one company could work. Let me know your other thoughts. Feel free to email me.


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