The good news about Detroit's bankruptcy filing is that it is causing lots of news coverage of that city and how it got where it is. While most people may have been vaguely aware that Detroit was not doing too well, not many outside Michigan have known the full magnitude of the disaster: loss of almost 70% of the population since 1950; going from America's wealthiest large city in 1960 to the poorest today; nearly 70,000 abandoned houses; houses for sale for $1000 or even $1 with no takers; most parks closed and almost half of streetlights out; highest murder rate in the country but police response time almost an hour; etc., etc.
This is the end game of Progressive government. Here's the recipe: be the highest tax jurisdiction in the vicinity; agree to generous pensions and benefits for unionized city workers in return for their working to get you re-elected; get as many people as possible into dependency and handouts; have a business environment hostile to start-ups and entrepreneurship while doing big-time crony-capitalism and show projects to get politicians' names in the papers and generate political contributions (e.g., Renaissance Center, casinos, new stadiums, the GM Poletown plant, the People Mover, etc., etc.). Of course, the demise of the UAW-ized auto industry didn't help, but that's only a reason why Detroit declined faster than other Progressivized cities, not a reason it was in decline to begin with.
The lessons appear incredibly obvious, screaming out to anyone who will look. Is it possible not to see? Well, yes. The last few days since Detroit's bankruptcy filing have brought out of the woodwork advocates for a Federal bailout, giving every possible reason why Detroit's situation has nothing to do with failed Progressive policies and instead comes from something else. Here, for example, is John Nichols today in The Nation, giving his explanation of the sources of Detroit's problems: