Unfinished Jail Shows Why Local Government Doesn’t Work

If you can’t hold people responsible for the damage they do then local government is a pit of corruption rather than a means of self-government.

The bankruptcy of Detroit is already well known, but a recent story demonstrates how much the concept of local government in the nation is a pretense for fraud and corruption. Consider this Fox News headline: “Jailhouse Crock: Unfinished prison costs Detroit area taxpayers $1.2M per month.”

A prison in downtown Detroit that was deemed too expensive to complete is now a construction site frozen in time that still costs cash-strapped local taxpayers more than $1 million a month.

It was supposed to be a state-of-art lockup in the heart of the Motor City, but four years after breaking ground, with construction costs totaling $150 million and no end in sight, the city pulled the plug on the project four years ago.

Now, the Wayne County Jail sits empty among the ruins of a bankrupt city, costing taxpayers upwards of $1.2 million in debt service and monthly upkeep costs for electricity, security, sump pumps – and even off-site storage for pre-fabricated jail cells that will never be used.

“The Wayne County Jail was a mess since it was created,” Rose Bogaert, head of the Wayne County Taxpayers Association and chair of the Michigan Taxpayer Alliance, told FoxNews.com. “At this point, the only thing we should do is cut our losses. If someone is willing to purchase it, we should sell it.

“Everyone knows that these projects never stay within budget, and this one was in a bad location to begin with,” she added. “It never made sense. There needs to be more thought put into these projects before they start building.”

Really? Why should anyone put “more thought into these projects”? What is their incentive?

The most that could possibly happen is that some key decision-makers might not win re-election. But that is unlikely. The bottom line is that everyone who makes these decisions never suffers any real consequences for destroying the taxpayer base a little more. Furthermore, many people get rewarded by these boondoggles. The banks are happy getting their interest payments. The local security contractor is happy for the business. People who think “stimulus” is good for the economy won’t see a down-side here. “Yeah the project might not work out but at least we’ll help businesses make a profit.”

[See also, “$444 Million Hockey Stadium to Be Built In Bankrupt Detroit.”]

The only way that we can have real self-government is if the decision-makers are held responsible for their decisions. Otherwise, all we get is a never-ending parade of charlatans or incompetents who are used by charlatans. No one holds them responsible for keeping their promises.

And, of course, these same kinds of people are often used to eventually populate the offices of state governments and the Federal government. These people with this kind of track record get to build Healthcare.gov, pass Obamacare, and tell private citizens who have developed businesses that “you didn’t build that.”

Local government is a training ground for even bigger parasites.