Catch 22 is a phrase in the book by the same name that has come to mean a problem that has no solution, for it contains a circular argument, like those that have plagued Detroit for the past 63 years. These problems have been blamed for the misery of millions. Are they truly Catch 22?
To bring more business and population to Detroit, crime must be reduced. But crime cannot be reduced unless there are jobs that pay living wages. And jobs will not be created unless there are incoming businesses, which will not come because there is too much crime.
Crime will not be reduced unless would be criminals can find jobs to replace benefits of crime. To do so, those jobs must pay living wages. But a majority of the unemployed are illiterate and undereducated and do not qualify for jobs that pay living wages. Therefore, they cannot obtain jobs that will pay living wages. Without a living wage, crime will not be reduced.
America’s unemployed need jobs. To employ Americans, a minimum legal wage must be paid. But the world competes to make and sell widgets, and world wages to make widgets are less than America’s minimum legal wage. Therefore widgets must be made overseas and sold to Americans. Making widgets overseas keeps Americans unemployed and without jobs.
For the past 63 years, since the peak of employment and population, the leadership of Detroit, as well as most major cities in America, has accepted the Catch 22 paradigm that their economic problems are unsolvable and therefore, not really a burden that is theirs to carry. Accepting the Catch 22 paradigm means they condemn America to high unemployment and high crime in our inner cities. Accepting the Catch 22 paradigm means that millions of lives will go unfulfilled and wasted, that millions of children go unfed each night, and that our nation suffers as we commit the least of ours to an arduous lifelong pursuit of happiness.
Catch 22 paradigms are roadblocks that keep America’s political leadership from helping America to reach optimal output and productivity. Catch 22 paradigms are impediments that keep Americans from reaching their highest opportunity for all to pursue happiness.
Catch 22 paradigms, however, are merely paradigms that are placed in the collective consciousness of America by those that wish them to exist. America is conditioned to accept them yet they need not be accepted. Owners of capital benefit from them. Political leaders benefit from them. The rest of America does not benefit from them. If America accepts these paradigms, they continue. If America simply rejects these paradigms, they vanish.
Catch 22 paradigms support the efforts of owners of capital to create maximum wealth but cost trillions of dollars and millions of jobs in the American economy. America could force American capitalists to spend their dollars in America. But our history, principles, and laws support the freedom of owners of capital to spend their dollars in whatever part of the world provides the highest returns.
To force owners of capital to spend their dollars in America would require a change of laws that would turn on our principles of freedom for all Americans. We cannot turn our back on our heritage of freedom. Therefore, we accept that the economic engine of America, the capital of our wealthy elite will be spent in other parts of the world, costing trillions of dollars of loss and millions of jobs in our economy.
Solutions do exist to Catch 22. American owners of capital can make profits in America to employ our workforce without forcing them to spend dollars here if political compromise is made to allow equivalent profit. Jobs can be created that include a living wage, if political compromise allows for living wages. Crime can then be reduced and the pursuit of happiness can be lifted to a higher plane. And believe it or not, all of this can be accomplished without spending more tax dollars, which is the ultimate cry of those shouting Catch 22.
These real and viable solutions, however, require political compromise. America’s economic problems have arisen from deep seated differences of vision that drive conservative and liberal parties alike to pursue their own visions without compromise, producing the political vacuum that must exist for Catch 22 paradigms to live.
In Detroit, one vision is for all that have made it through the gauntlet and that have risen at least to the middle class to escape to the suburbs, and to make Downtown a playground fortress against the poverty of the inner city, while giving up the rest of Detroit’s citizens to Catch 22. The other vision is to form a grass roots effort to fight the plight caused by Catch 22 to all of Detroit’s citizens, yet without attacking Catch 22 as a mere paradigm. They therefore accept its paradigm that economic suffering must continue. Detroit’s two opposing visions have fought compromise since the riots of 1967 brought their opposing views into the political light.
Problems that such a lack of compromise creates in Detroit then cause the city to fester without solution. Polarized city political leaderships acquiesce to the meager capital investments left for their cities as they pursue their opposing political visions. Polarized state political leadership compete with other states for limited capital investments by promising owners of capital that they will not have to share the tax burdens of the state. And polarized federal political leaders pass legislation to allow for owners of capital to make maximum profits overseas at the expense of jobs at home.
Political leaders become convinced that their political interests lie closer to the owners of capital than to those of the rest of their constituency. Without having to compromise across the aisle, they pass Catch 22 legislation that make it easier for owners of capital to invest dollars overseas while escaping the uncompromising political fighting that continues at home. Political leaders’ efforts on behalf of America’s elite become an easier route to remaining in political power than having to bend in political compromise on behalf of America.
Detroit’s solution rests in ending Catch 22. America’s solution rests in ending Catch 22. The solution to ending Catch 22 rests in political compromise that puts Detroit’s future, America’s future ahead of political expediency. Viable solutions exist. Jobs can be created. Owners of capital can be rewarded in America. Much suffering can be banished. The American economy can return to prosperity.
No Catch 22….