Interesting thought to counter the liberal takeover of NYC and do the opposite in Detroit to see which one has the best impact. create a low tax, limted regulation, limited safety net environment and watch growth and capitalism create a much better place http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303848104579308612337146296 But I know how to fix Detroit, because it reminds me of another favorite place, Hong Kong—two things so opposite that they evoke each other the way any Kardashian is a reminder that you love home and mother. Hong Kong's per capita GDP is among the highest in the world. But it was once a worse mess than Detroit. Devastated by Japanese occupation, the British colony's population had declined from 1.6 million in 1941 to 600,000 by 1945. Then, after the 1949 communist victory on the mainland, a million refugees arrived. Most of them were penniless. Britain's Labor government was penniless, too. Maybe Hong Kong could have gone into Chapter 9. But who would have been the bankruptcy judge? Chairman Mao? Instead Hong Kong had the good fortune to get John (later Sir John) Cowperthwaite, a young official sent out to push the colony's economy toward recovery. "I did very little," he once said. "All I did was to try to prevent some of the things that might undo it." Such as taxes. Even now, Hong Kong has no sales tax; no VAT; no taxes on capital gains, interest income or earnings outside Hong Kong; no import or export duties; and a top personal income-tax rate of 15%. Cowperthwaite was financial secretary from 1961 to 1971, Hong Kong's period of fastest economic growth. Sir John, however, wouldn't allow collection of economic statistics for fear they'd lead to political meddling. Some statistics nonetheless: During Cowperthwaite's tenure, Hong Kong's exports grew by an average of 13.8% a year, industrial wages doubled and the number of households in extreme poverty shrank from half to 16%. Hong Kong economics would mean curtailing U.S. welfare and benefit programs, but Detroiters seem to have found the holes in the social safety net already. Forty-four percent are living below poverty level. They could, however, benefit from the jobs and commerce in a vibrant, tax-free Hong Kong economy. Plus introducing Hong Kong's sharp-clawed wolverine species of capitalism into the Wolverine State would require a bold stroke from Washington. It's hard to imagine anything bold from this Congress of head-butting pro-wrestler wannabes. But something needs to be done. Sen. Rand Paul weighed in with a Dec. 6 speech at the Detroit Economic Club. (The economy may be gone, but we Midwesterners are "joiners," so there's still a club.) He said he'd introduce legislation creating "Economic Freedom Zones" with personal and business tax rates of 5%. Anyway, Detroit is broke. And so was Hong Kong. In 1949 the colony had just one asset. Hong Kong owned Hong Kong—all the land except what was under the Anglican cathedral. Hong Kong sold leaseholds, first for a little, then for a lot. And Detroit owns Detroit, or a very large chunk of it. In 2011 more than half the owners of Detroit's 305,000 properties failed to pay property taxes. Detroit has approximately 40 square miles of vacant land. If people cannot be convinced by reason, maybe they can be convinced by greed. Forty square miles equals 1.1 billion square feet. One recent estimate put Hong Kong land prices at more than $1,300 per square foot. Translated into Detroit, that's $1.4 trillion. So my investment advice: go short on Manhattan penthouses and long on empty lots in Detroit.