The Real Grosse Pointe Blank
by Karen De Coster
by Karen De Coster
The Integration Nazis will never give up on that glorious, little bastion of highfalutin charm known as Grosse Pointe, Michigan. They will not stop until it becomes yet another trashed-out, hideous suburb reflecting the State's diversity code.
The world famous Grosse Pointe sits on Detroit's east border, and it is actually a decentralized suburb that is made up of several, smaller Grosse Pointes, with each one having its own distinctive name and character. This is and has always been one of the more ritzy regions in the US. The Pointes sit on The Big Lake — Lake St. Clair, a little sister to our five, splendid Great Lakes. It's the kind of place that produces professional yachtsmen, rowers, equestrian riders, and tennis athletes galore. Grosse Pointe Shores is a wonderment of one lakefront mansion after another.
What is happening is this: the Detroit mobocracy, made up of liberal, corrupt career bureaucrats, is once again trying to get a free pass to trample all over Grosse Pointe's pristine province. They have continuously tried one tactic after another, for years, in order to stomp out Grosse Pointe exclusivity. Now it seems that the problem is the Pointes have too many beautiful lakefront parks, and heaven forbid, they allow only Grosse Pointe residents into the Grosse Pointe parks. The usual cries of racism abound.
The mobocracy recently succeeded in getting a state court to look into taxing the Pointes because they do not let non-residents into their parks. And yes, this is not about letting in non-residents in general; it is nothing more than attempting to pave the way for Detroit residents to go anywhere they please, and to heck with the sanctity of other communities. It is about "diversifying" a nearly all-white suburban area. No other community is complaining about the Pointe parks except Detroit.
You see, the mobocracy has found a nasty, old state law that may have the Pointe parks losing their tax-exempt status if they do not open up to the general public. Michigan Tax Tribunal Chairman Michael Stimpson is set to rule on the issue this summer. Now first ask yourself — a "tax tribunal chairman?!" Imagine that! The decision will be entirely politically motivated, and it will come down to which side has lobbied its gains/losses more diligently to the bureaucrats up in the state capitol.
Opening up the Pointe's parks to all comers would be ruinous. It would add a whole separate level of Tragedy from the Non-Residents upon an already Tragedy of the Commons. It would flood the park with low-income non-residents who have no interest in maintaining the showcase jewel of the Pointe communities — its lakefront parks.
The city of Detroit has its own parks, and guess what? It can't keep them clean, safe, or free of bums, thugs, and drug addicts. Detroit parks are a wasteland of garbage, uncut lawns, locked restrooms, blasting boom boxes, and menacing gangs. And so the urban mobocracy threatens the Pointers to let them into their good parks, otherwise they will use the force of government to cause the loss of a beneficial tax status that will cost them considerable dollars.
From a recent Detroit News article: "This could open a whole can of worms," said Mark Wollenweber, city manager of St. Clair Shores, which has three parks open only to residents. "Is Michigan Stadium open to the public? Can your kids go there and play a pickup game of football? Of course not. Does that mean it should be taxed?" Of course, this law linking non-resident conditions to tax-exempt status is the result of much pro-diversity, special interest lobbying in the past. So now, the Pointers are in a bind.
The Pointers are, generally speaking, Republican-conservative, old money, WASP folks. And they like exclusivity. Not necessarily by race, but by income level and lifestyle. The truth is that these Pointers pay enormous home prices and property taxes to live in such an exclusive area. The residents pay for the cultural accouterments and security of community. And they manage to make their communities stunningly successful.
The small number of blacks that live in the Pointes are as rich as the whites. Like the whites, they are local newscasters, lawyers, doctors, businessmen, CEOs, auto industry executives, pro athletes, and assorted celebrities. Why do they want to live there? Because they too value the cultural values inherent within the Pointes. They are more welcome into the Pointes than white me because they can afford the lifestyle and I can't. I feel fortunate to be able to afford a Grosse Pointe Starbucks. Racism anyone?
I grew up in St. Clair Shores, just a few blocks north of the Grosse Pointes and the line of demarcation to its west, 8 Mile Road. I lived for over a decade in the nearby, well-groomed, "Grosse Pointe wannabe section" of Detroit, too. I know Grosse Pointe and I know Grosse Pointers. They are not racists who desire to keep blacks out; they are merely a passionate bunch when it comes to keeping the wholesome quality of life in their tightly-knit, upper-class communities.
I also understand the yearning to get into the spectacular Pointe parks. I used to sneak into those parks with my brothers and friends as a child. For every one time we snuck in without getting caught, we got caught three or four times, and were tossed out. Even when we did manage to get over the high fencing, by the time we made it to the beach, someone called us over to look for our resident passes, and we came up empty-handed. We were all white, yes, but we didn't look like Grosse Pointe kids or dress like them. We stuck out like a sore thumb, from our hairstyles to our shoes. Racism? Or community rules?
Oh sure, as a St. Clair Shores-ite, I was just one of many who made fun of the snobby Grosse Pointers, because in the south end of SCS we were all on the outside looking in. We were only semi-stuck up, and we SCS-ites owned as many boats as the Pointers did, only our boats were a lot smaller. We had our own private parks, but they weren't like Grosse Pointe's parks. We wore Levi's elephant bell jeans instead of khakis, too. And t-shirts as vs. the standard Pointer polo shirt. They shopped at Jacobson's and we shopped at JC Penney. In imitating the Pointers, we would frequently say: "Buffy, do you sail?" or "oh Jonathan, we can't miss the luncheon at the yacht club."
We still make fun of them and their quaint ways (and so does Hollywood), but we admire the way they live. They are a fine bunch of people that just want to be left alone. That is something that should be possible to have happen if only we were not a society so hell-bent on left-equality, diversity, and social engineering, as opposed to voluntary association and personal choice.
The Grosse Pointers will probably win this immediate battle. At worst, they may have to dig a little deeper into their pockets to foot a few extra tax bills. But it will be worth it to keep the parks discriminating in favor of its own residents.
It's a good thing that my days of trying to sneak into the Pointe parks are over. I'm not a whole lot like them and I'd still stand out like a sore thumb.
July 15, 2003
Karen De Coster, CPA, [send her mail] is a paleolibertarian freelance writer, graduate student in Austrian Economics, and a business professional from Michigan. Her first book is currently in the works. See her Mises Institute archive for more online articles, and check out her website
Copyright © 2003 Karen De Coster