The latest Bloomberg Businessweek features an excerpt of Charlie Rose’s recent interview with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder about Detroit’s bankruptcy. Snyder is kind in avoiding naming names for the Motor City’s woes, but he does offer this brief assessment.

How did Detroit wind up here?
Well, this was 60 years of decline, if you step back and look at it. You can go back to 1950, when there were almost 2 million people in Detroit. [Its population is now 700,000.] There are a number of structural things that went on in Detroit’s economy, but there were also a lot of neglected decisions that resulted in this tragic situation.

Why did Detroit leaders “neglect decisions”? Rose doesn’t ask, and Snyder doesn’t answer. But a proponent of public choice economics would have no trouble addressing the topic.

The neglected decisions almost certainly involved issues with long-term implications, longer than the terms of Detroit’s elected leaders. Moreover, these decisions would have led to benefits for Detroit residents and taxpayers generally without generating any benefits for the special interests that get politicians elected to office. Politicians’ choices to act in their own interests year after year — as everyone should expect them to do — do not necessarily translate into long-term viability for the community as a whole.