Detroit Symbolizes America's Decline
by Stephen Lendman
America's economy is sick. It's getting sicker. Coverup and denial conceal reality. Census data say record numbers of US counties are dying. It's over one in three.
It reflects population shifts and Depression conditions. America's decline gets little attention.
Since 1981, 42 US municipalities declared bankruptcy. Ten did so in the past four years. Expect more to follow. Hard times getting harder assures it.
Detroit once symbolized industrial America. Might Motown resembles a ghost town. It's dying. It nears bankruptcy.
Fifty years ago it was America's fifth largest city. It's now 18th. In the last decade, half the population left. It's America's ghetto. Its neighborhoods are in disrepair. They're decaying and dying.
Half or more working aged residents have no jobs. Those with them have low-pay part-time or temp ones. They don't pay enough to live on.
Poverty is extreme. It's increasing. Nearly two-thirds of Detroit's children are impoverished. They're out of sight and mind.
Dozens of schools were closed. More closures are planned. Teachers were fired. Kids aren't educated. Nearly half the population is functionally illiterate.
Public services are eroding en route to eliminating them altogether. One-third of Detroit's 140 square miles lies vacant or derelict. Heavily blighted areas are increasing.
Tens of thousands of homes remain vacant. The median home price is $9,000. Many are much cheaper.
Property crime is double the national average. Violent crime is triple. Many areas aren't safe. Police are unapologetic. Go out at your own risk, they warn.
In the last decade, half the force was laid off. So were hundreds of firefighters.
More austerity cuts are planned. It's official policy. On March 1, Governor Rick Synder declared a financial emergency. Appointing a financial czar followed. He named bankruptcy attorney Kevin Orr.
He works for Cleveland-based Jones Day. His past experience includes government service. In 1991, he was counsel for the FDIC's Litigation Section.
From summer 1991 - mid-1995, he was assistant general counsel for the Resolution Trust Corporation's Complex Litigation and Bankruptcy Section.
From mid-1995 - February 2000, he was in the US Justice Department's Executive Office for United States Trustees. From February 2000 - January 2001, he served as Deputy Director.
At Jones Day, he's involved in business restructuring and all aspects of bankruptcy. He played a lead role in Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcy.
Plants were closed. Jobs were lost. Wages were slashed. So were benefits. Strikes were banned. Detroit's heading for the same abyss.
Claiming no alternative is false. It's a Big Lie. Making the city's rich and corporations pay their fair share solves fiscal problems. It's true across America.
Corrupt politicians complicit with corporate bosses want solutions imposed on the backs of ordinary people. They want them bearing the burden.
Orr's now Detroit's Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). His powers permit canceling union contracts, terminating pension obligations, cutting services, ending others, selling city assets at fire sale prices, and privatizing its operations.
Mayor David Bing implemented deep spending cuts earlier. He fired thousands of workers. He outsourced vital services. Profiteers took full advantage. Bing's got much more in mind.
Orr's in charge. His job is radically restructuring Detroit. Expect the worst ahead. He'll do it on the backs of ordinary people. He'll fire city workers, cut wages and benefits, erode vital services, and end others.
He'll hand over Detroit to bankers and other profiteers. Public resources will be plundered. Doing so assures greater crisis conditions. Unemployment will grow. Poverty will increase. Ordinary people will be left high and dry.
Public anger followed Orr's appointment. He's Black. Opponents call him an "Uncle Tom." On March 14, they protested outside Cadillac Place. It's a landmark downtown office complex.
Rainbow Push Coalition's Rev. David Bullock  expressed outrage, saying:
"They’re going to try to convince me that I should give up my right to vote, and put the city of Detroit in the hands of the same man who said he wasn’t going to pass right-to-work."
"(He's) the same man who took away the earned income tax credit….the same man (who's) taxing our pensions. Never, never!"
National Action Network's Rev. Charles Williams II  said:
"We're not worried about no Kevin Orr. Uncle Toms ain't nothing new. We've had Uncle Toms for a long time."
Tom Barrow is president of Citizens for Detroit's Future. He said Michigan's emergency manager law imposes diktat powers. It was created to oppress. It passed in mid-December.
It's similar to Public Act 4. In November, voters rejected it by statewide referendum. Governor Snyder and legislators ignored them. They have no say.
Draconian powers are authorized. They include appointing an EFM, undergoing bankruptcy, accepting state-imposed consent agreement terms, overruling locally elected officials, selling public assets, modifying or terminating contracts, ending pension obligations and more.
Orr has diktat powers. What he says goes. Detroit residents are on their own. They're out of luck. It's been that way for years. It's worse now than ever.
Neoliberal priorities let vital needs go begging. Money power in private hands assures it.
Finance is a new form of warfare. Economies are strip-mined for profit. Communities are laid waste. Ordinary people are impoverished. They're left out on their own.
Corrupt federal, state and local officials arrange things. They do so for greater power and self-enrichment.
John McMurtry is a Progressive Radio News Hour regular. His "Cancer Stage of Capitalism " explains. Its new edition expands on what he wrote earlier. He discusses a money sequencing life destroying system.
Economies and communities are plundered for profit. Financial bosses are more powerful than standing armies. They take full advantage.
Detroit is ground zero. It reflects what's wrong with America. It exposes predatory capitalism's failure. It represents the worst of what's coming.
Ordinary people are out of luck. Greater pain and suffering will follow. Democracy's nowhere in sight. Monied interests matter most.
Detroit's a microcosm of America. It reflects what's spreading nationwide. It exposes venal priorities. Let 'em eat cake is dogma. Force-fed austerity assures it.
America's criminal class is bipartisan. It conspires with Wall Street crooks. It's allied with other corporate favorites. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter.
Ordinary people are marginalized. They exploited. They're entirely left out. Their lives are wrecked. They're deprived of enough to live on. They're heading for neoserfdom.
They're on their own to fight back. Officials they elected are enemies. Preventing them from getting away with plundering America is top priority. Detroit's a good place to start.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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