May 17, 2004
Local governments in the Detroit area, like others around the country, are making deeper cuts in all sorts of services. The city of Detroit is planning layoffs, including 112 workers in the transportation department who clean, fuel and maintain buses. Cities like Warren, Dearborn Heights, and Plymouth will be cutting firefighters and police patrols. Dearborn will be reducing library services, just as Warren already did last year. Royal Oak is planning to lay off 75 workers and increase parking ticket and traffic fines.
The local politicians blame the cuts on the reduced amount of money the state of Michigan is giving them out of its sales tax revenue. In turn, the state claims it has to hold onto the taxes to offset its own "budget crisis." They point the finger at cutbacks in budget grants from the federal government or at economic bad times.
None of the politicians or the media questions the excuses given for these cuts. At the same time that they blame the cuts on the bad economy, they have been bragging that the economy has been improving for the last two years. And it has – for the corporations who are announcing bigger and bigger profits. Yet none of the politicians propose to tax them to pay for the needed services.
On the contrary, the politicians continue to give money away to the big companies. The state of Michigan brags that it has given out tax breaks to business totaling 15 billion dollars in the last ten years. The city of Detroit has money to tear down buildings so that developers can come in or to sell two blocks in the heart of its downtown area to Compuware for $1 apiece so that it can build a new headquarters there.
There is no reason why – in the richest country in the world – we should have to go without essential services like libraries, firefighting, and working buses. Let the bosses' insatiable appetite for profits be damned!