The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Mortgaging the City to Death

Jan 21, 2013

The mayor’s “strategic plan” dares to claim that Detroit–whose infrastructure was supposedly built for two million people–now with 770,000 doesn’t have enough people to support it.

As with almost everything else in the “strategic plan,” it’s a gross exaggeration, bordering on an outright lie. The city arrived at its current land size in 1927, when it had about 1.3 million people. And almost every bit of the city’s infrastructure–sewer lines, water lines, public lighting, public transportation–had been put in place by that time, much of it even earlier, when the city was much smaller. In fact, already, in 1927, that infrastructure was being pushed to its limits by a rapidly growing population, which had tripled in size in 17 years.

So, no, the city was not “built for two million people.” In fact, when it hit its peak population size of 1.8 million, just after World War II, it was bursting at the seams, its infrastructure systems strained to overcapacity.

The problem of the city’s infrastructure is, quite simply, the lack of money devoted to maintenance and upgrade, over several decades. In just three years’ time from 2009 to 2012, for example, the city cut 1/3 of all budgeted positions, not counting police and fire. And that came on top of already major cuts.

One mayor after another has stolen money from the city’s infrastructure in order to give it in subsidies and tax breaks to thousands of companies, including some of the biggest corporations in the world: General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Blue Cross, Quicken Loans, Fisher Real Estate, Compuware, American Axle.

The city went in debt to give all these special deals away to big business–a debt that amounts to more than 14 billion dollars today.

With the city already deep in debt, the banks jumped in for the kill, selling the city on so-called “hedging”–supposedly designed to make money for the city through its own borrowing. It was a fool’s bargain, and the city played the fool. These “hedging” deals that the city cut in 1999 and 2005 ended up costing the city three times what the city originally borrowed. And that forced the city to go even deeper in debt–to the same crooked bankers.

That’s why the city has no money for the infrastructure, that is, for public services. The city gave it away to the biggest corporations and the biggest banks–thieves, every one of them!