Mar 18, 2013
Newly appointed Detroit Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr said he is not surprised at public resentment regarding his appointment. He quipped, “In my business, you’re sort of the undertaker who walks up to the front door.... I’m rarely welcomed.”
Really?! Maybe he thought he was being clever, but his remarks are an apt description of the murderous attack about to be carried out on the residents of Detroit. Under the guise of rescuing the city from a desperate situation, he is preparing to gut it further. He started out on Day One proposing to sell off city assets and decrease workers’ pensions.
The bankers and corporate bosses are celebrating his arrival; no worry that he is the “undertaker” at THEIR door. As for the population, he has been clear that “everything is on the table” – and the bankers are drooling at the feast set before them. The day after Michigan Governor Snyder appointed him, he promoted the “restructure” of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, one of Detroit’s most valuable assets. He speaks of clever ways to “lease” and to “leverage,” the very schemes and tactics that got the city into its mess in the first place.
While the news highlights the small time politicians that took from the City of Detroit, they skip over the big offenders – the big corporations who took hand-out after hand-out from one mayor after another, including current Mayor Bing! The 15 billion in debt reaches back to the clearing of Poletown neighborhoods to give that portion of the city to GM. Billions of dollars have been given away in tax breaks and valuable property to corporations big and small. The regular revenue has been given as gifts to GM and others.
To cover expenses, city governments turned to the banks and were hustled into bond after bond. Wall Street bankers made more than 474 million dollars on just one slick deal with city government. Then there was the scandal of the 350 million dollars owed for derivatives the banks hooked the politicians on.
And now, Kevyn Orr says his first goal is to bring about “solvency” in 18 months; that is, to transfer every bit of wealth he can squeeze out of the city and its residents to make sure the banks get paid.
Politicians from all walks blame the indebtedness of the City of Detroit on the collapse of the auto industry and the flight of residents that reduced the Detroit population from 1.85 million to just around 700,000.
But when you “follow the money,” a different story becomes evident. The auto industry did not collapse, but Chrysler, GM and Ford drove the work force at lightning speed, letting them boot hundreds of thousands of workers into unemployment. And the smaller population? A choice made by the banks and big business to impoverish the population and then to run the home mortgage scheme of the century. Two hundred thousand is a conservative figure for those driven out or robbed by the mortgage scam.
Make no mistake. Detroit has been set up to be the model for the tear down of major industrial city and its gentrification into a few dozen square miles of playground for a “new” middle and upper class population. Dozens of other cities in Michigan and other states are already following suit – just a little bit behind. In New Orleans, the bankers and scam artists used the destruction of Katrina to do the same thing.
Why should we repay bankers who have swindled the city out of billions of dollars in OUR property, OUR assets and caused homelessness of hundreds of thousands of working families?
It’s a financial emergency for the working class. And the ones who should pay for it are the ones who created the emergency – the corporations, the banks and their politicians.