The Spark

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

Editorial:
No More Business as Usual in Detroit!

Jul 22, 2013

“Don’t worry!” That’s what Kevin Orr, Detroit’s Emergency Financial Dictator, said when he announced he was putting Detroit into bankruptcy. “Don’t worry, it will be business as usual.”

But that’s exactly why people should worry. Because “business as usual” means that the population will continue to lose services, city workers will lose jobs, city retirees will see their medical care disappear, and the city will commit suicide – all so that the banks get paid.

Orr dared to say that things would begin to improve – just as soon as he “stabilizes” the city’s finances.

To put it into plain English, Orr wants the population to wait while he pays the banks.

Wait? What a preposterous proposal! Every politician to come down the track has been saying that for decades: wait, things will get better!

While people were waiting, the city was stolen right out from underneath them.

Big companies like GM, Ford, and Chrysler, and two-bit swindlers like Dan Gilbert and the Ilitch family got the city to pay for land, demolition and infrastructure – and then got tax breaks to top off their crooked deals.

That’s what created this financial emergency.

The banks pushed fancy loan packages on the city to pay for all those gifts to business – loans that turned out to be nothing more than fancy “sub-prime” mortgages. When those “sub-prime” city loans boomeranged on the city, the banks used their financial leverage to push the city into new, more expensive loans.

That’s what turned the financial emergency into an outright catastrophe. The banks bled the city dry.

The money the banks stole came out of the funds that should have paid for city services. So parks were closed, libraries boarded up, buses broke down, water mains turned city streets into lakes, and street lights went unlit.

Yes, it’s an emergency – for the population!

Take Detroit’s money back – get it from the big corporations and banks that stole it. Get it back from all the other swindlers that fed off the city.

Detroit has assets today, all through the city: Assets like GM Headquarters, Compuware Headquarters, GM’s Poletown Plant, Chrysler’s Conner Avenue Assembly plant, Ford Field, Comerica Park, land for the Ilitch family’s new hockey arena, Dan Gilbert’s 30-some downtown buildings.

Land that some of those assets sit on was taken by the city using its powers of “eminent domain.” Well, use those same powers to take that land back, and the buildings that sit on top of them. If Gilbert wants his buildings, make him pay for them. Make GM pay. Make Chrysler pay. Make the Ford family, the Ilitch family, the Fishers pay.

And here’s the biggest asset the city has: all those years of tax breaks, years when the city got no taxes from these thieves. Collect those taxes – past and future. Make the big thieves pay up!

Use that money to cover the real emergency. Forget about the banks. Use the city’s money to alleviate the emergency the population and city workers have been living through.

Of course, this is not what Emergency Financial Dictator Orr had in mind when he declared bankruptcy. Well, to hell with him!

The population faces an emergency. The population can overcome that emergency. There certainly are organized forces in the city of Detroit that could do it, workers and other ordinary people. Take over the streets, flood into those buildings built with the people’s money. Shut down business as usual.

Let that be the population’s slogan: No more business as usual in Detroit until the emergency battering the population is dealt with.