Detroit Symbolizes America’s Decline

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Top Tier Gear USA


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. (Source)

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 and exploited. They’re entirely left out. Their lives are wrecked. They’re deprived of enough to live on. They’re heading for neo-serfdom.

They’re on their own to fight back. The 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 and can be reached at His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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  • big reb

    why are all the knuckle daggers moving to Detroit….cause they heard their is no jobs there.

  • Well I keep hearing Detroit is coming back.
    This is unnecessary, the country needs to return to the people and not be held hostage by politicans and special interests.

  • The realist

    I have bought the city of Detroits surplus city assets (trucks and equipment)

    It’s all abused, non-maintained old junk.. And it brings big $ at auction.. And it’s all been stripped by the natives before its sold by the city

    Believe me.. They are not losing any $ selling their junk!

    My opinion

  • mijj

    Detroit is the capitalist US’s answer to socialist China’s brand new sparsely populated cities.

    • Mike

      You are an idiot.

    • Mike

      We’re going from Capitalist to Socialist. China from Socialist to Capitalist. How dumb can u be !!!

  • Alexander Z

    Only 10% of Detroiters (who actually have jobs) hold private sector jobs while approximately one half work for the government in one capacity for another. What you are witnessing in Detroit is the self-cannibalization of liberal/socialist government writ large.

    Only a fraction of property owners, from individuals, families and commercial concerns have paid any property taxes is years.

    Detroit’s taxes are three times higher than the average Michigan city – Wonder why so few consider living and working in the non-Renaissance city.

    Detroit ran out of other people’s money long ago, and has since been a parasite on the rest of the state and nation. Detroit’s city officials have plundered the resources and wealth of a once great city and probably still do. Kwame Kilpatrick is the rule, not the exception.

    Detroit is an example of how not to rise from the ashes. Unfortunately, the Obama administration and the “moderate, left and leftest” powers in Washington DC are following Detroit’s example.

    Chicago, Jersey, New York, California – this is the future you’ve embarked upon. Hope you enjoy the trip down.

  • SKIP

    All the above rhetoric pointing out the failure of Detoilet and NARRY a word about WHAT caused the decline and collapse..Let me say it, BLACK PEOPLE running the government, causing the crime e.g causing whites to leave the place taking their financiall capital with them leaving the city to become 90% black and totally dysfunctional. Same goes for most American cities as most are now totally black run, crime infested and simply no longer safe for civilized people (black or white) Kabul, Kandahar and Bagram are safer than any American city now. Dem comments not be racissssss, dat be da troot.

  • Polly

    Look up shinola dot com.

    • SKIP

      I did, it’s just commercials!!!

  • Muzzie the Muzrat

    Islam is the solution. Inshallah let it grow in Detroit.

    • RickE.

      Yep, Islam IS the solution if one wants to molest kids, behead people, honor kill your wife or daughters. Just ask old Mohammad.

  • Ken, your UK friend

    I am in De toilet right now having a decent dump but back to Skip, shows what little respect he has for himself or others to come up with nicknames that are childish.
    I guess “De toilet” is but a reflection of the cesspool inside Skip’s mind ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    • big reb

      hey limey this is America so if you do not like what Skip has to say too damn bad we still have our Freedom of speech. go eat some bangers and mash and keep your limey opinions to yourself. thank you very much.

  • Baba Bombay Beetle from London

    Big Reb spelled ‘smiley’ wrong, go back to school you dunce LOL. I am a secular Muslim, Asian family but fun loving and free. So far this is an educational website but the name callers will bring it into dispepute.

    • big reb

      hey camel jockey alibaba salam alaikum….more like Salami and bacon you ragheaded sombitch. go bury your dirty raghead in the sand this is America and your not welcomed here raghead go screw some more goats lmao