Last week the city of Detroit became the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy. It has been a long fall from grace for a city that was once a premier cultural and industrial hub of the United States with nicknames like “The Motor City,” “Mo-Town,” “Hitsville, USA,” and “Detroit Rock City,” just to name a few. Now add “Detroit Debt City” to that list.
Bankruptcy is no savory thought, but I agree with both Governor Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr in their decision to financially restructure. With nearly $19 billion in debt, a vast decline from 1.8 million residents to 700,000 in 60 years, and an unemployment rate of around 18%, there were not many options to choose from. (These are just a few of the city’s problems.)
Although the city is to blame, the underlying problem has been a lack of leadership – from the city council to the mayor – for the past 60 years. This lack of leadership turned into a cancer of imprudent decisions and corruption: take for example Kwame Kilpatrick and Monica Conyers. Detroit’s problems trickled down from there to the high unemployment rates, blight, crime, and debt. Need I mention that Detroit’s leadership has been exclusively Democratic since 1962?
Recently, some notable bad decisions made by the city council have been the refusal to sell or lease Belle Isle and the refusal to sell portions of the city’s art collection. By leasing Belle Isle to the state, the city would have saved around $6 million a year in maintenance and operations… but the city council was too stubborn to give the state control of the park.
The debt problem is obviously the city’s next biggest problem. With nearly $19 billion in debt, Detroit struggles to pay pensions to its 21,000 retirees. $3.5 billion of the debt is owed to pension plans while another $5.7 billion is due to retiree health care packages. Unfortunately, the grim likelihood for many retirees is that pensions will be severely cut back. Orr has mentioned that his plan would give full payments towards pensions for the next six months and after that “there are going to have to be concessions.” As much as retirees hate to hear it (and they have the right to be angry), cuts and sacrifices will have to be made for the city of Detroit that put their personal livelihood at stake. But they must remember it was the public unions who negotiated the unsustainable pension packages and got the corrupt liberal policy-makers elected. Watch this video by Prager University which explains how public union contracts cause public debt.
However, Detroit’s “leaders” were warned (over a decade ago) of the effects the city’s unsustainable pension plans would have to the city’s debt according to an article by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. City leaders chose to ignore the warning signs and put off any reforms; it should be no surprise that Governor Snyder made the decision to bring in an EMF who specializes in bankruptcy law to file for bankruptcy.
As I stated above, Detroit’s underlying problem has been a lack of leadership that has been made up of corrupt liberal Democrats for the past 60 years. The babbling idiots who sit around and call themselves the “city council” have all failed at their jobs, having been directed by their liberal policies, mindsets, and ideologies. As Kurt Schlichter recently put it “liberalism is the locust of political ideologies; it will eat everything in sight then starve.” If the citizens of Detroit cannot open its eyes to this they will remain in ignorance of the truth; if this turns out to be the case, no hope for the redemption and renewal of the city would be in sight.
My only optimism for the city of Detroit is that I trust that Kevyn Orr is the right man for the job of fixing what is (hopefully) rock-bottom for the city; if this is the case, it’s only up from here. My message to Detroit is this: you can no longer afford to rely on the unsustainable economic policies of the blue party. They have only ballooned the public debt, making other civic improvements impossible. Their corruption and bribery has only bred more corruption and bribery. It is the city’s responsibility to right it’s wrongs but the state of Michigan, Governor Snyder, and Kevyn Orr are not your enemies, they are working to help.
Detroit is a resilient city with a prosperous and rich past; embrace that past and learn to conserve the best aspects of it. Put this mindset to work in policy and the blight of Detroit – and the Detroit bankruptcy – can be conquered.
Derek Draplin | University of Michigan | @DDraps24