Skip to main content

View Diary: US Senate Republicans to Detroit: "You're on your own, you poor bastards" (60 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Detroit is the largest municipality to go bankrupt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil

    and the only one which was initiating the process of building a $00 million dollar sports arena while simultaneously lobbying to ensure creditors get paid before pension holders.  That makes it unique.

    Including Jefferson County in that list is very revealing.  Jefferson County Alabama went bankrupt after "Too big to jail" banks got caught bribing local officials:

    The citizens of the Birmingham, Alabama area years ago got themselves into trouble when corrupt local officials borrowed billions to pay for an elaborate new sewer system (which they'd been forced to build as a result of an EPA lawsuit). The local pols then doubled down on their corruption and stupidity when they ran to Wall Street to refinance the County's debt into the future, signing the citizens of JeffCo up for billions more in finance charges.
    The bribed local officials all got jail time but guess how much jail time the banks got?  And even though the banks bribed the officials and the whole process was corrupt, guess who still has to pay the very theives the billions of dollars of debt they were illegally saddeled with.  Yes, the banks drove them into bankruptcy and walked away with all of the towns money, all the employees pensions and faced zero consequences.  Yea, I am sure the banks learned their lessons and will never do that again.

    I guess you are right, screwing american cities and their workers out of their retirement benefits and their treasures is not unique.  It is disgusting and immoral and a travesty but I guess it is not unique.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 10:57:53 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  And the federal government should (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Victor Ward

      bailout Detroit so it can build that stadium?  I think the people in the rest of the country who pay the taxes that would go to that would revolt . . . .

      There are a number of other cities who are in similar situations, although not yet as dire, because (at least in part) they promised health care and pensions to city workers without funding those commitments.  

      •  The point is, they promised the pensions... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        without funding them.  They used the money for things like sports stadiums rather than what they were committed to use it for.

        I am sick of people blaming General Motors' hardships and other corporation's financial woes on people's pensions.  If they would have funded them in the first place (as they were supposed to), it would not have been an issue.  They want to eat their cake and have it to.  They want to take peoples defferred benefits that was part of their wages and spend it on tax breaks for the wealthy or road contracts for their brother-in-laws and then when the time comes to pay their debt to the people who worked their entire lives for it, the workers have to get in line behind the miscreants.

        The federal government should sue the state of Michigan for the misappropriations of the people's funds and audit them for evidence of malintent.  If Michigan can claim that they have the authority to supplant democratically elected leadershio in a city or county for emergency management, the federal government should have the same right at a state level.

        At the very least, all pension holders in the city of Detroit should file a class action law suit for putting their guaranteed benefits in jeapordy while investing the people's money in an unproven investment.  That should at least win them an injunction on the stadium.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 11:36:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is exactly the point. (0+ / 0-)
          The point is, they promised the pensions...
          without funding them.  They used the money for things like sports stadiums rather than what they were committed to use it for.
          "They" are the people elected to office by the people of the city of Detroit.  The rest of the country should not bear the cost of that.  If the federal government rescues the city of Detroit from the irresponsible actions of the people they put into office, doesn't that mean that the federal government is telling all cities that, if the elected officials act irresponsibly with the taxpayers' money, the federal government will bail them out?  

          If the federal government does provide financial aid to Detroit in some way, it needs to come with significant "strings" -- assurances that (1) the city will make the changes necessary to put it on a stable financial path for the furture; and (2) the funds are basically low-interest loans that will be paid back to the federal government (i.e., the taxpayers).  

          •  Actually, Detroit is under "Emergency Management" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil

            The governor appointed the emregency manager displacing the democratrically elected officials.  The city is is partison Democratic so they did not elect a republican governor, the overall state did and then the city's democratically elected leadership was basically fired by the governor.

            March 14th  –Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appoints corporate bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr as Emergency Manager of Detroit. Orr has assumed the power of the mayor and city council.
            Letting this travesty occur while doing nothing to stop it would be as bad as watching Katrina destroy New Orleans and doing nothing to help.  Maybe no one will be killed immediately but destroying the retirement funds of thousands of workers is not much more ethical than just letting people die in their attics.  Either way, we will be sitting by, watching events that will cause immense suffering on the common person through no fault of their own and it is entirely avoidable.

            These people did what they were supposed to do.  They planned for their future.  They took lower salaries for decades on the promise of defferred benefits for their old age.  They played by the rules and because of greed and mismanagement and political manuevering, their lives will now be in jeopardy.  Shame on anyone who lets this happen.

            "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

            by Buckeye Nut Schell on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 12:34:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's nothing like Katrina. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Buckeye Nut Schell, Pi Li

              Because the flooding of New Orleans was caused by the ineptitude and deceit of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, as a federal judge specifically found, in an expansive opinion. The federal government knew, in 1965 when they began designing and constructing the federal levees, that they were not going to protect the city as the federal government had promised, but they did not tell those of us who lived here.   In other words, it was not my own elected officials, or even a natural disaster, that flooded my home, cost my children and me virtually everything we owned, and destroyed the home my parents had lived in for 50 years and cost them everything they owned.  It was the federal government who caused it, but federal law made the federal government immune from suit.  So, yes, I do think the federal government should have been financially responsible for something it caused.

              •  I agree that the federal government... (0+ / 0-)

                should have been liable for those damages caused by the neglect of not only federal but state governments.  If I remember correctly, the federal government had allotted some of the funds for those levies but the local government choose to use that money on other priorities.  Regardless, the government is supposed to be there when the people need them to be.  That is why we pay taxes.  Why have a military to defend this country if it is not responsible to protect us from destruction.

                However, you did not address the fact that the city of Detroit's democratically elected government's authority was usurped by the governor and replaced by one of his minions.  The people who worked their whole lives for their pension and sense of security in their old age is about to be thrown out into the cold through no fault of their own, unrepresented by any local elected government.  

                Which is worse, not responding to a disaterous natural storm that destroyed the lives of thousands in the matter of a few days or a man made disaster, entirely avoidable, initiated by greedy bankers, currupt politicians and economic turmoil that was not caused, supported or even participated in by the common person in Detroit.  

                I empathize with your plight in New Orleans.  It was a terrible tragedy and I hope you got the help you deserved.  I just cannot see how you cannot share the same empathy with the people of Detroit.  Just because their is not an Hurricane of epic proportion destroying an entire city, it doesn't mean that real people who are guilty of nothing will not have their lives destroyed by this "Decision".  The fact that there will not be bodies floating through the streets may make it less obvious the enormity of the disaster, losing everything you planned to live on in your retirement years will cause average, everyday people to lose their homes, force people to work an extra ten years, make senior citizens decide between medication and food, drive some people to suicide and others to massive depression.  This is not their fault and we should be there to help our fellow citizens.  If we can justify bailing out JP Morgan then there is no reason we cannot justify helping out an American city.  We spent a hell of a lot more helping out Iraq didn't we?  Look what that got us.

                "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

                by Buckeye Nut Schell on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 01:36:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Once again, just wrong. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib
                  If I remember correctly, the federal government had allotted some of the funds for those levies but the local government choose to use that money on other priorities.
                  This is just wrong.  The cause of the flooding of this city was the negligence and ineptitude of the ACOE in designing and building the levees, and the fact that they knew decades ago that the levees were not properly designed and constructed, but did not think they needed to tell us.  Before you talk about the Federal Flood (what you call Katrina), you should read this.
                  However, you did not address the fact that the city of Detroit's democratically elected government's authority was usurped by the governor and replaced by one of his minions.  The people who worked their whole lives for their pension and sense of security in their old age is about to be thrown out into the cold through no fault of their own, unrepresented by any local elected government.  
                  The financial problems Detroit is experiencing did not start with the emergency manager, of course.  They were caused by city government for many years making pension promises and health care promises that financially the city could not afford to keep, and that they did not fund at the time.  Certainly, I understand the issue of people who were counting on these retirement payments.  And they should look to the city and state government for that.  The federal government has not bailed out other municipalities that have had to declare bankruptcy.  

                  But here's the most important point.  If the federal government bails out Detroit, is it obligated to bail out every city that has financial issues because it over-promised pension and health care benefits to its workers? If it does that, there's really no end, because there are a lot of cities -- and states, for that matter -- who have made the same promises that financially they cannot keep.  And that would be a penalty to municipalities and states that have managed their finances more responsibly.  

                  •  You are right... (0+ / 0-)

                    but I did remember reading this:

                    This switch by the New Orleans District to significantly shorter sheet piles saved the District $100,000,000.

                    And on August 29, 2005, the newly raised floodwalls along the 17th Street and London Avenue canals slid laterally, fell over and led to direct residential, commercial and public property flooding damage in excess of $27 billion in the city’s main basin.

                    “The shallow sheet pile depths led directly to the two levee breaches on the London Avenue Canal, and to the north breach of the Inner Harbor Navigation Channel by the the Lower Ninth Ward, and they contributed to the levee breach at the 17th Street Canal” says Dr. Ray Seed, co-chair of an independent post-Katrina analysis underwritten by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

                    It turns out, that this was inaccurate as revealed in 2008.  I read several articles on the issue after your comment and to put it quite simply, I was wrong.

                    However, that does not change the principle argument.  The government has a responsibility to protect it's citizens from unfair predetory practices.

                    If the federal government bails out Detroit, is it obligated to bail out every city that has financial issues because it over-promised pension and health care benefits to its workers?
                    Republicans said the same thing about Hurrican Sandy.  If the federal goverment bails out this natural disaster then it will have to bail out every natural disaster.  
                    The financial problems Detroit is experiencing did not start with the emergency manager, of course.  They were caused by city government for many years making pension promises and health care promises that financially the city could not afford to keep, and that they did not fund at the time.
                    The financial problems Detroit is dealing with can be traced directly back to federal free trade agreements and the mass exudus of manufacturing jobs as a result.  Throw in the federal government's negligence in their lack of regulating the banks and the economic depression caused by that deregulation.  Detroit was doomed by this government's policies.  The people's pensions have nothing to do with it and yet that is the first thing the government wishes to take away like they do with every corporate bankruptcy.  Look at Peabody Coal and how they grouped all of the pensions into one company and then drove it into bankruptcy to deprive retirees their guaranteed benefits.  The city could not afford to keep the contractual obligations to its employees because it squandered the money on tax breaks and immediate expenses without showing any planned intent to meet its financial obligations.  These, in effect were interest free loans the workers of detroit were subsidizing the government with.  

                    When a worker takes $15/hour or $20/hour instead or $25 or $30 working in a factory because they know they will get good benefits when they retire, they have made a sacrifice to plan for their future.  They cannot go back and start a new career for the next thirty years to save money for their retirement in some other way.  That was part of the cities known financial obligation.  The fact that they didn't set that money aside is their mismanagement of funds.  It is not the people who worked for that benefit's fault.  They are not greedy for wanting what they were guaranteed.  The federal government needs to make sure that the people get their guaranteed benefits.  It is why we joined the military to fight for justice for all of America.  if we cannot support the working men and women in Detroit then we have no business fighting anywhere else on the planet.  A retirees life in Detroit is just as important as a storm victim's life in New Orleans or in New Jersey or in Joplin Missouri.

                    Building a $444 million dollar sports stadium is a slap in the face to these people.  I don't think you equate losing all of your financial security in your retirement years as being as detrimental as losing all of your posessions in a storm.  Maybe you are young and retirement is so far off that it is not easy for you to understand.  Maybe me, being out of the navy for a couple decades and in the private sector ever since puts me closer to that reality.  Maybe being financially responsible for my mother who has dementia makes me more attuned to the financial realities of senior citizen health care and special needs.  When my father passed away, he had a pension and it was wonderful for him to not have to worry about his medical bills or leaving his wife financially destroyed.  We, as Americans, have a moral obligation to look out for our fellow citizens whether they are hit by a storm or a financial crisis.  If that means bailing out a hundred cities or repairing a thousand cities ravaged by storms or earthquakes or whatever.  We stand together and we help one another.

                    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

                    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Fri Jul 26, 2013 at 03:33:24 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (180)
  • Community (80)
  • Baltimore (76)
  • Bernie Sanders (57)
  • Civil Rights (44)
  • Freddie Gray (43)
  • Elections (35)
  • Hillary Clinton (32)
  • Culture (30)
  • Law (27)
  • Labor (26)
  • Racism (26)
  • 2016 (24)
  • Economy (23)
  • Media (23)
  • Education (23)
  • Politics (21)
  • Rescued (21)
  • Texas (20)
  • Barack Obama (19)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site