How did Detroit go broke?
posted at 11:23 am on September 17, 2013 by Guy Benson
A worthwhile and devastating report from the Detroit Free Press:
Detroit is broke, but it didn’t have to be. An in-depth Free Press analysis of the city’s financial history back to the 1950s shows that its elected officials and others charged with managing its finances repeatedly failed — or refused — to make the tough economic and political decisions that might have saved the city from financial ruin. Instead, amid a huge exodus of residents, plummeting tax revenues and skyrocketing home abandonment, Detroit’s leaders engaged in a billion-dollar borrowing binge, created new taxes and failed to cut expenses when they needed to. Simultaneously, they gifted workers and retirees with generous bonuses. And under pressure from unions and, sometimes, arbitrators, they failed to cut health care benefits — saddling the city with staggering costs that today threaten the safety and quality of life of people who live here…Decades of mismanagement [my addendum: and one-party rule] added to Detroit’s fiscal woes. The city notoriously bungled multiple federal aid programs and overpaid outrageously to incentivize projects such as the Chrysler Jefferson North plant. Bureaucracy bogged down even the simplest deals and contracts. In a city that needed urgency, major city functions often seemed rudderless. When all the numbers are crunched, one fact is crystal clear: Yes, a disaster was looming for Detroit. But there were ample opportunities when decisive action by city leaders might have fended off bankruptcy.
Hardest hit by these stark conclusions? Big Ed and Tampon Ears. Meanwhile, the DFP editorial team might want to watch their backs; there’s a certain state judge on the bench who might feel a sudden urge to issue contempt citations over the publication of this piece. Why? Look no further than the oft-overlooked “honoring to Barack Obama” clause of the First Amendment.
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