Don’t buy the right-wing myth about #Detroit- ▻http://www.salon.com/2013/07/23/dont_buy_the_right_wing_myth_about_detroit
Conservatives want you to think high taxes drove people away. The real truth is much worse for their radical agenda
Detroit isn’t just any old city — it happens to be the biggest population center in the state hit the hardest by the right’s corporate-written trade agenda. Indeed, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the state lost more jobs than any other from NAFTA (43,600, or 1 percent of its total job base) and lost another 79,500 jobs thanks to the China PNTR deal. And that’s just two of many such #trade_pacts. Add to this the city’s disproportionate reliance on American auto companies which made a series of horrific business decisions, and Detroit is a microcosmic cautionary tale about what happens when large corporations are allowed to write macro economic policy and dictate the economic future of an entire city.
If told, this cautionary tale would likely spark a discussion about revising current trade deals, regulations, public investment and industrial policy in general. That is, it would spark precisely the discussion that the conservative movement and the corporations that fund politicians don’t want America to have. So the right works to make sure that discussion is short circuited by a narrative that focuses the Detroit story primarily on taxes and public pensions.
That brings us to how this all plays into the right’s push to enact ever more regressive tax cuts, protect endless corporate welfare and legislate new reductions in workers’ guaranteed pensions.
These latter objectives may seem unrelated, but they all complement each other when presented in the most politically opportunistic way. It’s a straightforward conservative formula: the right blames state and municipal budget problems exclusively on public employees’ retirement benefits, often underfunding those public pensions for years. The money raided from those pension funds is then used to enact expensive tax cuts and corporate welfare programs. After years of robbing those pension funds to pay for such giveaways, a crisis inevitably hits, and workers’ pension benefits are blamed — and then slashed. Meanwhile, the massive #tax_cuts and #corporate_subsidies are preserved, because we are led to believe they had nothing to do with the crisis. Ultimately, the extra monies taken from retirees are then often plowed into even more tax cuts and more corporate subsidies.
We’ve seen this trick in states all over America lately. In Rhode Island, for instance, the state underfunded its public pensions for years, while giving away $356 million in a year in corporate subsidies (including an epically embarrassing $75 million to Curt Schilling). It then converted the pension system into a Wall Street boondoggle), all while preserving the subsidies.
Similarly, in Kentucky, the state raided its public pension funds to finance $1.4 billion a year in tax subsidies, and then when the crisis hit, lawmakers there slashed pension benefits — not the corporate subsidies.
The list of states and cities following this path goes on — but you get the point. In the conservative narrative about budgets in general, the focus is on the aggregate annual $333 million worth of state and local pension shortfalls — and left out of the story is the fact that, according to the New York Times, “states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies” in the form of #tax_loopholes and subsidies.”
The mythology around Detroit, then, is just another version of this propaganda.