“…in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down.” –popular Country tune
Once upon a time in America there was a mighty metropolis boasting the most original and stunning architecture in the country. It made significant contributions to the performing arts from orchestral concerts to pop music, it set trends for innovation in radio and the burgeoning business of television, in construction and education; and in every aspect of that far-flung and thriving market economy engendered by the wealth of the industrial revolution and rekindled in the boom days following World War II, Detroit excelled….and at the very heart of this, a mighty pulse driven by the creative and productive life-force of the automotive industry beat resoundingly. At its peak Detroit boasted a population of nearly two million, and this population included communities of well-housed, well educated, and gainfully employed blacks most of whom emanated from nuclear families within a healthy and expanding urban middle class. Three metropolitan dailies, the Detroit Times, News and Free Press chronicled events and yes, even the Detroit Lions even played football well—do you doubt us? Quarterbacks Bobby “Night Train” Layne and Tobin Rote led the Lions to legendary victories and championship games, clobbering the Browns in ’52, and the 49ers and the Browns in ’57. Layne alone captained the Lions to three NFL championship games ensuring the motor city more than a decade of Hall of Fame football, but following injuries to his leg received in a pile-on, Layne was hastily traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and thus ensued the legend of his curse.
According to the legend, upon departing for Pittsburgh, Layne cried out that in retribution for its ingratitude, Detroit would not win another championship for 50 years. And they haven’t. Heck, it’s been 55 years, and the curse remains intact! It might be tempting to infer that Layne’s curse, like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow in Chicago, created massive, if unintentional, collateral damage—but this is unfair to Layne. In fact, an amalgam of forces conspired to devastate Detroit, sharing no common thread except liberalism in ever-increasing doses, for as students of the phenomenon are well aware, the most pernicious singularity of liberalism is its proneness to create emergencies that to the untutored observer seem resolvable only by the application of more liberalism, until finally nothing remains and the media change the subject, or assign blame elsewhere. The first liberal scourge to afflict Detroit was Unions—or perhaps we should say the co-opting and subornment of Union leadership by communists. Communists in Detroit autoworker unions? Nonsense, you say—the American autoworker would never have abided any such thing, particularly in the era under discussion. But as is almost invariably the case, the solid citizens who paid their union dues never knew anything about it.
Who was Walter Reuther?
If you grew up in or around Detroit in the ‘40s or ‘50s you were taught by newsreels and social-studies lecturers that Walter Reuther, the head of the UAW, was as staunchly American as apple pie and stood courageously against the forces of communism in the automotive manufacturing arena. Flapdoodle and balderdash, Woofketeers! Comrade Reuther was the devoted son of a German socialist. Young Walter quit his job with the Ford motor company to emigrate to the Soviet Union where he helped establish Soviet auto plants between 1933 and ’35, while steeping himself in Marxist doctrine. Returning to America he joined the UAW, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party USA. Following World War II, Reuther affected an anti-Communist position while working within the Democratic party to further the destruction of capitalism. He founded the subversive Americans for Democratic Action and led the United Auto Workers in sundry negotiations with Detroit’s “big three” auto manufacturers, cooperating closely with FDR, Truman, and Lyndon Johnson in the establishment of socialist/syndicalist dominance of manufacturing in America. Barry Goldwater took to the Senate floor in 1958 to call Reuther and the UAW a “more dangerous menace than the Sputnik or anything Soviet Russia might do to America,” but as usual, America’s horn-rimmed Cassandra went unheeded and Unions continued to tighten their strangle hold on the manufacturers in Detroit and elsewhere. Reuther died in a plane crash in 1970, but was posthumously given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton in 1995. He left the UAW permanently radicalized and remains the toast of radical Marxist websites…as well as the Clintons, evidently.
The Riot that missed
Nineteen-hundred and sixty seven was a particularly bad year for Detroiters. The oleaginous Lyndon Baines Johnson having only 3 years earlier bested (inexplicably) the afore-mentioned Barry Goldwater in the contest to become the nation’s first elected post-JFK president, took time away from his criminally inept Viet Nam policies to launch a flurry of equally ruinous and equally expensive social programs bundled under the rubric of “The Great Society.” And on July 23 of that “long, hot summer,” the Detroit riot broke out. It began on a Saturday night in the early-morning hours when Detroit police raided an unlicensed, after-hours bar and place of illegal gambling at 12th and Clairmount. Confrontations during the raid rapidly spread to the street outside and burst into the deadliest and most destructive riot in the Nation’s history. It was 5 bloody days before police, National Guard troops and the regular Army restored order. But if the violence was meant as a rebuke to white dominance of the national culture, it missed its mark. Hundreds of black businesses, buildings, and homes were reduced to rubble, and in the aftermath prosperous urban blacks and whites began to flock to the city’s suburbs, draining Detroit of a creative passion and industriousness—as well as an infrastructure and a tax base.
President Johnson’s response to the riot was to declare Detroit a “model city” for social engineering. His brain stormers devised hundreds of new welfare and anti-poverty projects meant to eliminate the perceived causes of urban violence—but just as aid to starving countries overseas is typically resold to the highest bidder by the despots du jure, the massive subsidization of Detroit’s poor resulted in sweetheart patronage deals and massive misappropriations of funding, while creating a financial impetus for the target population to remain or become all the things the projects sought to eliminate (because when you subsidize something you get more of it ). Thus, in the wake of “white flight” to the suburbs, which was in reality black and white flight, the neediest and most dysfunctional elements of the inner city population remained behind and found themselves mendicants subservient to Johnson’s welfare state, (did we mention he beat Goldwater?) which paid them to be single or unwed mothers, paid them to have more children out of wedlock, paid them to be hungry, paid them to be unemployed, and threatened to cut their benefits should they evince the slightest signs of upward mobility. Detroit’s financial situation plummeted and its homicide rate promptly quintupled. The family structure was demolished by Johnson, and Richard Nixon, who followed, announced that “we are all Keynesians now,” His administration, thus premised, did little to alter the city’s descent into poverty and dependency.
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Came next the rapid spread of automotive creativity around the world. The Germans had always owned a minute percentage of the American auto market, but in the ‘70s the Japanese staged an automotive coups, rapidly gaining ground against Detroit, whose product was in most respects inferior to the unexpected flood of Hondas, Isuzus, Subarus and Mitsubishis, on top of which, American labor cost so much it was impossible to beat the low Japanese sticker prices. The unions wouldn’t budge, of course, so the “Big Three” took a nosedive—the first of many to follow—and Detroit lost more revenue and prestige.
The industry was in the process of taking its latest nosedive, seemingly into oblivion, when President Obama happened on the scene. Speaking of which, what’s bigger than a bread box, bigger than the State Department’s budget, bigger than all the foreign aid we extend other countries over the course of a year, and bigger than the funding for NASA? Answer: The twenty-seven billion dollars President Obama handed the United Auto Workers union when he took over Chrysler and General Motors even as he fumed at Ford Motors for refusing to knuckle under to his economic goon squads. See, Our Beloved Leader didn’t actually bail out Detroit or even the auto industry so much as he handed a titanic wad of cash to the UAW and placed it in charge of what Karl Marx liked to call “the means of production.” And the disconcerting fact remains that the UAW didn’t need to be bailed out, its members were already making 70 dollars an hour. As Obama’s “car czar” Stephen Rattner admitted, “We did not ask any UAW member to take a cut in their pay.” No, the UAW got the business–it was the bond holders, those filthy capitalist pigs, who took a bath as Obama haughtily cheated them out of their investments and went out of his way to demolish non-union auto industries such as the Delphi plant in Ohio which was a primary parts supplier for General Motors. Here Obama blithely ignored 20,000 workers who lost benefits, pensions, and health care—the price of non-affiliation with the socialist totalitarian conspiracy. Moreover, WOOF knows that Tim Geitner, then at Treasury, spearheaded a direct and personal attack on Delphi workers at the behest of Our Dear Leader.
But what of the motor city? What of Detroit? Detroit didn’t get much money, Woofketeers, because they weren’t tactically necessary to Obama’s advancement. Even the vast wealth that went to bolster GM and Chrysler boiled down to empowering and underwriting the UAW. Pursuit of Our Beloved Helmsman’s green energy fixation resulted in GM dropping all its significant research into fusion, canning anyone who knew how to make cars, killing off its most attractive lines of conventional autos and making lots of Volts instead. The Volt was going to get 200 miles to the gallon and revolutionize the car business—while keeping the planet green, of course. This is where the administration’s Wilsonian utopianism took over from its more cynical Marxist side and sank tons of your cash and our cash into producing a wonder car that ultimately got 35 miles per charge of electricity, could not be conveniently recharged without risking house fires, and occasionally shocked drivers in the process of shifting gears. To produce one Chevy Volt costs GM 41,000 dollars. The car can be purchased by you for 42, 000 dollars. But Americans don’t want to drive Volts. They want to drive Corvettes and Suburbans. So sales for the Volt have been awful—and remain awful even now that Obama is willing to borrow ten-thousand dollars from Red China to pay you to purchase a Volt (they call it a rebate).
So, sad story sadder, Detroit got no real boost from Dear Leader’s pipe dream of solar powered SUVs and managerially brilliant Union leaders taking over for the likes of Lee Iacocca or Alfred Pritchard Sloan. No, all it got was a commercial with Eminem trying to sound macho. In the auto industry, Ford, the American carmaker that refused to take Obama’s filthy lucre, has consistently outperformed the other two constituents of the “big three.” Chrysler has managed to regain some footing, posting an 8 percent improvement in June sales over last year. General Motors is claiming a 6 percent increase in the same time frame. But even if the auto industry can shake off Obama-ism and regain some of its former stature, it will be too late for the Motor City.
On October 13, 2012, while pursuing re-election, President Obama smiled his vacuous smile into the lens of an innocent TV camera and explained to the American people that he had saved Detroit. “We refused to throw in the towel and do nothing,” he said. “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt, I bet on American workers and American ingenuity and three years later that bet is paying off in a big way.” Well, here it is 9 months later, and Detroit has gone bankrupt—can somebody find Eminem and ask him what’s up with this? He pointed his finger right at us during that Super Bowl commercial and looked as threatening as a white kid who calls himself “Eminem” can mange to look, and gave us the impression that Detroit was saved by auto production, black choirs singing at the Fox Theater on Woodward Avenue (which thus far has escaped destruction, by the grace of God), and a bunch of scary socialist/realist art (forgive the tautology) which he showed us while singing (well, chanting) the city’s praises. No wonder they call him shady! If Detroit is now a case of economic destitution, and believe us it is, why not ask for some more bailout money?
Well, more is definitely coming—Obama will “rescue” Detroit (again) in time for the 2014 elections, and it won’t make a dent in the city’s problems, but it will sound like the resurrection of Lazarus on the TV news, and nobody will address the main problem, which is that a city of dependents elects criminals and ne’er-do-wells who will maintain them on the doles, rather than innovators who will create jobs and opportunity. Former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young once said, “To attack Detroit is to attack black!” And a city that will not hear its critics will not be long deterred from the precipice. Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick left for jail in 2008 in the throes of a sex and perjury scandal. Dave Bing is now mayor—his principle qualification being that he played basketball for the Detroit Pistons.
And what of the City Council members—are they in frenzied conclave to avert economic and sociopolitical destruction? Detroit’s City Council is busy—too busy, in fact, for such divertissements. It just spent three days debating the wisdom of a resolution supporting a federal investigation into the culpability of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. Readers will be reassured to learn that the Detroit City Council, after much focused discussion, voted unanimously to enjoin William Holder to press Federal charges against Zimmerman in the wake of his being found not guilty in Florida. Detroit has meanwhile hosted 176 homicides thus far in 2013—and 70% of these are unsolved; but to attack Detroit, our gentle readers will recall, is to attack black. Fortunately, the establishment’s media remain alert to the true source of Detroit’s decline, and courageous enough to speak truth to power! MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry saw the problem in a heartbeat. She explained that bankruptcy was the natural result of too little government. “This is what it looks like when government is small enough to drown in your bathtub and it is not a pretty picture,” she said. adding that Republicans want to turn all our cities into Detroit. Always keen to ensure intellectual ballast, MSNBC provided next the acuities of Howard Dean, who assured Harris-Perry and her other guests that Detroit was going to be all right after all, because “When you have a median home price of $45,000, people are going to go buy those houses sooner or later.” Right?