It’s popular for conservatives to blame the bankruptcy of the City of Detroit on a history of Democratic leadership. Indeed, the conservative commentators seem to revel in the city’s troubles. And since Detroit has a high percentage of African-Americans, the problems also conveniently fit their racist narrative.
The wingnuts believe that this simply couldn’t happen to a government run by white conservatives.
Hmmm…What about California? Following a government led by Ronald Reagan and, more recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state was teetering on the abyss. But after a return to Democratic leadership, California is regaining economic health and running surpluses. The same can be said for Minnesota.
Detroit’s problems aren’t merely the fault of city leadership. The state of Michigan has failed to deliver the aid it promised. But the real problems are the result of national and international politics. As part of globalization, greedy corporations shipped Detroit’s manufacturing jobs out of state and out of country in order to avoid paying for employee health care and pensions. In addition, many of the city’s mostly white executives fled to the suburbs leaving the poor and the unemployed to pick up the tab for their excesses.
Given the many factors contributing to the city’s financial problems, it would have been virtually impossible for Detroit to overcome them by itself. Detroit didn’t create the problems on its own. It shouldn’t have to face them alone.
Moreover, Detroit may be just the first large city to declare bankruptcy. Other cities that were once home to large manufacturing plants are facing many of the same difficulties. And, depending on what happens in Detroit, they may follow its lead.
Sadly, the situation in Detroit reminds me of the aftermath of natural disasters. When the Midwest was devastated in the nineties by floods, many on the East Coast objected to paying for disaster relief. Many across the nation objected to paying to help New York City after 9/11. Many objected to the cost of rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina. And congressional representatives and senators from other states voted against funding to New Jersey and New York to pay for relief from Hurricane Sandy.
Far too many Americans lack compassion for their fellow Americans. Instead of looking for ways to help, they are more intent on affixing blame. They assume that they are so smart that such a disaster could never happen to them. Invariably, they are wrong.