Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rescuing Detroit with a socialist fantasyland

John Nichols--author, long-time political blogger, and noted far left ideologue--has gotten it into his head that what is happening in Detroit represents some sort of slap in the face to the idea of democracy. He's been harping on this point for months, really. From back in March of this year he wrote:
Detroit is up against plenty of threats. But the most pressing one today is political.

If Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gets his way, Detroit runs the risk of losing democracy.

Snyder, a Republican who led the charge for Michigan’s enactment of an anti-labor “right-to-work” law last year, is targeting Detroit for a state takeover that will disempower the elected mayor and city council and give authority over the city’s finances, service delivery and direction to an appointed “emergency manager.”
And to his credit--from the standpoint of consistency--he has continued to beat the same drum, even as Detroit came under control of emergency manager Kevyn Orr. His latest column on the same topic signals the supposed end of democracy in Detroit:
Some truths are self-evident across time.

That is surely the case with Lincoln’s observation that “we cannot have free government without elections.”

It was absolutely true 150 years ago that the postponing of an election would have been a defeat for the forces of democracy.

It is absolutely true today that the sapping of meaning from elections—by denying successful candidates the authority to govern—represents another form of the same defeat.
Now, it is absolutely true that elected officials in Detroit will have severely (to put it mildly) curtailed authority and duties in the days and months ahead because of Orr's State-mandated powers. And it's also true that this situation was rammed down the throats of the elected officials and citizens of the city. But let's be clear about this: the people doing the ramming were the elected representatives of the entire state of Michigan. And the reasons for the ramming are myriad and manifold, whose totality had led to a dire situation in the once-great city wherein the prospect of bankruptcy became almost a welcome relief for those who understood the challenges ahead.

From the standpoint of politics, Detroit represents a major stronghold of the Democratic Party, owing to the history of organized labor and the role played therein by the automotive industry and its many related industries. In his earlier piece, Nichols actually makes the point of just how Democratic (party-wise, to be clear) Detroit still is:
Snyder is preparing to do by fiat what he and his political allies could not do at the polls: take charge of local government in Michigan’s largest city. In the 2012 election, Democrat Barack Obama received 98 percent of the almost 300,000 votes cast in Detroit, while Republican Mitt Romney took just over 2 percent. No Republican contender for federal, state or local office won more than 6 percent of the vote in the city.
Nichols cites these stats as evidence for the undermining of democracy in Detroit, supposing that the ideological certitude of Detroit voters somehow represents a right to be governed by elected officials drawn from the same political party responsible for creating the mess Detroit is currently in. And Nichols imagines that such officials should have the right to address this mess, to somehow solve it, even as he simultaneously whines about a lack of State and Federal monies for the city, monies that would--as a matter of definition--come largely from taxpayers who are not citizens of the city.

He doesn't see the problem here. Or of he does, he's not willing to admit to it. Let's lay it out a bit more. The principle of self-government rests on the assumption of self-funding: governments cannot function without revenue, they just can't. So, if there is going to be a functioning democratic government for a given region, not only must the citizens of that region be responsible for choosing their leaders, they must also be responsible for funding the government. And there's no way around it: the citizens of Detroit can't fulfill this requirement, unless taxes are hiked up to such a degree that most would starve (or move).

But in Nichols's world-view, reality is inconsequential. Despite all of the evidence--across decades--that indicates elected leaders in Detroit are incapable or unwilling to address the real problems facing the city, he still believes they need to be fully in control, damn the consequences.

What about those consequences? Well again, because there's just no way the State and Federal governments would allow a total collapse in Detroit (despite the rising crime and poverty there, we're nowhere close to seeing a truly total collapse), those consequences would mean forcing the State or the Feds (or both) to pay the bills in Detroit, to continue funding a broken system. For how long? Given the track record of past leaders and their various attempts to revive the city (all very silly and poorly conceived), I'm guessing the word "forever" would be in play.

Of course, such a scenario would probably suit Nichols and others of his ilk just fine. For it would insure a continued dominance of the city by the Democratic Party, whose leaders would be quick to take credit for "saving" the city, via other peoples' money. And that's really the whole ballgame with card-carrying socialists like Nichols. They want other people to foot the bill for an expansive government across the board.

The intellectual dishonesty is nonetheless stunning, however, when people like Nichols complain about government decision-making, about the nature of democracy in the United States, but simultaneously call for the disproportionate taxing of a limited portion of the citizenry in order to fund their socialist fantasyland. The underlying principle in this land is simple: mob rule.

Democracy for Nichols is a zero-sum game. The majority gets to decide, even if that means taking advantage of a minority And of course, the long-term consequences for this is a virtual elimination of the minority, either by simple leveling (decreasing wealth via punitive taxation) or by their simple removal (the wealthy choose or are forced to go some place else). Which is of course the story of Detroit, itself. It represents a case-study of what happens when democracy becomes simple mob rule: patronage, corruption, and fiscal irresponsibility, followed by the flight of wealth and an eventual collapse.

But now, in order to fix the problems in Detroit, Nichols laments the fact that the process used to almost destroy it is not being used to save it. Funny stuff.

Cheers, all.

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