Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pulling At The Levers

   PullingAtTheLevers by Guy Mingo

                  The Michigan Governor and State Treasurer's argument for an emergency manager (or consent agreement) in the city of Detroit lacks sincerity, for it has yet to address the root cause of the financial stress. Thus, the act of assigning financial review teams to assess the city's unacceptable deficit is redundant to say the least. We've yet to hear about the role of major banking institutions in the decline of Detroit's financial stature.
                   That may be because Governor Rick Snyder and his emergency managers are, in fact, acting directly on behalf of the banks when they takeover municipalities. Like many of its residents, the City of Detroit has been suckered into a debt system-- to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars-- that it can no longer manage. The last thing the banks want is a forfeiture of those debts.
                   The corporate media has been diligent in telling the story that is the exodus of Detroit homeowners, businesses and property taxes. Nowhere have commentators made the distinction between the flight of human capital that began in the late 60's and the malicious home foreclosure crisis that began in the early 2000's and continues today.
                   We are told that the resulting decline in revenue has left city officials no choice but to cut their way out of a mounting crisis; that we must quickly decide what 'core service' means to us; and all city departments are hereby considered redundant or inefficient.
                 And if the Mayor and City Council cannot make these difficult maneuvers in a timely fashion, the almighty Governor will forcefully intervene, assigning a solitary figure to make these decisions for us (in the case of a 'consent agreement', then, nine). It sounds downright colonial, doesn't it?
                 Very little is spoken about the affect of the banks and their predatory lending schemes of the last seven years that led to tens of thousands of home foreclosures in the city of Detroit. Where is the analysis and the denunciation when it comes to the banks' role in decimating the city's general fund? It's non-existent. The financial analysts, and the corporate media, are unable to make that connection between the banks and the financial 'crisis' because to do so would create a conflict of interest for them.
                 The same banks are heavily vested in making sure the city doesn't default on its long-term debt. Michigan state treasurer Andy Dillon had a moment of candor recently, saying, in essence, just that: the emergency manager and his wide ranging authority is necessary primarily to protect the loans banks have made to municipal entities.
                 Those same banks who caused the "financial stress" now have representatives, in the form of emergency managers, assuring that municipalities don't try anything silly, like defaulting on their loans or demanding a bailout of their own.
               So folks like Jerry Goldberg have taken to the streets to get that message directly to the people. During the Occupy Detroit protests in October 2011, MECAWI held a public meeting on the corner of Woodward and Adams. I recorded Goldberg attempting to explain how banks like Chase and Bank of America were bailed out by President Obama in 2009 with $700 billion and continue to be bailed out "with every single eviction," with taxpayer money.
                A portion of Goldberg's address is presented in the above track. The 'chorus' is provided by an unknown baritone protestor during the rally for the Garrett family outside of the Detroit office of Bank of New York/Mellon Trust on Jan 31.