Will Detroit File Bankruptcy?

March/19/2012 16:24PM
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We lived in the Detroit Metro area twice. First in 1968 and again in 1971. I was asked to take a promotion and a move to Detroit shortly before the riots broke out. We had a new baby and it was a good opportunity. My wife was watching Detroit burn while I was in curfew in my hotel at night, convincing her it was a good move. My job took me into to the city, immediately after the shooting and burning stopped, to check out our retail outlets. Two were burned to the ground. But, what amazed me were the houses that were burned. A riot where the rioters shot each other and burned each others’ houses made no sense to me.

In the 70″s my job took me back into the city to work on a more permanent basis. Now Detroit was the Murder Capital of the World. You needed combat pay to be in the retail business of any kind. Robberies were common, shootings with robberies common, and public restrooms had blood tracks up the walls where the junkies had used them to shoot up.

Later Henry Ford Jr. decided to save Detroit. He planned and developed the Renaissance Center. Millions were dumped into that in a last ditch effort to save the city. It was a beautiful complex near the Detroit River. For a while it seemed to give the city a shot in the arm.

But, nothing can survive ignorant, corrupt leaders, not even in a country like Greece. Couple them with a majority of left wing liberals who want to fix every problem with money, or have all their problems fixed by receiving money, and you will eventually reach the point where the money runs out. Detroit had some of the best. Coleman Young for years and years, and worse to follow.

Now, here’s the picture in a nutshell. Detroit has twice as many retirees as workers. Firefighters can retire at 55 and earn 70% of their highest salary plus a 2.25% cost-of-living adjustment. Employee benefits make up 50% of the general fund. The city has a $5 billion liability for retiree health benefits.

A former customer of mine who sold his business for several million dollars offered the city a pile of money to build 5 charter schools. The teachers union forced the city to turn it down.

I believe Dave Bing is the best mayor Detroit has had for decades. But, this is mission impossible. It can’t be done. Too many people have taken their generous pension benefits and fled Detroit. Too many business have left as taxes grew to try to cover the pension benefits with fewer workers to pay the tab.

Detroit is broke. The State of Michigan is trying to float bonds to help one last time to bail them out. Detroit is a microcosm of America. In states where the far left has ruled for years, like California and Illinois, common sense would suggest they are on the same path Detroit is on, just a few years behind.

Other states like Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida, New Jersey, and Oklahoma, have moved to a different path. They are trying to negotiate new union deals to balance budgets. Indiana just picked up a new Caterpillar plant to replace the one Caterpillar closed in London, Ontario, Canada when a strike could not be resolved. So Muncie, Indiana, a town on a close path to Detroit, gets a few hundred new jobs. While California and Illinois raise taxes on businesses.

Stockton, California will beat Detroit to the bankruptcy court. But, not by much. Coming to a city near you, may be Detroit economics. The first signs will be a long liberal Democratic reign with liberal benefits for all public workers. Unionization of most business. High taxes and big benefits.

Pretty sad watching what the lack of good leadership has done to a once great city like Detroit.

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