Detroit has declared bankruptcy at last, and the BBC is on the case. Emily Buchanan, one of the battalion of Beeboids working the US scene, has put together a video report explaining why the once successful city has fallen so far. Her reasons:
White flight, leaving inner city blacks to suffer and find themselves trapped in an urban nightmare
The collapse of the car industry
“Detroit has suffered a vicious cycle of decay, mismanagement, and population decline.”
This last one, a direct quote, is a meaningless statement. It says nothing about how or why it all happened. Who let the urban center decay after the whites fled? Why did the auto industry collapse? Is there a relationship between the crushing burden of pensions and the collapse of either the auto industry or Detroit? There is, but don’t expect the BBC to tell you, because that would tread on sacred union ground. If the population has been dwindling for so long, and the tax base along with it, why did the city spend as if it still had the historically full population and wealthy tax base?
(UPDATE as the story has “evolved”: For some reason, the BBC has removed Buchanan’s video and replaced it with some disaster pr0n by Michelle Fleury.)
Spot the missing political party which has been running Detroit for the last 43 years: Democrats. Every single mayor since 1970 has been a Democrat, and they’ve all been African-American since 1974. Neither Buchanan’s video, nor the accompanying article, nor Jonny Dymond’s inset “analysis” mention either of these key facts. Why the censorship? Because it doesn’t help the Narrative.
The BBC isn’t really interested in discussing the realities behind Detroit’s destruction. No, they’re interested in the emotional impact of the story of evil wealthy white people abandoning a proud industrial city, destroying the lives of the working class and black people, and the city in general. They don’t talk about the corruption, they don’t talk about profligate spending in the face of a declining tax base. They admit that it’s been going on for a long time, but only that it’s “linked to declining industry”. Detroit’s income was largely dependent on a single industry. People in Britain know all too well how this is never a recipe for lasting success. But there’s no Thatcher to blame here, so the Beeboids aren’t really interested in going after the culprits. Although, didn’t the President save the auto industry a few years back? How’s that working out, BBC?
The accompanying article is only marginally better than the video. At least there we learn that public sector pensions have strangled the city coffers. Oh, wait, no we didn’t. We learn instead that two city unions opposed the bankruptcy plan to give creditors – union pension funds included – 10 cents on the dollar. The ones the BBC mentions are for retired workers, in case you hadn’t teared up enough yet. Dymond actually mentions corruption and mismanagement, but leaves it there. Instead we get more sexy details over which to shed tears and feel bad.
But there’s something of a dichotomy between the two quasi-explanations give. Either it was white flight and a declining tax base due to the collapse of the auto industry, or it was corruption and mismanagement. It’s both, of course, and mostly the corruption and mismanagement has been done in the last decade or so. One mayor even went to jail for it. However, there’s no identity politics benefit to be had from going into that issue, so it’s ignored entirely.
The thing is, we’ve seen all this from the BBC before. Two years ago, they sent Ian Pannell to spin a similar tale of woe. Pannell’s story was that the poor urban blacks whom Buchanan now describes as being abandoned and left to rot by wealthy whites were victims of income inequality, thrust upon the city by outside forces. The city was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2005. Eight years later, after much more corruption and fiddling and shuffling the deck chairs, the city was finally allowed to declare it openly. At least Dymond and Buchanan now admit (barely) that there was some local responsibility for the problems. They won’t say whom or how they ruined the city, but at least it’s a tiny improvement. The corruption doesn’t really burn all the money, but it does keep the powers-that-be from doing anything useful. It’s also likely that politicians who are so corrupt were never capable of doing anything useful in the first place, so it’s a no-win scenario no matter how you slice it.
Simply listing unpleasant statistics about empty homes and population decline and murder rates isn’t an explanation of anything. It’s merely a laundry list of indicators. How did it rack up such debt in the first place? What policies led to the city being so burdened by retired workers and public services maintained at a level which hasn’t been sustainable for a decade or more?
Actually, there was a brief period of potential growth after 2001. The city built casinos and sports stadiums, the kind of development which usually brings in a short-term boost. Of course, since the place was already falling apart and the population exodus was underway, it was never going to be sustainable. There’s that word again. The only time the BBC ever seems to understand that word is when discussing so-called “green energy”. When it comes to endless government “investment”, the word “sustainable” vanishes from their dictionary. By the time the next mayor took office and started burning money, the serious financial problems became clear. Here’s a more informative timeline, giving you more insight than anything the BBC can provide. As usual, you’d have been better served by a news aggregator than the millions of pounds spent on all the staff in the US.
The BBC isn’t interested in any of this, or in informing you of anything really useful or important. All they see here is a tear-jerker, and story-tellers love that sort of thing. So that’s what you get from the BBC: a story. Nothing particularly informative or worth your time, but that was never the point. The point is to manipulate your emotions. Plus, it’s an opportunity to continue to spin the myth that this kind of collapse is due largely to those outside, uncontrollable forces Pannell was talking about two years ago. The BBC brings up Stockton, CA, and other cities elsewhere which have declared bankruptcy recently, as if they’re all part of a piece. They are, but not the way the BBC wants you to think.
Here’s an example of how the BBC prioritizes the causes in Detroit:
The city, once renowned as a manufacturing powerhouse, has struggled with its finances for some time, driven by a number of factors, including a steep population loss.
The murder rate is at a 40-year high and only one third of its ambulances were in service in early 2013.
Declining investment in street lights and emergency services have made it difficult to police the city.
And Detroit’s government has been hit by a string of corruption scandals over the years.
Between 2000-10, the number of residents declined by 250,000 as residents moved away.
Steep population loss, which equals steep tax loss. Less tax revenue means less money for the local government to spend, which in Beebspeak becomes “declining investment”. Murder rates on the rise, which, I suppose, translates into more white flight. Only then do we get to the corruption scandals. This should come first, not last. I say last and not penultimate because the last item is simply a more specific reiteration of the population decline point. Gosh, I wonder why people left in droves over the last decade, BBC? White flight, or cutting losses in a clearly corrupt and financially suicidal regime, with no real industry or commerce developed to replace what the auto industry provided?
All those other bankrupt cities the BBC mentions, except for San Bernardino, were run for a very long time by Democrats and powerful unions as well. And San Bernardino had massive public sector employee debts anyway. As Margaret Thatcher said, it’s fine until you run out of other people’s money. Instead of pointing the finger at the corruption and mismanagement and long-term unsustainable fiscal policy, the BBC blames other people’s money.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the BBC played another Spot the Missing Party game about another city where decades of Democrat, African-American mayors and city mandarins screwed the place up, where the economically deprived African-American urban community suffers most: St. Louis.
UPDATE 2: The BBC does, in fact, mention a political party: The Republican Governor who agreed to the bankruptcy deal (h/t Rufus McDufus). Naturally, the reason they mentioned a political party can be gleaned from the sentences preceding it:
But Ed McNeil, the lead negotiator for a coalition of 33 unions, told Reuters news agency the move was about “busting the unions”.
“This is not about fixing the city’s finances,” he said. “It’s about the governor and his own agenda to take over the city of Detroit.”
In a letter accompanying Thursday’s filing, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, said he had approved the request for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
“It is clear that the financial emergency in Detroit cannot be successfully addressed outside of such a filing, and it is the only reasonable alternative that is available”.
Could the innate bias be any more obvious?
Don’t bother trusting the BBC on this or any US issue.