DETROIT TODAY, LEEDS TOMORROW: Where neoliberalism is going

I do find it fascinating that, now Detroit has finally defaulted, with other local administrations surely soon to follow, it doesn’t seem to occur to most American commentators that this is the beginning of the end for their country. If you move jobs offshore, then degradation, drugs and crime immigrate very quickly to replace them.

There are, of course, a thousand reasons why Detroit is broke, and the American Right is scribbling so much about it – in a hurry to blame the Democrat administration for everything – you could be forgiven for imagining their wrists might actually be engaged in a rather different activity. But at base level, the simple fact is that one President and Congress after another – starting with Reagan himself, easily the worst offender – carried on the myth of reducing the State when actually they were increasing the cost of it but delivering less to the Citizen. The cost increase was at least partly a result of borrowing money while pretending that America was still top of the heap (and so it was OK to strip out its home-grown assets to vultures like Romney) when in reality its traditionally global moneymakers were not moving forward at all.

After the American automotive industry’s boom years, investment in design and technology collapsed in real terms, investors and office-holders preferring to take the dividends and run. I watched this process take place from close quarters while Ford was a client in the 1970s, being taken apart  by the Japanese and the Germans. GM was no different. So let the neoliberal onanists construct their alternative version of history: Detroit collapsed because of Friedmanite greed, neoliberal short-termism, and fiscal incontinence from the City’s good burghers. It collapsed because Washington has been in denial (still is) about America’s decline. It collapsed because Greenspan said “Party on!” in 2004, when he should’ve read the riot act. And because a President – himself a black man – is too interested in the mirror to really care about America’s blue-collar class. And it will collapse totally when interest rates rise.

They are already doing so in India: as I posted last year, someone who needs something different from their currency will break ranks and spoil the Zirp hoot n nanny. That’s the trouble with ‘globalism’ – Levitt invented a global village that doesn’t exist. Sooner rather than later, this mad attempt at worldwide mercantile growth – based on credit stimulation nobody can afford – will implode. Then who will do the consuming so vital to the growth-model of capitalism? Better ask the people of Detroit.

The grisly details are as follows: the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors – it breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.  One-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict. There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.

In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000. Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48% of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost. Half the jobs in ten years.

In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000. 47% of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate. Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point. 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average. About 40% of the street lights do not work. Roughly a third of the ambulances are running.

In half a century, Detroit has gone from having the highest per capita income in the US to the lowest. This is, of course, the ‘vision’ former Goldman Sachs beelzebub Mario Draghi has for the EU territories.

The fanatical Newscories hijacking the Conservative Party are offering us privatised education, selling the blood transfusion service to Bain Capital, creeping NHS destruction, cuts in police numbers, and making the Australian  anti-British owner of a criminal  Group the dominant figure in British media….so that we too can have our own set of ranters on Fox News. It’s obvious where it’s going: before long we will have at least one Detroit here – and I hope it isn’t going to be Leeds, because despite it being in Yorkshire, there are people I like there.

If, like me and a growing army of others, you think the road being taken is an offence against decency, stay tuned to this site. The Unaligned Front for Decency (UFD) is being formed as I write. It is an apolitical pressure group, not a political Party.

More details to follow.

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