Alexander's Column

If Obama Had a City, It Would Look Like Detroit

America After Obama's Debt Bomb Detonates

By Mark Alexander · Jul. 25, 2013
“The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife.” –Thomas Jefferson (1821)

Launching the next leg of his perpetual campaign, Barack Hussein Obama took his “Look What I Did to the Economy” tour – which he prefers to call the “Better Bargain for the Middle Class” tour – on the road next week.

His first stop will be Chattanooga, Tennessee, deep in conservative territory and The Patriot’s hometown. We will be on hand to greet Obama, but not among his hand-picked photo op backdrop sycophants. For the record, Tennessee’s economy is recovering DESPITE Obama’s failed economic policies. We are fourth in the nation for job creation. We are a “right to work” state and our economy is driven by entrepreneurial ingenuity and hard work. We have the lowest debt of any state in the nation, even though we have no income tax. Coincidentally, our Governor is a conservative Republican, our State Legislature has a Republican super-majority and Republicans control the Senate.

Maybe that is not coincidence?

In this, his 18th “political pivot” back to jobs, he is endeavoring to portray the feeble “economic recovery” – less than 1 percent GDP in each of the last four years – as his greatest success story. He will re-refocus on the “Republican sequester,” blaming it for his economic policy failures. Obama talks about the stagnant national economy as if he just landed from Mars – when in fact, the economy is mired in the mud because of five years of his failed policies.

Obama's objective is to rally support for even more taxes, spending and debt, in advance of upcoming budget negotiations with House Republicans.

During a seemingly endless stump speech in Galesburg, Illinois, on Wednesday, Obama droned on for nearly 8,000 words, not one of which was “Detroit.” “We've come a long way since I first took office,” he arrogantly proclaimed. “As a country, we're older and we're wiser.” (Seriously, he said that – as if he alone had raised the collective wisdom of the nation.)

However, he did not mention that we're deeper in debt than ever and the debt bomb“ he has dropped on America will bring us perilously close to insolvency as a nation. Nor did he mention that his socialist policies have failed as such policies always do, that most economic indicators are flat or down, that the number of impoverished families continues to grow, and that his administration is deeply mired in some very troubling scandals.

Regarding those scandals, he characterized his IRS Patriot hit list and the alteration of the Benghazi attack script just ahead of his 2012 re-election bid as an "endless parade of distractions … and phony scandals.” But there is nothing phony about the IRS targeting conservative groups, or the murder of Americans in Benghazi.

Last week, Obama lost more ground with his most loyal constituency, black voters, when the political value of the Zimmerman/Martin case died with the jury's not-guilty verdict.

Desperate to improve his favorability ratings, and to divert attention away from his administration's failings on every level – including his increasingly beleaguered scheme to nationalize health care – Obama is betting that his appearances before adoring, handpicked audiences will bolster his national approval. Given the endless media coverage of these staged events, that is probably a good bet.

Unfortunately for Obama, in the same week he announced his “economic success” summits across the nation, the city of Detroit announced its Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing – with no way to cover billions in unfunded liabilities. That's the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. As you recall, just before his re-election last year, Obama claimed Detroit as one of his success stories: “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt. We bet on American workers and American ingenuity, and three years later, that bet is paying off in a big way.”

Obviously not. Obama's “road forward” has proven to be a dead end for Detroit, as it has for the whole nation.

Recalling Obama's politically motivated remark to make the Zimmerman/Martin case part of his campaign last year – “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon” – the obvious parallel for Obama in this instance would be, “If I had a city, it would look like Detroit.”

Detroit is an apropos metaphor for Obama's America. It is the prototypical terminal manifestation of the Democratic Party's socialist economic policies that have created ever-expanding urban poverty plantations in once-great cities across the nation. That in turn drives the departure of middle-class families for greener pastures in outlying suburban counties with better schools and lower crime.

Over just the last decade, some 240,000 of Detroit's residents (25 percent of its population), and thousands of businesses, fled the city's oppressive taxes and corrupt one-party government. Indeed, Detroit was a bustling city of nearly 2,000,000 residents as far back as 1950; today, that number is just over 700,000. (Not coincidentally, Detroit's last Republican mayor, Louis Miriani, served more than a half-century ago, from 1957 to 1962.)

Traveling through Detroit, as with other blighted urban centers, I can't help but recall my travels through the urban wastelands of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Ironically, Russian leaders today understand the importance of lower taxes and decentralized government as a catalyst for free enterprise and economic growth, while Democrat leaders in our nation advocate policies that stifle economic growth and centralize government.

The miles of shuttered businesses and fields of collapsing homes are also reminiscent of “Starnesville,” the fictitious auto-manufacturing center in Ayn Rand's dystopian novel, “Atlas Shrugged.” Rand wrote, “A few houses still stood within the skeleton of what had once been an industrial town. Everything that could move, had moved away… Beyond the town, on a distant hill, stood the factory of the Twentieth Century Motor Company…”

When Ayn Rand published her novel in 1957, Detroit had the highest per capita GDP in the nation. But Detroit, like Starnesville, became a desolate wasteland after the socialists gained political control of the city. Likewise, its decline is a harbinger for the rest of our national economy.

Detroit is not much worse off than Obama's hometown of Chicago or many other Democrat-controlled urban centers nationwide, all overrun with larded public-sector unions, government waste and skyrocketing debt. But the breaking point for Detroit, as it may be for other cities to follow, was its grossly underfunded retirement pension.

An underfunded municipal pension is somewhat similar to the unfunded Social Security Ponzi scheme at the national level. (Yes, I know there are U.S. Treasury IOUs in the so-called SSI “lockbox,” but those pieces of paper are merely mortgages on future generations of Americans.)

In Detroit, decades of Democrat mayors since its zenith in the '50s punted the need to cut spending and waste, and to renegotiate grossly excessive union pension plans. And they got away with it as long as there were many more people paying taxes into the funds than were drawing money out of the funds. But during the last 20 years, the city's deteriorating demographic finally caught up to it. The result has been a steadily shrinking cash flow, and a dying city unable to raise enough taxes to keep cops on the street and city services functioning – much less accommodate its enormous public-sector pension deficit.

Likewise, during the 1950s the ratio of income earners paying into Social Security versus retirees receiving benefits was 10:1. Now, it is fewer than 3:1. Furthermore, what was paid in over the decades was then “borrowed” to “invest” in nonstop government growth. Of course, the federal government can force many millions of “captive donors” in future generations to increase their “donations” to the SSI fund, but not even that inexcusable prospect can keep Social Security solvent.

Of course, while Detroit has unfunded liabilities of $18 billion, the U.S. has unfunded liabilities in excess of $220 trillion, a number that ought to compete for attention with the “mere” $17 trillion of national debt.

So what will the charlatan Obama do about Detroit while on his latest campaign tour? For sure, Obama has two very significant constituencies represented in Detroit: Unions and black voters.

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry's assessment of Detroit's crisis sets the tone for Obama's Motor City strategy: “This lack of tax base is also exactly the kind of thing that many Republicans would impose on us. … This is what it looks like when government is small enough to drown.”

In other words, the problem wasn't that Detroit's municipal government was too big and corrupt and cowardly, but that Republican policies kept it too small and vulnerable to financial failure. (Clearly, Ms. Harris-Perry has a future as an Obama teleprompter speechwriter.)

White House spokesman Jay Carney says the administration is prepared to provide “assistance,” not a bailout. I suspect Obama will propose bailout measures under some other name in anticipation that Republicans will reject those measures. Then he will blame Republicans for the city's decline. Obama's legions of low-information voters will buy it.

Regardless of his political charades, the fact remains that Detroit is a fitting metaphor for the consequences of socialism on our national economy.

Indeed, “If Obama had a nation, it would look like Detroit.” And our nation will share Detroit's fate unless grassroots American Patriots reinvigorate, refortify and redouble our efforts through 2014 and beyond.

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194 Comments

MIResident in Michigan said:

All correct - I've lived in the SE Michigan area since the early '80s, working downtown at the RenCen for a number of years.

Detroit (and Wayne County which is almost all Detroit) stands in stark contrast to the surrounding counties, especially Oakland.

Only thing I'd point out is the one picture is of the old Detroit train depot - once a grand building - is owned by 'Matty' Maroun, a capitalist by any name, and has a reputation for buying cheap and letting the building crumble - the city had to sue for him to properly maintain it, including replacing broken windows.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA replied:

Why should Matty Maroun maintain a building he planned to demo?

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 2:03 PM

JJStryder in realville replied:

A city doesn't need a "grand train depot" if all the people leave that could afford a ticket. Detroit taxation is why the people got out of town which allowed "Matty" to get a cheap deal. Not the other way around.

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 2:05 AM

JSK in Savannah, GA said:

Great essay! It is my sincere hope that we can avert such a calamity at the national level, even at this late hour.

Thomas Jefferson
letter to John Taylor — 1816
"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."

"Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole—with their common aim of legal plunder—constitute socialism."
- Claude Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Bill in Leawood, KS replied:

You won't avoid it as long as there is money to steal and parcel out to the magical people OWS and Barry pander to

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA replied:

"Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways"
In my opinion the oppressive taxes are illegal plunder by an out of control elected.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:48 PM

wjm in Colorado said:

Would it be possible for the Patriot Post to have a bumper sticker to the effect of : If You Vote Democrat, You Get Detroit. Of course many liberals would be too stupid and indoctrinated to see the connection, and the media doesn't mention it either.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Bill in Leawood, KS replied:

Saying stupid liberal is redundant, saying the same thing twice.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Jim in Western NC replied:

Bill, I read the same thing in the memo from the Department of Redundancy Department.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Bill in Leawood, KS replied:

If they are in charge of redundancy, must be part of th federal bureaucracy

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Nukeman in Ill-Annoy The Land of Corruption replied:

There is obviously a pressing need for a Redundanct Czar.

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Hamilton in IL replied:

Bill,

Saying stupid Liberal is not always redundant.

A stupid Liberal is a guy like Jimmy Carter.

These are two different animals.

An opportunistic Liberal is a person like Hillary Clinton. Opportunistic Liberals are generally ruthless and power-hungry. Liberal ideology is their tool to grow government and their power.

The Jimmy Carter's of the world serve as the useful idiots for the Hillary Clinton's of the world.

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 10:54 AM

stereotypo in Coarsegold, CA replied:

Stamp out and abolish redundancy.

Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 9:50 PM

Hamilton in IL replied:

wjm,

I like that a lot. Go into business to produce those bumper stickers. I'll buy at least one.

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Bill in Leawood, KS said:

We have seen the future and it is dysfunctional

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Bilbo in Orlando, FL said:

He DOES have a city - its called the United States of America, and he is doing to it just what the Democrats did to Detroit.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM

bpehni in Franklin, TN said:

Obama DOES have a nation, and it looks like Cuba.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA replied:

Obama does not have a nation, he lives in one. I agree we are letting him give it the coup de grace, but the destruction has been going on for years under the watch of the citisens of this country.
We have allowed our elected to divide us to conquor our Liberty; to feed us BS daily to program us with the BS propaganda.
New motto should be, " Just say no to Taxes" or "Just say no to Government"

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 2:08 PM

MNIce in Minnesota replied:

The very best tax revolt we can carry out is to tell our Congress critters they'd better give us a repeal of the 16th Amendment or forget about getting our votes.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA replied:

or our money.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 4:54 PM

stereotypo in Coarsegold, CA replied:

Those who would secure the blessings of freedom to out posterity are outvoted.

Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Evan in Wyoming, Ohio said:

It is very tempting to simplify the causes of disaster in Detroit but many of them go back to the glory years of the 60s. Population declined first as a result of a high city income tax in the early 60s which cost the city it's business base for anyone who could move over 8 mile road. Second, the fine neighborhood schools were attacked with a threat to bus children back and forth from the inner city costing them their residential base. Third came the riots which burned down everything in the "war zone" which was not rebuilt. Detroit has been a shambles for years.

it is nice to claim that the pensions are a result of a failure to negotiate but any negotiation requires two parties and a basis for settlement. To this very day there has been no such opportunity. The UAW set the standards for Detroit with the unsustainable auto pension system with all it's guarantees, COLA and 30 and Out. Why should unions accept anything less?

There is now a choice between nothing and something and that is a basis for negotiation. It will be painful but it can go forward.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:44 PM

PK in SC said:

I agree that Obama has been a disaster. However, in a small effort to be fair and balanced, I have to comment that the Congress, Republicans as well as Democrats, have been a fantastic disaster as well. Overall they are corrupted and owned by the special interest money that they require to run for election and reelection. Stop private money, start public money in the election process and there's a chance we can regain control of our country. Keep griping and keep the same systme - you got no chance of meaningful, substantive change.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA replied:

A major part of the solution is term limits; but our despotic elected will never limit their cash cow jobs as the ruling elite.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:52 PM

MNIce in Minnesota replied:

We have had public money in the election process for years, and it hasn't done a dime's worth to stop the corruption. It may have even facilitated corruption of the process by giving the initially well-heeled an extra advantage.

If you want to get the corrupting influence of money out of politics, you must get the corrupting influence of politics out of money. If the federal government is made to stay within the boundaries of the enumerated powers yielded to it in the Constitution, there will not be many things for which to lobby Congress. For if the subject matter is outside the purview of Congress, nobody in his right mind would waste money trying to influence Congressional opinion on the matter.

As it stands now, Congress improperly butts into any and every aspect of our lives, and consequently fortunes are made on K Street by peddling influence. The lobbying business has become one of the greatest threats to the Constitution, for if the Supreme Law of the Land would be observed as intended and written, lobbyists would lose a great share of their market. The business group of political influencers is one of the major components of "the establishment" in the battle for ownership of the Republican Party.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM

MAJ USA Ret in Saint Louis replied:

Term limits are required. They limit the elected officials time to become entrenched in the corruption and keep fresh ideas flowing. The military has been doing this for decades with its up-or-out promotion policies and retirement after only 20 years. The legislature was never intended for bureaucrats and homesteaders.
Three terms max for both House and Senate. That still leaves a Senator in place for 18 years!
And while we are at it, prohibit their return after they served their limit, and severely limit their retirement benefits. The cost of full salary of our legislative members is rediculous, and would be cost prohibitive if we had term limits.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA replied:

I'm thinking two term limits, it is the same for POTUS

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Fred in Orleans ,Ma replied:

I suggest one 8 year term for the whole lot, SUPREME COURT included. These chaps should not be distracted and improperly motivated by an election process once in office. What ,you say, nothing will get done. I counter that only the issues that should be dealt with as defined by the constitution will be addressed as there will be no time to squander time on diversionary and vote buying bills.
Same office career politicians should be dismantled and the perks that they have voted for themselves as well. We are all in this together , there should be no ELITE political class as we have now.

Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 11:32 AM

MAJ USA Ret in Saint Louis replied:

Plenty of blame to go around. But when both Houses of Congress were last controlled by Republicans, we were on a real recovery in spite of two wars and 9-11! As soon as Democrat Party controlled both houses, things went south fast. By the second year budget cycle we were in recession that we have not recovered. Some blame Bush, and he deserves it. He conceeded to the Democrat controlled congress and let them start this mess.
The problem will not be solved until we get rid of the Democrat controlled Senate. But every congressional race is local, not national. That has to be won at the local level. So while we may not like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, we must depend upon their own constituents to move them out. Regrettably, with the frequency of redrawing districts to favor incumbents, we may have to wait a long while.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 5:32 PM

stereotypo in Coarsegold, CA replied:

If we put only incorruptible politicians in office, that will solve all the problems. But that will require a majority of incorruptible voters. Now, I allow that there is a majority of incorruptible voters, but getting them to vote correctly is another problem.

Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Honest Abe in North Carolina replied:

Electing "incorruptible politicians" is an impossibility in this day and age to turn around a progressive government which rewards and encourages corruption and waste and survives by condoning ignorance of the past and rewarding poverty and licentiousness among its people. I cannot imagine finding, much less electing a large enough group of incorruptible politicians to turn things around. In 1787, in an age of more ignorance, illiteracy and poverty than today, God blessed the United States with a select group of intelligent and faithful gentlemen who did more for us than a group of modern incorruptible politicians could ever do. Progressive politics is not the answer, it is the cause.

Monday, August 5, 2013 at 12:20 PM

JJStryder in realville replied:

"Special interests" are a government creation. Regulations, taxes and crony capitalism is what created them. If your business is being attacked by government you have got to pay someone to protect yourself. Get in bed with government and you may be able to influence your competition away for good. Smaller government with less regulations and bureaucrats, lower taxes and the elimination of too big to fail and we may return to true competitive capitalism. Which built this great nation and Detroit.

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 2:18 AM

Scotch62 in O-town FL replied:

JJ- I agree with your analysis 100% but would like your help in not using the term "crony capitalism". As government creates the special interests, I would define it as "corporate socialism". Capitalism by definition would not involve government intervention in the market. It is a device statists always use to cover for the failures of their socialist policies. Blame it on "----"capitalism.

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Chris Bergman in Prescott, Arizona said:

If Big Government had a city, it would look like Detroit.

WAIT! What am I saying?!? Big Government DOES have a city! It IS Detroit.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA replied:

Yeah and Obamas thinking is on the level of what comes out of a kindergarten room.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 4:56 PM

JOE in OKLAHOMA said:

if the Obama Administration stayes in office to the end of his 2nd term he will have turn this number one nation U.S.A. into a third world country and with the backing from the polititions both REP/DEM.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Nukeman in Ill-Annoy The Land of Corruption replied:

My REAL fear is that he will stay in office PAST his second term. Think about it!

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:18 AM

TheVonz in Texas said:

THERE IS BUT ONE LAW OF THE LAND = THE US CONSTITUTION AND BILL OF RIGHTS.

If politicians and elected "officials" vote-in laws that are against the Constitution, those "laws" are illegal.

The only way to get the politicians' attention is to put them in jail for crimes against we citizens.

Obviously we can not expect the politicians to put themselves in jail.... they are all corrupt and self-serving, and they are removing our freedoms and security.... crimes against the US Constitution.... domestic enemies.

We citizens must unite and take the steps to put all of them in jail who do not uphold their Oath to we citizens and their Oath to the Constitution.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM

RichardB in Chattanooga replied:

"We citizens must unite and take the steps to put all of them in jail who do not uphold their Oath to we citizens and their Oath to the Constitution."

I concur fully with that statement and would be glad to comply if I knew how it could be achieved. It is one thing to talk the talk but we must walk the walk if things are to change.

Some say that we must win elections to make the necessary changes. Yes we can elect conservatives to Congress. We can write or call our Congressmen. It may help but who will have the most influence on the freshman we elect. On one side they have input from long term members of Congress to corrupt them. On the other we have the ability to vote them out of office in two or six years. If those we elect have been shown how to get rich AND stay in office, how big a threat are unhappy constituents? Just being in office gives the incumbent a huge advantage over those who run against those who hold office.

If those we elect violate their oath of office, they should be punished but how do we accomplish that? We are at war and some elected officials are giving aid and comfort to our enemies. That is treason but who has even been charged with treason, much less punished?

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Brian in Inverness said:

I wonder why B.O. is still in office.Clinton was impeached for a BJ and yet this clown who is ruining our country is still in office.At least Clintons BJ didn't hurt anything ,matter of fact,it probably felt kind of good.Can't say the same thing about B.O.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:57 PM

JAC in Texas replied:

To put it more graphically, B.J. feels good; B.O. just stinks!

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 2:22 PM

JtC in TX replied:

"At least Clintons BJ didn't hurt anything . . ." Yeah, nothing wrong with the Commander in Chief setting that fine example for the nation (and world) while men and women are prosecuted every day in the military for adultery. Let alone that contribution to this moral-less generation.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 4:43 PM

rebel07 in Centennial CO said:

And if Obama had a country it would look like Cuba

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Deb W in Edwardsville, IL said:

http://www.weather.com/travel/modern-ruins-abandoned-detroit-photos-20130715 had these pictures up today of modern day ruins in Detroit...very compelling and disturbing...from the author of the book "A World Without Us". Jay Leno nailed it with his tongue-in-cheek comment about being relieved that such a scenario as a decreased tax base and increased size of government that caused Detroit's downfall could never happen at the federal level. The warning is crystal clear...this will be America if the current direction is not reversed...and it will be considered by many to be a success when it goes down as a world power.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Barry Payne in Merritt Island, Fl said:

The pillaging of America did not start with Obama and will not end when he leaves office. It will stop when voters stop voting for the people who are pillaging.

The massive debt and sub-prime mortgage crisis did not start with Obama and will not end when he leaves office. It will stop when people stop voting for the people who support sub-prime lending.

If you keep voting the same you will keep getting the same.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Dennis McGonigle in Chester Springs, PA replied:

This is the root issue for our country. Even our "fiscally responsible" Republicans can't control themselves. The recently passed Agricultural bill, that received all the press because it separated out the food stamp programs, was a pork barrell full of handouts to the agri-business. The Republicans, in this bill, are looking to spend more that the Obama administration even asked for. Gerrymandering and re-districting have set in place permanent membership in the House of Representatives and the Party bosses keep in place our elected Senators. Of all the seats in Congress I bet less than 25% are actually party vs, party competitive. The rest are locked in to a single party. Detroit, as a prime example of one party rule, is not that much different than Washington D.C. at the national level. We have "permament people" rule. Very few lose their jobs, and those that do are merely lambs to the Nancy Pelosi's and John Boehner's, Harry Reid's and John McCain's of our permently re-elected class. Our electoral system is broken. Voter ID aside, gerrymandering has led to our current state.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:39 PM