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Ed Driscoll

In Soviet Detroit, Cops Rob You!

July 29th, 2013 - 3:19 pm

“Detroit, St. Clair Shores cops robbed men at gunpoint” with their service-issued pistols, while prominently displaying their badges, the Detroit News reports, in a story that’s catnip to the Drudge Report:

A photograph snapped by a citizen and distributed to the media led to the arrest of two police officers who allegedly robbed and assaulted two citizens last week, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Monday.

The two men — one a sergeant and 20-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department; the other holding the same rank in St. Clair Shores — allegedly wore their badges around their necks and drew their department-issued pistols on July 21, when police say they robbed two men at an east-side gas station. One of the victims was assaulted, Craig said.

“It wasn’t until a photograph was sent to the media that someone investigating the case recognized him as a Detroit Police employee,” Craig said.

Further investigation revealed his alleged partner was a St. Clair Shores sergeant who attended the Police Academy with him before leaving Detroit’s police force after two years, said Inspector Brian Stair, head of Detroit Police Internal Affairs.

According to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, it has received a warrant request for the two officers, who Craig said are likely to be charged with robbery and assault in the next day or so.

It’s not all that surprising that Detroit’s cops think it’s perfectly OK to rob the town’s residents; their bosses have been doing just that for decades. Or as frequent PJM contributor Tom Blumer writes at Newsbusters, “Virtually Unreported: Detroit’s Bankruptcy Came With Sky-High Tax Rates, Not ‘Small Government:’”

Just over a week ago, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry claimed that Detroit’s bankruptcy is a result of “when government is small enough to drown in your bathtub,” and analogized it to “exactly the kind of thing that many Republicans would impose on us.”

The truth, of course, is that Detroit has had quite a large government. It also had and still has frightening rates of violent and nonviolent crime, incredibly awful schools, and a race-based culture that the press once praised. What is far less appreciated is what Detroit did to chase citizens and businesses out of the city in the form of sky-high taxes.

In 2012, Detroit’s income tax was the highest in Michigan by far. Using the correct language of taxation, the city’s 2.5% rate is 25% higher than 2% rate in the state’s runner-up, Highland Park (0.5% divided by 2% is 25%), and is 2-1/2 times as high as most other cities which have a 1% rate.

And then there’s the city’s property taxes, which as Tom goes onto note, some citizens have openly refused to pay.

At the National Interest, businessman Jay Zawatsky explores “America as Detroit,” and predicts the next wave of cities to suffer fates similar to Detroit. “Newark, Oakland, Cleveland and Los Angeles initially come to mind. But the same fate awaits nearly every other large municipality ruled for generations by so-called progressive thinkers:”

Once U.S. cities have danced to Motown’s latest bankruptcy beat, it will be the rest of America’s turn to confront unfunded liabilities. In the case of Detroit, fully half of what the city owes—$9 billion out of Detroit’s unpayable $18 billion—is the unfunded pension liabilities to retired public employees and those still on the city’s payroll.

But wait. $9 Billion? $18 Billion? Those amounts are mere rounding errors in the context of the U.S. budget deficit and aggregate national debt. Former Obama car czar Steve Rattner opined recently in the New York Times that “the 700,000 remaining residents of the Motor City are no more responsible for Detroit’s problems than were the victims of Hurricane Sandy for theirs, and eventually Congress decided to help them.”

But Detroit’s fiscal problems are not a natural disaster. Indeed, the city’s economic and social problems are what Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano might have called a “man-caused” disaster. Rattner even obliquely acknowledges that free will was behind Detroit’s disaster. The six words preceding his plea for a second, smaller Detroit bailout (GM was the first) were “[b]ut apart from voting in elections…”

That is the rub. There is, there never has been, and there never will be a free lunch. Yet Americans have been voting themselves money since LBJ’s Great Society.

Read the whole thing. Detroit’s descent from liberalism to socialism to nihilism may well make it a leading indicator for what author/filmmaker Gonzalo Lira called in 2010 calls “The Coming Middle-Class Anarchy.”

Related: At Commentary, Seth Mandel on “The Left’s Evolving Blame Game on Detroit.” You’ll be shocked, I’m sure, to hear that racism is the prime culprit:

But there’s another element to this evident in Rattner’s remarks: the question of victimhood and culpability. This was more fully fleshed out in a Salon column published on Saturday. The column, by Andrew O’Hehir, follows the classic model of blaming racism (real and imagined) for Detroit’s woes. O’Hehir is “tempted” to offer an alternative theory for the collapse of Detroit, which is probably the most ridiculous thing yet written about the Motor City’s financial meltdown:

As payback for the worldwide revolution symbolized by hot jazz, Smokey Robinson dancin’ to keep from cryin’ and Eminem trading verses with Rihanna, New Orleans and Detroit had to be punished. Specifically, they had to be isolated, impoverished and almost literally destroyed, so they could be held up as examples of what happens when black people are allowed to govern themselves.

It’s unconscious, he believes, as he assures readers he is no conspiracy theorist. Most of O’Hehir’s column was ignored because of the sheer effort and self-discipline required to read beyond that paragraph which, for racial thinking, may have even surpassed Timothy Noah’s classic column classifying the Wall Street Journal’s discussion of President Obama’s skinniness as “a coded discussion of race.”

But then, from the left’s point of view, isn’t everything? “Monetary racism is a relatively new branch of economic study. In fact, its pioneers are mostly found in the Yale English department.” But as Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal predicted earlier this month, “monetary racism will make great strides as a result of Detroit’s bankruptcy.”

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