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Deciphering Detropia: The Power of Degrowth, the Destructiveness of Neoliberalism

Detropia[i],[ii] stirs anxiety and disorientation among its viewers[iii] through poignant visuals[iv] of the desolate and denuded cityscape blended with the accounts of Detroiters. But what are we to learn from this surfacing of collective dread?

In my view Detroit’s demise and its fate are comprehensible only in terms of processes at play that currently are considered marginal, heretical or preposterous in mainstream culture. For simplicity, I refer to 1) thermodynamically induced socioeconomic degrowth[v] occurring while 2) governments recklessly and wantonly destroy the natural environment and exploit and threaten their citizens, in vain efforts to preserve a class-based neoliberal political/economic order where upward wealth distribution[vi] is the procrustean organizing principle.

While I find Detropia mostly mired in the waning yet dangerous neoliberal worldview, its artistic integrity nonetheless delivers an emotional jolt[vii] that can open up viewers to recognize the depredations of neoliberalism at the physical limits to economic growth. In my summary I will discuss another documentary, Detroit, je t’aime, which presently is being made and can be considered an ecologically and (the beginnings of a) viable cultural response to the questions raised by Detropia.

Roger Ebert touches on this, writing, “Detropia offers no solution to this crisis [of Detroit’s plight, not neoliberalism], and indeed there may be none. This documentary is more eulogy and elegy.” In the same vein an LA Times reviewer observes, “Though the specifics may be Detroit’s, this is a quintessentially American story and that theme echoes through the film.”[viii] I have argued for some time that neoliberalism is a dominant paradigm in crisis that has no solutions to serve the commonweal.[ix] While this documentary “does no good” in the narrow sense of offering a way out, this criticism doesn’t matter because Detropia provocatively illustrates industrialism’s crisis American-style. Ironically, eschewing answers creates an opportunity to search for insights about the limits to growth.

Here are the specific questions I believe Detropia incites among viewers:

  • How could this devastation occur in the once mighty Motor City?[x]
  • Could this collapse happen anywhere, or is it time and context specific to a confluence of misfortunes: the excesses of American Exceptionalism (“What’s good for General Motors…”) the dynamics of local politics and corruption, deindustrialization, rampant racism and classism, all of which make for bad/wicked policy decisions?[xi],[xii]
  • What options are there for Detroiters living in what is –despite the deep attachment many feel to their city- in significant respects a dystopia with features of a failed state?[xiii]
  • What responsibility do the American public, automobile corporations and state and national government have to this entire[xiv] city? (If the government can bailout and continue to give de facto welfare to financial institutions –instead of prosecuting many of them as criminal enterprises- why allow Detroit, and many other urban and rural locations throughout America, to writhe?)

With the above in mind let’s discuss Detropia in terms of insider and outsider knowledge; what anthropologists call the emic and etic perspectives[xv]. Emic knowledge resides in the culture’s members; it constitutes their understanding of social reality or, specifically, their definitions of the social situations[xvi] in which their lives play out. It comprises the taken-for-granted assumptions, typifications, “rules of the game” (appropriate and legitimate conduct, political power, legitimacy) and explanations they share/negotiate/ modify, impose on one another, etc. The exploration of emic knowledge is the point of view in Detropia; little “outsider” (etic) knowledge is presented in the film. This emphasis on insider knowledge is central to arousing viewer empathy for Detroiters and Detroit. Coincidentally, if you want to introduce democratically based social change, emic knowledge must be respected and the discontinuities between it and etic knowledge must be understood. While it is too far afield to discuss the connections between emic and etic knowledge, it is useful for those interested in social change to attempt “to account for the[ir] divergence and convergence”[xvii] with the aim of synthesizing them.

In contrast to emic knowledge, etic/outsider knowledge refers to intellectualized big picture forces that a culture’s members may not consider relevant or be aware of as influencing their lives. Some outsider knowledge is presented in Detropia, near the end as unnamed voices serve up what to me are conventional wisdom bromides for the city’s restoration: “be competitive,” it’s a globalized world,” and the importance of education.[xviii]

Accompanying its potent visuals, which I merely mention here, Detropia features the voices of three Detroiters. After reviewing their insider accounts I will offer etic (outsider) knowledge, from the perspective of degrowth.[xix]

Three Detroiters Speak

Much of the documentary drops in on the lives of Tommy Stephens, Crystal Starr and George McGregor. As portrayed they are nostalgic for the Motown era, when Tommy and George were young men thriving in the vibrancy of their youth, Detroit’s black culture and the apex of the U.S. automobile industry[xx].

Crystal appears to be in her 20s and her nostalgia is perhaps better described as a yearning for an emotional attachment to 1960s “soul country” Detroit. She relies on mental images and feelings conjured by visiting places and structures, such as the decaying historic Michigan Avenue train station and an abandoned apartment building on W. Grand Blvd.[xxi] Here are her ruminations on this abandoned apartment building after she walks through its flotsam and jetsam:

“What was there? Who was there? …I’m picturing this place: clean, people walking around, sh*t happening, Motown [Records] right up the street. [deep sigh]…I feel like maybe I was here a little while back. Or that I’m older than I really am; that I have this young body and [nevertheless have a][xxii] memory of this place when it was bangin’.”

At the end of Detropia she offers a plaintive challenge to Detroiters and viewers to assist her city, which highlights her sense of Detroit’s socioeconomic oppression and ignored misery.

George McGregor came to Detroit from Tennessee in the late 1960s and was –as he might have put it then- “in high cotton” when he saw how auto factory wages dwarfed what he could earn down South. As president of United Auto Workers Local 22 he holds out hope, like many Detroiters,[xxiii] I think, that the industrial economy of his youth will return.

In one scene he presents a humiliating “final offer” contract to the union workers from American Axel, which would place some of them at approximately a Wall Mart level of wages. He tells his assembled members that the negotiator for American Axel, when told that the offer does not represent a living wage for most of the workers replied, “I don’t care about them earning a living wage.”[xxiv] The workers preserve their dignity by deciding to reject the offer without a vote. In this neoliberal world American Axel responded by simply moving its operations to Mexico.

In another scene he succinctly informs the documentarians, as they drive around the environs of the former Cadillac Clark Street Assembly plant, “the jobs left -and then the neighborhood left…Kaput.”

Despite such massive setbacks and assaults on his worldview, in an extra on the Detropia DVD –a scene not shown in the film- George philosophizes, “People always want more,” especially fast cars[xxv]. He gives no consideration to where “more” material goods and fast cars come from or the ecological costs that underlie people’s desires to possess them (in this regard, he’s got the demand-creates-supply “animal spirits” makings of a classical economist). This leads him to conclude that it’s just a matter of the appropriate politics and policies before the Detroit auto industry is –to some extent- resurrected.

Tommy Stephens is a retired teacher who runs the “Raven Lounge and Restaurant (Detroit’s House of Blues),” which is located on Detroit’s near-east side[xxvi], a few blocks from the General Motors plant that manufactures the Chevy Volt. Tommy’s lounge has lost business since the economic/fiscal crisis hit in 2007-8 and, as Detropia was being filmed in 2010, he hoped for surging sales of the Volt to restore the auto industry and in turn his flagging business. Early in Detropia he expresses optimism: “It’ll come back, I do believe.”

At the end of the film, after a deflating experience assessing the competitive prospects of the Volt at the Detroit Auto Show, he sits alone in his lounge sipping a beer, under a picture of a smiling President Obama.

“Sometimes I sit down here: meditate, pray, strategize [about his business], rest for awhile…You know, capitalism is a great system; I love it. But it always exploits the weak; it always does…”

He goes on to confess his worry that Detroit agonisties will spread throughout the nation: It “is coming to you,” he laments to the camera as he elaborates the potential for the destruction of the American Dream and middle class.

An Etic Perspective from Degrowth

When I imagine how George, Tommy and Crystal would react to my views on degrowth, neoliberalism and Detroit’s future I speculate that the primary difficulty they -and the vast majority Americans- would have is imagining their life in a world where economic activity is scaling back, not expanding. We Americans draw our collective identity from the things we possess; and we expect succeeding generations to own and have access to more goods and services than the present one. In a word, degrowth would have the appeal of the plague and, because of our collective ignorance of the relevance of thermodynamics and ecological science to socioeconomic activity, appear to them as a political ruse or terrifying path to immense sacrifice with little or no upside.

Even so, if I were to sit down with George, Crystal and Tommy here’s what I’d tell them to bridge the ravine between their insider knowledge and my outsider perspective: “Check this out: Your lives and now the lives of most Americans -and also people throughout the world- are not getting better economically, spiritually or in any meaningful way, really. I think we agree that we’re in a world of hurt. The natural environment’s systems –water, oceans, climate, soil, its resources like energy- the things that keep us alive- are all jacked up. And we’re now at the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel age –I’d like to pull your coat to peak oil because then you’ll get why the economy and finance are messed up. Detroit was THE city of the age of oil: The Motor City, as in motors run on oil –cheap and plentiful oil. Like you said about your Cadillac plant and neighborhood, George: as oil goes away our lives will get worse until we get hip to what’s going down –otherwise out lives go kaput.

“Degrowth is not about some jive-time white-folks trippin’; it’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s about how the laws of physics are forcing contraction of modern industrial economies. But that’s only half of it. The physical science I just mentioned is up against political leadership that refuses to understand how the world actually works. The political problem, one Tommy sort of talked about as the end of the middle class, is this: How should degrowth occur? Who decides how to fairly divvy-up a shrinking pie of economic goods and services while at the same time stopping environmental destruction? You can’t continue to have income and wealth inequality unless you sacrifice –I mean literally sacrifice- many people’s lives to preserve the hugely unequal way things are. And you can’t keep on jacking up the planet because the earth is saying, “that’s enough, y’all, that’s about all I can stand.”

“What comes next? There’s a whole lot we just don’t know. But what we do know –I think- is, first, as environmental conditions decline and resources become scarcer there will be a breakdown of political and economic systems, and then the locations and sources of power will open up to massive reorganization. Why? It’s because current leaders don’t really view common folks –whatever your skin color- as human beings. People will be forced by circumstances to take control of their lives. Second, any sustainable new economy must be built around people running their lives democratically, in all probability mainly at the local level.”

I feel this little speech would leave George laughing sardonically at me[xxvii]. His adult identity has been shaped while making Cadillacs and there’s no comfort or confirmation for him in what I just said. Put differently, I would expect him to utterly ridicule the following observation from a precursor of degrowth, economist Nicholas Georgescu-Rogen:[xxviii]

“Every time we produce a Cadillac, we irrevocably destroy an amount of low entropy [energy source] that could otherwise be used for producing a plow or a spade.”[xxix]

Tommy might find me an “educated fool,”[xxx] yet I feel he would then research and contemplate what I said. Crystal, I think, would pepper me with a series of incredulous “Where are you coming from?” and “You must be kra-zee!” questions. Still, over time she could find degrowth intriguing and a logical explanation for what has unfolded in Detroit and will continue throughout the world during the decades of life that lie before her.

Degrowth and the End of Neoliberal Power

Neoliberals are fond of quoting Margaret Thatcher’s “There is no alternative’[xxxi] (AKA: TINA) and brushing off critics of their “market-based solutions” fundamentalism with the slogan “a rising tide lifts all boats” (it’s one of Obama’s go-to lines).

Although this rigid stance has allowed neoliberalism to reign supreme in the United States and Western Europe for the past four decades, its ability to address our arrival at the limits to growth is nil. Neoliberalism is by virtue of its unassailable, inequality-based and uncompromising value system now confined to making bad problems worse[xxxii] for all but those inside the circled wagons of political/economic elites. And their insulation is temporary in a world at the end of economic growth short of unthinkable acts of aggression on the wider population to preserve their exploitative position.

The TINA notion derives from the core modernist metaphor of the economy as healthy when it is perpetually expanding. Not only is neoliberalism taken-for-granted in government policymaking, education, and media –in fact, it flows from the utterly unquestioned conventional wisdom of modern industrial society that the economy will automatically at some point –magically- come out of recession and begin to once again grow. Interestingly, both the political left and the right have a shared blindness to the many indicators of degrowth around us. Indeed, this faith in constant growth is present even in the thinking of otherwise sober critics of neoliberalism.[xxxiii]

Here is an example of neoliberalism at play in Detroit. It’s accepted -with scant criticism from the fringes- that a billionaire in finance and real estate, Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, should be allowed to cheaply buy up large sections of downtown Detroit to remake a two square mile area in his image of a successful city[xxxiv]. Presumably, the wealth created there will trickle down to the rest of Detroit.

Abandoning their traditional roles as watchdogs, critics and guarantors of the public interest, the following institutions serve to aid and abet corporate actors such as Gilbert: in media, the New York Times dubs Gilbert on a “Missionary’s Quest”;[xxxv] in the university urban planning faculty praise his vision and his inclusiveness of the Detroit community[xxxvi] with no mention of his recent comment,[xxxvii] “As hard as it is to suspend democracy for a short period of time I think it’s in the best interest of everyone.” As for government, the mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, has said it’s his job “to get out of the way” of Mr. Gilbert’s and similar efforts. In essence, public policy and the public interest become “public policy and government bad/private profit and corporations good.”

Conclusions

Concurrently, there is an embryonic Detroit that may gain hold as neoliberalism falters –loses power- and eventually is overcome. The documentarians now making the interactive story of “Do It Yourself” Detroiters, Detroit je t’aime,[xxxviii] argue, consistent with various localization[xxxix] and Global Ecovillage movements[xl], that “Food and community-empowerment are the pillars of the new Detroit we see everyday.” Their documentary represents a synthesis between etic and emic knowledge that naturally is occurring among some Detroiters –and many others across the world. Thus far, neoliberal government has ignored this localization phenomenon as an irrelevancy of regressive sentimentality of the 1960s countercultural generation. Be advised, however, that neoliberalism may assault localization –through taxes, regulations, harassment, and so forth- as it gains cultural momentum and viability which eventually competes with neoliberal government[xli].

Finally, I keep in mind that degrowth is continuing apace as the benefactors of neoliberalism wage their losing battle to remain supreme by striving to tighten their grip through austerity, crony capitalism, musical chair asset bubbles, drones, surveillance, resource wars of aggression, market solutions to all public and social problems, invasion of privacy, ponzi scheming, monthly Fed bank bail outs and so-called bail-ins, etc. I tell myself that neoliberals are blindly flailing in the sea of degrowth while do-it-yourselfers and localizers are –without always and everywhere being conscious of it- building lifeboats.

Notes and References


[i] Detropia, Directed and produced by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. http://detropiathefilm.com/index.html.

[ii] Detropia aired on Public Broadcasting System’s IndependentLens May 27, 2013. Watch it here: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/detropia/.

[iii] This is based upon talking to friends who have seen Detropia; discussing the film with my students after showing it to them; and from reading reviews, which range from labeling Detropia moving and respectful –in contrast to Detroit “ruin porn”- to an episodic narrative-less and intellectually unsatisfying stream of consciousness.

[iv] For instance, in one fleeting scene the camera frame, which is shot from outdoors, includes a young man who appears to be in his late teens or early twenties sitting in a room on a bed or sofa. He is simultaneously watching a wrecking crew demolish a home next door and the filmmakers’ camera. He has a wan gaze, his shoulders are hunched and he appears overweight. He does not move as he looks through the open burglar-barred window. He is perhaps –I speculate as I watch him- squatting in an abandoned home that is on the list for demolition.

[v] “Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions.” See: Degrowth.org. http://www.degrowth.org/definition-2. I add a second connotation: degrowth sums up the inexorable thermodynamic processes naturally forcing economic contraction in industrial societies.

[vi] This phenomenon is playing out in Detroit where an Emergency Fiscal Manager was appointed in March 2013 with the unilateral power to sell off city assets and nullify labor contracts, all in the name of balancing the city’s budget. This manager is holding a series of meetings with business leaders to divvy up what’s left of Detroit under the rubric of “public-private partnerships.”

[vii] Winn, Stephen. “What Happens to Us When Art Connects to the Unconscious” SF Gate, May 29, 2007.

http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/What-happens-to-us-when-art-connects-to-the-2591269.php#ixzz2Stzi8jsX.

[viii] Sharkey, Betsy. “Review: Detroit’s Economic Devastation Chronicled in ‘Detropia’”. LA Times, October 4, 2012. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/04/entertainment/la-et-mn-detropia-20121005.

[ix] For example, the Emergency Fiscal Manager cares not about creating jobs or lowering the infant mortality rate. He’s a corporate lawyer whose former firm has several Wall Street clients to whom the city has massive loans due –INO: a conflict of interest that is blithely pushed aside. His mandate is to balance the books and he is likely to do this by selling off assets –although the area’s high society elite is organizing to stop him from selling off the collection of the Detroit Institute of Art!

[x] I grew up in Detroit, specifically Highland Park and Hamtramck. During the city’s high times residents bragged that it was the “working man’s town.” I recall as a boy a factory worker telling me, “I came here from Baltimore to find work. A cat can always get him a gig in Detroit.”

[xi] There is a large body of research, ideological claptrap and racist doggerel on how and why Detroit is collapsing. In contrast, for a quick and clean overview (of what I consider proximate causes) from an urban planner and native Detroiter see: Pete Saunders, “The Reasons Behind Detroit’s Decline,” Urbanophile: Passionate about Cities, February 21, 2012. http://www.urbanophile.com/2012/02/21/the-reasons-behind-detroits-decline-by-pete-saunders/. For an in depth socioeconomic portrait now 15 years old, see: Detroit Divided: A Volume in the Multi-city Study of Urban Inequality, by Farley Reynolds, Sheldon Danziger, and Harry J. Holzer. Russell Sage Foundation, 2000.

[xii] David Dyan, “How Deadbeat Banks Pushed Detroit To The Brink.” The National Memo, March 11, 2013. http://www.nationalmemo.com/how-deadbeat-banks-pushed-detroit-to-the-brink/.

[xiii] While there is no consensus on the criteria of a failed state -and Detroit is a city not a sovereign state- there are some general conditions most observers agree constitute a breakdown of government:

  • Loss of full legitimate control of the means of violence as the final guarantor of law, order and justice. Some areas of Detroit are “no go” zones; street lights are now off in a large (as much as 40%) portion of the city; crimes often go uninvestigated by the overstretched police; many citizens carry a “burner,” a gun, (AKA in my Detroit youth days as a “rod” or a “piece” PS: I never saw anyone brandish one);
  • Declining ability to provide basic public services
  • Erosion of governmental authority and legitimacy.

[xiv] I write “entire” because efforts are now underway to “revive” the downtown area of the city with the usual consumer society mentality of shops, restaurants, etc catering to the so-called “creative class.” Mayor Bing has obliterated any notion that corporate interests are not ipso facto simultaneously acting in the public interest. This is the essence of a neoliberal or corporatist if you like, worldview. For a glimpse of how this worldview affects journalism, see, Kevin A. Brown, “Journalists in the service of Pete Peterson,” Remapping Debate, January 16, 2013. http://www.remappingdebate.org/article/journalists-service-pete-peterson.

[xvi] “The definition of the situation … is a kind of collective agreement between people on the characteristics of a situation, and from there, how to appropriately react and fit into it.” It is an emergent process, that is, contrary to commonsense, social reality is perpetually negotiated/constructed during interaction.

Establishing a definition of the situation requires that the participants agree on both the frame of the interaction (its social context and expectations), and on their respective identities (they will acknowledge each other as being who each claims to be for a given situation).” See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definition_of_the_situation.

[xvii] Harris, Marvin. “History and Significance of the Emic/Etic Distinction.” Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 5 (1976), pp. 329-350. http://crm-gis.com/Articles/Harris.pdf.

[xviii] At the risk of being snide, I note that Detropia is funded primarily by a grant from the Ford Foundation, which places these outsider evaluations in a non-disruptive conventional wisdom context.

[xix] “Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption—the contraction of economies—as overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities.” Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth.

[xx] One can argue that the city’s decline was already underway as early as the late-1950s, when population and tax revenues decline was beginning as “white flight” to the suburbs got underway.

[xxii] These bracketed words added for clarity. D.B.

[xxiii] “I was just reading some papers of some students at Wayne County Community College a few minutes ago. A number of them said that they were looking for Detroit to return to its glory days of big industry. People are still waiting for that system to return.” See: “Critical Moment: What is the State of Black Detroit, 2013?” Fred Vitale and Margaret Guttshall interview Charles Simmons and Sandra Flinoil on the state of black Detroit. Truthout, May 21, 2013. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/15584-critical-moment-what-is-the-state-of-black-detroit-2013.

[xxiv] The fact that this utterance goes unnoted by Detropia’s film critics and the filmmakers stuns me; it is a window into the thoroughness of neoliberal ideology that rules contemporary America. Here the economy functions not for the mutual benefit of the workers and owners, it exists for the owners. But this is a major part of the contradiction of neoliberalism: “Modern American capitalism, whose bidding is carried out in disguised fashion (see how Obamacare actually will work) by the state, focuses on “payouts to “investors”, speculation, wasteful and uninformative advertising and marketing, and payments to corporate attorneys. None of this represents a “contribution to production”. Alan Nasser, “The Economics of Over-ripe Capitalism.” Counterpunch, May 8, 20013. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/05/03/the-economics-of-over-ripe-capitalism/.

[xxv] Alex Davies, “The Age Of The Car In America Is Over.” Business Insider, May 20, 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-driving-boom-is-over-2013-5#ixzz2TvNt1Fu2.

[xxvi] My maternal grandmother owned a house on Jos. Campau near Kirby, a few blocks from Tommy Stephens’ Raven Lounge. Her husband, my grandfather, worked at the Dodge Main plant, which is no longer there; the site is now part of the Chevy Volt pant Tommy speaks of in the film. Their two sons, my uncles, owned a billiards parlor on Chene Street just south of E. Grand Blvd., which they purchased after their respective returns from WWII and the Korean War. My father worked at the original location of GM’s Detroit Transmission, on Riopelle Street, a few blocks from the Tommy’s Raven Lounge. Tommy’s nightclub reminds me of two nightspots I began frequenting as a teenager. One was the 20 Grand, located at 14th and West Warren (now an empty lot). I regularly attended Cecil B. Rabbit’s bi-weekly Thursday night dance party. At Phelps’ Lounge, on Oakland Avenue about two miles from the Raven, (building still standing in 2009, lounge closed) you could see the likes of Bobby Blue Bland, Jerry Butler, Major Lance, Solomon Burke, Etta James, Joe Simon, King Curtis and even the Ike and Tina Turner Review “live in living color” on Eddie Phelps’ cramped stage.

[xxvii] Recall that Frederick Engels judged the laws of thermodynamics applied to economics a hoax to further oppress and exploit the workers of the world. This suspicion of discussion of the limits to growth runs through the contemporary labor movement and much of the progressive and green movements. In a word, end of growth is an off-putting message -not a positive way to build a movement. In my view, not explicitly articulating the limits to growth is a cardinal miscalculation or blind spot of the left as degrowth naturally unleashes chaos on human systems. We know why the right denies it.

[xxviii] Georgescu-Roegen argues that industrialization was made possible by a one-time “energy bonanza” of fossil fuels which provided low-entropy energy to propel growth.

[xxix] Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas, The Entropy Law and the Economic Problem. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1971: p. 47.

[xxx] “An educated fool is a person filled with book knowledge who lacks common sense.” Urban Dictionary. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=educated%20fool.

[xxxi]There is no alternative (…TINA) [i]n economics, politics, and political economy, has come to mean that “there is no alternative” to economic liberalism, that free markets, free trade, and capitalist globalization are the best or only way for modern societies to develop.” See: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_is_no_alternative.

[xxxii] Degrowth implies a loss in social and economic complexity. It’s virtually incomprehensible to consider such a future from inside modern industrial society because it expresses how social organization –a culture and society- based upon finite and exhaustible (through overconsumption) natural resources is unsustainable.

[xxxiii] Butler, Henderson III, and Ron Brown write, “the economic crisis will eventually be resolved…” and cite black governance of Detroit as “the more serious matter.” Pg: 18. I appreciate their point, but it’s still a major misunderstanding of what’s taking place.

“Corpocracy: The Tyranny of Neoliberalism and Detroit’s Financial Crisis.” Social Science Research Network, March 4, 2013. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2229554.

[xxxiv] An example from Detroit is the attempt to utilize the “Eds & Meds” strategy, using education and medicine as economic anchors, as a complement to Gilbert’s plan to revive the downtown area. See: Bare, John. “Reviving Detroit from the Ground Up.” CNN Opinion, May 22, 2013. http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/22/opinion/bare-detroit-strategy/index.html?iref=allsearch.

This suggests that higher education and medicine can be counted upon to continue to grow; they cannot. Both are unsustainable profit-making bubbles. Education is in crisis because of -to cite two reasons- massive -$1 trillion and rapidly increasing- student debt burdens and a lack of jobs for college graduates. See: Brad Plumer, “Only 27 Percent of College Grads Have a Job Related to Their Major.” Washington Post Blog, May 20, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/20/only-27-percent-of-college-grads-have-a-job-related-to-their-major/?wprss=rss_ezra-klein.

American medicine is unsustainable by virtue of rising costs, high energy and resource consumption, various forms of “economic rent seeking” corruption, dependence upon technological complexity, and as a producer of waste. See: Dan Bednarz, “Eds, Meds and a Sustainable Pittsburgh.” Energy Bulletin, April 12, 2010. http://dev.energybulletin.net/node/52409.

[xxxv] Segal, David. “A Missionary’s Quest to Remake Motor City.” New York Times, April 13, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/business/dan-gilberts-quest-to-remake-downtown-detroit.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

[xxxvi] “What Does Dan Gilbert’s Detroit Plan Mean for Its People?” Michigan Radio, April 22, 2013.http://www.michiganradio.org/post/what-does-dan-gilberts-detroit-plan-mean-its-people.

[xxxvii] This comment was made –I assume- in direct reference to his privately held meetings with the Emergency Fiscal Manager of Detroit.

[xxxviii] Detroit, je t’aime website: http://detroitjetaime.com.

[xxxix] The New Economy Working Group. http://www.neweconomyworkinggroup.org.

[xl] Global Ecovillage Network. http://gen.ecovillage.org.

[xli] To be clear, neoliberalism is not about “less government;” it’s about corporations controlling government.

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