Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Are Detroit’s retired first responders too small to save?

Post by Brian O'Neill on Dec. 6, 2013 at 9:30 am with 5 Comments »
December 7, 2013 8:57 am

As the stock market continues to fill the pockets of hedge fund managers and CEO’s, the echoes of 2008 are fading from memory. The litany of “too big to fail,” it would seem, has served its purpose.

Two of the few legitimate successes from the TARP bailout are Detroit’s General Motors and Chrysler, both of which have repaid their respective loans of $13.4 and $4 billion and survived the Great Recession intact.

How ironic that the Motor City, which nurtured these economic giants throughout much of the last century, has itself failed.

Last Tuesday in federal court, Judge Steven W. Rhodes ruled that Detroit could shed billions in debt in the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history. Motown, a “once proud and prosperous city,” according to Rhodes, is insolvent.

Protesters rally outside The Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. (Paul Sancya/AP)
Protesters rally outside The U.S. Courthouse in Detroit (Paul Sancya/AP)

So what makes this bankruptcy different from so many of the countless Chapter 9’s which have shuttered storefronts and offices throughout the country?

This difference is lost somewhere in the reams of spreadsheets recording Detroit’s debtors. There one would find the pensions promised to the 8,500 police officers and firefighters who retired after a career spent patrolling its perilous streets and responding to its many emergencies (NY times 12/3).

(Add to that number the more than 15,000 additional city workers existing on an average pension of $20,000 per year, and the cataclysmic issues facing the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, come into focus.)

Among those likely to be affected by bankruptcy negotiations include cops who endured the violent upheaval of the ’60s, including the riot of 1967, and many more who witnessed the rise of criminal street gangs that made Detroit one of America’s most dangerous cities. Also targeted are the pensions for veteran firefighters who fought the city’s infamous “Devil’s Night” fires set by arsonists between the ’70s and the ’90s.

Compare their plight with those sitting atop the TARP-fortified pyramid. According to CNN, Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, was paid a salary of $12 million dollars last year, while CEO Michael Corbat of Citigroup collected $11.5 million. Both of their companies received $45 billion in federal funds.

Admittedly, a career in law enforcement or firefighting does not promise wealth. One of the few benefits of the public system, however, is the presumed security of its pensions.  Yet the same federal court system which administered the transfer of billions of taxpayer dollars to the coffers of private corporations has chosen to ignore the welfare of the men and women who spent their careers putting their lives on the line.

This level of economic disparity is just the type of lopsided nonsense that sparked the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations (though Moynihan and Corbat might sniff at being included in the lowly 1% club).

This is not to suggest that the TARP bailout was unnecessary. Many economists have concluded that the federal government’s actions succeeded in preserving the current financial system. But were not those corporations which received such a monumental amount of our money responsible for the collapse of the system itself?

The real question is this: Does the federal government consider the promise of a pension to those men and women who kept their oath and protected Detroit’s citizens to be an insignificant line item on a spreadsheet?

I don’t.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. smokey984 says:

    Nice article, your on a role. Keep it up.

    And lets go deeper into this rabbit hole.

    Our monetary system explained in 30 minutes:

    If you choose not to watch you do so at your own peril..


  2. ray4903 says:

    what a joke column ! Does TNT EVER do a fact check ??
    As to the real facts: American taxpayers have lost $10 BILLION dollars on the GM bailout:
    In addition, American taxpayers have lost $1 Billion on the Chrysler bailout.
    This does not count the approximate $ 30 Billion that GM bondholders lost on the original bankruptcy.
    Why does the TNT print articles that are clearly totally false and full of lies ???

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    While I appreciate your feverish attempt to correct the numbers, ray4903, I’m afraid you’re missing a key point. GM and Chrysler both paid back their government loans. Your figures reference the company stock that the government purchased. That was sold at a loss, it’s true.

    I made no mention of the bondholders whose funds were lost in the bankruptcy.

    I included links to my sources in the column, so feel free to check the facts. Please take a look at those before you lose it next time.

  4. simonsjs says:

    Ray it’s called propaganda! The people have lost 10 billion dollars! It’s actually more than that when you take inflation into consideration. Makes no difference to Brian, he was ordered to write the propaganda and so he did. The public is mislead everyday by these type of articles. Most people couldn’t care less so the propaganda continues to work.

  5. smokey984 says:

    The argument and the article itself are irrelevant.

    Watch the video from my first post to realize how much we’ve been socially engineering to even have the argument in the first place!

    Oh look shinny object! as we all stare….meanwhile these jackasses create this type of environment to keep the populace at odds with one another so the Author would write an opinion…and the readership would argue about it..and behind the curtain a small group of people (ie..banksters, big oil and a few others) are raping the false monetary system to begin with.

    Wake the flock up!

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