The Herald Bulletin

September 4, 2013

Viewpoint: Economic meltdown put Detroit workers out

By James King Anderson resident
The Herald Bulletin

---- — In a recent article the writer, in the guise of taking a swipe at “socialism,” took a much bigger swipe at liberals and unions. In this letter the blame for Detroit, Michigan’s problems were blamed on “liberalism in government” with the insinuation that the government had run “out of other people’s money to spend.”

I doubt the author has even spent one night in Detroit. We lived in a suburb of Detroit for 12 years, and I worked there for 15 years. The issues troubling Detroit are various and complex, but spending other people’s money is not in there. Individuals who work or live in Detroit pay a city income tax to support the city they live or work in. However, the economic meltdown that occurred during the Bush administration put many of those workers out on the street. No job equals no city income tax equals reduced income for the city of Detroit.

Add to that the current conservative mayor of Detroit and governor of Michigan have given tax break after tax break to business, so that income stream is also reduced. In addition, Detroit is a very old city with an aging infrastructure that requires a lot of repairs and maintenance.

Then the writer blames the exit of the General Motors automotive plants on “union politics.” Blaming the exodus of GM on the unions is like blaming a solar eclipse on angry gods. The exodus of the automotive plants from Anderson (and Detroit, another issue that city is faced with) has nothing to do with the Union. The Union and union members found several ways to save money and improve quality, and even agreed to reduced wages and benefits.

To compete with the workers in China or Mexico autoworkers would have had to reduce the wage level to a few dollars a day, a level that would not sustain life in this country. The greed that took the jobs from Pendleton Avenue, Columbus Avenue and Scatterfield Road had nothing to do with union politics, liberalism or socialism, it was just simple greed and poor business decisions.

I will agree that nothing is improved by making the same old mistakes. We have been trying trickle-down economics for 30 years, giving the breaks and the money to those at the top of the income stream and waiting for it to trickle down to those of us who work for a living. During that time Anderson has lost thousands of good-paying jobs and Detroit has gone into bankruptcy. Maybe it is time to go back to a trickle-up economy.