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Three Questions About the Motor City

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Source: Common Dreams

Michigan Central Station in Detroit has become of the city's supposed disrepair.
(Image by Timmy Caldwell/ cc via Flickr)
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Though they are important, let's be honest: Municipal budget figures can be mind-numbingly boring. Even in high-profile, high-stakes dramas like Detroit's bankruptcy, the sheer flood of numbers can encourage people to simply tune it all out for fear of being further confused.

Thus, in the interest of not putting you to sleep or further perplexing you, here are three painfully simple questions about Detroit's bankruptcy. Though these questions have mostly been ignored, continuing to ask them can at least highlight the fact that something nefarious is happening right now in the Motor City.

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1. Why are Detroit officials simultaneously moving to cut municipal workers' pensions while spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a new professional hockey stadium?

Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich., and his appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr are pleading poverty to justify cuts to the average Detroit municipal worker's $19,000-a-year pension. Yet, they are also saying they have plenty of money available to continue a planned $285 million taxpayer subsidy for the construction of a new hockey stadium for the Red Wings. Economic data over the years suggest that that paying pension benefits is often a far more powerful tool for economic stimulus than financing stadium subsidies. That's because pensions reliably pump resources into a local economy while stadium subsidies often end up a net loss for taxpayers. So why is Detroit prioritizing stadiums over pensions?

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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)
 

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