While the eyes of the nation are on San Francisco’s proposal to pay every black person $5 million in reparations for an estimated total cost of $175 billion, Motor City won’t be left behind.
Last year, 80% of Detroit voters in a 78% black city cast their ballots in support of a reparations commission. That was much higher than 63% poll numbers but local election results tend to outperform the polls due to the civic work of the Wayne County Cemetery Voters Association.
Chairwoman Lauren Hood of the Detroit City Planning Commission said that she didn’t know who the 20% were, but assumed it was maybe newcomers to the city or non-black residents.
But with a 78% black majority, Detroit would be taking money from black people to pay reparations to other black people with the government, run by a white mayor, taking a cut.
“Detroit is the blackest big city in the nation. Eight out of every 10 people here are due some sort of reparation,” Chairwoman Hood argued. “Can you imagine how the landscape of the city might change socially, economically, spiritually, if we actually get what we’re owed?”
If 8 out of 10 people are due reparations, whom does Hood see paying them? The other 2? And what happens if the other 2 leave?
A decade ago, Detroit fell into the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. Millions are being spent to tear down thousands of homes after the city’s population plunged from 1.8 million in 1950 to just 639,111 today. When the last census showed that another 7,150 people had fled, Detroit sued the Census Bureau claiming that its numbers were “divorced from reality”.
Reality actually took out a restraining order against Detroit in the 1980s. And the city and state have made it clear that they won’t even speak to reality until it pays reparations.
The current plan to revive the population is to “attract new residents from states less protective of the LGBTQ+ community and with more restrictive abortion access.”
And when all those abortion-loving transgender folks show up, they can pay reparations.
This replaces a previous proposal headlined in a New York Times op-ed as “Let Syrians Settle Detroit” to bring Islamists fighting a civil war to resettle the city. They’re bound to get along well with the LGBTQ activists and abortion un-moms who can all happily pay reparations together.
Reparations got off to a slow start when the “virtual meeting was hacked several times with displays of explicit content, including images of pornography”.
Detroit was not even functional enough to run a Zoom meeting, let alone distribute reparations from black people to other black people in a city where the most popular crime is copper theft.
Slavery had been banned in Michigan since 1787 by the Confederation Congress almost as soon as the United States came into existence. Before then there had been 170 slaves in Detroit. Tracking down the descendants of those 170 slaves from almost 250 years ago would be an interesting exercise. Not that Detroit is planning to limit reparations to those slaves.
One major problem with reparations is that Detroit doesn’t have the money. There’s another group that has a much more solid legal claim to the failed city’s cash. After it went bankrupt in 2013, Detroit’s recovery was only enabled by the crooked mechanism of declaring a 10-year pension ‘holiday’. The holiday ends in 2023. Detroit politicians kept claiming that they had a $100 million annual surplus, because they were not making $163 million in pension payments.
With the 20-year pension payment plan due, Detroit went to court to ask for a 30-year plan so that it could postpone until 2033.
Worse still, the actual liabilities were $500 million more than the numbers on the books.
Detroit’s political class had three options, make payments they could not afford, go bankrupt again or use a reparations commission to change the subject from all the money it owed to 12,000 retired cops, firefighters and EMTs. What reparations really means is stealing pensions from city retirees who had risked their lives for decades to fund teardowns of more buildings.
And then maybe all the transgender Syrian Muslim refugees seeking abortions will come.
Much like in San Francisco, no one is sure where the reparations money for 8 out of 10 Detroit residents will come from. The only idea that has emerged so far has been to legalize drugs and use the money for reparations. And even the idea of selling drugs to black people and then giving them a percentage of the drug money ran into trouble when its attempt to limit drug licenses to longtime residents was found to be illegal. While drug sales have since been legalized, who in Detroit is even going to buy enough legal drugs to finance reparations?
Black folks in Detroit need to be compensated,” Cecily McClellan, a member of the commission, declared.
“I would like to use this opportunity to make one thing abundantly clear this work is not about handouts,” City Council President Mary Sheffield ranted. “It is about creating generational wealth and creating economic mobility and opportunity in the black community as we stand just mere blocks from the former home of the mother of the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks.”
Rosa Parks was mugged in her own home when a thug broke in, demanded money, and punched the 81-year-old former civil rights activist in the face. It was the 90s, a saner time, and so the George Floyd wannabe was arrested and sent away for 8 years.
Parks is dead and so is Detroit.
The good news is that Detroit’s population continues to decline. Black people have joined white people in getting out. The city suffered the largest loss of black residents of any in the country. The schools are the worst in the nation, the water is tainted and crime is out of control.
But the reparations commission has a $350,000 budget so at least someone is getting paid.