Fifty or so years ago what was good for GM was good for the nation. Yesterday GM officially went into bankruptcy. Shares of the stock are now worthless. The government is for all intents and purposes the virtual owner of GM. There are already signals they intend to put caps on executive compensation. Health insurance plans for retired workers are under siege.
I am particularly interested in what this means for Detroit and other rustbelt cities. On the one hand it isn’t like Detroit isn’t already the posterchild for corporate disinvestment, unemployment, and political corruption. But what this signals is the end of corporate socialism. Yes Detroit has had high unemployment rates going back almost forty years, but if you had a college education, and some professional training you were assured a job with one of the Big Three or one of their suppliers. Michigan MBA’s weren’t the ones out of work, Henry Ford High School graduates were.
And what little the Detroit region spends in social services will now go to people who never imagined in a million years that they would need it, leaving those who have depended on these services out there. Out there bad, actually. And there is no sports stadium or entertainment complex that can bring Detroit back from the brink, right? No political leader who can lead Detroit into a shiny new era. Even if Kilpatrick hadn’t made the mistake of his life, we’d still be here.
I asked the following question on facebook.
Where else can you buy a nice home for $25 grand and still have access to international markets and a world class airport, as well as the largest body of fresh water in the world?
The difference between the hustler and the neoliberal subject/citizen is one of semantics. The perfect subject in the neoliberal order is the subject in control of his/her human capital and is able to–through discipline– use his/her entrepeneurial spirit to become self-sufficient. The schools in Detroit are bankrupt. The schools outside of Detroit are becoming bankrupt–everytime you see “Detroit” in this post, think “Metropolitan Detroit”. Unlike the seventies the fallout here won’t be confined to Detroit’s borders.
For those able to grow their own food, or develop local food markets, for those able to educate their children, for those symbolic workers who don’t need to be in a specific city in order to work, I can think of no better city to cast their lot in. If Bing and Metro Detroit leaders were smart this is the pitch I’d make. Several months ago Ed Dunn asked where the best cities for African Americans were. He stayed away from Detroit like the plague. I’d rethink that.