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All that, plus Rand Paul wasn't unhappy that Civil Rights Act desegregated lunch counters

by: Eric B.

Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 18:53:34 PM EST


The Republican Party decided that it would go after minority votes. Not by actually endorsing policies that minority voters tend to like, mind you, but by that age old strategem: Can't dazzle you with brilliance, baffle you with bullshit. A few weeks ago, Reince Preibus wrote an Op-Ed in one of the Detroit dailies, memory tells me it was probably the one that no minority voter would bother reading because this summer it publshed a column extolling the innovative virtues of slavery, in which he said that Republican ideas could save Detroit. On its face, it was incredibly stupid because Detroit's decline was caused by a complex array of reasons, but it was also steeped in the racist belief that Detroit failed because of Democratic policies, which everyone understands to mean, "Those people can't govern themselves."

Anyway, today, the Republican Party brought in Rand Paul to celebrate the opening of African American engagement centers, which is exactly the name you'd come up with for a minority outreach program if you're some rich white asshole who drives through Detroit only because you derive a thrill from doing so without getting mugged.

I didn't watch the speech, because Rand Paul is a fraud and a pseudo-intellectual and I have no time to waste on those people. Fortunately, Jeff Wattrick works for Deadline Detroit, which presumably wanted someone to cover the speech. So, he fact checked it.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) spoke to the Detroit Economic Club at the Motor City Casino about his Economic Freedom Zones plan to jumpstart economic growth in depressed areas. The plan would cause for an income tax reduction to a single, flat rate of 5 percent for individuals and businesses, reducing the payroll tax to 2%, child education tax credits to parents, suspending Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and prevailing wage requirements for contractors working at public facilities and public works project.

In other words, Rand Paul's mad scheme to rescue a city that has suffered due to a declining tax base is to further cut into that tax base and make even less money available to turn the streetlights back on and put more cops on the streets.

When you pair that with Paul's past "issues" with the Civil Rights Act, I think we can chalk this up as yet another successful Republican Party minority outreach kickoff.

Eric B. :: All that, plus Rand Paul wasn't unhappy that Civil Rights Act desegregated lunch counters
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Weary (0.00 / 0)
I was going to say I'm tired of these so-called conservatives peddling the same old bullsh%t for Detroit, but it's now gone beyond weariness and annoyance to anger, for me.  Newt Gingrich had the same "solution" for Detroit years ago.  It's a retread of a tired, old ridiculous policy that completely misses the mark.  

What it assumes is that development left and/or is not coming back to Detroit primarily because of taxes.  Local property taxes could be lower, but property prices are so incredibly low that the higher property taxes end up being a wash.  When you mix in the incredible amount of local, state and federal tax incentives on just about any project that goes up in Detroit (or anywhere for that matter), this idea that Detroit is so high-tax that it's preventing business from setting up shop is just plain ridiculous on its face.  

Michigan hasn't been a high-tax (when you combine all taxes) state in decades, and even in those days it didn't rank in the top ten.  The problem isn't that Michigan hasn't invested in the things business find attractive (i.e. an educated workforce, modern transit infrastructure...) in favor of giving corporations immediate and direct tax reflief.  How has that worked out for us?  This idea that we need to offer even more tax relief to corporations is beyond the defintion of insanity.  That's been our economic policy for going 30 years, now.

And, yet, people like Rand Paul will be treated as Very Serious People for simply showing up.


Detroit property taxes (4.00 / 2)
The situation is actually quite weird, like everything in Detroit. I've looked at a few dozen cases, and the results just remind me again that Detroit is like nowhere else.  Not even like Cleveland, Flint, or Newark.  Detroit has really found its way into uncharted galaxies.

Take a typical $10000 home.  Yes, that's a typical price for an owner-occupied two bedroom liveable house in a marginal neighborhood.  At current interest rates, principal and interest should be around $60 per month I guess, comparable to a cellphone, and less than the electric bill.  

The tax bill, even at Detroit's astounding 100+ mill rate, should be about $50/month - but it's not.  Because Detroit fails to reappraise property, such a house may very well be treated as worth $50,000, meaning that its SEV is $25000, resulting in annual taxes north of $2500 - a quarter of the property's total value.

But wait - there's more! There's no reason to actually PAY the property taxes, since Detroit is so poor at collecting them.  If by some chance the house gets caught up in the tax foreclosure process, you can wait until the end and probably buy it back for a few thousand dollars, using the name of some relative.

That would bring the story to a close, you might think, since there would now be a recorded auction sale which should force the City to drop the appraisal by 80% or 90%.  But no.  Detroit doesn't feel the slightest tension selling a property for $4000 while continuing to carry it on the tax rolls as if it were worth $50,000.

As I keep saying, the craziness of Detroit is much deeper than people believe.


[ Parent ]
Yep (4.00 / 1)
I'm sure you've read the News stories on property taxes, and heard that Detroit collected something like half of property taxes due to it in either 2011 or 2012.  Can you even imagine if they'd have reappraise housing in the city?  It would have been in bankruptcy a decade ago.  I'm not arguing that it doesn't need to be done, but I totally get why they haven't.  

And, again, if you're one of those few middle class families from outside the city looking to move in, white the property taxes are horrible, when you couple it with the price of housing, it almost doesn't matter, and if you're moving into one of the new construction or renovated projects in the city center with all of the tax incentives, this wouldn't effect you, personally, for over a decade.  IF, however, you're one of the old-timers who has kept up their property in a good neighborhood, you are screwed.

Yes, the craziness is beyond description.  Dysfunctional doesn't even accurately cover what has gone on Detroit for years.  I don't even know how you go about fixing it in a way in which you take the almost non-existent tax base and then in the short-run just blow a hole in it.  I've heard Orr and others say that if you get the taxes to reflect actual value that it'll encourage more folks to pay taxes.  I think that's wishful thinking.  But the problem is that people aren't paying their taxes, now, because they don't feel they are getting the services they used to pay for.


[ Parent ]
I'm not proposing any solutions, just trying to analyze. (4.00 / 1)
The time for solutions is WAY past.  At this point, rescuing a few passengers from the sinking ship counts as success.

One very interesting way to appreciate how totally insane the situation is:  With the recent low-ball appraisal (don't get me wrong - low-balling was probably a good thing) of the DIA art, the total value of the collection (including donated works) is probably something like $3-5 billion.  The total value of owner-occupied property is roughly equal to that amount.  (If this doesn't seem completely insane, re-read it until it does.)

A second interesting viewpoint:  If Detroit were somehow able to seize all the physical possessions of its inhabitants and sell them, they wouldn't be enough to pay the City's debts.  That is, a 100% confiscation of cars, houses, boats, furniture and currency - which is completely impossible under both Michigan and U.S. Constitutions - wouldn't be sufficient.

Finally, it's true Kwame didn't do this all by himself.  But things would have been only half this crazy if the rescue had started in 2005 (by denying Kwame his second term) rather than letting it snowball eight additional years.


[ Parent ]
Point of no return (4.00 / 1)
Detroit had been in trouble for many decades, but from my read of things, the absolute point of no return for Detroit was twofold: Kilpatrick's credit default swaps in 2005, and the Great Recession of 2008.  I think the city financially, could have survived and hobbled along for many more years with one (the former), but there was no way the city's finances could survive the one-two punch of both happening.

Whatever black middle class was left in Detroit was completely wiped out during the Great Recession, because the black middle class across the country during that time took it on the chin.  

One of the biggest untold stories of the 90's is that of the nation's major cities, Detroit far and above had the largest percentage point drop in the poverty rate, and despite continued population decline (though, it too was the lowest population since the loss began), Detroit's black population actually held fairly steady over that decade, which points to the city having actually grown its middle class.  I'd actually say Detroit was doing fairly good until the mid-part of the 00's.  I'd not be surprised if there had been a way of measuring this to find that a ridiculously high amount of the population loss over the decade largely took place between 2007 and 2010.  The kind of anecdotes I was hearing seem to point toward mass exodus in certain neighborhoods in literally a few years, like kind of the stories you heard in the years immediately following the riots.


[ Parent ]
I believe I detect a pattern... (0.00 / 0)
Business is booming? Cut taxes. Economy in the tank? Cut taxes. Too much unemployment? Cut taxes. Federal budget surplus? Cut taxes. Deficit too large? Cut taxes.  

No matter the problem, their solution is always the same...


Great (0.00 / 0)
Great summation, really.  It really is that simple.  They will not be sated until they suck us dry.  And, they complain about the "redistribution of wealth."  But, it's not socialism when a corporation does it, right? lol

[ Parent ]
The people who complain (4.00 / 1)
about "redistribution of wealth" are the same people who think the federal government's budget is like their household budget.  

[ Parent ]
We've experimented with "trickle-down" economics for a generation (0.00 / 0)
There is overwhelming evidence--everything from huge wealth and income gaps to stagnant wages to crumbling infrastructure--that the experiment was a colossal failure.

Like a true ideologue, Rand Paul insists that we double down on something that has clearly failed.

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.


We've experimented with "trickle-down" economics for a generation (0.00 / 0)
There is overwhelming evidence--everything from huge wealth and income gaps to stagnant wages to crumbling infrastructure--that the experiment was a colossal failure.

Like a true ideologue, Rand Paul insists that we double down on something that has clearly failed.

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.



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