Dan Gilbert would like to get on with the suspension of democracy already

by Cleveland Frowns on October 28, 2013

Detroit’s bankruptcy trial got underway in federal court last week, with lawyers for the city’s various thousands of pensioners challenging the city’s right to vaporize some $3.5 billion in fully earned and unpaid retiree benefits. The pensioners argue that Michigan state law prohibits cutting public pensions, and that the pension obligations should be prioritized in clearing Detroit’s historic mess.  They also claim that Detroit’s appointed “emergency manager,” Kevyn Orr, failed to negotiate in good faith with creditors — that “bankruptcy was a forgone conclusion” to Orr, whose intent from the start, they say, was to slash the retirement accounts.

While there might still be at least a sliver of hope that Detroit’s retirees and municipal workers come out in tact here, it’s hard to think that things will unfold as anything but another chapter in the developed world’s 50-some-year run of prioritizing the interests of billionaires and bondholders’ returns over the well-being of citizens in times of crisis. Naturally, Detroit’s business leaders “overwhelmingly” support the discharge of the city’s debts in bankruptcy, including Cleveland’s favorite naked emperor, Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and billionaire housing-bubble profiteer cum international casino gaming magnate, who also happens to be the second largest landowner in Detroit behind General Motors.

Biff 1985

“As hard as that is to sort of suspend democracy, for a short period of time if you will, my view is, let’s get it over with,” Gilbert told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Let’s get it done. Let’s stop talking about it [and] go through the pain and then move forward, and I think it will fade into the background.”

A jaw-dropping statement, even for Gilbert, given that exactly none of all this pain that he’s urging Detroit to get on with will be suffered by Gilbert himself.  While the vast majority of the country continues to feel the pain of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, Gilbert’s wealth has exploded to $3.9 billion from $1 billion since 2008, while he’s continued to buy up land on the cheap in Detroit and elsewhere like a real life Uncle Pennybags. NPR’s Quinn Klinefelter explains that, “Gilbert is betting that [bankruptcy] protection will allow Detroit to get out from under its crushing debt load and pour money back into city services, which would help make his investments pay off.”

So imagine how Gilbert must have racked his brain to arrive at his “thought” that the pain of $3.5 billion gone missing from working class pensions “will fade into the background,” if Detroit just “gets it over with.” Notably, this statement came just a week after Gilbert explained that a 60 Minutes piece on Detroit missed the real story behind the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, which, according to Gilbert, is “a city’s soul that will not die.”

Which might sound rather vague unless one considers what it would have sounded like had Gilbert been any more clear. “Detroit’s soul,” Gilbert would have us believe, is not the working class folks whose retirement accounts are about to vanish. It’s not the municipal workers who provide or have provided the city with essential services, and it’s not the 99% of the town that’s been bombed out by globalized industry. The “city’s soul,” according to Gilbert, is the emerald lane that he’s carved out downtown, where he employs a couple/few thousand people almost entirely in the business of collecting rents or otherwise transferring wealth upward while creating no discernible sustainable benefit at all to humanity-at-large.

That’s the part of Detroit that Gilbert wanted 60 Minutes to focus on, and that’s what he wants the bankruptcy court to focus on. These are the people in town who are getting paid. The better they do at their jobs, the fewer of them will continue to get paid, of course, but at least they’re not the rest of Detroit, which might as well just die so that we can get enough cops and firemen back on the job to protect the city’s real soul – i.e., the part of the city that Gilbert owns.

“As hard as it is to sort of suspend democracy,” it’s an outrageous laugh to think that any real democracy would have ever landed us here in the first place.

Another season of Cleveland Cavaliers basketball tips off in just two days. Grantland ranks this year’s team as the eighth most watchable in the league so you better pay attention.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    So what did everyone think about the Brownies yesterday? Jason Campbell is surely not great, but the team’s performance with plus-F-minus quarterbacks this season continues to encourage. Also, I hope I’m not the only one who remembers when Superfan called Davone Bess one of his favorite receivers in the league. Does anyone else remember that?

    • nj0
    • bupalos

      I think they look great. Like 2 or 3 players short of the superbowl-type-great. Now since one of those players is the QB, it doesn’t mean that much by itself. But just about all of the moves look pretty golden, and we are stacked going into a stacked draft.

      In particular, there was a nasty hold on the 1st Chiefs TD, Thomas got a phantom hold that cost 3 points, Bess fumbled away points too, and we took a very solid team in an absolutely riotous atmosphere (seriously, I had never been in that stadium before) to the final gun nonetheless. With what is still bottom ten QB play.

      In defense of superfan, the Browns continue to act like you can just have anybody run these suicide slants. That’s the route that is directly producing more than half of the drops and indirectly producing most of the rest I think by permanently shrinking their arms. I said it when Little was being browbeaten…lots of receivers counted on to run that route suddenly turn into “drop” machines. You don’t throw just anybody into that role…certainly not Bess. You need a kook like Cribbs or possibly an autopilot guy like Gordon.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        That’s fair.

        • jamick6000

          I’m glad you guys are continuing to drink deeply of the kool-aid, and that games, performance and results aren’t getting in the way of your belief in the “discernible long-term plan.”

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1kbBmlAvdI PML

      I think that Fozzy Whitaker’s full name being Foswhitt is all kinds of awesome.

    • Petefranklin

      I remember. BTW where is Superfan? He should have already posted his 10 dime play on the Cavs over 38 or some other number that is long gone.I was at the LVH and the Cavs are at 40 wins this year. I’m still kicking myself for not running(sprinting) to William Hill after Bernnent was drafted and they posted 30 wins and +450 that the Cavs would make the playoffs. I should have “double popped” them both for a couple dimes. Double popping is when a line is so out of whack that you can max bet, then wait for the adjustment, and max bet again and still get a high percentage bet the second time after it has moved.

      • BIKI024

        15 dimes, over 40.5

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          BIKI SWEATS!

        • Petefranklin

          Good bet at a bad #, hope it hits for you.

    • BIKI024

      yes i remember that, especially since he helped me win my fantasy league that year, hence my fondness for him. of course this year has been a collossal dissapointment, particularly this past Sunday as his failures most likely directly led to the Clowns being denied their 4th win of the season, one win closer to hitting paydirt on Clowns over 5.5. but he still has half a season to help us get there. besides, he had dreads back then, seems like it went all downhill after he chopped those natty dreads off.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Well look what the cat dragged in. Where the hell have you been, Superfan?

        • BIKI024

          i was about to ask you the same thing

        • bupalos

          I summoned him. All you have to do is post something saying “anyone who says x should be banned” and poof, there he is, spouting “x in excelsior.”

          Ducdame Ducdame Ducdame,
          Durpity, Durpity, Durp.

    • BIKI024

      BESS = BOSS

  • butzmark

    Vulture capitalists have sucked the wealth out of so much industry they’re going for the cities now. Romney must be jealous. If it works in Detroit who’s next?

    • Zach

      I’m sure this had nothing to do with the corrupt officials
      that were repeatedly elected to power and did nothing but continue the cycle of handing out free money to the people.

      • Mad_Elf

        BULLSHIT. Why is it that the last refuge for those that haven’t been fucked is the piling on top of the ones that have? Do you think you are special? Up yours, Zach. The sad truth of it is this: Detroit kept allowing the ‘burbs onto it’s already taxed CITY infrastructure, all the while being deprived of the TAXES that would keep the city going. Now the ‘burbs are the third of fourth ring of “ghetto” and the Piper has come a’callin. Here’s the best part, you Entitlement Smirking Fuckstick, which ring of the “ghetto” are you living in? In the city that is doing the same exact thing Detroit tried to float for so many years? Enjoy your Moment of Smug, dipshit.

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          The Doctor and the Elf both make decent points.

          • nj0

            And the Elf really lives up to his name. One angry dude.

          • Mad_Elf

            And I thank you for sparing me the pointing out of the “PC” thing they just LOVE to bring up when things don’t go their way…while bitching about how “lib’s” are bringing down The American Way by beings sooooo “PC”.

        • acto

          ” you Entitlement Smirking Fuckstick”

          Give it a rest Nancy, this is completely inappropriate and you are as big an idiot as I am.

          • Mad_Elf

            Who’s acting? Evidently, not you. I stand by it, and have been since I learned how screwed Rock City was (and the rest of us, Festivus) about 16 years ago. What news have you been subscribing too? No, wait, I’ll tell you…the Loss of the Ozone Layer is caused by a Volcano and is Completely Natural.

        • Zach

          Well i was on the fence before but that educated enlightened sentence structure sold me. While we’re on the subject of links here’s one to try (http://thesaurus.com/) maybe it’ll help pump up some of those thoughts lost behind you smacking your head on the keyboard to get out fuckstick

          • Mad_Elf

            No. Fuckstick is the only word I need, Zach. Shall I regale you with even more expletive laced Truth? Mayhaps you’d just like to continue getting your news (and opinions) from Fox? I could go either way.

      • Dr. Jew

        The only “free money” Detroit handed out was to businesses who got tax breaks, then welched on their commitments. It wasn’t the welfare queens who drained or under-funded the public pensions. It wasn’t the deadbeats who continued to use city services but moved out to the suburbs to avoid paying taxes. Other than that, you’re completely right.

      • nj0

        What free money are you talking about? The pensions that were agreed upon compensation for workers? If you’re working for your benefits, they are by definition not free.

  • nj0

    This whole thing reminds me of the original Superman movie. But instead of California, it’s Detroit. And instead of an a nuclear missile, it’s the economic collapse. And instead of Lex Luthor, it’s pissant oligarchs. And instead of Superman, it’s nothing.

  • Bryan

    For me, one of the more fascinating things about the Browns’ season: how did Chud and Norv make the huge mistake of picking Weeden as the starter? I honestly believe that Chud and Norv want to win now (that is how coaches think), and I honestly believe they are both good offensive coaches. Yet somehow they both agreed that Weeden was better than Hoyer and Campbell.

    I think the only explanation is that Weeden is a great practice player. We all know he has great “arm talent,” and Norv and Chud must have fallen for that talent in practice. I can just picture Big Ol’ Weeds firing downfield strikes all over the field with no pressure in his face.

    It’s a real shame. If Weeden had never played a snap this year, I think we are 4-4 at worst, and maybe 5-3.

    • nj0

      I’m not a Chud/Norv guy, but I don’t see they couldn’t start a second year player with physical talents of Weeden.

      I chalk it up to: you have to see what you’ve got. And that really can only be done in actual games rather than just practice. On top of that, Weeden’s issues were with the non-physical talent portions of QB (making reads, adapting to the speed of the game, etc.). Players can improve at those over time. I’m as big a Weeden hater as you could find, but even I wanted to see if there was any improvement in his second year.

      Also, they only started him four games. IMHO, that’s a very short leash for a second-year player who was a 1st-round pick.

      • Mad_Elf

        Word. They absolutely had to see what they had in Weed’s with an experienced OC with a proven system (albeit long in the tooth). Liked or Hated, we all wanted to see what he had, what he could do.

        • nj0

          Can you imagine the anti-Lombardi crowd if Hoyer was given the reigns ahead of a healthy Weeden? Even Campbell. It would have been seen as waving the white flag.

          So I think you had to give Weeden enough rope to hang himself; he happily tied a noose.

          • bupalos

            Double reverse tanking jujitsu?

            I think they really believed Weeds was capable of learning, like most primates. I think what they abstracted from is that the guy just doesn’t have anything like the motivation of most great apes.

          • nj0

            I wasn’t suggesting anything nefarious. I’m sure there’s a lot they like about Weeds.

          • Mad_Elf

            Sadly, that’d be the case. Man, how do we continually end up like this? But, we keep bouncing, and that’s like nothing we’ve had since ’99, and that gives me allllll kinds of hope!

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        If you know you’re not going to the Super Bowl this season and you know you probably have to pick a quarterback in the draft and you think you can keep your team convinced that you’re doing everything you can to win by starting Weeds, you go with it, at least for four games. Seems at least a bit too transparent in hindsight, given how terrible Weeds has looked. I don’t know.

        • Mad_Elf

          “Kid” has an arm. The most telling part is the fact that every time the “Kid” isn’t in the game, we start throwing the long ball. Game one should’ve tipped us off, but hindsight…

      • Steve White

        Agreed. You can’t hit a red shirted guy in practice. Weeden is fine when he’s not pressured or hit so that he can do his (slow, slow, slow) progressions and find an open man. But in the games that count, he can’t function under pressure. The opponents know that of course and so bring as much as they can. It works.

        So Chud/Norv had to prove to themselves, Lombardi and Banner, and more importantly to the team, that Weeds isn’t the guy. Point made, so now it’s Campbell.

        Sad thing is they’re keeping Weeds in reserve. On my team he’d be cut and I’d sign Tebow. Yes, I’m still banging that drum. Tebow can’t throw either, but he also can’t be rattled.

  • acto

    More than 50% of the single family houses bought in September were purchased with cash. Rich people buying up our only unextendable resource, (Zuiderzee notwithstanding.)
    This is just a part of the robber barons pushing us all back to serfdom.
    GIlbert owns the existing mortgages, he owns a large portion of the available land, next he shall own the rights to our respective indentured servitude.
    This country has been heading the wrong direction since Ronnie Ray-Guns. (Although skillfully countered with a brief ray of Bill Clinton hope.)

    • nj0

      We’re heading to a George Pullman America.

      • Mad_Elf

        Clinton sold us further down the river, and then screwed us out of Gore. We have lived in a “conservative” U.S. of A since Carter lost the race. Our choices now are on the micro level, the village, town, small city. Once they get up in the “Big Leagues” they are “taking their turn at bat”.

        • nj0

          Case in point: “liberal” healthcare reform that isn’t single payer, requires people to become customers of large corporations, and was basically the same as reforms proposed by the conservatives of two decades ago.

          • bupalos

            baby steps. If the medicaid expansion gets locked in, I think about 2/3rds of total health spending will be single payer or at least running through that single payer via the subsidies. It’s a bit of a mess, but you can see how it ends up evolving towards effective single payer, maybe just with a larger private top layer (like 25%) than you see in EU.

          • nj0

            Not criticizing the ACA. Just pointing out that what once was considered conservative in terms of reform is now considered Holy-Christ-the-commies-are-destroying-America liberal.

          • bupalos

            True. But it’s mostly the structure that was conservative. Team O took their big wooden horse and stuffed some actual progressive reform into it. The nutters rooting for permanent oligarchy are right to be running in circles and bashing themselves over the head with copies of atlas shrugged.

          • nj0

            I actually read Atlas Shrugged. Which makes a Browns game look like a prudent, wise use of three hours time.

          • acto

            Please be careful nj0, you know I love you, but please do not criticize Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead!! I have been reading them every other year or so since I was just a young puppy in the projects. (Atlas Shrugged at least 40 times.) I love Ayn Rand’s writing and characters, though I am not a complete fan of her antiquated political sense.
            My greatest dream in life, is now and has for many years been to marry Dagny Taggart.

          • nj0

            What manner of man are you? The 20 page Galt speech? What was that?

          • acto

            “What manner of man are you?”
            I thought that was obvious, I am an idiot.
            I consider this a great year because the Indians were in the playoffs for one game.
            I could speak of nothing but the Browns for a week and it would not seem too terribly out of the ordinary.
            I know that next year if the Browns do not screw up their first three draft choices they will certainly….
            I read the same 30-ish books over and over again, oftentimes expecting a different ending.
            I am still searching for Dagny Taggart even though I have been engaged to her twice.
            Did I mention that I am a Browns/Indians/Cavs fan?
            I Frequently bust out with
            “Come on Cavs
            gotta make it happen”
            or even
            “Go bust’em Barons”
            The first song my 2 year old daughter learned includes the line
            “Root Root Root for the Indians”.
            Yes, I am most assuredly an idiot and you may be one too.

          • nj0

            We both seem quite proud of proclaiming our own idiocy. So we’ve got that going for us.

          • acto

            “So we’ve got that going for us.” which is nice.
            And, on your deathbed you will receive total consciousness.

          • bupalos

            Alas Shrugged is certainly a page turner but I think it has about as much relation to the real world as any other fevered dream of the 19 year old mind (or Paul Ryan). But I certainly dabbled with that drug for a time too, right after getting dumped by a hippiechick and right before the series of $20,000 checks from the Heritage Foundation.

            Have you seen the fountainhead movie acto? Or read the Nathaniel Branden book about Rand in the real world?

          • acto

            Yes, no. I prefer to avoid the real world thank you.

          • jamick6000

            i will. it’s a mostly crappy law that perpetuates a mostly crappy system.

          • Largebill

            Mainly because intelligent people understand that once a crappy government program gets it’s foot in the door it will only grow. Socialism is just a slow path to totalitarian communism.

          • Mad_Elf

            Boom. Sold us all the Dream, now our “second mortgage” is going to the same folk that screwed us all in the first place. Can’t believe where we have wound up as a Country. No matter where you turn, there they are. I almost welcome having them come to my house and grabbing me by the ankles and shaking the loose change from my pockets. That’s a Deadwood, not trying to claim it.

          • Mad_Elf

            Nobody should want, or lose a thing, because of Health. Nobody.

    • whosevelt

      1. It’s the super rich who are screwing America, not the upper-middle-working class.
      2. It’s the upper-middle-working class who are most likely the ones buying single family homes with cash. If anything, those are the people who are most likely to play a role in any potential economic recovery.

      • bupalos

        >>>It’s the upper-middle-working class who are most likely the ones buying single family homes with cash.>>>

        ????

        • whosevelt

          The super rich who are screwing America are the bankers/finance/investment people in big cities. They make up a tiny percentage of the population (they’re called the 1%, in fact) and live in major corporate centers, where homes are not single family. Running a bunch of single family homes is too inefficient to make the kinds of clean profit these people/corporations are used to.

          In my observation (though I could be wrong), people who invest in single family homes are well to do individuals whose core businesses employ locally, keep profits local, and have to hire more people to administer to their investments.

          • bupalos

            Gotcha, but just because it’s not the top 1% doesn’t mean “working class” or “middle class” which you seemed to lump all together with “upper class.”

            All these divisions less primary and more arbitrary than the classical economic divisions of labor, capital, and rentier class. Flippers and landlords buying depressed houses for cash are operating somewhere between capital and rentier. I won’t say that this doesn’t require hiring some labor too, and look like positive economic activity. But the question is what happens if that cash sale and rent seeking doesn’t happen. I think most economists would say it’s systemically more beneficial for the asset price to be allowed to fall to the point that more of those who ultimately end up paying rent on the asset had a clearer path to direct ownership instead.

          • whosevelt

            Whether any individual purchase or buyer is a value creator or rent seeker is too detailed to analyze. Any value creating entity will sometimes cross the line in its own self interest. The contrast that I intended to draw was between the super-corporatization of the US, which profits by sucking all of the benefits of the economy to the corporate side at the expense of consumers and labor; and local entrepreneurial activity, which at the very least keeps the money local, has practical caps on capital accumulation and an incentive to put it back into the economy, and is more likely to be creating value more of the time.

          • bupalos

            We aren’t talking about any individual purchase, but this systemic practice of the rentier/capitalist using capital to collect rents and keeping these assets from depreciating to their most direct level of use. Agreed that on the whole house flipping and local land-lording probably don’t approach the level of regressive function that modern unmoored corporations can. But I still think any economist worth their salt (ruling out Reganomic supply-siders) and primarily concerned with the systemic whole would consider them a net negative. Though possibly an ineradicable net negative.

          • mrdot

            That used to be true, but not as much these days. There are large investors willing to bulk-buy distressed homes and either flip them to regular folks to can’t pay cash or rent them until they can profit. http://tinyurl.com/78c8pgu

            Whether or not this is a good thing depends on your point of view, but national management companies by nature extract money out of a local economy.

          • whosevelt

            Wow, I hadn’t realized that. The article does say that some are skeptical of the ability to operate them efficiently, but it looks like that is a big part of the impetus for the sales.

      • acto

        “It’s the upper-middle-working class who are most likely the ones buying single family homes with cash.”
        Whosev, using the term “most likely” does very little to bolster your argument.
        Your comment is most assuredly well meaning and hopeful, but amazingly incorrect. Please just do a little research, the records are readily available.

        • whosevelt

          See below.

  • nj0

    One of the local sports radio guys down here in Houston was ranting about how the spread offense is ruining football. His argument was a little convoluted, but he did make the point that it makes it extremely difficult to evaluate talent for a variety of positions because skill-set it demands doesn’t really translate into the pro game where playing means more than just making a few simple decisions.

    While I’m not sure if I agree with his larger point, it sure did make me think of Mr. Weeden.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      That’s sort of a ridiculous argument. It’s just a matter of complexity. A spread might tend to be easier to implement effectively at lower levels of the game but a pro style will always have a higher ceiling if you can get guys who are smart and committed enough to run it right. As for what ever made anyone think that Brandon Weeden could be the latter in the NFL, I agree that that’s a hell of a mystery.

      • nj0

        I should clarify. His point wasn’t that the spread is a simple offense. It was more that it makes it extremely hard to evaluate talent since it calls the personnel to do things that don’t matter as much in the pro game (the way the line blocks, how the d front seven has to play, the reads the qb makes).

        I’m too dumb to evaluate if that’s legit or not, but it’s something I never heard before.

        • bupalos

          I think it makes total sense, at least that the skills required don’t directly translate, so you need to evaluate almost independently of game action–which is nearly impossible. Weeden is the poster child. He supposedly “outdueled” luck in that system. That shows how much the predictive pro value things that happen in the flow of an OSU-Stanford game have.

        • eldaveablo

          While I agree with the premise, is it really any worse now than in the past? Did the wishbone translate? The Run & Shoot?

          • nj0

            True dat.

          • bupalos

            Great point, but I guess the thing is that the college game had kind of evolved toward a lot more pro systems (wishbone has been nearly extinct for some time), and now is backsliding some.

  • Steve White

    Re Detroit: Gilbert is a snake and vampire, and in a more just universe he’d be tapped to pay some of the debts. The pension funds aren’t blameless: they handed out bonuses and 13th month payments to the pensioners and to themselves (and to the corruptocrats who ran the city into the ground), didn’t save for a rainy day, and let the unions constantly up the pension payouts while the city managers (I use the term loosely) failed to top up the pensions.

    So plenty of blame all around.

    But if Gilbert wanted to help, he could donate 10% of the land he owns to the pension fund. That would help.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Without the pluto/kleptocrats at the top rewriting the laws, pulling up ladders, destroying the planet and whole populations and whatnot, there’s no quarter in the first place for the low-level “corruptocrats” you speak of (who are effectively just puppets). Which suggests that the blame is properly focused here, I’d say.

      • Steve White

        Well that’s just a lot of revolutionary jargon, into which I’m not. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

    • whosevelt

      I’m not following this closely but this article at least doesn’t suggest anything more than Gilbert was rich when the city went bankrupt. Sure, he’s looking out for his own interests. So is everybody else. There are a ton of factors in this bankruptcy and whichever decision is made is going to screw somebody. And I would choose the financiers to get screwed over the retired workers. But I don’t see how you could expect Gilbert to volunteer for that.

      • Steve White

        Well sure, except Gilbert is a fair bit of a sleaze. I consider anyone who makes his money on the sufferings of others to be (at best) sleazy, and casino owners are certainly in that group.

        I don’t have a problem with gambling per se: it’s your money, do as you wish. But the Gilberts of the world have refined rent-seeking into high art as they get their tax breaks and deals, AND separate you from your money, AND get community acclaim as ‘good citizens’.

        It’s as if we made prostitution legal and then started to celebrate and embrace the pimps of the world.

        • whosevelt

          I completely agree that legalized gambling is a bad idea but again, I don’t see that it makes Gilbert so terrible. It takes a certain kind of person to be sufficiently invested in the endeavor to make it a success, but that’s true of pornography, oil drilling, gun manufacturing, and even massive retailing. You could criticize the majority of super-rich people for the same types of reasons you’re criticizing Gilbert. (Not that it makes you wrong for criticizing him…)

          That said, if people like Gilbert, for all their shortcomings, were not there hoping to profit from Detroit’s resurgence while the city’s retirees are off working in Walmart to stave off starvation, Detroit would have no resurgence.

          • Steve White

            I don’t share Frownie’s disdain for fracking :-)

            I’m sure the publisher of Hustler magazine is vested and motivated in the endeavor, but I wouldn’t want to shake his hand, let alone do business with him. Rather ditto for Mr. Gilbert, methinks.

            I don’t mind people who step into a distressed situation to help make it better and at the same time make a profit for themselves. That’s capitalism in all its warts and glory. But to get a glossy magazine spread while fleecing people at a gambling table? Ick.

            The Detroit retirees have lots of people to blame for their situation, including partly themselves. There’s an old economics saying: things that can’t go on forever won’t. Anyone with any sense could look at any big city pension plan and see that it’s a house of cards. The pensioners knew that (they aren’t stupid) but they also counted on their union and political muscle to ensure that the state of Michigan would cover Detroit’s unsustainable promises. Turns out that the people of Muskegon aren’t interested in funding Detroit pensioners — go figure.

            I live in Illinois now: Chicago and Illinois have pension plans that are five years down the road (at best) from looking like Detroit. There’s a few Cassandras trying to spread the alarm; they are being ignored (they’re Cassandras after all). We’re headed for Detroit. It won’t be pretty.

          • bupalos

            >>>I don’t share Frownie’s disdain for fracking :-)>>>

            >>>I live in Illinois now.>>>

            I’ve found a high inverse correlation between thinking peoples’ ignorance on fracking (and other squeeze-the-last-drop doomsday schemes) to their perceived proximity.

            You’re not as far away as you think.

            http://www.texassharon.com/2011/08/31/barnett-shale-has-highest-rates-for-invasive-breast-cancer/

          • Steve White

            I think fracking done properly is a good thing. If we can extract more NG that’s good — jobs, energy, and cleaner environment.

            I think there’s a lot of propaganda coming from both sides of the debate. I try to educate myself and ignore the propaganda.

          • bupalos

            Can you describe how fracking can be done properly? Do concrete casings decay? What is their rate of initial failure? 50 year rate? What is the consequence of casing failure?

            Do cancer rates in the Barnett belong to propaganda or education?

          • http://brian23.com Brian

            Another endeavor that could be done properly and be a good thing that provides jobs and clean(er) energy is solar, but the oil companies can’t make as much money from that, if any at all, so why pursue such a silly thing.

          • Steve White

            If one could make money from solar the oil companies (or Warren Buffett or George Soros) would be all over it. Money is money.

            It helps to stay away from conspiracy theories.

          • http://brian23.com Brian

            I just said they probably wouldn’t be able to make anything off it. That’s the point.

            Solar would give people cheap, clean energy, is limitless as a source, and would be good for humanity as a whole.

            That might be a good thing for a Dan Gilbert or one of these guys to pursue with the excess income. At some point enough money is enough, and the accumulation of more instead of bettering that which is around you is pretty gross.

          • acto

            Fracking has begun in earnest here now Bupa,
            Every few hours my windows start rattling, I do not know why.

          • whosevelt

            I wasn’t referring to fracking. I was thinking of drilling for oil the way that Shell did in Nigeria (See Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum) and Chevron did in Ecuador. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lago_Agrio_oil_field

          • bupalos

            I think the differences here are only of degree and not nearly as large as you may think.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            “if people like Gilbert, for all their shortcomings, were not there hoping to profit from Detroit’s resurgence while the city’s retirees are off working in Walmart to stave off starvation, Detroit would have no resurgence.”

            This is insane. See my comment above (or below, depending on your settings).

      • bupalos

        No one is “expecting” Gilbert to do that, just like you don’t “expect” a thief that avoided prosecution to turn himself in. Just because people can and do “look out for their own interests” doesn’t mean they should, when said interests come at others expense.

        Gilbert’s money is as sleazily and unproductively gotten as any legal gain can be. And his argument here is as Frowns has it: that Detroit’s largely working class citizens should eat all the pain so his investments (which largely involve landsharking and legally protected clawback of tax and public assistance money) will further appreciate. Because in Dan Gilbert’s world, what’s good for Dan Gilbert is good for Detroit, because money needs to flow uphill to the “producers” so it can theoretically trickle back down to the leaches. Someday. Maybe.

        It’s fundamentally dishonest and disgusting, whether it is “expected” or not.

        • whosevelt

          There is a line beyond which investment is fundamentally dishonest and disgusting. There’s a fair likelihood that Gilbert has crossed it, but nothing in this article suggests that he has. I also don’t see anywhere that favoring the corporate creditors over the pension creditors is going to benefit Gilbert somehow.

          And yes, it’s become pretty clear since 2007 that “trickle down” economics is bogus, at least on the super-corporate level. But again, that doesn’t necessarily reflect on Gilbert specifically.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            “There’s a fair likelihood that Gilbert has crossed it, but nothing in this article suggests that he has.”

            I don’t know why someone as smart as you needs to have the dots connected for you, but you also write below:

            “if people like Gilbert, for all their shortcomings, were not there hoping to profit from Detroit’s resurgence while the city’s retirees are off working in Walmart to stave off starvation, Detroit would have no resurgence.”

            What’s most insane about this is the assumption that guys like Gilbert are the only ones who can possibly create jobs, and if the only jobs they decide to create happen to be in the confidence games industry, then that’s the breaks for everyone else. Yet there is actually an impossible load of work that needs to be done that would create infinity jobs in Detroit and all over the world. These include the jobs of feeding millions of hungry people, providing health care to people who are dying or suffering from preventable illness, (actually) educating millions and millions of children, and reversing humanity’s relentless and soon-to-be fatal destruction of the planet.

            At this point we have all the technology we need to accomplish these goals so that nobody would ever need a “Quicken Loan” and so that it would never occur to anyone that it would be fun to play a casino game stacked in favor of a gilded slumlord. Painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, porcelain (gymnastics, softball, Cheddar Bay, etc.) would be the only things for anyone to worry about. But instead we have to let 99% of the world burn because our “leaders” are so taken with the power they’ve been able to accumulate racing to the bottom to exploit this technology (all developed per “socialism” by any possible analysis, by the way) that not only will they not countenance a system that would do anything else, they militantly propagate the lie that the “free market” is humanity’s only option. Instead of using his billions to coordinate an effort to change this completely unsustainable state of affairs, Gilbert wants to build more casinos, sell us more loans, and convince us that the pain of $3.5 billion in defaulted retirement accounts will fade away soon if we just get on with it. To borrow a phrase, he’s a high-five over a coffin. There’s just no defense for him.

          • bupalos

            This has put me on the edge of an affirmative coma.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            It’s supposed to be inspiring.

          • bupalos

            Sure, but you have to calibrate down a little if you want any of your minions like me to get anything done. Turns out it takes a looong time to actually attempt to high-five a million angels, and that’s where this leaves me.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Minions schminions. I will do whatever you and Russell Brand tell me to do. Awaiting further instructions. Send a carrier pigeon to Acto’s rowboat. I will be wearing a Brady Quinn jersey.

          • CleveLandThatILove

            In a ceviche coma.

          • acto

            Big problems with my little dingy.
            The waves splashed some water in and when I drilled a hole in the bottom to let the water out things really went downhill from there.

          • whosevelt

            We both agree that the world needs saving, but what I don’t understand is why you hold Gilbert personally responsible for its current state. We live in a capitalist country that prefers wealth accumulation to social justice. Gilbert could lose his fortune in a bank fire and die in a horribly painful accident tomorrow and we’d still live in a capitalist country that prefers wealth accumulation to social justice.

          • nj0

            Blaming the environment doesn’t negate the bad things a person does. They should still be held accountable or, at least, called out for those bad things.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Instead of using his billions to coordinate an effort to change this completely unsustainable state of affairs, Gilbert wants to build more
            casinos, sell us more loans, and convince us that the pain of $3.5 billion in defaulted retirement accounts will fade away soon if we just get on with it. To borrow a phrase, he’s a high-five over a coffin.

            But “we live in a capitalist country that prefers wealth accumulation to social justice” so it’s fine.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    I just realized that something truly perfect and beautiful happened in the NFL last weekend. Colt McCoy took the snaps for the Niners’ last series against Jacksonville so the Londoners got their NFL football with a side of Chips!

    • Steve White

      Bet he had a better QBR than Weeds…

  • ChuckKoz

    good stuff frowns. i was really shocked that anyone would make a comment like that out loud. I mean, we know he thinks it, but to just say it and not get how gross it was is very telling.

    will be interesting what happens with that case as well. it seems a certainty that the appointed manager Orr did not negotiate with any intent but for jamming straight to bankruptcy. consider: he is a bankruptcy “expert” from what I read. sort of hard for the state to say they tried to avoid bankruptcy and assist creditors when that guy was put in charge.

  • p_forever

    i’m really glad you were able to write about dan gilbert in such an intelligent and rational way, because polite words fail me when it comes to describing the extent of his grossness.

    • Chris Mc

      1000% this. Would like twice.

  • bupalos

    Words woud like to be said here too regarding supposed Mangini weaknesses relative to what has come after… upon which weaknesses I too harped, along with others of the moron caucus of 2010.

    To Wit:

    There has been no Browns draft in history ever ever ever as bad as Richardson-Weeden and anyone making any negative mention of 2009 without first making 10 negative mentions of 2011 should be banned.

    and

    There is plenty to like about Chud, but his numerical crimes after 8 games already trump Mangini, a guy who almost immediately recognized after being canned that there are correct numerical answers in football and that he regretting not paying more attention this. In a league with such parity, making 68% wrong decisions like using your second timeout down by 3 with 4 minutes left– a timeout that is not that much less likely to work more for your opponent than you– can be the difference between a championship and a failed season.

    • nj0

      Do you mean the 2012 draft?

      • bupalos

        indeedy.

    • BIKI024

      the 2012 class overall wasn’t all that bad, much better than the 2009 draft which all we have to show for is Alex Mack.

      yes Weeden was a waste of a 21st pick, but we’ll see what we can flip TRich’s pick into, but ya, we def blew it with him as well.

      but otherwise we added some key guys to the roster:

      Gordon
      Schwartz
      Gipson
      Winn
      Hughes
      Bademosi

      • bupalos

        Alex Mack > Winn, and Winn is the only definite plus player in that whole list besides the supplemental and drank-afflicted Gordon. When you turn #3, #21, #37, #87, #100, #118, #131, #160, #204, #205, #229, #245, #247 and 2013’s #37 into Billy Winn and Josh Gordon, you have failed beyond Mangini’s wildest pick-wasting dreams.

        • BIKI024

          you’d be hard pressed to find any draft expert to rank the Browns 2009 overall class better than the 2012 one, even with the first round busts, they made up for it with the latter picks, supplemental or not, he was part of the class that has 3 starters and 3 key role players, as opposed to 1 starter, albeit a pro bowler.

          you’re crying over 5 6th and 7th round picks?? DERP

          so Alex Mack is worth the: #21, #36, #50, #52, #104, #177, #191, #195???? DERPITTY DERP DERP

          • nj0

            Been a while since I’ve seen the derp rebuttal. I love forensics.

          • bupalos

            I’m mostly crying over a high and middle first yielding absolutely 0 (or would have been 0 but for the highway robbery of the Colts by the current regime.) They are both bad drafts, but to me the difference between the value of the picks and what they produced is worse in 2012. Mangini got a first round talent for his first round pick, and nothing after that. Fat Walrus got nothing for 2 1sts, and then a marginal 1st (Winn) and maybe like a 3rd round talent after that (Hughes.) Schwartz starts to look pretty busty of late but I guess the jury is out. Gipson and Bademosi weren’t even drafted I don’t think and aren’t plus players in any event. But we certainly have missed the DERPITTY DERP stuff lately so thanks for that!

          • BIKI024

            the class of 2012 is the class of 2012 regardless of if they were drafted or undrafted free agent. if anything, to get a starter and a role player out of the haystack is even a higher accomplishment.

            you don’t like Gipson?? he’s playing pretty well, especially for only his 2nd year, it seems he could be pencilled in there for the next couple years as a nice tandem with Ward who is looking to be a pro bowl qualifier.

            can’t wait for Winn to get back in there! love him!

          • BIKI024

            re: Schwartz, he’s been battling, and had a rough games for sure, but his overall body of work from last year, and the past few games have been exceptional, and def grading out to be a 1st round talent. he held his own against the #1 pass rushing attack in the NFL, the unit as a whole only allowed 1 sack (albeit 2 holding calls by JT)

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Browns everybody. BROWNS.

    http://deadspin.com/the-new-browns-facilitys-walls-are-full-of-fake-quotes-1453698071

    Some of the comments to this post are major LOLs.

    • nj0

      My brownsometer is registering this at 124.7 megabrowns. That’s one of the top five brownsiest readings I’ve ever witnessed.

      Now, where is my clevelometer?

      • bupalos

        Favorite from the comments:

        “I deny any knowledge of the scheme.”

        -Jimmy Haslam

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          I LOL’d.

          • Bryan

            The comments are indeed amazing.

            “Just win, baby” – Abraham Lincoln.

          • bupalos

            To be fair, it was kind of his motto, sotto voce.

          • nj0

            From everything I’ve read, Lincoln was rather reticent to fully commit to pacifying the South.

            If I’m fake attributing that quote to someone involved in the Civil War, it’s General William Tecumseh Sherman.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1kbBmlAvdI PML

      That was the Browniest post ever – the comments were incredible.

      I also find it highly amusing that there are Browns fans getting their panties in a wad about Josh Cribbs’ quitting comments.

      http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2013/10/josh-cribbs-on-the-jets-were-not-the-browns-were-not-the-team-that-gives-up/

      He’s the last guy I’d ostracize re: his love of Cleveland.

  • Everyone else

    Lots of things to think on….some of my take aways…
    1. Northeast ohio urban centers are similar….maybe not as bad as the 60 minutes clip…but same problems and scaling toward the same conclusion.
    2. I like how people have a special demon to blame…Gilbert, city managers, unions, pension negotiators, etc. We live in a country that since its inception is based on rule makers stacking the deck to achieve the desired outcome. Lots of wrinkles that promote “freedom”.
    3. As I get older i find myself being complacent about things….look out for me and my family first….but I also get a stronger belief that we need a new constitution….or a highly modified one that forces our elected leaders to further move us to more of a modern socialism. Distribution of wealth and the fact that we (as citizens) have allowed this game to continue is going to destroy us as a country and a people. Got to figure out how to advance the entrepreneur but break our cycle of debt and poverty through forced reallocation of wealth and choices.

    • bupalos

      While I do think there might be a little too much blame for the “rulemakers” and too little blame for structural shifts that are actually more like forces of nature (corporatism, technology, globilization), I do think we could use a governing tweak or two. My conlaw prof used to call the constitution “‘Old 3/5ths” to remind everyone up front that there were a few hiccups in there as regards the definition of We The People. Still seems to be the main flaw, this defining of people, as a certain failed candidate made clear, my friend.

    • nj0

      I often marvel at the fact that we govern based on a 200+ year old document. Caveats: Yes, I realize there have been amendments. Yes, I realize it is a “living” document (whatever that means in reality). Yes, I know I’m talking shit about the US Constitution. Don’t get me started on the Founding Fathers.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    So Kevyn Orr appointed Dan Gilbert to “head a new panel on ‘blight elimination,’ presumably overseeing the distribution of [$100m in] federal funds” allocated to Detroit by the Obama administration. Amazing how hard it is to find anything printed on this bit of information.

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/30/pers-s30.html

    “Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert wants to eliminate blight by tearing down all of the abandoned properties in Detroit — ‘not most of them, all of them,’ Gilbert is quoted as saying.”

    http://preservationdetroit.org/2013/09/30/eliminate-blight-amen-but-bulldoze-everything/

    • bupalos

      Shorter Gilbert: “I think we need to tear down everything I don’t own.”

    • thebearchoo

      It’s a bit annoying/frustrating that this Preservation Detroit group makes sure to throw Danny G some subtle praise as a part of their response. Drive that creative and industrious spirit, Sir Daniel!

    • mrdot

      A real estate developer and mortgage broker in favor of tearing down and rebuilding a city? Quelle surprise!

    • BIKI024

      the guy has invested a billion dollars into the city, i’m sure there much less riskier investment vehicles he could’ve splurged on than Downtown Detroit.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1kbBmlAvdI PML

    Here’s a little something to get everyone in the Halloween Spirit:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqsRFKe3YMA

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Related: http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt

    On one hand this is all rather punch-in-the-face obvious. On the other hand, hooray for science!

    “[I]t stands to reason that, ‘if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics.’ And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but ‘really a geophysics problem.’ … He isn’t saying that his research drove him to take action to stop a particular policy; he is saying that his research shows that our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability. And indeed that challenging this economic paradigm – through mass-movement counter-pressure – is humanity’s best shot at avoiding catastrophe. … [W]e have lost so much time to political stalling and weak climate policies – all while global consumption (and emissions) ballooned – that we are now facing cuts so drastic that they challenge the fundamental logic of prioritising GDP growth above all else.”

  • Chris Mc

    In direct relation to this post, here are real stories of people that Kevyn Orr (and by extension, Gilbert) would like to screw.

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/10/31/2862091/detroit-retirees-interviews/

  • mrdot
    • nj0

      Any time I hear somebody saying “the Chief is being phased out”, I go to the team’s site and find him plastered all over it. So I’ll say what I always say: the block C (like the script I before it) is just an example of a marketing department trying to sell more stuff through an alternative logo.

      • bupalos

        Did you visit today? Sambo isn’t visible at all until you scroll down, and then only on a very small graphic for a tearoff calendar for the 2014 schedule, and a little bug in the footer. I’m encouraged.

        • nj0

          I did visit and saw him on the background, in pictures of player uniforms, on the story about next year’s schedule, on the ticket stubs promoting sales, on an ad for merch, and at the bottom of the page. So all in all, about eight or so Wahoo’s.

          • bupalos

            I see. I didn’t have the background expanded and see it on Swisher’s grinning, brainless mug. But all the others are on bug graphics that cycle through the window–the dynamic content–not on the “permanent” design. And of those, 3 out of 11 have samboheads and only 1 is gratuitous and not incidental to the 2013 uni use.

            I do think that’s the first time I’ve ever been to the website, and–at least without scrolling around or waiting for bug graphics to cycle– not seen the Sambo at all.

    • bupalos

      Whoohooo. That’s another step closer. Hurry it up guys!

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns
    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      http://www.vice.com/read/detropia-prelude-and-prophecy

      “The Sun Belt cities and the suburbs were supposed to be a triumph of the market’s creative destruction: people choose where they live, and good places win over bad. But Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Orlando, once thought to prove Detroit unnecessary, have gone bust. “Disney World ain’t what it used to be,” says Stephens. The gaping maw of the new American century that swallowed Detroit has an unrequited hunger.”

  • bupalos

    Great game yday and always excited to find new black holes in the NFL’s timing rules. The best one is that any team with a big lead can technically intentionally false start away up to 10 minutes of the 4th quarter and force the refs to play Zeno’s football trying to split half the distance to the goal line 20 times. A new one I found yesterday is pretty small but still fun. Anytime the opposing team is in the red zone with a lead trying to run out the clock, and runs a play that is going to net a 1st down in bounds, you should commit a personal foul–like tell your tacklers to be sure and grab the facemask once the runner is beyond the line to gain. It’s a free time-out at the cost of a few meaningless yards. It wasn’t intentional but it got the ravens their 2 offensive plays at the end. I confirmed in the rulebook that the refs timed it right.

    • nj0

      NFL refs seem to have it the hardest. The rules are so gosh darn complex.

      • bupalos

        The timing rules really are stupidly complex. All the timing rule looholes can be eliminated thusly:

        Clock stops on any penalty. Team accepting penalty has the option for the clock to start on the ball set or on the snap.

    • Bryan

      Browns:
      4-1 in games not started by Weeden.
      0-4 in games started by Weeden.

      I apologize to everyone in this forum for being part of the Weeden Fan Club last year.

      • bupalos

        I’ve never been able to abide the Weeden, but realistically I think the first Ravens game is the only one we very likely would have won if we had never seen his fat lazy face this year. Maybe Detroit, outside chance.

        I’m getting irrationally exuberant looking at the schedule. With the Steelers imploding, you can see how 9-7 is still at the edge of the possible. That’s just 2-2 in games not against the Steelers or Jaguars.

        • Bryan

          I think if we had Hoyer/Campbell slinging it, Detroit, Baltimore, and Miami games were winnable. Even if we had won just one of those, and were 5-4 instead of 4-5, that would be huge.

          If Balt beats Cinci next week in Baltimore, we would return from the bye week to play Cinci with Cinci sitting at 6-4, Balt 4-5, and Pitt 2-8 or 3-7.

          This thing ain’t over.

          • bupalos

            Yeah, Miami was in play I guess. Spilt milk.

            I don’t have much hope with Cinci because they just have more soft games on their schedule. They end at Pitt and Minn and Ravens at home. But they do have to go out to SD, and did just lose Geno Atkins… It’s too bad, they’ve got like 3 little squeaker wins that could have gone the other way.

            But I do think the second wildcard goes at 9-7 like usual, so maybe we take care of business with pitt and jax, and catch the bears and jets? Then tiebreakers can fall out the right way just maybe? Nice to have it in the picture anyway.

      • jpftribe

        I was right there with ya, I wanted him to do well this year, new offense, coordinator , yada, yada, yada.

        Now the guy is a liability.mpick up Flynn of waivers and cut him loose.

  • alexb

    god that story makes me ill, not even the browns win can really take the bad taste out of my mouth when I think about Gilberts quote. These people aren’t even hiding it anymore. I’m completely over this materialistic culture that values money, and the people who make the most of it, above all else. We’re telling the people that did the blue collar work that their life savings, that which they counted on to subsist them in what amounted to less than moderate lifestyles….that it’s more important that a men who already have more than they know what to do with…..get more. Sometimes it really irritates me I’m a human being cause it lumps me in with these people.

    • BIKI024

      gilbert had very little to do with the complex issues and corruption that led to Detroit’s bankruptcy issues. did you watch the 60 minutes piece?

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19793-detroit-will-be-democracys-decisive-battle

    “[T]he Detroit model for democracy’s demolition is depicted as a white supremacist morality play, in which corruption and incompetence are the inevitable fruits of Black majority rule, which must be extirpated by any means necessary. White Americans, in general, can be distracted by the slightest hint of ghetto graffiti from seeing their own futures written on the wall.

    “Detroit is represented in court by its nemesis, Kevyn Orr —
    which is like imposing Newt Gingrich as chief counsel for the NAACP. Kevin Orr, ensconced in a $5,000 per month luxury penthouse condominium paid for by one of Governor Snyder’s private slush funds with contributions from secret corporate donors, is building the template for urban democratic dissolution from scratch. He is a crude and unimaginative man, doing Wall Street’s bidding with little finesse in the bright light of day. His arrogance is buttressed by the certainty that he is backed by the real rulers of the American State, Wall Street, and that the outcome in Judge Steven Rhodes’ federal bankruptcy court will create precedent to render all of America’s cities servile and neutered. Orr is also aware that his coloration provides perfect cover for his mission – added value for his services, well worth the luxury suite. . . .

    “Orr admitted that he never even raised the subject of getting the state to help Detroit out of its fiscal difficulties. And, why would he? His mission is not to save the city, but to break it into auctionable pieces and to garnishee its remaining revenue streams for bankers. His opening fiscal reorganization plan would pay off Bank of America and UBS, who have already made millions on a 2005 derivatives scheme with the city, establishing Britain’s Barclay’s Bank as the super-priority creditor with dibs on $4 million a month in Detroit casino revenues if the city defaults.

    “To ensure that the city can never escape the clutches of capital, the contract would allow Barclay’s to immediately declare Detroit in default if Emergency Financial Manager rule is ended for any reason – that is, the corporate plan calls for the permanent cessation of democracy in Detroit. That’s the plan for the whole country. Wall Street recognizes that it cannot effectively consume the public sphere as long as the public retains the electoral democratic mechanisms to stop it. In other words, concentrated capital can no longer coexist with even the thin gruel of American democracy.”

    • bupalos

      That really is very succinct.

      Every now and then I try to get a handle on the ethos that makes all of this vulture capitalism run. Somehow you just know this story simply couldn’t have played out quite this way in the 50’s or 60’s, or even in the robber baron days. There is a difference in the mindset now.

      I think the difference lies in a late-emerging inversion of the traditional American respect for the idea of taking risk. America has always, and appropriately, attached a special positive social and moral value to labor risk — the idea that someone take their labor and apply it in new and creative ways. This often requires capital too. But somehow now that’s morphed into a confusion of the two–maybe because in an advanced economy taking labor risks tends to require more and more attendant capital. This has created something that lies in a completely different direction– the idea that capital risk is equally socially and morally positive. And this is pushed yet further, to the point where capital risk is so positive that it needs to be protected and rewarded on it’s own, simply for being capital risk, in a way we wouldn’t dream of doing with labor.

      If Dan Gilbert throws down a 100MM bet that he can navigate the political landscape to get a Casino built and operating, somehow that subtly morphs into a nearly moral argument that the political landscape must be cleared for him. This is not because of the direct value of the political change itself to those agreeing to make it, but partially because of a hoped-for trickle-down benefit from Gilbert, and more interestingly something even more than that. It’s because of the socio-moral status of that bet itself. We don’t want to discourage machers like Gilbert from “taking risk,’ so we need to make sure it pays off for him, by his metric. Which of course means that capital risk just increaingly… isn’t. What, at it’s moral height tends to be no more than the risk of a blackjack dealer ceases to be risk at all.

      What’s going on in Detroit points up the extent of the inversion. I see the same thing in the fracking debate, where one of the prime boots-on-the-ground arguments against regulation is that now that drillers have invested in leases, local municipalities that want to regulate the activity to protect their air, water, roads, and environment risk being successfully sued. Drillers gamed the legal framework in advance such that once they put their capital at “risk” (which they did in the kind of hurry that resembles an avalanche) it became potentially illegal for the municipality to do anything that shifts the ground upon which that “risk” was made. They actively use this new theory of the sanctity of capital risk to circumscribe the function of the political sphere.

      How this differs from the dictatorship of capital I don’t know.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Extremely well put, Sir.

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