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Week in Review

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Detroit’s bankruptcy was the big news this week. We wrote on the impossible logistical choice the court ruling presents, but we also reviewed the implications of the filing for the failing blue model of governance:

Blue model defenders will point to the cruel exodus of General Motors, the unjust outsourcing of American manufacturing, and the general unfairness of life in the big city as the culprits in the slaying of Detroit. But these champions of the marginalized should keep a few facts in mind.

Detroit has been spending on average $100 million more than it has taken in for each of the past five years. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners, who are slated to receive less than 10 percent of what they were promised. Between 2007 and 2011, an astounding 36 percent of residents lived below the poverty line. Last year, the FBI cited Detroit as having the highest violent crime rate for any major American city. In the first 12 years of the new century, Detroit lost more than 26 percent of its population.

And now Detroit’s desperate request for a bailout has been turned down by the Obama White House.

Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate.

In Asia, China banned Ramadan for Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang province, though the blanket approach likely won’t help them answer the radical Islam question. The IMF released a study with a dire message to China: reform quickly or risk a crash. Responding to Chinese posturing, India added 50,000 troops to its Himalayan border. But India has something in common with China: it’s facing the high costs of environmental degradation. The Game of Thrones continued to roll along this week, spurred by nationalistic rhetoric from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who threatened preemptive strikes off Japan’s coast. His hawkish ruling party rolled in elections earlier today, capitalizing on its campaign promise “Take Back Japan.”

In the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry is slowly but seemingly surely moving forward on the Israel-Palestine issue. Kerry was also berated in a Syrian refugee camp for President Obama’s hot words but cold deeds.

There was little good news out of Europe this week. The last of the three major credit raters downgraded France on Friday, prompting a whimper of a response by President François Hollande. New cars aren’t selling in Europe, the latest sign of an anemic European economy. Europe is increasingly relying on American buyers to help keep it afloat. European greens took an especially hard beating this week, as Spain decided to cut its green energy losses. We found out that Germany’s energy revolution—its energiewende—isn’t just unworkable, it might be illegal. And while we read the most persuasive defense of Europe’s failing carbon market yet, we’re still skeptical that Europe can turn that fiasco around.

California secured its title as champion of the failed states as it continued to resist Obama’s education reforms. Chicago’s got the education blues, as it was forced to lay off 2,000 employees, including roughly 500 tenured teachers. But there’s hope: America’s struggling cities should pay attention to Venture for America, a program that aims to do for entrepreneurship what Teach for America did for teaching. And a new Stanford report illustrates the educational benefits of learning at a charter school. There was also a bright spot in higher education: community colleges are offering certificate programs—alternatives to two- and four-year colleges—in higher numbers and in many specialties.

In health care news, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius compared opponents of the Affordable Care Act to racists. Obama came out swinging in defense of the ACA this week, but unfortunately trotted out a tired, bogus proof that has been distorting the health care debate for some time now. We pointed out that, due to Obamacare’s protracted rollout, it’s difficult to tell if what we’re seeing is a train wreck or merely a bumpy ride; a degree of critical distance is very much needed. And, in one of the more hopeful news stories this week, French researchers found a potential cure for dementia: more work.

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  • ljgude

    Nice review except for the bit about Kerry slowly but surely moving forward on the Israeli Palestine issue. Nope. The word ‘surely’ gives away the projection of our Western belief in the inevitability of human reasonableness and the win win ethos. Another term for it is cognitive egocentrism. The only thing that is sure is that no Palestinian leader can make any real concessions to Israel without paying with their life.

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