Detroit Is Bankrupt – So Is BBC Journalism In The US

Detroit has declared bankruptcy at last, and the BBC is on the case. Emily Buchanan, one of the battalion of Beeboids working the US scene, has put together a video report explaining why the once successful city has fallen so far. Her reasons:

White flight, leaving inner city blacks to suffer and find themselves trapped in an urban nightmare

The collapse of the car industry

“Detroit has suffered a vicious cycle of decay, mismanagement, and population decline.”

This last one, a direct quote, is a meaningless statement. It says nothing about how or why it all happened. Who let the urban center decay after the whites fled? Why did the auto industry collapse? Is there a relationship between the crushing burden of pensions and the collapse of either the auto industry or Detroit? There is, but don’t expect the BBC to tell you, because that would tread on sacred union ground. If the population has been dwindling for so long, and the tax base along with it, why did the city spend as if it still had the historically full population and wealthy tax base?

(UPDATE as the story has “evolved”: For some reason, the BBC has removed Buchanan’s video and replaced it with some disaster pr0n by Michelle Fleury.)

Spot the missing political party which has been running Detroit for the last 43 years: Democrats. Every single mayor since 1970 has been a Democrat, and they’ve all been African-American since 1974. Neither Buchanan’s video, nor the accompanying article, nor Jonny Dymond’s inset “analysis” mention either of these key facts. Why the censorship? Because it doesn’t help the Narrative.

The BBC isn’t really interested in discussing the realities behind Detroit’s destruction. No, they’re interested in the emotional impact of the story of evil wealthy white people abandoning a proud industrial city, destroying the lives of the working class and black people, and the city in general. They don’t talk about the corruption, they don’t talk about profligate spending in the face of a declining tax base. They admit that it’s been going on for a long time, but only that it’s “linked to declining industry”. Detroit’s income was largely dependent on a single industry. People in Britain know all too well how this is never a recipe for lasting success. But there’s no Thatcher to blame here, so the Beeboids aren’t really interested in going after the culprits. Although, didn’t the President save the auto industry a few years back? How’s that working out, BBC?

The accompanying article is only marginally better than the video. At least there we learn that public sector pensions have strangled the city coffers. Oh, wait, no we didn’t. We learn instead that two city unions opposed the bankruptcy plan to give creditors – union pension funds included – 10 cents on the dollar. The ones the BBC mentions are for retired workers, in case you hadn’t teared up enough yet. Dymond actually mentions corruption and mismanagement, but leaves it there. Instead we get more sexy details over which to shed tears and feel bad.

But there’s something of a dichotomy between the two quasi-explanations give. Either it was white flight and a declining tax base due to the collapse of the auto industry, or it was corruption and mismanagement. It’s both, of course, and mostly the corruption and mismanagement has been done in the last decade or so. One mayor even went to jail for it. However, there’s no identity politics benefit to be had from going into that issue, so it’s ignored entirely.

The thing is, we’ve seen all this from the BBC before. Two years ago, they sent Ian Pannell to spin a similar tale of woe. Pannell’s story was that the poor urban blacks whom Buchanan now describes as being abandoned and left to rot by wealthy whites were victims of income inequality, thrust upon the city by outside forces. The city was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2005. Eight years later, after much more corruption and fiddling and shuffling the deck chairs, the city was finally allowed to declare it openly. At least Dymond and Buchanan now admit (barely) that there was some local responsibility for the problems. They won’t say whom or how they ruined the city, but at least it’s a tiny improvement. The corruption doesn’t really burn all the money, but it does keep the powers-that-be from doing anything useful. It’s also likely that politicians who are so corrupt were never capable of doing anything useful in the first place, so it’s a no-win scenario no matter how you slice it.

Simply listing unpleasant statistics about empty homes and population decline and murder rates isn’t an explanation of anything. It’s merely a laundry list of indicators. How did it rack up such debt in the first place? What policies led to the city being so burdened by retired workers and public services maintained at a level which hasn’t been sustainable for a decade or more?

Actually, there was a brief period of potential growth after 2001. The city built casinos and sports stadiums, the kind of development which usually brings in a short-term boost. Of course, since the place was already falling apart and the population exodus was underway, it was never going to be sustainable. There’s that word again. The only time the BBC ever seems to understand that word is when discussing so-called “green energy”. When it comes to endless government “investment”, the word “sustainable” vanishes from their dictionary. By the time the next mayor took office and started burning money, the serious financial problems became clear. Here’s a more informative timeline, giving you more insight than anything the BBC can provide. As usual, you’d have been better served by a news aggregator than the millions of pounds spent on all the staff in the US.

The BBC isn’t interested in any of this, or in informing you of anything really useful or important. All they see here is a tear-jerker, and story-tellers love that sort of thing. So that’s what you get from the BBC: a story. Nothing particularly informative or worth your time, but that was never the point. The point is to manipulate your emotions. Plus, it’s an opportunity to continue to spin the myth that this kind of collapse is due largely to those outside, uncontrollable forces Pannell was talking about two years ago. The BBC brings up Stockton, CA, and other cities elsewhere which have declared bankruptcy recently, as if they’re all part of a piece. They are, but not the way the BBC wants you to think.

Here’s an example of how the BBC prioritizes the causes in  Detroit:

The city, once renowned as a manufacturing powerhouse, has struggled with its finances for some time, driven by a number of factors, including a steep population loss.

The murder rate is at a 40-year high and only one third of its ambulances were in service in early 2013.

Declining investment in street lights and emergency services have made it difficult to police the city.

And Detroit’s government has been hit by a string of corruption scandals over the years.

Between 2000-10, the number of residents declined by 250,000 as residents moved away.

Steep population loss, which equals steep tax loss. Less tax revenue means less money for the local government to spend, which in Beebspeak becomes “declining investment”. Murder rates on the rise, which, I suppose, translates into more white flight. Only then do we get to the corruption scandals. This should come first, not last. I say last and not penultimate because the last item is simply a more specific reiteration of the population decline point. Gosh, I wonder why people left in droves over the last decade, BBC? White flight, or cutting losses in a clearly corrupt and financially suicidal regime, with no real industry or commerce developed to replace what the auto industry provided?

All those other bankrupt cities the BBC mentions, except for San Bernardino, were run for a very long time by Democrats and powerful unions as well. And San Bernardino had massive public sector employee debts anyway. As Margaret Thatcher said, it’s fine until you run out of other people’s money. Instead of pointing the finger at the corruption and mismanagement and long-term unsustainable fiscal policy, the BBC blames other people’s money.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the BBC played another Spot the Missing Party game about another city where decades of Democrat, African-American mayors and city mandarins screwed the place up, where the economically deprived African-American urban community suffers most: St. Louis.

UPDATE 2: The BBC does, in fact, mention a political party: The Republican Governor who agreed to the bankruptcy deal (h/t Rufus McDufus). Naturally, the reason they mentioned a political party can be gleaned from the sentences preceding it:

But Ed McNeil, the lead negotiator for a coalition of 33 unions, told Reuters news agency the move was about “busting the unions”.

“This is not about fixing the city’s finances,” he said. “It’s about the governor and his own agenda to take over the city of Detroit.”

In a letter accompanying Thursday’s filing, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, said he had approved the request for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

“It is clear that the financial emergency in Detroit cannot be successfully addressed outside of such a filing, and it is the only reasonable alternative that is available”.

Could the innate bias be any more obvious?

Don’t bother trusting the BBC on this or any US issue.

The BBC Solicits Advice On The US Economy

BBC News Online has a little piece entitled “US economy: What can be done to stimulate growth?”

It’s actually not so bad, with two of the four economists interviewed taking positions which aren’t 100% in favor of more borrowing and spending. Although, there is an obvious bias on the part of the online editor who chose them. The first up, Robert di Clemente (a generally sharp guy) speaks more truth than the other three combined, and makes real points about why we are where we are. The other three either say “Please, sir, may I have some more QE”, or suggest that we may as well get around to doing more of it.

Naturally, one of them is the BBC’s favorite far-Left economists not named Paul Krugman, one David Blanchflower. I’m sure many people here have seen him over and over again on the BBC (type his name in the search field on this blog).

What’s interesting is that only di Clemente says outright that Government policies on jobs and growth have failed. He also tells us something that nobody has ever said on the BBC before: 40% of jobs losses have come from three industries: housing, automotive, and finance. Think for a second about what this means, as two out of three are very relevant to the UK.

The reason for all those job losses in the housing industry is obvious: the whole thing was bloated way, way out of proportion, to an unsustainable level, by specific Government policies. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Government-sponsored sub-prime mortgage scheme all led to houses being far overvalued, and a massive construction boom by developers in the hopes of everyone getting to buy and sell and flip houses and buy-to-let, and all that. Does that sound familiar? It should. So when that bubble burst, of course there were going to be an awful lot of people out of work.

That doesn’t mean that we need to do something to raise the industry back up again to unsustainable levels so all those people can have jobs again, either. It means that many of those jobs should never have existed in the first place, and were actually based on an ethereal foundation. Things never should have gotten so out of hand. If many of those jobs hadn’t existed, it’s quite possible many of those now unemployed would have found work in other, more sustainable sectors, and would still have jobs now.

The automotive industry has been bleeding jobs for ages, and the bailout didn’t stop it from continuing. The loans and what amounted to taxpayer funding of union pensions didn’t add a single job, and hasn’t put a single person back to work. Nor can any QE scheme return the automotive industry to its former, unsustainable level. So again, Government policies did not and cannot bring back jobs.

Di Clemente also mentions the finance industry. I know what you’re thinking: “Hang on, the BBC told me that we bailed out the evil bankers so the greedy bastards who caused all our woes got off scott free and still got their massive bonuses, etc.” So how can there be unemployment in the finance industry? It certainly doesn’t jibe with the BBC Narrative.

In fact, 106 banks went bust in 2009, large and small, retail and investment. Last year, the number was 109. Some of these got bought out and absorbed into larger companies, which, or course, still means plenty of people made redundant. This doesn’t include venture capital firms, hedge funds, etc., which have also folded since then.

The other fascinating thing di Clemente mentions is that there are plenty of employers out there looking to hire, but simply can’t find the right skilled workers. Apparently all those liberal arts graduates with watered down degrees we’re churning out don’t have the right skills for real existing jobs. Does that sound familiar?

The next bubble to burst in the US is student debt. That’s another Government scheme artificially propping up an entire industry to unsustainable levels. Cracks are beginning to show, but it will be a couple years before it all starts to go south in the manner of the mortgage crisis. Watch this space, and don’t expect the BBC to tell you about it. It’s actually rather strange that the BBC has never mentioned this, considering how much energy they’ve spent telling you that student debt is terrible so the nasty Tories should abolish tuition fees like they do in wonderful Scotland. You’d think they’d be looking for some context which might back up their ideology. Only they can’t be bothered because they just know they’re right, so it’s not important.

In essence, di Clemente raises more interesting points in 340 words than an entire year of BBC reporting on the US economy. He basically blows all of Mardell’s and Flanders’ reporting out of the water. These are major issues, none of which are discussed openly and honestly by the BBC. He’s smart enough not to point his finger directly at the President, and instead blames the ideological divide in Congress. But it’s very clear from his statement which side he thinks is the problem, and it ain’t the heroes of the BBC. Why isn’t this man on speed dial instead of Blanchflower? Ah, I see I’ve answered my own question.

More damning is the fact that there are exact parallels in Britain for most of this. Yet the BBC never discusses it. Where’s the context? Why not look for lessons to be learned, BBC? Is it because you don’t like what you see and it will hurt the Narrative?


I was pleased to read that the proposed $14bn bail out of the Detroit 3 has been voted down thanks to the GOP Senators showing some backbone – just for once. Naturally, if you read this BBC report, the Republicans are positioned as the bad guys, refusing to play along with the kindly Democrats and the tamed White House, with the poor trade union guys cast as the innocents in this soap opera. In fact it is the UAW which has a central portion of blame to take for the demise of GM and co but you would never guess this from the way the BBC writes up the item. The concept of letting inefficient business swing in the breeze seems incomprehensible to the BBC and its acolytes but from where I stand the GOP is quite right NOT to bail out the auto-barons and their Union henchmen.