Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Developments in late February of 2016

The recent Republican debate in Houston, Texas was contentious. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and John Kasich spoke their minds. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio constantly criticized Donald Trump, because of his hypocrisies and his other views. Donald Trump accused Ted Cruz of being a liar, because of his ads and tactics. Trump said that Rubio wasn’t ready to be President and that he was a “choke artist.” Trump devises Rubio and Rubio has disdain for Trump. Rubio didn’t back down and said that Donald Trump isn’t a real conservative, that he is used corruption in his Trump University, and that he or Trump is a con-artist. Ted Cruz wants to promote reactionary views on immigration. Kasich believed that he can promote a positive message that can unify people. Ben Carson wanted to advance his conservative views too. Trump issued the false statement that the he is audited by the IRS because he’s a Christian. The GOP debate was filled with personal insults, a lack of decorum, and an omission of very important issues that Americans and anyone in general should know about. Trump (who wants to cut many government agencies) wants to deport all undocumented workers which is evil and impossible to do unless America is a police state. Trump’s bigoted statements are beyond the pale and it showed his extremism for all to see. Trump is no revolutionary. He opposes even the Iran nuclear accord. Kasich has ties to Lehman Brothers and wants regime change in North Korea. John Kasich is known to attack unions, but he was defeated in a referendum by a 3 to 2 margin in Ohio. The debate has increased the profile of Marco Rubio. Every candidate in that stage is a neo-conservative. We need compassion given to immigrants not xenophobia. We need a federal law to ban racial profiling not the continuation of the status quo. We want to end unfair tax loopholes. We want investments in our infrastructure and pay equity for women and people of color. We want a financial transaction tax on various financial market transactions. We want an expansion of public health care, so health care can be truly universal. We believe in living wage and an end to austerity measures. On the Democratic side, the South Carolina primary is coming up. Both campaigns are trying to get the African American vote. In the final analysis, we believe in progressive, revolutionary change in the world.

The 1970’s in Detroit represented the start of the era of the late Detroit mayor Coleman Young. His legacy has been debated to this very day. Many liberals love him while many of the conservative crowd blame him for the problems in Detroit. In order to show the truth, we should start from the beginning. Coleman Young was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in Mary 24, 1918. His father was Coleman Young and he was a dry cleaner. His mother was named Ida Reese Jones.  In 1923, his family moved into Detroit. He graduated from Eastern High School in 1935. He worked in the civil rights movement and union rights activism. He worked in the Ford Motor Company. Also, he was backlisted for his work in union and civil rights activism. He served in World War II as a Tuskegee Airmen. He was part of the 477th Medium-Bomber Group of the United States Army Air Forces. He was a bombardier and navigator.  As a lieutenant in the 477th, he played a role in the Mutiny in which 162 African-American officers were arrested for resisting segregation at a base near Seymour, Indiana in 1945. He worked with groups who had Communist members. Young's involvement in progressive organizations including, the Progressive Party, the United Auto Workers and the National Negro Labor Council made him a target of anti-Communist investigators including the FBI and HUAC. He protested segregation in the Army and racial discrimination in the UAW. In 1948, Young supported Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry A. Wallace (who opposed Jim Crow, supported no use of atomic weapons, and wanted a more peaceful foreign policy). Just because someone opposed the evil of McCarthyism doesn’t mean that this person should be disrespected. Communists and non-Communists have every right to show their views in any society.  In 1952, Coleman Young refused to tell the HUAC (or the anti-democratic House Committee on Un-American Activities) on whether he was a Communist or not. On HUAC’s charge that he seemed reluctant to fight communism, Coleman said: “I am not here to fight in any un-American activities, because I consider the denial of the right to vote to large numbers of people all over the South un-American.” On the HUAC congressman from Georgia: “I happen to know, in Georgia, Negro people are prevented from voting by virtue of terror, intimidation and lynchings. It is my contention you would not be in Congress today if it were not for the legal restrictions on voting on the part of my people.” Some historians like Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Ronald Radosh accuse Young of being a secret CPUSA member, but he had the right to believe in what he wants as a human being. Freedom of thought is a basic human freedom that must maintained in the world. His actions made Young a hero in Detroit’s black community. Coleman worked in the East Side in the 1940’s and in the 1950’s to build his political base. He worked to form a new state constitution in Michigan in 1960. He was in the state Michigan Senate in 1964. His most significant legislation was a law requiring arbitration in disputes between public-sector unions and municipalities. During his senate career, he also pointed out inequities in Michigan state funding, "spending $20 million on rural bus service and a fat zero for the same thing in Detroit.

The 1973 mayoral election was polarizing. 92% of blacks voted for Coleman Young, while 91% of the whites voted for former police Commissioner John Nichols. Coleman Young talked about violence in an increasingly black city. Detroit was slightly less than 50 percent in 1972. Most of the police department back then was white. He wanted to eliminate one particularly troubled police decoy unit, STRESS (Stop the Robberies and Enjoy Safe Streets), whose officers had been accused of killing 22 residents and arresting hundreds more without cause during its two-and-a-half-year existence. He campaigned from the left. He wanted to work in a community policing fashion. He ended STRESS and he integrated the Detroit Police Department.  The proportion of blacks rose to more than 50 percent in 1993 from less than 10 percent in 1974 and has remained at about that level. Both actions were credited with reducing the number of brutality complaints against the city's police to 825 in 1982 from 2,323 in 1975. He won reelection by wide margins in November 1977 and in November 1981. He upgraded the transit system in Detroit and he established massive construction projects. His administration saw the completion of the Renaissance, Detroit People Mover, the General Motors Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant, the Detroit Receiving Hospital, the Chrysler, the Riverfront Condominiums, the Millender Center Apartments, the Harbor town retail and residential complex, 150 West Jefferson, One Detroit Center & the Fox Theater restoration, among other developments. Many neighborhood activists didn’t agree with these projects. This opposition typically manifested itself in rigorous budget debate rather than in serious electoral challenges against Young. Most of the time Young prevailed over this opposition, seeking jobs and economic stimulus as a way to help rebuild Detroit's neighborhoods.

There were problems too. Coleman Young emerged from the liberal element in Detroit, but not all of his policies were progressive. Highly controversial was his using eminent domain to purchase and raze an 465-acre inner-city neighborhood known as Poletown that was home to 3,500 people, mostly Polish property owners, in order to make way for a half-billion dollar General Motors Cadillac assembly plant. Rich argues that he pulled money out of the neighborhood to rehabilitate the downtown business district, because "there were no other options." He worked with Detroit’s economic elite on many issues. During the 1970’s and the 1980’s, Detroit’s crime rate increased. The homicide rate in Detroit existed long before Young was mayor. The crime epidemic persisted during the time that he was mayor. It persisted because of poverty, deindustrialization, the War on Drugs, the growth of gangs, and other reasons. Young is responsible for some of this trend not all of it. Dozens of violent black street gangs gained control of the city's large drug trade, which began with the heroin epidemic of the 1970's and grew into the even larger crack of the 1980's and early 1990's. There were numerous major criminal gangs that were founded in Detroit and dominated the drug trade at various times; most were short-lived. They included The Errol Flynns (east side), Nasty Flynns (later the NF Bangers) and Black Killers and the drug consortiums of the 1980's such as Young Boys Inc., Pony Down, Best Friends, Black Mafia Family and the Chambers Brothers.The Young Boys were innovative, opening franchises in other cities, using youth too young to be prosecuted, promoting brand names, and unleashing extreme brutality to frighten away rivals. There was a serious arson problem in Detroit, especially among Halloween called “Devil’s Night” in the 1980’s. This involved vandalism and arson. It peaked in 1984 when 800 fires were set in Detroit.  Several times during Young's tenure Detroit was named the arson capital of America, and repeatedly the murder capital of America. Often Detroit was listed by FBI crime statistics as the "most dangerous city in America" during his administration. Crime rates in Detroit peaked in 1991 at more than 2,700 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Many people left Detroit and even today, many abandoned buildings exist. Scholars and researchers believe that the 1967 rebellion contributed heavily too many of the problems in Detroit then and now. Also, redlining, white resistance to court ordered desegregating, aging industrial plants, and a declining automotive industry contributed to economic problems. A lax of tax revenue (including economic mismanagement, and a radical decline of population growth) led into lax services and a struggle for investments back during the tenure of Coleman Young.

Detroit civil rights leader Arthur L. Johnson in his memoir, Race and Remembrance blamed the racist policy of redlining by the banking and insurance industries for much of Detroit's problems. He cites a series of investigative articles in 1988 by the Press entitled "The Race for Money" which documented the discriminatory practices of the major banks in metropolitan Detroit. "The Free Press series showed that black Detroiters were much less likely to qualify for a home mortgage than suburban whites in the same income bracket... The unfair lending practices of the major banks also made it more difficult for blacks to secure business, home improvement and auto loans. In effect, banks were punishing blacks who wanted to make Detroit their home..." During Mayor Young's political tenure, with the unemployment rate trending from approximately 9% in 1971 to approximately 11% in 1993, when Young retired. However, most economic metrics (unemployment, median income rates, and city gross domestic product) initially dropped sharply during economic recessions, reaching their "low points" in the late 1980s and/or early 1990s, with the unemployment rate in particular peaking at approximately 20% in 1982. Coleman Young was known for his colorful language. He spoke the truth about racism being a serious problem, but he also used profanity. By January of 1994, he left being Mayor. He soon passed away at November 29, 1997 in Detroit at the age of 79 years old.  So, Coleman Young’s legacy is mixed. He has great things as standing up against racism, promoting infrastructure, and working in the civil rights movement. He has made mistakes as supporting many neoliberal economic policies (when he allied with the corporate world in cutting city services in many cases, reduced spending, and promoting the private economy. On many cases, Coleman was a fiscal conservative), and many of his other policies. Also, it is fair to point out that he was mayor during Reagaonomics and Reagan (via his crippling cuts in social programs during his Presidency) should also be blamed for much of the economic downturn in Detroit too. Young was the only Detroit mayor since 1950 to preside over a city with more income than debt, although he relied heavily on tax increases to pay for services. It is really inaccurate to blame one city for the bankruptcy of Detroit. So, Coleman Young was a man. He was a man who wasn’t perfect, but the problems in Detroit existed long before he was mayor. Ultimately, the urban decline, lax tax revenue, deindustrialization, evil, racist redlining policies, and other reckless economic policies contributed to the economic problems in Detroit.

By Timothy

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