General Locusts

by baldilocks

It’s the first of the month in the last month of the year and I’ve got nothing. However, I plan to do some reading on the shutdown of the Government General Motors plants and I will start here. A taste:

General Motor’s announcement that it’s cutting thousands of jobs and closing several plants has met intense criticism because the company was the beneficiary of a $50 billion government bailout in 2009—which wound up costing taxpayers $11 billion—even as the government awarded the United Auto Workers’ health-care fund a 17.5 percent stake in the restructured company. Like many big American companies, GM has been the recipient of government-subsidized largesse over several decades. One particular piece of this history is especially noteworthy now. Nearly 40 years ago, in one of the most egregious cases of eminent domain abuse in American history, GM built a plant on land seized from homeowners and businesses in Detroit, obliterating a multi-ethnic neighborhood known as Poletown—all for a plant that will now be shuttered so that GM can invest somewhere else in new manufacturing facilities. (…)

[W]hen GM announced that it wanted to build a new plant somewhere in America with modern industrial technology—though it was closing plants elsewhere—Detroit officials pleaded for an opportunity to find a site for the new facility. Mayor Coleman Young came up with a plan: seize some 1,500 homes and 144 businesses in Poletown, a low-income community of 3,500 where Polish immigrants had once settled. By the early 1980s, Poletown was a more diverse neighborhood, housing older Poles but also more recent immigrants and black Detroit residents. (…)

The neighborhood did not go down without a fight, however. Homeowners and their advocates mounted legal challenges, refused government offers, and hunkered down. Some patrolled their property, brandishing weapons and daring the government to come in and take their property. What happened next was chilling. To “encourage” homeowners to leave, Detroit began withdrawing city services.

President Trump say that GM should pay taxpayers back for the bailout, but I bet the shareholders are already sipping expensive booze on their private islands.

No matter. Payback always happens, and if a perpetrator is lucky, it will happen in this world and not in the next one.

I won’t say which one I’m hoping for.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Gab.

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