MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry: Detroit Bankruptcy the Result of Small Government

Melissa Harris-Perry, one of the panel guests on MSNBC's "Now" program on Friday,  managed to tie Detroit's bankruptcy to small government, i.e., "when government is small enough to drown in your bathtub," and to analogize it to "exactly the kind of thing that many Republicans would impose on us." Really.

The relevant transcript from RealClearPolitics, followed by comments from Erika Johnsen at Hot Air and Noah Rothman at Mediaite, are after the jump:


First, the relevant portion of the transcript:

Melissa Harris-Perry: We can talk about the microstory of Detroit, but it seems to me that Detroit, as always, is standing for all kinds of things about America. In the case of Detroit, the reason that the tax base has become so small is because a loss of population, right? So folks out, they are not there to pay the taxes on the homes and the kind of deterioration is what you see in the numbers you've suggested.

But this lack of tax base is also exactly the kind of thing that many Republicans would impose on us, even when our cities have sufficient populations, even when our communities have sufficient populations. This is what it looks like when government is small enough to drown in your bathtub, and it is not a pretty picture.

Rothman at Mediaite, where the headline describes Harris-Perry's statement as a "Delusional Assessment" (links are in original):

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry went on to note that Detroit’s tax base, e.g. the city’s population, has declined dramatically in the last decade. Harris-Perry presents this fact as though former Detroit residents left – estimated in 2011 at one resident every 22 minutes — on a whim without making a cost/benefit calculation as to whether to continue to reside in a city with one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation with a poverty rate of a staggering 40 percent.

 

Detroit has a lot of problems. Having too small a government has never been one of them. On this topic, it would appear, Harris-Perry is either not being honest or is not properly informed of the legacy burdens Detroit’s city government must to shoulder.

Johnsen at Hot Air (italics in original):

Okay… so, let’s go ahead and get this straight. Detroit has been a bastion of All Thing Progressive for decades, with the government and its pension funds and etcetera spending themselves into oblivion while residents have been fleeing the accompanying signs of economic and social depreciation ...

 

Despite this entirely liberal achievement, Harris-Perry tries to use the example of Detroit to criticize Republicans for… wanting to lower taxes? ... I suppose the idea of — oh, I don’t know — the government spending less, and not making promises that it can’t afford to keep, and people instead using more private-sector, free-market means and reaping the benefits of the subsequent economic growth, isn’t an option, then?

I have stumbled across a couple of interesting facts about Detroit, one relating to spending and another to taxes.

Guess how many are involved in generating its paychecks for Detroit's roughly 12,000 municipal employees (assuming some attrition in the past two years? An ridiculous number, at an unfathomable cost:

“149 full-time employees are involved in the payroll, 51 of which are uniformed officers (high cost personnel) performing clerical duties,” according to the plan which also indicated how the current payroll process is “highly manual (some done by hand) and prone to human error, including erroneous payments to individuals.”

The current cost to process a payroll is $62 per check, which amounts to $19.2 million annually, and “four times more costly than the overall average of $15 per paycheck and almost 3.5 times more costly than other public sector organizations, which average $18 per paycheck.”

As to taxes, Detroit has the highest city income tax in Michigan, currently at 2.4% for residents, 1.2% for non-residents, and 2.0% for corporations. It has been over 2% for city residents since at least the mid-1990s.

It's clear that all that extra tax money has accomplished is to perpetuate bloated budgets and chronic inefficiency.

Harris-Perry's take is more desperate than delusional. Detroit followed the liberal/progressive playbook for almost 50 years, and look where it is. She can't admit that its results completely discredit the left's municipal management model.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.