Detroit Is Broke but Finds Money to Send Pension Trustees to Hawaiian Beach Resort

On July 24, 1701, French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac and 51 other French Canadians founded a settlement along a river and named it Fort Ponchartrain du Détroit.  The settlement became the center of the regional fur trading business and the population began to grow with the business and became a military fort.

Over the years, the city continued to prosper and grow until it became the largest city in Michigan with a population of just under 2 million people in the 1950 Census.  In the middle of the twentieth century, Detroit became the automotive capital of the nation, earning it the nickname of Motor City and Motown.

Then the bottom dropped out of the automotive industry, partly due to the economy and from my own opinion due to the high costs of the unions.  With the decline in the auto industry, a number of assembly lines were closed and thousands of workers laid off.  With so many people out of work, homes were being foreclosed at an alarming rate.  Today, many neighborhoods have been left vacant as if there had been an evacuation of the entire community.  In fact, the population of Detroit has dropped from the 1.8 million people in 1950 to 713,777 in 2010, a 60% decrease.

The conditions in Detroit are among the worst in the nation for a major city.  Despite  losing over half the residents, those that are left still can’t find jobs.  Detroit’s unemployment rate as of Feb. 2013 was 18.0%, compared to the national average of around 7.7%.  The financial structure of the city is so bad that in March 2013, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared a financial emergency and appointed an emergency manager to handle the city’s dire situation.

In the midst of a financial emergency and a rapidly deteriorating city, the four trustees of the city’s two pension funds (General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System) are being sent to a Hawaiian beach resort this weekend to attend a conference.  There have already been allegations of mishandling of pension funds that some say are partly responsible for a $600 million shortfall.

The trustees claim that it is important for them to attend the conference to help them learn how to better manage the pension funds.  However, I’m not sure that justifies the fact that at least one of the trustees is flying first class and has booked their lodging at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu.

Each pension fund is sending two trustees to the 6 day-long conference at a cost of over $22,000.  Other pension funds from around the nation have opted not to send anyone to the conference because of the cost and appearance of the location.  Los Angeles, who has an unemployment rate of 11.4%, was one of those that opted not to go.

One critic of the conference at the Hawaiian beach resort is Stanford University professor Joe Nation.  His specialty is dealing with public employee pension funds.  He commented on the news of the four Detroit trustees decision to go to Hawaii, saying:

“Trustees don’t need to go to Waikiki to learn about best practices.  Everyone knows they go there and they don’t work very hard. That’s just the nature of it.”

This is typical of a city, state or country run by Democrats.  To begin with, the city has had Democrats for mayor since January 2, 1962.  Incidentally, it wasn’t long after his election that the city started its economic decline.  Half a century of Democratic leadership has taken a once thriving metropolis and turned it into a desolate city, parts of which look like a war zone.

If you check out most of the other major cities and states that are having the worst economic conditions, you will find that many of them have also been run by Democrats.  Now look at what Barack Obama is doing to our nation.  Under his leadership, it won’t be long until many other parts of the country begin to look a lot like Detroit.

But what I don’t understand is that the people hit the hardest by the Democratic leadership are the very same people that keep voting them back into office.  Yet so many of them constantly complain about their living conditions and the failure of their government, but they keep voting them back into office.  I guess you could describe this as political masochism.  They so enjoy being tortured that they keep voting for those that torture them.

Guess I can’t describe what the Democrats are doing in Detroit or anywhere else in our nation any better than that – political masochism, a self-perpetuating form of abuse.