I am still reading through the Detroit Free Press report on Detroit's financial history and it is really amazing. All the stuff you expect to see is there -- over taxation, over regulation, crony gifts, huge government pay and pensions, etc. But this was new to me, and even worse than I expected:
Gifting a billion in bonuses: Pension officials handed out about $1 billion in bonuses from the city’s two pension funds to retirees and active city workers from 1985 to 2008. That money — mostly in the form of so-called 13th checks — could have shored up the funds and possibly prevented the city from filing for bankruptcy. If that money had been saved, it would have been worth more than $1.9 billion today to the city and pension funds, by one expert’s estimate.
Outright gifts of taxpayer money to government workers, even beyond their already rich salary and pensions! Folks on the Left from Paul Krugman to Obama are trying to portray Detroit as the innocent victim of economic and demographic exogenous forces beyond their control. Don't let them. The exodus from Detroit and the destruction of its economy were not random events the city had to endure, but self-inflicted wounds.