Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show, Maddow explained that Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder is pushing a bill through that will give ultimate governmental power literally to corporations, thereby using shock doctrine tactics to create a dystopian government. Synder’s bill not only goes after collective bargaining rights, but does in fact seem to represent the Republicans’ final solution to killing democracy by enabling the replacement of elected officials, dissolving entire city’s government and handing them over to corporations. Snyder calls his “budget bill” a “shared sacrifice,” but it gifts corporations with 1.8 billion in tax breaks while hitting citizens with harder taxes, including seniors and other vulnerables, and cutting essential services to an already suffering region.
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Rachel Maddow began her segment on Michigan with, “The Michigan House has already passed and the Michigan Senate is about to pass a bill that sounds like it is out of a dystopian leftist novel from the future. If you think Republican governors across the country are using fiscal crisis as a pretext to do stuff they otherwise want to do, this is something I don’t think I would have ever believed Republicans even wanted to do, but this is what they are proposing. This hasn’t gotten much national attention, but please check this out.”
She described the threat to democracy in Michigan, “Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget in Michigan is expected to cut aid to cities and towns so much that a lot of cities and towns in Michigan are expected to be in dire financial straits. Right now, Gov. Snyder is pushing a bill that would give himself, Gov. Snyder and his administration, the power to declare any town or school district to be in a financial emergency. If a town was declared by the governor and his administration to be in a financial emergency they would get to put somebody in charge of that town, and they want to give that emergency manager that they just put in charge of the town the power to, “reject, modify, or terminate any contracts that the town may have entered in to, including any collective bargaining agreements.”
The bill also has the power to suspend or dismiss elected officials, “This emergency person also gets the power under the bill to suspend or dismiss elected officials. Think about that for a second. Doesn’t matter who you voted for in Michigan. Doesn’t matter who you elected. Your elected local government can be dismissed at will. The emergency person sent in by the Rick Snyder administration could recommend that a school district be absorbed into another school district. That emergency person is also granted power specifically to disincorporate or dissolve entire city governments.”
Maddow said Michigan Republicans want to abolish entire towns, “What year was your town founded? Does it say so like on the town border as you drive into your town? Does it say what year your town was founded? What did your town’s founding fathers and founding mothers have to go through to incorporate your town? Republicans in Michigan want to be able to unilaterally abolish your town and disincorporate it. Regardless of what you as resident of that town think about it. You don’t even have the right to express an opinion about it through your locally elected officials who represent you, because the Republicans in Michigan say they reserve the right to dismiss your measly elected officials and to do what they want instead because they know best.”
What’s worse is that this power to be abolish governments could be handed to corporations, “The version of this bill that passed the Republican controlled Michigan House said it was fine for this emergency power to declare a fiscal emergency invoking all of these extreme powers, it was fine for that power to be held by a corporation. So swaths of Michigan could at the governor’s disposal be handed over to the discretion of a company. You still want your town to exist? Take it up with this board of directors of this corporation that will be overseeing your future now, or rather don’t take it up with them. Frankly, they’re not interested.”
Maddow talked about the power grab behind the fabrication of a fiscal emergency, “The power to overrule and suspend elected government justified by a financial emergency. Oh, and how do you know you’re in a financial emergency, because the governor tells you, you’re in a financial emergency, or a company he hires to do so, does that instead. The Senate version of the bill in Michigan says it has to be humans declaring your fiscal emergency. The House bill says a firm can do that just as well.”
Rachel Maddow concluded, “This is about a lot of things. This is not about a budget. This is using or fabricating crisis to push for an agenda you’d never be able to sell under normal circumstances, and so you have to convince everyone that these are not normal circumstances. These are desperate circumstances and your desperate measures are there for somehow required. What this is has a name. It is called shock doctrine.”
Naomi Klein, author of “The Shock Doctrine” implies that man made crises are used to push the “free market principles” of Milton Friedman et al, which are pushed through while the citizens are reacting to disasters or upheavals. The perpetrators of the shock doctrine require a violent destruction of the existing economic order in order to achieve their means. In the case of the Michigan governor, Snyder positioned himself in a state already reeling from financial crisis, vulnerable and ripe for a takeover.
This is no different than when George W Bush’s administration terrified a nation after 9/11 with lies of weapons of mass destruction and terror alert levels elevating every time Bush’s approval ratings sank or an election was upcoming. Except that in this case, the Republicans waged a fiscal war on America during the eight disastrous Bush years by killing what they termed “big government”” but is really known as governmental oversight of corporations, which allowed Wall Street to play fast and loose with our money while Bush went incompetently to war on “terror” and left the wars off of the budget all together.
Now that they’ve terrorized Americans with a fiscal recession, thereby hitting us in the heart of our security centers, they are not apologizing or attempting to learn from their mistakes because for them, the financial devastation of the majority of Americans is not a mistake, but a means to an end.
And like any good bully or dictator, the time to strike is when you’ve sucker punched your victim and he or she is lying on the ground helpless, barely clinging to life; people will give up all kinds of personal liberties when they’re desperate. So now they are striking at us by deploying Republican governors as missiles of economic warfare around the country; taking away collective bargaining, taking away Medicaid, pushing for state militias ruled by the Republican governor, and now in Michigan, literally giving the government to corporations. All of this will result in a Republican dystopia; a negative utopia often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government which entails a repressive and controlled state.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is calling this power grab a “$45 billion cost-cutting budget,” thereby attempting to package an unprecedented power grab as the answer to fiscal woes. Governor Synder suggests these cuts are part of a “shared sacrifice”, as he tries to appeal to the renowned work ethic of heartlanders. Of course, that “shared sacrifice” raises taxes on Michiganders while cutting services and changes the state’s corporate tax structure so only large “C” corporations pay business taxes while all other corporations get off scot-free. This amounts to a 1.8 billion dollar tax break to business. This “shared sacrifice” eliminates tax breaks for seniors and low-income workers and gets kills many other income tax deductions for individuals.
And all of that financial devastation wreaked upon the already suffering citizens is topped by Synder handing government over to the corporations. Synder’s “shared sacrifice” is simply an attempt to package dystopia as utopia – the solution to woes, when it is in fact, the final Republican “solution” to democracy.
The shame Governor Snyder and his fellow Republicans are heaping on this great land is staggeringly breath-taking. The fact that Snyder’s bill will essentially obliterate democracy in Michigan while at the same time putting an already suffering citizenry into the poor house doesn’t seem to bother him one whit; in fact, he says “I hope we all look back and say: ‘This was a defining moment.’” Yes, it is a defining moment, Governor Synder. It is the moment Republicans drove their corporate tankers right through hard-working, devastated Americans and stole their liberties along with their food and shelter.
But Snyder, like his fellow Republican Governor in Wisconsin, has underestimated is the spirit of heartlanders. While Senate Democrats are outnumbered in Michigan 26-12, and hence their attempts to amend Synder’s dystopian bill were roundly ignored, more than 1,000 protesters rallied yesterday at the Capitol and into the rotunda chanting “Kill the bill.” The Republicans may be able to push their dystopia on Michiganders, but they are wrong if they are counting on willing submission to their take-over. Michiganders might be down, but they are never out.