Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 46 of 365: Detroit

I read an article, this morning (the majority of an article. online. Thank you, Subaru commercials. I feel like one of Pavlov's dogs with my compulsive need to add that to the end of any sentence containing the phrase "I read an article.") On the 12th anniversary of 9/11, the "Emergency Manager" of Detroit shut off power to "send a message." Whether it is simply to force people's hand in privatizing Detroit's electricity or there was more that Bill Knowling wants Detroit's citizens to agree to, I don't know.

For me, this is the most chilling news I've heard all day. I've been following the downfall of Detroit ever since the auto industry collapse (and not just because my in-laws are from Ohio and I get some weird joy in watching the destruction of Michigan), and, suffice it to say, I don't care much for Bill Knowling. They brought in a bankruptcy lawyer to save a failing city. Take a stab at what his plan to "save" Detroit was? You guessed it: file for bankruptcy.

There is something off about this guy, but I can't put my finger on it. Intuition doesn't exactly affect the price of tea in China, but I've learned that going against my intuition always lands me in undesirable situations. I don't care for him, and I don't care for the fact that these are all governor-appointed people who are essentially running the city now.

Why is this the most chilling bit of news I've heard all day? Because it shows what could very easily happen to the rest of America if the economy ever gets as bad as it did in Detroit. I have faith that it won't, at least not in the near future, but the fact still remains: if America as a whole becomes as battered as Detroit, this is what most likely awaits us. Appointed officials who, really, only have to answer to the person who appointed them. Could you imagine a mayor or a state senator somehow getting the authority to turn off power without any warning -- and then face no repercussions as a result?

This stuff scares me. Anyone who really pays attention to the news should be worried. Like, tinfoil hats worried. And this is even before we found out about NSA and PRISM: indefinite detention of American citizens with no just cause or due process (just the hunch that you might be involved in terrorism), the criminalization of certain types of peaceful protest (a law that conveniently came out just a year or so after Occupy Wall Street), the legalization of assassinating American citizens (again, because you might be involved in terrorism). Over the last 6 or so years, we've seen less and less protection (and more and more punishments) for whistleblowers, especially those in the government. We live in a world where politicians shrug their shoulders about things like spying on their own citizens and say, "Well, no one would've complained during 9/11."

Can we just take a step back and remember a time when we impeached a president for spying on a hotel room?

It's scary. And what scares me even more is the apathy. Really, no one cares about the NSA. They cared more about Snowden living in an airport and his ex-girlfriend being a pole dancer. The same way the general public didn't care about the videos of a drone opening fire on a group of citizens and journalists (or about how the soldier responsible for leaking those videos was essentially convicted before his trial). Just that Chelsea Manning was once Bradley Manning and, "oooh, what will happen to a trans-woman in a male jail?"

But people don't care. Maybe it is a post-9/11 ennui. We've dealt with the TSA for over a decade now: a private company so powerful that a handful of people in blue shirts (who might have no college education, or even a standard high school diploma) can stop FBI agents from getting from one side of the airport to the other. I've spoken out about the TSA before, only to be met with an apathetic shrug and, "Well, at least they keep us safe!"

Maybe I read too many dystopian novels, but that's where it always starts: the initial fear, that desperate need to be safe, the willingness to do whatever the people in charge say.

*sigh* And the worst of this is that part of me is actually a little worried that this little blog post will result in me being "listened in on" for a tick of time. Which, on the one hand, it's not that big of a deal: I'm as vanilla as they get (a "girl scout", for those who watch(ed) Burn Notice). But, on the other hand, it is a big deal. The fact that my internet activity might be monitored, or my phone calls might be listened in on (I do have Verizon), all because I wrote a blog entry in a daily blog project talking about recent events, it's frightening. And if that bit of news is met with a shrug to some readers, then that's the most frightening bit of information in this entire blog post.

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