Rachel Maddow Show: ‘Shock Doctrine’ used to take over Michigan towns

by March 9, 20110 comments

This segment on last night’s Rachel Maddow Show regarding the Shock Doctrine and the governor of Michigan was jaw-dropping. (Read the transcript here.)

Apparently, new laws speeding through the Michigan Legislature will empower Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to appoint “Emergency Managers” to any locality he decides is in a financial emergency. These Emergency Managers will not only have the power to break any of the town’s contracts or collective bargaining agreements, but also to suspend or dismiss elected officials.

Under the version of the bill already passed in the Michigan House, this “Emergency Manager” could even be a corporation.

How can this be constitutional? Democrats have been introducing amendments, but all of them have ultimately been shot down and the bill is expected to pass this week. Meanwhile, protesters at the Michigan State Capitol carry signs reading “Taxation without representation has to stop” and “Don’t take away home rule.”

According to journalist Naomi Klein, this is a perfect example of The Shock Doctrine, in which the perception of a crisis is leveraged to effect sweeping change — change wresting power away from voters in favor of corporations, which would not be supported by voters.

Update: Takeover of Benton Harbor, Michigan — site of new $450 million golf resort


p id=”benton-harbor”>On April 15, 2011 this new “Emergency Financial Manager” (EFM) law was used for the first time to strip elected officials of Benton Harbor, Michigan of all power.

As Rachel Maddow notes above in the closing segment from her April 18th show (transcript here), this works out conveniently for the backers of Harbor Shores of Lake Michigan, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf club where a round of golf costs $125 to $150. Harbor Shores had been at odds locally with the group Save Jean Klock Park, which sought to keep Benton Harbor’s public lakefront park public.

Coincidentally, State Representative Al Pscholka, who came up with the “financial martial law” bill that Gov. Rick Snyder signed, “represents the district that includes Benton Harbor,” “happens to be the former vice-president for one of the major entities involved in building the luxury golf development,” and served as a board member of the nonprofit behind building the golf course, according to Maddow.

As for the low-income, African American citizens of Benton Harbor who no longer have elected local representation — their kids are charitably being exposed to golf, okay?

It’s so neat, so tidy. Your lakefront is our golf resort. Buh-bye, now.