Many are arguing that political crisis management involves processes of de-democratization. The most clear examples lie in the introduction of technocratic leaders in Greece and Italy, to act as fiscal managers for the servicing of (predominantly foreign) debt. Yet this is also occurring in the United States, where a “reorganization of state apparatuses” is taking place involving the “strengthening of neoliberal administrative modes” (Albo and Evans 2011: 287).
The new fiscal control apparatuses are being given greater power over departments; tend to be more insulated from parliamentary oversight; have greater freedom to bypass public sector unions and challenge collective agreements; and are mandated to explore asset sales, commercialization and other modes of administration of policies.
A concrete example? Enter Detroit.
There, the city’s fiscal management has just been turned over to an appointed board (see Feeley), in charge of managing expenditures, cuts, and much else. The city council agreed “to restrain their respective exercise of their powers, privileges and authorities” over fiscal decisions. That means, for example, not only that public sector jobs will be outsourced, but that this process will be freed from past agreements with unions and from future collective bargaining procedures. Public sector employees of Detroit will likely see the standards of their pension agreements lowered to that of state levels. And where will state funding for this new initiative go? Into the moving of properties more quickly onto the market for resale.
This new board, by the way, may be ended if two credit-rating agencies agree to restore Detroit’s rating. Apparently, it can’t be overruled by the Detroit city council by withdrawing its consent? [To read more in detail about this process, see “The Takeover of Motor City”.]