The year is 1975 , the US dollar is free from any gold or silver tether and the national deficit is only a mere $533,189,000,000.00 or 33 percent of National GDP. Meanwhile in New York City its deficit stands at $750,000,000. Had the federal government helped, it would have only had to increase the national debt by only 0.14066306694249% but a clear NO was sent from the unelected President Gerald Ford. New York was forced into layoffs of city staff and further austerity measures to get its fiscal house in order.


Now the year is 2021 , a progressive slate has won seats on the Portland Maine charter commission with aspirations to eliminate the unelected city manager and add more city council seats. These events are connected under neoliberalism with the Portland political leaders rallying around the current Portland City Manager Jon Jennings. The political class also has the audacity to deflect allegations of white supremacy as unbecoming of the local bourgeoisie discourse despite the fact that practically every Portland politician claims to support Black Lives Matter and all deploy endless progressive rhetoric. In the end devotion to capital over humanity is a central feature of white supremacy.


What connects the events of New York City in the mid 1970s to today is capital discipline. President Ford wasn’t going to allow capital to leak out of New York City with endless aid from the federal government. Mayor Kate Snyder, Spencer Thibodeau and other political stars of Portland politics currently have a cozy position that deficit spending from the city that would hurt bondholders is unpermitted and under normal conditions this is an avoidable political topic. Jon Jennings is the saving grace to the political class because he is the enforcer for capital. From the school budget to city aid to the homeless and refugees, Jennings and his staff work to keep such spending in check.

US Debt

In both cases one could argue that both a new Portland government configuration and the mid 1970s New York City should be able to deficit spend and periodically get bailed out by the federal government. It is indisputable that the federal government has demonstrated that it can run up massive federal deficits with its printing press that spits out the world currency in all its fiat glory. On the other hand the federal budget has been kind to things like warships and weapons production , but very light towards school budgets and various social services city’s can provide to aid its people.

Was Gerald Ford a raging classist who told New York City no because he personally wanted public sector layoffs and suffering, probably not (Richard Nixon I’m sure loved it from the sidelines). Is Jon Jennings a raging racist who personally loves seeing homeless suffering, also unlikely. But both Ford and now Jennings are loyal to capital and bond holders. Capital demands that local governments remain accountable to debt holders at all times in the neoliberal era. This month Kate Snyder is posting endlessly about Pride events and meanwhile many LGBTQ sleep rough with the future of new homeless shelters uncertain. Politicians pander, humanity suffers while the city manager and the technocrats do the real work on behalf of endless growth for the automatic subject that is capital.