Sunday, June 28, 2009

Capital Strike against Dayton

Daytonology usually doesn’t post much about partisan politics, but things are getting interesting so a brief excursion to the “paranoid style in American politics”.

What is a Capital Strike?

The concept of a “capital strike” comes from neo-Marxist theory. The basic concept is that capital (i.e the business community, including banks and investors) can go “on strike” if they don’t like a political regime, withholding investments and relocating work out of a country until resulting hard times forces the unpopular government to capitulate to the demands of capital or be voted out of office.

The concept has maybe too much of a whiff of conspiracy theory to it, but perhaps it’s more correct as a description of a set of individual uncoordinated decisions over time by individual actors holding the same or similar values, indicating both a loss of confidence and a refusal do business in a place for various reasons.

This seems to be the case in Dayton due to the lack of investment in the city and the steady drumbeat of critique. This has come to a head in recent weeks with the departure of NCR.

Business Loss of Confidence in Dayton: A Soft Capital Strike?

The Dayton Business-Journal has a front page story on the business community having issues with the city: Businesses Critical of City Efforts

It has some prominent quotes from Raj Soin, who has his headquarters at the old IBM building 1st and Ludlow, about his difficulties with the city.

Soin is not just a local businessman having problems with the city bureaucracy. He is also a heavy contributor to the Republican Party, particularly the former mayor Mike Turner. Perhaps there is also a political interest in removing the current leadership in the city?

Then there was the exclusion of the city manager, mayor, and entire commission, except Joey Williams (who is part of the business community, being the local CEO for JPMorgan Chase), from the politically connected Dayton Development Coalitions’ attempt to re-direct Strickland’s’ NCR bribe money to various econ dev things. Politically connected in that leaders of the DDC were heavy donors to GOP candidates.

One wonders if it’s the Dayton Development Coalition who’s meant by the unnamed “regional officials” in this excerpt from the D B-J article

"Regional officials acknowledge a pervasive view exists in the business community that it is hard to work with the city. They add there also is an underlying lack of confidence in city leadership, both elected and hired, to overcome the challenges that lay before it, no matter how much effort is given".

Then there are is the Dayton Daily News commentariat, with their steady attack on mayor Rhine McLin (see previous remarks at this blog), most probably politically motivated to drive up the negatives of McLin

It could be that McLin is a poor leader, but it is impossible to say due to the questionable motivations of her critics. But it is interesting that unnamed sources pretty much signaled that the business community doesn’t have confidence in the current leadership.

Which might be why there is no movement on investment in the city or any private sector support of urban regeneration except from the central area planning effort privately funded by Dr Irvin (who is usually a GOP political donor, but has contributed to McLin in the past).

It is noticeable that the only two large downtown private sector investments during the McLin era, Caresource and the announced renovation of the Arcade, are by outside businesses and investors without Dayton connections.

Local investment in the center city is minimal.

Contrast this to when a conservative Republican was mayor. During that era there was substantial involvement by the business community and other members of the local power structure in building the Shuster Center. Which proves that there are enough resources to make things happen downtown, it just required the will (and financial committment) to execute.


Joshua Stults said...

Atlas (or as close as you can find near Dayton) shrugs

Andor Noman said...

Ayn Rand a neo-Marxist tool. Intriguing...