Music for the Failing Economy: John Rich – “Shutting Detroit Down”

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the news in the last several months or so, America seems to be caught in the sharp teeth of a pretty awful recession.  While we have yet to reach the devastating unemployment levels of the Great Depression, a large portion of our society is experiencing the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, and the prognosis for a speedy recovery looks fairly grim.

Meanwhile, both the previous administration and the current one seem to believe that the best way to combat this ugly downturn is to give unfathomable amounts of money to those giant corporations whose questionable business practices have been largely responsible for the current economic crisis.  In  an ugly turn of events, the front pages of every local newspaper are littered with stories of those same failing companies giving huge bonus payouts to their executive teams, in many cases the same upper level management officials who were responsible for the faulty decisions that have led their companies to the brink of collapse.  And they are financing these payouts with the money of every Joe Six Pack and Jane College Diploma who pay taxes on every hard earned dollar.

Debates are raging over the validity of these bonus payouts.  The argument can be made that the bonuses are necessary to retain executive talent that might otherwise farm itself out to other opportunities and leave these struggling companies without the leadership necessary to pull themselves out of their current downward spiral.  However, that argument is a tough pill to swallow for every Joe Six Pack and Jane College Diploma out there who are fighting to put food on the table for their families on a daily basis.

I will be the first to say that I don’t know the answers to any of the tough economic questions that our country and indeed the whole world is facing right now.  I didn’t pay enough attention to my economics class in high school to even be able to fathom the complexities of our nation and our world’s financial systems.  However, it is inevitable that a populist bent will surface in these times of crisis.  On a local level, it becomes much easier to view things in relation to how they are affecting the people that you know and love in your everyday life. 

As a music afficionado, I have been waiting for the surfacing of several populist anthems to arise from the fiery wreckage of today’s economy and the seemingly futile efforts of our government to stem the tide of recession.  Well, I finally heard a very relevant and timely song that addresses the concerns of the everyday American citizen, and it’s no surprise to me that it comes in the form of a country song. 

The song that’s getting a lot of radio play on at least one Austin country radio station is “Shutting Detroit Down” by John Rich of Big & Rich fame.  As is typical of many country songs that try to tackle big issues (Toby Keith comes to mind), the song takes a pretty simplistic view of today’s economic events, but I believe that is kind of the point.  While Wall Street executives fly on their corporate jets and accept unwarranted bonuses subsidized by taxpayer money, many everyday Americans worry about where their next meal will come from.  I can’t honestly say that I like this song or agree with every bit of its message, but I’m glad to hear that someone is at least making an effort to verbalize the worries of the majority of American citizens.

While I would like to avoid comment on the fact that John Rich is probably doing just fine despite today’s economic climate, I don’t remember seeing his name on the list of Bernie Madoff’s victims, so he’s probably doing just fine right about now.  Apologies for the quality of the video; it’s the best I could find.

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4 Responses to Music for the Failing Economy: John Rich – “Shutting Detroit Down”

  1. Jason Austinite says:

    Do not drink and blog, kids, or you may end up with a problematic and repetitive post like this one. This has been a public service announcement.

  2. If I can’t drink and blog, American Idol posts will cease to happen.

    I’ll leave it to others to decide if that would be a good or bad thing.

  3. I liked the song but had problems with it. This may sound weird, but as a right-winger, it’s easier for me to enjoy this sort of thing when it comes from a left-winger–I just ignore the (in my opinion) faulty logic and listen to it for what it is. When something like this comes from a right-winger like John Rich, I get much more critical because I don’t want people on my side sounding like they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

    The nation is in an economic funk, which I blame much more on brilliant laws passed by Congress than Wall Street, although there is plenty of blame to go around. But that has almost nothing to do with the current situation in Detroit, and, more broadly, my beloved home state of Michigan, because Detroit has been in the process of shutting down for a long, long time.

    The unions made a deal with the devil a long time ago that they would take their money up front, the long-term viability of the company be damned. That’s why GM and Chrysler are bleeding money, and Ford is just hanging on. That’s why foreign car companies put their factories in Tennessee and Texas. Who in their right mind would open a business in Michigan? If the unions don’t kill you, the taxes will.

    And that is why my home state is dying.

    Now that’s a subject for a populist anthem.

  4. Lindsey says:

    If you like this song, Del McCoury gathered up some of his friends including Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris and Bruce Hornsby and put out an entire record last year on the state of the American economy. Check out Moneyland here http://www.mccourymusic.net/index.cfm

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