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Especially when they know they're being used as a guinea pig against their own best interests. Guinea Pigs used in research never end up living happier, healthier lives either. The scientists and financial backers slap each other on the back and tell each other, "Oh well, better luck next time," and then they go in search of a fresh guinea pig.

There's plenty of pseudo science happening today, and in some of the strangest places. In Michigan, the test subjects are cities and the experiment hypothesis is this: Can depriving the citizens of a city or school district be beneficial if we take away their pensions, jobs and strip them of their assets in order to improve the health of the test subject?

When running such a risky experiment you're going to need the best scientist for the job. You tell the press you're searching for the best scientist, but actually you've had someone in mind all along even before you officially declare you're running the experiment. Someone who you believe the guinea pigs will accept as a person who just wants to help, and pay a six figure salary even though it's a fraction of his usual billable hours so as far as the scientist is concerned he's doing charity work. Someone who is willing to take the job provided there are concessions, one of those being the scientist gets to spend as little time in the lab as possible. Don't worry, he can still do most of the research from home, while the guinea pigs pay a six figure salary and provide accommodation the scientist will rarely use.

But if the scientist isn't doing his research in the lab, who's around to inform everyone how the experiment is going? You hire a PR man to put on a lab coat and handle public questions, that's what you do. It's worth it after all, because now you have the best scientist available running his experiment from home and someone in the lab acting like everything's alright. This research is golden, right?

Not really, that's because the guinea pigs are not ignorant guinea pigs and they know something is very wrong with this experiment. So wrong the guinea pigs stage protests, and clog the freeways with their cars, and when the scientist does announce he's coming to town to collect data for the experiment, and bringing in people who will help with his research, the guinea pigs plan to make sure the data is contaminated with more planned protests, so the scientist cancels the data collection and everyone goes home to hypothesize instead.

So at this point you might be thinking, "There is no way this experiment will work, the test subjects refuse to cooperate and the scientist isn't even in the lab." That doesn't matter because the people who wanted the experiment performed gave the scientist unlimited powers to strip the guinea pigs of their civil rights, cancel contracts, put people out of work, and even sell what few things the city has that still make it a place worth visiting. Like their art collection.

There's a bigger picture here than just one city. This one city is the face of the state. There are people from far away with lots of money who want this experiment run to it's conclusion, and they demand the experiment succeed this time, despite it failing everywhere else. The people from far away want to use the results of this experiment on more guinea pigs in other cities that are having financial trouble. They need one city that shows positive reaction to the stimulus so they can develop a vaccine and inoculate other cities in other states.

But what disease is this vaccine supposed to prevent? Does the city thrive and become a healthy place for everybody again, including the guinea pigs being used as test subjects, or is it a vaccine that keeps the city barely alive enough long enough so creditors can strip the city bare of everything they want, before the city becomes a corpse.

Or perhaps the experiment is meant to only save the parts of the city that are doing well, but surgically remove the parts that aren't from the parts that are still healthy so they can continue to function as small, but healthy fragments of the city.  

The experiment was performed in other cities, but not once has there been a successful outcome. This is due to many factors, but the main one everyone agrees is the real problem is the method the scientists have to use when they perform the experiment.

The person who came up with this method isn't a scientist, he's an accountant. He came up with his brilliant plan while running for governor. Put a person in charge for a short period of time and give them unlimited power to fix the problems in the city or school district, and when they're done hand over a shiny, recovered city that can stay healthy. The people living in the city will only lose their civil rights momentarily, but the benefits outweigh the temporary loss of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

In a perfect world where there are no greedy people with self-serving agendas this plan might have worked. But bestow unlimited, godlike power to flawed human beings and something unfortunate happens, they use that power to benefit not the people they are there to help. In the imperfect world where this plan is being used the people who stand to gain the most realize if they use it on more and more cities, they can take more stuff away from the people the stuff rightfully belongs to.

So now to come back to the experiment being conducted in the test city that the whole nation is watching. The Michigan cities and school districts where the emergency manager law was used were just preliminary trials. Think of them as dress rehearsals. Detroit is the real experiment, and this time the emergency manager law can't fail. Unfortunately, there is no data of a successful experiment available but that no longer matters. The emergency manager law has morphed into a completely different creature than what it was originally intended to be when a nerdy accountant from Ann Arbor came up with the idea. It never occurred to him that he lives in an imperfect world populated by powerful, greedy people who see the chance to benefit at the expense of the masses. Once they prove they can "turn around" Detroit, they will take the emergency manager law to the rest of the country and "turn around" more financially strapped cities.

Somehow, it seems obvious Detroit will never be a successful test subject either. The guinea pigs are fed up with being guinea pigs and they're fighting back.

Originally posted to Hoi Polloi on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 06:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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