The Detroit water cutoffs

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29 March 2014

Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

— “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In a city that lies alongside the largest surface freshwater system in the world, the authorities have begun a shutoff of water services, targeting 3,000 households every week for the next several months. If these plans are fully implemented, by the beginning of the summer tens of thousands of families will no longer have access to one of the most fundamental necessities of life.

This is not only a stark expression of the irrationality of capitalism, it is a social crime, and those who are responsible are criminals.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is setting its sights on those who are delinquent on their bills. Incredibly, nearly 50 percent of all accounts (150,000 out of 324,000) fall into this category, in a city where more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line.

The consequences of this policy are easily foretold. It will mean a sharp increase in hardship, disease and death, as families are forced to live without basic sanitation or choose between running water and other necessities such as food, clothing and health care.

Lack of access to running water means an inability to shower, use the toilet, cook or take medications. It can lead to buildings or homes being condemned, forcing residents onto the street. It can mean the breakup of families, as children are shifted to relatives or removed by the state on charges of neglect. Like the cutoff of gas or electricity—a mass phenomenon in Detroit—a water shutoff is a destabilizing, debilitating and psychologically devastating experience.

That this fate is now facing tens of thousands of people in Detroit—a former center of manufacturing in America, which once boasted the highest per capita income in the country—is a damning indictment of American capitalism and the corporate and financial elite that runs the country.

Historically, access to water was seen as a benchmark of social progress. It was considered a national disgrace that, in 1950, a quarter of the population (and half of the rural population) did not have access to plumbing.

Government programs, along with a general increase in living standards, established plumbing for the vast majority of the population—though some 2 million Americans still have insufficient or no running water. At the same time, the cost of water for consumers was kept low as a matter of policy. Most water companies were set up as public utilities, subsidized by local and federal government spending.

As with all the gains of the working class in the post-World War II period, these advances were the product, directly or indirectly, of social struggle. But for more than three decades there has been a systematic effort by the ruling class to turn back the clock—a massive retrogression that, since the financial crisis of 2008, has turned into a social counterrevolution.

As it has targeted the jobs and wages of the working class, the ruling class has systematically slashed spending on social infrastructure. A recent report by the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute noted: “Historically, federal and state governments would cover some long-term costs in the form of infrastructure grants. Since the 1980s, however, these grants have given way to infrastructure loans, pushing water systems to charge their customers full-cost, or near full-cost, rates.” (“Tapped Out: Threats to the Human Right to Water in the Urban United States”)

Between 2000 and 2012, water rates in Detroit increased a shocking 119 percent. Over the same period, median household income in the city declined by about 15 percent. Today, the average monthly water bill in the city is $75 ($900 a year)—or about 3.5 percent of the median income.

The high rate of delinquency is a direct consequence of these changes. And Detroit is not alone. A USA Today report in 2012 found that water rates have surged nationwide over the past decade, more than doubling in a quarter of the 100 cities surveyed.

Rather than a necessity of life, the provision of water is increasingly seen as a money-making opportunity. Some 85 percent of US water agencies are still nominally public utilities, though many, including the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, have been aggressively financed through loans to big investors and bondholders—loans that are repaid by raising rates and eliminating services for those who cannot pay.

Moves to outright privatization are also well advanced. Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is pushing for the possible sale of the water department, or its leasing to a regional authority in preparation for a future sale. The DWSD is the third largest water utility in the country, with $1 billion in annual revenue. It is considered a potential cash cow. To make the DWSD fully profitable, however, delinquent accounts must be ruthlessly eliminated.

This is the real face of the Detroit bankruptcy. While the media and the political establishment proclaim the “revival” of Detroit, what is taking place is the wholesale theft of public resources and the pensions and benefits of city workers and their families.

After undermining the finances of the city through the shutdown of auto production, predatory bank loans, tax abatements and other corporate handouts, and massive cuts in state and federal financial aid, the ruling class is moving to reduce large parts of the city to the type of conditions that prevail in the slums of Haiti and other impoverished countries. Other working class areas will simply be evacuated and made available to real estate speculators.

Detroit is seen as a model for the entire country, and, indeed, the world—in the shutoff and privatization of water services and the overall restructuring of which it is a part. It is for this reason that the bankruptcy of Detroit has been fully supported by the Obama administration and the political establishment as a whole, Democratic and Republican.

The source of the catastrophe lies not in the productive capacity of mankind, nor in the resources provided by nature, but in the social system of capitalism—a system based on private profit and the subordination of every social right to the rapacious dictates of the corporate and financial aristocracy.

The Socialist Equality Party calls on workers throughout the city to mobilize in opposition to the criminal policy of water shutoffs. Committees must be organized in every neighborhood to protect homes from the actions of city officials. We make an appeal to water and sewerage workers, who face a brutal attack on their own jobs and wages, to refuse to carry out the orders of their bosses.

This popular mobilization must be connected to a political struggle by the entire working class. The resources necessary to guarantee free and full access must be obtained by confiscating the fortunes of the corporate-financial elite. The water system in Detroit and throughout the country must be placed under genuine public ownership and the democratic control of the working population, as part of the socialist reorganization of economic life.

Joseph Kishore

Capitalism and Democracy: Year-End Lessons

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 09:12By Richard D WolffTruthout | News

(Image: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/42269094@N05/6163857290/in/photolist-aoFo2y " target="_blank"> Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t</a>)

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

2013 drove home a basic lesson: US capitalism’s economic leaders and their politicians now regularly ignore majority opinions and preferences. For example, polls showed overwhelming popular support for higher taxes on the rich with lower taxes on the rest of us and for reversing the nation’s deepening economic inequalities. Yet Republicans and Democrats, including President Obama, raised payroll taxes sharply on January 1, 2013. Those taxes are regressive; they take a smaller percentage of your income the higher your income is above $113,700 per year. Raising the payroll tax increased economic inequality across 2013.

For another example, many American cities and towns want to use eminent domain laws to help residents keep their homes and avoid foreclosure. Eminent domain is a hallmark democratic right as well as US law. It enables municipal governments to buy individual properties (at market prices) when doing so benefits the community as a whole. Using eminent domain, local leaders want to compel lenders (e.g., banks, etc.) to sell them homes whose market prices have fallen below the mortgage debts of their occupants. They would then resell those homes at their market prices to their occupants. With their mortgages thus reduced to their homes’ actual prices, occupants could stay in them. They still suffer their homes’ fallen values but avoid homelessness. Communities benefit because decreased homelessness reduces the fall of other property values, reduces the number of abandoned homes (and thus risks of fire, crime, etc.), reduces the number of customers lost to local stores, sustains property tax flows to local governments and so on.

Used this way, eminent domain forces lenders – chiefly banks – to share more of the pains produced by capitalism’s crisis. Most Americans support that, believing it will help reverse income and wealth inequalities and also that banks bear major responsibility for the economic crisis.

Yet the country’s biggest banks are using “their” money and laws (that they often wrote) to block municipalities’ use of eminent domain. “Their” money includes the massive bailouts Washington provided to them since 2007. Big bank directors and major shareholders – a tiny minority – fund the politicians, parties and think-tanks that oppose municipalities’ use of eminent domain. In these ways, capitalism systematically undermines democratic decision-making about economic affairs.

For yet another example, the recent bankruptcy court decision about Detroit allows the city to cut retired city workers’ pensions. Those workers bargained and signed contracts with Detroit’s leaders over many years. They accepted less in wages and benefits in exchange for their pensions as parts of their agreed compensation for work performed. Now that an economic crisis and the unemployment it generated have cut Detroit’s tax revenues, this system’s “solution” includes cutting retired workers’ pensions. Other cities are expected to adopt this solution. Inequality worsens as the costs of this economic crisis shift from lenders to cities (usually rich) to retired city-worker pensioners (never rich).

In these and other ways, 2013 taught millions of Americans that capitalism repeatedly contradicts the democratic idea that majority decisions should govern society as a whole. The system’s tendency toward deepening inequalities of income and wealth operated across 2013 in direct contradiction to the will of substantial American majorities.

The same happened in the decades before the 1930s Great Depression. However, in that Depression, a mass movement from below (organized by the Congress of Industrial Organizations – CIO – and socialist and communist parties) successfully reversed capitalism’s tendencies toward inequality. Supported by majorities of Americans, it was strong enough to obtain Social Security, unemployment compensation and millions of federal jobs for the people whom private capitalists could not or would not employ. Those programs helped average people rather than bailing out banks and other large corporations. That movement also got the government to pay for those programs by taxing corporations and the rich at far higher rates than exist now. Capitalism’s deepening inequality was partly reversed by and because of a massive democratic movement.

However, that movement stopped short of ending capitalism. Thus it only temporarily reversed capitalism’s tendencies toward inequality. After World War II, business, the rich and conservatives mobilized a return to “capitalism as usual.” They organized a massive government repression of the coalition (CIO, socialists and communists) that led the 1930s movement from below. By such means as the Taft-Hartley Act and McCarthyism, capitalism resumed its development of ever-greater economic inequalities, especially after 1970. In the Great Recession since 2007, the absence of a sustained movement from below has allowed inequality to worsen as our examples above illustrate.

The lessons of recent history include this: To secure democratic decision-making and the kind of society most Americans want requires moving beyond capitalism. Capitalism’s difficulties (including its crises and inequalities) and its control of government responses to those difficulties keep teaching that lesson. The widening gap between democratic needs and impulses and the imperatives of capitalism is becoming clear to millions in the United States but also in other countries.

For example, the Rajoy government in Spain recently imposed new levels of repression on the strengthening protests against its austerity policies. Spain’s unemployment rate today exceeds the US rate in the worst year of the Depression. Rajoy wants fines of up to $40,000 for offenses such as burning the national flag, insulting the state or causing serious disturbances outside Parliament. Indeed some fines go up to $800,000 for “demonstrations that interfere in electoral processes.”

Contradictions between democratic rights and demands and the processes of capitalism are accelerating into clashes in legislatures and the streets. Informed by history’s lessons about capitalism and democracy, today’s movements more likely will recognize the need to confront and supersede capitalism to secure real democracies. Policies that achieve only temporary reversals of capitalist inequalities no longer suffice. The system’s imperatives to profit, compete and grow are now so costly to so many that its critics and opponents are multiplying fast. Once they confront and solve the problem of politically organizing themselves, social change will happen fast, too.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne). His work is available at rdwolff.com and at democracyatwork.info.

Budget deal intensifies attack on US workers

By Patrick Martin
16 December 2013

The bipartisan budget deal passed by the US House of Representatives Thursday, and expected to be passed by the Senate next week, constitutes a pact between the Obama administration and Congress to attack the American working class.

The keystone of the agreement was the decision by the Obama administration and congressional Democrats to drop a proposed renewal of extended unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. As a direct consequence, 1.3 million workers will receive their last unemployment compensation check the week of December 28.

In the course of 2014, another 3.6 million workers will exhaust their state unemployment benefits. In the absence of the federal extended benefits program, they will have nothing to fall back on. They and their families—nearly 5 million workers and a total of 15 million people, some five percent of the US population—will be plunged into poverty, with the threat of bankruptcy and homelessness.

The total cost of extended unemployment benefits would be $25 billion in 2014, just over two percent of the discretionary spending authorized in the budget deal and less than one percent of overall federal spending. It is less money than the Pentagon spends in two weeks.

An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) notes that federal emergency unemployment benefits have never been cut off in any previous recession since the end of World War II when the long-term unemployment rate was more than 1.3 percent. The official long-term unemployment rate today is 2.6 percent, double that level.

Long-term unemployment

The CBPP report gives a breakdown of the state-by-state total of unemployed workers who will lose all benefits in the course of 2014 as a result of the congressional refusal to extend the program. These include:

• California – 836,100
• New York – 383,000
• Texas – 285,200
• Pennsylvania – 262,500
• Florida – 260,400
• New Jersey – 260,100
• Illinois – 230,500
• Michigan – 189,700
• Georgia – 164,700
• Massachusetts – 141,000
• Ohio – 128,600

With consummate cynicism, President Obama emerged Friday from a meeting with 16 newly elected US mayors declaring that he was committed to enacting an extension of emergency federal unemployment benefits as soon as Congress reconvenes in January.

“You’ve got potentially 1.3 million people who, during Christmas time, are going to lose their unemployment benefits, at a time when it’s still very difficult for a lot of folks to find a job,” Obama said. “And that’s not just bad for those individuals and for those families. That’s bad for our economy and that’s bad for our cities.

Obama was silent on the fact that his own administration and his party’s representatives in Congress had just signed off on a budget deal that excluded the long-term unemployed and condemned them to a Christmas cutoff of benefits.

Neither the administration’s media acolytes or the 16 mayors, nearly all Democrats, took note of the glaring contradiction between Obama’s rhetorical sympathy for the unemployed and the actual policy pursued by the White House.

Speaking for the group of mayors, Bill de Blasio, the Democratic mayor-elect of New York and the darling of liberal publications such as the Nation magazine, hailed Obama for embracing measures to reduce income inequality and improve the conditions of life for the poor. “There was real passion in the president’s voice,” de Blasio told the press outside the White House. “We all now know clearly that he will be a partner in all we do.”

The reactionary significance of the “partnership” between Obama and big-city mayors was suggested by the presence at the White House of Detroit Mayor-Elect Michael Duggan, a Democrat who is working closely with emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr, the architect of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing. Using the bankruptcy process—with the full support of the Obama administration—Orr has demanded drastic cuts in city workers’ pensions and the sell-off of public assets such as the city’s water and sewerage plants and masterpieces from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The bipartisan budget bill faces a Senate vote to cut off debate December 17, with all 55 Democrats expected to support it and at least half a dozen Republicans, if not more. Once debate is cut off, some of those Republicans will cast a vote against final passage, but majority approval is all but certain.

A critical factor in ensuring the top-heavy vote in the House of Representatives, including large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats, was intense pressure from business lobbies, which see the deal as clearing the way in the coming year to a frontal assault on basic social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as well as a cut in corporate taxes.

Virtually all of the business lobbies lined up behind House Speaker John Boehner as he denounced the right-wing Tea Party faction for opposing the deal. “Business lobbyists are pumping their fists” over Boehner’s criticism of Tea Party groups, according to a report in the Hill, which quoted several prominent spokesmen for business groups.

The budget deal effectively cements the cuts imposed under the “sequester” process established in 2011. According to a tabulation released by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, co-author of the deal, the agreement preserves 70 percent of the sequester cuts for 2014 and 92 percent of the sequester cuts for the ten-year period 2014-2023.

It also sets the stage for a Detroit-style attack on the pensions of federal government workers by sharply increasing the proportion of their salaries that new federal employees will pay into the pension fund, without any increase in benefits. Newly hired workers will be compelled to pay five times as much of their salaries as workers hired in 2012 or earlier.

What the Media Isn’t Telling You About Detroit’s Bankruptcy

Wednesday, 04 December 2013 16:01 By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

 

Rick Snyder.Gov. Rick Snyder. (Photo: Detroit Regional Chamber / Flickr)By now you’ve probably heard the news: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is now free to rob Detroit workers of their hard-earned pensions.

On Tuesday morning, Judge Steven Rhodes ruled that because federal law trumps state law, Michigan’s constitutional protections for public employee pensions don’t apply in federal court.

It’s pretty much official now: Detroit is going bankrupt.

The death of a great American city is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – news story of the week. But the mainstream media has yet to tell the real story behind the Motor City’s decline.

Bankruptcy law is a complicated topic, so it’d be one thing if the major networks avoided all the nitty-gritty details of the past few months’ legal battles. But they haven’t. In fact, that’s all the mainstream media has focused on. They’ve made it seem like Detroit’s troubles magically began back in July when the city’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr first filed bankruptcy papers.

And while those legal battles are interesting in their own right, they’re really only part of a much bigger story: the destruction of Detroit by America’s bankster-billionaire class.

The media isn’t telling that story. And it needs to be heard.

At one point in time, Detroit was ground-zero for the American dream. The Motor City really was the Motor City. It was the fifth biggest metropolitan area in the country and its economy was booming as a result of the success of the big three automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

The car industry’s unionized workforce took home good middle-class salaries, in turn bolstering the city’s tax revenues.

But over the past 30-plus years Detroit has been hit hard by the three-headed monster of the new American fire economy: free trade, union-busting, and bankster-run Ponzi schemes.

From the Washington administration to the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, our trade system was based around a system of protectionist tariffs that encouraged doing business in American and discouraged doing business abroad.

But towards the end of the 20th century, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers began to embrace a new form of free-market extremism: free trade. Free trade opened up the economy to foreign competition and outsourced jobs once done by American workers to workers overseas.

Detroit was hit especially hard as foreign car companies like Toyota took advantage of lax trade policies to sell their products to American consumers. This decimated Detroit’s industrial core. The Motor City’s manufacturing workforce stood at 200,000 in 1950. Today, it’s 20,000.

But any possibility that those foreign companies would help provide new jobs to Detroit’s now unemployed autoworkers was stopped dead in its tracks by right-to-work-for-less states in the South using their anti-worker laws to attract foreign manufacturers like Volkswagen and Toyota.

And with its jobs gone and poverty rampant, Detroit, like so many other deindustrializing cities across America, then became the target for banksters looking to make a quick buck with rip-off mortgage schemes. As a result, the financial crisis hit the Motor City especially hard.

But to make matters worse, after evicting thousands of Detroiters from their homes, the big banks didn’t bother going through with the normal foreclosure process. Instead, they left the houses abandoned in an attempt to avoid paying taxes on them. Their scheme worked: Detroit’s army of abandoned houses costs the city millions every year in unpaid taxes.

The Motor City, once ground zero for the American dream, is now ground zero for the worst policies of the post-Reagan economy. Its industrial heart has been shredded in the name of free trade. Its workforce has been decimated by glorified union-busting schemes. And in the final insult to injury, its impoverished population has been ripped off by predator banksters.

Of course, you can’t expect the media to focus on that, right?

With so much money to be made, it’s far easier to focus on the short term and blame greedy retirees, who, by the way, have been doing their part to fund pension plans while the state government has avoided living up to its end of the bargain.

But if we really want to save the rest of the country from devastation, we need to take a good hard look at the lesson of Detroit.

Because if we continue on the path we’ve been on for the past 30 years, Detroit’s decline won’t be just a sad story, it will be America’s story.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

The Detroit bankruptcy trial

14 November 2013

For more than two weeks, public attention in Detroit was focused on the courtroom of US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, where the testimony of dozens of witnesses, including Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, concluded late last week. Rhodes is expected to rule shortly on whether Detroit can continue with the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.

Behind the regalia of the federal court and its façade of impartial justice, what has been discussed is plain and simple: theft on a monumental scale.

If, as expected, the judge rules that the bankruptcy can continue, the floodgates will be opened for a historic attack on the working class. The corporate-financial elite looks with envy on such things as the pensions of city workers and the masterpieces of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). It views them as assets to be seized and “monetized” for its own further enrichment.

For the ruling class, more is at stake than just Detroit. The value of pension obligations to government employees nationwide amounts to trillions of dollars. What happens in Detroit will set a precedent for similar exercises in grand larceny in cities and states throughout the country.

The Obama administration is completely implicated in the rape of Detroit. Justice Department attorneys last month filed a brief to quash a legal challenge from retirees, who argue that the bankruptcy is unconstitutional because it is being used to gut public employee pensions, which are explicitly protected by Michigan’s state constitution.

The parties before the bench—bankers, politicians and union bureaucrats—were represented by a bevy of highly paid attorneys. The one party that was completely excluded was the people of Detroit.

They are overwhelmingly opposed (by a margin of 75 percent according to opinion polls) to the attacks on pensions, health benefits and public treasures such as the DIA. That is why a bankers’ dictatorship has been imposed, in the form of an unelected emergency manager with virtually unlimited powers, and the methods of conspiracy, disinformation and cover-up have been employed.

During the bankruptcy trial, indisputable evidence emerged of a plot, starting after the inauguration of Governor Snyder in early 2011, to install an emergency manager in Detroit and throw the city into bankruptcy. To achieve this, the Republican governor, a former venture capitalist, worked with Democratic state and local officials, including his appointed state treasurer, Andy Dillon, and Detroit Mayor David Bing.

In the background was a shadow government of financial consultants, investment bankers and bankruptcy attorneys.

Snyder and Dillon employed the corporate law firm Jones Day, which has much experience in using the bankruptcy courts to destroy the jobs and pensions of workers in steel, auto parts and other private industries. Jones Day was intimately involved in the Obama administration’s 2009 forced bankruptcy and restructuring of Chrysler, which included an across-the-board 50 percent pay cut for newly hired workers.

In March 2011, the Emory Bankruptcy Journal published an article by two Jones Day attorneys entitled, “Pensions and Chapter 9: Can Municipalities Use Bankruptcy to Solve their Pension Woes?”

At the bankruptcy trial, Kenneth Buckfire, a financial consultant hired by the Snyder administration, testified that as early as March 2012, Jones Day and state attorneys were recommending that the city file for bankruptcy. They argued for an immediate filing, before Michigan voters could repeal the state’s emergency manager law in an upcoming referendum.

After voters did just that in November 2012, Snyder told the Huffington Post it was a “national problem” that “cost structures in the public sector got beyond even the private sector in terms of being expensive.” Within weeks, working with Jones Day attorneys, Snyder and Dillon produced a new version of the law, this time with an appropriations bill attached to it to make it referendum-proof. The new bill was rushed through the Republican legislature and signed into law in December 2012.

State officials, including Snyder’s shadowy “talent selector” Richard Baird, began vetting Kevyn Orr, a Washington, DC law partner at Jones Day, for the job of Detroit emergency manager in early 2013. Orr, a Democrat, had been one of his firm’s lead attorneys in the Chrysler bankruptcy.

In his testimony earlier this month in the bankruptcy trial, Orr sought to dodge questions pointing to the fact that he and Snyder had decided to throw the city into bankruptcy long before the actual legal filing last July. He maintained the fiction it was always a “last resort” and was never motivated by a determination to circumvent state pension protections.

An email from Michigan Treasurer Dillon to Orr dated July 10, 2013 explodes this lie. After reviewing Orr’s first draft of the bankruptcy filing, Dillon writes that he doesn’t think “we are making the case why we are giving up so soon to reach an out of court settlement. Looks premeditated.” He advises Orr to “say facts got worse as we dug into the numbers… We don’t even say they rejected the city’s proposal. I think we may want a take it or leave it demand before we pull this trigger. I agree with the recommendation but I don’t think we made the case.”

In other words, a more convincing pseudo-legal fig leaf had to be created to conceal the conspiracy to throw Detroit into bankruptcy.

The unions represented at the trial, including the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), in no way challenged the attacks being prepared against Detroit workers.

On the contrary, they repeatedly argued that Orr should have sold off city assets, including the artwork at the DIA, before filing for bankruptcy, and should have taken up the unions’ “good faith” offer to impose hundreds of millions of dollars in wage and benefit concessions on their members. “The Detroit financial crisis was well known for years,” declared the attorney for the UAW, adding, “The unions have a history of coalitions for concessions.”

The performance of the union lawyers underscored the fact that the executives who run AFSCME and the UAW are looking for their own cut in the carve-up of Detroit. The unions are part of the reactionary front against the working class that includes the Democrats and Republicans, Judge Rhodes and the banks.

The entire framework of the bankruptcy is based on a lie. The claim that there is “no money” for pensions and essential services is belied by the fact that the Detroit automakers are making record profits, largely as a result of sweeping wage and benefit cuts imposed by the White House. Wall Street, which precipitated the financial crisis and slump, is reporting its highest profits ever, and bankers are awarding themselves with eight-figure compensation packages.

The World Socialist Web Site has comprehensively covered and analyzed the bankruptcy of Detroit. It alone provided detailed and honest reports on the bankruptcy trial and the testimony of figures such as Snyder and Orr. The WSWS has been relentless in countering the distortions and lies of the corporate-controlled media.

For the truth of this conspiracy to emerge, and the social and economic interests behind the bankruptcy to be revealed, the working class must organize its own investigation. That is why the Socialist Equality Party and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality are organizing the February 15, 2014 Workers Inquiry into the Attack on the DIA and the Bankruptcy of Detroit.

We urge all workers, youth and professionals to contribute to this investigation and build support for the inquiry. Only by revealing the truth can the conditions be created for the emergence of a powerful movement of the working class in Detroit, throughout the US and the around world against the bankrupt capitalist system. For more information on the Detroit Workers Inquiry, visit detroitinquiry.org .

Jerry White