Workers and youth from throughout Detroit, across the US and internationally gathered at Wayne State University (WSU) on Saturday, February 15 for the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit & the Attack on the DIA and Pensions.
The Inquiry, sponsored by the Socialist Equality Party and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), was the product of a months-long campaign to organize working class opposition to the bankruptcy. The Workers Inquiry provided a detailed exposure of the political conspiracy involving both major political parties, the courts and the mass media.
Coverage of the Workers Inquiry as well as reports and analysis of the Detroit bankruptcy can be found on our news page.
Sat., Feb. 15, 2014
10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Wayne State Univ.
New from Mehring Books: The Truth Behind the Bankruptcy of Detroit
Mehring Books is pleased to announce that The Truth Behind the Bankruptcy of Detroit is now available for online purchase. This 64-page, full color, perfect bound pamphlet exposes the political and social forces behind the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.
The pamphlet is comprised of the five reports from the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Attack on the DIA & Pensions, held on February 15, 2014. They include:
“The Social and Historical Context of the Detroit Bankruptcy,” By WSWS reporter Jerry White
“The Political Conspiracy Behind The Bankruptcy of Detroit: Anatomy of a Crime,” By Workers Inquiry Chairman Lawrence Porter
“Art and the Working Class,” By WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh
“The Detroit Bankruptcy: A Travesty of Democracy,” By WSWS reporter Tom Carter
“The Rape of Detroit: Deindustrialization, financialization and parasitism,” By WSWS US Editor Barry Grey
These reports present a detailed exposure of a social crime: the decision to use the courts and an anti-democratic emergency manager law to impose attacks on the working class previously considered impossible.
The July 18, 2013 bankruptcy filing by Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, was the culmination of a long-planned political conspiracy, crafted by powerful investment and legal firms and supported by both big business parties. The aim was to use the bankruptcy court to override legal obstacles, including the state constitution, to the looting of public employee pensions funds and other public assets, including the priceless collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The Obama administration, which intervened on behalf of Orr, sees Detroit as a test case to gut pensions of millions of retired teachers, firefighters and other public employees throughout the country.
The Workers Inquiry cut through the lies of the Democrats and Republicans, the corporate controlled media and the trade union executives, which all insist the working class must pay for a financial crisis they did not create. In calling the Inquiry, the Socialist Equality Party explained that what workers lack is not the desire to fight, but the truth: an understanding of the nature of the political and social forces they confront.
The information contained in this pamphlet will play an important role in organizing a class conscious, socialist alternative to the capitalist system.
From the Sri Lankan Independent Workers Inquiry Committee, investigating the water pollution in Weliweriya:
In April, the IWIC decided to extend its investigation to water and air pollution by the Hanwella Rubber Products plant in Thunnana, Avissawella. The Dipped Products Company also owns the factory.
The venue for the IWIC’s report-back meeting had to be changed several times after the police, at the instigation of the government and the company, intimidated local hall owners. The meeting was initially planned for June 29 at Vila Gaya Hall in Weliweriya but the police in an underhand manner ordered the hall owners to cancel the IWIC’s booking. Other local hall owners were reluctant to rent their facilities for the event.
The meeting was rescheduled for July 20 at the Gampaha Town Hall—about eight kilometres from Weliweriya—and the appropriate payments made. The hall is owned by the local council, which is currently controlled by the President Mahinda Rajapakse’s ruling party. Two days before the meeting, the council informed IWIC organisers that the facility was not available. The false reason given was that the hall would be under repair on that day. The IWIC quickly arranged another hall in Gampaha.
The company, the government and the police were hostile to the IWIC investigation from the outset. The officer in charge of Weliweriya police asked an IWIC organiser why the SEP was discussing water pollution in the area when all other parties had abandoned the issue.
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Water is a social right! A social right is one that SOCIETY must provide to us. The demand for water as a social right demands the physical mechanisms that provide us with water are updated and maintained based on funded research and monitoring! And that all people have consistent access to water because it is a social right! ... See MoreSee Less
In the face of popular outrage over mass water shutoffs in Detroit, and damaging exposures of the brutality of American society in the international media, Detroit officials on Monday morning announced a 15-day “pause” of water shutoffs that have targeted tens of thousands of city residents unable to pay their bills.
The temporary suspension of shutoffs, announced by Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Deputy Director Darryl Latimer, is a public relations move. Water department officials were quick to declare they would continue their aggressive “collection campaign”—which has led to the shutoff 3,000 household per week—after the two-week hiatus.
“This is a pause. This is not a moratorium,” DWSD spokesman Bill Johnson told the Detroit News. “We are pausing to give an opportunity to customers who have trouble paying their bills to come in and make arrangements with us. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any truly needy people.”
In other words, the “pause” is aimed at perpetrating and legitimizing the fraud that the shutoff of water does not target the “truly needy.” In fact, in order to qualify, residents will have to provide documents proving the need for assistance, officials said, and they would have to enroll in some kind of payment plan. To have service restored, residents typically must pay 30 percent of their outstanding bill (often hundreds or even thousands of dollars) and keep present bills current in order to qualify for a 36-month plan to pay off their balance—or face another shutoff.
City officials are well aware that such terms are impossible for the vast majority of residents in city. Nearly 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and constant rate increases have made Detroit water bills among the highest in the nation.
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