July 18, 2014


If you google Detroit, Obama and water you get a few news articles from June 28th when Detroit democrat John Conyers asked Obama for help with the looming crisis. Why are we (including the news) all giving Obama a pass for not addressing this? Because he's black? Because we'd like to imagine that well into Obama's second term, that this is a mess left over from Bush? Or Because we think Obama's heart is in the right place but the do-nothing Congress is obstructing the action he could take on behalf of poor Detroit residents? (I don't think he needs Congress to declare a health emergency.) If this article is accurate, the water shut-off affects way more people than I'd imagined.

"The shutoff of water to tens of thousands of Detroit residents is a social crime. Although the city is located by the Great Lakes—which contain one-fifth of the world’s fresh water—there is no water to drink, bathe, cook or flush away sewage for thousands of people.

Up to 150,000 households—behind on their bills by as little as two months, or $150—have been targeted. Every week, 3,000 homes, inhabited by single mothers, children, the elderly and sick, low-income and unemployed workers, are having their taps turned off.

In the 21st century, in what is supposedly the richest country in the world, a modern American city has been reduced to Third World conditions, with residents forced to carry buckets from neighbors’ homes or fire hydrants, or relying on emergency supplies of bottled water delivered by volunteers from Canada. With temperatures rising, there is a real danger of the outbreak of disease and a catastrophic public health crisis.

These conditions are an indictment of capitalism, a system that guarantees billions of dollars to banks and big corporations while depriving workers and young people of the most basic necessities of civilized life. The entire political establishment—from President Obama, Governor Rick Snyder and Mayor Mike Duggan, to the City Council, the trade unions and the media—are guilty of a premeditated crime, which everyone knows will lead to devastation and even death.

City officials are slandering the victims of this cruel and inhuman policy as shirkers who refuse to pay their water bills. Detroit’s water prices have gone up 119 percent over the last decade and are now twice the national average. If nearly half of the population is unable to pay their bills, it is only a measure of the social disaster in Detroit."

This article goes on to denounce even the local democrat who asked Obama for help. And several of the petitions forwarded yesterday:

"Phony opponents of the water shutoffs such as US Congressman John Conyers and groups tied to the Democratic Party like Moratorium Now, the Greens and the Detroit Water Brigade, have claimed the Obama administration can be pressured to protect workers.

This is a lie. Everything Obama has done since taking office—from bank bailouts, attacks on auto workers and slashing food stamps and unemployment benefits, to waging new wars and organizing police state spying on the population—has only accelerated the social counterrevolution against working people.

While Obama handed trillions to Wall Street, the president has refused to bail out Detroit, and attorneys for his Justice Department intervened on behalf of Orr to block lawsuits by retirees. Far from defending workers, the Obama administration is using the Detroit bankruptcy to launch a nationwide attack on public workers and their pensions.

Many of the groups around the Democratic Party say the water cutoffs are a “racist” attack carried out by white Republican politicians like Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. This is aimed at concealing the class interests behind the bankruptcy and bolstering illusions in black Democratic Party politicians like Conyers and Obama.
Earlier this month, Governor Snyder appointed an emergency manager in Lincoln Park, a downriver Detroit suburb with a majority white population that has been ravaged by the economic crisis. This only underscores the fact that the capitalist system is attacking the entire working class in the US and around the world and that this can be stopped only by uniting all workers—black, white, native born and immigrant.

The provision of water, electricity and other utilities and the guarantee of decent-paying and secure jobs, health care, housing and education are social rights over which there can be no compromise. Access to water must be freely available to everyone. All shutoffs must be immediately stopped, and those whose water has been turned off must have access to this basic necessity restored immediately."

Many of you will probably be skeptical of any website with Socialist in it's name. You should be skeptical of everything. But is a capitalist system providing water to all Americans? I hope you all agree that "Access to water must be freely available to everyone." Or you die. Is that the America that you want? It's the one you've got.