We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Judge approves Detroit bankruptcy plan

Click here to access article by Jerry White from World Socialist Web Site.

So, class, today's question for you activist students is: how do capitalist "democracies" settle debt issues when debtors can't pay. Well, we have a live demonstration of the answer in this report of how Detroit's debts were settled. The first procedure we see is this:
...“emergency” situations create the necessity for abolishing “traditional government,” in order to force through the dictates of the corporate and financial elite over mass opposition. It the place of elected city officials, the Michigan governor appoints an "emergency manager", Kevyn Orr.
Then this "emergency manager and his associates come up with a "Plan of Adjustment".
The so-called Plan of Adjustment ... will rob the pensions and health benefits of 32,000 current and retired city workers. At the same time it will pay hundreds of millions to the Wall Street banks, hedge funds and bond insurers involved in interest rate swaps and other financial schemes.... In other words, the same financial forces responsible for the impoverishment of Detroit—after decades of plant closings, corporate tax cuts and financial swindles—are being paid off at the expense of workers and retirees.

The plan includes the transfer of the Detroit Institute of Arts to the control of private foundations. It also paves the way for the privatization of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. In preparation for this move, the city has been carrying out a systematic and brutal policy of water shutoffs.
Then a judge gives legitimacy to this plan with a formal legal judgement. 

The execution of this plan will be carried out by a "financial review commission" -- I don't know who appointed them, but you can reasonably guess that they represent our masters in the ruling class. Meanwhile the judge, the Governor, and many other ruling class figures are mouthing words of sympathy for workers and pensioners, and there is much talk of "restoring democracy".
...in fact the powers of Orr will now be transferred to a new financial review commission, with the power to veto labor contracts and city expenditures for the next 20 years.

This political conspiracy against the social and democratic rights of the working class in Detroit has had the full backing of every institution of the capitalist state. This included the Obama administration, which supported the bankruptcy from the beginning, Democrats and Republicans on the state and local level, the courts, the media and the trade unions. All of these forces signed on to the “grand bargain” approved by Rhodes.
Ain't capitalist "democracy" grand?