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A bankers’ plan for Detroit

From World Socialist Web Site - February 24

The proposal submitted late last week by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to the federal court overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy is a blueprint for a devastating attack on the working class of the city. The “plan of adjustment” would be better termed the “plan of destruction,” targeting pensions, health care and core public assets, including the world-renowned Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

Orr’s plan confirms the central premise of the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit held by the Socialist Equality Party on February 15: A crime is being perpetrated, one that is the product of a political conspiracy involving both big business parties and all the institutions of the state.

A New York Times article over the weekend compared, approvingly, what is taking place in Detroit to the restructuring of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Indeed, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was used as an opportunity to depopulate sections of the city and go after basic social rights, including the handing over of public education to for-profit charter schools.

The social chasm in America’s cities

From World Socialist Web Site - February 22

On Thursday, the Brookings Institution published a report documenting the sharp growth of social inequality in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States.

The report’s findings are of vast significance in three respects. First, the report documents the immense scale of social inequality and the rapidity with which it is growing, even in cities that are supposedly economic success stories.

Secondly, it shows the crushing growth of poverty and economic distress in these cities.

Thirdly, it implies that these conditions are not the result of a passing economic slowdown, but are rather embedded in the economic system and have become permanent facts of life.

The US minimum wage “debate”

From World Socialist Web Site - February 21

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report estimating the effects of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, as proposed by the Obama administration. The report intensified the debate within the political and media establishment over a possible increase in the minimum wage.

The report concluded that the minimum wage hike would increase pay for 16.5 million Americans, but eliminate 500,000 jobs. According to the CBO report, the increase would lift 900,000 people, or 0.2 percent of the population, out of poverty. This is a tiny fraction of the 46.5 million people—or 15 percent of the population—now living below the federal poverty line.

The Democratic proposal would leave the minimum wage at a lower level, in real terms, than it was in 1968, nearly 50 years ago. At $10.10 an hour, a worker laboring 34 hours a week—the average in America—would earn an annual pre-tax income of $17,856. This is significantly lower than the government’s absurdly low poverty threshold for a family of three.

Berlin and Washington foment civil war in Ukraine

From World Socialist Web Site - February 20

Recent events in Ukraine are a warning to the working class. They make clear that political leaders in Washington, Berlin and Brussels are prepared to split the country, drive it into civil war and risk a conflagration across the entire region to achieve their geopolitical goals.

Following the failure of the Ukrainian opposition and its Western supporters to overthrow President Viktor Yanukovych by means of demonstrations and replace his regime with an EU-friendly government, armed fascist gangs are being mobilized to achieve the same aim.

On Tuesday, Kiev witnessed the bloodiest clashes since the protests began three months ago. Twenty-six people, including several policemen, were killed, and some 1,000 were injured when gangs armed with paving stones, guns and firebombs engaged in violent street battles with government security forces.

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