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Coup in Ukraine: A warning to the international working class

From World Socialist Web Site - February 25

The recent events in Ukraine are a warning to the international working class. Under conditions in which workers lack both a perspective and a party to enable them to intervene independently in political events, the situation in Ukraine has developed in an extremely reactionary direction. What had been unthinkable in Europe since the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich in 1945 has come to pass: while the US and Germany ruthlessly and recklessly destabilized the country, fascists became the decisive force on the ground.

The crisis was sparked in November of last year by President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union. This was unacceptable for Washington and Berlin. As Theo Sommer put it in Die Zeit, the issue at stake was “Where should the EU's eastern boundary, and the western boundary of the Russian sphere of influence, be situated?”

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.

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