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VOICES FROM THE "RUST BELT"

The once heavily industrialized cities and towns in the midwest— now called the Rust Belt — are a harbinger of the future for all of America if people do not act. Here, the diverse struggles to gain power over the corporations and to fi ght as a class offer lessons for everyone. For this reason, the People’s Tribune devotes monthly pages to the crisis in the Rust Belt. Please send your story to People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.


hedge fund

By Claire McClinton        

While we the people, especially here in Michigan, are confronted with losing our jobs, our homes, as well as our Healthcare, what does our government do? Bail out Wall Street at $700 Billion, including a $25 Billion in low interest loans to save the ailing auto industry — something the government was unwilling to do for millions of taxpayers who’ve lost their homes to foreclosures.

Now, an ever more desperate and cash-strapped GM wants to merge with Chrysler. These auto barons are in Washington, D.C., as of this writing trying to get a $10 Billion dollar advance to help with the merger. (The fact that Chrysler is owned by a private equity firm is even more problematic for the public to stomach). This advance would amount to roughly $70,000 per worker at GM and Chrysler. Layoffs and plant closings announced this past year by GM and Chrysler have yet to be carried out. Yet, the proposed GM-Chrysler merger promises to eliminate from 25,000 jobs to as many as 40,000 more jobs according to analysts. Moreover, the Center for Automotive Research estimates that there are 7.5 jobs with parts makers and other companies tied to the autoworker.

These events beg the question: Whose government is this anyway? From the Wall Street meltdown to the free fall of the GM’s, Chrysler’s and Ford’s, more and more we see a government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations. As we move beyond the elections, various groupings are gathering around the country  with a sense of mission and urgency. These efforts include redoubling our efforts, be it for “Healthcare for all” —Nationalize Healthcare Now or “No Worker left Behind” in Bailouts— Nationalize the Auto Industry Now!
 


Summit mother and child
PHOTOS/ANN RALL
These pictures are from the Michigan Welfare Rights Annual Utility Crisis Summit held in Detroit, Michigan in October. The event brings together low income customers who need help paying rising energy costs and organizations in a position to make direct payments. This year the event was held over two days with approximately 1500 Michigan residents in attendance. The event was divided into two days. We thought we would be better able to share information with an anticipated smaller group — but we were wrong. So oppressed by rising utility bills are Michigan residents, that the throngs came out during the rain and cold seeking relief. The numbers rival participation rates held in years past. The Detroit Water Dept. confirms that during 2007, 45,000 households had water disconnected in this city alone, and that they were on target for continued aggressive shutoffs as a policy. The Detroit City Council has just passed a resolution against turning off heat where poor people live after a horrific fire several weeks ago that took the lives of three children and the auntie, who was 51 years old. They were found huddled in a corner, burned to death. They owed approximately $3,000 in back utility bills. The community raised $4,000 to pay the undertaker fees. — Maureen Taylor, State Chair, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

Summit students


Summit crowd



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