In a movie to be released this September, “99 Homes,” real estate shark Rick Carver relays this message to an evicted suburban homeowner: “America doesn’t bail out the losers. America was built by bailing out the winners, by rigging a nation of the winners, for the winners, by the winners. Only one in a hundred are gonna get on that ark, son. Every other poor soul is going to drown.”
Since the foreclosure crisis began, 5.5 million homes have been lost nationwide. And the crisis isn’t over. Florida, for example, has 300,000 pending foreclosures and 500,000 delinquent loans. In Florida alone, thousands of homeless individuals, couples and families with children, live in cheap motels, cars, campers, and tents as well as doubled and tripled up in homes.
But it is Michigan that clearly illustrates that this crisis cannot be resolved without a radical break with a social system that guarantees necessities like homes only to those who can pay.
Once the industrial capital of the world, today new labor-replacing technology in the form of robots and computers is destroying the industrial economy and the society built around it. Hundreds of thousands have lost their so-called ‘middle-class’ jobs that in the past supported a stable tax base.
In Detroit alone, 62,000 homes face foreclosure, due to delinquent property taxes and exorbitant water bills placed as liens against homeowners. One hundred thousand more Detroiters could become homeless, left gazing back at row after row of boarded up homes. Thousands more face water shut-offs as rates are raised to unaffordable levels. Meanwhile, speculators gobble up properties for pennies on the dollar, jacking up rents and gambling that new developments will increase their value. Detroit is being redesigned for the affluent of all colors.
Michigan’s Emergency Manager System, put in place by corporate backers, guarantees billions of dollars to corporations and turns over public assets to private interests. Neighborhood after neighborhood has been destroyed. Schools are closed and then turned over to private corporations, which open ‘charter’ schools for profit. Some public parks are now privately owned and guarded by private security ‘cops.’ “If you can’t pay, you can’t play” is the new motto.
Meanwhile, formerly productive workers and their families fight for their human rights to housing and water. They join a growing class of workers worldwide who cannot compete with robots and computers. Michigan proves that the tiny class of billionaires who own the economy, the nation and the world, will not support those workers they no longer need.
An economy based on competition and the private property of billionaires created this situation. Today we must fight forward to a vision of a new society built on cooperation. Production by robotics necessitates that we join together in the interests of our class, the working class. The capitalist class is operating in its interests. The new class of workers formed from the ashes of the industrial society can take us into the future where we “rig” the nation to benefit all. The first step is to demand that the government give everyone a home.