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Standing Up to Disaster Capitalism in Detroit

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Cross-posted from The Nation

DETROIT-- As Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed "emergency manager" steering Detroit into bankruptcy last fall, the public-policy think tank Demos released a groundbreaking report on the city's financial circumstance -- and how to address it.

Demos recognized that deindustrialization, high unemployment and an exodus of residents had left the Detroit "uniquely vulnerable," "the current bankruptcy filing is the result of a severe decline in revenue, caused by the 2008 financial crisis, and cuts in annual state revenue sharing starting in 2011. Risky Wall Street deals further jeopardized the city's public finances by threatening immediate payments that the city could not afford."

Now, as the Detroit Water and Sewage Department is drawing international criticism for shutting off water service for low-income families, activists are asking why the people are being forced to pay while the Wall Street banks live large. On Friday, members of the National Nurses United union and local, state and national groups will march and rally in downtown Detroit to say the priorities are out of whack.

Their message is direct: "Let's Tax Wall Street, Get Our Money Back, and Turn on the Water!"

As a writer who has covered the debate about Detroit for several years now, I welcome and embrace this recognition that what's happening in this city has a lot to do with the warped priorities of our current age of austerity.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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