Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, addressing the opening plenary of the National Conference for a Moratorium on Foreclosures in Detroit on March 31, 2012. The event attracted delegates from across the country. (Photo: Bryan Pfeifer), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Concluding Remarks to the Opening Plenary of the National Conference for a Moratorium on Foreclosures
The Relationship of the Struggle Against Emergency Management and the Need for a Moratorium on Foreclosures and Evictions
Detroit, March 31, 2012
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
We would be remiss not to link the foreclosure crisis with the current struggle in Detroit and Michigan against Public Act 4 and all its variants. If the destruction of the housing industry was not enough for the banks and bosses to increase their profit margins, resulting in an accumulated bailout of approximately $14 trillion, the latest scheme of advanced brutal accumulation is the plot to place Detroit under a consent agreement and emergency management.
The rationale for Public Act 4, the “dictator law,” flows along the lines that public officials and trade unions, through their spending policies and economic demands, have created a fiscal crisis.
This is the line pushed daily by the corporate media, particularly within the pages of the twin Detroit News and Free Press.
Every day there are editorials demanding that the Mayor and City Council sign whatever agreement is put forward by the banks through Gov. Snyder.
In addition, the papers agitate for the busting of the unions, the lowering of wages, the elimination of healthcare benefits and theft of pension funds. Anyone opposing these policies is demonized.
Restructuring: Jobs, Tax Revenue and Austerity
There is a strong relationship between the theft and outsourcing of jobs and the economic decline of the cities. It is more profitable for corporations to re-locate to regions of the country where the rate of exploitation of labor is greater.
Consequently, tax revenues decline, city workers are laid-off and municipal services deteriorate. People begin to move out along with small businesses and neighborhood institutions.
In Detroit a failed revenue-sharing deal of over a decade ago was reneged on by the State of Michigan. This issue is being constantly taken off the table by the Governor and his minions.
People in Detroit and around the state have been fighting back. Through lawsuits, mass demonstrations and a statewide petition drive that collected over 226,000 signatures.
We have spoken out forcefully in public forums. We have shifted the character of the debate from a defensive one to going on the offensive against the banks and the unconstitutional Public Act 4.
People are becoming angrier and the battle will soon move into the streets.
The Role of the Banks as Well
We are not only in favor of the imposition of a moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and utility shut-offs, but we are demanding a moratorium on debt-service payments to the banks. The amount of money they say we owe to the banks is our money.
According to the State Review Panel appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, “As of June 2011, the long-term debt of the City exceeded $8 billion, excluding unfunded actuarial pension, other post-employment benefit liabilities, and discretely presented component units such as the library and Downtown Development Authority.”
This same panel review report goes on to say that “if one included the unfunded actuarial pension liability of $615 million (offset by an almost $1.4 billion pension asset) and other post-employment benefit liability of over $4.9 billion, the City’s total long-term liabilities were more than $12 billion.”
This is more than an outrage: the banks and their agents who created the crisis are saying that we owe them billions? We owe them nothing, they owe us!
Let us now hear from others around the country.