“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So began Charles Dickens in his classic novel “A Tale Of Two Cities.” It is the worst of times today in Detroit, a once vibrant American city, as the vultures of capitalism circle while waiting to pick the carcass clean. Those vultures are trying to force residents to leave the city by denying many one of the most basic necessities of life: water.
Over the past decade, water rates have more than doubled in Detroit, while at the same time the city’s poverty rate has climbed to almost 40 percent. In June, the city council voted to raise water rates by another 8.7 percent. Detroit residents are complaining that the city is shutting off residential accounts but leaving businesses largely untouched. According to Think Progress, while most of the 165,000 accounts that are in arrears are residential accounts, those residents owe far less money than do the businesses who are delinquent on their payments.
There are no heroes in white hats coming to save the residents of Detroit in the near term, as their one potential savior in this crisis, their elected government, has been taken over by the dictatorial rule of “emergency manager” Kevyn Orr. Since they are getting no help from city or state government, both of which are actively working to bring Detroit’s citizens to their knees, a group of activists has appealed to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights for assistance. But in the meantime, the country outside of Detroit is looking at the problem with an attitude that lies somewhere between indifference and contempt.
Home on the range.
Travel 2000 miles southwest of Detroit, to Bunkerville, Nevada. There you will find the ranch of the now infamous Cliven Bundy. Bundy has been grazing his cattle on federal land — your land — for years, without paying the grazing fees that every other Nevada rancher pays. Bundy claims he doesn’t have to pay those fees, because he doesn’t recognize that the government of the United States is a legitimate government. He now owes the taxpayers of the United States over one million dollars.
When the situation at the Bundy ranch reached a crisis point earlier this year, federal agents were forced to withdraw after hundreds of armed militia members gathered on his property to protect him from “government tyranny.” Fox News host Sean Hannity called Bundy a “hero,” before deciding to distance himself following Bundy’s racist remarks. Bundy was lionized in the conservative media. He was praised by conservative politicians such as Canadian born Texas senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz.
The citizens of Detroit need protection from a tyrannical government, not Cliven Bundy. Kevyn Orr was not put in his position by the voters of the city. The government in Washington that Bundy opposes was elected by a popular majority. Michigan is a hotbed of militia activity, including the well-known Michigan Militia. Why have none of these groups come to the rescue in Detroit? If Cliven Bundy deserves the protection of militias even though he’s a deadbeat who owes a million dollars to the government that he can afford to pay, surely these groups can see that residents of Detroit also deserve protection from the government, even though they owe from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars that most cannot afford to pay. So why are there no militias protecting Detroit?
Unarmed Detroit residents protest tyrannical GOP-led city government water shut-offs.
In the meantime, Detroit residents, unarmed, are trying their best to stop the water shutoffs with non-violent protests.