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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.

Welfare rights table at Detroit Labor Day parade.
Submitted by the National Welfare Rights Union

America's poor and disenfranchised are languishing in the misery of rising poverty, a circumstance mostly ignored across the country. A nation that does not have a concrete plan for the elimination of poverty is a country that is prepared to tolerate poverty, and is doomed to failure.
The following points were discussed by the National Welfare Rights Union (NWRU), the recognized representatives that speak for the victims of poverty. At our recent retreat/conference, the following eight position points were drafted and unanimously voted upon. We respectfully submit them to the Presidential Candidates as the foundation on which to start dismantling poverty in the U.S. The National Welfare Rights Union also believes that "8 is enough."

(1) A Guaranteed Annual Income and the Nationalization of the Food Industry - All residents of the U.S. will be eligible for a guaranteed annual income to protect them from falling below the poverty level, and will have access to quality food at affordable prices.
(2) Universal Health Care with a Single-Payee - All residents will be eligible for a single-payee health care system funded by the federal government. We oppose private insurance that profits off of the medical conditions of low-income, uninsured people.
Terry Hinton.
(3) Nationalization of Child Care - All children should be eligible for free, quality child care. We also support a living wage for child care providers.
(4) Nationalization of Education, including the Headstart Program - All residents will be entitled to education from birth to death. The Headstart Program must be preserved, funding must be increased, and eligibility expanded.
(5) Nationalization of Utilities - All utilities including electricity, natural gas, heating fuels, water, alternative energy, and communications should be properties of the public domain and not subject to privatization. All forms of communication, such as telephones and Internet access, should be included.
(6) Nationalization of Housing - Everyone has a right to a home. It is the duty of the government to provide affordable housing for all residents, and provide periodic maintenance and upgrades. We recommend a permanent moratorium on the demolition of public housing.
(7) Nationalization of Public Mass Transit - All forms of mass, rapid transit should be fully accessible (including to those with physical disabilities,) and affordable to all residents in communities across the country. Routes must include access to major transportation hubs with connecting routes in small and large communities.
(8) Troop Withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan, and No New Deployments - These wars have depleted the American economy with no end in sight. Poor people have suffered disproportionately from costly deployments, physically, emotionally, and financially. THE NEXT EIGHT YEARS SHOULD FOCUS ON METHODS OF PEACE, AND FUNDS SHOULD BE REDIRECTED TOWARD THE ELMINATION OF POVERTY.

What Nationalization is:
The opposite of privatization is nationalization.  But we are not referring to the nationalization that the government is now using to bailout the financial corporations, ( i.e. where we pay for their problems and the where the rich people get the benefits.) We are calling for nationalization where the government takes control over the big corporations, runs them in our interests, and where we get the benefits.  All of the rewards from the programs are turned back into society.  The rich have no solution to the crisis. We need to take action for us.  We need programs in place that eliminate poverty in this county.

The National Welfare Rights Union is the union  for low-income persons and public assistance recipients in the United States of North America.   The NWRU was reorganized in 1987 to represent the interests of low-income people, and to continue the work to eliminate poverty. The NWRU has chapters across the U.S. and affiliations with other anti-poverty groups outside the boundaries of the nation. NWRU 23 E. Adams, 4th Floor, Detroit, Michigan 48226. Phone (313) 964-0618

An unidentified woman walks towards some of the expensive homes
being built near Jean Klock Park on the shore of Lake Michigan in
Benton Harbor.    PHOTO /DAYMON J. HARTLEY
Park Protestors Arrested in Standoff with Police

The Whirlpool Corporation-backed Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment, Inc., started destroying the natural resources of Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, removing 90-year old trees from the Lake Michigan shore and destroying some of the park's dunes to create an  asphalt parking lot.

Residents who filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. in August to stop the construction of an exclusive private golf course in Benton Harbor's only beachfront park, rushed to Jean Klock Park with other community  activists as soon as they saw the bulldozers.

Three Benton Township residents sat on downed,  historic cottonwood trees destroyed by the bulldozers and were  arrested for civil disobedience.After the arrests, the developers continued the destruction of the  park by cutting away some of the southern dunes.

 All of this destruction is part of the illegal conversion of Jean Klock Park. A federal lawsuit is pending. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a restraining order to halt the destruction. For more informatino, visit and Protect Jean Klock Park, protectjkp.comExcerpted from a press release from Defense of Place
The rape of a city

How Do You Rape a City?

The way a city is raped is to take everything out of it that is of some value. Benton Harbor was a city of businesses, of restaurants, of schools and factories. You take out all the local busineses and bring in new development, but they come in with their rules and the local people don't have any jobs, don't have a chance for anything. If the downtrodden people don't adhere to the new rules, they come in with law enforcement. Do that sound like a city we know? As for what happened in Jean Klock park,  "how can you trespass on your own park? How can you be arrested for trespassing in your own city, in a public park, on a public beach on the lakefront? The city has been taken over, given over by city officials, and now we are the trespassers. - MC, a community activist

More "Voices from the Rust Belt" articles

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PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551,
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