The Fight for our Natural Resources
We need a powerful movement that forces the
take over the water and other utilities and run them in the public's
interests. We must join with all organizations that are fighting to
nationalize the utilities. Make the government responsible to provide
the natural resources that people need. And, join with others on the
globe in the same life or death struggle.
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization Holds
Utility Crisis Summit
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization Holds Utility Crisis Summit (November, 2008)
The film “The Water Front” And The Great Lakes Tour (November, 2008)
We’re NOT For Sale! (February, 2008)
Victory in Detroit water struggle -- The fight continues (October, 2007)
Illinois (July, 2007)
By now probably every person in the state of Illinois knows Ameren/ComEd raised utility rates last January. Everyone knows the utilities' initial estimate of a 30% to 50% increase was low, way low. The rate hikes actually range from 100% to 200%, some higher. People are having to struggle to pay their utility bill if they can -- and many can't.
The American people have been taught to think that the lack of access to clean and safe, affordable water was only a problem for the poorest people of other nations. Today we are getting a wake up call. All across the United States, municipal water systems are being privatized, bought up by global corporations, turning one of our last remaining and most vital public resources into a profit-making commodity. This is globalization coming home.
Angry customers unite against energy company (June, 2007)
They're coming to get your water! (June, 2007)
The human right to water and tribal land (June, 2007)
Reclaim the earth (June, 2007)
Michigan Welfare Rights is issuing a "Call to Action." Most critical to the survival of thousands is access to free and clean drinking water, a requirement for life. The Water Affordability Plan has been mired in bureaucratic madness since it was submitted for review and passage by the Detroit City Council. The Water Dept. administration has hijacked the Plan by treacherous methods. Endless memos and empty correspondences have been issued and responded to week after week while the Dept. continues its diabolical pattern of cutting water off at thousands of homes, month after month.
Gas prices skyrocketed above $3 a gallon this month in parts
country. The U.S. average is $2.62 a gallon, up 25 cents over last
month. "Experts" say prices will soar even higher, and stay high. They
say prices are rising because of "shortages" caused by "tightening
markets" or "summer driving." Let's look at their arguments. We need to
understand the true source of the problem -- and what to do about it.
victory is 'only talk' (April, 2007)
Detroit's water victory is "only talk" by the Detroit city
administration. Detroit committed to a Water Affordability Plan
last year with a budget of $5 Million. The plan was supposed to be in
place July 1, a year ago. It's still not in operation. Now, the Mayor
has taken away $2.5 Million of the $5 Million allocated for the plan.
A victory in the
struggle for affordable water (March, 2007)
Detroit, MI -- A people’s victory was won on Feb 21, 2007
when eight of
the nine Detroit City Council persons voted to forestall a water rate
increase in a city where 45,000 or more homes don’t have running water.
Citizens of Battle Creek, Mich., were outraged when the local
informed them that their already appalling heating bills were a
whopping 27 percent higher than anywhere else in the state. The
citizens believed that the City had properly given control of
negotiating gas rates to the Michigan Public Service Commission. The
advantage for this is having a larger, more powerful, body acting on
your behalf. When the energy company posted notice in the newspaper of
a hearing, several of us determined that we should attend.
The struggle over water shut-offs and lower sewage rates in
which has been going on for over four years, is now at an intense
level. Over 45,000 homes had their water shut-off and these figures are
increasing. We receive daily calls from residents complaining about
water shut-offs. The battle lines have been drawn between the residents
of the City of Detroit -- who are the rightful owners of the Detroit
Water and Sewage Department (DWSD)--and the Directors of the Water
Department: Victor Mercado, CEO (who is privatizing certain departments
of the water department), the Detroit City Council, the Mayor of
Detroit and the 88-year-old Federal District Court Judge, John
Feinkens, (referred to as the Water Czar).
to stop inhuman water shutoffs! (November, 2006)
DETROIT -- Every call we get at the Michigan Welfare Rights
Organization is from people on the verge of getting their water shut
off or from those who have already had their water shut off. Many
callers have a payment arrangement, but can't keep up because the price
of water is constantly on the increase. In early November, one woman
who lives alone said she works 16 hours a day. Her water bill is almost
$120 a month! That's a lot of money for one person. She said she has no
leakage. Another person complained that she consistently pays $100 a
month, but the amount of her arrears bill never goes down, it keeps
Warriors': A Film About the Fight for Water (August,
I think of myself as an educator who makes films. In all of
my films, I
represent strong women facing challenges and making a difference. In
"Water Warriors" there are many strong women represented: Marian Kramer
and Maureen Taylor of Welfare Rights, who have been defending the
rights of poor women for years. Gloria Pogue, an employee of the water
plant who has been working under adverse conditions to deliver clean
water to residents every day of the year. Vallory Johnson, facing
difficulties paying her bills, turns her personal pain and loss into a
powerful grassroots campaign. Each of these women are tirelessly
working to make sure everyone in Highland Park (Mich.) has access to
Speak Out at 'Water Symposium' (August, 2006)
At night people come outside with their porch lights off with
and hoses attached to houses. What kind of nightmare is it when 45,000
people are without water? I don't care what anyone says -- you know you
can't turn off water. We need to say Stop! We're not going to do this
anymore. We're going to start fresh!"
Scowling as the dollar price whirls past 40 and cursing the
pump as you
hang up the nozzle isn't going to solve the problem. We have to
understand a problem before we can solve it. The problem is that
socially necessary production, such as energy, is privately owned and
distributed only for profit.
Detroit Water Struggle (July, 2006)
In June, the attorneys for the Water Department signed off on
implementation of the Water Affordability Plan. The plan's backers are
now bringing in a consultant paid by the city to implement the plan. It
is now part of a budget of $5 million which has been set aside each
year. Organizations like Michigan Welfare Rights, Sweetwater Alliance,
Call 'em Out and others will have to constantly monitor the situation.
It is a victory for people. It shows what organization, education and
struggle will net us.
battle surges ahead (June, 2006)
Critical street battles are taking place. On March 10, 2006,
suffered a set-back in our fight to make water accessible to the poor.
The progressive members of the local Detroit City Council were
out-maneuvered in a successfully rigged vote that increased the water
Nationalize water! (May, 2006)
What we are witnessing in America is the driving down of the
of living toward the level of the poorest countries. The economic
devastation that capitalism has forced on the poor of the world is
coming home. Consider that today, over two million human beings in the
world die from a lack of water. Over one billion people have no access
to clean water. Several global corporations own most of the earth's
water. And, here at home? Recently, a huge global corporation bought up
the water rights for small towns in 17 U.S. cities. Privatization in
some cities has meant debris-filled water, broken fire hydrants, and
indefensibly high prices.
Price of gas
skyrockets; Nationalize the oil companies (May, 2006)
The Detroit City Council voted in a rate increase of 6
water rates. They did not pass the Michigan Welfare Rights Water
Affordability Program. This plan would keep this basic necessity --
water -- on for Detroit households. Children are going to school
without drinking water or baths because up to 45,000 homes are without
water, unable to pay their water bills. Recently the Michigan Welfare
Rights Organization (MWRO) called for Detroiters to begin placing their
water bill payments in escrow pending enactment of the affordability
Water for the
rich and nothing for the poor (March, 2006)
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization will continue to fight
"Water Affordability Program" for the cities of Detroit and Highland
Park. We must keep organizing and fighting for our water as a basic
human right. The capitalists are trying to take our water.
Is this the America we want? Where the big corporations and
speculators can make billions more in profit by raising prices simply
because they want more wealth? They try to justify their actions by
saying there are "energy shortages." But everyone knows there are no
shortages. And, things can only worsen, given the massive consolidation
of the energy industry that will further drive prices up. The situation
is inhuman and morally wrong. What can we do? Nationalize the energy.
If the corporations can't and won't distribute energy to the
an orderly way, the government should take the companies over and run
them in the public's interest. This is nationalization. The struggle
for nationalization points the thinking and activity of the people
toward the fight for a new society that benefits all. This is all the
more important today because the government not only "serves" the
corporations. Today, government is merging with the corporations.
Today, a government that provides services to the people is becoming a
relic of the past in the face of privatization. The individual must
fend for themselves.
By John Slaughter
A capitalist can't and won't distribute these necessities
can profit from that distribution. For the capitalist, this means
withholding energy from the consumer if that will drive the price up
and increase the profit from the sale of it. For us, it means we can't
get that energy, no matter how plentiful, unless we are willing to pay
the price the capitalist is asking.
PT Radio interview with Steven Miller
"Now that the electronic technology exists to begin to coordinate all the infrastructure systems around the world, most of which were built with public money, these are being taken over and used for speculative purposes. The primary goal is not to produce electricity. The primary goal is to produce capital so they can reward their stock owners.
"Actually, what we are watching is one of the largest
transfers of wealth in the history of the world from public hands into
By Rich Capalbo
By Steven Miller
Call it what you may
They wanna buy and sell the water
But the idea's here and spreading:
It's taken hold,