Archive | February 10, 2011

DTE: No Power for the Poor in Detroit

I do a whole lot of writing about human rights and inequality on this blog, but almost none about my home state of Michigan. Michigan is ground zero for inequality. Michigan can lay claim to flagrant violations of human rights due to the vast indifference of state leaders to the troubles of the state’s largest city, Detroit.

My buddy Luis just sent me the video below about the rash of power shutoffs in Detroit, here in the dead of winter. I had though that the elderly were protected from getting their utilities cut in Michigan, but it is clear that this is not the case. This video was produced by the Committee Against Power Shutoffs, a socialist group out of Detroit, fighting to help the poor against giants like DTE Power.

The Committee Against Power Shutoffs formed after three people, Marvin Allen (62) and Tyrone Allen (61), and Lynn Greer (58) were all killed in a fire at 8011 Dexter in Detroit in 2009. Power had been shut off at their home by DTE due to non-payment and the three were using space heaters to keep warm. A fire broke out and all three were killed. According to their site, more than 220,000 homes around Detroit had their power shut off in 2009, up 50% from the previous year. In March of 2010, three children died in a fire on Detroit’s west side because of using space heaters in a household which had it’s power shutoff. We can assume that that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

While there may be crotchety old white people out all over Michigan quick to say that the people are Detroit deserve everything they get, it’s pretty obvious from this short video that the people of Detroit need nothing more than jobs, of which there are none. Michigan is an economic disaster and the reasons behind Michigan’s fall are complex and a host of parties are to blame. It’s easy to blame the plight of the poor on the poor, particularly when you don’t care about getting their votes. It takes courage to do something about it.

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