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Wall Street Is Behind The Jackson, Mississippi, Water Crisis

Jackson, Mississippi - In August, clean water stopped flowing from residents’ taps in Jackson, Mississippi. The crisis lasted more than six weeks, leaving 150,000 people without a consistent source of safe water. The catastrophe can be traced back to a decision by a credit ratings agency four years ago that massively inflated the city’s borrowing costs for infrastructure improvements, most notably for its water and sewer system. In 2018, ratings analysts at Moody’s Investor Service — a credit rating agency with a legacy of misconduct — downgraded Jackson’s bond rating to a junk status, citing in part the “low wealth and income indicators of residents.” The decision happened even though Jackson has never defaulted on its debt.

Pakistan’s Floods Show The Climate Crisis Is Also A Debt Crisis

The flood in Pakistan is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Entire towns, vital infrastructure, homes, farmlands, and crops are being washed away.  With a third of the land under water, 33 million people affected, and the death toll over a thousand and rising, the human and economic cost is set to be astronomical. It is estimated that the extensive damage to the country will cost at least $10 billion. The country faces both the immediate challenges of immense displacement, homelessness, hunger, and the spread of water-borne diseases as well as the longer-term costs of rebuilding and reconstruction. Pakistan faces a deepening debt crisis to pay the costs of a climate catastrophe it did not cause.

Biden’s Student Loan Scam

The Biden administration announcement of so-called student loan debt relief does little to alleviate the problem it claims to solve. Forgiving $20,000 for Pell grant holders and $10,000 for all who earn less than $125,000 is questionable for a variety of reasons. It is a midterm election bait and switch that pleases gullible democrats, helps only a minority of borrowers, and is nothing like what candidate Biden proposed during the 2020 campaign. Americans owe $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. This crisis did not occur by happenstance. Universities did not escape the neoliberal onslaught and are fund raising machines charging astronomical amounts of money for tuition and room and board.

Cancel All The Student Debt Now

President Biden announced today that his administration was taking two actions with regards to the student debt crisis affecting tens of millions of people in the United States. The administration pushed back the deadline for the resumption of student loan payments until the end of the year, and up to $10,000 of student debt will be forgiven for those making less than $125,000 a year (or $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients). The cancellation of student debt – which now totals over $1.7 trillion – has been a longstanding demand of the mass movements of the past decade. The popularity of this demand and the persistence with which it has been raised has made it impossible for the politicians to completely ignore. Clearly, Biden made the calculation that he could not go to the 48 million people who have student loan debt totally empty-handed.

A Measure To Crack Down On Predatory Medical Debt Collection

Liz Gorski was a 15-year-old in Prescott, Arizona, when she was in a car accident that changed her life, and trapped her in a cycle of medical debt. After being in a coma for five days, Gorski woke up in the hospital to a new reality. She needed surgeries, physical therapy, and extensive medical care, a bill that ended up being over a million dollars, Gorski recalled. Insurance covered some of these initial expenses, and a lawsuit several years later covered more of the bill. But she still had medical debt sent to collections. Gorski’s health problems have required lifelong treatment, as she continues to deal with the aftermath of the crash, and the medical bills keep piling up. “Every single time I go, I have a copay and then I have some part of the bill billed to me, and every month I’m paying on all of these bills just to make sure that they don’t go to collections, but sometimes they do because it’s just too many at one time,” she told More Perfect Union.Liz Gorski was a 15-year-old in Prescott, Arizona, when she was in a car accident that changed her life, and trapped her in a cycle of medical debt. After being in a coma for five days, Gorski woke up in the hospital to a new reality. She needed surgeries, physical therapy, and extensive medical care, a bill that ended up being over a million dollars, Gorski recalled. Insurance covered some of these initial expenses, and a lawsuit several years later covered more of the bill. But she still had medical debt sent to collections. Gorski’s health problems have required lifelong treatment, as she continues to deal with the aftermath of the crash, and the medical bills keep piling up. “Every single time I go, I have a copay and then I have some part of the bill billed to me, and every month I’m paying on all of these bills just to make sure that they don’t go to collections, but sometimes they do because it’s just too many at one time,” she told More Perfect Union.

Real Debt Trap: Sri Lanka Owes Vast Majority To West, Not China

This July, Sri Lanka’s government was forced to resign, after hundreds of thousands of protesters stormed public buildings, setting some on fire, while also occupying the homes of the country’s leaders. The protests were driven by skyrocketing rates of inflation, as well as rampant corruption and widespread shortages of fuel, food, and medicine – a product of the country’s inability to pay for imports. In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its debt. In June, it tried to negotiate another structural adjustment program with the US-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF). This would have been Sri Lanka’s 17th IMF bailout, but the talks ended without a deal. By July, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe publicly admitted that his government was “bankrupt.”

The End Of Western Civilization

The greatest challenge facing societies has always been how to conduct trade and credit without letting merchants and creditors make money by exploiting their customers and debtors. All antiquity recognized that the drive to acquire money is addictive and indeed tends to be exploitative and hence socially injurious. The moral values of most societies opposed selfishness, above all in the form of avarice and wealth addiction, which the Greeks called philarguria– love of money, silver-mania. Individuals and families indulging in conspicuous consumption tended to be ostracized, because it was recognized that wealth often was obtained at the expense of others, especially the weak. The Greek concept of hubris involved egotistic behavior causing injury to others. Avarice and greed were to be punished by the justice goddess Nemesis, who had many Near Eastern antecedents, such as Nanshe of Lagash in Sumer, protecting the weak against the powerful, the debtor against the creditor.

Climate Activists Block IMF Paris Office Doors

Paris, France - Climate activists on Monday blocked entry to the International Monetary Fund's Paris office with some gluing their hands to its doors, demanding developing countries' debt be scrapped to help tackle climate change. The Paris protest is part of a "Debt for climate" global campaign calling on wealthy-nation leaders attending the G7 summit in Germany to cancel the debts of poorer and less industrialized countries, known as the global south. While low-emitting countries in the global south contribute the least to climate change, they tend to be the hardest-hit by the consequences, experts say. "We need to give these countries the resources to fight against the climate crisis.

100 Million People In The US Are Saddled With Health Care Debt

Elizabeth Woodruff drained her retirement account and took on three jobs after she and her husband were sued for nearly $10,000 by the New York hospital where his infected leg was amputated. Ariane Buck, a young father in Arizona who sells health insurance, couldn’t make an appointment with his doctor for a dangerous intestinal infection because the office said he had outstanding bills. Allyson Ward and her husband loaded up credit cards, borrowed from relatives, and delayed repaying student loans after the premature birth of their twins left them with $80,000 in debt. Ward, a nurse practitioner, took on extra nursing shifts, working days and nights. “I wanted to be a mom,” she said. “But we had to have the money.”

Africa, The Collateral Victim Of A Distant Conflict

On 25 May 2022, Africa Day, Moussa Faki Mahamat – the chairperson of the African Union (AU) – commemorated the establishment of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) in 1963, which was later reshaped as the AU in 2002, with a foreboding speech. Africa, he said, has become ‘the collateral victim of a distant conflict, that between Russia and Ukraine’. That conflict has upset ‘the fragile global geopolitical and geostrategic balance’, casting ‘a harsh light on the structural fragility of our economies’. Two new key fragilities have been exposed: a food crisis amplified by climate change and a health crisis accelerated by COVID-19. A third long-running fragility is that most African states have little freedom to manage their budgets as debt burdens rise and repayment costs increase.

Economic Disobedience: What Is It And How Does It Work?

As the COVID-19 pandemic brought the global economy to a standstill in March 2020, a peculiar trend popped up in multiple cities: People started hanging white sheets out of their windows. With April rent coming due alongside record unemployment numbers, the white flags became a protest symbol for struggling tenants on the verge of a rent strike. The symbol spread online and eventually showed up in Chicago, Brooklyn, and New Orleans, according to reporting from CNN. The rent crisis also led to a rise in tenant unions, with tenants-turned-housing-activists in Oakland and San Francisco successfully organizing multi-month rent strikes that resulted in impressive wins. Despite the threat of eviction and potential economic and legal fallout, ordinary people, acting out of necessity, engaged in a collective act of defiance.

A Monetary Reset Where The Rich Don’t Own Everything

In ancient Mesopotamia, it was called a Jubilee. When debts at interest grew too high to be repaid, the slate was wiped clean. Debts were forgiven, the debtors’ prisons were opened, and the serfs returned to work their plots of land. This could be done because the king was the representative of the gods who were said to own the land, and thus was the creditor to whom the debts were owed. The same policy was advocated in the Book of Leviticus, though it is unclear to what extent this biblical Jubilee was implemented. That sort of across-the-board debt forgiveness can’t be done today because most of the creditors are private lenders. Banks, landlords and pension fund investors would go bankrupt if their contractual rights to repayment were simply wiped out.

Biden Faces Rising Pressure On Student Loans With Deadline Looming

President Biden is in a difficult position on student loans ahead of the midterms, as pressure builds from borrowers and Democrats for widespread cancellation. Adding to the pressure is a key deadline: On May 1, millions of borrowers will have to pay unless a freeze on federal student loan payments put in place during the pandemic is extended. Biden has been called on to extend the freeze until the next year — beyond the midterms. But advocates for forgiveness, along with key Democrats, want more than another freeze. “We’ve been saying for years now that we need to keep payments on pause until we cancel student debt,” said Natalia Abrams, president and founder of the Student Debt Crisis Center (SDCC).

Can Argentina Escape The Plague Of IMF-Imposed Austerity?

The crush of people began at the 9 de Julio subway stop downtown, less than a block from the Buenos Aires obelisk, the city’s most recognizable monument. By 5:00 p.m. on February 8, thousands from over 100 trade unions, human rights organizations and student groups had blocked the main thoroughfare to protest a preliminary agreement between the Peronist, center-left government of Argentinian President Alberto Fernández and the International Monetary Fund. Amid a cacophony of competing drumbeats, demonstrators along Roque Saenz Peña bore signs that read “With the IMF, we return to the bottom,” “The IMF is poverty and unemployment,” and “Enough of austerity.”

Democrats, The More Effective Evil

When all else fails, when you are clueless about how to halt a 7.5% inflation rate, when your Build Back Better bill is gutted, when you renege on your promise to raise the minimum wage or forgive student debt, when you can’t halt the Republican suppression of voting rights, when you have no idea how to handle the pandemic which has claimed 900,000 lives – 16% of the world’s total deaths although we are less than 5% of the world’s population – when the stock market fluctuates on wild rollercoaster rides of highs and lows, when what little help the government offered to the labor force — half of whom, 80 million, experienced a period of unemployment last year — sees the termination of the extended unemployment benefits, rental assistance, forbearance for student loans, emergency checks, the moratorium on evictions and expansion of the child tax credits, when you watch passively as the ecocide gathers momentum, then you must make the public afraid of enemies, foreign and domestic.
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