The subprime mortgage fiasco has highlighted a huge problem for the U.S. ruling class, even as it comes down like a sledgehammer on the working class. Since January 1, in the firestorm roaring through stock markets worldwide, capitalists have destroyed $5 trillion worth of value created by workers’ labor power. As the subprime cancer spreads, workers in the U.S., where it began, face mass foreclosures, layoffs and wage and service cuts, with black and Latino workers hardest hit because of racist discrimination.
U.S. rulers, on the other hand, while trying to make workers at home pay for the crisis, have fears going far beyond the domestic lending and spending crunch. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the rulers’ leading think-tank, worries about “the geopolitical and geoeconomic effects a U.S. downturn might bring, particularly at a time that finds other powers [ruling classes — Ed.] on the rise, the price of vital commodities spiking and U.S. prestige in question.” (CFR website, 1/18/08) The threatened recession makes U.S. imperialism and its war machine all the more desperate for cash.
“War at Any Price?” — a report released by Congressional Democrats in November — shows that Iraq and Afghanistan will have cost $1.6 trillion by the end of 2008. It says that even with a drawdown to 55,000 troops in Iraq by 2013 (indicating a long-term occupation) the price tag will reach $3.5 trillion by 2017.
The rulers’ huge problem stems from the fact that they have nowhere near prepared the U.S. for all-out imperialist war. During World War II, the Roosevelt-led capitalist class mounted such an all-out mobilization by: (1) drafting 14 million youth into the armed forces (in a population barely one-third of the present 300 million); (2) instituted rationing of gas and food (each family had to present coupons at the store to buy meat — limited to 4 oz. per person daily — sugar, butter, etc.; (3) decreed a government-imposed wage freeze and price controls; and (4) banned all strikes. Not one new car, washing machine or radio was manufactured in the U.S. for four years — all the factories were producing tanks, bombers and weapons of war. Tax rates topped out at 94%! (It’s 35% now.)
Compare this to Bush’s “war on terror.” His advice: “go shopping; don’t let the terrorists win.”
U.S. rulers approached the war against Nazi Germany and fascist Japan with total reality. While the Democrats decry the Iraq-Afghanistan price tags mentioned above, they don’t mention the fantastic sums a Middle-East re-invasion or war with China would require.
To prepare for World War III and endless imperialist wars against rising rivals in the European Union, China and Russia, U.S. rulers must exercise all-out control not only over the working class — fascism — but also over those members of their own class who guard their own short-term profits at the expense of the long-range survival of their system as a whole, as they did in World War II.
While Obama’s camp has been slow in divulging its fiscal program, it can’t be far removed from Hillary Clinton’s who claims to have the solution. She intends to use the state apparatus to force reluctant capitalists to give up some of their profits to meet the main bosses’ war needs — the “sacrifice” of “treasure” called for in her husband’s Hart-Rudman Commission reports. Clinton told the New York Times (1/21/08) she would immediately raise the top income tax rate from 35% to 39.6%.
She also seeks to slash exorbitant executive pay, which would steer more profit to the ruling-class billionaires and banks that own companies. Hillary decries “professional corporate managers who are not the creators of the corporation.” She’ll protect billionaires like George Soros, the Rockefellers, Warren Buffet and others, who see the need to discipline their class to save their system’s top-dog status. Bill Clinton robbed the poor — by dismantling Welfare — to finance the Pentagon. Hillary would continue that crime, and the racist super-exploitation of black and Latino workers, intensifying Workfare to lower wage levels of all workers.
RULERS ‘GIVE’ WORKERS $1,200 TO SPEND, THEN DEMANDS MOST OF OUR PAY FOR WAR
Given actual military expenditures, proposed bipartisan “economic stimulus” packages, topping out at $1,200 per household, come off as a cheap election-year bribe, with each side trying to take credit for a paltry payoff. In reality, the rulers’ oil wars are robbing workers blind, while they slaughter working-class youth by the hundreds of thousands. The Democrats’ report cited above admits, with anti-Bush dismay, that from 2002 to 2008, “The total economic cost of the war in Iraq [and Afghanistan] to a family of four is a shocking…$20,900.”…. The future impact on a family of four skyrockets to…$46,400 for Iraq and Afghanistan when all potential costs from 2002 to 2017 are included.”
MAIN CLINTON FACTION WANTS POLICE STATE FOR BOSSES, TOO
Clinton plans to clean up the subprime mess with a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and a freeze on subprime mortgage rates. Her purpose is more political than economic. She wants to impose police-state control over finance and industry. She’s following Franklin Roosevelt’s severe disciplining of U.S. capitalists in the run-up to World War II. Clinton promises “the toughest regulatory scrutiny of any president in a generation.”
It was financial deregulation, prompted by inter-imperialist rivalry in the 1980s and 1990s, which set the stage for the subprime debacle. At that time U.S. banks needed to consolidate and grow in order to compete with giant European and Japanese counterparts. Citibank led the charge against regulation and in 1999 succeeded in shattering the main regulatory obstacle to bank expansion, the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which had kept commercial and investment banks separate. Today Citi is perhaps the world’s biggest bank but holds yet untotaled billions of worthless subprime debt.
Capitalism by its very nature must create economic boom-and-bust cycles as well as imperialist wars in its insatiable competition for maximum profits. In the current era, it must impose fascism on the working class as well as discipline its own class to be able to preserve its system. Clinton, Obama and the rest of the candidates are dedicated to promoting and defending this bosses’ dictatorship over the working class. Supporting any one of them would be a serious mistake. Rather we should join and build the Progressive Labor Party, which has the long-term goal of communist revolution, enabling the working class to collectively decide how to apportion, according to need, the social value it alone collectively produces.
With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama falling all over each other posing as “anti-war” candidates, take a look at their pro-war advisors.
• Madeleine Albright, Bill’s Secretary of State, the main force behind her husband’s Iraq sanctions that the UN says killed up to one million Iraqi civilians (half of them children). When asked about those sanction-caused child deaths, Albright told “60 Minutes,”: “We think the price was worth it.”
• General Wesley Clark, architect of the bombing of Serbia, who publicly stated the U.S. would bomb civilian targets regardless of “collateral damage” — civilian casualties.
• Richard Holbrooke, a Jimmy Carter aide, oversaw weapons shipment to dictator Suharto’s Indonesian military (see page 7) during the latter’s invasion and massacre of 200,000 people in East Timor.
• Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Advisor, who boasted responsibility for the $3 billion CIA creation of the Afghan jihadist movement in 1979 which produced Osama bin Laden. When asked about its “negative consequences,” he replied, “What’s a few riled-up Muslims?”
• Anthony Lake, a Bill Clinton aide who played a key role in the U.S. invasion of Haiti.
• Sarah Sewall, author of the introduction to Bush’s General Petraeus’s Army Counterinsurgency Manual which U.S. troops use worldwide in imperialist oil wars.
Such is the motley crew that will spread wider wars no matter who’s elected president. They’re all defenders of U.S. imperialism.
the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Association of Manufacturers, is one of his biggest individual donors.