Tag Archives: Economy

Workers Unite to Battle Racist School Closings

Hundreds of black, Latino and white workers rose in unison, fists pumping, to chant “RESIGN NOW” and “NO SCHOOL CLOSINGS” at the entirely black and Latino school board of a southern city during a mass community meeting.  Roused by speeches of anti-racist community activists and friends of PL, more than a thousand people, led by black workers, forced the school bosses and their hand-picked “community” advisory committee to cower in their seats.

This was the sixth in a series of meetings to let the community blow off steam regarding the proposed closings of a third of the city’s public schools, including the only high school in the historically black East Side. But school bosses underestimated the intelligence and anger of the working class. Over the course of earlier meetings, workers exposed and challenged the school board’s effort to pit neighborhood against neighborhood, Latinos against blacks, by letting the “community” pick among alternate plans, each one cutting someone else’s schools.

At an earlier meeting, a speaker exposed the fascist war machine’s goal to turn schools into jails. At every meeting, a Latina woman who had led struggles against school closings two years earlier, challenged the district’s history of divide and conquer. She pointed out that even neighborhoods not under direct attack would be harmed by overcrowding and the threat of future school closures. At the third meeting a school teacher finally labeled the board’s actions for what they were: RACISM! A gasp was heard from the hundreds at that meeting.

Activists from groups including PTAs and opponents of earlier school closings, returned repeatedly to community meetings to fight back and reject the call that working-class parents and students pick their own poison. Organizers circulated petitions, went door-to-door and spoke in churches to bring workers to protest school closings. Parents repeatedly defied commands to limit comments and to choose one of the proposals for school closings.

Following these meetings, the superintendent suggested he would delay closing high schools in the areas of the greatest protest, though many other schools will be shuttered. But there is a contradiction embedded in thinking this a victory and even in the chant “Resign Now!” Hundreds of the most militant anti-closing fighters believe that the hiring of a new superintendent or the election of “better” school board members will allow power to be shared and bring long-lasting improvement. In fact, some honest community activists served on the task force that created the school closing plans out of a desire to create a fairer district. As they worked under the direction of hired experts to frame school closings and to meet funding cuts that economic crisis and war brought, they were used to provide cover for the ruler’s exercise of state power.

Despite hating the superintendent and his plan, many do not realize that the real rulers, the capitalist class, are using the layers of elected and appointed community members of all “races” to create the illusion that real, permanent reform and improvement is possible. A new superintendent will not change the ruling class’s need to cut school funding in the face of economic crisis and war. The rulers never share power. Right now, their needs to bail out the banks and to continue oil war in the Middle East mean the rulers have to reduce education, lay people off and foreclose houses.

In numerous discussions since then, the points raised by communists and their friends hope to move the discussion from the specific reform plans proposed by the bosses to the context of system-wide crisis that spawned these reforms. These discussions are urgent because capitalism cannot be reformed — it must be destroyed and replaced with a system run for and by the working class of the entire world. As we deepen our understanding and win more friends, we can also develop plans for even more militant actions, like walk-outs in schools or occupations of school board offices, which would help us learn even more and become better fighters for revolution.

The rulers’ plans depend on racist and fascist attacks on working-class people. But the rulers sometimes underestimate the power of the working class to learn from experience and from communist leadership — even in a short reform battle that likely cannot be won. This power of the working class is also very weakly understood by the workers themselves nowadays. But participating in these battles and making friends for the lifetime battle for communist revolution strengthens our class’ understanding of its power and the ability of PL to grow and guide the working class to revolution.

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Fascist Economy Rules the Roost for U.S. Big Bosses

In contrast with the rapid and vast restructurings in the auto and banking industries, health care “reform” is proving a much harder task for Obama and the dominant, imperialist wing of U.S. capitalists he serves. The hallmark of fascism, tightened, centralized economic control  — which, like an expanded military, U.S. rulers need to compete in a sharpening global rivalry — is developing unevenly.

In effect, the government runs GM and Chrysler, and banks and brokers have dwindled to a dominant handful. But individual capitalists have yet to display the sense of “sacrifice” Obama demanded at his inauguration, “giving our all to a difficult task.”

Reforming — especially nationalizing — health care would benefit the U.S. capitalist class as a whole in various ways. It could relieve the major expense of workers’ health care — which, for instance, cost GM $3 billion annually — thereby boosting companies’ profits. By reducing such costs, it could free up capital for rebuilding infrastructure and the rulers’ war machine, as well as make them more competitive with rivals in Europe, Japan and Canada where health care is already nationalized. It also could make people more directly dependent on the government and consequently loyal to it.

Health Battle Shows Narrow Capitalist Self-interest Persists

Reluctant, self-interested capitalists are turning Obama’s health roadshow “town meetings” into bad days on Jerry Springer. New York Times columnist, Nobel Prize winner and leading proponent of economic fascism Paul Krugman lamented: “Angry protesters…have been drowning out, and in some cases threatening, members of Congress trying to talk about health reform.” (NYT, 8/6) “Well-heeled interest groups are helping to organize the town hall mobs,” Krugman continued. “Key organizers include…a new organization called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights…run by Rick Scott, the former head of Columbia/HCA, a for-profit hospital chain.” Such hospitals, and their doctors, will lose big if Obama succeeds in eliminating current fee-for-service — which enables them to charge what the traffic will bear — and replaces it with government-mandated salaries and test charges.

Health insurers, HMO’s — fearing marginalization if a federal plan takes hold — also oppose Obama, who’s trying to carry out U.S. capitalism’s larger, long-term interests. Drug makers, however, love him, for the same reason: profits (not patriotism). Their lobbying group PhRMA has authorized a $150-million advertising budget to back Obama’s plan. Pharmaceuticals “stand to gain millions of new customers from the expansion of healthcare coverage.” (NYT, 9/9/09)

Obama’s consolidation/nationalization effort has succeeded most in auto, where short-term profit has vanished. This has slashed the DuPont’s financial power, whose Wilmington Trust is the largest creditor — meaning loser — in GM’s bankruptcy.

At GM, Obama installed ExxonMobil director Edward Whitaker as chairman. This oil giant is the largest beneficiary of U.S. imperialism’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This may even have engineered the demise of the 95-year-old influence of the DuPont family, which sometimes has been at odds with U.S. imperialists’ broader agenda. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, DuPont president Ellen Kullman quit GM’s board in December, just after Obama’s election.

Greedy Execs Ignore War Agenda for Quick Cash

Many bank executives, like health industry bosses, mainly see the current crisis as an opportunity to get even richer. Frank Rich, another NY Times’ U.S. imperialist pundit, noted, “Nine…bailed-out banks — which in total received $175 billion of taxpayers’ money, but as yet have repaid only $50 billion — are awarding a total of $32.6 billion in bonuses for 2009.” (8/9) He includes Goldman and JP Morgan. The same day’s Times editorialized for government regulation of bankers’ compensation.

CEOs and others who won’t submit to the leading rulers’ greater needs invite the full force of state power upon them. Convicted Enron bosses rot, or have died, in jail. The ever-unfolding Madoff case and last month’s round-up of crooked politicians and rabbis in New Jersey and Brooklyn help the rulers test just how much public sentiment they can stir up against wayward servants of their own class. This includes the potential to spread anti-Semitism in case it’s needed against Goldman for grabbing billions in bonuses.

But in-fighting among the bosses is no mere sideshow for workers. Capitalists’ disciplining of one another punishes the working class in far greater numbers. For every Bernie Madoff or Enron or WorldCom telecommunications exec, tens of thousands of workers lost jobs and pensions. This is especially true for black and Latino workers who, due to racist discrimination, have been thrown on the scrap heap in disproportionate numbers.

U.S. rulers are counting on Obama to impose the wartime economic discipline they require. Viewing his proposed reforms as “progress” would be a serious political mistake. Our Party’s task is to spread the only viable alternative — for workers — to Obama’s “town meeting” message. In short, we must eliminate the profit system which creates all kinds of exploiters of the working class — whether those driving for short-term immediate profits or their long-range imperialist opponents, primarily concerned with saving their system. Destroying capitalism with a communist revolution will take a lifetime of effort. J

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Auto and Banks Rapidly Consolidate

In further consolidation, the bosses backing Obama have anointed just two firms, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, as the U.S.’s flagship financiers. Goldman’s close Washington ties have earned it the nickname “Government Sachs.” And, trying not to be too obvious, once word hit the papers, JP Morgan called off an unprecedented July board meeting in Washington that was to have included Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff.

Behind the scenes, Mellon’s Bank of New York (BNY) and Boston’s State Street, both trustees of Obama’s bailout funds, have become, with JP Morgan, undisputed custodians of U.S. capital. BNY manages $19.5 trillion, JP Morgan $13.5 trillion and State Street $11.3 trillion. Beleaguered Citigroup today comes in a distant and dwindling fourth at $1.8 trillion.

And don’t underestimate former titan, now relatively small Brown Brothers Harriman. This old-money “wealth advisor’s” partners, having bankrolled House banking czar Barney Frank, pull important levers in Washington.

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OBAMA: SAVE RACIST SYSTEM OVER WORKERS’ DEAD BODIES

WASHINGTON, DC, January 20 — The only apparent opposition at the inauguration of the new Obama regime came from a multiracial group of PLP communists and friends. A bullhorn rally was held at Gallery Place, a major Metro stop just outside the “security zone” for the Obama inauguration parade. Speakers at the rally called on the crowd heading to the parade to join PLP in the struggle against capitalism and racism instead of supporting Obama.

In a demonstration of the fascism of this system, 25,000 civilian and military police locked down the city. The day’s events were used to practice methods for the ruler’s need to control the working class.

The two million or so people that came to the inauguration, among them a sizeable number of black and Latino workers, believed what they were witnessing represented an historic victory against racism. In reality, they witnessed the latest in the succession of representatives of the U.S. ruling class, the most racist and murderous group of thieves in history.

Obama made it clear that for the working class, things will get worse, and the workers will be the ones paying for the latest crisis. Obama didn’t blame this racist system for the crisis, one that has enslaved millions and waged genocidal wars for the past 400 years, but instead blamed “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

The desperate conditions of millions of workers were glossed over as Obama paid only lip service to the swathes of racist foreclosures. Up to 10,000 homes per week have been claimed. Millions of black, Latino and other workers were unable to keep up payments on houses they were encouraged to buy at high prices and at eventual exorbitant interest rates. Similarly dismissed was the prison-like conditions of our schools, stating simply that “homes have been lost…our schools fail too many.”

He immediately followed that saying, “no less profound is…the nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable.” “America’s decline” is indeed the “profound fear” of the Rockefeller-led wing of the U.S. ruling class, the banks and companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Exxon Mobil, who have trillions of dollars invested in U.S. imperialism and have cast a nervous eye on their growing imperialist rivals in Russia, China, and the European Union.

Obama and his administration are the ruling class’s number one investment. They’re counting on him to win U.S. workers to support wider wars, unlike the Bush gang who not only squandered the chance to mobilize the country but provoked the anger of millions of workers worldwide. Key to this effort is the movement for national service, a precursor to support for a larger military as was evident in the references to the, “Brave Americans…who patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. …[and] embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.”

In addition to this thinly veiled call to kill and die for U.S. imperialism was another message extolling workers to sacrifice to save the bosses’ system which Obama called on people to imitate, “the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours” — in effect, a wage-cut. Meanwhile, of the current U.S. prison population of 2.4 million — the largest ever in human history, and now over 1% of the total adult U.S. population — 70% are black and Latino. The inmate population languishing in the prisons of 10 states is expected to increase by 25% or more by 2011.

In the dangers of the ruling class’s efforts to build its movement, there are opportunities. Millions hate racism, imperialism, and sexism, and could be won to dedicate their lives to ending the brutal system that requires these evils.

Obama melodramatically showered us with images of slave-owner George Washington “huddling by dying campfires” and called on us to be “faithful to the ideals of our forbears.” Does he mean the first eight U.S. presidents, all of whom owned slaves? When only white, property-owning men were considered citizens and Native Americans were exterminated by the millions? What “greatness” about the U.S. is he talking about if not genocide and slavery?

The horrifying conditions of, and racism against, immigrant workers, and the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror, continued full steam into the 20th century. The U.S. was just cutting its teeth as a rival imperialist power to the genocidal British and French imperialists.  No, U.S. rulers have never been great at any- thing except mass murder — and now, with about 750 U.S. military bases worldwide, Obama wants to usher in “a new era” of U.S. global dominance.

The international working class’s inspiration is not in the slave-owners’ revolt in the U.S. war of independence from Britain, nor in racist Abraham Lincoln’s “solution” of shipping black slaves back to Africa. It’s in the mass slave rebellions and the actions of Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman and John Brown which led to the crushing of slavery.

We fight today with the memory of the brave millions of the Haitian Revolution of 1801, which inspired generations of workers because they taught the world how to fight back. The pride in our history is in the workers at Stalingrad who smashed the Nazis; in the caves of Yenan, China as the communist-led workers regrouped after the Long March to win workers’ power in the most populated country on earth; and in countless other uprisings where our class rose against all odds and dared to struggle for a world free of the capitalist slavery that Obama represents. Real change will come when millions of workers read and distribute CHALLENGE and become steeled in class struggle. Join the Progressive Labor Party and help build a mass international communist movement, learn from our predecessors’ mistakes and victories, and help destroy this system once and for all.

PLP RALLIES AGAINST THE NEW CEO OF RACIST CAPITALISM

WASHINGTON, DC, January 20 — Speakers at our rally alerted the throngs of people that Obama, far from making things better, would lead workers and students into expanded war. He would continue racist oppression from Chicago, where police terror and hospital closings marked his time in leadership, to Gaza, where he gave his stamp of approval to genocide. He will reward the thieving capitalists with bailouts just as he condoned those George Bush had given.
Many agreed that the struggle would have to continue, but thought that Obama would still be an improvement. One person told us that he had just won a 3-year battle against D.C. for police brutality and was interested in joining our campaigns on this issue. Several youth from Baltimore were happy to see us, as they knew us from our work in their city as part of the Algebra Project/Peer-to-Peer (see CHALLENGE 10/15/08). Several other young people agreed that Obama just represented capitalism, just more of the same, and that we had to intensify our fight-back.
There were a few hostile responses, one demanding that we talk about Bush’s crimes. We told him that we’d been doing that for eight years! Another said we shouldn’t “rain on Obama’s parade” and should give him a chance. But we can’t give murderous capitalism a chance. Capitalism always has, and always will, serve the ruling class, not the working class. We are in the midst of a severe economic and military crisis, and the working class must be mobilized to fight racism and capitalism now!
We gained several new contacts for the Party and distributed over 800 flyers and 400 CHALLENGES. We also came away determined to win the millions of workers deceived by the election to a revolutionary struggle against racist capitalism, and not compliance with the increased war and fascism being ushered in by this new CEO of U.S. capitalism.

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FALLING RATE OF PROFIT HITS WORKERS IN THE HEAD

The strike at Boeing Aircraft and other recent industrial actions show both the power of the working class, and the real value of our labor to the bosses. A four-week strike in 2005 probably cost Boeing at least $700 million in profit (Seattle Times, 9/29/08). An eight-week strike in 2008 ran Boeing over $2 billion in losses. Our ability to shut down production there gives us a small taste of the potential of the working class to lead society. However, strikes alone can never fulfill a vision of liberation from rule by a tiny minority of bankers, bosses, and investors.

Only through communist revolution can workers achieve an alternative to capitalism. The greatest limitations workers all over the world face today are political, the belief that we have no alternative to living under the bosses rule. However, more workers are looking for answers to the cause of the current economic crisis. Analyzing the political economy of capitalism, and connecting those ideas to specific events at the point of the class struggle, can move our class forward.

Productive labor creates all wealth in capitalist society. The bosses’ media and schools constantly prattle that advances in workers’ standard of living emanate from the “free market.” In reality, the free market today means bosses are gambling with riches they have stolen from us. During the last two “booms,” popular culture taught us to idolize and imitate speculators (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire; Deal or No Deal).

The current financial crisis is a product of basic laws of capitalist economics. Since the 1970s, instead of investing in more factories, U.S. banks have led the vastly increased speculation in stock and bond markets. Karl Marx discovered long ago that, as capitalism matures, the rate of profit, i.e. the amount of profit per dollar invested, tends to fall.

Because capitalism is a competitive system, each boss must try to produce things more cheaply than the next one. Individual capitalists save money by introducing more machinery into production, thereby reducing the number of workers. Other bosses in the same industry are then forced to automate in order to keep up. The result for all bosses and the investors who back them is a much higher amount of money sunk into technology, resulting in a lower rate of profit.

According to economist Robert Brenner, profit rates at U.S. non-financial corporations in 2000-2006 were one-third lower than in the 1950s and 1960s.  On a global scale, there were large drops in the rate of profit in industrial economies after the late 1960s through the early 1980s. The basic trend, with some minor upturns, has continued through the present. This has come as rivalries between major industrial powers have grown.

Capitalists typically use several methods to try to avoid the tendency of the rate of profit to fall: 1) In a crisis, more and more factories are closed; the weaker firms are taken over by the stronger ones, temporarily giving the bigger fish more of a global edge (e.g. GM taking over Chrysler); 2) increased exploitation of the whole working class (the decline in real wages in the U.S. since 1973 and increased cutbacks in benefits); and 3) greater use of racism, to super-exploit a section of the working class (e.g. increased use of immigrant labor in basic industry).

The bosses also try to counteract the falling rate of profit by investing in the “developing” world. They are able to do this because of uneven development under capitalism, i.e. the vast levels of inequality that exist. This allows them, for a time, to extract larger amounts of value from these more exploited workers. However, this only gets them so far. Class struggle is a given under capitalism-; workers always fight back, putting upward pressure on labor costs. Also, local bosses resist imperialist attempts to take over labor markets in “their” countries. For example, China recently required all foreign companies to allow Chinese“Communist” Party-led union organizing.

The main thing driving events in the world today is the fight between rival imperialist powers. For example, competition in the banking industry has been fierce. In 1999, Clinton signed the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that had separated investment banking, commercial banking and insurance business. U.S. banks saw this law as the last barrier to them expanding into areas of speculative investment that were wholly unregulated. Europe had already removed that separation for many of their banks. To maintain their competitive edge, U.S. bankers decided their government also had to get rid of it (Obama economic adviser Robert Rubin and McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm were key players calling for the repeal).

In the end, billionaire bankers and investors were forced to turn into players at a gigantic gambling casino. They turned to more and more exotic investments in order to try to maximize their rate of return. In the late ‘90s it was the “dot-com boom” and now it is “collateralized debt obligations” and “credit default swaps.” These latest attempts to profit off of an increase in paper wealth are far-removed from the value created (and stolen) through the production process. They are ultimately doomed to fail.

When that happens, the capitalists turn to their “final solution” to the falling rate of profit- -— war and world war. Wars destroy large amounts of productive capacity, allowing the capitalists to start the cycle of development all over again. They also settle, temporarily, the imperialist fight over markets, labor, and resources that led to the wars. However, new rivalries will always arise.

The U.S. bosses’ government, including McCain and Obama, claimed that if we didn’t bail out the speculators to the tune of $700 billion, “ the system will collapse.” Would that were true. Nothing short of a communist revolution can end the horrors of capitalism. After the revolution, we must do everything possible to ensure that the capitalists will never be able to reassert their control.
We say down with their system of rewarding those who create no value, serve no useful purpose, and hedge their bets with value stolen from our labor. Communist revolution will put these profiteers and their political henchmen under the ground, and lay the groundwork for a society where useful labor will serve the collective good.J

SNAKE OIL

Collateralized debt obligations are home mortgages bundled together in large groups and sold by mortgage companies and banks to investment banks or other institutions, who in turn usually sell packages of these mortgages to hedge funds, pension funds, and overseas banks.
A credit default swap is an insurance contract between two parties. The first party “buys” the swap in order to protect against the possibility of default in payment on a bond or other promise of payment, and the second party “sells” the swap by taking payment in return for a guarantee of the bond or other promise of payment should the institution issuing the bond fail to make good on it.

Grand Theft Capitalism

Capitalism is based on production of commodities. Each commodity “satisfies human wants of some sort or another” (Marx, Capital Vol.1) Each commodity has a “use value.” “Use-value” is the measure of the utility of any particular commodity in satisfying those wants. For example, a loaf of bread has value as a life-sustaining source of food.
Like other commodities, labor power has a use value. This is because labor power is uniquely capable of adding value to raw materials in production. From this new value, the capitalist who buys the labor power pays the lesser part to the worker in wages, and keeps the greater part as surplus value. Surplus value is the source of all capitalist profits.

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U.S. Rulers’ Biggest Bailout Scheme: Global War

U.S. capitalists are finding it extraordinarily difficult to organize their way out of the worsening global economic crisis they created. The most powerful sections of the ruling class are beginning to assert themselves by either taking over smaller, failing banks and companies or eliminating them. This will enable the top financiers to control the entire banking system and enforce their long-term strategy of fascism at home and war abroad to protect their oil empire. All the out-of-control profiteers seeking short-term gains are now being disciplined, to follow the top guns or fall by the wayside.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson’s original bailout bill couldn’t make it through a rebellious Congress and the remake failed to inspire investors and contributed to Wall Street’s worst week since 1933. “Some $8.4 trillion has been lost from US stock markets in the past year.” (Times of London, 10/12/08)

Another failed cure was Paulson’s decision to let Lehman Brothers go under. Rather than cleanse the investment banking system, the move worsened the situation. Wall Street investment giants Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch have all had to find new ways to exist.

Even a massive bailout from Washington may not save General Motors as an independent company, it having launched merger talks with Ford and Chrysler. Tens of thousands of auto jobs are at risk, on top of the 750,000 jobs lost overall this year.

MEGA-MONEY BOYS SOROS, BUFFETT, BLOOMBERG TAKE CHARGE

But economic chaos and destruction represent only one side of the coin. While the bosses appear to be losing control, the biggest U.S. capitalists, those with major stakes in U.S. imperialism, are in fact tightening their economic and political grip. Billionaire George Soros — who bankrolls anti-Russian regimes in Eastern Europe and urges anti-China “intervention” in Tibet and Darfur — helped steer a big shift in the bailout policy.

The New York Times reported (10/12): “Two weeks after persuading Congress to let it spend $700 billion to buy distressed securities tied to mortgages, the Bush administration has put that idea aside in favor of a new approach that would have the government inject capital directly into the nation’s banks — in effect, partially nationalizing the industry.”

On Oct. 1st, Soros had written in London’s Financial Times, “Instead of just purchasing troubled assets the bulk of the funds ought to be used to recapitalize the banking system.” Nationalizing the banks helps imperialists like Soros & Co. control capital and channel it to their own, increasingly military, needs to maintain U.S. rulers’ super-power status. That the Soros position prevailed over both Bush and the Congress reveals the true nature of state power. As Lenin said ninety years ago, politicians are ruled by finance capital.
Financier Warren Buffett, Forbes Magazine’s “Richest Man on the Planet,” is another master of U.S. capitalism’s rapidly evolving new universe. Buffett, an ally of the Rockefeller-led Eastern Establishment, has a big say in who survives the current carnage. He just threw multi-billion-dollar lifelines to two of U.S. imperialism’s flagships, worldwide deal-maker Goldman Sachs and arms maker General Electric.

Known for having a long-term outlook, Buffett recently invested heavily in U.S. railroads. Though not very lucrative at present, Buffett’s railroads will prove indispensible in mobilizing for global war and are beginning large-scale infrastructure rebuilding. Without an efficient rail system, it becomes very difficult to move large number of troops, supplies and weapons coast to coast.

Buffett is also the largest single owner of Wells Fargo, which bested Citigroup in its attempt to seize Wachovia, saddled with toxic subprime mortgages.

Wall Street darling Bloomberg’s bid for a currently illegal third term as New York mayor serves the same imperialist capital-concentrating purpose. On October 2, thirty ruling class big shots published an Open Letter in the NY Times urging lawmakers to “extend term limits [to three terms] in order to give New Yorkers the opportunity for whomever [sic] they think can do the best job during these tough economic times, including our current mayor.”

The signers included ultra-imperialists like David Rockefeller and his war criminal henchman Henry Kissinger. Others were J.P. Morgan Chase chief James Dimon, Goldman boss Lloyd Blankfein, and financier Wilbur Ross. The latter is bent on safeguarding U.S. industries like coal, steel, and textiles, all crucial to the manufacture of weapons, tanks, warplanes, troop uniforms and gear, and all the other ingredients of modern warfare.

GLOBAL WAR: OBAMA, MCCAIN AGREE ON GOAL, DIFFER ON APPROACH

Stopgap measures like bailouts, buy-ups, and partial nationalization can only bring a mix of successes and setbacks to U.S. rulers. Their imperialist wing, however, eyes the Big Bailout, top-to-bottom militarization for global war with rivals like Russia and China. Liberal Robert Reich, Clinton’s Labor Secretary, let that cat out of the bag in an October 9 NY Times column.

Encouraging broad federal spending to counter the current crisis, Reich said, “the government will probably have to run deficits to keep the economy going anywhere near capacity, a lesson the nation learned when mobilization for World War II finally lifted us out of the Great Depression.” That’s when the mass unemployment of the 1930’s — 17 million jobless in a 50-million workforce — was “solved” by drafting 14 million into the military.

Candidate Obama vows to put millions to work —in low-wage jobs— in New Deal-style programs to rebuild strategic infrastructure. His call to reinvigorate the nation economically serves the rulers’ war agenda even better than McCain’s openly militarist appeal.

The rulers well know that most U.S. workers and GIs in World War II did not back the McCain-like, patriotic, right-wing “America First” line. Opposed to Hitler’s fascism, they bought into “The American Way of Life,” Roosevelt’s promise of state-sponsored post-war prosperity. This built the illusion that “reformed” capitalism can guarantee a decent life and tie workers to the profit system. Obama hopes to revive that illusion.

Neither economic crisis nor voting can eliminate the class dictatorship finance capitalists blatantly flaunt every day. Only communist revolution can because it abolishes profits, bosses and their wage slavery system and puts the workers in control of state power, guaranteeing our class — which produces all value — will share the fruits of our labors.

The profit system’s crisis, with its wholesale attack on workers’ wages, pensions, housing and healthcare, its racist super-exploitation of black and Latino workers, opens up limitless opportunities for communists to expose the anti-working-class nature of capitalism.

However, no matter how low capitalism sinks, it will not topple itself as long as the bosses hold their ace-in-the-hole — state power. That’s why the revolutionary communist PLP must be built and win workers to bury capitalism in the garbage heap of history.

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JOBLESS: 7.65 MILLION OR 20 MILLION?

While the U.S. government announced a 17,000 job-loss for January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also said the unemployment rate has actually declined to 4.9% based on 7.65 million jobless. What fraud! The government’s definition of an unemployed worker is one who has looked for a job in the last four weeks. This, of course, does not include:

• 4.8 million working part-time who want full-time jobs;

• 5.0 million who haven’t sought employment in the last four weeks or longer, including “discouraged” workers, those who’ve stopped looking for non-existent jobs (above figures from NY Times, 2/2/08);

• 1.6 million in prison (of the total 2.4 million) for non-violent crimes, mostly on drug possession charges — who are not imprisoned in rehabilitation-oriented Western Europe — and being among the least skilled would probably add to the jobless figures.

Add those to the government unemployment figure and the total becomes 19 million, or approximately 2½ times the reported 7.65 million! This still does not include unemployed youth who seek “jobs” as part of the 1.4 million in the military, nor several million still on welfare who would want to work if child-care were available. (Welfare recipients forced into Workfare in New York City replaced 20,000 unionized workers on the municipal workforce, according to a March 2001 report from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.)

So the number of U.S. workers denied full-time civilian jobs has certainly passed 20 million. Because of racist discrimination, the jobless percentage for black workers (9.2%) is more than double that of whites (4.4%). But even those figures are under-estimates since that 9.2% figure excludes the greater percentage of black workers trapped into prison and onto welfare.

There never has been full employment under capitalism, nor can there be. As bosses compete against each other for maximum profits, especially globally, their first cost-cutting measure is laying off workers, constantly searching for the lowest wage-rates. Now, especially during economic crisis, mass layoffs are the order of the day, as the bosses try to shift the burden of that crisis onto the backs of the working class.

But basing profits on non-productive sources only worsens the crisis. Schemes like subprime mortgage fiascos and hedge funds do not produce new value; only manufacturing workers can do that, and U.S. manufacturing is constantly declining. The trillions in credit and trade debts, and the borrowing to pay the $1.7 trillion cost of their imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will deepen the economic crisis still further.

So no matter who becomes the next President, Hillary, Obama or McCain, the bosses will need more of a fascist police state, to make workers pay even more for their wars and crisis and to try to stop any working-class rebellions against this squeeze on their jobs and wages. And this is why workers need a system that is free of all bosses and profits and the stealing of the value we workers produce — a system in which all this value is shared according to need — and need a party, PLP, which fights for that system: communism.J

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Rulers’ Subprime Fiasco Slams Workers, Spurs Fascist Solution

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.

Clinton, Obama Advisors: All War, All the Time

With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama falling all over each other posing as “anti-war” candidates, take a look at their pro-war advisors.
Clinton has:
• 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.
Obama has:
• 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.

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Economic Collapse Burying Workers; Will Spark Wider Wars

The global economic collapse is crushing workers even more. The UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) predicted that the subprime crisis and rising oil prices will increase world unemployment by five million (Agence France Press, 1/23) over and above the already 189.9 million now jobless. That forecast was reached before the current turbulences in the world’s financial markets. “We still don’t know the impact of the stock market crisis on the employment figures,” explained ILO chief José Salazar-Xirinchs.
Trenton, NJ Mayor Douglas Palmer, president of the U.S. Mayor’s Conference, told 250 mayors meeting in Washington that the subprime crisis is “an economic tsunami…hitting our cities.” A recent Conference study said home values would drop by $1.2 trillion this year.

The mayors are asking for immediate federal help, but — even though some cities are suing banks and speculators who caused the subprime mess — their main response has been to cut social services even more nation-wide. Sacramento city officials have responded to a $55 million projected budget shortfall for next year by ordering an immediate hiring freeze and ending some discretionary spending. In Virginia, Fairfax County — facing a $220 million deficit for the coming fiscal year — is considering cuts to school districts. On January 24th, billionaire New York City Mayor Bloomberg announced an across-the-board 5% cut for all city departments, for a total slash of $1.5 billion in two years, including a $505 million dollar reduction in schools.

The effects of the current economic crisis are also hitting countries closely linked to U.S. imperialism. During the current world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, the governor of Mexico’s Central Bank reported that his country’s economy will be hit badly — 40% of Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product depends on trade with the  U.S. Already, Mexico is predicting a slowdown in growth for 2008. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrant workers in the U.S. are losing their jobs because of the subprime crisis (many work in construction) and general economic collapse, reducing their remittances to relatives back in Mexico.

This racist aspect of the subprime crisis is affecting Britain and Spain. Immigrant workers involved in construction there are losing their jobs.

International financier George Soros is not bullish about this crisis. He told the Davos economic forum that there is a profound difference in the current crisis, marking the end of an era of credit expansion based on the dollar as the international reserve currency. He called it the worst economic crisis since World War II. The hope that the rising economies of China and India will help ease the situation is being dashed since they depend on exporting to the U.S. and European markets, hard-hit by the current crisis. For example, incomes for workers in the U.S. have not risen in real terms for three decades because of downsizing, racist wage-cuts and the lack of mass fight-back by the union movement. The subprime crisis has put working-class homeowners — who borrowed money based on the rising values of their homes — in a hole, decreasing consumer spending. Less consumption and a falling U.S. dollar might spur China and other countries, who have lent the U.S. trillions by buying Treasury bonds, to cash in their investments, sinking the U.S. economy even more.

Soros is worried that resulting political tensions, including U.S. protectionism, may disrupt the global economy and plunge the world into recession or worse.

That “worse” could turn economic conflicts into a shooting war among the world’s imperialists for a bigger share of the capitalist pie. The subprime and credit-crunch crises are just symptoms of a capitalist system based on speculation, endless imperialist wars and racist-fascist attacks against the international working class. None of the tricks the bosses used in recent decades have worked, including Thatcherism, Reagan’s “trickle-down voodoo economy,” Clinton’s “new economy” or Bush’s tax cuts. U.S., British and other capitalists’ turning away from production has created an even more parasitic capitalist class, still more dependent on financial speculation and increasing fraud, without creating real value. Each new scheme — dot.com, subprime mortgages, etc. — created bigger bubbles, dragging the world economy down.

But capitalism won’t fall by itself. Since its birth the profit system has been based on boom-and-bust cycles, accompanied by massive wars, recessions and depressions. The anarchistic capitalist production system will continue as long as we workers let them make us pay with our blood for their profits. Previous wars and crises led to workers’ revolutions: the Paris Commune, the Bolshevik and Chinese revolutions. As the international working class prepares for May Day 2008, we in the Progressive Labor Party must step up our efforts to win workers, youth and soldiers worldwide to see that the only way out of this capitalist hell is building a massive revolutionary communist movement to bury the bosses once and for all.

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