Thursday, June 24, 2010

Twenty-Two Reasons Why American Working People Hate the State

From Infoshop:

http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2010-22reasons
Sunday, June 20 2010 @ 03:23 PM UTCWhy does the rightwing attack on “Big Government” increasingly resonates with working people? Liberals claim wage and salaried workers are acting against their “self-interest”, citing government welfare programs like social security and unemployment payments. Progressives argue that workers hostile to the state are ‘racists”, “fundamentalists” and/or irrational, blinded by misplaced fears of threats to individual freedoms.

Twenty-Two Reasons Why American Working People Hate the State

By James Petras

Introduction

Why does the rightwing attack on “Big Government” increasingly resonates with working people? Liberals claim wage and salaried workers are acting against their “self-interest”, citing government welfare programs like social security and unemployment payments. Progressives argue that workers hostile to the state are ‘racists”, “fundamentalists” and/or irrational, blinded by misplaced fears of threats to individual freedoms.

I will argue there are many sound, rational, material reasons for working people to be in revolt against the state

1. Most wage and salaried workers pay disportionately higher taxes than the corporate rich and therefore, millions of Americans work in the “underground economy” to make ends meet; thus subjecting themselves to arrest, and prosecution by the state for trying to make a living by avoiding onerous taxes.

2. The state provides generous multi-year tax exemptions for corporations thus raising the tax rate for wage and salaried workers or eliminating vital services. The state’s inequitable tax revenue policies provoke resentment,.

3. High taxes combined with fewer and more expensive public services, include growing costs of public higher education and higher health charges, feed popular antagonism and frustration that they and their children are being denied opportunities to get ahead and stay healthy.

4. Many working people resent the fact that their tax money is being spent by the state on endless distant wars and to finance bailouts of Wall Street instead of investing it in reindustrializing America to create well paying jobs or to aid unemployed or underemployed workers unable to meet mortgage payments and facing eviction or homelessness. Most workers reject the inequitable budget expenditures that privilege the rich and deny the working people.

5. Working people are appalled by the states hypocrisy and double standards in prosecuting “welfare cheats” for taking hundreds but overlooking corporate and banking swindlers, and Pentagon military cost overruns of hundreds of billions. Few working people believe there is equality before the law, implicitly rejecting its claims of legitimacy.

6. Many working class families resent the fact that the state recruits their sons and daughters for wars, leading to death and crippling injuries instead of public service jobs, while the children of the rich and affluent pursue civilian careers.

7. The state subsidizes and upgrades public infrastructure – roads, parks and utilities in upper end neighborhoods while ignoring the demands for improvements of low income communities. Moreover the state locates contaminants – incinerators, high polluting industries etc. – in close proximity to workers housing and schools.

8. The state holds the minimum wage below increases in the cost of living but encourages and promotes excess profits.

9. Law enforcement is strict in high end neighborhoods and lax in low income communities resulting in higher rates of homicides and robberies.

10. State imposes constraints on labor organizations struggling to secure wages and benefits and ignores corporate intimidation and arbitrary firings of workers. The state encourages corporate mergers and acquisitions leading to monopolies but discourages collective action from below.

11. State economic institutions recruit policymakers from banks and financial houses who make decisions favoring their former employers, while wage and salaried workers are excluded and have no representation in economic policy positions.

12. The state increasingly infringes on individual freedoms of social activists via the Patriot Act, arbitrary arrests, and grants impunity to police violence and punishes whistle blowers, rejecting citizen reviews with punitive powers.

13. The state is highly responsive to and increases funding for the military-industrial complex, the relocation of MNC overseas and the high income Israel lobby while cutting funding for public investment in productive activity, applied technology and high tech job training for US workers and salaried employees and their children.

14. State policies have increased inequalities between the top 10% and the bottom 50% for decades, turning the US into the industrial country with the greatest inequalities.

15. State policies have led to declining living standards as wage and salary earners work longer hours with less job security, for a greater number of years before receiving pensions and social security and under greater environmental hazards.

16. Elected state officials break most campaign promises to working people while fulfilling promises for the upper class/corporate banking elite.

17. State officials pay greater attention and are more responsive to a few big financial contributors than to millions of voters.

18. State officials are more responsive to payoffs from corporate lobbies protecting corporate profits than to the health, educational and income needs of the electorate.

19. State-corporate links lead to deregulation, which results in contamination of the environment leading to the bankruptcy of small businesses and loss of many jobs, as well as the loss of recreational areas, spoiling rest and recreation for working people.

20. The state increases the retirement age rather than increase the social security payments by the rich, with the result that workers in unhealthy work environments will enjoy fewer years of retirement in good health.

21. The state judicial system is more likely to render favorable decisions to wealthy plaintiffs with high paid, politically connected lawyers against workers defended by inexperienced public defenders.

22. State tax collectors are more likely to pursue wage and salary tax payers than upper class corporate executives employing accountants with expert knowledge in tax loopholes and tax free shelters.

Conclusion

The state in its multiple activities, whether in law enforcement, military recruitment, tax and expenditure polices, environmental, pension and retirement legislation and administration, systematically favors the upper class and corporate elite against wage, salaried and small business people.

The state is permissive with the rich and repressive of the working and salaried employees, defending the privileges of the corporations and the impunity of the police state while infringing on the individual freedoms of the working people.

State policies increasingly extract more from the workers in terms of tax revenues and provide less in social payments, while lessening tax payments from Wall Street and inflating state transfers.

Popular perceptions of a hostile and exploitative state correspond to their everyday practical experiences; their anti-state behavior is selective and rational; most wage and salaried workers support social security and unemployment benefits and oppose higher taxes because they know or intuit that they are unfair.

Liberal academics and experts who claim workers are “irrational” are themselves practioners of highly selective criticisms – pointing to (shrinking) state social benefits while ignoring the unjust, inequitable tax system and the biased behavior of the judicial, law enforcement, legislative and regulatory system.

State personnel, policy makers and enforcement officials are attentive to and responsive and deferential to the rich and hostile and indifferent or arrogant toward workers.

In summary the real issue is not that people are anti-state, but that the state is anti the majority of the people. In the face of the economic crises and prolonged imperial wars, the state becomes more brazenly aggressive in slashing living standards in order to channel record levels of public funds toward Wall Street speculators and the military industrial complex.

While liberal-progressives’ remain embedded in ‘neo-keynsian’ statest ideology, outmoded in the face of a state thoroughly embedded in corporate networks, the New Right’s “anti-statest” rhetoric resonates with the feelings, experiences and reasoning of important sectors of wage and salaried workers and small businesspeople.

The attempt by liberals and progressives to discredit this popular revolt against the state, by pointing to the corporate financing and rightwing manipulation behind the anti-statist movement is doomed to failure, because it fails to deal with the profound injustices experienced by working people today in their daily dealings with a state, largely administered by liberal corporate-militarists. The absence of an anti-statist left has opened the door for the rise of a mass based ‘New Right’.

A ‘new left’will emerge from civil society when it recognizes the pernicious exploitative role of the state, and is capable of dealing with the powerful ties between liberalism-militarism-corporate “welfarism”. The revival and expansion of the debilitated public welfare programs for working people can only take place by dismantling the current state apparatus, and that depends on a complete break with both corporate parties and an agenda that ‘revolutionizes’ the way in which politics works in America.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Defend education, cancel the debt to the banks

Worker's World

http://www.workers.org/2010/us/education_0624

Published Jun 17, 2010 8:31 PM

Playing by the rules and priorities of the capitalist profit system means surrender in one area of life after another when the workers, communities, students and youth are under attack. Whether it is the fight for jobs, the environment, housing, health care, or a decent retirement, the framework established by capitalism leaves no way but to give in to the rich.

Breaking out of the framework imposed by capitalism is the key to survival for millions.

Education is an urgent example of the need to push past the barriers put up by bankers, corporations and their political enforcers in both capitalist parties. Capitalism says that profits and interest due to the banks are sacrosanct. It is time to declare that the right to an education is sacrosanct. When it comes to a conflict between education and payment to the banks, it is time to cancel the debt, including student debt.

Public education is under attack from all directions. K-12 schools have already been cut back across the country and even greater cuts are threatened. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently announced that between 100,000 and 300,000 teachers are faced with job loss in the next school year.

The reason given is that cities, states and the federal government have suffered a decline in revenue due to the economic crisis. Budget cuts must be made. It is a matter of arithmetic. You cannot spend what you don’t have.

But that is capitalist arithmetic. If you cannot spend what you don’t have, then how can the federal government write a $750 billion check to the biggest banks in the U.S., buy up their bad debts, and guarantee their loans to the tune of $10 trillion while handing the Pentagon more than $700 billion each year?

Apparently you can spend what you “don’t have” when it is going to the super-rich. In fact, schools are being closed, teachers are being fired and class sizes in the public schools are going up. Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars that these state and city governments owe to banks and bondholders in interest payments are going to be paid out on time. And many of these banks are the ones that got the bailouts in the first place.

So there is money. It is just a matter of who is going to get it.

In Detroit, 80 percent of the budget is spent on paying interest to the banks, yet the city is planning to shut down 45 schools. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been trying to shut down 19 schools and open up a raft of charter schools in their place. But New York City pays billions to the banks every year in interest. Bloomberg just forced city teachers to give up raises by threatening to lay off 4,400 workers if the concession was not made.

Big business is moving into the funding of charter schools. The K-12 system is becoming a major investment target for capital. Billions are being poured into charter school investments while the public education system is being starved. The Race to the Top fund of $4.3 billion established by the Obama administration is meant to strengthen the charter school movement.

College students are in debt before they even start out in life because of the high cost of a college education. Education, which is free in socialist Cuba, is now a source of capitalist profit in the U.S.

Students in California carried out widespread occupations and demonstrations throughout the public university system in March to oppose a 32 percent increase in tuition. California was not the only state to put the debt to the banks and the bondholders before the needs of students. Tuition hikes are scheduled in many states, from New York to Colorado to a second round in California.

Thus, there is no middle ground between the interests of the banks and capitalist investors on the one hand, and the interests of the masses of students and their families at all levels.

Low-wage, low-skill economy shrinks education

In addition to the profit motive, the shrinking of the education system is also based upon the fact that the bosses have created a low-wage, low-skill economy. They no longer have a great need to generate a vast base of skilled and semi-skilled workers. To the bankers, the cost of educating large sections of the population, especially African-American, Latino/a, Asian, Native and poor white youth, is unnecessary overhead. They would rather have the money in their vaults. After all, the growing job openings are in low-skill categories.

That is the nature of advanced capitalism itself. The book “Low-Wage Capitalism” says the following about the “education scam”:

“All the apologists for the system have been touting education as the way for workers to raise themselves up. But the entire trend of capitalist development moves in the direction of deskilling workers and lowering wages. The bosses want to reduce skills in order to reduce the need for training, to render workers virtually disposable by making them interchangeable, and thus to increase the competition among individual workers.

“ ... [T]he application of technology has as its goal simplifying the labor process. Thus, under capitalism the relative need for higher education and higher skills in the workforce goes down, not up, with the advance of technology.”

This was written in 2008, before the full development of the economic crisis. The massive unemployment today among youth age 16 to 24, which is officially around 25 percent, confirms this trend. People with college degrees are trying to get jobs as clerks, salespeople, waiters — any job, regardless of how far below their skill level it is — just to survive.

To the bankers and the bosses, education is a drain on their profits and is only needed on a much reduced scale to keep the system of exploitation going. The ruling class is perfectly content to see an educational system that will cull a layer of talented survivors from among the working class students and an upper crust of academic elite from among the more privileged children of the upper middle class and the rich. Meanwhile, they will let the rest of the educational system flounder, underfunded and impoverished.

The capitalists would rather see public funds used to boost their profit margins than for the education of the younger generation of the workers and the oppressed. Thus the struggle for education is a struggle against the capitalist profit system.

The students and youth, parents and communities, cannot be bound by the limitations of the profit system. They must demand the cancellation of the debts to the banks so that public money can be used in education and many other areas. They must demand that the rights of capital be suspended in favor of the right to education.

The writer is author of the book “Low-Wage Capitalism,” a Marxist analysis of globalization and its effects on the U.S. working class. He has also written numerous articles and spoken on the present economic crisis. For further information, visit lowwagecapitalism.com.
Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Neo-Nazi Glen Beck Reveals His True Colors

One would think it obvious to all that the basis of all modern conservative thought has its roots in either Nazism or Fascism.

Just as progressives and liberals are associated with communism and socialism.

They call us commies so turn about is fair play. If we are reds then they are Nazis.

Now one would think that some one would have advised the Niobe tears beckster about his unfortunate sartorial choice for that book cover photo. That is if by book you mean the feces smeared scribblings of a lunatic monkey.

But then maybe the resemblance to some Goebbels' inspired goose stepper was intentional.

The more these Nazis rant on the more obvious it becomes.

One can only hope they soon meet Stalingrad and beat a bloody retreat under a withering fire of facts and the exposure of their vileness.

Glenster's latest is his embrace of the Bund supporting Nazisymp. Elizabeth Dilling and her book "The Red Network: A "Who's Who" and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots stating that the book is "from people who were doing what we're doing now. We now are documenting who all of these people are." However, the book's author, Elizabeth Dilling, was a virulent anti-Semite, and The Red Network itself contains numerous passages that espouse anti-Semitism and racism." *

Citation Media Matters

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Europe’s media warn of global social unrest

From World Socialist Web Site

2 June 2010

When Karl Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto that “a spectre is haunting Europe,” he did so on the eve of the revolutionary eruptions that began in Italy and France in 1848 and engulfed much of the European continent.

In recent days, a number of media commentaries have predicted a similar eruption of social unrest of revolutionary dimensions as a direct result of the worsening economic crisis. These warnings are accompanied by dire predictions that Europe will suffer the return of nationalist tensions, the emergence of fascist movements and even war.

Writing in the Financial Times May 24, for example, historian Simon Schama stated, “Far be it for me to make a dicey situation dicier but you can’t smell the sulphur in the air right now and not think we might be on the threshold of an age of rage.… in Europe and America there is a distinct possibility of a long hot summer of social umbrage.”

Continue reading at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jun2010/pers-j02.shtml

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This Country Needs a Few Good Communists

From Truth Dig:

Posted on May 31, 2010

By Chris Hedges

The witch hunts against communists in the United States were used to silence socialists, anarchists, pacifists and all those who defied the abuses of capitalism. Those “anti-Red” actions were devastating blows to the political health of the country. The communists spoke the language of class war. They understood that Wall Street, along with corporations such as British Petroleum, is the enemy. They offered a broad social vision which allowed even the non-communist left to employ a vocabulary that made sense of the destructive impulses of capitalism. But once the Communist Party, along with other radical movements, was eradicated as a social and political force, once the liberal class took government-imposed loyalty oaths and collaborated in the witch hunts for phantom communist agents, we were robbed of the ability to make sense of our struggle. We became fearful, timid and ineffectual. We lost our voice and became part of the corporate structure we should have been dismantling.

Hope in this age of bankrupt capitalism will come with the return of the language of class conflict. It does not mean we have to agree with Karl Marx, who advocated violence and whose worship of the state as a utopian mechanism led to another form of enslavement of the working class, but we have to speak in the vocabulary Marx employed. We have to grasp, as Marx did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, loot the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship only money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state. It is the same nightmare seen in postindustrial pockets from the old mill towns in New England to the abandoned steel mills in Ohio. It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, mourning their dead, live each day.

Continue reading at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/this_country_needs_a_few_good_communists_20100531/