Chickens Home to Roost
By Leo Gerard, President, USW
October 7th, 2008 - 10:12am ET
While the recently passed bailout bill may or may not help to stabilize the credit markets (and on Monday it looked as if it may have in fact made it worse) it is absolutely clear that it does nothing to address the fundamental cause of this crisis – declining home prices and eight years of stagnant wages for the overwhelming majority of working families.
George W. Bush’s chickens have come home to roost, and they’re not pretty.
With the full support of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who voted with him 90 percent of the time, eight years of the Bush-McCain philosophy have left us in a terrible mess:
138 trade deals – every single one enthusiastically supported by McCain – have contributed to a loss of 3.9 million manufacturing jobs and the growth of our current account balance by $4.4 trillion.
A federal budget, which was running a $236 billion surplus in 2000, will balloon to an estimated deficit of $407 billion in fiscal 2008, and perhaps $500 billion in 2009.
And last week we learned that another 159,000 jobs were lost last month, many more than expected and the worst job losses in five years.
We have mortgaged not just our homes but our entire future to foreign governments that have made clear in recent days that they care not one wit for the concerns of America’s working families. The people with the leverage are now the Chinese, the Russians and the oil-producing countries, each of whom will want assurances that the debt they hold now and the new debt they will soon be buying are worth something.
If anything good can come out of this awful mess, we must begin by clearly and unequivocally recognizing the absolute bankruptcy of the Bush-McCain approach.
Congress and the next president, together with all those who care about America, need to come together and develop concrete plans for supporting real productive activity in this country and making meaningful public investments in our economy. We must create real wealth in our economy, and value-added manufacturing is the best answer.
Over and above creating millions of jobs and preserving countless more, investments in the “real economy” also offer the greatest opportunity to get something back on the hundreds of billions of bad loans which our government is about to acquire from Wall Street on behalf of the American people who live on Main Street. Just as we cannot consume our way to financial health, neither can we “swap” enough paper to re-create a vibrant economy.
Government must take the lead in revitalizing the economy that Wall Street speculators have almost destroyed. To create jobs, we need to invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, schools and bridges. We need to rebuild our outdated electricity grid and build new broadband lines to connect all of America. And we need to create the jobs of the future by transforming our energy economy, tapping our natural gas reserves, investing in clean coal, and finding ways to safely harness nuclear power.
We must also invest in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power, solar power and the next generation of biofuels, investments that will lead to new industries and millions of new jobs that pay well and can’t be offshored.
We need to once and for all bury the philosophy that worships only business, free markets, deregulation and free trade, and replace it with an economic program that restores the balance of power between workers and business, rebuilds the middle class and curbs corporate excesses.
Chickens Home to Roost
By Alan Maki | October 7th, 2008 - 4:27pm GMT
You and Carl Pope of the Sierra Club visited the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant here in Minnesota pledging your support to saving two-thousand good-paying union jobs by keeping the plant and the hydro dam providing power to the plant together as an industrial manufacturing unit... you walked away from this struggle after grand-standing, never to return.
Now, here you are talking about reforms aimed at saving capitalism... the very system that has created this mess.
Saving this plant through public ownership could provide an example of what will be required to get us out of this economic mess.
A solution you don't mention to this entire economic mess is one of nationalization and public ownership of closing mines, mills and plants resulting in job loss.
You support reforms and regulation being used to save a system which is responsible for Wall Street coupon clippers stealing the wealth created by American workers which is now invested in cheap labor "markets" overseas... thus creating this crisis of over-production... American workers are now so poor they can't buy back what is being produced.
What kind of "balance" do you want to "restore between workers and business"? The "balance" that existed during the first half of the Twentieth Century on Minnesota's Iron Range?
Or, the "balance" that turned working people into beggars from 1948 to present where unions became mere "pawns" without any power in the neo-liberal agenda because union "leaders" feared standing up to capital out of fear of being called "reds?"
Yes, the chickens really are coming home to roost, haven't they? I think this is called "class collaboration" trade unionism.
Capitalism has failed and is on the skids to oblivion dragging working class families into the morass of economic depression and your union, the AFL-CIO and other progressive organizations are pumping millions of dollars into Barack Obama's campaign when it is now obvious Obama is owned by Wall Street.
How about investing some of this money and union resources in developing a grassroots/rank-and-file struggle to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant?
When are you going to have the courage to stand up and say what the problem really is: capitalism.
The solution is a cooperative system of socialism.
Maybe you should spend some time explaining to working people in the United States why their sisters and brothers north of the border have their own labour party--- the socialist New Democratic Party.
Who is this "we" who must invest in your "new green economy?"
I assume you are referring to the American tax-payer.
If so, then it is time to say, "What tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own."
We don't need labor leaders advocating "rebuilding the middle class;" let the middle class speak for itself... labor leaders are supposed to speak for the working class and fight for the elimination of poverty.
What we need is labor leaders leading the struggle fighting against the impoverishment of the working class.
Workers create all wealth; wealth that Wall Street coupon clippers have been stealing for years because this is how capitalism operates and this is what causes the present economic problem.
We need to get rid of this rotten capitalist system which breeds war, racism, poverty and economic depressions and recessions causing working people to suffer; not try to "reform" and "regulate" its continued existence so it can continue breeding more misery.
The capitalist system is weak and on the ropes... now is the time for the working class to deliver a knockout punch.
Over 70% of all working people in this country make less than a living income; paid less than a living wage for the jobs they are employed to do.
What unions can't win at the bargaining table must be won for all workers through social programs like socialized health care and a real living minimum wage.
This is the only country in the world where union leaders continue to tell the working class that capitalism is worth saving when what is required is creating a socialist economic system based upon producing for human needs not corporate profits.
In working to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the hydro dam powering the operation and saving two-thousand jobs we can find real solutions to the problems you articulate.
Consider this: If you save two-thousand jobs in the Twin Cities, this is two-thousand jobs you can knock from your statistics... and saving these two-thousand jobs saves hundreds of jobs on the Iron Range and in the "Rust Belt."
Wall Street has turned to socialism to solve its problems; what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council