the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Oct 31, 2016
For 95 years, almost a century, the working class has not had its own political party. And we have all paid a price.
Of course, if working people had found the way to build a party, this doesn’t mean we would necessarily find ourselves running the country today. Nor does it even mean we could have prevented many of the attacks launched against us. You can’t rewrite history – just to make it go where you want it to go.
Nothing is guaranteed to us. But a party could let us begin to act as a single class – a class that understands it has interests and aims in common, different than what motivates the capitalist class, which runs society today. A working class party could open an arena in which we could talk to each other, come to understand each other, learn to solve problems together, test out our forces, overcome some of our divisions, discover how much more we could do when we are organized together. A party could let us become a force.
Eighty years ago, workers in this country began to do that. When they worked to organize the unions, they had to fight, and they had to do it collectively, depending on each other, bringing their forces together. Or they never could have built a single union.
Those fights only went so far – far enough to get us some unions, far enough so workers could contest the rule of the capitalists inside many of the workplaces.
But the working class never organized politically, never contested with the capitalist class over who would run the whole society.
This is still what the working class has to do: contest over who will run society, which class will set the aims and the goals for how all of us will be able to live.
We know what the capitalist class wants to do: its goal is to make as much profit as possible, and it aims to do that using whatever means will let it put its foul hands on more profit, human beings be damned.
The goal of the working class is different: our goal is the full flowering of every member of every generation. Our aim is to let everyone work, let everyone contribute to society – use the wealth that is produced to let everyone enjoy leisure, feed their curiosity and their own creativity.
So what does all this mean, in this election year, a “political year”?
We don’t have to turn our backs on the elections just because the capitalist class dominates the two big parties. We have to find a way to express through the elections, not only that we are fed up, but that we want to see the working class lead society. That means to look for candidates who declare they want the working class to organize politically.
Forget this poisonous idea fed to us almost from the cradle to the grave that we are throwing our vote away if we don’t vote for a party that can win. We will throw our vote away – once again – if we vote either Democrat or Republican.
Vote working class where we can. In Michigan, vote Working Class Party; in Maryland, vote for working class candidates; in New Jersey and Utah vote either Socialist Workers Party or Workers World Party; in Louisiana, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee or Washington, vote Socialist Workers Party; in Wisconsin, vote Workers World Party.
Few if any of these candidates will win – but a vote for them is NOT throwing your vote away. It’s the only useful vote. It’s a way to say what you know to be true: that the working class has to organize politically. It’s a way to show that a part of the working class is conscious of the power we could have if we organize together politically as one class.
Maybe today, only some thousands will express that idea, but those thousands can be the spark that sets our world afire tomorrow.
Oct 31, 2016
The main thing on people’s minds in this election cycle is jobs.
So where do Clinton and Trump stand on these issues?
Hillary Clinton argues that the Obama administration has done pretty well at overcoming the 2008 recession, which she said was the worst in this country since the Great Depression.
Reality is a little different. It shows that in the last eight years, millions of workers who lost jobs and found new ones got lower-paying jobs. Millions who have given up looking for work don’t count in the most common unemployment figures given. And work force participation is at its lowest point in 38 years, with millions of adults not in the work force.
But Clinton is willing to admit the economy hasn’t been good for everyone. In the first debate, she said, “We want to build an economy that works for everyone, not just for those at the top.”
Yet she voted for the bank bailouts that worked only for those at the top. Trillions of dollars went to the very ones who caused the recession – at the expense of everyone else.
She certainly doesn’t see that policy as a mistake. And that is a clue to where a Clinton administration would be going.
Trump said that he had two ways he would improve the economy for the population. First, he said in the debates, “I’ll reduce taxes tremendously from 35% to 15% – that’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan.”
This policy of “trickle-down” wealth has, since Reagan’s time, only trickled up. Only wealthy people have benefitted from reduction after reduction of their taxes. The share of wealth going to the top one percent has continued to grow. But the number of decent-paying jobs continues to decline.
Trump also said, “... we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs.”
The remark is truly cynical. Does Trump really think no one has heard about what he has done with manufacturing overseas? Trump shirts have been made in Bangladesh, Honduras, Vietnam. Trump suits have been made in Indonesia, India, Mexico. Trump ties and eyeglasses come from China.
But it’s what Trump and all the other bosses do in the U.S. that has the worst impact on U.S. workers. There is no trickle down, only wages going down. His casinos and hotels employed people mostly at minimum wage. When some of them tried to unionize, Trump used the bankruptcy courts to shut down the properties, laying off thousands and giving himself more tax breaks.
It’s policies like all of these, and the drive of the bosses to make one person do the work of two, that has driven the economy for most people into the ground.
Trump and Clinton propose solutions for bosses, not for working people.
Oct 31, 2016
Rates are going through the roof for people who buy health insurance through the ACA exchanges. In Illinois, rates will increase by about 50%. In 2017, the second-cheapest “silver” plan for the average Illinois family of four will cost $1,078 a month! In other states, the increases are similar.
And there will be fewer choices. People who live in Cook County, which includes Chicago, will have only three companies to choose from, down from seven in 2016. Last year there were five PPO plans, the type of plan that lets you choose from a bigger range of doctors. This year there will be only one PPO. Many people will have to change their plans and find new doctors.
The insurance companies who are pulling out claim that their profits weren’t high enough. Hogwash. These are some of the most profitable companies in the world. UnitedHealthcare, one of the big companies leaving the Illinois exchange, made 3.2 billion dollars in profits in the last three months. This was up 13 percent from last year. Aetna, another big insurer leaving Illinois Obamacare exchanges, made 734 million dollars in the last three months, up ten percent.
No, they’re not leaving because they’re losing money. They’re leaving in order to run a squeeze play, letting fewer companies dominate the market in each area, letting each one be more profitable still.
The federal government says that many people won’t have to pay the full cost of these price increases because of a subsidy. But the working class will still have to pay the cost, because the money for these subsidies comes out of our taxes. As the presidential debates illustrated, it’s not the rich people and corporations paying the taxes! So we pay either way, and even more of the wealth workers create will go to pump up the profits of these giant corporations.
These corporations are the ones making health care unaffordable. They provide no care. Not one vaccination, not one operation, not one life-saving drug. They just set themselves up as middlemen to amass profits.
And the Affordable Care Act protects them. Just look at who is forced to do what, under this law: ordinary people who don’t get insurance from their boss are forced to buy it on the exchange, or face a big fine. But the insurance companies aren’t forced to participate in the exchanges at all. They’re not allowed to deny coverage for “pre-existing conditions” – but they can charge everyone almost whatever they want.
The Republicans attack Obama and the Democrats for this law. But they don’t attack it for protecting the insurance companies. The Republicans say they would remove the few restrictions that exist on those companies.
These two parties and the corporations they serve will never make health care affordable or decent for working class people. We have to fix it for ourselves – to provide what we all need.
Oct 31, 2016
Washington, D.C. officials have given developers hundreds of millions of dollars of city-owned land at low prices; extended them millions of dollars of low interest loans; excused millions of dollars of property taxes, and gave other subsidies, all worth about 200 million dollars a year. Officials justified this by pointing to promises the developers make to hire city construction workers and contractors and build affordable apartments.
Yet city agencies have not bothered to count how many people were hired or how many units were affordable. When community activists fought to get this information for recent projects, it turned out the developers hired many fewer workers than they'd promised and built many fewer affordable apartments. For example, a hotel developer in the Adams Morgan neighborhood hired only one quarter of the 342 jobs promised. For the last 32 years, the city has not once fined a developer for breaking a pledge.
The community benefits promised are little more than the city’s excuse to give subsidies to developers! And while D.C. might be exceptionally shameless about this, other cities sacrifice money for schools and public services in just the same way.
Oct 31, 2016
SEIU has been asking people to make phone calls to sway the vote on propositions. Many of these propositions are about raising more tax money. So we are supposed to believe that, somehow, the government doesn’t have enough money for what matters to us, so we are told to help them collect more – usually off our own backs.
When the state gets more money, the politicians who run the state always find a way to route it to the coffers of large corporations. No, we aren’t going to tax ourselves into a better situation.
Oct 31, 2016
How are you all doing? On Nov. 8, many people in Michigan will again be going to the polls to vote. But this year, something is different in Michigan. This year, working people, instead of having only a choice between the lesser of two evils, this year people can vote for something that we agree with. We can vote for the candidates of the Working Class Party.
Now the Working Class Party in Michigan is not a real party of the working class. A real party of the working class would be a mass party with tens or hundreds of thousands of working people. And the changes we need will come about, not through elections, but when the working class makes a fight. But the fact that the Working Class Party is on the ballot means that this year workers can say, with their vote, what they think. We can say that we want to see the working class build its own party....
The fact that the Working Class Party is on the ballot in Michigan is a victory. Yes, it’s a small victory, but it’s a victory. 50,000 people in Michigan were willing to put their names on a petition to the State to say that the working class needs its own political voice; that the working class needs its own party.
Working people are facing a crisis situation – crises that have been aided and caused by the two main political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. Both parties support policies that led to an economy where many people are not able to find a job, or are only able only to find a part-time job; an economy where even many full-time jobs don't pay enough to be able to have a decent standard of living. Both parties in Michigan made decisions that led to poisoned drinking water for the people of Flint. Both parties are responsible for the destruction of public schools in Detroit and other working class communities.
Both parties say there is not enough money to deal with these problems. They are lying. The money is there.
The Working Class Party says that there is enough wealth in this society to provide clean water, good schools, and full-time jobs at decent wages for all who want them. We say that the wealth and the hoarded profits should be taken out of the hands of the corporations and the billionaires and the Donald Trumps, and that this money should be used to benefit the working people who produce those profits and that wealth....
Our campaign does not have the money that the two parties have. We don't have the Koch brothers or Wall Street billionaires giving us money. Our campaign does not have the major media reporting about us 24/7. They don’t even mention us. That’s no surprise since most newspapers and TV stations are owned by millionaires and media corporations. But we have reached people, not nearly everyone in the state, but we have reached people.
Our campaign is being made by ordinary working people, like those of us in this room. Our campaign is one person talking to their neighbor. Our campaign is one person selling a button to their family member. Our campaign is one person giving a leaflet to their co-worker, who then passes it on to someone else. Our campaign is people donating money, $5 or $10 or $20 at a time.
And we are going to keep going until Election Day, November 8. And all the days after.
Oct 31, 2016
Welcome, everybody. For three decades, politicians – from both parties, at every level of government – have pushed one plan after another that were sold as ways to “improve” the schools. But the schools for children of working people only got worse.
The Bush administration pushed No Child Left Behind; the Obama administration replaced it with Race to the Top, which was the same thing in a different package. The politicians pushed testing. They graded teachers, and graded schools and school districts, and punished the teachers. They removed funding from and closed schools that scored low. The state took over the Detroit Public Schools (and other districts in the state – like Highland Park, Flint) and ran them into the ground. Detroit got five emergency managers – dictators – one after the other. Half the schools disappeared.
Democrats and Republicans introduced so- called “choice” into the school systems – with charter schools, and “school of choice” districts. Instead of giving every district what it needed to provide an excellent education, they told parents, it’s up to you. Don’t like it where your children are? It’s up to you to shop around for somewhere else to take them. Find a charter school or find another district. It’s up to you to get your kids into a good school, or keep shopping until you can. It’s up to you to get your kids to that school, no matter how far away it is.
So now, if your children are receiving a poor education, they say you have no one to blame but yourself. Because you had the right to choose and didn’t use it....
If charters and school choice are supposed to be so great, if competition between schools is supposed to improve all the schools, why do the wealthy communities fight tooth and nail to make sure that nothing like that is imposed on their districts? Because they know.
They know exactly what it TRULY takes to provide an excellent education for children – it’s what THEY have, and what they insist on having: NEIGHBORHOOD public schools that have remained well-protected and well-funded. No school-choice revolving door. A stable school budget with a per-pupil funding that is nearly TWICE that of districts like Detroit....
And why shouldn’t working class students have the same excellent education, with the same excellent resources and opportunities and teacher-to-student ratios as the wealthy communities have?
Is that a pipe dream? Absolutely not. The wealth, the resources are there. The problem is who controls the wealth. In the capitalist system wealth and public money has been lodged in the huge profit margins of the banks and the corporations.
The money IS there. But the federal, state and local governments have been using it to bail out banks and corporations, to give huge tax breaks and grants to these banks and corporations. The State of Michigan is giving more away to corporations than it is taking in in taxes this year! THAT is why they can’t fix our schools, or our roads, or our WATER SYSTEMS. They’ve given the money to the corporations and the banks. They put profit first.
Working class people have different priorities. We put our lives, and our children’s and grandchildren’s lives and futures first. Put the kids BEFORE the banks and corporations. TAKE that money from the banks, and fund schools for our children! If the capitalists can’t make their profits, oh well! Not on the backs of our children!
THAT is what it means to have working class politics.
Oct 31, 2016
Hello everybody. Well I’m running in the Working Class Party in District 13 because I think we do need a working class party on the ballot. And then another thing that I think, just getting on the ballot is not going to be able to change things. But we will be able to speak for the workers and what the workers want and what they need. That’s not being dealt with today. We’re going backwards and backwards you know....
Look what they are doing to the next generation. Going to pay them half, that’s what they’re doing right now, the cost of living is skyrocketing and they are going to pay them half and less than half and don’t even have the same health care and other benefits. You know it ain’t right, and the bosses know it ain’t right. But they only care about their profits, that’s why they do that. They put their profits before our life.
We need to get the bigger picture and understand what it’s going to take. It’s going to take us, working people to fix this. I’ve said this over and over again: we’re the ones that make this country run. Once we get that understanding, then we know we’ll be able to deal with it. And if there’s a problem for us, once we understand that, we can make it stop.
All the problems that we are having are coming from the way the capitalists run this country, their policy. We are the force that makes this country run, creates all the wealth – and yet and still we are going to have a problem? That’s because we don’t see that we can stop them and take back what they took from us. Once we do that, we all can live a decent life. All human beings on this planet, if it spreads, can have a decent life....
They talk about crime, the capitalists do. What they do is cut jobs. They create crime. That’s why the crime rate is going up. What are young people going to do? A lot of time their parents can’t take care of them no more. They’re grown now, they’re on their own now, and they got kids. And they can’t get a job to deal with it. That’s why they take to the streets and do what they can do to get some money. And most of the time they come at the same working people when they do that because that’s who’s around.
When we fight, those young people in the street have to be brought together with us. We have to let them know who they really got to go after, when they fight, to make a change so we can have what we need and what we want. It’s there, but someone has stolen it from us and is still taking more from us.
They bring up immigration, the capitalists do – that’s one of their number one divisions, the capitalists dividing the workers now. But immigration ain’t the problem. That’s how they keep us fighting among ourselves when we should be fighting together, all the working people against the bosses. And that’s always been a problem, them dividing the working class in this country, white and black and immigrant. And that’s still going on....
So we need to get a bigger picture. It’s like that upper class – OK they’re that upper class because they took and stole from us. That’s why. And we are the ones that should be the upper class because we are the ones that create all the wealth.
Once you get to that, and most of the workers get to that, then we can change it. Once we start to stop certain things that happen, then we will know that we have the power to do that. And that’s what it takes, you know, power.
The working class – we are the ones that make everything run in this country, we are the forces that protect them, go to other countries and fight for them, killing other workers and losing our life for what they want. And then we won’t stand up and fight for the things that we need? No. They cause us a problem, we have to cause them a problem.
We are the force that can change everything here. That’s just one reason why I’m running, not just getting on the ballot, getting in the position, but to understand and talk to workers and bring them together and let them know what we are going to have to do to stop all of this.
All this that they have taken from us – bring our forces together, and we can take it all back.
Oct 31, 2016
We needed 31,566 signatures to get on the ballot this year. We aimed for 50,000 to be sure – and that’s what we got. Now we need 16,491 votes this year, so we can stay on the ballot for future elections. We’re aiming for 30,000 – just to be sure. And we can do that, all of us sitting in this room, with the help of our friends and family, and other people who have helped during this campaign.
If we can stay on the ballot, it would be a big advantage for the future. All the time we spent petitioning this year could instead be used to campaign and raise these issues in other parts of the state with more candidates.
So we need votes. Sam Johnson is running in the 13th congressional district. People in part of the west side of Detroit and western Wayne County can vote for Sam Johnson and for Mary Anne Hering. I, Gary Walkowicz, am running in the 12th congressional district. People in southern Wayne County going downriver and people in far western Wayne County and part of Washtenaw County out to Ann Arbor can vote for me and for Mary Anne Hering. But everybody in the state can vote for Mary Anne Hering. It will be people voting for Mary Anne for the State Board of Education that will allow us to get the votes we need to stay on the ballot. We have to make sure that everyone understands that voting for Sam or myself is not enough. We have to ask everyone to vote for Mary Anne Hering.
Oct 31, 2016
Many people may well remember the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, when a blowout in an oil well under the Deepwater Horizon rig created one of the worst environmental catastrophes in the U.S. But few remember or even knew the other part of the story – the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon. The new movie, Deepwater Horizon, focuses on it.
The blowout – which was caused by BP’s well design and Halliburton’s cement work – started the problem on the Horizon. But problems on the Horizon finished it.
Every one of the Horizon’s defenses failed on April 20, 2010. Some were deployed but did not work. Some were activated too late. Some were never deployed at all. The crew was never trained for such a situation.
One emergency system alone was controlled by 30 buttons. The handbook often gave conflicting ways to respond, warning crew members not to “overreact.”
How do you know it’s bad enough to react fast? Most of the more than 100 crew members had no clue what was happening. They were off duty and caught off guard when fire, explosions and the power outage occurred.
One of the main things the movie focuses on is a negative pressure test on the well that was performed under the direction of a BP executive. In order to see if the well was leaking hydrocarbons (oil and gas), the drill shack crew removed heavy mud from the well and replaced it with lighter seawater. Then they shut in the well to see if pressure built up inside. If it did, then there was a leak.
There was disagreement over the test results. But the BP executive insisted everything was fine and that the crew should continue.
But drilling quickly adds risk. Despite all the high tech wizardry on the Horizon, it was tangling with powerful unpredictable geological forces. And pushing rapidly into a highly pressurized, three-mile-deep reservoir of oil and gas can be particularly hazardous in the Gulf of Mexico’s unstable and porous formations.
Sure enough, the well blew out. Later investigations show the well failed the test. In fact, BP and its execs failed the test.
In the end, after the Horizon’s many defenses failed, many lives were saved by simple acts of bravery – men and women helped one another to survive.
Deepwater Horizon takes the side of the workers against BP’s greed and drive for profit at all costs.
Oct 31, 2016
Total combined cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported in 2015 reached the highest number ever, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close to two million people suffered from these diseases in 2015.
These sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are the three most commonly reported conditions in the U.S. and have reached a record high level. The largest increases in reported cases occurred very recently.
STDs can have serious long term health consequences, including chronic pain and fertility problems. Pregnant women can pass syphilis on to their children, leading to stillbirth or birth defects.
STDs are relatively easy to treat with antibiotics. But, according to the CDC: “Many of the country’s systems for preventing STDs have eroded.... In recent years more than half of state and local STD programs have experienced budget cuts, resulting in more than 20 health department STD clinic closures in one year alone. Fewer clinics mean reduced access to STD testing and treatment for those who need these services.”
Simply put, the federal and state governments cut healthcare funding, causing the spread of easily preventable diseases.
There should not have been any cuts. Because the money is there. For example, the federal government committed 12.2 trillion dollars to bail out the banks and car companies in 2011, according to the New York Times.
Thus, the government has mind-boggling amounts of money. This is a rich people’s government, not ours.
Oct 31, 2016
The Department of Defense has been demanding that 9,800 California National Guard members pay back bonuses they got to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Pentagon officials claim the bonuses were paid by mistake.
A mistake? Thousands of bonuses, amounting to tens of millions of dollars?
No, it was not a mistake. These bonuses were paid when the generals needed more boots on the ground for their “surges” – to fight the rising insurgencies against U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. So they paid the “volunteers.”
Bill McLain, for example, signed up for six more years when he was already deployed in Iraq in 2006, because he was told he would get a bonus of $30,000. McLain suffered serious head and back injuries in 2008, but this did not stop the Pentagon from ordering him to pay back the entire bonus. The Pentagon even garnished his entire monthly paycheck of $3,500 in 2013, just when McLain was about to go to Afghanistan on his fourth combat tour, leaving his wife and two stepchildren behind.
After a Los Angeles Times article in October publicized the veterans’ outrage, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that the collection of the bonuses would be suspended. But Carter and other Pentagon officials said that the “debt collection” would continue after a “review” of each soldier’s case.
When asked about veterans whose credit record has been ruined because of this “debt,” a high-level Pentagon official said, “We do not have authority or the ability to change people’s credit records.”
Really? But these officials did have “authority and the ability” to pay all those bonuses when they needed bodies to throw into their bloody wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It’s disgusting. And so it is, that Bill McLain’s wife, Terese, writes “Blood Money” in disgust on each $100 monthly check she sends to the Pentagon – which the Pentagon happily cashes!
Oct 31, 2016
A bus crash near Palm Springs, California, killed 13 people, including the bus driver, in the early morning hours of Sunday, October 23. Thirty-one other passengers were injured.
The bus was returning to Los Angeles from a visit to a casino when it rear-ended a tractor-trailer that had slowed down in traffic. The bus driver, 59-year-old Teodulo Vidas, was also the owner of the 20-year-old bus. He charged $20 for the 320-mile round trip from Los Angeles to the casino. In other words, Vidas was running one of the thousands of low-cost bus services across the country that specialize in carrying customers to casinos for a night’s visit.
To cut costs, big companies hire drivers as “independent contractors.” So the drivers not only do not qualify for a set wage and benefits, but now “own” their bus also – that is, they are responsible for all the expenses of the bus. Big trucking companies do the same thing.
These one-bus companies make little money – which in turn forces them to increase the number of trips to stay afloat. Vidas’s bus, for example, was driven nearly 69,000 miles in 2013, enough for more than 200 trips to that particular casino or others that exist nearby.
This guarantees that many, if not all, of these “family-owned” companies will forgo maintenance.
Police said there was no sign of the bus braking before the crash. Did the driver fall asleep? Did the brakes fail? Was the bus in disrepair?
We may not know the immediate cause of the crash yet, but one thing is certain: Conscious decisions made by big corporations to maximize their profits can only make transportation unsafe for millions of passengers and drivers.
Oct 31, 2016
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), the state’s largest health insurance company, decided to get rid of its own retirees’ health care coverage. But this does not appear to be an easy task. This is such a hit for these workers and it appears to be such a disgusting move to anyone that looks at this, that the company has decided to divide its attack into two launches to try to get through with fewer problems. It begins with the non-union retirees.
These workers, who are supposedly not used to organizing themselves, did so. And they did organize a rally in front of the headquarters of BCBSM on Thursday, October 27th. By 2 p.m. almost a hundred people gathered with handmade signs, blue balloons and a lot of energy to shout their anger and disgust at the company’s decision.
They said: “We built you up, you let us down”… It is true that BCBSM is a very profitable company because of the work workers have been doing. Then, after a life of work, the company kicks workers out with almost nothing! “Hired with a promise, retired with a lie!” and “Blue Cross - Double Cross!” and “Liars, Liars!”, “Blue Cross ripped us off!” expressed exactly what people felt about what the company has decided to do.
Retirees shouted, “You next, you next!” warning active workers that they will be the next on the list if nothing stops BCBSM from going forward with this policy. And moreover they warned that most working people will be affected by the deterioration of health insurance and dramatically increasing rates for fewer benefits.
Active BCBSM workers showed their support inside by wearing blue that day after retirees circulated slogans of “We’re still Blue!” People sent live broadcasts from the rally that went viral on Facebook and internet sites. Workers put up signs at the windows to show their support, and some came down to join the demonstration. And to see the stares and glares of executives at the doors gave protesters a good feeling! BCBSM even decided to lock down the main doors of the tower to prevent workers from exiting to join the protest!
By the way, some of the slogans are a reminder of the big strikes that occurred 20 or 30 years ago at BCBSM. Hopefully this rally has potential to begin bigger things to come. We all wish the worst luck for this company’s plans!