May 22, 2017
“You’ve got a special counsel who has prosecutorial powers now.... Public access to this is probably going to be very limited now. It’s really going to limit what the public will know about this.” So said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, responding to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate whether Donald Trump or his administration has broken the law.
We can be sure that the Republican Party would like – in Graham’s own words – “to limit what the public will know about this.” But most Democrats are also calling for “patience,” and to “let the investigation take its course.”
Taking its course means taking its time. Lots of time. The last two special counsels each took almost seven years to finish their investigations into presidential wrong-doing.
This is exactly the point. No matter how many years it takes, the constant flow of damning information could be seriously reduced, at least for now.
In Washington, eager to get down to business as usual, that’s what the politicians must be hoping for. Because Trump himself has created a problem for Washington’s business as usual – which is to carry out the political agenda of the capitalist class: the insurance companies, the banks, the big industrialists.
With his constant tweets, not to mention the grandiose statements in which he implicates himself in crimes, Trump has put himself on the agenda. What Washington, and behind it the wealthy class that really runs this society, must hope now is that the investigation will put a damper on Trump himself.
Trump is clearly a representative of his class: of the wealthy people who run this society. Arrogant people who believe they have every right in the world to do what they want, when they want – and that no one will call them on it.
For most of Trump’s history, no one did call him to account. He piled up money by ripping off other people. He put businesses into bankruptcy, leaving wages unpaid, while he ran off not only with the money people earned, but with the money he had borrowed. He hired immigrants without papers, paying them much lower wages. He was so hostile to any attempt to form a union in one of his businesses that he was actually cited by the courts for breaking labor laws – even courts that are not friendly to unions. He was an open sexual predator, bragging about his sexual prowess like a teenage boy.
The ruling class was fine with all this. But now Trump sits in the White House, with a constant spotlight on him. And he still can’t keep his mouth shut, nor his Twitter account shut down.
That’s what creates a problem for the rest of his class, the ruling capitalist class. Because he continues to brag openly about what the rest of them do, but don’t say. His braggadocio threatens them all.
If Trump can’t contain himself now, if he can’t resist throwing out wild statements, if his need for the constant spotlight can’t be stifled by the threat of impeachment, the rest of his own class may well decide he needs to be dumped. And if they decide it, Washington WILL impeach him.
Wherever this investigation leads, one thing is clear. Trump – no matter how arrogant, how self-important he styles himself – does not stand alone. Even if Trump were to be removed by impeachment, the capitalist system will continue – just as it did after Nixon, threatened with impeachment, resigned.
The problem for working people is not whether Trump is to be impeached. Our problem is that Trump and his whole class, the capitalist class that runs this country, should be tossed aside, like the used-up trash they are. No congressional investigation is going to do that. No special prosecutor.
The only force that has the reason to do it, and the capacity to do it, is the working class – at the point it finally begins to move, tests its own strength, and realizes the power it can have.
May 22, 2017
The Gary Airport is suing Honeywell for pollution it left in the 1970s and 1980s. According to the lawsuit, Honeywell dumped large amounts of toxic waste at a site right next to the airport, and that waste is now leaching into groundwater and the Grand Calumet River.
Honeywell claims they were already cleaning the site up back in the 1990s and early 2000s. But if hazardous waste is leaking out again, how good a job could they have done cleaning it up?
Like the Calumet River, Honeywell’s excuses stink.
May 22, 2017
According to Metro’s proposed budget, Measure M, the half cent tax increase that Los Angeles County voters agreed to last November, will provide Metro 762 million dollars in 2018. That’s a great big increase in funding for Metro.
Yet Metro will keep service hours the same for Metro buses. So there is no money next year for extra buses, more operators, new lines, and so on.
That is, we are paying more taxes. But Metro is not providing more service. Where is this money going? The Metro officials’ business partners, lavish offices, entertainment and food should be costing a lot!
May 22, 2017
Mlive.com just listed state employee salaries on a website. They excluded Department of Corrections and State Police workers, but included everyone else.
If Mlive wants transparency and open government, how about setting up a website of WHO got state contracts. Be sure and include info on lucrative CEO salaries at the places with state contracts. Include how much money was donated to politicians and who pushed for these contracts. Because following THAT money is how you make state government more transparent.
May 22, 2017
UPS just got named one of the best companies in the U.S. to work for by Forbes magazine. Really? This part time, low wage, no chance to get to full time, overworking company with veteran bosses who think they’re still in the army?
All the other companies must be REALLY BAD if this is one of the best!
May 22, 2017
Thanks to a dispute over their water bills, the stadium for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and the stadium for the Ravens football team were put into the May 15 tax lien sale.
By the next morning officials of the Maryland Stadium Authority rushed to deny the sale, pretending the city had no legal jurisdiction over them. The Authority claimed the water department had messed up their bills.
If residents fall behind on their water bills, the department turns off the water. Did the water department threaten the Maryland Stadium Authority with turning off the water before Opening Day? Of course not.
May 22, 2017
May 15 is tax lien sale in Baltimore. People who owe as little as a few hundred dollars on a water bill or real estate tax bill can discover their home sold right out from under them by the city.
In fact, it’s a racket. Real estate sharks buy up liens, then offer to sell them back to the home’s rightful owner for the original amount plus 18% more in fees and interest.
These tax lien sales and water bill sales contribute to driving people out of their homes in Baltimore.
Losing a home because a person cannot pay a ridiculously high water and sewer bill is the mark of a society that is not organized to serve the population.
May 22, 2017
Since Trump took office, there is heightened fear among immigrants that any contact with law enforcement will lead to deportation. And in L.A., where there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, immigrants are not reporting crimes, or coming forward to serve as witnesses, or showing up in courts.
Top Los Angeles officials have tried to assuage these fears. “As long as I am mayor, the LAPD will never be a deportation force,” proclaimed Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the May 1 immigrant rights demonstration.
Officials claim that Los Angeles is a “sanctuary” for immigrants. They say that the LAPD neither asks about people’s immigration status, nor detains people for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
These official reassurances are a sham. The LAPD continues to feed the deportation machine. The LAPD partners with ICE in joint task forces that are supposed to target gangs, drug traffickers and dangerous criminals. But their raids are often little more than an excuse to carry out mass arrests. And all those picked up risk being detained by ICE in order to be deported, including many who have no criminal record.
The LAPD also automatically turns over all records of arrests and fingerprints to federal authorities, including ICE. Considering that in working class and poor communities the police often arrest people for minor offenses, including selling loose cigarettes, biking on the sidewalk, or simple possession, this also feeds the deportation machine.
And in no way is this just due to Trump. Only a few years ago, the federal government under Barack Obama, was deporting more than 400,000 immigrants a year. The federal authorities would never have been able to do this alone. They were only able to do this in cooperation and coordination with the local police forces, like in Los Angeles, acting as what officials call “force multipliers” for the federal government.
This repression is not aimed at getting rid of immigrant workers, but to intimidate them into accepting lower wages, longer hours and worse working and living conditions for the greater profit of the capitalist class. And they are used to divide the working class against itself.
May 22, 2017
In March, Los Angeles County passed another tax on workers through Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax increase to “provide social services” for the homeless and “prevent” homelessness. A two-thirds super-majority vote was required for the approval of the measure. Close to 70% of the voters voted “Yes.” Measure H would raise about 355 million dollars each year over 10 years.
Strong approval of this measure by Los Angeles county residents implied that they were concerned with the homelessness problem and wanted it to be addressed and resolved.
Today, a third of chronically homeless in Los Angeles are mentally ill.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan’s administration cut federal mental-health spending by 30%. These cuts have continued ever since. For example, between 2009 and 2012, the states cut a total of 4.35 billion dollars in public mental-health spending from their budgets.
As a result of such drastic cuts, mentally ill patients were first moved from state mental hospitals to nursing homes and general hospitals. Then, these cuts caused a severe shortage of services, including housing, community-based treatment, and access to psychiatric medications. "Increasingly, emergency rooms, homeless shelters and jails are struggling with the effects of people falling through the cracks due to lack of needed mental health services and supports," the National Alliance on Mental Illness reported in 2013.
In 1955, there was one psychiatric bed for every 300 Americans, according to Mother Jones magazine. In 2010, there was one psychiatric bed for every 7,100 Americans, the same ratio that existed back in 1850.
Some of the mentally ill were later imprisoned. Between 1998 and 2006, the number of mentally ill people incarcerated in federal, state, and local prisons and jails more than quadrupled, according to the Los Angeles Times. And the mentally ill prison population is increasing every year.
This situation is the direct result of the federal government destroying the funding system it created before. And Measure H is another way for the federal and the state governments to pass social costs onto the backs of workers while funneling tax money into the accounts of corporations.
Under such a callous social system, social ills like homelessness, caused by this very system, cannot be resolved.
May 22, 2017
In April of 1917, strikes broke out in all the factories of Russia. They were launched to impose raises or the eight-hour work day, or to respond to sabotage organized by the bosses. Trotsky wrote that these strikes “carried out deep revolutionary processes that brought together in a political whole all the heterogeneous elements of the working class.” The stories below come from Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory by Kevin Murphy.
“The factory committee (of the Gurzon factory) resolved that not one worker could be laid off without their agreement. The workers decided that they also had the right to appoint and dismiss management. On May 23, management complained that the workers of the molding department had announced to their boss, M. Mattis, that they did not want him as their boss anymore and that they had revoked his position, effective immediately. The next day, the bolt workshop recalled its supervisor. This boss had particularly molested the women in the workshop, firing those who got pregnant or forcing those who worked in production to clean the floor....
On June 19, the factory committee submitted these demands on other questions:
1. Create a permanent space for the factory committee, for the general assemblies of the factory, conferences, and other cultural and educational activities.
2. Accept seven-hours for the night shift, with pay for eight hours.
3. Pay wages regularly in the following way: Not later than the 20th of the month, give an advance for the month, and pay the cost of living bonuses no later than the 8th of the next month.
4. Install ventilation systems for all the enclosed spaces where there is production.
5. Have showers and baths for both sexes.
6. A sufficient temperature during winter in all workshops; wash stands.
7. In every workshop, there must be a cafeteria or comfortable and closed place.
8. Make toilets close to every workshop.
9. In every workshop, make lockers for the workers’ clothes.
10. In the laminating workshop and the construction zone, bring in hot water because it is actually very far away and inaccessible because of the nature of the work.
11. The wages for sick time, in relation or not to the work, must be completely paid starting with the first day of sickness and based on the workers’ average wages.
12. Women who have children must be given two weeks off before and four weeks off after they give birth, but they must be paid for all this time based on the average wages.
13. Drugs prescribed by private doctors must be distributed by the local dispensary and, if the dispensary doesn’t have them, the factory must get them from another pharmacist.
14. In times when work stops because of a shortage of material, wages must be paid at half of the minimum wage.
15. After the birth of an infant, pay out 25 roubles; after the death of an infant, give 25 roubles, for the death of adults, give 75 roubles.
16. All workers who have been at the factory at least a year must be given two weeks of vacation; all workers who have two years or more of seniority must have a month of vacation at the minimum pay.”
The variety, the clarity, and the power of these demands shows the organization and the growing confidence of the workers. The need for a regular place to meet shows that the workers’ first priority was to reinforce their own organizations.
May 22, 2017
The following articles continue our series on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, taken from the words of participants.
The February 1917 revolution and the fall of tsarism produced an enormous echo in the Russian peasantry, lifting their hopes that their aspirations might finally be satisfied. The poor peasants wanted to divide the land, but they grew impatient because the Provisional Government blocked this agrarian reform. To head off the expropriation of their lands, the nobles partitioned them and sold them to the rich peasants, the kulaks. A congress of peasant delegates met in Petrograd from May 11 to May 17 (May 24-30 by our calendar). Lenin addressed it to say to the poor peasants that only the workers and the Bolshevik Party supported their desire to get the land and that, for their demands to be realized, it was necessary to give all power to the soviets.
“Comrades, peasant deputies,
... All the land must belong to the people. All the landed estates must be turned over to the peasants without compensation. This is clear. The dispute here is whether or not the peasants in the local areas should take all the land at once, without paying any rent to the landowners, or wait until the Constituent Assembly meets.
“Our party believes that they should, and advises the peasants locally to take over all the land without delay, and to do it in as organized a way as possible, under no circumstances allowing damage to the property and exerting every effort to increase the production of grain and meat since the troops at the front are in dire straits. In any case, although the final decision on how to dispose of the land will be made by the Constituent Assembly, a preliminary settlement now, at once, in time for the spring sowing, can be made only by local bodies, inasmuch as our Provisional Government, which is a government of the landowners and capitalists, is putting off the convocation of the Constituent Assembly and so far has not even fixed a date for it.
“... The fields must be sown to crops. Most of the peasants in the local areas are quite capable of making use of the land in an organized way, of ploughing and putting it all under crops. This is essential if the supply of food to the soldiers at the front is to be improved. Hence, to wait for the Constituent Assembly is out of the question. We by no means deny the right of the Constituent Assembly finally to institute public ownership of the land and to regulate its disposal. In the meantime, however, right now, this spring the peasants themselves must decide locally what to do with it. The soldiers at the front can and should send delegates to the villages.
“Further. For all the land to pass over to the working people, a close alliance of the urban workers and the poor peasants (semi-proletarians) is essential. Unless such an alliance is formed, the capitalists cannot be defeated. And if they are not defeated, no transfer of the land to the people will deliver them from poverty. You cannot eat land, and without money, without capital, there is no way of obtaining implements, livestock, or seed. The peasants must trust not the capitalists or the rich muzhiks (who are capitalists too), but only the urban workers. Only in alliance with the latter can the poor peasants ensure that the land, the railways, the banks, and the factories become the property of all the working people; if this is not done, the mere transfer of the land to the people cannot abolish want and pauperism.
“Workers in certain localities in Russia are already beginning to establish their supervision (control) over the factories. Such control by the workers is to the peasants’ advantage, for it means increased production and cheaper products. The peasants must give their fullest support to this initiative on the part of the workers and not believe the slander which the capitalists spread against the workers....
“Russia must become a democratic republic.... We want a republic where there is no police that browbeats the people; where all officials, from the bottom up, are elective and displaceable whenever the people demand it, and are paid salaries not higher than the wages of a competent worker; where all army officers are similarly elective and where the standing army separated from the people and subordinated to classes alien to the people is replaced by the universally armed people, by a people’s militia....
“The workers and peasants are the majority of the population. The power and the functions of administration must belong to their Soviets, not to the bureaucracy....”
May 22, 2017
The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group active in France.
Emmanuel Macron named a right-wing politician, Édouard Philippe, as Prime Minister of France. He was Mayor of le Havre and a loyal lieutenant of Alain Juppé, who many workers have good reason to remember. In 1995 under Prime Minister Chirac he attacked retirements and health care – but he was pushed back by a massive mobilization of strikes and demonstrations.
Until now, the right and the left have handed power back and forth in order to carry out the anti-worker policies demanded by the big bosses. This time, they’re doing it together. Édouard Philippe will implement the policies announced by Emmanuel Macron. They want to demolish the laws that give some protection to workers, and give the bosses a free hand to lay off, fire workers, and close factories. And they want to lay off 120,000 government workers.
With the help of the government, the big companies are accelerating the social war against the working class, with the same recipe every time: intensify work for some, and get rid of others, all to increase dividends. Vivarte, Tati, Mim, Whirlpool and GM&S Industry are the latest examples of this policy. GM&S Industry is particularly revealing. PSA and Renault, who give orders to this auto subcontractor, planned the death of this factory with 300 workers in la Creuse. Renault and PSA made record profits last year: 3.9 billion dollars for one and 2.4 billion for the other. And we can be sure that, with the end of the election, other plant closures and other “competivity plans” will be revealed.
This is the context for the legislative elections. Because of the deep discredit of the Socialist Party and the right wing parties, all the political leaders are playing a comedy of reinventing themselves. It is impossible to know in advance who among the Macronists, the right, the National Front, or La France Insoumise (Unruly France) will come out on top in this political realignment. But it is certain that the new majority will be at the service of the rich and that no parliamentary opposition will represent the interests of the working class.
Workers can only count on the opposition that will be born out of their struggles. But only if that opposition is based on their class, corresponding to the interests of the exploited, and not based on reactionary illusions. Struggles based on ideas like protectionism that only protect the bosses here, or blame part of the working class, can only divide the camp of the exploited, and demoralize and weaken it.
The National Front of Marine Le Pen, which a large number of workers voted for, is the main peddler of these poisonous ideas. It wants to make immigrant workers scapegoats. And under the pretext of defending French business, that is to say French capitalists, it points a finger at workers in other countries. But the National Front has no monopoly on nationalist demagogy. And these ideas are just as toxic when they are peddled by the French Communist Party or by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The power of the workers rests in their consciousness of their common interests against the capitalist class. In making the side of the workers be heard, Nathalie Arthaud raised the flag of this class consciousness in the presidential election. In the legislative election, Lutte Ouvrière is running candidates in all the districts of mainland France and in Réunion (an island controlled by France), and in Guadeloupe and Martinique, where we are running candidates with the organization Combat Ouvrier.
All of these candidates are workers, women and men. Our candidates let those who recognized their interests in Nathalie Arthaud’s presidential election register their vote. They also let those who were touched by what Nathalie Arthaud said, but who wanted to make a “useful” vote, to not turn their backs on their first choice and to vote for their own side.
To make the needs of the workers heard once again in the legislative elections, to show the persistence of the current that we represent, this is the best way to prepare to defend ourselves in the fights of tomorrow.
May 22, 2017
This article is translated from the May 9 issue of Combat Ouvrier (Workers Fight), the paper of comrades in Guadeloupe and Martinique, two islands that are French overseas departments in the Caribbean.
On May 1st, textile workers demanded a wage increase to more than $11 a day (800 gourdes, the Haitian currency).
In the capital city of Port-au-Prince, nearly 500 people defied the police by marching from Sonapi Park in the industrial zone to the president's residence at the Field of Mars. The majority were workers from the textile companies, supported by students.
Four trade unions were present, as were the comrades of OTR, the Revolutionary Workers Organization, demonstrating with the slogan of raising the minimum wage. The demonstrators chanted, “800 gourdes minimum per day,” and, “Slow down the pace of work!” Their signs exposed the high cost of living and the lack of health insurance, for which deductions are always made by the bosses without services to workers ever being paid for.
The Haitian government, serving the bosses, renamed May 1 “the Festival of Agriculture.” The government organized an agricultural fair at the Field of Mars to fool working people and divert them onto a different path than struggle. But worrying that the protesters might disrupt the fair, the new president Jovenel sent police to arrest the demonstrators anyway. On the road the marchers encountered the police and their armored vehicles. They faced off for over an hour. The workers sang, “When we are hurt on a machine, we never see the police.” The workers explained to the police that they also are children of poor neighborhoods and that they should not obey the orders of the bosses. In the end the police did not shoot. They followed the march and blocked it 200 yards from the Field of Mars.
Union speakers demanded the pay raise to 800 gourdes a day. The speaker from OTR explained why this wage should be paid in dollars. The bosses get sales revenue in dollars but pay the workers in gourdes, which is a currency that loses value. A wage paid in dollars would not lose value.
No president will make this adjustment. Only pressure exerted by mobilized, angry workers will force the bosses to make it.
The morning of May 1, President Jovenel wanted to calm this anger in advance by decreeing a raise of 50 gourdes per day. This would only raise the pay from $4 a day now to $5 a day. The workers replied, “That’s miles away from 800 gourdes ($11)!” and they are still mobilized in the industrial zone.
May 22, 2017
The U.S. Labor Department announced that the number of unemployment claims is at its lowest level since 1988. Some economists declared it’s proof that things are getting better.
What a shameless lie! To the contrary – if unemployment claims are at a historic low, it’s because millions of unemployed workers are denied unemployment benefits.
Workers are denied unemployment because, they are told, the types of jobs they had don’t qualify them for it. Others are told they did not work long enough to qualify. Or that they didn’t work enough hours.
Add to that all those workers who would have been getting an unemployment check ten years ago but don’t get it now, because they live in a state – one of about a dozen – that reduced the number of weeks they pay for.
This economic system, which denies millions of workers enough employment or enough income to pay their bills, then turns around and tells them they won’t get unemployment benefits because the system did not provide them with a decent job in the first place!
But then, this is the capitalist system – it works for capitalists, not for workers.
May 22, 2017
Pharmaceutical companies increased the prices of prescription drugs about 10% per year over the last seven years, according to a study by the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Neither the Affordable Care Act nor Trump’s American Health Care Act does anything to rein in these skyrocketing prices and the profits to the drug companies that come from them.
Blue Cross has its own interests at heart when it publicizes these outrageous hikes, but there are other sources of profit built into the medical industry, along with high salaries to executives of “non-profit” insurance companies that act as conduits for passing profits on to other corporations and banks. It all contributes to the U.S. medical system being extremely expensive, resulting in relatively poor health outcomes compared with most other industrialized countries.
The answer? Take profit out of health care!
May 22, 2017
When lawmakers wax on about cutting income taxes, working people would be wise to hold on to their wallets.
In Michigan, for example, the Republican controlled legislature takes every opportunity to push for a cut to the 4.25 percent personal income tax. But this is only a cover for their intentions to cut funding for any and all public spending; for health care, for schools, for aid of any kind.
Their most recent discussions, coming out of state budget talks, call for further attacks on Michigan schoolteachers. They want to use the School Aid Fund, which is doing better than anticipated, to pay the high costs of closing off the current defined benefit pension programs to any new teacher enrollment. They want to force all new teachers into 401K plans which would deprive them of any real protections for retirement.
This tactic has been used against workers in the private sector with great success – for the bosses, that is. Public workers, including schoolteachers, have been the latest targets of these attacks. Already, school administrations across the United States have moved to strip teachers of protections like tenure and decent health care plans.
This recent proposal by Michigan politicians works against the total population. New teachers would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits, and already retired teachers and teachers in line for retirement would be next on the chopping block. Workers’ children will be negatively impacted as teachers are less well rewarded and forced into worse circumstances that make it harder to teach.
All this to cut some millionaires’ and billionaires’ taxes so that they can have one more house or one more yacht on Lake Michigan? All of us have reason to demonstrate our opposition to this wolf in sheep’s clothing.
May 22, 2017
According to the investment news group Bloomberg, the highest paid CEO in the U.S. is Marc Lore, head of Walmart e-commerce division. He brought home 237 million dollars last year. That’s as much as about 10,000 Walmart workers would make – if they worked full time!
A lot of his money came from Walmart buying the company jet.com that he owned. And where did Walmart get the money to buy that company? From the wealth created by its workers, of course!
May 22, 2017
People working in scientific fields have demonstrated to express their opposition to the growing attack on science.
Many said they were appalled by openly anti-scientific policies coming from Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump certainly made a name for himself during the campaign by declaring, “global warming is a hoax” and “vaccination equals autism.”
But the problem is not just his cynical use of bankrupt claims. Behind Trump’s words stand policy choices: to cut back funding for scientific research in order to free up money for tax breaks to the corporations. The budget Trump submitted would cut funds for research into climate change. He would cut funds to the National Institutes of Health, which carries out and funds biomedical research.
But Trump is hardly alone in his attack on scientific research.
Other presidents paid lip service to science, but cut funding for meaningful research. Like Barack Obama, who took part in the Paris climate accord, their words ring hollow. Climate scientists have simulated how much pollution should be cut in order to stop further damage to the climate. But no U.S. president has dared even to talk about such concrete targets, much less push for them.
Other presidents lauded the findings of medical research. But, like Obama, their administrations ignored recommendations by scientists who warned that various drugs should not be released to the market.
Is the disregard of scientific research becoming more malignant today, as the scientists who demonstrated said? Undoubtedly – but this started long before Trump took office.
Our society has been mired in an economic crisis since the early 1970s. The reaction of the capitalist class, which dominates society, has been to carry out a widespread class war, whose aim has been to protect capitalist profit at the expense of the populations’ standard of living.
Not only have our jobs and our income suffered, but so has the environment in which we live. Big companies resurrect old, even more polluting equipment because it’s more profitable. They could not give a damn about human health or the health of the planet. New medicines are introduced, which offer no benefit over the old ones or have even more side-effects. But pharmaceutical companies push them because they can charge more for new ones.
Public money for medical research floods into projects that will benefit the pharmaceutical industry and medical goods industries – while little goes into basic nutrition, although nutrition might be more beneficial for widespread conditions, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Science could provide a great benefit to humanity, but its impact is severely limited and radically distorted by the fact that scientists work within a framework determined by the economic interests of the capitalist class.
To see science freed up, to see it flower, working for the benefit of humanity and the environment that all species inhabit, means to work to push aside capitalist society. We need a society where the common good of the population determines what is to be done – that is, a socialist society, a communist society.
We do not have that society today. But it’s not a utopia, not just a dream. To build it lies within the capacities of the working class.
May 22, 2017
A scientific study published in 2004 touted the drug citalopram, brand named Celexa, which proved useful in treating major depression in children and teens. The pharmaceutical company making the drug, Forest, benefitted from the influence of the study’s lead author, Dr. Karen Wagner, now the president-elect of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The study was said to be a double-blind, randomized trial, considered the gold standard for scientific research.
It turns out the drug may not be beneficial, and appears to even have harmful side-effects, and that drug-maker Forest and Wagner maneuvered to hide the negative information. In an unusual development, secret documents showing how they did so came to light, only because some patients’ attorneys suing the company succeeded in getting confidential company documents unsealed.
The documents suggest “ghostwriters” for the company wrote the positive article, then had Wagner review it and put her name on it. The ghostwriters included information from patients who knew they were taking the drug and described positive effects.
The patients’ knowledge that they were receiving the drug destroys the “double-blind” nature of the study, and also implies the researchers knew their status. If these patients are excluded from the study, the drug would have been found to be no more effective than a placebo. None of this was described in Wagner’s article.
A second study of citalopram had even worse findings. It found the drug to be much less effective than a placebo, and twice as many study subjects showed suicidal thoughts or behaviors as those on the placebo! Forest hid the findings of the second study while promoting Wagner’s article aggressively.
A group of 16 scientists are asking the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to retract the study’s positive findings. So far, the APA has not done so. Despite the lawsuit, doctors still widely prescribe this apparently dangerous drug.
How many more drugs are there whose dangerous side effects have been concealed? It all shows the pharmaceutical industry can count on the FDA not to stand in the way of corporate profits.