The Spark

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

Issue no. 1038 — July 31 - August 21, 2017

Editorial:
Impeach the SYSTEM!

Jul 31, 2017

The level of disruption and dysfunction in the Trump White House is unprecedented. Just six months into the new term, the number of firings and resignations, the infighting and information leaks, have reached new records. Many positions remain open – Trump has only appointed one-fifth of the positions that normally are staffed by the president.

This is normally the period where a new administration is at its most powerful. No one could have imagined that a new administration, with majorities in both houses of Congress, would be able to get nothing done. But Trump can’t put together a simple majority to get any significant legislation passed in Congress, even with a clear majority of Republicans in both houses.

Trump’s administration may be a train wreck. His poll numbers may have plunged. But the specter of impeachment is not being raised because of that.

No, what drives the talk of impeachment is another hornet’s nest that Trump himself has ripped open: what started with a simple investigation into Russia’s role in the election has broadened into something much bigger – because Trump can’t leave it alone.

When he urged then-FBI director Comey to let the investigation go; when he fired Comey to stop the investigation; when he bristles about the appointment of a special investigator and threatens to fire his own attorney general and get rid of the investigator; when he continues to refuse to release his tax returns, he has made it clear he fears disclosure of financial corruption. He has guaranteed that a small investigation that didn’t even involve him at first now has spread, like a cancer, to his family’s financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, quite possibly including money-laundering for Russian gangsters. Because he just can’t keep his mouth shut, he threatens to take a good many other people down with him.

The ruling class is okay with corruption. But they’re not okay with the president flaunting that corruption in full public view.

With every crazy tweet and proclamation and firing Trump makes, he only helps to reinforce the possibilities that impeachment proceedings will push on, making even his own party seek a way to remove him.

So, what does all this mean for the working class? Not much.

To the extent that Trump can actually get his act together to carry out policies, these policies are fundamentally the same as those carried out by presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton (and Bush and Reagan) before him. Wars in the Middle East – check. Tax breaks for the rich, bailouts for banks and corporations – check. Crackdowns on immigration, deportations, tearing apart families – check. The shredding of the social safety net – check. They were representatives of U.S. corporate interests here and abroad, as were Congress and Senate members who helped carry out these attacks.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will put an end to the policies of exploitation put forward by the current government no matter who may replace Trump.

For the working class, what needs to be impeached is the capitalist SYSTEM, a system based on hoarding profits for the few at the increasing expense of the many. This system is what has created the corruption and this monstrosity of a government today. It is a system that has grown so parasitic in its ongoing economic crisis that neither party can even begin to pretend to offer something for working people.

This system needs to be replaced, by a system that truly works to meet the needs of human beings. And that can only be a socialist system, built by the working class.

Pages 2-3

Broken Buses Deliver Profits in D.C.

Jul 31, 2017

Washington, D.C. privatized several downtown bus lines last decade, promising that the special one-dollar fares and brand-new buses would make the D.C. Circulator a wonder to behold.

Instead, the Circulator has meant millions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing corporate profits based on the dangerous practice of not hiring enough maintenance workers.

The city contracted with for-profit First Transit, part of the multi-billion-dollar corporation that also owns Greyhound. The city gave it more bus lines over the years and increased the funding by five times. But the corporation never hired more than a dozen mechanics. A recent audit showed that none had the ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification which is standard for auto, bus, and truck mechanics. Only two had air conditioning training.

Due to under-staffing, a third of the buses are out of service at any given time because of mechanical problems. Inspectors found nearly the whole fleet unsafe to be on the roads. Defects include doors that fly open while the buses are running, broken wheelchair ramps, cracked windshields, no turn signals or emergency flashers – and no air conditioning.

The city department, which passed the buck for over a decade, now proposes to give First Transit’s contract to another company. And how will giving the money to another profit-seeking company change the picture?

Detroit Area Tax Foreclosures

Jul 31, 2017

Since 2002, Wayne County, which includes Detroit, has foreclosed on, seized and auctioned 160,000 homes for non-payment of property taxes. From 2011 to 2015, one fourth of Detroit properties have similarly been foreclosed upon.

A new yet-to-be-published study shows that Detroit’s assessor’s office assessed as many as 55% to 85% of properties above the limit set by Michigan’s Constitution. It says that properties cannot be assessed at more than 50% of their market value. But in 2010, the study found the city assessed properties on average at seven times that limit, or in other words at 350% of their true value!

The study was co-authored by a visiting Wayne State University professor Bernadette Atuahene and an assistant economics professor at Oakland University.

In response to homeowners’ complaints and efforts by Atuahene and various community groups opposing the outrageous assessments, the city made some minor changes. The assessor’s office carried out a reassessment of 250,000 residential properties. The city recently announced property taxes would go down by as much as 10 percent this year, in addition to reductions of 5 to 15 per cent last year for most homeowners.

These small cuts do nothing, however, for those who already lost their homes due largely to the illegal assessments. Many of those foreclosed upon should also have been exempt from property taxes altogether because their incomes were below the poverty level, but neither the city nor the county made any effort to inform them of the fact.

The city has offered interest rate reductions to some 50,000 homeowners who owe taxes, but that amounts to “too little too late” for most. As Atuahene put it, “They’re putting you on a payment plan for taxes you shouldn’t have to pay in the first place.”

Community groups have proposed compensation for victims of tax foreclosures due to illegally high assessments. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says he won’t consider reimbursements or reparations for such homeowners because he says they could have appealed the assessments. In other words, he defends the theft of the homes of people, many of them poor with little access to legal help, with what amounts to “Let the buyer beware.”

These tax foreclosures seem like part of a deliberate attempt to push the poor out of the city of Detroit. Maybe they simply are the result of the city trying to balance its budget on the backs of the poor while giving tax breaks to the big corporations and huge handouts to the banks. But the result is the same. The so-called “comeback” of Detroit is nothing but outright theft.

California:
Three Billion for Electric Toys

Jul 31, 2017

The State of California plans to extend the low-emission vehicle subsidies with a price tag of three billion dollars.

For each electric car purchase, the electric car owner gets $5,000 from California and up to $7,500 from the federal government. Because of these generous subsidies, about 250,000 electric cars have been sold in California, which is about 50% of the sales across the U.S. Companies like Tesla are enriched on the backs of California and U.S. tax payers.

Even with the subsidies, electric cars are too expensive for most people. And their many inconveniences make them impractical for people who have to drive to work every day.

This is what “free enterprise” means. The rich are free to fork out money out of our pockets to drive their “high tech” and “low emission” toys.

Los Angeles:
Testing Electric Buses to Enrich Companies

Jul 31, 2017

Los Angeles’ Metro, the second largest transit agency in the U.S., plans to replace its 2,300 natural gas buses with electric buses by 2030. The price tag for this replacement is 138 million dollars for Los Angeles tax payers.

Currently, the cost of an electric bus is reportedly about $775,000, at least $200,000 more than its natural-gas counterpart. This bus cost does not include infrastructure upgrades and charging stations, which can easily jack up the total cost.

Metro tested five such electric buses in 2015-2016. The buses were not able to climb hills, and their batteries discharged more frequently than expected. For these reasons, Metro concluded, “To date, performance has not met operational requirements, mechanical reliability has been subpar compared to typical [natural gas] vehicles, and ... [their current technological level has] made these five vehicles an ill fit for current Metro operation.” Metro had to return those buses to their manufacturer.

It’s obvious that city officials are carrying out testing of electric buses for the benefit of the companies – at the expense of tax payers and bus riders.

All their talk about “cleaner air” and “less noisy environment” can’t hide that. The real deal is simply to make a few companies that much richer.

Chicago Schools Death Spiral

Jul 31, 2017

This year the city of Chicago is imposing deep cuts on the budgets for schools in working class neighborhoods once again. Elementary schools in the poorest, mostly black neighborhoods saw cuts between three and ten percent. High schools were hit even harder. Dunbar High School, in the Oakland neighborhood on the near South Side, lost 1.4 million dollars this year, a 20 percent cut.

These cuts are just the latest going back a decade that have fallen most heavily on working class and poor neighborhoods. They’ve reached the point that more than a dozen neighborhood high schools in struggling black neighborhoods in Chicago face extinction in the coming years.

The city has set up a death spiral for these schools. They base school funding on the number of students in the school. If the number of students starts to fall, the funding falls – and then these schools can’t afford the programs that keep students off the streets, or the teachers that keep them engaged in learning. So more students drop out, and parents that have any options try to send their kids anywhere else – if they don’t leave the city altogether. And then the school loses more funding, and the cycle starts all over again.

If the point of the Chicago school system were to educate its children, the city would spend MORE money on the students who need the most help – those in the poorest neighborhoods. This would also be a reasonable way to address the problem of violence in those same neighborhoods. But instead, the destruction of the school system is turned into one more way to drive poor people out of the city and to funnel wealth to the ruling class.

Chicago Shell Game

Jul 31, 2017

In 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel caused an uproar by spending 55 million dollars in TIF funds on a new stadium for DePaul University and a Marriott hotel project in the South Loop. TIF funds are basically a surcharge added on to property taxes that is supposed to be used to help end blight in poor areas. Emanuel defended this project with a lie, claiming the arena/hotel project would not happen without this money and it would help the south side, creating jobs and development.

But it turns out his lie was justifying another lie. A new report by Crain’s shows that the 55 million dollars didn’t really go to the South Loop arena/hotel. The arena/hotel project was part of a shell game, used to funnel the money to Navy Pier – one of the richest, most popular tourist attractions in the Midwest!

Every year, the city puts huge piles of money into these TIF funds, taken from property taxes paid by working people. Chicago put 561 million dollars in tax revenue into the mayor’s TIF slush funds just this year. This money could go a long way to providing funding for the schools, or streets, or after-school programs, or health care. But Emanuel would rather give us lies on top of lies – and give the money to his rich friends.

Pages 4-5

A New Coalition Government against the Revolution

Jul 31, 2017

This article continues our series on the Russian Revolution, taken from the words of participants.

The crisis of July 1917 coincided with the departure of the ministers of the bourgeois Kadet Party from the Russian Provisional Government. However, the Socialist- Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, frightened by the demonstrations in Petrograd and deeply compromised in their collaboration with the bourgeoisie, were ready to form a new coalition.

Prince Lvov, the previous head of the government who had noisily resigned on July 13th, expressed his pleasure: “I am convinced that our ‘deep breach’ in the Lenin front is incomparably more significant for Russia than the German breach in our South-Western Front.” Lenin commented: “Two enemies, two hostile camps, and one has made a breach in the front of the other – this is how Prince Lvov sums up Russia’s internal situation. Let us, then, give Prince Lvov our heartfelt thanks for his frankness! After all, he is a thousand times more correct than those sentimental Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik philistines who imagine that the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, which inevitably becomes exceedingly aggravated during a revolution, is likely to disappear because of their curses and magic spells!”

A new coalition government was formed on July 24th, with the socialist Kerensky at its head. The Kadet Party set the tone for it. They hoped to pursue and deepen the pro-bourgeois policies that the coalition government had carried out since February. However, the illusions that the coalition of the “compromisers” with the bourgeoisie created were becoming less and less effective.

At the front, the Russian offensive collapsed. According to the words of the general Denikin: “The cowardice and lack of discipline in certain units reached such a pitch that the Commanding Officers were compelled to ask our artillery to cease firing, because the fire of our own guns caused a panic among our soldiers.… Immediately I began to receive anxious reports from officers commanding sectors at the front to the effect that the men were abandoning the unattacked front line en masse, entire companies deserting.… I have never yet gone into battle with such superiority in numbers and technical means. Never had the conditions been more full of such brilliant promise. On a front of about 14 miles, I had 184 battalions against 29 enemy battalions; 900 guns against 300 German; 138 of my battalions came into action against 17 German battalions of the 1st line. All that was wasted.”

Lenin predicted that the war and the government's entire policy would quickly cause it to become discredited: “Famine is again drawing near. Everybody sees that the capitalists and the rich are unscrupulously cheating the treasury on war deliveries…, that they are raking in fabulous profits through high prices, while nothing whatsoever has been done to establish effective control by the workers over the production and distribution of goods. The capitalists are becoming more brazen every day; they are throwing workers out into the street, and this at a time when the people are suffering from shortages.…

“A government which calls itself revolutionary and democratic has been leading peasants by the nose for months and deceiving them by promises and delays.… The government has become so brazen in its defense of the landowners that it is beginning to bring peasants to trial for ‘unauthorized’ seizures of land.…

“Let the [Bolshevik] Party loudly and clearly tell the people the whole truth … that the ‘new’ government of Kerensky, Avksentyev [the Socialist-Revolutionary Minister of the Interior] and Co. is merely a screen for the counter-revolutionary Kadets and the military clique which is in power at present; that the people can get no peace, the peasants no land, the workers no eight-hour day, and the hungry no bread unless the counter-revolution is completely stamped out. Let the Party say so, and every step in the march of events will bear it out.”

The Party of Lenin and Trotsky Meets on July 26

Jul 31, 2017

Despite the repression that followed the July Days, as well as Lenin's absence and the imprisonment of several leaders including Trotsky, the Congress of the Bolshevik Party took place on the expected date. This was an important date in the history of the Russian revolutionary movement. On the level of its program, the Congress essentially limited itself to ratifying Lenin's April Theses. But, in their absence it marked the complete agreement between Lenin and Trotsky from that moment forward. It was then that the “Party of Lenin and Trotsky” would form, lasting for the entire length of the revolutionary period. Trotsky writes in his History of the Russian Revolution:

“The Joint Congress opened on July 26th – in essence the 6th Congress of the Bolshevik Party – and it conducted its meetings semi-legally, concealing itself alternately in two different workers’ districts. There were 175 delegates, 157 with a vote, representing 112 organizations, comprising 176,750 members. In Petrograd, there were 41,000 members: 36,000 in the Bolshevik organization, 4,000 Mezhrayontsi [Trotsky’s organization], and about 1,000 in the Military Organization. In the central industrial regions, of which Moscow is the focus, the party had 42,000 members; in the Urals 25,000; in the Donetz Basin about 15,000. In the Caucasus, big Bolshevik organizations were to be found in Baku, Grozny, and Tiflis. The first two were almost wholly composed of workers; in Tiflis the soldiers predominated.…

“‘At that congress,’ as Piatnitsky, one of the present secretaries of the Communist International, later remembered, ‘neither Lenin, nor Trotsky, nor Zinoviev, nor Kamenev was present.… Although the question of the party program was withdrawn from the agenda, nevertheless the congress went off well and in a businesslike way without the leaders of the party.’ At the basis of the work lay the theses of Lenin. Bukharin and Stalin made the principal reports. The report of Stalin is a good measure of the distance traveled by the speaker himself, along with all the cadres of the party, in the four months since Lenin’s arrival. With a lack of theoretical self-confidence, but with political decisiveness, Stalin tries to name over those features which define ‘the deep character of a socialist workers’ revolution.’ The unanimity of this Congress in comparison with the April one is noticeable at once.

“On the subject of elections to the Central Committee, the report of the Congress reads: ‘The names of the four members of the Central Committee receiving the most votes are read aloud: Lenin – 133 votes out of 134. Zinoviev 132, Kamenev 131, and Trotsky 131. Besides these four, the following members were elected to the Central Committee: Nogin, Kollontai, Stalin, Sverdlov, Rykov, Bukharin, Artem, Joffe, Uritsky, Milyutin, Lomov.’ The membership of this Central Committee should be well noted. Under its leadership, the October Revolution is to be achieved.…

“Sverdlov, the practical organizer of the Congress, reported: ‘Trotsky had already before the Congress joined the editorial staff of our paper, but his imprisonment prevented his actual participation.’ It was only at this July Congress that Trotsky formally joined the Bolshevik Party. The balance was here struck to years of disagreement and factional struggle. Trotsky came to Lenin as to a teacher whose power and significance he understood later than many others, but perhaps more fully than they.… To this we may add that the mere number of votes cast for Trotsky in electing him to the Central Committee proves that even at the very moment of his entrance into the Party, nobody in Bolshevik circles looked upon him as an outsider.

“Invisibly present at the Congress, Lenin introduced into its work a spirit of responsibility and audacity. The founder and teacher of this party could not endure slovenliness, either in theory or in practical politics. He knew that an incorrect economic formula, like an inattentive political observation, takes cruel vengeance in the hour of action. In defending his fastidiously attentive attitude to every party text, even the secondary ones, Lenin said more than once: ‘This is not a trivial detail. We must have accuracy. Our agitators will learn this and not go astray…’ ‘We have a good party,’ he would add, having in view just this serious, meticulous attitude of the rank-and-file agitator upon the question what to say and how to say it.”

1917:
The U.S. Enters WWI

Jul 31, 2017

While Trump was in France this month, he celebrated the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I, in April of 1917. He could have been celebrating Woodrow Wilson’s trickery. Wilson brought the population into war in the interests of the big companies, after being re-elected just a few months earlier by promising to fight against the big monopolies and to oppose U.S. entry into the world war that had already been raging for two and some half years.

Presenting the U.S. entry into World War I as the move by the whole people of the country to defend “freedom” is a bald-faced lie. In fact, there was ferocious opposition to U.S. participation. The big majority of the U.S. population did not want to sacrifice their lives in the butchery that was bloodying Europe and a whole part of the world, for the interests of some big corporations. In fact, in order to get re-elected in 1916, Wilson had proclaimed that thanks to him, America had stayed out of the European conflict.

But just a few months later the same Wilson conspired to provoke the U.S. entry into the war. U.S. imperialism, having already taken Central and South America under its wing, had grand planetary ambitions to increase the power of its giant companies. It wanted to be in on the division of spoils that would come with the end of the war. It also wanted to speed up that end because the war had begun to provoke revolutionary movements throughout Europe.

The big U.S. bourgeoisie had made huge profits selling to all the warring countries. But it needed more, and this was why Wilson wanted this declaration of war. The most ferocious opposition to his policies came from the working class, launched by the two most famous socialist leaders of the country: Eugene Debs and Bill Haywood. Debs had been a socialist candidate for the presidency, and Haywood was a leader of the revolutionary union called the IWW. The two had led many memorable working class struggles.

Unlike the immense majority of socialist and working class leaders in Europe, these two fighters never capitulated. Eugene Debs declared: “I do not know of any foreign buccaneers that could come nearer skinning American workers to the bone than is now being done by the Rockefellers and their pirate pals. The workers have no country to fight for. It belongs to the capitalists and plutocrats.” Debs and Haywood paid a heavy price for their dedication to revolutionary socialist ideas. Each one was condemned to years in prison at the behest of that “grand democrat” Wilson.

The population paid a heavy price too: 120,000 deaths to defend the interests of the bourgeoisie. At the end of the war, after having gotten a Nobel Peace Prize, Wilson declared war against the “reds.” He outlawed the young Communist Party, and during his presidency Attorney General Palmer led a witch hunt for anyone who was communist, anarchist, socialist, or just in opposition.

If there is anything the working class can take from this bloody history, it is that in this time, in the United States, the workers had leaders who stayed true to the interests of their class.

Pages 6-7

Our Money, Their Profits

Jul 31, 2017

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, happily announced at the end of July the expected arrival of Taiwan corporation Foxconn in Wisconsin. The company has promised to build by 2020 an enormous factory, to manufacture flat screen panels, that supposedly will mean 3,000 new jobs.

The state competed with other states to woo the corporation. Wisconsin offered the most money: 1.5 billion dollars in property tax abatements and 1.35 billion for job creation, plus more tax breaks for contractors building the facilities. It comes to about three billion dollars – or one million per job!

With that money the state of Wisconsin could have put 3,000 people to work for 25 years – fixing roads, repairing sewer lines, teaching classes, etc.

Every politician in every state has told voters that business subsidies, by means of tax cuts or special deals or loans or bonds, help the state and local jurisdiction. It means jobs, they will tell us. Of course, a look at each state’s web site on job development shows mostly blank spaces for number of jobs created.

No, what these corporate subsidies mean is a drain on the economy – that much less income for new roads, new water pipes, new schools, etc.

That’s what capitalism is today – a parasite feeding off of public money.

And the bigger the corporation, the more it grabs. A think tank called Good Jobs First has been keeping track of federal and state subsidies to corporations since 2000. They found that the biggest corporations in the U.S. are the ones gaining the most subsidies – and that doesn’t even include the 2008 bank bailouts worth trillions of dollars. So Boeing, Raytheon, General Electric, General Motors, Ford, Google, ExxonMobil, Shell, head the list for corporate subsidies.

The schools your kids need, the roads and water system your family needs – the money needed for them is sitting in the bank accounts of these corporate thieves.

L.A. Exide Plant Continues to Poison People

Jul 31, 2017

California officials announced a plan to remove lead from 2,500 properties around a battery recycling plant near Los Angeles.

Yes, clean it up, by all means – given how poisonous lead is. But at the same time, residents of the area will not be impressed, to say the least – nor anybody who knows the history of pollution caused by the Exide plant that shut down more than two years ago.

No, residents are very angry at the authorities, and rightfully so. The authorities knew about the contamination for a long, long time. They had been citing the plant for pollution since the 1980s, but allowing it to operate – and to continue to pollute – all the same!

And sure enough, every time authorities tested soil or residents’ blood, they found alarming levels of lead too. But they have been sitting on their hands all this time, giving excuses and making promises – while people were dying, and children were growing up with the poison that hampers their development.

The authorities, at local, state and federal levels not only didn’t bring criminal charges against Exide; they allowed Exide to declare bankruptcy and escape financial responsibility too.

Who can believe authorities’ promises anymore? They are accomplices to Exide and previous owners of the plant, the capitalists who poisoned generations of people in the name of profit.

If they were going to do anything, they’d have done it decades ago. There is only one force the working-class residents of the area can count on: their own, collective and organized force.

Michigan Rips Off the Unemployed

Jul 31, 2017

An appeals court in Michigan tossed out a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of tens of thousands of unemployed workers who were wrongly accused of fraud. The July 18 ruling focused on a technicality. It said workers waited too long to file their lawsuit against the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency has admitted that their automated computer system, named MiDAS, was wrong 93 percent of the time when — without human intervention — the computer found workers guilty of fraud and fined them. Those fines and penalties are bigger in Michigan than in any other state. This all added up to a HUGE pot of money and workers want their money back.

The appeals court’s ruling that the unemployed filed their lawsuit too late is effectively arguing that the unemployed are required to be psychic! Because the deadline that the court wants the unemployed to go by was before money was taken from them. That is, before harm had been done to them!

According to the House Fiscal Agency, in September of 2016, 154 million dollars was in the “Unemployment Contingency Fund.” That fund stores all the fraud penalties, garnishments and interest money collected from up to 50,000 innocent workers. In 2011, before this new MiDAS computer system, that fund had three million dollars in it.

Wanda Stokes, who oversees the Unemployment Agency, said in a carefully worded statement, “The court made the right decision, and the state is working to fix the problems and get a refund to anyone who was wrongly accused or sanctioned.” Notice she says “a refund” – not a FULL REFUND.

That’s because Michigan has only promised to return 16 million dollars to workers. That begs the question, WHAT is the state planning to do with the other 100 million dollars they also took from innocent formerly unemployed people?

A lawyer for the unemployed states, “The money in that fund does not belong to the state. We can trace every penny of that money to innocent claimants.”

What the MiDAS computer system put the unemployed through by wrongly accusing and fining them has been pure hell.

Yes, the lawyers for the unemployed are going to the Michigan Supreme Court to appeal, but that takes a long time. This case needs to be tried in front of the working population right now. A LOT OF NOISE can be made and a lot of ACTION can be taken. Up to 50,000 innocent workers were attacked by this computer system. That is A LOT of people!

The state illegally fined the unemployed. The state owes the money. They need to pay it back!

Page 8

Migrant Deaths Are a Crime

Jul 31, 2017

On June 23, the doors of a long-haul trailer were opened in a parking lot in San Antonio, Texas. Ten people had suffocated inside, and another 30 were taken to the hospital in such bad condition they could also die. The driver of the truck, who claimed he didn’t know human beings were the cargo in his trailer, was charged in federal court on June 24 with “knowingly transporting people who are in the country illegally.” If he is found guilty, he could face life in prison or even the death penalty.

The driver is certainly likely to be convicted of a crime. There are already 10 dead people. But behind the immediate question of guilt for these deaths lies a broader question of how dozens, even hundreds of people came to be pushed into unrefrigerated trucks in the states where the heat sometimes reaches more than 100 degrees.

What led these and so many other people to risk crossing the border illegally, paying thousands of dollars to do it, risking death on many parts of the journey, to find low-paid jobs in the United States?

The crime behind the truck driver’s and the numerous smugglers’ crimes is the crime of what U.S. corporations have done throughout the world, but first and foremost in Mexico and Central America. These countries have for 100 years been called the “backyard” of the U.S., which disguises what has been going on there. The economies of these countries are completely given over to what U.S. corporations demand, either to extract, to manufacture or to grow for profit – like Dole Fruit’s banana plantations or Mexico’s maquiladora areas.

This extreme drive for profit has created extreme unemployment and poverty throughout Mexico and Central America. Those conditions create the desperation of people willing to risk their lives to change their situation.

The policies of the U.S. government flow from what corporate America wants – under the Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. The corporations want control of how many migrants cross the border, so the wall was built and the border came under armed guards. But still, U.S. corporations want some workers here from other countries, workers who are scared they could be deported and unable to protest low wages and terrible working conditions.

Until the power of the corporations is taken away, the laws will remain, as will the desperate people determined to risk their lives to cross the border.

Death in the Desert

Jul 31, 2017

More than 6,000 human remains have been found in sparsely inhabited areas in the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. These people died trying to cross the border between the U.S. and Mexico over the last 17 years, according to a report published in the New York Times.

Pushed by a wall built and a series of laws passed under the Clinton administration, migrants left the highways and traveled in undeveloped areas. In this part of the country that usually means deserts. Many died of hyperthermia, dehydration, or even heart attack, pummeled by the vicious heat – when they weren’t attacked by desert animals, or by the human snakes that traffic along this border.

The 6,000 deaths reported by the border patrol are only a small portion of those who died. In one Texas county alone, 550 corpses were found. But the sheriff estimated that there were probably five times that many people who died in this county since 2001. Multiply that by all the counties involved, and we have a real catastrophe, a humanitarian catastrophe, produced by the policies of the government of the U.S.; under Clinton, Bush and Obama – a policy now continuing under Trump.

Those policies don’t stop migration. People have been forced to leave Mexico and Central America because of severe conditions there – caused by the grip of U.S. companies on their economies. But when people do get here, the threat of deportation hangs over their heads, pushing many to accept rotten wages and terrible working conditions.

The desire of U.S. corporations to make profit – whether by draining the wealth out of Mexico or by taking advantage of the migrants’ desperation if they make it here – is ultimately responsible for the deaths of all those thousands of people who found their graves in forsaken desert gullies.

Attacking Human Rights for Political Gain

Jul 31, 2017

President Trump tweeted that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Claiming he had consulted with “my Generals and military experts,” Trump wrote, “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

One more series of Trump twitter lies. He had never consulted the military and his claims about “costs” and “disruption” were made-up hogwash.

Trump might have thought this lie would fly like so many others. But the Republicans wanted nothing to do with it. They even acted outraged, having the gall to pose as defenders of human rights! After they’ve played the same trick of playing on reactionary attitudes for decades, who can believe it?

The Republicans’ real problem was that Trump lied on the military, and “his” generals were having none of it. They shot down his tweeting lie by announcing: “The Pentagon will make no changes pending further direction.”

None of these people care one bit about the rights of transgender people. But they’re happy to play all kinds of games with human rights for their own political purposes. One more sign this system is rotten to the core!

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