The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Issue no. 1050 — February 5 - 19, 2018

Editorial:
Whose “American Dream”?!

Feb 5, 2018

In his State of the Union address, Donald Trump stated that “There was never a better time to start living the American Dream.”

What the hell was he talking about?!

Trump wants to take credit for what he calls an “economic recovery.” Democrats want to say that this “recovery” has been happening for nine full years.

But if the economy were REALLY in a recovery, wouldn’t we see an improvement in our conditions of life? Working people have sure not seen any recovery, not in nine years and certainly not in one year.

The press reports all the economic statistics. And some things are absolutely true: Corporate profits have never been higher, and the stock market is at record highs. The ruling class is doing better than ever.

In fact, THEIR recovery is coming at our expense. They are transferring money directly out of our accounts, out of our wages, benefits, and tax dollars, directly into their bank accounts. How is this a recovery for us?

Unemployment is supposedly at a low of 4.1%. But the total number of hours worked FELL during that time, so any jobs being added are increasingly part-time. In fact, almost all of the increase in hiring has been at the bottom of the scale, in fast food joints like McDonald’s and retail outlets like Walmart – hardly bastions of the American Dream! Casual, part-time, contract employment makes up 40% of all employment in the country now. And, as the website Shadow Statistics points out, if discouraged workers are also counted, the true level of unemployment is actually 23%. And the percentage of Americans not in the workforce is still higher than it was in 2007, before the last collapse. People are not employed if they have simply given up looking for work!

Economists report that average wages “jumped” 2.9% last month. Well, such reported rises have disappeared several times before, when figures have been revised. And even if true, such a tiny rise sure doesn’t indicate that people’s spending power has increased – not when our real living costs have gone up much more than that.

They talk about rebuilding the infrastructure, but that’s all it is – TALK! The infrastructure has been falling apart for decades. If there were really a recovery, we would expect to see money going to hire workers to repair roads and bridges, electrical grids and water supply systems. Money to rebuild our schools and school districts, our cities and our neighborhoods. We would see companies building factories, and factories adding shifts. In all sorts of ways, we would begin to see real positive changes for ourselves and our children. IF any “recovery” were real.

But instead, we’ve seen none of that, and often just the opposite. Despite talk of infrastructure spending, nothing has been done as money has continued to dry up. Many workers are balanced on the edge of catastrophe. Nothing about that is stable. None of this has gotten better for the working class.

To add insult to injury, they conclude with the trickle-down theory. Profit windfalls and tax breaks will eventually trickle down and benefit us? Give us a break! They want to convince us not to believe our “lying eyes” and to fall for their twisted view of reality.

Above all, they want to convince us to wait – to wait on the corporations to hire more people and raise wages to a livable level; to wait on the government to start spending on infrastructure, schools and public services; to wait for them to make our lives better.

We might as well wait for a unicorn to pass right in front of us!

For the working class, there is no relief to be found in waiting for the corporations and their government – our enemies – to save us. The ONLY answer for the working class is in organizing ourselves, and in fighting for our own interests.

Pages 2-3

“The Memo”

Feb 5, 2018

A memo that some Republicans wrote is now being praised by ... the very same Republicans who wrote it. They say it brings “transparency” into the Special Counsel’s investigation of Trump’s dealings with Russia. And Trump goes so far as to say it “vindicates” him, proving he has done nothing wrong.

Have these partisans of “transparency” demanded that Trump release his tax returns? Have they required him to reveal in what tax haven he has stashed much of his money? Has he reported even once who gave him all the money needed to get his companies out of bankruptcy, not once, not even three times, but six times? Who supplied all the money to let him build Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago, not to mention all those golfing resorts? And what about those rumors that all that money came from Russian oligarchs? The “transparent” way to disprove that is to show where the money did come from. Couldn’t be more simple.

As for “vindication,” this term that Trump throws around so lightly – usually it means someone is shown to be innocent of charges. But what Trump is pushing for is to shut down the Special Counsel investigation into his election campaign’s ties with Russia right now – before the investigation has a chance to finish.

The bigger the fuss that Trump and his supporters raise, the more it seems that he has something very big to hide.

Could it be that Trump really is what he appears to be – a scheming fraudulent money grubber, ready to squeeze money out of anyone he can put his hands on to build his own fortune?

Could it be that, in this beginning of the 21st century, he is a fitting president for U.S. capitalism, whose tentacles are wrapped all over the world?

Who Produced the Gangs?

Feb 5, 2018

In his State of the Union speech, Trump said “for decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities ... they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.” He illustrated his point by telling the stories of two sets of Latino parents whose children were killed by undocumented immigrants in the MS-13 gang.

The vast majority of immigrants come here to work, not to prey on people. But it is certainly true that drugs are smuggled into this country by gangs that operate in many of the poor neighborhoods of the big cities, and that many people have been killed by these gangs and by the drugs that they bring in and distribute.

But where do these gangs come from?

The gang Trump called out, MS-13, is a product of the civil war fought in El Salvador in the 1980s. Students, small farmers, and farmworkers in El Salvador had launched a political movement that became an uprising against the landlords and capitalists that dominated the country and its government. The United States backed the Salvadoran government against this uprising, arming and training death squads that murdered thousands of people throughout the country.

Some of the refugees of this violence fled to Los Angeles, where they wound up in the impoverished Pico Union neighborhood. And a few of them formed a gang, MS-13. The U.S. then deported some of them back to El Salvador, where they established links with many of the same government officials and military officers who had worked with the U.S. in the civil war. These links allowed them to grow into the international drug gang they have become.

The violence of MS-13 was made by the U.S., and it started in the U.S., and was then exported to El Salvador, not the other way around.

U.S. Links to Drug Gangs

Feb 5, 2018

According to Congressional records, the CIA and the U.S. military have been linked to violent drug gangs all over the world since WWII.

In the 1940s, the CIA allied with the Sicilian mafia to fight communists in Italy and France. As part of this alliance, the CIA helped them smuggle heroin into European and U.S. cities.

During the Vietnam war, the CIA allied with opium producers in Laos. One pilot was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor in 1970 saying “opium shipments get special CIA clearance and monitoring on their flights southward out of the country.” Thousands of U.S. soldiers got hooked on heroin in the process, providing a ready market for the drug back home.

In the 1980s, the U.S. helped smuggle cocaine through Nicaragua. The U.S. was supporting the Contras, another group of murderers fighting a movement that had taken power in that country. After some activists publicized the Contras’ brutality, Congress banned the U.S. from directly funding them. So the U.S. funded them covertly through the cocaine traffic.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: the U.S. military and the CIA have also been linked with murderous drug gangs in Mexico, Bolivia, Columbia, Panama, Venezuela, Honduras and other countries. In each case, the U.S. allied with these gangs, one more violent than the next, because they helped U.S. imperialism keep the local population under control.

And the drugs and the gangs came back into the U.S. during and after each war.

So yes, as Trump says, drugs and gangs are a real threat to us in this country, and in other countries as well. And if we want to go after their source, we should look to the U.S. military and the CIA.

Infrastructure Hocus Pocus

Feb 5, 2018

Donald Trump promises to rebuild the country’s roads, bridges, airports, water systems, and other infrastructure. But where’s the money?

Trump’s plan promises to inject 1.5 trillion dollars into U.S. infrastructure over the next 10 years. But he only promises 200 billion dollars from the federal government. Trump claims that this 200 billion will “generate” an additional 1.3 trillion dollars in spending from cities, states, and private companies.

Where are the cities and states going to get this money? Last we looked, most states and cities were cutting, not adding to basic funding. And why are these corporations going to invest? Out of the goodness of their hearts? Corporations invest to make a profit. And they only make a profit on infrastructure by taking money from the government, not giving it!

Even if this extra money magically appeared, it would not be enough. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, U.S. infrastructure needs 4.6 trillion dollars just to be patched up. So even if Trump’s money magically appears, it’s still less than a third of what’s needed, and it’s spread out over ten years.

Trump is right that the infrastructure is falling apart. But his promise to fix it is another big fat lie.

Chicago Women’s Demonstration

Feb 5, 2018

On the anniversary of last year’s enormous women’s marches, there was an important demonstration in Chicago. Like last year’s demonstrations, this one also focused on Trump.

Some people thought it was a little smaller than last year’s march. The organizers said it was bigger, with three hundred thousand people there. Whatever it was, it was huge.

It was billed as a “March to the Polls.” And banners and signs spoke to that: “Repeal and Replace GOP!” “The Resistance Strikes Back Nov. 6!” “Make America Kind Again!”

Along with the speakers, who were mostly Democratic Party elected officials, the banners indicated it was primarily a Democratic Party led and/or sponsored protest. The goal, clearly put out there, was for participants to help the Democratic Party defeat Republicans in local, state, and national elections. Women were encouraged to run for office. Several voter registration stations were available to protestors.

We can expect to see more of this kind of thing as this election year rolls on – with the Democrats moving to speak in the name of people who have real grievances about their own situation, but working to divert the anger people have into anger against Trump and the Republicans.

Women have real grievances today. Three hundred thousand could do a lot to change their situation, but not if they wait until the next election year, and the one after that. Not if they wait for someone else to act for them.

Washington, D.C.:
Police Shooting

Feb 5, 2018

On November 17, 2017, U.S. Park Police shot Bijan Ghaisar. He died ten days later from his injuries.

The Park Police claim Ghaisar’s jeep was involved in a hit and run accident on the George Washington Parkway. Police spotted his jeep and pursued him. They pulled him over and he sped away. They pulled him over minutes later and he sped away again.

As he was pulling away from the police, they shot him three times – in the back of the head.

No weapons were found in his jeep. The police were never in imminent danger.

The FBI has taken over the investigation “in the interest of objectivity.”

No one knows why Ghaisar took off from the police. Maybe he was afraid they would kill him ... and they did.

Pages 4-5

Macron:
Hard on Migrants, Servile to the Rich

Feb 5, 2018

This article is from the January 22, 2018 edition of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Macron claims his policy toward migrants combines “humanity” and “efficiency.” In reality he’s a true lackey of the rich: hypocritical and hostile to migrants, just as he is to workers.

What Macron’s government means by “efficiency” is clear: expulsions have increased by 14 percent. As soon as makeshift camps appear in big cities, they are evacuated and destroyed – often with brutality, contrary to what Macron says. In Calais, the police have “succeeded” by tracking down migrants and scattering them along the coast.

What about Macron’s “humanity?” Dozens of migrants die every week as they try to cross the Mediterranean. Those who want to cross the French-Italian border are now forced to risk their lives through the Alps. In Paris and in many towns around the country, migrants sleep on the streets because there are too few shelters. In Calais, where 8,000 migrants once lived in the refugee camp called the “Jungle,” the figure is down to 600 – but how many are now hiding in the woods?

If migrants find comfort, it is thanks to the non-profit organizations and individuals who help them – in spite of the growing number of “prosecutions for solidarity.” Yes, many people still know what the word “humanity” means. And one can bet that, despite all the intimidation, Macron’s repressive policy will meet with more and more opposition.

Macron’s policy is hypocritical from A to Z. He assures us that he is ready to grant asylum to all political refugees, especially to those stranded in Calais. It’s a lie.

Most of them have had their fingerprints taken in Greece or Italy, so they fall under Dublin Regulation III and are supposed to be sent back to those countries. It is this absurd situation which stops France from recognizing them as asylum seekers and prevents them from leaving for Great Britain. Macron is well aware that this situation is not about to change. So well that he’s just renegotiated the sordid Le Touquet agreement with Theresa May and obtained 50 million euros to keep British border control on French territory.

As for so-called “economic” migrants, Macron says that he is resolute. But here again, his demagoguery and cynicism have no limits, as he knows perfectly well there is no way to stop them from coming. He can multiply expulsions and make life a nightmare for them, but they will never give up. For rich countries are bound to attract those who see no future for themselves in their homeland plundered by Western companies.

This increasingly harsh policy concerns all workers because it threatens a vital right that we all share: that of moving and settling freely.

For the rich, free movement is a formality. For the poor, it is an essential right, because no worker can be assured of finding a job to support his family in his region or country of origin. So it’s up to all of us to defend that right.

The Minister of the Interior, Collomb, says it is impossible to accommodate 100,000 asylum seekers and the 85,000 people who are refused that status. But 185,000 women and men represents less than 0.3 percent of the population. How can welcoming them be a problem?

From Macron to LePen, Collomb to Wauqiez, all politicians present migrants as a burden. But the real burden on the workers is the bourgeoisie.

If there are parasites in our society, it is the bourgeois dynasties who live off the working class. The NGO Oxfam has just announced that 82 percent of the wealth created in the world last year was monopolized by the richest one percent of the population. If the laboring majority, which includes yesterday’s and today’s migrants, is condemned to low wages, temporary jobs and unemployment, it is because this ultra-rich fringe of parasites is running the economy for its exclusive benefit.

It is to serve this privileged class, to distract our attention and divide the exploited classes that all politicians call migrants “a problem.”

We must not fall into their trap. Recognizing migrants as our comrades and brothers, imposing the freedom to move and settle: such is the common interest of all workers.

FEMA Says Its Insufficient Aid to Puerto Rico Will Continue

Feb 5, 2018

On Monday, January 29, the news media reported that FEMA, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, was going to cut off aid to Puerto Rico. The next day, Puerto Rican leaders, many aid organizations and some politicians in Congress spoke out against this decision. By Wednesday, FEMA announced that it would continue aid to Puerto Rico – and claimed the announcement of a cutoff was a mistake.

Maybe the aid cutoff announcement really was a mistake, or maybe FEMA officials simply decided to back off because of the outcry following their initial announcement. But one thing is for sure: The aid that the federal government has been providing for Puerto Rico is far less than what is needed.

For decades, the island has been used as a place for U.S. corporations to get cheap labor. For a while, it was used as a tax haven where big companies could avoid paying any federal taxes at all. And finally it has been a territory driven into deep debt where banks make big loans to the government at high interest rates – driving the territory even deeper into debt. In the meantime, Puerto Rico’s roads, sewer and water lines, and its electrical grid fell into disrepair even while ordinary people paid more and more for these public services.

The poor state of the island’s infrastructure meant the devastation of Hurricane Maria was even worse than it otherwise would have been. And FEMA’s response was incredibly slow given the magnitude of the crisis.

For days after Maria hit, there was no help at all. And when help finally arrived, it was nowhere near what was – and still is – needed. Many thousands of people, who could afford to, have fled the island for the U.S. mainland (many to Florida). Almost one-third of the island’s remaining population still doesn’t have electric service or clean, drinkable running water. And this is more than four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island!

In his recent State of the Union address Trump declared, “We love you Puerto Rico.” But if this is love, we’re really worried what hate would look like.

Veteran Facing Deportation

Feb 5, 2018

Miguel Perez, Jr. served two tours in Afghanistan. He came back to his home in Chicago with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was supposed to go back to the doctor to find out if he had a traumatic brain injury – but he never made it. After self-medicating like many vets with alcohol and drugs, he was caught handing cocaine to an undercover cop, and spent seven years in prison.

Now, the government wants to deport Perez. He has lived in this country since he was eight years old, and he is here legally, with a green card and two U.S.-born children. But he is not a citizen, despite his military service. So he is subject to deportation because he committed a crime.

The politicians love to use the veterans as symbols, to try to get the U.S. population to support its wars in the name of supporting the troops. But in reality, the wars the U.S. fights chew up many of these soldiers, physically and mentally. And once they’re chewed up, they get thrown out – in Perez’s case, literally.

Ikea:
Made of Exploitation

Feb 5, 2018

Ingvar Kamprad, founder and chief of Ikea and eighth richest person in the world, died January 27. The media told the success story of the rise of this Swedish merchant who became rich by promoting extremely rationalized methods for producing and selling inexpensive, easily assembled furniture. Some news media also reported that Kamprad had been a Nazi, not just during World War II, but even afterwards.

In the 1980s, his company Ikea used forced labor in East German prisons. The company also used child labor. In France, Ikea spied on its workers, especially its union workers.

For each transgression, first Kamprad, followed by his company, apologized profusely. Nauseatingly – literally – Ikea even pleaded sorry for having sold stale food in order to save money, for Kamprad having claimed he lived in Switzerland instead of Sweden to avoid paying taxes, and for concealing Ikea's budget by using shell companies ... the list goes on and on.

This man, saluted by the King of Sweden, by wealthy people all over the world, and by all those who sing their praises, was really not a “very nice guy.” The trail of apologies paints a different picture.

Smartphones Manufactured Under 19th Century Conditions

Feb 5, 2018

The esthetically beautiful casings of Apple's smartphones are manufactured at a Catcher Technology plant in China by workers who stand for up to 10 hours a day in hot workshops, working under extreme noise, handling noxious chemicals sometimes without proper gloves or masks, according to Bloomberg News.

Workers express concern about safety issues and a lack of training. Standard tools and equipment for protection such as ear plugs, gas masks and proper rubber gloves are in short supply. One production line is required to crank out about 1,450 units during a 12-hour shift. Some workers have to quickly switch between at least four machines, increasing the risk of accidents.

One worker said "My hands turned bloodless white after a day of work. I only tell good things to my family and keep the sufferings like this for myself." This worker earns just over $2 an hour.

Apple leads the high-tech 21st-century industry with its pleasing, mind-boggling and eye-poppingly expensive smart phones. Apple touts that it is one of the most profitable and valuable companies of this earth. But, this profit and value is created by workers of this world working under 19th-century work conditions, who are paid miserably and who cannot afford the very phones they are manufacturing.

Pages 6-7

Wages Will Rise?
Not Like This!

Feb 5, 2018

After Congress gave stupendous tax breaks to the already fabulously wealthy, certain companies announced mini-bonuses for employees. Supposedly this was a step toward a wage rise for all – pretending that workers, too, will benefit from the tax bill.

But all these companies use “conditions” and job reductions to minimize the cost.

Home Depot said it would give $2,000 bonuses to its workers. Later on, it came out that the big bonus was only if you had TWENTY YEARS’ seniority! Ever been in a Home Depot store? You know how few workers have been there 20 years!

FedEx said it would put $200 million toward employee raises. Later on, it came out that the raises were scheduled for September anyway, and FedEx will merely start them early, in April.

Fiat Chrysler FCA said they would give workers a $2,000 bonus. But only to “eligible” employees. They have not defined what they mean. But Chrysler is using a huge number of temporary workers to launch new Jeeps and trucks. Will they be considered “eligible?”

Then there’s Kimberly-Clark. They will use the tax savings to put 1.5 billion dollars into “restructuring.” They will close ten plants and lay off around 5,500 workers – 13 per cent of their workforce!

AT&T will give $1,000 bonuses – and continue laying off some 4000 workers.

Harley-Davidson will give no bonuses, consolidate two plants, and eliminate 350 jobs.

Not to forget Walmart, doling out a $1000 bonus and setting an $11 entry level wage, while closing 63 Sam’s Clubs and targeting 10,000 job cuts in the Walmart empire.

The main benefit to workers is one more hard life lesson, that what is best for the boss is ONLY best for the boss.

Los Angeles Times Newsroom:
A Union Is Born

Feb 5, 2018

The Los Angeles Times newsroom staff of writers and editors voted 248-44 on January 18 to be represented by the News Guild. It was a milestone moment – the Times newsroom has never had a union before.

In the past, journalists say that the L.A. Times owners’ deep pockets had kept the union out, by paying some of the highest salaries and best benefits in print journalism. But all that changed more than two decades ago, when the company began to squeeze much higher profits out of fewer journalists. Round after round of layoffs, buyouts and restructurings reduced the number of newsroom jobs from 1,200 to less than 400 today.

About 10 years ago, the company also stopped across-the-board annual raises. But last year, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when the company took away accrued vacation time, replacing a guaranteed benefit with a policy that was unreliable and unevenly applied. “There’s a point when you’re being foolish,” said one L.A. Times journalist, “when you’re a chump for allowing this trend to continue and not demanding a voice.”

In early 2017, staffers quietly began to carry out a union organizing drive. In October, this drive was made public after a note was placed on each staffer’s desk. “A majority of the newsroom has already signed cards supporting representation by the News Guild,” the note said, “and we look forward to gathering more signatures in the weeks ahead.

The Los Angeles Times’s parent company, a financial company called Tronc, countered the organizing drive with the usual claims that there was no money. But the union organizers showed that in reality there was a great deal of money. They showed that executive compensation at Tronc had shot up by 80 per cent over the previous year. And they exposed how corporate executives lavished tens of millions more dollars on themselves through golden parachutes for departing executives, a company jet, and big corporate extravaganzas and sporting events.

Not only did staffers repulse corporate threats of layoffs and further cuts in benefits and pay if they voted in a union, they turned the tables on management and got top managers fired! A day after the organizers announced the overwhelming vote for the union, the company was forced to announce that it was putting the foul-mouthed newspaper publisher, Ross Levinsohn, on indefinite leave, after National Public Radio revealed that Levinsohn had twice been a defendant in sexual harassment lawsuits when he worked at other companies. Ten days later, the uproar by the newspaper’s staff over secret efforts by the newspaper’s editor, Lewis D’Vorkin, to build a shadow newsroom filled with non-union journalists, forced Tronc to replace D’Vorkin also.

The journalists and editors of the Los Angeles Times have discovered that what counts is not their prestigious job or their higher education – but their ability to organize and willingness to fight.

Third World Disease in the U.S.

Feb 5, 2018

Testing by the Baylor School of Medicine in Lowndes County, Alabama, showed that 40% of the residents were infected by hookworm.

Hookworm is a parasite that sucks the blood of the human it enters, causing iron deficiency, cognitive delays, and stunted growth in children, and anemia in all ages. It had infected huge numbers of people in the poorer parts of the country, prior to the 1950s, before indoor plumbing became common. The hookworm often enters the body through exposure to raw sewage.

The Baylor test was a small sample, and more testing is now proposed. Lowndes County is one of the poorest counties in the U.S. Average income there is $18,046 a year. In many places there is no connection to a municipal water and sewer system. People must pay for their own septic system, or risk the health problems of exposure to raw sewage. This county, in fact, has high poverty and lower life expectancy than other parts of the country.

Here are third world conditions despite the wealth of the U.S. It’s not impossible to provide safe water and sewer systems. Alabama found funds to convince three auto manufacturing companies, Toyota, Nissan and Mercedes Benz to start plants in Alabama. But the politicians cannot find enough funds to prevent serious harm to the population. The doctor leading the Lowndes County study said, “This is the inconvenient truth that nobody in America wants to talk about.”

Page 8

A Cautionary Tale from the Wife of a Football Player

Feb 5, 2018

Emily Kelly, the wife of retired pro football player Rob Kelly, wrote an article for the New York Times describing her husband’s deteriorating health, which resulted from years of playing the sport. Her husband had played tackle football for two decades, including five years in the NFL.

She tells of how her husband went from being a devoted husband and father, to experiencing tremendous mood swings, forgetfulness, loss of appetite lasting for days, sleep problems, and increasing depression and paranoia in a span of roughly six years.

A clinician concluded her husband’s neuropsychological dysfunction was a result of repeated concussions, which Kelly indicates never occurred outside of football. The doctor also pointed to a period in which her husband abused alcohol as a possible contributor to his condition, but Kelly points out her husband hadn’t had a drink in eight years, yet his condition continued to worsen.

When she went on Facebook, Kelly found she was not alone. She found a group of more than 2,400 women, all connected to former NFL players, who described similar experiences with their loved ones.

Kelly discusses the league’s decades-long denial of a link between football and degenerative brain diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. As Kelly states, CTE can only be definitively diagnosed after its victims have died, because it requires dissection of the brain. Yet her experience and those of thousands of others close to some who’ve played the game provides all the evidence needed to prove the deadliness of repeated hits to the head that are common in the sport.

This is all lost in the annual hoopla that comes with the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday is celebrated as if it’s a national holiday.

The dangers inherent in the sport are becoming more and more recognized even by fans of the sport. Yet many rationalize it by saying that the players know the sport is dangerous and still choose to play.

Nonsense! For years the league hid the extent of the dangers. Even now that the risks are better known, for many of the players the possibility of a career in pro football represents the best of a bunch of bad choices.

Players, a disproportionate number of whom are black, often come from conditions of poverty, often with little access to quality education and jobs. Football offers the possibility for some to go to college, and lucrative salaries for the rare few who make it to the pros. It’s not unlike when young people “choose” to get involved in gangs and the drug trade, because it’s one of the few options available to them.

Any rational society would look at the kinds of health risks associated with a sport like football and either outlaw it completely or require serious changes to how it is played. Under capitalism, the owners, the league, and its commercial sponsors are making too much money to allow those changes to happen.

The Heavy Toll of California Mudslides

Feb 5, 2018

The January 9 mudslides in Montecito, California killed at least 20 people, injured dozens and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes. Nearly a third of those killed were from immigrant families working in service jobs. “Among them was 30-year-old Pinit Sutthithepa from Thailand who worked at a Toyota dealership in Santa Barbara and sent money to his wife and two children for years before being able to bring them to the United States in 2016. The mudslides killed him, his 6-year-old son and his 79-year-old stepfather. Crews are still searching for Sutthithepa's 2-year-old daughter,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

After the mudslides, many workers could not get to work because of the freeway closure, or they couldn’t find work since the city is heavily damaged. Out of work, these families don't know how they are going to pay rent or buy groceries.

Meanwhile, the richer layers of the society, including stars like Oprah Winfrey and Rob Lowe, came through the disaster in better form. The median home price in Montecito is more than $4 million. The wealthy are able to get help and relocate in a way that the workers who serve them and their estates are not.

This natural disaster took its heaviest toll on workers. Capitalism, the social order under which we live, turned the mudslides into a social disaster for the workers.

D.C. School System Lies

Feb 5, 2018

Thirty-four percent of D.C. high school students graduated last year against the district’s attendance policy – students missed too many classes to pass. This is according to a new report recently released from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent. Mayor Bowser ordered the comprehensive report after news broke in December that students at Ballou High School were able to graduate last year despite missing months of school.

The report found that 937 out of 2,758 graduating students’ records were altered in order to graduate them. Never mind that these students weren’t in class long enough to open a book, let alone learn anything. Never mind that they are completely unprepared for almost any job, except maybe flipping burgers at McDonald’s – which won’t pay the rent. Never mind that they are completely unprepared to survive even a remedial course in a community college.

This is an outrage. This corrupt and deceitful act meant the administration and politicians did not have to admit their role in failing to educate and train these children. They thought they could hide behind the phony records and no one would see how they don’t budget anywhere near enough money for the vital task of education. In fact, D.C. schools have been under-funded for years.

D.C. has failed to do one of its most important missions: train and educate its children, its future. By not really educating our young, D.C. and the whole society has condemned a generation.