The Spark

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

Issue no. 1117 — November 9 - 23, 2020

The Racist Bully Is Gone
—The Working Class Can Heal Its Divisions

Nov 9, 2020

In cities all over the country, celebrations broke out when the vote in Pennsylvania brought the networks to call the election for Biden. People danced, hugged each other, made up songs—or just sat on the ground, trying to take it all in. Cars drove by, horns honking, people hanging out of windows. In places like New York, people leaned out of tall buildings, pounding out a rhythm on the pots they held.

Celebrations jumped out in cities where the day before, or even hours before, Republican operatives—accompanied by weapons-toting “militia” members—had acted like they were about to crash vote-counting centers. But when laughing crowds spilled into the streets of Detroit, and Philadelphia and Atlanta and Las Vegas, these contrived Republican demonstrations evaporated.

Trump might be continuing—on Twitter—to announce he won the presidency. But a woman celebrating in Washington, D.C. responded right back with a sign directed at the White House: “Get Out of OUR House, LOSER.”

Republican lawyers like Giuliani might claim “the election isn’t over,” as they rush to file hundreds more lawsuits. But crowds of people in cities like Louisville and Minneapolis went on celebrating Trump’s defeat. All through these long months of pandemic, as people tried to maintain the protest against police violence, they had confronted the racism and calls for more violence coming out of Trump’s mouth. They were filled with joy yesterday.

The bully whose tweets dripped with venom had apparently been deprived of the presidency.

But this is not the end of the story. The crises in which the country is mired are still with us.

Biden announced a “Covid-19 Task Force”—to do what? Study the problem? In a country where medical care is organized according to the profit motive, many tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people more are going to die while the virus is studied.

Biden set up a group of “financial experts” to advise him on the economy. These are the same “experts” who made sure the economic recovery after 2008 fed directly into the pockets of the big banks and finance companies, missing the working class completely. In the first flush of his new presidency, Biden may even shepherd another one-time “stimulus” check through Congress, but this doesn’t touch the basic problem, which is that this capitalist system, intent on maximizing profit, is permanently unable to provide jobs for everyone who needs work.

Trump may be gone, but the man taking his place has been part of the political apparatus organizing the country for almost 50 years—50 years when the situation of the working class has gone from bad to worse, and then worse again.

It’s not at all clear, even, that Trump will disappear from the political scene after he leaves the White House. But whether it’s Trump or someone else playing on the racism built into this system from its beginnings in slavery, this is a problem the working class will have to confront.

And not the only one. We should remember that even if Trump lost the election, he gained seven million more votes than in 2016. Many of those supporters flocked to Trump because they were pleased to see a politician openly spout racist garbage. But there are all the others who look to Trump because for so many years the Democrats carried out policies harmful for the semi-rural population. Poverty is endemic and hospitals almost non-existent.

Maybe they just don’t concern themselves with the fact he is racist—and that’s a problem. Maybe they don’t even like it, but try to ignore it because no one else speaks to them. And that’s still a problem. But the question is, who other than Trump has recognized them?

The question we are left with is this: when will the working class organize to fight for itself, to take on this system—with all its filthy racism, poverty, joblessness and rotten health care? When it does, it could offer a different perspective to the rural areas than the one that Trump gives. There will always be demagogues like Trump—and in the future, worse than Trump. People in the rural areas, just like workers who are centered today in the cities, need someone who represents their interests as people who work for a living.

In fighting for itself, the working class will hold out a beacon for all those misled by a venal con man like Donald Trump.

Pages 2-3

The Electoral College:
The Mark of an Undemocratic System

Nov 9, 2020

For the second time in four years, the Electoral College has played an important role in the outcome of the presidential election. If the president were elected by the popular vote, we’d have known the outcome the day after the election: Biden has more than four million votes more than Trump. But the electoral votes in five states were still up in the air as of four days after the election, and neither candidate had passed the threshold of 270 electoral votes.

Four years ago, Clinton got three million votes more than Trump—but lost the election anyway. Because what really elects the president in the United States isn’t the popular vote at all, but the Electoral College. The more than 250 million potential voters don’t elect the president—a group of 538 Electors do. And they are chosen by the governments in each of the states.

Most of those Electors are chosen according to the popular vote—but that’s according to laws set up in each state, not according to anything in the Constitution, and it’s not iron-clad. In the big majority of states, ALL of their electoral votes are allocated to the winner of the popular vote in that state. So a candidate who squeaks through with only 13,000 votes will win all of the electoral votes, just as if they won the state by 4 million votes.

So in 2016, Trump, with 63 million votes, was defeated in the popular vote by Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won it with 65.9 million. And yet 56.5% of the Electors voted Trump the winner.

In addition, in each state, the number of Electors corresponds to the sum of the number of representatives and senators in Congress. But even if the number of representatives is proportional to the population, all states have two senators, regardless of their population: Wyoming (580,000 inhabitants) has as many as California (39.5 million). The system of Electors therefore favors sparsely populated states. A vote in Wyoming carries four times the weight of a vote in California, because it has proportionally four times the Electors.

If this all sounds undemocratic, that’s because it is. And it is not an accident. The “Founding Fathers,” the framers of the Constitution, knew exactly what they were doing when they set this system up.

Those framers, Southern slave owners as well as Northern bankers, merchants and manufacturers, wealthy men all, feared the “passions of the masses.” And they had good reason to fear them, since just a few years before 1787, there had been several major rebellions by poor farmers who wanted greater representation, distribution of land, and far less taxes. The framers wanted a “government of the people,” BUT they wanted to make sure that the wealthy minority would remain fully in control of that government—the only “People” who mattered. They spoke openly about the differing interests of the different classes; and they built a State that they, the wealthy minority, would control.

So among other things, they created the Electoral College—a system that would make sure that there would be a ‘firewall’ between the popular vote and the actual choosing of the president. The state governments don’t even really need to obey the popular vote in choosing their electors. They could ignore the popular vote and choose someone else, which has actually happened several times in U.S. history.

There has been lots of talk in recent years about getting rid of the Electoral College, or finding a work-around, to allow the popular vote to actually choose the president. But the Electoral College is only one brick in the wall of this undemocratic State, created and run for the wealthy class. To really move forward, we need to get rid of the whole thing—and set up a system that We, working people, truly control in our own interests.

Illinois Factories:
The Leading Source of COVID-19 Outbreaks

Nov 9, 2020

While the second wave of COVID-19 hammers Illinois, Governor Pritzker announced that factories are the single largest source of outbreaks in the state.

Since July 1, the state’s contact tracers have identified at least 52 outbreaks of five or more confirmed COVID-19 cases at factories, far more than any other type of place, including restaurants, bars, churches, colleges, or even correctional facilities.

But does the state propose to mandate real safety precautions at factories? Does it propose to enforce masking, social distancing, regular testing, or any other measures? Of course not.

The state may shut down bars and restaurants. It may close schools. But touching the centers where the capitalist class makes the bulk of its profits? Not in this society!

Chicago:
Workers Still Can’t Get COVID Tests

Nov 9, 2020

For those who can afford it, COVID testing in Chicago has vastly improved since the first wave hit the city in April. The city’s top hospitals like Rush and Northwestern give tests to their patients right away, with results within 48 hours. Those willing to pay $150 in cash—no insurance accepted—can get tested at a private clinic.

But for many workers, a COVID-19 test is as hard to get today as it was seven months ago.

The city-run testing sites especially on the South and Southwest sides have waits of two or three hours—and sometimes two or three days. They take much longer to get results. And in big stretches of Chicago there are no city-run sites at all.

The Southwest Side is the single hardest hit area of the city as the second wave hits Chicago with a vengeance. Just two zip codes had 11,300 confirmed cases by the end of October—or one in eighteen residents—and at least 225 confirmed COVID deaths. Of those who managed to get tests, at the end of October, more than 25% were coming back positive!

The real numbers of infected people are surely higher because many who get the virus cannot get tested. In this whole area with more than 200,000 people, there is no permanent testing center—despite city promises to open one six months ago. Instead, there are just pop-sites that usually run out of tests and turn away sick people.

The Southwest Side neighborhoods are far from the city’s best hospitals. Many undocumented immigrants live there, and many essential workers. They can’t work from home and often lack insurance. All the way back in May, the city’s department of public health admitted that workers in this area were the most vulnerable to the second wave they expected to hit in the fall, and that has now arrived. And yet—the city did nothing to even provide testing.

Like everything else in capitalist Chicago, your risk of dying in this pandemic depends on your social class.

Pandemic on the Move

Nov 9, 2020

The election may be over, but the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. The U.S. continues to see record numbers of cases every day. While the fatality rate is lower than in the pandemic’s early stages, hospitalizations and deaths are again on the increase.

States in the Midwest like Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan have experienced recent spikes in cases. In Michigan, for example, the number of daily cases is running five times as high now as they were just two months ago. The number of daily deaths in Michigan, which were near zero in early August, are up to nearly 30 today. Hospitalizations have gone up four times since the end of August.

The ongoing pandemic is the result of a lack of intervention in the early stages to stop the spread of this highly contagious disease. The disease has spread to rural areas, which initially had escaped the pandemic. This threatens to create crises to come, given that many rural areas have only a few hospitals in the space of hundreds of miles, and many of those have low capacities for intensive care that COVID often requires.

Clearly, those in charge of hospital systems and supplies did not use the past months to ensure adequate numbers of hospital beds would be available. The availability of beds, staff, and supplies mostly relies on local, not national, decision-making. And so, while some hospitals have adequate PPE, staffing, and ventilators, others have not.

The politicians have fiddled around about providing additional economic stimulus and unemployment relief, and continue to compel essential workers to work under the danger of catching and potentially spreading the disease to others. Small businesses are pushed to try to stay open while facing a threat to their very existence.

The politicians have shown they’re incapable of solving this worsening crisis. The working class will need to continue to fight for even the most minimal care.

COVID Puts Essential Workers at Risk

Nov 9, 2020

Twenty percent of workers at one grocery store in Boston tested positive for COVID-19, according to a study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. That was much higher than the prevalence in the community at the time of the study, which was only about 1%.

The study also found that 3 out of 4 of the employees showed no symptoms and 91% worked in a customer-facing role.

All of this shows the risks involved in something as basic and necessary as shopping for groceries, and for those who work in the stores. Grocery store workers can be carrying the virus and not even know it. It shows the importance of wearing masks and social distancing. It also gives a clear picture of how essential these workers are, and they should be treated as such, with plenty of testing, and enough staff, pay, and time off to make sure both workers and customers can be kept safe.

Pages 4-5

Polish Protestors Push Back Abortion Ban

Nov 9, 2020

Mass protests erupted in Poland after a national court ruling on October 22 making almost all abortion illegal. Angry protests of mainly women and young people have swept the country ever since. Wearing masks for safety as coronavirus cases surge in Poland, up to a million people have protested nightly. Demonstrations have been organized in at least 70 cities, towns and villages.

Popular banners proclaim, “I wish I could abort my government” and “This is war.” Popular chants include, “We are fed up! We have had enough!” and “I think, I feel, I decide!”

Bianka, 15, and Maja, 16, said to the New York Times that Poland’s youth will not back down. “We don’t want to live in a country where we don’t have a choice, where everything is decided for us.”

The reactionary ruling party of Poland, called Law and Justice (PiS), openly orchestrated this court ruling. PiS has many supporters in rural areas and yet even these areas have seen protests.

Recent surveys find only 15% of the population supports this new restriction on abortion that could leave as little as 2% of abortions legal going forward.

Several protests took place inside Catholic churches, where demonstrators in this largely Catholic country brought protest signs and confronted priests. Rightly so, demonstrators blame the Catholic Church for this new policy. The Church in Poland is reactionary and openly close with the right-wing ruling party.

Priests give sermons attacking women for using contraception or getting divorced. When Pope Francis suggested acknowledging same-sex civil unions, Polish bishops declared this was against Church doctrine.

In response to the protests, the head of the ruling PiS party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has had to step down. Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, remains in power for now, but has coronavirus. Poland’s government delayed a final step on November 2 that was required to turn this court ruling into law. Demonstrators celebrated this small victory—a delay but not a clear overturning.

With coronavirus numbers soaring in Poland and a national lockdown for safety imminent, the protest movement has been put on pause, hopefully to be continued....

Honduras Battered by Hurricane Eta

Nov 9, 2020

Hurricane Eta hammered Central America and southern Mexico last week, dropping as much as 40 inches of rain on some regions. In Mexico, ten people were drowned in a rain-swollen stream. In Guatemala, a landslide killed about 100 people when it swept their village from its mountainside.

It seems like Honduras will be the country most badly hurt of all. While no one can tell the number yet, many hundreds surely died. The government estimates that 1.6 million people were affected, and according to a non-profit, about 400,000 were left homeless. One economist estimated that the loss caused by this hurricane could surpass more than 20% of the value of all goods and services produced in the country in a year. This disaster will fall primarily on those who can least afford it, poor people whose homes and possessions were swept away in the floods.

This natural disaster is one more aspect of a social disaster that has been hitting the population of this country with increasing force since the 2008 economic crisis hit. In 2009, military leaders took power in a U.S.-backed coup. The post-coup government has squeezed the already-impoverished population in order to recover the profits of the tiny ruling class and its U.S. backers. It cut the already meager health system, attempted to privatize the schools, carried out a reign of terror against farmers who tried to resist when big plantations seized their land. Union leaders are murdered with impunity.

This government is linked to violent drug gangs from top to bottom—even the president and his brother were named in indictments in U.S. courts. But because this government protects the interests of U.S. corporations in the region, it was supported equally by the Obama and Trump administrations.

No one expects this government to help with the aftermath of the hurricane. The president of Honduras only issued an evacuation warning the day after the storm hit. And despite supposedly receiving billions in aid, Honduras has yet to recover from Hurricane Mitch, which hit the country in 1998. Much of this aid money was undoubtedly stolen by corrupt officials.

Honduras produces plenty of wealth. Workers make big profits for U.S. textile, auto parts, and garment factories. Huge plantations grow bananas, coffee, and other products for export to the U.S. and Europe. Yet this imperialist system with the U.S. at its head condemns the bulk of the population to poverty, leaving millions vulnerable to drug gangs, and to hurricanes like Eta.

Statement from Working Class Party of Maryland

Nov 9, 2020

The following statement was issued by the Working Class Party of Maryland after the 2020 election. This statement and other information about this party can be found on the independent website, https://workingclassfight.com.

David Harding, candidate of the Working Class Party of Maryland, had 3399 votes (as of November 8) for mayor of Baltimore City. This was about 1.6% of the votes cast for mayor.

This was an encouraging vote, given the difficulties of campaigning during the pandemic—which was doubly so for a new party, just starting to sink in its roots. Despite the difficulties, we had a bunch of dedicated volunteers who found the way to discuss our new party with quite a few people.

If we did the work to start this party, including collecting 14,000 signatures, it’s because there is not and has not been any party on the ballot that represents the interests of working people, no party that claims allegiance to the working class.

The 3400 votes we got in this first campaign shows that there are people in the city of Baltimore who agree with the basic ideas of our campaign, which are that the working class needs to fight for its own interests and build its own party.

What’s next for Working Class Party of Maryland? In the state of Maryland, election law requires us over the next four year period to run, first for governor, then for president, and get at least one percent of the highest vote for each position. This is the only way for a new party to stay on the ballot. It certainly is a testimony to the desire of the capitalist class that runs this society to be able to dominate the political scene, without any opposition.

In any case, we will be ready to present a candidate for these top spots in both 2022 and 2024, and we are already planning how to start the work to do it.

We would love to hear from anyone who agrees with these ideas AND is ready to work to put Working Class Party forward. You can email us at: workingclasspartymd@gmail.com.

Statement from the Working Class Party of Michigan

Nov 9, 2020

The following statement was issued by the Working Class Party of Michigan. This statement and other information about WCP can be found on the independent website, https://workingclassfight.com.

In the midst of an election campaign presented by the two big parties as a do-or-die contest, the Working Class Party effectively maintained our base, built up since 2016, when Working Class Party first made it on to the ballot in Michigan.

This election took place in the middle of a pandemic created not only by the virus, but also by the actions of the two big parties, which both have drastically cut funding for public health, leading to tens of thousands of deaths that should not have happened. The campaign was carried out in the middle of an economy in collapse caused by the actions of the capitalist class to increase its profits by driving down the standard of living of the population, and by the actions of state and city governments to cut jobs in public services so public money could be diverted to that same capitalist class. And it was carried out even as police continue to act as an invading army in popular areas, particularly in areas where black people live, or where young people congregate.

Neither party has an answer to these crises because each of them, in their own way, support the right of the capitalist class to run the economy, to drain wealth out of it, and to use the violence of the state in support of this outright robbery.

Having no real answer to any of these crises, having carried out no policies that could improve the lives of the population, both parties made the election turn around the person of Trump. Are you for or against him?

Working people do not need any saviors to act in their defense—neither Trump, nor those who want to replace Trump. Working people can defend themselves.

We believe that the working class, based on its position in the very midst of the productive economy, can carry out a fight for its own needs and interests. Working people have the intelligence, the knowledge and the experience of working collectively which comes from producing the goods and services the whole society needs. Resting on this intelligence, knowledge, skills, and capacity to organize, they will in the future organize society to serve the whole population. And we are convinced that its most class conscious members will work to overcome the divisions that its enemies push to splinter the working class.

This is what the Working Class Party believes. This is what the Working Class Party said as it campaigned this year, even while it was blocked from getting around much by the restrictions of the pandemic.

The fact that people gave their votes to Working Class Party in the midst of this situation shows that there are thousands of people who want to see the working class build its own organizations and carry out the fights that need to be had.

The following are the results of the 2020 votes for the 12 candidates put forward by Working Class Party (Michigan) in 2020.

For State Board of Education, a state-wide contest:

  • Mary Anne Hering, 146,526 votes, 1.46%; and
  • Hali McEachern, 82,236 votes, 0.82%.

For U.S. Congress:

  • District 5, Kathy Goodwin, 8,068 votes, 2.27%;
  • District 9, Andrea Kirby, 9,030 votes, 2.25%;
  • District 12, Gary Walkowicz, 11,146, 2.90%;
  • District 13, Sam Johnson, 5,247 votes, 1.86%; and
  • District 14, Philip Kolody, 2,476 votes, 0.74%.

For State House:

  • District 4, Linda Rayburn, 1,014 votes, 3.36%;
  • District 7, Kimberly Givens, 1,210 votes, 3.51%;
  • District 14, Simone R. Coleman, 1,938 votes, 4.75%;
  • District 15, Larry Darnell Betts, 970 votes, 2.41%; and
  • District 75, Louis Palus, 1,216 votes, 3.03%.

We know that elections will not change our fate. But we have confidence in the capacity of the working class to organize and fight.

Pages 6-7

Stand Together & We Will Change the World

Nov 9, 2020

The following editorial appeared last week in the workers’ newsletters that Spark distributes bi-weekly in workplaces where we have work.

Everyone is wondering how we will get past this pandemic, and when things will return to normal. But “normal” before the pandemic was already a crisis for the working class. Normal was an economy increasingly offering only low-wage, temporary jobs. Normal was a society where the infrastructure was crumbling and schools weren’t given the money needed to educate our children. For the working class, normal was a health care system that didn’t keep people healthy—even without the virus.

We don’t know when the pandemic will end. But today, we see the capitalists already preparing for their “new normal,” the one they want, where the working class is further impoverished, so the wealthy classes get even richer.

More layoffs are announced, adding to the ten million workers who have not returned to work since the start of the pandemic. Major companies—like Disney, Allstate, Exxon, Boeing, United Airlines, American Airlines, to name just a few—cut jobs while paying out big money to shareholders and executives.

Governments at all levels proclaim they will reduce spending on public services—even while they continue tax breaks for the wealthy and subsidies for big corporations. Roads, bridges, water systems, schools, all public services will further deteriorate. More people with public service jobs will be thrown out of work.

This is the “new normal” the capitalists and their government want—using the excuse of the virus to drive us down so the wealthy classes can get wealthier still.

But it doesn’t have to be OUR new normal. The working class can prepare—and needs to prepare—to bring our forces together to fight for the future that we want and need.

There are many millions of people without a job today, wanting to work. The bosses say that there is not enough work for everybody—fine, we can divide up the work, reduce the workloads, slow the speed of work. Make the jobs reasonable.

If the bosses say they still don’t need everybody, OK, we can all work fewer hours a week and still produce the things needed.

If the bosses say fewer hours means less pay, we say NO, pay everyone a full living wage every week—the equivalent to what we made in 40 hours, plus all the overtime they used to schedule us for. And when inflation goes up, our wages should go up immediately, and just as much.

When the bosses say the money is not there, we say YES, it is there. Just cut capitalist profits and take money from all the profits our labor has produced in the past, accumulated in their banks.

Take back our tax money handed over to the capitalist class. Use it to restore public services. Hire the teachers, the maintenance people, the bus drivers, the counselors, the nurses. Organize schools to run safely. Hire the construction workers to build more schools. Hire workers to fix the roads and bridges, to provide everyone with clean water and good sewer systems. Hire the workers needed to build and maintain this infrastructure.

It could be done. The money is there to do all this and more. But it is going to take a fight to put our hands on that money. To make that fight we must stand together as one class, to bring all our forces together: black and white, immigrant and native-born, women and men.

This is important, we can’t let ourselves be divided. Or we will never have the lives we want.

Racism has been part of American capitalism, since its beginnings in slavery. That led to the black population always being the most oppressed part of the working class. But the capitalists exploit the whole working class. And they have kept everyone down by fomenting racism inside the working class.

When we refuse to be divided, when we stand together, the working class can make the kind of fight that can change the whole society. We have the forces to do it. We make everything run. We can stop this system cold. We can build a new system of our own, one that will benefit the whole population.

California Prop 22:
Big Tech Companies Buy an Election

Nov 9, 2020

It is hardly a surprise that voters in the state of California passed Proposition 22, despite the fact that it is virulently anti-union and anti-worker. Uber, Lyft and the delivery service DoorDash spent a record 218 million dollars on the ballot measure, more than 10 times as much as the unions that opposed it, to churn out a blizzard of advertisements.

In other words, these big, rich companies used all that money, all those resources, to buy the election, to fool and trick voters into agreeing to let a bunch of billionaires make an even bigger fortune by classifying the drivers as “independent contractors,” rather than employees. That’s the excuse these companies have used so they don’t provide hundreds of thousands of drivers even the minimum protections that ordinary employees get, including a minimum wage, health benefits, sick pay, workers compensation, Social Security, and unemployment insurance benefits.

The day after Prop 22 passed, big speculators in the stock market celebrated by bidding up the price of Uber’s shares by 9% and Lyft’s shares by 20%, making the shareholders of these two companies 10 billion dollars richer in one day. Wall Street financiers were already betting on Uber and other big companies using what they did in California in order to get federal legislation imposing similar conditions for millions of drivers in other states.

For the last five years, union officials had told workers to sit back and let labor’s friends in the state capital take care of things. These so-called “friends” are the Democratic apparatus that runs virtually all government in California. But for five years, Uber, Lyft and other high tech companies were able to defy government officials in all three branches of the state government. State legislators passed laws to stop it, labor department regulators issued regulations against it. And courts issued rulings demanding that these companies classify and pay their drivers as employees.

Result? The companies thumbed their noses at these restraints, setting the stage for Uber and Lyft to ram through Prop 22.

No, workers cannot count on government officials—no matter how much they claim to be pro-labor and pro-union, like they pretend to be in California. The workers’ power is in our great numbers and our essential role at the center of the economy.

Dr. Fauci under Attack

Nov 9, 2020

When Donald Trump began attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, a prominent immunologist and longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, it was a shock to many people. Dr. Fauci has been the only scientist to appear for the U.S. government on a consistent basis who spoke in a way that made the coronavirus understandable and helped us safeguard against it.

Fauci has not wavered from his warnings about the highly infectious virus; he has not wavered from advising the wearing of masks from March onwards. He explained over and over again how the virus is communicated and how to block its transmission by social distancing, masks, and frequent hand-washing.

Preceding the election, Dr. Fauci, like science itself, became inconvenient for Trump. Responding to capitalists large and small, Trump was determined to make the virus discussion go away so he could “open the economy.” Poof, like magic, he said the virus would disappear. He discounted the danger of virus spread, and finally, through his rallies and parties, spread the virus to hundreds and got sick himself.

Trump’s personal actions made it clear that he was willing to sacrifice the population for his own personal gain.

But a deeper look reveals the same disregard for the population all across the U.S. capitalist system. Capitalism, represented by Republicans and Democrats alike, has torn away at the public health system for decades. It has destroyed hospitals and clinics, reducing the numbers of trained staff and leaving neighborhoods and entire rural areas without a medical facility.

U.S. capitalism failed to prepare for medical emergencies that the administrators of health care knew were coming, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. And capitalism produced the underlying diseases caused by lack of care, stress, poor diet, poor air quality, that condemned many to death by virus.

The science, the technology, the ability to test, trace and isolate, the ability to intervene quickly before a patient got deathly ill, all these tools to fight the virus were available. They were not supplied because the bosses and banks saw no profit in it.

The threats to fire Dr. Fauci by Donald Trump are only the open expression of the everyday functioning of a ruling class that is deadly for the working class and has to be taken out of power.

Page 8

Something Is Rotten in Baltimore

Nov 9, 2020

When the pandemic shutdown went into effect in Maryland, trash piled up for weeks in some Baltimore City neighborhoods after coronavirus cases were reported at the Department of Public Works (DPW). One garbage center was shut down. By the summer, with not enough workers to pick up trash, city officials announced the end of one of the two weekly pick-ups, for recycling, so that DPW trash workers not sick could pick up trash all over the city at least once a week in every neighborhood.

DPW’s summer employment figures showed one third of workers were not at work in August and September. Returning to twice-a-week trash pick-ups has been pushed back again, to mid-December.

In a city with high unemployment, a city job with benefits and decent pay ought to find plenty of takers. But instead of hiring, DPW asked private contractors to supply garbage workers at $11 an hour! There were not many takers. The city web site did NOT offer city jobs, and in fact the mayor has threatened furloughs and layoffs.

Two city councilmen proposed at the end of October that the city should offer an increase in DPW wages for trash work. That’s not what happened. As the trash piled up, the outgoing mayor decided what the city needed was nine new council staff jobs averaging $79,000 per year, or about twice what DPW workers get.

In a society where money is the measure of all things, Baltimore City cannot get its trash picked up because DPW workers are not valued by city management.

Washington, D.C. Schools

Nov 9, 2020

D.C. schools were forced to walk back re-opening for in-person classes. It seems teachers weren’t on board with the planned re-opening.

Of course, teachers would prefer in-person teaching. But they don’t trust D.C. to do what is necessary to make in-school learning safe for all. Top concerns are air circulation, enough ventilation, and enough PPE.

Protests for Karon Hylton

Nov 9, 2020

For days, people have been protesting the killing of 20-year-old Karon Hylton in D.C. Hylton was killed when his mo-ped collided with a car while he was being chased by an unmarked police car. Residents are saying that Hylton was the victim of police “jump outs.” These are when officers literally jump out of unmarked vehicles to do questioning or searches. Some residents are saying jump-outs are used to antagonize and provoke young Black people so the cops can further harass them.

All of this was because Hylton wasn’t wearing a helmet.

D.C. police are “not allowed” to chase people for traffic violations. But obviously the police do what they want. Maybe in this case they will be reprimanded for breaking the rules. Maybe. But Karon Hylton remains dead.

And the protests continue, as they should.

Tax Cuts for the Rich, Tax Increases for the Rest of Us

Nov 9, 2020

Starting January 2021, close to half of American taxpayers, people with an income of $40,000 or less, will be paying higher taxes—thanks to a bill passed by Congress, and signed into law by President Trump, back in December 2017.

This law, called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” is primarily a tax cut for big corporations and wealthy, worth trillions of dollars, for years to come. But when it was passed, there was also an initial tax cut for all taxpayers, which the politicians advertised greatly, as a justification for the tax bill.

But what the Washington politicians did not say is that they snuck in automatic tax increases for the majority of Americans—a big part of which begin to go into effect in 2021, that is, AFTER the elections.

In fact, it’s a tax cut for the rich. The richest one-third of taxpayers get a permanent tax cut. And the richer they are, the bigger a tax cut they get. But this is being paid for by the working population. By 2027, two-thirds of taxpayers (people making $75,000 or less) will be paying higher taxes than they did in 2017, before the law was enacted.

This enormous gift to the wealthiest Americans was made by a Republican Congress and a Republican president, and the Democrats attacked them for that. But don’t be fooled. Starting in 2003, over and over, the Democrats criticized Republican President George W. Bush for his tax cuts for the rich. But then in 2010, Democratic President Barack Obama, with a House and Senate controlled by the Democrats, made almost all of Bush’s tax cuts for the rich permanent.

The Republican and Democratic Parties serve one class, the capitalist class, by taking from the working population and giving it to the rich. The only difference is that some politicians are sneakier than others.

Baltimore Schools:
Safety for Everyone?

Nov 9, 2020

The Baltimore City school superintendent announced some schools would bring groups of students to the classroom in mid-November. The governor has more than once blamed teachers because Maryland schools had to open online this fall.

In fact, none of the politicians has really done anything about school safety, because long before the coronavirus, some school systems were overcrowded. Even before the virus, there were Baltimore City and Baltimore County school classrooms that lacked windows, or air conditioning, or sometimes heat. Some teachers paid for water for their students and for paper supplies out of their own pockets.

But none of the school systems hired more teachers, so that kids would be more spread out for safety. In fact, the city schools announced layoffs.

Again, the money and the mouths of the politicians were not in sync.