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. 1166 — November 21 - December 5, 2022

The Capitalists Plan to Cut Jobs, the Working Class Can Stop Them

Nov 21, 2022

When Elon Musk bought Twitter for 44 billion dollars, his first move was to send an email to half of the workforce—3,700 employees—immediately firing them. Then he emailed the remaining half of the workforce telling them he expected them to work “long hours at high intensity”.

It was not a surprise to see such blatant arrogance from Musk. After all, Musk had the Tesla Board of Directors give him a 56 billion dollar pay package—so he could go out and buy a major social media company like Twitter. A capitalist like Musk must feel like he can fire whoever he wants, do whatever he wants, no matter how outrageous it is.

But actually, Musk is not doing anything much different from what other capitalist leaders are doing today; he is just more brazen about it. The capitalist class has begun a massive campaign of layoffs. In the last few months, many corporations, including Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), Tesla, Peloton, J.P. Morgan, Carvana, Ford, Rivian, Cisco and others have announced layoffs, or plans for layoffs, affecting tens of thousands of employees. Today many of these layoffs are at tech companies and/or involve salaried employees. But the capitalist class has been busy speeding up and cutting the jobs of hourly workers, manufacturing workers, retail workers, office workers, service workers.

The capitalists are carrying out a conscious strategy. The Federal Reserve, which carries out financial policies in the service of the capitalist system, has watched capitalist owners inflate prices drastically. The answer they give for the problem of inflation is to raise interest rates, to slow down the economy, and to cut buying power by increasing unemployment. Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said that these policies will bring about “some softening of labor market conditions” and “will also bring about some pain to households … these are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation.” Powell is saying that millions of people will be thrown people out of work so the capitalists can maintain and increase profits, putting money directly into their personal pockets.

Real unemployment, based on the labor participation rate, is already the highest it has been in 20 years. The capitalists deliberately did not fill many jobs coming out of the Covid pandemic. Today they employ fewer people, having them working harder for longer hours. More unemployment would mean increased impoverishment for the working class, more people being thrown out of their homes. This is capitalism’s strategy for dealing with inflation and the current economic crisis.

But the working class can block that plan. We can fight for jobs, for massive rehiring. Divide up the existing work and give a job to everyone who wants to work, create more jobs. The people with a job today could all work fewer hours and work at a reasonable pace and still get paid a full wage, a real living wage, enough to have a decent standard of living. The money is there to pay for this. Take it out of the enormous profits the capitalists are making today off of our labor!

Of course, none of this is going to happen by itself. It will take a fight by the working class to force the capitalists to let go of some of their enormous wealth. Fights will have to spread from one factory to another, from one workplace to another, until a big part of the working class is engaged in the fight. That’s the power that can push the bosses back.

Today the capitalists, combined and joined under the banks, are expecting the working class to just quietly accept their plans. In all their arrogance, they think they can do what they want to us. But the working class has the power to show Elon Musk and the rest of the capitalist class that they are not lord and master over us.

In the past, the working class has used its power to push back the capitalists for a time. But in the future the working class could, once and for all, rid society of these parasites and run things themselves.

Pages 2-3

The Right of Women to Choose Abortion Care

Nov 21, 2022

In each of five states that had a referendum on the ballot that addressed a woman’s right to choose, the population upheld abortion rights. In Kentucky, a constitutional ban on abortion was blocked by the population. In Michigan, California and Vermont a right to choose abortion care was added to the state constitution. In Montana, a confusing measure was defeated that aimed to label any aborted fetus as a “live birth.” A Kansas referendum, held in August, also upheld abortion rights.

In all six states, organizing happened either to collect signatures or to get out the vote. This shows the power that people in large numbers have when we decide something is just not right.

A female commentator from Michigan said of the Supreme Court decision ending Roe, “Losing a fundamental right [women] have had for almost 50 years? That wasn’t just a ‘summer blip’ of an issue. It was an earthquake that kept people motivated.”

What the Supreme Court did was lift the veil off what had already happened to abortion rights and give a green light to the far right to take things further. Whittled away by a thousand cuts, beginning not long after Roe, abortion had already become difficult to access and difficult for working people to afford in much of the U.S.

The winnowing away of abortion rights began in 1976. The Hyde Amendment, a rider to the federal government’s annual spending authorization that has been renewed and expanded to this day, blocks spending federal funds on abortion care.

Attacks on access to abortion accumulated: by the year 2000, 87% of all the counties in the U.S. had no abortion provider—no hospital, no clinic, no physician able to perform an abortion. The problem was worse in rural areas where 97% of counties had no provider.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in their ruling overturning Roe, the Dobbs decision, that they were turning it back to the states to decide. This allowed the criminalization of abortion care—a vital part of women’s healthcare. In a world where prenatal healthcare is abysmal and capitalist society will not provide a decent existence to every one of its members, abortion is a sad necessity.

The Dobbs decision alarmed a part of the population that immediately understood that in addition to women’s rights, many popular rights would be next on the chopping block.

Maybe not in these words, but in the spirit of the old slogan of the Industrial Workers of the World, an injury to one is an injury to all, the idea that all civil rights are under attack became a motivating factor. Broad layers of the population came out to vote in these four states to say no to attacks on abortion rights. And by implication, no to whatever might be under attack next!

Now the fight will have to continue, as politicians will not want to enforce these referendums. The “progressives” will not stand up to the corporations to wrench from them the public health money it would take to have quality healthcare for all and make abortion accessible. And the far right will fund attacks to keep trying to push women and families back to the wretchedness of bygone eras.

The work needed to protect abortion rights and all the rights under attack has only just begun. But it has begun!

The Two Party System Is a Joke

Nov 21, 2022

The 2022 elections are now over. Even if some races have yet to be called and Georgia’s Senate race is headed to a run-off, the overall outcome is clear: the Democrats still control the Senate—just barely. And the Republicans now control the House of Representatives—just barely.

Democrats say they have won, because the usual pattern is that the party of the sitting president loses big-time in the midterm elections. Republicans say they have won because they now have a majority in the House. In fact, both parties are probably very happy with the outcome—because now nobody expects anything to get done for the next two years! Commentators are already telling the public to expect two years of partisan gridlock in Congress; Joe Biden is probably thrilled that he will not be obliged to deliver on any of the promises he made two years ago!

This is an important role of the two-party system for society’s rulers: when people get dissatisfied with the way things are going, seats and houses and the presidency change hands … while nothing changes, while politicians bicker between themselves, making a sound and fury, signifying nothing. After two years, the process repeats itself, with the same two parties flipping back and forth. Of course, when it comes to corporate tax breaks, or military contracts, or anything else the wealthy class wants, THOSE decisions get passed right away, with full bipartisan support!

We can see what ordinary people really think about this process when we look at how many don’t vote: in a typical midterm election, less than half of eligible voters actually cast a vote. The 2018 elections were considered a high point—because the voter turnout actually crossed 50%! The 2022 voter turnout was not that high. And the lower the income level, the lower the voter turnout is. Clearly, many working people do not believe that the elections have any effect on their daily lives!

And why should they? In all the campaigns, neither Republicans nor Democrats offered anything approaching actual ideas about how to address the problems facing working people. Republicans may have talked about inflation; Democrats may have mentioned abortion rights … but both filled their ads with nothing but attacks and fear, telling voters to vote for them or else the world would come crashing down.

Well, we have news for them: OUR worlds are already crashing down. And it’s been BOTH parties, in service to their wealthy masters, who have allowed it to happen!

Protect Democracy?
Whose Democracy?

Nov 21, 2022

The Democrats made a big point of pushing the idea that these past elections were all about “protecting and preserving democracy"—and that only voting for Democrats could do that.

Really, protect democracy? Exactly what kind of democracy is this? And who is it set up to protect?

Of course, we all know that money drives elections: those individuals and groups with lots of money are able to choose candidates, ensure their loyalty, and buy up advertisements and armies of staffers to get them votes and keep them in the public eye. Those with money can call up “their” representatives at any time and know that those politicians will take their calls and do what they ask. It truly is a democracy—for the rich.

But it goes deeper than that. We can’t just “get money out of the elections"—because the whole system was set up from the beginning to represent those moneyed interests.

This is a democracy where two of the last four presidents were elected with a minority of the popular vote—because the Electoral College votes fell to that minority-vote-getter. This wasn’t an accident—the Electoral College system was created by the “Founding Fathers,” wealthy land and business owners who made sure to set up a system that would continue to be controlled by those wealthy elites and to act in their interests. Even today, there is nothing that requires the Electoral College to be chosen according to the popular vote.

There are a number of other aspects of this system that also make sure that it operates undemocratically: the Senate gives two votes to every state, no matter how many people live there. The Supreme Court is not elected, but appointed by presidents to lifetime positions. And as we’ve seen, nine people can decide to do away with rights accepted for fifty years, even when the majority of the population supports those rights.

These undemocratic choke points ensure that, even if the majority votes in their interests, the wealthy few get the final say over what actually happens.

And, of course, when the U.S. was established, the vote went only to men—and only men—who owned property; and a whole section of the population was given no human rights at all, branded as property of other human beings.

It took massive fights and a bloody Civil War to force that system to recognize the human and democratic rights of the majority of the people who live here—at least, on paper. It will take another massive fight, by the working population, to truly build a democratic system controlled by the majority, and not by the wealthy few.

Pages 4-5

Maryland:
Tax Cuts for Developers

Nov 21, 2022

Maryland’s governor announced in early November that the state has excused real estate developers from paying more than 465 million dollars in property taxes since 1996 with a little-known tax break.

The Historic Revitalization Tax Credit, like a number of other tax breaks, lets developers pay little or no property tax on some buildings for a certain number of years. This year the state let the owner of the Fidelity Building in downtown Baltimore escape payment of five million dollars.

The governor says the developer of this property, consisting of very expensive apartments and stores, will get out of paying 45 million dollars total over the years. The owners of two other projects in Baltimore also were excused from paying well over one million dollars apiece this year.

And this tax break is not just in Baltimore. The developer of a property in Cambridge on the Eastern Shore, the Woolworth Building, was excused from paying more than four million dollars this year. The governor says that developer will avoid paying 16 million dollars total on the project.

Maryland officials hit up homeowners for sky-high property taxes, especially in Baltimore. But they slash taxes for rich developers—money that could pay for schools, roads, and water pipes.

Baltimore:
Deaf Man Killed in Custody

Nov 21, 2022

Javarick Gantt was strangled to death by his cellmate in the Baltimore City Jail on October 9. He was not only very short and thin but also deaf, needing sign language interpreters to communicate.

The jail held Gantt for three months without bail, failed to deal with his disability, and then put him in a cell with a man accused of fatally stabbing a stranger.

Gantt’s legal troubles began three years ago when he was picked up for disorderly conduct. When police told him to show up in court, it is not clear he heard and understood the directive. So he went about his life in the local deaf community, stocking shelves at convenience stores.

Police arrested him last July on an outstanding warrant, because he had not shown up in court. Nine years ago the state of Maryland reached a settlement with deaf advocates, agreeing to accommodate deaf people in jail. But with Gantt, the jail did not respect that agreement.

So he was jailed without having been found guilty of a crime and thrown into a cell with a violent offender. This amounted to a death sentence. Obviously, the prison system doesn’t exist to protect working people, but to oppress them.

Holiday Shopping:
Thanksgiving Cutbacks

Nov 21, 2022

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the AFBF, says with prices up, Thanksgiving dinner will cost about 20% more than last year. For an average dinner that cost $53.31 last year for 10 people, this year’s meal for 10 will cost $64.05, says the AFBF. Perhaps that estimate applies to 10 smaller states in the middle of the country.

For the majority living in large cities, $53.31 for a 10-person dinner was already unlikely last year. A different survey, not conducted by the AFBF, said half of the people they surveyed claimed to spend from $100 to $200 on Thanksgiving dinner.

And that’s not counting some 30 million people who in 2021 went to food banks for free food. One charity in Dallas aims to provide 25,000 free Thanksgiving meals this year.

The entire dinner-producing population does not have a membership in Costco or Sam’s Club. The adult population has a whole lot of relatives who eat more than one dinner roll, more than one tablespoon of stuffing and more than two-thirds of a cup of mashed potatoes. These might be considered insulting portions in many families.

Holiday time is really special if you are a food processor, a grocery chain, an airline, or a big oil corporation. For the rest of us, less turkey and can’t afford the ham!

California:
UC Academic Workers on Strike

Nov 21, 2022

Academic workers at all of the 10 University of California (UC) campuses went on strike on Monday, November 14. Some of the strikers are lecturers and researchers who don’t have permanent jobs at the university. But many of the strikers are students working toward an advanced degree, while they also teach classes, grade papers, tutor students and do research work. The union that represents the strikers, United Auto Workers (UAW), said that, with 48,000 workers involved, this is the largest walkout of academic workers in U.S. history.

As their huge number indicates, these workers do a lot of the teaching and research at UC. So, the walkout has caused many classes on UC campuses to be cancelled. But many other classes have also been cancelled because some undergraduate students and professors have been refusing to cross picket lines.

Strikers say they simply can’t live on what they get paid: $24,000 a year on average. Besides pay increases, their demands include child-care subsidies, better health care benefits, longer family leave, and public transit passes—things every worker needs in a capitalist economy!

UC leaders say they can’t afford to meet these demands. Ridiculous! The UC is a huge public university system, whose budget ($44 billion in 2020–21), is larger than that of the other two California public college systems (California State University and community colleges) combined. And besides state and federal funding, the UC also has more than $16 billion in endowments—money that the UC administration invests in financial markets.

No, UC leaders just have priorities other than better pay and working conditions for their workers—or affordable and better education for their students, for that matter. For example, the UC has increased the undergraduate student tuition from about $700 in 1980 to about $14,000 today, an almost 20-fold (or 2,000%) increase, way above the inflation rate—while laying off teachers and other workers, cutting down the number of classes and increasing class size. During that same time period, the UC has increased its business ties—and profits—enormously. UC leaders brag, for example, that the UCLA medical school has become financially “self-sufficient” (meaning it is now a small business empire by itself), and certainly it is not the only UC entity to do so.

All this also means that the UC system has all kinds of ties with Wall Street. Just look who the UC’s governing body, the UC Regents, is made of. A majority, 15 of the 26, of the board of regents’ voting members are appointed by the California governor, and currently 11 of them are listing their occupation as businessman, financier or lobbyist. The UC Board of Regents, in fact, is a middleman between the UC’s big money pool and those who have put their grabby hands on that money: Big Business and Big Finance.

Under the guise of a public university (which, by the way, gets tons of taxpayer money), the UC system acts just like another big finance company that exploits the hell out of its workers.

Biden Administration’s Anti-Immigrant Policies

Nov 21, 2022

A U.S. federal judge last week ruled Trump administration’s March 2020 order used to expel more than 2.4 million migrants to Mexico was unlawful. The Trump administration used a pretext of preventing the spread of the virus and issued this order to further their anti-immigration stand. But, after taking over the administration, Biden continued to use the very same order to rapidly turn away asylum seekers without giving them a chance to apply for protection and knowing that the U.S. expelled these migrants to countries with a high probability of persecution, torture, violent assaults, or rape.

This ruling came just three days after the Biden administration forced its U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner, Chris Magnus, to resign after 11 months in this position because he did not precisely align with Biden’s harsh anti-immigrant policies.

CBP, with its more than 45,600 federal agents and officers and a 13.5 billion dollar annual budget, is the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security. CBP’s anti-immigration conduct was always in question. Between 2005 and 2012, more than 2,000 CBP employees were arrested for misconduct, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. No information was available after 2012, but nobody doubted that CBP’s violent corruptive misconduct against immigrants continued. Last September, CBP agents used unnecessary violence against Haitian migrants who had gathered beneath an international bridge outside Texas, as disclosed by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

CBP commissioner Magnus said he wanted to change this environment. He clamped down on his officers’ offensive humor and sexist and violent comments in the media, including those who made fun of dead migrants. Magnus criticized Republican governors who forcefully dumped migrants picked up at the border into Democratic-controlled cities.

Magnus also wrote that the Trump administration’s March 2020 anti-immigration order “comes at a heavy cost to many asylum seekers.”

This criticism also went against the Biden administration, which wanted to look and act tough against immigrants. Last week, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Magnus’ boss, said the Biden administration had “expelled or removed more individuals from the United States than ever before” to boast about their violent border enforcement record. So, Biden sacked Magnus, who did not align with such anti-immigration policies.

No, the Biden administration’s anti-immigrant policies are not different than those of the Trump administration, if not worse. If there are more than enough immigrants to exploit as a cheap labor force, dumping them into other countries is U.S. capitalism’s deadly immigration policy.

Pages 6-7

MA Hering Speaks!

Nov 21, 2022

Mary Anne Hering, Working Class Party candidate for State Board of Education in Michigan, on what it will take to give working class kids a chance to learn. The following is a reprint from the WorkingClassFight.com site.

"There are really different Michigan public schools. Just as an example, compare the physical space, number of teachers and support staff, libraries, playing fields, field trips, etc., between, e.g., Troy, Birmingham or Grosse Pointe public schools with Hamtramck, Ecorse, and Detroit. This is not to say the teachers and other employees in Hamtramck, etc., are not extremely devoted to their work and their children, but they have more students, more work, with many fewer resources to work with. So I would say Michigan Public schools that have the facilities, staff, access to culture, sports, art, college prep should be our template. And for that there needs to be a tidal wave of funding for public schools and then some, in the communities that need more.

There should be no “fixed” amount of funding—like a School Aid Fund, or General Fund or Lottery, for public education. Full funding for public education should be one of the main ticket items in the Federal and State budgets. The money is there if the government would stop subsidizing corporations, banks, developers, and put that money toward public services, like public education.

We need to stop the theft of public education money going toward private religious and charter schools. If the public schools in the working class neighborhoods weren’t closed down; if they were funded generously, working class parents wouldn’t have to look elsewhere. I have seen the continued dismantling of public education by drives such as Let Michigan Kids Learn. It is really a plan to allow wealthy individuals and corporations to get massive tax deductions, under the pretense of helping needier Michigan kids. If ever passed, it would deplete state revenue for public education."

Detroit:
School Threats

Nov 21, 2022

Within one week in November, five schools in the Metro Detroit area were closed, evacuated or locked down because of threats of violent attacks on the schools. Police arrested two suspects, a 16-year-old in Ferndale and a 14-year-old in Taylor.

These incidents, almost coinciding with the first anniversary of a deadly shooting at Oxford High School near Detroit, which took four lives, certainly put students, parents and school workers on edge. And it’s not just shootings and threats in the Detroit area. In these days of the internet, news of incidents in other parts of the country spread quickly, causing anxiety and stress in the communities involved. On the same day the two students were arrested, for example, there were two shootings and two threats of shootings that were deemed serious by authorities in the U.S. and Canada.

Many of the threats may be pranks, or previous threats being circulated by teenagers. But they still speak to the increasing level of anxiety among young people in this country. A crisis intervention specialist likened it to tornadoes following a hurricane, after the hurricane itself causes flooding that lasts months. The hurricane in this case is "Covid, that’s lasted two years, that has caused the death of loved ones, layoffs." Then, on top of all those things, come the tornadoes: the continued stress from shootings and school closings.

Shuttering schools is the standard answer of authorities to threats on schools, just like it was their answer to the pandemic. Such closings push working-class parents into an impossible situation: fear for their children’s safety, despair over their children falling further behind in their education, having to stay at home with their children when this, for many working-class parents, means risking their jobs—several crises cascading into an avalanche that these parents are left alone to deal with!

These crises are all caused by the functioning of a capitalist society that puts the profit of a few above the needs of the population. There is only one solution for the working class: to replace it with a society run by working people ourselves.

Dearborn Parent Moved by Book Ban Initiative

Nov 21, 2022

Starting in September, and up to the present, School Board meetings in Dearborn, Michigan became heated when hundreds of people descended on the meetings. The majority in attendance demanded that seven books, having to do with gender identity and LGBTQ issues, be banned from Dearborn Schools’ libraries. Some in the crowd verbally and even physically threatened school board members and others who opposed banning books. Homophobic and transphobic slurs were slung about.

These attacks are not restricted to Dearborn. They joined the chorus of others in school districts around the country who present themselves as part of a so-called “parental rights” movement, demanding that these few books, as well as those having to do with institutional racism, be banned.

So what is really going on here? Who raised this rallying cry to ban certain books? How would these Dearborn parents, mainly coming from the working class and poorer layers of the Muslim population, including more recent immigrants, know of these seven books in a library system that includes more than 300,000 titles and almost 500,000 books in the first place?

The answer doesn’t lie in Dearborn. The answer lies in the fact that sections of the wealthy far-right in this country are investing a ton of money in outside PAC funding to continue what they have been doing for a very long time: find the various ways to take public money away from public education. Right-wing national organizations, including the Leadership Institute, which the Koch brothers fund, have backed school board candidates and organizations, like “Mothers for Liberty.” The Leadership Institute organizes “conservative training for operatives and activists.” Under the guise of concern for parental rights, operatives are sent in to polarize people at local levels, diverting their attention from the real problems they and their families face; these operatives, in fact, are continuing the process of dismantling public education. The wealthy far-right, that has historically counted on the support of a fundamentalist Christian base, now consciously aligns itself with leaders of mosques in primarily poor and working-class layers of the population in Dearborn, those more likely to follow Islamic fundamentalism, to unleash these attacks on school boards and teachers.

One teacher, who herself is Muslim, in the specific area of Dearborn where parents have been mobilized to call for book bans, has expressed fury at what is happening. She sees these parents are being used by outside forces—forces that are anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-public education. She expressed frustration that many of these families are being redirected away from the important problems they face in their school districts and communities.

These parents’ rallying cries should be: We need more teachers. We need more teacher aides. We need more electives. We need more funding for English as a Second Language programs. We need more resources for our kids, period.

But that will take strong organization in the working class, to be part of organizational efforts to combat these right-wing forces. And to fight for the right that all children have the right to an excellent public education with the fullest access to literature, history, art, culture, language and science.

Biden’s “Student Loan Forgiveness” Is on Hold

Nov 21, 2022

The Biden Administration has stopped accepting applications for its student loan forgiveness program. The reason? Federal judges in Texas and Missouri have put the program on hold, responding to lawsuits from Republican politicians who claim that the small part of the national student loan debt that Biden promised to write off would burden state governments too much.

Yes, that’s hypocritical of Republicans, who themselves never miss an opportunity to hand out taxpayer money to private interests. But in the end, this “loan forgiveness” business is just another political blame game that Republicans and Democrats are playing, while conditions continue to deteriorate for the working class every single day.

The amount that Biden said he would forgive—$10,000 for most debt holders and $20,000 for some—is a small part of the student loan debt in this country, which averages $37,000 per debt holder. But still, the situation of the working class is so dire that, within weeks, 26 million people had already applied for the program before it was stopped.

Now Biden and the Democrats are telling these millions of working-class Americans in need to wait for this modest relief, until the Supreme Court—yes, THAT Supreme Court that has not ruled in favor of working people in recent memory—rules on it!

Compare it with the proxy war the U.S. is waging against Russia in Ukraine. The Biden Administration and the Democrats DID NOT tell military contractors to wait before shoveling them more than 50 BILLION dollars for that war—and that was just in the first three months of a war that’s now in its 11th month!

Wait for Democrats or Republicans to help out working people? Might as well wait for pigs to fly!

RSV ‒ The Latest Sign of a Sick Society

Nov 21, 2022

Infants under six months old are being hospitalized due to Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, seven times as often as they were in 2018, before the Covid-19 pandemic. That, combined with an unusually high rate of hospitalizations among children due to the flu, has hospitals and pediatricians calling on President Biden to declare an emergency to help them out. The outbreaks of RSV and the flu, and the continuing Covid-19 epidemic are also creating huge problems for working class parents, and particularly working women.

RSV is a fairly common virus that spreads every year from the fall to early spring. In most people its effects are no worse than a cold, but may be followed by bronchitis or pneumonia. During the worst part of the Covid-19 pandemic, when many people commonly wore masks, fewer people caught the virus than typically might have. Now that the rate of Covid-19 infections has gone down, fewer people are wearing masks, so other viruses like RSV and the flu are spreading more easily.

Also, because young children were kept from having contact with other kids earlier in the Covid pandemic, they are less likely to have developed immunity to the virus from previous infections. The first time someone is infected with RSV, they generally experience the worst symptoms, which partially explains why so many young children are now being hospitalized.

As a result, over 3 out of 4 pediatric hospital beds are currently filled, with more than 80% in at least 17 states.

This “tripledemic” of RSV, flu, and Covid-19 is contributing to worker “shortages” in daycare centers and public schools. Public schools have 300,000 fewer workers compared to prior to the Covid pandemic, and daycare centers have 80,000 less.

Of course, what the bosses refer to as worker shortages is also related to the fact that workers in education and daycare are paid so poorly. The median childcare worker is paid less than $12 an hour, according to Elizabeth Palley, a professor at Adelphi University. She points out workers can make more money at McDonald’s, so workers are leaving the childcare industry.

This means daycare is more costly for workers who have to rely on it, and likely means they are more crowded, which makes the spread of viruses more likely.

As a result, these illnesses are forcing workers to make difficult choices between going to work and staying home to care for their sick children. Often workers catch the virus from their kids who bring it home from daycare centers or schools. Though 96% of the highest-paid workers have paid sick leave, only 40% of lower paid workers have the same benefit, according to federal data. Hence, many workers go to work sick, where they often spread their viruses to others. Working class parents also have to deal with child care when public schools are forced to close due to illnesses.

The inability of this society to deal with infectious diseases any better than this in this day and age is absolutely ridiculous! Unfortunately, it is part and parcel of a system that puts profits before the well-being of its population. It’s the system of capitalism—a system that has long outlived its usefulness and it needs to go.

Pages 8-9

French Workers or Immigrant Workers, We’re All the Same Class, the Working Class

Nov 21, 2022

This article is excerpted and translated from the November 14th workplace bulletin of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The fate reserved for immigrants by European governments is a disgrace, an insult to what makes us human.

It took more than a week for the French government to deign to allow the Ocean Viking to dock in Toulon. But the troubles of the 234 migrants on board are not over. They were made to disembark in a sorting zone so that the government could deport anyone whose asylum request was denied. Of those who do gain asylum, only about fifty will remain in France and the other two thirds, without them having any say in the matter, will be sent off to other European countries.

Migrants are treated like pariahs and become scorned merchandise for European countries to haggle over. They try to send as many as possible off to their neighbors while taking in as few as possible. This policy is criminal.

It was this policy that led to the death of 27 shipwrecked migrants in the English Channel in November 2021. It now appears that the French Coast Guard refused to help the women and men who were drowning. They responded to the cries for help with “Can’t you hear? You will not be saved.” “I’m in the water” received the reply “Yes, but it’s English water.” How debased can they get?

Closing borders and defending nationality and fantasies of ethnic purity is revolting. And completely outdated! Humanity has never been so mixed. The planet has become one big village where, even if women and men living thousands of miles apart don’t share the same language or the same culture, they share the same hopes and fears. Is now the time to be multiplying borders and making them impossible to cross?

The history of humanity is one of migration. And capitalism has done it on an industrial scale. Hands were needed for the colonial plantations in America. Millions of Africans were dragged into slavery and deported to America. In the 19th century, their numbers were increased by millions of poor peasants leaving Germany, Italy, Poland and Russia to escape extreme poverty.

When the bourgeoisie in France needed hands to work in the mines and in factories, to dig tunnels and construct railroads, they brought in millions of young Italians and Poles. They sent emissaries to recruit in Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian villages.

Proletarians have always been moved around to suit capitalist needs. It’s still the case today. The stadiums for the World Cup in Qatar were built by immigrants from Nepal, India and Pakistan.

In France, there is not one hospital or state-run care home, not one security company, building site or factory that functions without immigrants. And when there is a lack of workers in the sectors where exploitation is the worst, the bosses, even today, demand more immigrant workers.

The exploiters looking to make a profit are the ones who cause and shape migration. But even when they bring in and mix together workers from all over the globe, capitalists always have a policy to divide and set workers against one another.

….

We must not march to their drum. They are the proven enemies of the workers. They divide the working class. To defend themselves today and to change society tomorrow, those who are exploited must act as a social class.

We can only do this if we understand that immigration is not about skin color, origin or nationality. It’s part of the workers’ condition. It is born from the domination of the rich over the poor. Born from the domination of those who own the means of production over those who do not—those who are turned into proletarians, those who are forced to sell their labor-power wherever they can.

Immigrants are all workers and almost all workers are immigrants. Perhaps not from another continent or another country but from another region, another town. Class fraternity must put us side-by-side with migrants against those who exploit us and those who govern us. It is only together that we will have the strength to sever the chains of exploitation.

Nathalie Arthaud

Spain:
Human Tidal Wave to Defend Health Care

Nov 21, 2022

This article is translated from the November 18 issue #2833 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Madrid, Spain’s capital, on November 13 against the years-long deterioration of the health care system.

The protestors’ anger targeted Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a leader of the right-wing Popular Party and current president of the Madrid region. Indeed, health care is managed at the regional level in Spain. Ayuso herself embodies the rancid, contemptuous, reactionary right wing to the core. She often cuts deals with wealthy friends. During Covid when the dead were accumulating in retirement homes, Ayuso gave her brother a lucrative public contract to supply the region with facemasks at exorbitant prices.

As elsewhere, Covid exposed a health care system damaged by years of budget cuts and privatization. It only got worse under Ayuso. Appointments to see a specialist or to have an operation are postponed indefinitely. Emergency rooms are overwhelmed. Neighborhood clinics and emergency centers are closing. When one reopens, as happened this fall, it’s without a doctor on site! Ayuso’s solution is to use nurses equipped with digital devices to take care of all patients by teleconsultation. And always more privatization.

Expressions of anger had been bubbling to the surface for months. First in neighborhoods like Getafe in the suburbs of Madrid. In spring, rallies there to stop the oldest health center in the city from closing attracted more than 10,000 people. The situation degenerated through summer into the start of the school year. Demonstrations and strikes multiplied, attracting more and more people. The demonstration of November 13 was massive. It went well beyond the usual activist circles. Families, patients, health workers—particularly those hired during the pandemic under the so-called “Covid contracts” who were laid off six months ago—all were there to say enough already!

The national government under socialist Pedro Sanchez, allied with left-wing Podemos and the Communist Party, is not unhappy to see people’s anger focused on the competence of regional and not national leadership. But the national government is as responsible as the regional administration for deteriorating social conditions. In recent years, Spain has showered the bosses with all kinds of subsidies and okayed the jump in energy prices. Faced with this crisis situation, hopefully anger will overflow beyond the one field of health care, to make the capitalists pay.

China-USA:
“Play Nice, Now”

Nov 21, 2022

This article is excerpted and translated from the November 18 issue #2833 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

To the side of the G20 summit in Bali, after months of American pressure accusing China of all the world’s evil, Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping staged a face-to-face meeting to mutually reject a new cold war.

Declaring, “I do not think there is any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan,” and, “There is only one China,” Biden contradicted months of American propaganda. While a bristling Western military armada patrols nonstop near China’s coast, Westerners have had no qualms accusing China of preparing an invasion of Taiwan.

There are several reasons for this shift in diplomatic tone. The first is that the economic interests of China and of the imperialist powers led by the U.S. remain closely linked. The price to transport goods from China has gone way up, and there have been big problems with global transportation. Chinese competitors have emerged in automobile, sea transport, and electronics. Nonetheless, China remains the workshop of the world. Apple’s profits still come from the exploitation of Chinese workers, locked up in industrial prisons to assemble iPhones.

And the Chinese market has become essential for many firms. Volkswagen sells 40% of its cars there. Boeing and Airbus, one fourth of their planes ….

For the imperialist powers, another objective of the meetings in Bali was to try to drive a wedge between China and Putin’s Russia, while preventing a bloc from forming among big poor countries like India, Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa. The war in Ukraine effectively opposes the U.S. to Russia, but it’s not China’s war, nor that of the so-called emerging countries. They are reluctant to cut their economic ties with Russia. Chinese leaders have not condemned the invasion of Ukraine, even though they refuse to sell weapons to Putin.

The worsening of the economic crisis and the consequences of the war in Ukraine—particularly the embargo against Russia—and the energy crisis, are reshuffling the cards among the capitalists. Some markets and sources of raw materials are closing. Others must be opened. Alliances are shifting. In this jungle, each national group of capitalists relies on the power of its state—its army and its diplomacy—to defend its interests.

As for workers, whether they live in the imperialist citadels or in any of the G20 countries, their interests have nothing in common with those of their exploiters, even when they share the same nationality. Their main enemy is the ruling class of their own country.

Missile Explosion in Poland:
a Risk of Escalation

Nov 21, 2022

On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 15th, a missile struck a grain facility in a small Polish village, killing two farm workers. The village lies just across Ukraine’s western border. The incident came during Russia’s largest missile barrage to date on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

At first, the Polish president said it was a "Russian-made missile," and that he might invoke Poland’s rights as a member of NATO. That would mean an immediate expansion of the bloody war in Ukraine, since most of Europe’s countries belong to the NATO alliance. But soon after, both Poland and the U.S. claimed that it was most likely an errant Ukrainian missile, launched to defend against Russia’s onslaught.

Ukrainian President Zelensky objected, insisting that the missile could not have been one of his. The Ukrainian army finds itself in the position of fighting a much larger adversary and wants NATO to take a more active role. His interest is to summon more help to the battle against Russia. The U.S. and the European Union have sent Ukraine weaponry, but not as much as Zelensky wants. The U.S. has said openly that its goal is to “weaken Russia"—which is not the same as winning the war for Ukraine.

By Friday, Ukrainian officials said it might have been their missile after all. (Many of their missiles are Russian-made.) And so the bloody quagmire continues, leaving Ukraine in rubble while tens of thousands of soldiers are maimed or killed.

This war, a proxy war between the U.S. and its allies and Russia, carries the constant risk of spiraling into World War III. The longer it goes on, the more the working class is exposed to these powers bringing even greater destruction—including nuclear destruction—onto all of us.

Pages 10-11

WCP Vote:
a Downpayment on the Future

Nov 21, 2022

The Spark reproduces here the following statement posted by the Working Class Party on https://workingclassfight.com after the 2022 election results came in. The Working Class Party presented 11 candidates in Michigan, where it has been on the ballot since 2016; in Maryland, on the ballot since 2020, it had two candidates; and it had one candidate in Illinois this year, its first time on the ballot.

In Michigan, Mary Anne Hering, the only state-wide Working Class Party candidate, received votes from 135,454 people. In Maryland, David Harding and Cathy White, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, received 17,032 votes. In Illinois, Ed Hershey, candidate for U.S. Congress, received 4,605 votes. In other words, at least 157,091 people voted for a Working Class Party candidate. (The results of the ten other Michigan candidates appear below.)

This election took place in the midst of crises that grow more dangerous: inflation; the disappearance of decent jobs; public services that don’t serve the public; an education system that does not fully educate most children; the changing climate with its intensified storms, floods and fires; and over one million people dead from Covid, the worst rate of death of any developed country.

Every one of these crises derives from the push by the corporations and their wealthy owners to accumulate more wealth—stolen from the labor of the working class in this country and around the world—to the detriment of all the ordinary people.

Finally, there is the push of U.S. imperialism to engage in more wars around the world, directly and indirectly like the one in Ukraine funded by the U.S., which devastate countries and butcher people. All this raises, quite literally, the possibility of a new world war.

Elections are not going to overcome such crises—and this would be true even if Working Class Party was a much bigger party, and even if it had received a much bigger vote.

To change the situation, the working class will have to mobilize its forces, using its key position in the economy to impose the needs and interests of ordinary people. The capitalist class, committed to accumulating more profit, will not willingly go along. The change we need will mean a fight—that’s what WCP raised in the campaign.

To change the situation means that working people must organize ourselves politically, must build our own party—and WCP focused on this in the campaign, discussing what would be the program of such a party.

To change the situation means that working people must overcome what divides us. We have to oppose every attempt of the capitalist class to drive wedges between us; we have to oppose the racist and jingoist and sexist propaganda, violence and attacks that pervade the country—and WCP made this an issue in its campaign.

Maybe the vote for WCP doesn’t seem all that much, when compared to the vote rolled up by the two big parties who live on billions of dollars doled out to them by the capitalist class.

But the vote for WCP was significant. By saying these things all during the campaign, WCP gave working people a way to express their agreement with a working class perspective. At least 157,000 people grabbed that opportunity, voting for at least one Working Class Party candidate, if not more. In a country where there has not been even the semblance of a working class party for more than a century, this can be a down-payment on the future.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In Michigan, the seven candidates for U.S. Congress received a total of 48,092 votes, with percentages running between 1.24% and 3.77%; the three candidates for the Michigan state senate received 15,156 votes, with percentages running between 2.57% and 14.33%.

Culture Corner:
Book:
Black Bottom Saints and Film:
Our Boys

Nov 21, 2022

Book: Black Bottom Saints, A Novel by Alice Randall 2020

The author revisits Black Bottom Detroit, Paradise Valley and Idlewood from the late 1930s to the late 1960s by framing her book as a deathbed memoir of Joe “Ziggy” Johnson. Lots of incredible people crossed Ziggy’s path, some we know of and some we wish we had known. The novel takes us inside their lives, granting us snippets of their time. And what a time! Della Reese, Joe Louis, Billy Eckstine, Charlie Parker, just to name a few. Poets, writers, musicians, singers and of course factory workers. The book is an exuberant celebration of a time and culture.

Film: Our Boys, 2019, a ten part miniseries, streaming on HBO Max

This miniseries is a fictionalized account of actual events in Israel/Palestine in 2014. Three Jewish boys are abducted and murdered, and everyone is tense. There are cries for revenge, racist cries inciting violence. Then a Palestinian youth is abducted, murdered, and burned alive. The series focuses on the youth’s Palestinian family and how they respond to unfolding events. It also offers a inside view of the Shin Bet or the Shabak, the Israeli internal security service, as it investigates and solves the murder of the Palestine youth. And it shows the explosion in the relations between the Jewish and Arab communities. In the midst of all this, the series gives an insightful view of people’s everyday lives. More than anything, it shows the price we pay when we allow racism to divide us.

Page 12

The Fall of FTX:
Cryptocurrencies Go Bust

Nov 21, 2022

FTX was the second largest cryptocurrency trading platform in the world. It was also associated with over 130 other companies, including a hedge fund called Alameda, that all together were supposed to be worth 32 billion dollars. But when an article exposed how FTX had taken more than eight billion dollars of its clients’ deposits and lent it to cover the losses of Alameda, panic set in. There was a rush by depositors and investors to get out.

Within a matter of days, FTX went bankrupt. Tens of billions of dollars of supposed wealth evaporated overnight. Millions of customers lost their money, as did several big investors.

All this was part of an overall collapse in the entire cryptocurrency sector of finance. In less than a year, over two trillion dollars were lost and big cryptocurrency companies have been toppling like bowling pins.

Cryptocurrencies are a form of currency exchanged through computers. No one controls them, not even central banks. The first cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, emerged after the financial collapse of 2008. They were supposed to be more trustworthy and transparent than the traditional financial system that had been so discredited by the crisis. But criminals and drug traffickers soon discovered that cryptocurrencies were a convenient way to launder money or pay for illicit goods. And when the price of these cryptocurrencies began to rise, they attracted financial speculators out to make a quick profit, which drove the prices higher.

At first big institutional investors, such as banks and pension funds, found crypto to be too risky. But in the last couple of years, big financial companies, such as hedge funds and venture capital funds, began to pour money into cryptocurrencies. Elon Musk famously announced that Tesla Motors bought over a billion dollars in cryptocurrencies, which it later sold. Even some pension funds, such as the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund, placed some of their holdings in cryptocurrencies.

As Crypto tried to go mainstream, it employed big sports stars, like Tom Brady and Steph Curry, actors, like Matt Damon and Larry David, and movie directors, like Spike Lee, in advertisements and testimonials. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair shared the stage with crypto executives, allowing them to hawk their products. Fidelity Life announced that it had opened up 401(k) retirement accounts to crypto holdings.

All this was just one more part of an ongoing economic crisis that has led to the extremely fast growth of the financial sector and increased speculation. Less and less do big capitalists use the profits that they make out of the exploitation of their workforce for productive investments. To these capitalists, those kinds of investments are just not profitable enough. Instead, they use that great mass of money to speculate with.

Added to this speculation are the trillions more in dollars that the capitalists have gotten from their governments and central banks, especially during the COVID crisis of 2020… under the guise of “saving” the economy. The capitalists poured those trillions into more financial speculation, producing multiple speculative bubbles.

Now, it seems, that speculative boom has turned into a bust.

Nobody knows how much the crypto carnage will worsen financial instability or set off an economic collapse. “We just don’t know,” admitted Michael Barr, the Federal Reserve’s top financial regulatory official, at a Congressional hearing about the crypto collapse. Because nobody knows what big financial companies have taken losses from this collapse, or how big those losses are.

But one thing is clear: anything that causes the megabanks on Wall Street to pull back from lending to one another or to other major companies—out of fear that the institution has dangerous crypto exposure—could cause the same contagion effect that occurred in 2008… or even worse.

Musk’s 56-Billion-Dollar Bonus

Nov 21, 2022

Tesla shareholders are suing Elon Musk because of a 56-billion-dollar bonus that he was paid as a supposed reward for Tesla’s success. This bonus is a mind-boggling amount of money given to a single person. The Tesla shareholders claim that this should be their money, and that Musk scammed them.

But in reality, this money was produced by more than 100,000 Tesla employees, who are slated to manufacture 2 million cars in the year 2022. But they are not part of this lawsuit. The average hourly rate of Tesla Motor workers is $23.36, according to payscale.com. And their average yearly bonus comes to $9,000. By comparison, General Motors pays $28.29 an hour, with an $8,000 bonus.

Tesla’s wage and bonus are miserly, considering that the minimum living wage in the United States, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was $24.16 per hour in 2021, before taxes for a family of two working adults and two children.

Tesla justifies such low wages by claiming they need to compete against other car makers. Tesla claims that it cannot make a profit if they pay its workers higher. But, as this fight about this massive bonus indicates, Musk and Tesla’s shareholders got filthy rich because Tesla paid its workers meager wages. So, this lawsuit is a lawsuit among scammers.

Nobody, including Musk, can singlehandedly manufacture two million cars a year; even if that single person works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Only a vast workforce can achieve that. So, only this workforce deserves the fruit of its labor, including that huge bonus and Tesla’s profits.

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