The Spark

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

Issue no. 809 — November 5 - 19, 2007

Editorial:
DANGER!
We’re in a fight for survival

Nov 5, 2007

We are facing danger, every bit as much as the people of New Orleans were in danger just before Katrina hit.

The auto companies, GM and Chrysler, with the help of the United Auto Workers top brass, have forced through a new contract that destroys at one blow the hopes of retired workers, active workers and young workers yet to hire in.

Every worker, every family in the country will suffer the consequences of this contract – unless a fight for survival begins.

The wage level for most new autoworkers will be less than half the wages of current workers. Their medical care and pension benefits will be – whatever they can save up.

The few easier jobs that current workers thought they could move into when they got older, allowing them to make it to retirement, were effectively wiped out in one blow.

Health benefits that retirees believed were promised for life have been thrown away in a Wall Street VEBA scheme, every bit as dangerous as the mortgage schemes Wall Street pushed on the country.

The wages, benefits and conditions won by auto workers have always set the bar at which other workers aimed. Bosses had to take their wages and benefits into account when deciding where to set everyone else’s pay scale – for blue collar and white collar alike.

The bosses will still take that into account. But today they can be emboldened to slice everyone’s pay, cancel everyone’s benefits. When auto goes from $28 an hour to $14 in one blow, those earning $14 today will soon face demands for cuts to $9 or $10 an hour – and then down to minimum wage.

The biggest dam has burst, and bosses everywhere will lose no time trying to take advantage. In a few years, Katrina will seem like a small thing by comparison.

Unless a fight for survival begins.

The first workers in position to fight are the Ford workers who, as we write, have not yet accepted this attack. If they are able to pull together quickly enough, getting out the information about the disasters concealed in this contract – and if there are enough militants among them ready to stand up and lead a real resistance, then they can throw the first block in the way of the bosses’ plans.

It will be something other workers can build on, including the workers at GM and Chrysler.

But no matter who starts the resistance, nothing but a strong response from the working population can stop the wholesale collapse of wages and living standards across the country.

It has become a matter of survival.

Pages 2-3

Michigan budget:
Sending juveniles to hell

Nov 5, 2007

The Michigan legislature and Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, agreed to privatize juvenile justice services in order to cut the state budget.

This comes in the face of all the recent evidence showing that privatization of juvenile prisons increases the brutalization of children. Several states such as Maryland, Georgia, and Florida have closed down private juvenile facilities after scandals involving abuse and killings of teens at the facilities.

And why wouldn’t private facilities be worse? When a private company handles the same amount of money as a government agency, money is immediately skimmed off the top for profits. More goes to pay higher salaries to company executives. Private companies always spend more on administration than do public agencies.

This guarantees that there will be less money left over for food, housing, and medical care. It means the juvenile system will be shortstaffed, by those with fewer credentials making lower wages. Whatever one might say about the horrible conditions of the public prison system, a system that is already brutal and turns kids into monsters, the private system will only be worse.

That’s the choice Granholm and the legislature made. If you’re young and poor, that is where you will end up. Wealthy kids, of course, have all the political and social connections which guarantee they never get there.

So what can be concluded from this choice the politicians made?

1. Either they pay no attention to facts.

2. Or they have friends who expect to make a killing on the deal.

3. Or both.

Southern California:
Fires and politics

Nov 5, 2007

A week after 15 wildfires tore through Southern California, police announced that a 10-year-old boy had confessed that he set off one of them, the Buckwood fire in Santa Clarita while playing with matches. Days later, the district attorney’s office announced that it was still weighing whether to prosecute the child. They also said they would soon decide to try to make his parents – his father is a local caretaker – liable for all the damage caused by the Buckwood fire, which destroyed 38,000 acres and hundreds of homes.

The Real Arsonists

Real estate developers make big profits building thousands of mansions, luxury vacation homes and housing tracts in regions where fire is a part of the natural environment. The government gives its blessings and doesn’t even demand that precautions be taken to reduce the threat of a bad fire. It doesn’t make sure that the land is cleared of the wood and brush, because contractors say it’s too costly, and besides, it looks pretty. It doesn’t require fire departments to set small, controlled fires to burn off the accumulating dead wood, grasses and chaparral, that fuel fires, because wealthy residents don’t like the smoke.

The government also doesn’t prepare properly to deal with fires when they do break out. After the last big fires swept through San Diego just four years ago, a state commission recommended that the state buy 150 new fire trucks. So far, the state has ordered only 19 of them, none of which will be delivered for at least another year. At the same time, the fire departments in both San Diego and Orange counties are both extremely undermanned. When smaller brush fires did break out, there was no way to deal with them before they got out of hand.

Making Political Hay out of Scapegoats

But what the government does is find scapegoats, whether they are 10-year-olds and their parents – or immigrants.

As soon as the fires broke out, news reports began to blame immigrants for setting fires. Never mind that as the wealthy fled the fire areas in their Lexuses and Mercedes, they left immigrants behind to continue to work in their mansions and fields. It was not an accident that the first four charred bodies found were those of immigrants.

The Big Boys Make Out

If history is a guide, the wealthy who lost their homes will use all their insurance money to rebuild structures that are bigger than those they lost. That is what happened both after the Berkeley fire in 1993 and the San Diego fires in 2003. And while the middle class and poor won’t be able to afford to rebuild, the developers and contractors will buy up land cheaply, and make another financial killing and develop even more. And of course, it will all be paid for out of tax dollars and insurance premiums paid by the working class and poor.

A disaster for working people turns out to be a profitable opportunity for the wealthy, the developers, real estate agents ... and the politicians like Schwarzenegger, who make high profile appearances on the scene to further their own careers.

Pharmaceutical robbery

Nov 5, 2007

The pharmaceutical company Genentech sells two very similar products in the U.S. Both counter the out-of-control growth of blood vessels.

The first, Lucentis, is used against macular degeneration, a condition of the eye which blinds millions of older people. It costs more than $2,000 for each shot, which has to be repeated nine times.

The second, Avastin, which is older, is used against cancer. It costs $70 a shot.

Ophthalmologists discovered they could replace Lucentis by Avastin, which seems to work very well. At the much lower price, many more people can afford it. The sales of outrageously priced Lucentis suddenly dropped off.

So what’s a pharmaceutical company to do when one of its treatments costs only one thirtieth the price of another, but is just as helpful? Genentech found the solution: it raised the price of Avastin ten fold in the United States when it’s used by ophthalmologists.

Genentech might as well say it: “Your money or your eyes!”

U.S. rated lowest of six countries for health care

Nov 5, 2007

Patients from the U.S. rated their health care system lower than those from five other industrialized countries, according to a survey published in the journal Health Affairs.

The study included adults from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Australia, and the U.S. All of the countries except the U.S. have some form of national health care.

One out of three U.S. adults believe the U.S. health care system needs a complete overhaul, twice as many as in the other six countries.

U.S. patients were the only ones who reported serious problems paying their bills, at 19%. Almost 40% of U.S. patients skipped medications or did not see a doctor when they were sick because of the cost, a much higher rate than any of the other countries. The U.S. had the highest rate of medical mistakes of the seven nations, which is not surprising since the U.S. ranked last in doctors having access to patients’ medical records at the time.

Opponents of “socialized medicine” like to argue that national health care programs are “less efficient.” National health care programs in other countries are far from perfect. They, too, are affected by companies that make profits off of their systems, like drug and medical supply companies.

But studies like this put the lie to the claims of the defenders of health care for profit.

Michigan:
State will pay Chrysler to eliminate jobs and cut wages

Nov 5, 2007

The State of Michigan approved tax credits for Chrysler LLC to renovate its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.

The state’s Economic Growth Authority said the credits would help “create or retain up to 1,419 jobs, including a minimum of 400 directly by the company.”

Since the plant now has 2,400 workers, evidently the state is ready to give Chrysler credits for eliminating at least 981 jobs!

But it’s even worse. Since all 2,400 workers are now employed “directly by the company,” the state will give that money even if Chrysler subcontracts 1,019 of the 1,419 jobs remaining! The state will subsidize a shift to a lower paid work force.

And what are Chrysler’s plans? The numbers speak for themselves.

Like they say: “Your tax dollars at work” – for the biggest thieves in the world!

Pages 4-5

Behind gas price increases lurk speculators

Nov 5, 2007

Crude oil futures rose above 96 dollars per barrel last week. Gasoline prices crossed back over three dollars a gallon in places like Detroit and California, with other areas of the country following. Home heating oil prices are expected to rise to new heights this winter.

Analysts have been clear in pointing out that there is no good reason for the price rise. There is no shortage of supply of crude or refined oil driving up the prices.

So what’s driving up the price of crude oil? In a word: speculation.

As the housing market tanks, financial speculators are moving out and putting their money elsewhere. Hoping to get a big return on their money, they are buying “futures” contracts in commodities, especially oil.

When the big money men speculate in commodities, they don’t even touch the actual product. They just buy and sell the right to the product; they’re betting that the price will go up, and by flooding the markets with cash, they’re pushing the prices up, so they can then sell the contract. This is what happened with the housing market.

It’s what’s happened with our groceries. When the government promised grants for ethanol production, investors poured money into corn futures. This drove up the price not only of corn, but of milk, chicken and beef – because cows and chickens are fed corn.

And it’s happening now with oil, despite the fact that demand is low right now and supplies are plentiful.

Another reason for the high oil prices: inflation created by U.S. government policies. The government has inflated the money supply in order to bail out the banks who’ve lost money in the housing crunch. When the banking system locked up, the government greased the wheels with cash to get it moving into a new round of speculation, just like they bailed out the big banks and Wall Street after earlier rounds of speculation led to financial “bubbles” collapsing in 1987, 1990, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2003.

It’s why the value of the dollar has fallen so much. The Canadian dollar is now worth more than $1.05 American, when just a year ago it was closer to 60 American cents. The Euro is now worth $1.45, when it was worth only 82 cents in 2000. When the value of the dollar drops, the prices for products produced overseas – like oil – go up, even when the products are priced in dollars, as oil is.

But our wages, of course, do not go up. So once again, we’re left paying for the gains the banks make.

We’re paying more at the pump, and at the grocery store, all because speculators want to make a quick buck – and because the government is protecting them from the consequences of their crazy speculation. The same people who created the housing crisis are now paving the way for a transportation and heating crisis.

Once again, they intend to make more money hand over fist, while making us pay their debts.

It’s about time they pay their own debts. We’ve paid way more than enough!

France:
Increase wages, a vital necessity for all the workers

Nov 5, 2007

The following is a translation excerpted from the editorial of the November 2 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group active in France.

For five days the strike of Air France flight attendants virtually stopped the airline. The overwhelming majority of flight attendants participated, showing their anger against a 15-year wage freeze, while their work load has never stopped increasing.

Air France had years ago invoked its bad financial situation to impose sacrifices on its personnel. Today, it is one of the more prosperous airline companies. In the first quarter of 2007, its profits increased 70% from the preceding year! But wages are still blocked. The strikers demand that their wages go up. It would only be justice if they obtained it.

This strike, whose breadth clearly surprised the management of Air France, unleashed the usual complaints of "travelers taken hostage" or junk about the "privileges' of the flight attendants – privileged, these workers who start their professional career with 1,300 Euros a month after taxes (about $1900)?

The strike was limited to one category of workers. But the demands of the flight attendants weren't at all limited to those of their category, and the reasons for their discontent aren't limited to one category either.

Flight attendants protest against the reduction of the size of their flight crews while the number of passengers transported increases. They protest against the increase in the number of flights they have to work in a fixed amount of time, without even a premium for night work. But from the factories to the big retail chains, the bosses everywhere seek to impose more work on fewer employees. Through worsening exploitation the bosses ensure growing profits. From auto workers to supermarket cashiers and fight attendants, all categories of workers are driven to exhaustion, wear and tear on their bodies and their nerves, a speed of working that is more and more unsupportable, so the bosses can accumulate still more profits to waste in speculation.

By revolting against the inadequacy of their wages, the flight attendants raise a problem which also concerns all the workers. Everyone suffers from high prices and more deductions from their paychecks, while wages only go up a little or not at all.

Our purchasing power is going down because the bosses don't pay the wage needed to meet basic expenses, beginning with the rent for a decent home. The sole means for the workers to increase their purchasing power is to compel the bosses to take from their profits what is necessary to raise the workers' wages.

Assembly line beatification at the Vatican

Nov 5, 2007

On October 28, the Catholic church “beatified” 498 Spanish priests, monks and nuns during a high mass celebrated in the Vatican. This religious ceremony, carried out in Rome, was organized to protest against the “law on the recuperation of historical memory” which the Spanish Congress is about to approve. This law aims to get rid of the symbols of the Franco dictatorship from 1939 to 1975 and to help search for the people who disappeared during Franco’s reign, in particular the thousands of people who were shot and thrown into common graves.

When the Spanish Republic was proclaimed in 1931, after seven years of dictatorship, Pope Pius XI, politely greeted the new regime. But in all the political and social conflicts which followed, the great majority of the clergy took the side of the great landowners (of which the Spanish church was a part), the bosses and the fascist groups which were sent to attack the laboring population. Pius XI, dredging up anti-communism, blessed Franco’s armies for a civil war that the church called a crusade. It was a crusade that led to several hundred thousand victims and ended with another dictatorship which lasted 40 more years in Spain.

Priests, monks and nuns paid dearly at the time for the political choices made by the Catholic hierarchy, which made them oppose the wishes of the Spanish laboring population. The Basque priests who died at the hands of the Franco dictatorship’s firing squads also paid the supreme price. But the church didn’t think of beatifying them, because they supported the Spanish Republic which recognized the autonomy of the Basque Country.

Seventy years later, the Vatican in Rome hasn’t changed its attitude regarding the Spanish Civil War. This ceremony maintains the longstanding policy of the Catholic church hierarchy to ally with and support the most reactionary forces of society. From the far-off days of the Inquisition or the colonization of Latin America to the time of the church’s alliance with Franco, the church of Spain has blessed – with the endorsement of all the popes who came afterward – exploitation of the laboring population, repression and dictatorships.

Mexico and the Caribbean flooded

Nov 5, 2007

At least half the population of the Mexican state of Tabasco has fled floods following a week of rain. Tropical Storm Noel did not enter the Gulf of Mexico but its effects were felt in the Caribbean, with at least 65,000 fleeing rain waters in the Dominican Republic, 20,000 seeking shelter in Cuba and at least 14,000 fleeing the rains in Haiti. The death tolls are incomplete, as government officials have told the press in all these countries.

In Tabasco the governor already announced the loss of all crops. People have lost their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods, forced into shelters if they can find them. Flooding is also expected to affect other parts of Mexico on the Gulf side.

After everyone is rescued and all the damages added up will come questions about how the crisis was handled. Did a river in Mexico known to flood every year have sufficiently high banks built up? Clearly not.

And comparisons will be made to another recent disaster, not in a poor state of Mexico nor in the poorest countries of the Western hemisphere, but rather a disaster in the richest country in the world: New Orleans.

There too, the poor lost everything while the government did nothing but make things worse. In Louisiana the politicians ignored every warning given by every expert on water, climate and levees. And their friends pocketed funds made available to build stronger levees.

But countries like Mexico and those in Central America and the Caribbean and South America have an added burden when it comes to infrastructure: they are impoverished by the heavy weight of U.S. exploitation of their countries.

They don’t lack resources. On the contrary, they have many riches. But their resources have enriched U.S. corporations first and foremost, and, to a lesser extent, the European imperialist partners like Britain and France now and Spain and Portugal in the past.

More storms are on the horizon. The next ones should be produced by a population unwilling to pay such a high price anymore.

Pages 6-7

How the UAW brass sold GM and Chrysler workers a pig in a poke

Nov 5, 2007

The new auto contract at GM was presented so quickly to workers, they hardly had time to discover the lies in it: new hires working for less than half current wages, the workforce divided, promises to retirees dumped.

In the brief contract “Highlights” put out by UAW officials, losses were called gains. Job cuts were called job security. Wage cuts were called improvements. And UAW leaders said, but didn’t dare write, that the new high-risk health care plan for retirees was “good for 80 years.” The brass implied that all temporary workers would become permanent, but only half the temporary workers will get that.

Workers at GM had little time to get their hands on the contract and organize to spread what was in it. The contract passed – but by the lowest margin ever in an auto contract up to then. Eight GM units did vote No. Overall, 66% of production workers voted for it and 64% of skilled trades.

Then when it came to Chrysler, Shawn Fain, a skilled trades committeeman from Chrysler Local 1166 in Kokomo, Indiana posted the following on the Local 1166 website:

“The National Committee was, at first, unanimously opposed to the agreement. After a little pressure was put on, a second vote came out 6 against and 3 for the agreement, after a little more pressure was put on, the vote was 5 against and 4 in favor, and finally after more pressure from the International the final tally was 8 members of the National Negotiating team in favor and 1 opposed.” The one person still in opposition at the end, Bill Parker, the chair of the National Negotiating Committee and president of Local 1700, issued a written Minority Report opposing the contract and some of its drastic take-aways.

Union activists at many plants used the detailed information about the contracts posted on Internet websites to organize to turn the contract down. The first two assembly plants to vote, both in St. Louis, voted NO! Jefferson Assembly voted NO. They were followed by a foundry in Twinsburg, Ohio and by Detroit Axle, the home plant of a UAW vice-president, despite a visit from him. Four transmission plants in Kokomo, Indiana voted a loud defiant NO.

But other plants got no accurate information about what was in the contract. And the UAW leaders sent hundreds of reps and appointees to campaign with threats, “If you vote No, your plant will close,” or with promises, “Vote Yes, help us save the union.” “We have secret deals we can’t reveal because of the competition.” Over it all was the threat: “If you don’t accept this then you will be out for a long strike, and you’ll have to take a worse contract at the end.”

Even so, the union leadership could produce only a very narrow Yes vote – 56% of production, 51% of trades, still smaller than at GM.

The Ford workers have yet to vote. If they vote down the contract, all bets are off. Because GM and Chrysler workers were sold a pig in a poke.

If Ford Motor Co. is poor
– the sky is falling

Nov 5, 2007

Ford says it must have labor-cost reductions because it “suffered” losses of 12.6 billion dollars in 2006.

B.S. Even Ford’s own figures show that nearly 10 billion of the so-called 12.6 billion dollar loss is what Ford says estimates it will spend in the future to get rid of people and close plants – but put on their books in 2006. That’s like homeowners trying to claim a tax credit today, for losses they imagine they might incur if a hurricane hits them 10 years from now.

It’s nothing but smoke and mirrors. Don’t listen to what Ford says. Look at what it did. In 2006, Ford paid 53.8 million dollars to its six top executives plus an extra million to Vice-President Mark Fields.

Ford continued to pay out dividends to the rich stockholders to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars for 2006.

In June of 2006, Ford started a 6-year project to invest 9.2 billion dollars in Mexico.

In that same year, Ford made additional investments in operations in Brazil, China and Turkey: 27.5 million dollars for a research and engineering center in China; 375 million dollars in Turkey. All taken out of the books of its U.S. operations.

Bill Ford hired another consultant and paid him $25,000 a day! That amounts to more than nine million dollars in a year.

Ford spent 11 million dollars just to purchase the rights to the Land Rover SUV nameplate!

In 2007, Ford bought a Rumanian car company for nearly one billion dollars, and spent another 500 million dollars to expand a plant in Thailand.

These aren’t the actions of a company without money.

This wealthy company simply wants to steal more money from Ford workers by gutting wages, health care and jobs.

Does it come with a warranty for “job security”?

Nov 5, 2007

Four days after GM workers ratified the contract, GM announced 4,000 job cuts. So much for all those promises of “job security”!

Six days after the Chrysler contract passed, Chrysler announced 11,000 job cuts. Another broken promise.

When a product turns out to be NOT AS ADVERTISED, you can often get your money back. Do GM and Chrysler workers get their votes back?

As for everyone who pushed this contract with lies, put their names in the Hall of Infamy.

Remember them!

Lying with figures
– a media specialty

Nov 5, 2007

On November 2, a Detroit newspaper featured a large chart proclaiming “Chrysler gets smaller.” It compared three years of sales: 1998, 2003, and 2008’s projection. The trend was alarmingly downward.

The fact is, sales have trended upward recently. In 2005 and 2006 they were higher than in 2003. The low figures for 2008 were only a “projection.”

A smaller chart on the inside pages showed the full truth: Chrysler sales were lowest in 1991 at 1.83 million units, and have never yet been lower than that. Last year, they were almost one and a half times as big, at 2.49 million.

But what does the truth matter when the bosses need propaganda?

GM tells the truth ... to Wall Street

Nov 5, 2007

Shortly after the GM contract with the UAW was pushed through, GM’s chief executive had a conference call with Wall Street bankers and analysts.

GM bragged that over the next four years the company could push 56,000, or 75%, of its current UAW workers into retirement and that most of them could be replaced by much lower paid workers – so-called “non-core” workers, earning total wages and benefits of $25.65 an hour, compared to the $78.21 GM claims for labor costs now.

GM actually took $52.56 from the workers with this contract!

GM bragged that it had permanently dumped its retiree healthcare expenses onto the union.

This new retirees’ VEBA fund is loaded with stock and notes – worthless pieces of paper!

Past UAW president Doug Fraser himself admitted, “God help us if we get into a depression or recession and the value of the fund plummets and the UAW is sitting there with this huge liability.”

No wonder Wall Street was celebrating. But auto workers may yet have their revenge. GM workers can tear up a contract sold with false promises like one more worthless piece of paper.

Page 8

Iraq:
Situation grows more critical as Bush declares it is more “normal”

Nov 5, 2007

Ignoring reality in Iraq, President Bush recently declared, “Slowly but surely the people of Iraq are reclaiming a normal society.”

Normal society? Only someone comfortably sheltered in the White House or a ranch in Texas could say something so absurd!

From the beginning of the war up until now, both the U.S. and Iraqi governments have severely underestimated the number of Iraqi people killed in the war. A study based on a survey done between May and July 2006 by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health estimated that about 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion and occupation – in a country with a population less than one-tenth that of the U.S.!

This was before the worst of the U.S. and militia violence against the population started. Another independent medical survey taken recently estimates that more than one million Iraqi’s have died by now.

In addition to all those killed in Iraq, it is estimated that more than four million men, women and children have now been driven from their homes by U.S., Iraqi army and militia attacks. About half of these refugees have fled to other countries, most to Syria and Jordan. The other half are refugees in their own country, fleeing from military forces that sweep through whole neighborhoods.

These refugees amount to about one out of every five people in the entire Iraqi population. According to the United Nations, their expulsion from their homes has created the worst refugee crisis in recent history. And their numbers continue to grow.

According to a welfare office in the Iraqi government, more than half of these refugees have been driven from their homes since the U.S. troop “surge” began.

This is the stark and horrible reality for the people of Iraq today. This is the product of the U.S. war.

Normal? Only in hell!

Marine recruiters help recruits cheat on entrance exams

Nov 5, 2007

Nine Marine Corps recruiters were caught using stand-ins to take entrance exams for people who enlisted.

When the issue became public, one of the recruiters was put out of the military. The other eight were simply reprimanded and reassigned. How many others have done the same thing, no one knows.

In any case, these recruiters were doing exactly what was expected of them. The military does not need people who can read, it simply needs people who can stop a bullet!

Democrats support Bush nominee who supports torture

Nov 5, 2007

Michael Mukasey, George Bush’s nominee for Attorney General, says the “interrogation” technique known as “waterboarding” is repugnant, but refuses to say it is torture and shouldn’t be used.

The Democrats, after hearing Mukasey’s response, initially proclaimed loudly that they were against torture. They didn’t, however, propose legislation forbidding the state apparatus from using it. And the Republicans said Congress shouldn’t tie the military’s hands.

In other words, Democrats say the government shouldn’t use torture, yet let it happen, while some Republicans want to brag about using it.

So what’s the difference between them other than politicians’ grand-standing? None. They both support torture!

Oklahoma immigration bill is an attack

Nov 5, 2007

On Thursday, November 1, 2007, the state of Oklahoma put into effect one of the harshest state laws ever passed about immigration. It threatens felony charges against anyone who “knowingly” employs, transports or provides shelter for illegal immigrants.

It establishes many more ways to stop and check immigrants for the purpose of immediately deporting them. Not only could religious people be accused of a felony if they offer any aid to an immigrant in Oklahoma, so could bus drivers – if they “knowingly” carried an illegal immigrant to work.

Immigrants whose work would qualify them for unemployment benefits when laid off, or workers compensation when hurt on the job, couldn’t even apply.

This Oklahoma law, like 182 bills that became law in 43 states this year, is aimed at threatening immigrants, whatever their documentation or status. It also aims at convincing other workers that something is being done about the economic crisis affecting everyone. It sets up immigrants as scapegoats for problems of the whole economy.

The Pew Center gives an estimate for illegal immigrants in Oklahoma of 50,000 to 80,000, which is about two% of the population of 3,433,496. Two% of the population can hardly be the cause of not having enough unemployment funds. If hospitals and school districts in Oklahoma lack what they need, it’s thanks to politicians like the ones who sponsored this bill. Instead of money to solve the problems, state legislators waste it attacking immigrants.

The working class has often been divided, with one section pitted against another, in competition for jobs, housing, and social necessities such as education. In some time periods, the issue is immigrants; in other time periods, the bosses foster the divisions that have existed historically between blacks and whites to divide working people. Or they will use older workers versus younger workers, or women versus men. The times when the working class moved forward were those times when it at least partly united its forces.

The bosses like to claim there aren’t enough jobs to go around. The problem isn’t a lack of work that needs to be done. The problem is bosses who don’t want to touch their profits to pay for it.

The bosses use any trick in the book to keep us divided and quiet, so we won’t question, protest or organize against them. It’s past time to tear up their book and work on getting what we all need – decent paying jobs for every person needing to work.