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. 821 — April 28 - May 19, 2008

Iraq War:
No Light at the End of the Tunnel

Apr 28, 2008

On March 7, this year, the U.S. and Iraqi governments worked out a secret draft agreement authorizing the stationing of U.S. troops in Iraq. The agreement has only now come to light. Like all the other agreements, it pretended that U.S. troops are to be in Iraq on a “temporary” basis. But there are no time limits set in the agreement, no limits on the number of troops the U.S. can base in Iraq, no restrictions on their powers over Iraqi citizens.

In other words, the end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq is nowhere in sight.

Even if the scheduled troop “withdrawals” happen at the end of July, the military admits there will still be 140,000 troops in Iraq. When the “surge” started, there were 128,000 troops in Iraq. So we’re worse off than when the “surge” started.

Even General David Petraeus was forced to admit, “We haven’t turned any corners. We haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel. The champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator. And the process, while fragile, is reversible.”

Bush, speaking after Petraeus appeared before Congress, said, “I’ve told him he will have all the time he needs.”

But “time” is exactly what the people of Iraq do not have. Over 4.5 million people have been driven from their homes. Two million have fled the country. The rest were driven into sectarian and ethnic enclaves, controlled by the various militias, which exert a mafia-like control over these areas. Baghdad has been divided into a series of refugee camps.

The Iraqi government, working with the U.S., had to admit that more civilians had been killed in March than at any time since last summer. Yet, Petraeus told Congress violence is on the decline. Apparently, he doesn’t count the deaths of Iraqi civilians as “violence.”

Violence on the decline? Tell that to the civilians ground up in the fighting in Basra or in Baghdad’s Sadr City. Tell that to people in ethnic and sectarian camps who can’t get out to go to market. Time has run out for them.

And “time” has run out for U.S. troops in and out of Iraq–the more than 4,000 who have already been killed in Iraq and the 10,000 or more veterans who killed themselves during this war. The 35,000 who suffered permanent injuries. The tens of thousands of them in the U.S. who can’t get a job. Those out in the streets, homeless. The hundreds of thousands who have psychiatric problems because of what they did, saw and had done to them–but can’t get an appointment at a veteran’s hospital.

McCain says he will follow the military’s recommendations. Clinton and Obama are trying to ride the population’s disgust for Bush and this war. But none will commit to ending the war as soon as they get in office. All three say they will extend the war in Afghanistan.

For people who want an end to this war, the worst thing would be to sit back and wait on the election–and that’s true even if one of the candidates promised to bring all U.S. troops out of Iraq as quickly as they could be put on ships and planes.

Waiting on the election means waiting until November, then until January 20, when the new president takes office, then waiting on all the bureaucratic maneuvering that goes on inside government, while watching the oil companies and big military contractors pour on the pressure to continue the war.

How many more lives will be lost by waiting, how much more money wasted that should be spent on constructing things here, not destroying things in Iraq?

We don’t have time to wait–not us, not the Iraqi people, not the U.S. troops.

Any of these three candidates could be forced to stop the war immediately–but only if the population doesn’t wait on them to do it, only if the population forces the issue, increasing its protests, reinforcing all those troops who have made it clear they aren’t ready to fight any more in Iraq.

Pages 2-3

Another Hand in Your Pocket

Apr 28, 2008

The Michigan House of Representatives just passed an “energy bill.” Under their proposed legislation, 365 million dollars in electric costs would be shifted OFF of businesses and ONTO individual customers! If this legislation passes the Senate and Governor Granholm signs it into law, electric bills will be going up–again.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, all 27 members of the Michigan House and Senate energy committees received campaign contributions from the utilities in 2007 or in recent years. It’s like that old saying: The best politicians that money can buy....

Organizing Election Rallies instead of Mobilizing for a Fight

Apr 28, 2008

A special meeting of the AFL-CIO Baltimore Metropolitan Council–advertised as a way to deal with the “Crisis in Healthcare”–attracted at least 150 local union presidents and activists, five times as many as usual. Apparently the AFL-CIO is organizing such meetings all over the country. A top level staffer showed an angry video about denials of health care for union members and their families.

So what can workers do? According to the AFL-CIO staffer, nothing except work to get Clinton or Obama elected along with so-called “labor-friendly” politicians running for Congress.

State workers and others in Maryland have already had their fill of “labor-friendly” politicians–like the current Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley. The unions helped to put him in office, but today he is cutting state workers’ jobs, and giving pay raises so small they are wiped out by increased deductions.

Of course, there was no discussion about the healthcare issue. Actually there was no discussion about anything. State and local AFL-CIO officials simply laid out a plan for turning out the vote in the coming elections and invited a local Democratic candidate for Congress up to the platform to say a few nice words.

The AFL-CIO is taking the strong desire for a better health care system–shown by the large turnout at meetings like this–and channeling it into working for the election of politicians whose records already show what they will do. Clinton, Obama and McCain all voted for the Medicare Part D prescription drug program–which was another way to drain more money out of Medicare, and out of retirees’ pockets, and funnel it into the bank accounts of the big drug and health insurance companies.

But even if one of these politicians really wanted to get better medical care for all, they couldn’t do it without a mobilized population ready to fight for it. Either way, with or without these politicians, workers won’t get improved medical care for all unless they are prepared to fight for it.

The worst thing about these political pep rallies is that the AFL-CIO doesn’t call on people who are ready to start a campaign to do anything.

It’s a real betrayal.

Supreme Court Defends the Death Penalty

Apr 28, 2008

The Supreme Court last week ruled that Kentucky’s method of capital punishment, lethal injection, was not cruel and inhumane punishment, even though it probably produces a great deal of pain.

Why should we be surprised? The court has already upheld the death penalty itself–even though most of the countries in the world, including the vast majority of industrialized countries, have banned it as being barbarous and a throwback to the Middle Ages.

One thing we can say: the U.S. Supreme Court is consistent in its adherence to cruelty and inhumanity.

The Social Safety Net Lies in Tatters

Apr 28, 2008

By every available standard, poverty in the country is on the rise today.

This puts the lie to the claims made in 1996 when President Bill Clinton signed the welfare “reform” law, a law to “end welfare as we know it.”

The party line at the time–for both Republicans AND Democrats–was that the law would put welfare recipients back to work and help them climb out of poverty. But even in the so-called boom times, that was never the case; it just made poor people poorer.

Twelve years later, millions more people are living in poverty and misery–and things are about to get a lot worse.

After the welfare “reform” law passed, the number of families on welfare plunged by 60%. It’s true that at the beginning, people could go back to work. Child care provisions were available, and subsidies were given for people with very low wages. But these were only temporary–and they’ve been chipped away at. Now, Congress is further cutting back on the number of hours covered by paid child care, so that they don’t even cover what a parent with a full-time job would need. And, the subsidy had a time limit because it was based on the idea that better wages would automatically come after a person worked the same job for a couple years. The trouble is, no one told the bosses! Former welfare recipients found their subsidies cut off–while they were still making the same extremely low wages.

This all made it impossible for many single parents to keep their jobs. Yet very soon they were kicked off of welfare. Thepercentage of poor single mothers who were not on welfare OR with a job, rose from 20% in 1996 to over 30% in 2005. The number of children in poverty rose from 11.6 million to 12.8 million. This is the REAL measure of the results of welfare “reform”: it didn’t give people jobs; it just threw them out on the street, throwing young children into a life of destitution. Even the government’s own statistics show this.

And that was before the recent downturn, in which everyone acknowledges it’s a lot harder to find a job.

What hope can we have that either of the Democratic candidates will do something to address the problem? Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton dance around the question of what to do about growing poverty and joblessness; but both of them have spoken in glowing terms for the law that created so much misery. Clinton, of course, as her husband’s main advisor, directly helped bring it about. If we wait for either of them to do anything, we’ll all have cobwebs growing on us before we see a better result.

Welfare has been just one chunk that’s been ripped from the social safety net. Now that the economy is in a downward spiral, we can expect that conditions will get much worse. Our hope doesn’t lie with any of the double-talking politicians who seek our support; it lies only with the fight that we make for ourselves.

Backdoor Privatization of Public Schools

Apr 28, 2008

Parents across California are being told to donate hundreds of dollars so that, supposedly, the public schools their children attend can “save the jobs of teachers and other staff.”

In the state, at least 14,000 teachers have received potential layoff notices for next September. In the meantime, school districts have been laying off thousands of maintenance and office workers, without whom a school can’t function.

But why all these layoffs, when the number of students in California is actually going up? And why are parents being told to pay extra for something that they have already paid taxes for?

Blame it on the California state government, which is threatening big cuts in public school funding. Governor Schwarzenegger and other Republican politicians say they have no choice but to cut education funding by as much as 4.8 billion dollars. Democrats criticize the governor, of course, but they accept, and repeat, his reasoning–that the state can’t collect enough tax money.

They are lying shamelessly! Big corporations doing business in California rake in huge profits year after year–but many of them pay no taxes at all. The tax cuts that these same politicians have given recently to Big Business amount to about 10 billion dollars a year–twice as much as the money the state government wants to cut from schools.

They are taking this country back to the days when only the children of the wealthy got an education. If parents have to pay extra for public schools to function, working-class children, whose parents can’t afford these “donations,” will end up with even less education than what they get today.

This is nothing but the privatization of education. This country has had public schools only because, in the past, working-class people fought to secure them. What our ancestors fought once to win is worth fighting for today to keep–and improve.

Murdered by 50 Bullets:
A System without Justice

Apr 28, 2008

A New York judge acquitted three cops of the murder of Sean Bell. Bell, a young black man, was killed in November 2006.

Bell and his friends were leaving a nightclub the night before his wedding. The three cops were there, in plain clothes. With guns drawn, they approached the car with Bell’s party. The driver believed it was a holdup and tried to drive away. The three cops fired 50 shots into the car, killing Sean Bell, wounding his friends.

One of the cops, Michael Oliver, fired 31 times. He ran out of ammunition in the middle of the shooting, reloaded his gun, and emptied another magazine into the car.

From beginning to end, the actual trial was a pre-arranged kangaroo court–of the victim! The prosecution–that is, the city lawyers supposedly representing Bell and his family–entered only the cops’ earlier grand jury testimony into the trial record, letting them avoid taking the stand. So they didn’t face cross examination. The prosecution protected the cops being prosecuted!

This judge declared that the cops’ stories were consistent while there were “inconsistencies” in the witnesses’ reports! Of course!

In the first place, it’s hard to recall every little thing while being shot at 50 times in a surprise ambush!

Second, while the shooting’s survivors and witnesses had been required to give statements immediately after the shooting, the cops were given weeks to get their stories together.

Finally, the cops avoided taking the stand and so risked no exposure of their own “inconsistencies!”

The judge also said he found the prosecution witnesses less believable because they had interests in the outcome of a lawsuit against the city. As if the cops didn’t have big “interests” in the outcome as well. As if the city didn’t have “interests” in the outcome–like avoiding a big wrongful-death settlement!

Many people have drawn the natural comparison of Sean Bell’s murder to the 1999 murder of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant shot 41 times by the New York police–while reaching for his wallet. The New York Times said “Anger and disappointment are understandable, but New York’s leadership has changed....”

Changed? Just exactly what has changed, when the cops can do this? And when the judge and the prosecutors scheme together to get the cops off scot-free? No, nothing has changed, not one iota. There is no justice for ordinary people in the courts–as many black people have known for a long time.

In this racist and class system, trials are always and only a show. Unless an angry community writes them a new script.

Pages 4-5

Deir Yassin:
The First of Many Massacres

Apr 28, 2008

On April 9, 1948, Irgun, a Zionist terrorist organization, carried out the first in a series of massacres of Palestinians. The heavily armed militia entered the little village of Deir Yassin, ordering everyone to leave within 15 minutes. As soon as they left their homes, virtually the entire village–254 unarmed men, women and children–was massacred.

According to reports issued by the International Red Cross, which sent a representative to the scene a few days later, the population had been machine gunned down, their homes blown up with hand grenades, and their bodies hacked up with knives. The horror, according to the Red Cross, was beyond description.

Twelve days after Deir Yassin, Zionist forces carried out a deadly attack in Haifa. They rolled barrels filled with gasoline and dynamite down narrow alleys in this heavily populated city. Mortar shells rained down from above. Troops of the Irgun and Haganah, another Zionist terrorist organization, carried loudspeakers that shouted in Arabic, “Flee for your lives. The Jews are using poison gas and nuclear weapons.”

Jewish military commanders recorded afterwards that many Palestinians cried out, “Deir Yassin, Deir Yassin” as they fled.

The Zionist military took up the cry, putting up pictures of the massacre, repeating the warning: “Flee or the fate of Deir Yassin will be yours.”

Deir Yassin came to symbolize what the Zionists were ready to do. The Zionists brandished Deir Yassin as a threat, marching through one Palestinian village after another, driving out the population from the land the Zionists then confiscated and occupied.

It’s no wonder that many Arab people around the world know the anniversary of the founding of the Zionist state of Israel as “Al-Hakba,” the catastrophe.

60 Years ago:
Israel Founded on the Blood of Palestine

Apr 28, 2008

May 15th will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. The official history, repeated year after year at this time claims that Israel was founded in Palestine, “a land without a people, for a people without a land.”

At the end of World War II, the Jews certainly were “a people without land.” European bourgeois society had turned on the Jews, making them the scapegoats for the decay of capitalism. The German ruling class went the furthest, employing anti-Semitism to turn the anger and the despair of the population away from a revolt against its rule. The Jews were blamed for everything negative in the society, as 6 million were marched off to the concentration camps and then the gas-chambers during the Holocaust.

When the war came to an end, bourgeois society again demonstrated its bankruptcy. It had no place for the Jews, and no interest in stopping the anti-Semitism it had itself developed. Jews were refused by governments around the world, including in the United States. President Roosevelt had turned a blind eye to the mass murders as they took place in Germany during the war. Jews trying to escape the Holocaust by boat were turned away from the shores of the United States, making it clear that immigration into the U.S., even after the war, was not an accepted solution.

Instead, so-called “Western democracies” pushed for the establishment of a separate Jewish state. They proposed to funnel the Jews out of the ghettoes scattered throughout Europe into a new, single ghetto in the deserts of the Middle East.

According to all reports at the end of World War II, the vast majority of Jews seeking to flee Europe did not want to go to the Middle East. But they had little choice. In the end they either had to face the ongoing anti-Semitism where they were, or join the Zionist movement and head off to Palestine to regroup, and to build up their own state and military in hopes of defending themselves against further attack.

There was, however, an enormous impediment to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine: Palestine was NOT a “land without people” as the slogan pretends. At the time, there were at least a million Palestinians living there, with their roots going back centuries.

It might have been possible at the end of World War II to find a peaceful solution between the Jewish and Palestinian populations. As late as November of 1947, when the United Nation’s resolution called for partitioning the former British colony of Palestine into two separate states, only 30% of the population was Jewish and only six% of the land was Jewish-owned.

The imperialist powers, however, all came to support the establishment of a single Jewish state, a client-state dependent on them, a state which could be used to defend imperialism’s interest against the Arab peoples in this oil-rich region. The imperialist powers poured in money; tanks, planes and artillery in support of the right-wing Zionists whose goal was to create a clear Jewish majority in Palestine.

The means used were terrorism, aimed at driving the Palestinians off their land. A 50,000 man Zionist paramilitary group, the Haganah, set out against the Palestinians. The Palestinians were poorly armed, forbidden under penalty of death to own weapons ever since the anti-colonial uprising against British rule in 1936. The Zionists now did to the Palestinians what had been done to the Jews. Massacre followed massacre, first in Deir Yassin, then Haifa and then in dozens more towns and villages. By May 15, 1948, when Israel’s independence was declared, over 300,000 Palestinians had been driven from their homes into exile. By the end of that year, the number climbed to 750,000. Three out of every four Palestinians were forced to flee as Zionist troops confiscated land, homes and livestock.

By the end of 1948, Zionist troops occupied 80% of Palestine. The other 20% was taken in 1967 when the Israeli military invaded Gaza and the West Bank.

The modern Israeli state was founded on the blood of the Palestinians–which is why, despite all the might of imperialism which stands behind it, Israel to this day has been unable to defeat the Palestinians. The stones of the Intifada in the hands of young children is the demonstration of what the Jews should know from their own history: the human will can be greater than any number of weapons.

Profiting from Famine

Apr 28, 2008

One hunger riot after another in poor countries has begun to make the world’s leaders react. Still hundreds of millions of men, women and children have gone from permanent undernourishment to famine.

“If food prices continue to increase, hundreds of thousands of people are going to die of hunger,” said the new head of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF is one of the main institutions of the capitalist world. Its experts may KNOW everything–but they DO nothing. They are either profiteers themselves or servants of an economic system in which private profit is king.

Everyone knows that speculation, which destroyed homeowners, has now been transferred to raw materials like oil, of course, but also food staples. The prices of corn, rice and wheat have more than doubled.

In Haiti, the price of rice, corn, green beans and cooking oil and other food staples has doubled, or in certain cases, tripled in just a few months. Today Haiti must import all the necessary foods, such as 80% of its rice from the United States. The local money has fallen in value compared to the dollar. Those who have a hold over imports and trade also contribute to starve the population.

For millions of people throughout the world one of these food staples costs nine-tenths of their meager incomes. Price increases condemn them to death. Government leaders know it and do worse than nothing. They turn over tens of billions of dollars to save the banks, which enables the financial groups to continue to speculate–today in food staples.

The food situation of the poor countries didn’t become tragic all of a sudden. Over decades, these poor countries were pushed to give up growing crops to feed their people. Instead they were forced to produce whatever crops could be sold on the world market.

The latest example of the murderous madness of this system is the production of bio-fuels. With the increase in the price of oil, refining corn or sugar cane to turn it into fuel became profitable. Instead of food to feed starving populations, a growing part of world production goes to fill the pockets of the capitalists who own ethanol refineries!

It is a “crime against humanity,” as one professor put it. But starving millions is nothing new.

In the Haitian countryside, farm production is often ruined by imported products. In some regions, the population is reduced to eating dirt to try to quell their hunger pangs.

United Fruit Company, backed by the U.S. government, took over large parts of Honduras and Guatemala to grow bananas for export. Hershey and Mars get raw cocoa from plantations in tropical countries where farm workers suffer from severe malnutrition because no food is grown. It has to be imported–at a high price.

Farm workers face plantation foremen with rifles to ensure they work quickly to satisfy the owners’ race for profit. The capitalists build their fortunes on the corpses of those they exploit.

Workers in the industrial countries may not be hit as severely by food price increases. But we are attacked by the same wealthy exploiters and speculators. Those who revolt against food price increases in Thailand, in Haiti or in Africa are our sisters, our brothers, a part of ourselves. Their destiny is our destiny.

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Apr 28, 2008

A recent look at the money given to chief executives at 200 large U.S. corporations found that their average pay last year was eleven million dollars per year–about $211,000 per WEEK.

The average income for everyone else working in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area was $801 a week. In Detroit, the average was $703; in Baltimore, $664; in Chicago, $646; and in the Los Angeles area, the average weekly wage was $629.

So the average CEO makes the same as 300 or more other people.

Working people sure need to change this ugly picture.

Raw Materials:
Speculators Starve the World

Apr 28, 2008

Enormous price increases for raw materials–including oil, metals and food staples–have been blamed on growing consumption by people in India and China.

What nonsense! The price of coffee soared 22% in the first two months of the year on the New York Board of Trade, but people in China and India don’t drink coffee! Anyway consumption of coffee increased less than 2% last year.

We’re also told that demand for bio-fuels is driving up prices of many agricultural products. But even this development doesn’t explain the current considerable price increases of corn, wheat, sugar and palm oil. Speculation does.

Growing masses of capital seeking rapid profit are being bet on raw material price increases. Speculators sign a contract to buy a commodity at a given price and then sign another contract agreeing to sell it at a higher price and pocket the difference. The person who agrees to buy does the same thing. And so on. All these transactions are done on credit and the buyers and sellers are rapidly reimbursed, always at a higher price. The crop will be resold many times before it’s ever harvested and finally sold in the real world.

Those who have money no longer know what to do with it, and it’s been a long time since they chose to invest much in the production of useful goods. That’s why they speculated in real estate, causing the housing crisis.

The Central Banks put hundreds of billions of dollars at the disposal of banks to stem the financial crisis begun in real estate, but that money is then thrown immediately into more speculation. Today the big banks, insurance companies and investment funds are throwing themselves into another form of speculation–more profitable for the moment–in raw materials.

This dramatic and considerable movement of capital explains the brutal increases we see today. A million contracts are made on the Chicago Board of Trade every day, up 20% since the beginning of the year. While production is slowing, while the real exchange of goods is contracting, these purchases on paper keep multiplying, driving up prices.

The price of rice, for example, soared 31% in only one day, March 27. In six months, the price of rice increased 80%. According to the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization, the poor countries are going to have to pay 56% more for their cereal bill in 2008, following an increase of 37% in 2007. Tens of millions of people can no longer eat.

But nothing is done to prevent those who own capital from causing harm. It would be necessary to restrain the whole capitalist class and its entire system based on sacrosanct profit. And governments in the capitalist countries aren’t going to do that.

Countrywide Rewards Its Big Thief

Apr 28, 2008

Angelo Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide Financial Corp., received over 132 million dollars in salary, bonuses and stock option cash-outs last year.

Home foreclosures reached a rate of 7,500 a DAY in March.

Countrywide was one of the big players taking advantage of home buyers with the risky loans that created this foreclosure crisis.

Shouldn’t Mozilo be in JAIL–not rewarded for robbing all those people?

Pages 6-7

American Axle Strikers Rally, Begin 9th Week on Strike

Apr 28, 2008

An estimated 1200 - 1500 UAW strikers and supporters packed the sidewalks and streets around the American Axle (AAM) headquarters building on April 24. The strikers came to greet the annual meeting of AAM stockholders and to question why this profitable company, which has paid its CEO over 257 million dollars in the last 10 years, won’t agree to pay its workers a living wage.

Police and tactical units from Detroit and Hamtramck were out in full force and brought a bus to use for arrests. The strikers joyously posed for a group photo in front of the bus. Strikers asked police, “Aren’t you union?” and called out, “You’re next. You’re next.”

Several strikers who own AAM shares went to the meeting and put direct questions to CEO Dick Dauch. Dauch’s basic position is that his profitable company, with its huge regular yearly sales to GM, should nevertheless get all the breaks that the UAW has given to companies that claimed bankruptcy.

Officers and delegations from several UAW locals were on the crowded picket line. “What happens to these folks will happen to us” was a remark often heard.

While this comment is true enough, it’s quite late for many of these folks to be waking up. Many of them helped the UAW leadership push through previous concessions that did indeed set the stage for the battle at American Axle–or at least they didn’t openly oppose the concession drive.

Top UAW leaders cooperated with General Motors in the spinoff of Delphi, not fighting its phony pre-planned “bankruptcy,” pushing Delphi workers to take deep wage and benefit cuts.

Those same leaders took Delphi-style concessions into Ford, Chrysler and GM contract negotiations last fall, telling workers their jobs would go away if they didn’t vote for two-tier wage structures, and for a risky VEBA fund instead of guaranteed pensions.

So yes, it’s true every concession digs the hole deeper for the next ones. That’s why this strike is so important and why it’s important for other workers to get involved.

Top leaders of the union certainly aren’t giving the support needed. UAW strike funds and other resources would easily allow it to pay workers $400 or $600 a week strike benefits–enough to hold out until GM uses up its last driveshaft and axle and has to “explain” things to Dick Dauch.

Instead, workers have been out with only $200 a week. This policy lets GM cheaply reduce its inventory while helping AAM as it tries to starve the strikers into submission.

Workers at AAM can’t count on Solidarity House. That was shown when UAW President Gettelfinger scheduled a rally for April 18 in downtown Detroit–and then cancelled it. He claimed “progress in negotiations”–but no progress developed.

It was in reaction to that cancellation that Local 235 of AAM in Detroit called for the April 24 rally at the stockholders’ meeting.

The turnout and spirit certainly did build up morale. Commonly heard were statements like, “I didn’t strike all this time just to settle for a poverty wage.” “What good is a job if I can’t pay for what I’ve got, my house and car?”

Also heard were indications that some workers understand the trickery coming from national UAW headquarters: “If the International doesn’t sell us out.” In fact, the UAW’s very first offer to Dauch–an offer he refused to accept–was exactly a sell-out: an offer to pull wages down to $14.50 and to install basically the concession pattern from Delphi.

As the strike’s impact on GM grows, impacting at least 30 plants at last count, Dauch has begun a stronger fear campaign against the strikers. He says he will move all his plants overseas if he doesn’t get the low wages he wants.

Companies have found that their most effective tactic against workers is the lie about “moving overseas” to “be competitive.” In fact, the labor costs of automotive products are only 10 to 15% of the products’ total cost. But if they can lie and intimidate workers into accepting lower wages, well, they will do that.

We have to start thinking past these corporate lies. How will we keep decent jobs and decent wages? What good is a job that won’t even pay for gas, or put enough food on the table? Our struggle is about having a job at high enough wages so we can have a decent place to live, good transportation, and to provide our children a decent start in life. If CEO ten-million-dollar paychecks stand in the way, too bad.

Workers everywhere will need to follow the lead of the American Axle strikers and stand up and fight, to keep corporate greed from destroying our lives.

Whatever it takes. And the strike at American Axle has changed the relationship of forces, opening the door a little crack for other workers to begin their own fight.

Page 8

Gas Prices!
It’s an Outrage!

Apr 28, 2008

It never fails. As soon as prices on oil and gasoline shoot up, out come the usual politicians, economists and other experts to blame it on shortages caused by surging demand and a growing shortage.

It’s pure bunk. There are no shortages. In the U.S., which consumes more than one-quarter of all the oil and gasoline in the world, there are near record reserves of both oil and gasoline on hand. In fact, demand for oil in the U.S. has been falling since last July. In January and February, this decline was even sharper, close to four%. But oil refiners cut back even more on production–in order to boost profit margins in the face of falling demand.

Neither is there any shortage of oil in the world–despite all the talk about the two biggest countries in the world, China and India, consuming more and more energy. On the contrary, worldwide oil output continues to outstrip demand.

So, what is behind these incredible price increases? In late March, the CEO at ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, spelled it out, “The record run in oil prices is related more to speculation... than supply and demand in the market.” He added, “In terms of fundamentals, fear of supply reliability is overblown.

This is borne out by the numbers. As Business Week (April 1) pointed out, since 2000, the amount of money in one form of speculation, oil futures, increased from nine billion dollars to 250 billion dollars. As the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell told the Washington Post (April 11), this speculation has greatly accelerated, with the new flow of speculative money into oil increasing almost 10-fold since the beginning of the year.

With housing and other credit market bubbles collapsing, the speculators are rushing to make a quick billion by placing their bets on oil and other commodities–blowing up new dangerous speculative bubbles in the financial world, while causing worsening hardship for ordinary people, and especially the poor, in the real world.

May First Protests

Apr 28, 2008

This May 1st there are demonstrations in a number of cities organized by immigrant rights groups around the slogan of legalization for all. It’s outrageous that workers are employed in this country and pay taxes, yet have no rights. Not only do they suffer from discrimination and unscrupulous employers who try to take advantage of them in every way, but all workers in this country are affected as well. The presence of millions of workers without any rights creates a downward pressure on the wages and benefits of the entire working class.

Every worker should demand that immigrants working here be legalized immediately.

What’s Up with the Dems?

Apr 28, 2008

The American population is clearly fed up with Republican rule and has every reason to be: the war, the flagrant handing of government money over to Wall Street while the population faces a real crisis, steep inflation, the degradation of public and social services–the list of grievances is endless.

And yet, in most election polls neither Obama nor Clinton get very far ahead of Republican McCain, and in some polls one or the other or both fall behind him.

So what’s up?

There is a serious fight going on inside the Democratic Party apparatus, and it has little to do with the two candidates themselves.

The struggle between the two candidates is not a fight over policy. Both candidates have taken almost the same stand on all important issues. Take the war, for example. Obama says he didn’t support the first resolution authorizing Bush to go to war. It’s true, he didn’t–he couldn’t! He wasn’t yet in the Senate when the vote was taken. But Obama, like Clinton, voted all the money Bush asked for.

Nor does the fight between the two candidates reflect a big difference over which part of the bourgeoisie is supporting which candidate, since both Obama and Clinton draw funds from the most important parts of the bourgeoisie–including Wall Street and other financial interests (18 million dollars for Clinton, as of the end of February; 15 million for Obama); corporate lawyers and big business lobbyists (16 million to Clinton; 14 million to Obama), etc.

And it’s certainly not a concern for letting the voters decide–since the Democrats have more than enough “super-delegates” to decide the issue. That’s why the party has so many of them. The whole primary system is set up in ways that prevent the voters from expressing what they want.

There’s only one other obvious explanation: the party itself is engaged in a fight over who will control the apparatus.

The importance of who controls the Democratic Party apparatus boils down to the same reason the two parties fight each other over who controls the state apparatus: the spoils of office–judgeships, appointments, contracts, the slush funds that flood government corridors, etc.

The federal government is a multi-trillion dollar business for the taking. Just look at Vice President Cheney, who has turned the government into his own wealth-making machine. Many of these folks in the Democratic Party have been waiting quite a while to get their hands on that machine.

Apparently, both sides in the Democratic Party split are ready to risk letting the Democrats lose the election, rather than give up their possibility to control the loot if the Democrats win.

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