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

The New Sears Scheme

Oct 1, 2018

Sears, which is closing down thousands of stores and laying off tens of thousands of workers, tells the business world it may need to declare bankruptcy.

Why? In reality, it is one more financial scheme to make the rich richer.

Edward Lampert is the chairman and majority owner of Sears Holding. Lampert, originally a banker, bought Kmart in 2004 and then Sears in 2005. Later he started a real estate investment trust company, selling about 235 Sears stores to the new venture. Real estate developers have special tax breaks on their deals, and Lampert even collected rent for his new company from the Sears stores still operating. He is worth more than a billion dollars, putting him on the Forbes list of the richest people in the U.S.

But Lampert blames workers, like every other boss. The real reason, he claims, that Sears may have to go bankrupt is its pension liabilities. “Sears has been significantly impacted by its long-term pension obligations. In the last five years, we contributed almost two billion dollars ... to fund our Pension Plans.”

Yes, the boss can make a fortune by paying workers as low wages as he can get away with. Then he can make money by laying people off. He can talk about the “business climate,” and certainly blame Amazon. But the truth is that the only obligations bosses recognize are the ones that make them more money. Now after agreeing to fund a pension plan for workers, they are maneuvering to get out of their obligations by using the bankruptcy courts–just like so many bosses did before Lampert.

His investments are a good deal for Lampert and the rest of the Wall Street crew. For the working population, it costs thousands of jobs, that once were full-time with benefits. And the closure of Sears stores and others like it means working people have fewer choices to buy the goods and services they need. It’s a scheme for rewarding the rich, without regard for society’s real needs.