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

Workers Can Reject the Degradation of Our Lives

May 29, 2023

During COVID, millions of people lost their jobs at one blow. Afraid of the social explosion that might result if these workers also lost their homes, their food, and their medical care, the federal government “found” money to expand a few social programs.

This money didn’t begin to make up for the damage caused by this society’s inability to deal with the pandemic. But now the government is cutting off even that trickle of pandemic money.

There is no more extra money for school systems coming from the federal government. And so, just as the kids damaged by learning loss during COVID need help to try to make it up, schools are gearing up for cutbacks.

The expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program ended in April. These programs provided health insurance to more than one in four people and more than half of all children in this country. Hundreds of thousands have already been cut off, and tens of millions are predicted to lose their health insurance in the coming year.

Earlier this year, just as the price of food was hitting an all-time high, the government cut off the expansion of SNAP food aid.

The government ended eviction and foreclosure protections and the small increases in housing subsidies—even as the price of rent in most cities continues to skyrocket, and homelessness reaches epidemic proportions.

In the midst of all this, it should be no surprise that life expectancy has continued to drop, addiction and suicides continue to climb, and crime rates remain high.

And yet, in the face of this unfolding social disaster for a huge share of the population, no one in the federal government is seriously even discussing making permanent the small funding increases passed during the pandemic. Instead, they are arguing about how many MORE cuts they will impose, using a made-up law called the “debt ceiling.”

Democrats could have easily eliminated this rule when they controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency, as recently as a few months ago. Instead, they want to blame the coming cuts on the Republicans, who say they want to rein in the budget.

What lies on both sides! Both parties agree there is plenty of money for their number one priority: war. Even as they claim there isn’t enough to educate our children or deal with the various social crises hitting the population, the military budget has soared to more than one trillion dollars. The capitalist class needs this military to protect its ability to suck profits out of every corner of the globe. And the leaders of the U.S. government have made clear they are preparing for another massive war, in which workers will once again pay the price.

Both parties serve the corporations, which want to force workers to accept even lower wages. Wages for many jobs may be higher in dollar terms than they were before the pandemic, but you can’t eat dollars. You need to use those dollars to buy food. Because of inflation, wages buy less food than they used to. Wages aren’t enough to afford the rent. They don’t nearly cover the cost of raising a child. But if people are desperate enough, they will take these jobs. This is why the corporations have an immediate interest in getting rid of any program that provides people with an alternative to taking the low wage jobs that they offer.

Politicians in both parties claim wages need to stay low to fight inflation. What BS! High wages didn’t cause the price of oil to skyrocket. High wages didn’t lead the egg monopoly to jack up the price of a dozen to five dollars. No, inflation is driven first of all by the corporations looking to charge as much as they can. The corporations want low wages so they can keep more of the wealth workers produce.

The corporations and the politicians who serve them want us to accept a future in which our standard of living is further degraded, in which our children live worse than we do—if they survive the wars this capitalist system is preparing.

But the working class doesn’t have to accept all this. There is more than enough wealth in this society for everyone to live decently. To make that happen, the working class will have to organize a fight to take that wealth back from the capitalist parasites who have stolen it from our labor. Workers make everything run and that gives them power when they can find the way to organize as a class.

Instead of allowing our lives to be worsened in order to make billionaires into trillionaires, in order to pay for the wars they want to fight to dominate the world, why not, instead, prepare to fight in our own interests, for a decent future for all of us?