Sep 10, 2001
The government’s “official” unemployment rate jumped by half a% in August, reaching 4.9%.
In fact, the real rate of unemployment is much higher than this. The government itself admits – in its detailed report – that over 10% of the work force is today unemployed or underemployed. And even this understates the real situation, given all the fiddling that government statisticians have done over the last few decades. Over the summer, half a million people dropped out of the workforce – and they appear nowhere in the ranks of the unemployed. Where did they go? Certainly not on a long sea cruise.
With our ranks reduced by attrition, lay-offs, and a virtual hiring freeze, we are beginning to feel the reality of last spring’s job cut announcements.
What happened? Why this big jump in unemployment?
What happened is that corporate profits are down. For years, they jumped from one new profit record to the next. But this year, profits aren’t hitting a new record. They’re still enormous, just not as enormous. That was enough to unleash the corporate axes.
Today, we see the spectacle of corporations, which are making billions of dollars in profit, talk about their need to “cut costs” to avoid “disaster.”
They cut back on investment – throwing people out of work at all the companies that provide the goods and services that other corporations need. Above all, they cut back on “labor costs” – that is, they cut jobs, expecting that those who are left will pick up the slack. And they use the threat of job cuts to begin to reduce our wages and benefits.
For big corporations, it is a simple math problem they have learned by heart: the fewer people they pay, the more work they can get the rest of us to do for them, the higher the profits that they can skim off for themselves, the higher the dividends, interest payments, multi-million dollar salaries, bonuses, stock options, etc. for their executives.
Of course, this is nothing new. Even during the supposed “good times,” when the corporations jumped from one record profit to the next, they never stopped “cutting costs” – it was the means by which they made those record profits.
But now, their bubble economy is obviously in trouble – and their high profits aren’t enough to rescue the financial markets. Thus, the capitalists stand poised, ax in hand, to chop our jobs, forcing millions of us out into the streets, while the rest of us are worked to death.
We are simply “collateral damage” in the capitalists’ never-ending war to increase their profits and wealth at our expense, at any cost.
Big corporations should be prevented from cutting jobs – why not? The government has all the means to pass the laws to stop this. If the politicians don’t do it, it’s because they stand on the bosses’ side, not the workers.
A government in favor of the workers would prohibit all lay-offs. It would prohibit the job cuts which keep young workers out in the street, unable to find a decent job. And if a corporation making profits decided to break the law anyway, laying off workers, a government in favor of the workers would take over that corporation from its owners as a penalty.
If they can take the cars of people innocently caught in the cross fire of some sting, they can certainly take over a company which breaks the law.
The working class is not a number, a trivial cost to be cut by some big shot. We are the ones who produce everything. We are the ones who built this society, with all of its vast wealth. We are the ones who should enjoy the fruits of what we produce.
And the first fruit should be a decent job paying a comfortable wage!