Apr 29, 2002
The U.S. government reported that the overall economy or, as they call it, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew by 5.8% in the first three months of the year.
Commentators and officials took this report as the cue to declare that the recession was officially over, and that the economy is now recovering. The report, they said, indicated how “fast” and “powerful” the economic recovery was. President Bush even got in on the act by claiming that this “is a good sign that we’re on the path to long-term recovery.”
Of course, if this were a recovery for working people, we would have seen “strong and powerful” growth in jobs, wages and benefits. The “long term recovery” that President Bush pronounced from his 5,000 acre ranch in Crawford, Texas during one of his frequent vacations, would have meant more affordable housing, transportation, medical care, education – not to mention the time and money so we too could take vacations!
But, in fact, ordinary people are seeing the exact opposite. Over the last year, the bosses cut two million jobs. And the average time that workers stay unemployed continues to get longer and longer. Just last month, when the economy was supposedly “recovering,” the unemployment rate rose by another two-tenths of a%.
The wage picture looks just as bleak. Real inflation continues to eat away at any meager wage increases that workers have been getting, while the basics such as housing and insurance costs go through the roof. As for benefits, over the last year, the bosses cut the number of people covered by health insurance by over one million. Those of us who still have health benefits are paying out much more from our own pockets.
The only way that most ordinary people can stay afloat is by going deeper and deeper into debt. But that has just meant that debt from credit cards, mortgages, car loans, etc. is at record highs. The interest on that debt is eating up more and more of our income. This might mean record profits for the banks and finance companies. But it is nothing but debt slavery for workers.
No, this is not a recovery for workers. It is just more of the same economic crisis.
Over the past 30 years, the government has claimed that we have gone through several cycles of recessions and recoveries. But running like a red thread through this whole period has been that constant refrain from the bosses that they must cut costs, that workers must sacrifice. During periods of recession, they told us we had to accept sacrifices because business was down. During periods of recovery, they said that the workers had to be patient, that we had to wait, and accept more sacrifices so that “we” could become more “competitive.” But the results were the same: a constant speed up at the work place, fewer workers doing more work, lower wages and less benefits. Meanwhile all the social services that we need when we’re unemployed, sick or retired have been cut.
This will continue if the capitalists have their way. They are doing what they always do, increasing their profits at the workers’ expense, by increasing our exploitation.
If the working class is going to enjoy an economic recovery, we will have to take it from the trillions in profits that the corporations make every year, or from the executive salaries, bonuses and stock options that have made a lot of executives billionaires. So be it.