The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

2003 - Good riddance to an outrageous year

Dec 15, 2003

With the Dow Jones industrial average jumping above 10,000, cheers could be heard from Wall Street out to the yachts harbored in Newport Beach in California. It was an appropriate end to the year about to close. They year 2003 may have been marked by one bankruptcy after another – tens of steel companies, two of the biggest airlines, and literally hundreds of other companies all paraded to the bankruptcy courts. And yet, billions of dollars were to be made in 2003, including first of all in these bankruptcies. The wealthy had money falling out of their pockets as they rushed to Wall Street's casinos to play the roulette wheels of fortune.

It was – as Dickens once wrote about the period leading up to the French revolution – the best of times. But, in this year, 2003, it was the best of times for the bourgeoisie.

To echo Dickens again, it was the worst of times. In the year 2003, it was the worst of times for working people. We were under an unremitting attack, one that continued from the year before, and the years before that.

We continued to lose jobs, one million and some, and still counting, since the supposed economic "recovery" began two years ago. The bankruptcies that produced so much money for the speculators produced only loss of jobs, loss of pensions, loss of medical care for the workers whose labor built those companies.

The prices of everything we bought – oil, gasoline, natural gas, electricity, fruits and vegetables, ordinary canned goods, medications, housing, etc. – went up. Our wages didn't keep up.

The streets of the cities we live in are filled with ruts and bumps. The lights are dark almost as much as they are lit. The sewers and water system break, producing some spectacular floods. Garbage litters streets. Public services are in an advanced state of disrepair. The states and cities haven't enough money to make the necessary repairs. At least that's what the governors and the mayors tell us as they give billions away to big corporations, while laying off hundreds of thousands of those who did this vital work.

Workers comp, unemployment comp, welfare and medicaid are cut back again. It matters not that we are sick or disabled or unemployed. There isn't enough money to cover all the social programs – so say the politicians.

Our children's schools lack teachers; they lack books; they lack laboratory facilities, art, music and recreation supplies. And they lack maintenance – the simple basic maintenance required to keep furnaces running, toilets unstopped, broken windows fixed. No money for that either.

And yet there is money. The Dow Jones hitting 10,000 proves it. Someone has tons of money – they are using it to speculate.

The problem is not the lack of money. The problem is who controls it. We don't. We may do the labor that produces the wealth of this society. But in this country in the year 2003, we did not decide how this wealth is to be used. We did not benefit from it.

It's an outrage! And the capitalists know it. But in their unrestrained arrogance, they think they can go on living only the best of times while the rest of us live the worst.

They can be proved wrong.