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

They Promise Jobs—Don’t Hold Your Breath

Mar 15, 2004

Both Bush and Kerry are talking a lot about jobs. Of course, they’re politicians. And jobs, or the lack of them, is the main concern facing big parts of the electorate.

But while Bush and Kerry talk endlessly about taxes or trade, they don’t mention the main reason why there are no jobs: the incredible pace at which private business is destroying jobs. According to the Wall Street Journal, between the years 2001 and 2003, businesses carried out 58.6 million layoffs. These layoffs took place through job cuts, subcontracting, outsourcing, plant closings, and so on.

In that cold-blooded fashion of theirs, spokespersons for the companies explain that they consider their work force to be just like any other part of their inventory, to be hired and fired as needed. Economists call it "the just-in-time" labor force.

It is through this constant job turnover that employers lower what they pay their workforce. A recent survey by the Economic Policy Institute shows companies that are hiring pay 21% less than companies that are laying off. In California, the largest state, it’s worse–the pay difference is 40%. Besides that, what laid off workers had built up on their old jobs in terms of seniority and benefits is lost. And on their new job, they wind up being in the position of being the first to go when there are new layoffs.

These churning layoffs, in fact, are a huge blow to the entire working class. Anyone can lose their job at any time. Everyone feels vulnerable.

Of course, the bosses try to exploit this vulnerability to the maximum. With hammer blows, they force those left on the job to work harder and longer–for less wages and benefits. Better that, they say, than to lose everything. Of course, accepting this only guarantees more layoffs, as the boss continues to whittle away at the labor force, kind of like "fine tuning an engine."

Both Bush and Kerry claim that they have a program which will provide workers jobs. Talk is cheap, as we all know. And the talk of politicians is worthless, as all Kerry’s and Bush’s talk shows.

A real program for jobs would start with the proposal to prohibit all companies that are profitable from laying off any workers or cutting any jobs. As for any measly company that dared to claim that it couldn’t stay in business without cutting jobs or laying off any workers, take that company over and kick out the liars running it.

Are Kerry and Bush proposing this? Of course not. Are they even hinting at something like prohibiting companies from cutting jobs? Of course not. They are the kept politicians of big capital who have both throughout their whole political lives worked to put the government’s resources at the disposal of the very companies that are cutting all the jobs.