Jan 8, 2007
Want to know what the bosses have in store for us in 2007? Just look at what they did last year.
The elite sitting at the top of the corporate pyramid have never had it so good. Profits – after taxes – are twice as high as they were just five years ago. The wealthy are literally swimming in money. They are speculating in stocks, bonds and real estate at a feverish pace. They buy and sell companies, merge companies and then break them apart. At each step, they chisel out a bigger chunk of wealth for themselves.
Last year, one investment bank that does this, Goldman Sachs, made so much money, it announced 16 billion dollars in year-end bonuses for its top executives. That’s right, $16 billion for a tiny handful of people for only one year.
In 2006, Delphi and other big auto parts companies continued the bankruptcy charade. And corporate raiders, starting with Wilbur Ross, announced that they wanted to buy them. Previously, Ross had bought up supposedly bankrupt steel companies and then resold them a few years later for five times what he paid for them – making billions in one stroke. Despite what the auto bosses claim, the auto companies are golden apples, just waiting to be plucked.
For workers, it’s a different world. Most of us have to cope with shrinking pay checks – worth less than they were 30 years ago – and fewer benefits. And the debt burden for many of us skyrockets.
In the workplace, we faced outsourcing, downsizing and speed-up. Full-time jobs were replaced by temps at much lower wages and few if any benefits. GM, Ford and Delphi led the way.
But government agencies were quick to follow, some claiming that they can no longer afford pensions or health benefits. They did, however, shovel over to the big corporations and the wealthy big tax cuts, subsidies and sweetheart contracts to their buddies for doing nothing.
This is where we were at the end of 2006. In 2007, the bosses want to take much, much more from us.
Whether they get away with it is another question. That depends upon what workers decide to do when companies or government agencies come for them. It depends upon how workers react when the companies or government tell them that they have to make more sacrifices supposedly in order to save a cash-rich company from ruin. Will we fall for this garbage, that wage and benefit cuts save jobs?
Nothing stops us from telling the bosses and their politicians where they can shove all their threats and lies.
Certainly, no one group of workers can turn back the attacks by themselves. But workers in one industry or even one workplace can dig in their heels. We can say, “NO.” And what one group of workers starts others can pick up.
Instead of being on the defensive, we can put the bosses on the defensive. We can force the bosses to meet the workers’ needs and priorities.
Certainly, workers have the power to take on the bosses. Workers produce everything, and make everything run. We produce the vast, ever expanding wealth.
In 2007, we can begin to make use of the power we have over production to force the bosses backward.