Feb 9, 2009
The jobs report is going from disastrous to catastrophic. Almost four million jobs have been cut in the last year – according to official statistics, which hide more than they reveal.
The real figures are much more horrifying. Today, nearly 28 million people who want to work are either without a job or forced to work at severely reduced hours. That comes to one out of every six people in the work force, affecting a very large part of the population. Almost everyone in the working class has a relative or friend out of work. It truly is a catastrophe – a social catastrophe.
“The sweep of the losses, the extent of them and the speed are depressionlike, and by that I mean like the 1930s.” That is the opinion of the chief economist for Decision Economics, an economic forecasting firm.
Worried about its “bottom line,” every company cuts jobs and uses various schemes to cut wages. The capitalists – pushing to get more work out of fewer workers and to replace higher paid workers with lower paid ones – created this recession. Today, stepping up job cuts, they are turning their recession into a depression.
And government is making the situation worse. Almost every state in the country has instituted a hiring freeze – which is only another way to say they cut jobs. Eight states, including California and Maryland, imposed mandatory days off without pay. Others are threatening to do the same thing – as are a dozen or more big cities.
Who can buy a car or a house when they lose a job? Who will take a chance on buying – when their wages are cut today or when they know they can lose their job tomorrow? Car sales tumble, housing has crashed, big-ticket items gather dust in warehouses. And the vicious circle keeps turning.
And why? All so a small minority of the population can go on accumulating wealth.
In three years time, from 2005 to 2007, the 500 biggest companies in the country racked up a profit of 2.4 trillion dollars, just by themselves. 2.4 TRILLION! And they gave every bit of it away to their stockholders – every bit, plus an extra 200 billion they borrowed to put extra icing on top of the cake! Absurd. But that’s how capitalism runs.
In 2007, CEO’s of the 350 biggest companies on average made off with 12.3 million dollars each. Shameful!
And it’s worse, yet! The big Wall Street banks, most of which got tax money in the bailout, just gave away 18.4 billion dollars to their top executives.
What arrogance – they make off with tens of billions of dollars in our tax money, only to rapidly pay out 18.4 billion of it to their executives.
Those parasites caused the crisis – let them pay its cost. Let them put the wealth they stole back into society.
The politicians pretend the crisis is intractable, that there is no easy way to resolve it.
And that’s a lie!
Yes, private industry isn’t doing it, BUT government could put everyone who wants a job to work, at decent wages. There’s more than enough that needs to be done.
Companies won’t run full production, BUT government could forbid them to cut workers. Companies cut hours of work, BUT government could require them to keep paying every worker the same weekly wage as before.
If companies don’t co-operate, government could take the factories and offices out of the hands of their owners, put them to work in the interests of the whole society. Government could take over the banks, using them to organize production again.
Don’t tell us there is nothing that can be done. Face this truth: the Republicans and Democrats will never do it.
The will to change the way society runs, to make it serve the interests of everyone, has to come from the working class. Working people create all of society’s wealth. We have numbers, forces, strength. That gives the working class the possibility to pull ourselves and the rest of society out of this abyss.