The Spark

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

Editorial:
Unemployment is NOT a Natural Disaster

Apr 6, 2009

15.6% – that was the broad rate of unemployment in March, according to the U.S. Labor Department. That included 8.5% of the work force, who are recently unemployed, another 1.3%, made up of part of the long term unemployed, and 5.8%, who are partially unemployed, working part time, but needing full time.

The numbers boggle the mind. In the 16 months since the recession “officially” began, over 5.1 million jobs have been cut. Today, all told, 28.7 million people, one out of every six workers, cannot get the work they need. And even these figures hide a good part of the unemployed – all those who aren’t working, who want a job, but don’t meet some bureaucrat’s arbitrary definition of the unemployed.

The leaders of this society – political, business, media – pretend that since consumers aren’t buying, of course factories must reduce production, and if factories reduce production, of course there must be lay-offs and unemployment.

Why?

It’s not logical – or rather, that’s the logic of those who put profits before everything else, before human needs, before the requirements of the whole society.

Unemployment flows from the wretched logic of capitalism.

Today, that system is producing a disaster, a human disaster – one that will mark the future for years, with today’s children ripped from pillar to post, losing their education years because their parents have lost their jobs and then their homes, forced to move from city to city, doubling up with relatives, ending up finally in tent cities.

This is not like Katrina – a natural disaster which the system tried to blame for its own failings. This vast ocean of unemployment is the failing of the very system itself, a capitalist system that produces unemployment as one of its ways to reinforce profits.

Don’t look to that same capitalist system and its defenders for answers. The answers it has are of no use to working people.

It’s necessary today that every single job be preserved – even if production goes down. It’s necessary, in fact, that the work be divided up, that people be brought back to work, that income be maintained.

Not only is it necessary, it’s possible. IF all those profits – the ones still being made today, and the vast amount made in previous years – were tapped, the factories could be kept producing, the offices working, the services still be provided.

Working people have every reason to put our own demands forth, in the midst of this economic crisis that we did not create. Divide the work up among every one who needs a job, without cutting the wages that any of us are paid each week.

Yes, the capitalists respect force, not just demands. But when we fight, when we use our forces, we have to be sure to demand something more than just a few crumbs off of capital’s table.

We need income to survive and to survive decently, fully.