The Spark

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

Editorial:
Economy Better?

Sep 28, 2009

Tell It to the Unemployed!

In February, Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers calculated that unemployment could get no worse than 8.9% this year. Unemployment blew past that figure in May, and has been getting worse ever since.

And that’s not the worst of it. A good number of serious economists today foresee unemployment hitting 15% before it tops out – and even the most “optimistic” predict that unemployment is going to keep getting worse far into next year, if not into the year after that.

Yet Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, proclaimed, “the recession is very likely over.” And Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner bragged, “we have stepped back from the brink.”

How could we step back from the brink? We’d already fallen over the edge, and we’re stuck in a swamp of ever worsening unemployment. 14.5 million people out there looking for jobs today, and only 2.4 million job openings. And most of us who are still working are at risk of losing our jobs.

This capitalist economy is a disaster, with unemployment touching in one way or another every working family in the country.

Why?

This country has urgent, unmet needs – roads filled with potholes, bridges falling down, subway trains that crash, railroad tracks in such a bad state of disrepair that trains go slower than cars do. Many cities have a public transit system on the verge of collapse, with so few buses and trains that no one can depend on them to get to work. Water mains burst. Sewage backs up. Garbage litters city streets and country roads. Weeds poke through abandoned buildings. Almost every city is closing down recreation facilities and parks, or letting them go to weeds. School boards are stuffing more kids into fewer classrooms.

There is such a backlog of unmet needs that tens of millions of people could be put to work, and being put to work, take home a paycheck, use it to buy things, pay taxes, and generally contribute to the common good, making the economy hum.

There could be nothing more obvious. People need work. There is work that needs to be done.

All it requires is money and the will to use that money in ways beneficial to the population. But neither the capitalists nor their government have any intention of using the money they control for the common good.

The Treasury handed trillions of dollars over to the big banks. That money is now gushing through the circuits of speculation, forcing up the prices on stock markets around the world, on oil and other commodities. Money loaned by the Federal Reserve ends up fueling speculation in the international currency markets.

Money that could be put to useful purposes is not only going to waste, it’s being put to destructive purposes, into new rounds of speculation. And guess who’s speculating? The same few big banks, the big players who blew up the speculative bubbles of 2003-2007 – only to bring the whole economy crashing down with them.

Waiting on the bankers, or on their government, or on either of the two big parties, won’t get us out of the swamp.

The working class, employed and unemployed, has the forces to make these financial criminals step back. The working class has the power to put the productive forces of society in motion to meet the population’s needs. The point is to use those forces, to use that power ourselves, for ourselves.