Apr 12, 2010
The Dow Jones index of 30 stocks topped 11,000, its highest mark since the fall of 2008. And the pay of hedge fund managers came, in the words of the New York Times, “roaring back,” with seven of them making over a billion dollars in a single year. One “trader” actually made four billion dollars last year. Four billion, not four million. And what did they make their money on? They bought up stock in all the big banks the U.S. government bailed out. They even bought up bonds issued by AIG.
This new speculative surge was enough to send some politicians and media cheerleaders into a frenzy, predicting the imminent turn-around of the economy.
Did new unemployment claims jump up? Well, yes, but THAT they explained away by rainy weather – or was it snowy weather, or maybe hot weather – one of those excuses, anyway.
Manipulate statistics as the bosses’ flunkies do, but workers live in the real, every-day world. And in our every-day world, unemployment has not gotten better – only longer.
Did poverty get worse? Well, yes, but THAT they papered over by using thoroughly discredited measures of poverty, ones that the National Academy of Sciences had already poked holes through in 1995 – and even those discredited figures showed a worsening poverty. And in the real world about one fifth of people under 18 and one fifth of the elderly had incomes so low they were living in extreme poverty.
Are the worst-hit cities depopulating? Just like cities in an underdeveloped country hit by severe crisis? Well, yes, but the top dogs explain that away by blaming people for the rotten dishonest mortgage scams the banks ran.
The fact is, we are living in a society, increasingly divided into two groups – with the capitalists, that very tiny minority at the very top, owning more of the country’s total personal wealth than all the workers, all the family farmers, all the small shop keepers put together. That gap between Them and Us has always been there. But in recent decades it has gotten much bigger – bigger today than in 1929, when the greed of the capitalists to accumulate ever more wealth brought society crashing down then too.
A tiny minority is enriching itself by impoverishing the majority. The capitalists are savagely increasing the exploitation of the working class.
And the State apparatus that serves this wealthy minority helps them impoverish us. The State avoids doing the one thing necessary in a situation of growing impoverishment – to take part of the wealthy’s ill-gotten gains to reduce the impoverishment of the laboring majority. What can one man do with four billion dollars? If the State took three to use for the benefit of the population, he would still have one billion to squander.
But the State apparatus does the opposite – at every level. It cuts back on social programs. Cuts back on public services. Cuts back on education expenditures for the majority. By statistical sleights of hand, it has driven down the real value of Social Security checks.
The State apparatus adds to the growing inequality spawned by capitalism.
Today, the working class is beginning to move a little, at least to say NO in a few places. Tomorrow, when that resistance grows, it will get us nothing if workers fight ... only to end up leaving control of the economy still in the capitalists’ hands.
To take control of the economy may seem like a far-off goal today. But a movement of resistance can grow up quickly. It could move quickly to rip apart this old destructive system that traps us today. Challenge the whole system of exploitation. Expropriate the capitalists, remove their hands from the economy, reorganize economic life on the basis of collective ownership of all the means of production – all the factories and other workplaces.
The working class, when it draws up its forces, has the means to reorganize all of the economy to answer the needs of everyone. We may not be there yet. But we can set that as our goal today, so we can get there tomorrow.