Sep 13, 2010
During the past three months, state and local governments have laid off 102,000 more people than they hired. Even bigger cutbacks are threatened. But already some of the cutbacks taking place could not have even been imagined a few years ago.
Most school districts have laid off teachers, closed schools and increased class sizes. But in Hawaii, all the state’s students got furlough days. Public schools were closed on half of all Fridays during the past school year.
Most local transit systems have cut routes and hours of operation, despite steep fare increases. But in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, the entire public bus system has been shut down, stranding 8,400 daily riders.
Even firefighting and public safety have been put on the chopping block: In Colorado Springs, a third of all its 24,512 street lights have been turned off until further notice – at the same time its police force was cut.
Many cities have closed fire houses and laid off firefighters and medics. In Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, Sacramento and other cities, open fire stations are now being closed on a rolling basis. In San Diego, a two-year-old boy choked to death only 600 yards from a fire station whose paramedic had been sent to cover for a closed station.
Clearly the cutbacks have now reached a new level: Services and programs are not just being reduced, but in some cases, entirely eliminated.
Politicians and public officials claim there isn’t enough money because the economic crisis has reduced tax revenues. But this is crazy: The biggest banks and some of the biggest companies are reporting fat profits. They are rolling in money, as are the super-wealthy people who own them. But not only are they paying very little in taxes, all levels of government are handing over money to them in the form of ever more tax breaks and subsidies.
The politicians and government officials destroying public services to put money in the pockets of the wealthy aren’t going to stop on their own. They will stop only when an organized force stops them. Only when the working class calls them to account.