The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

A “Jobless Recovery” in the Midst of the Profit Machine

May 2, 2011

First-quarter profits rolled in, to loud hurrahs and overturned champagne bottles: GE, $3.4 billion for the first three months of 2011; Ford, $2.55 billion; Caterpillar $1.23 billion; Apple, $6 billion; Deutsche Bank, $1.4 billion; DuPont, $1.42 billion; PepsiCo, $1.41 billion. Don’t even talk about the oil companies, six of which racked up 38 billion dollars altogether.

“It’s a recovery,” trumpets the Wall Street Journal. “It’s a recovery,” repeat the politicians.

What a recovery! CEO bonuses increase; the stock market is up; speculative “investments” blow up new bubbles.

Almost everything expanded–everything but jobs.

We are mired in what the professional economists call a “jobless recovery.”

Even the official, heavily massaged jobless rate proves it. Nearly 16% of the labor force were either unemployed or underemployed in March: one out of every six people. Officially.

The real situation is more vicious. Intolerably high unemployment has lasted so long, the government no longer counts millions of the unemployed. It’s as though 11.3 million people just “disappeared”–gone, evaporated by the trick of a statistician’s formula.

And the real situation has not begun to “turn a corner”–despite what politicians pretend. Even the government admits that at the current rate of new job creation, it will take until 2019 just to get the economy back to the level of unemployment that existed before this last recession started.

How bizarre and vicious is this world in which capitalism traps working people.

Are there people without a job, people who want to work? Millions of them. And there is work that needs to be done, vast amounts of it.

Potholes eat up your car, bridges tumble on your head, trees fall down and cut off electric service for weeks at a time. Look at the work that could be carried out by the people who have no job today.

Schools in big cities and rural areas are in a disgraceful state, often hiding dangers to the children in an unrepaired stairway or electrical outlet. Fix them. Clean the windows, plant some flowers so the children have a pleasant place to spend their day.

Too many children are crammed into too few classrooms. Build more schools. Too many children depend on too few teachers. Train more teachers, hire more assistants, and put janitors back in the schools so they are clean. Provide each school a nurse, a librarian, a staffed science lab, a music room, an art studio, a well-supplied gym.

Services in cities and towns are deplorable. Resume them–pick up garbage frequently enough to stop the spread of disease; treat alleys for rodents and bugs; clean out the sewers so water doesn’t back up. Re-open libraries and recreation centers.

Repair the dams and levees so people don’t lose their homes and farms to flood waters.

No jobs? No work? What nonsense.

There could be jobs. All it requires is money.

And there is money–in the hands of all these companies and banks today bragging about their profits. There are vast sums in the private holdings of the banks, money they got from the government and stuffed away. Take back those trillions. Put them to use to create jobs, carry out the work that needs to be done.

Would the wealthy yell, scream how unfair? Yes, they would. So what, so do thieves when they’re caught.

The wealthy, rolling in profits from the workers’ labor they stole, are thieves.

Laboring people in cities, small towns and farms created the wealth of this country. They should decide what to do with it.