May 14, 2012
We are now in the fifth year of grinding unemployment. The Republicans tell us that unemployment is devastating people under Barack Obama. They are right. But guess what: this unemployment devastated people under George W. Bush too. Both of them, Republican and Democrat alike, presided over big increases in unemployment.
They are both to blame: they both used their control over the government to support the corporate drive for profit.
It’s that drive for profit that produced the unemployment.
Some of the biggest companies in the country have been shifting their cash reserves into the money markets in order to make money off of money, that is, off of speculation. Instead of producing goods and services they have gone on a gambling spree. That drove up unemployment.
Some of the biggest banks invented crooked mortgage schemes, which eventually brought the whole economy to a crashing halt. That meant more unemployment.
Today, with the collapse of the financial markets, some companies are pushing out production again. But they are doing it with fewer workers.
And that means still more unemployment, pure and simple.
Every bit of speed-up means someone without a job. Every added little piece onto your job means someone else without a job.
No, unemployment is no accident. It is a product of the capitalist drive for profit, of all the assorted ways the bosses use to squeeze one more drop of profit from the workers’ sweat and blood.
Within the framework of capitalism there is no answer to unemployment. And there is no politician serving the capitalists – no Democrat or Republican – who will provide it. The workers themselves have to impose it.
There is, in fact, a simple remedy for unemployment: share out the work, with no loss in pay.
It wouldn’t be difficult to do – look how hard we work today. Every one of these jobs on an assembly line could be split in two or in three, and we would still be working too hard. Jobs answering phones in an insurance company or state offices or hospitals need to be split up – workers don’t have enough time to get people the answers they need. Look at the lines we stand in to get anything done – that’s because companies don’t hire enough people to do the work.
There’s more than enough work to provide a job for everyone who wants to work – at a decent wage for everyone. Why not? There’s more than enough money floating around this economy to provide a decent wage for everyone, more than enough to keep our wages going up, directly and immediately, whenever prices go up.
The main reason for the mortgage scam was an excess of money sitting in the accounts of the big banks – money they couldn’t find anything to do with. It’s still sitting there. Well, use that money productively. Put people to work, pay a decent wage.
Will the bosses want to do it? Of course not.
Will they even admit they have the money? Of course not.
But it is reasonable and necessary. And it could be done – it just has to be imposed on the bosses and their bankers, imposed by the collective activity of working people who decide no longer to pay the price for the bosses’ mess.
Maybe we are not yet to the point that workers are ready to carry out such a struggle. Maybe, in fact, such a prospect seems very far away. But things can change very quickly in a time like this. In any case, it’s necessary to have goals and aims in mind when we do begin to fight. It’s important that there be people who say to their fellow workers: every one of us should have a job; every one of us should have a decent wage.