Oct 1, 2012
Even Business Week says it openly: “Whether it’s Barack Obama or Mitt Romney taking the presidential oath of office in January, [he will] oversee an economy that looks a lot like the one we have today: low growth, persistently high unemployment, and huge amounts of debt.” This was their conclusion: “Face It, 2013 is Gonna Be a Bummer.”
It was a puff piece, but its conclusion falls right in line with what most serious economic experts have been saying: there is no “engine” able and poised to revive the U.S. economy.
Of course not. For several decades now, the income going to most of the population has been cut, reducing the amount we have to spend, weighing down the whole economy.
Jobs have been cut by the millions, as companies pushed to get more work out of fewer workers, in the search for bigger profit.
Wages have been cut, directly and indirectly, as companies grabbed a bigger share of the value we produce by working.
But guess what – you can’t buy if you don’t have money! So the demand for goods and services drops.
Yes, for a period, credit card debt and mortgage refinancing covered up the problem. Just like sub-prime financing on cars and trucks today is creating a fake increase in sales – one that will blow right back on people who took out those sub-prime car loans, just as it did on those with sub-prime mortgages.
Cities, counties, school systems, states, the federal government all made the problem worse. They cut jobs; they cut spending on social programs that would have put money into people’s hands; they cut public services that could have created jobs.
So, of course, the economy isn’t going to right itself.
Yes, the two presidential candidates both promise to do something about the economy. Mitt Romney says, “Give me the job and I’ll turn things around.” Barack Obama, who said the same thing four years ago, now says he has “started” to turn things around, just wait.
In fact, the policies of both parties are nearly identical when it comes to the basic economics of the situation. They protect the interests of the banks, the big corporations and the wealthy who own them. That’s who got big tax breaks in a deal pushed through by Bush, and they got the same big tax breaks in a renewal pushed through by Obama. They got more of our tax money when social services, public services and public school education were cut.
Why wait on the elections? We have to prepare to face what comes next. After November, we will live through more of today’s grinding situation – if not worse.
The capitalists, the bankers, and their wealthy hangers-on are not waiting for the election. Defending themselves, they go on cutting jobs and wages in the search for profit.
Why should we wait? We need to defend ourselves. We need to prepare our fight. And we have to think now about the goals we should fight for.
First of all, jobs. The bosses say they can’t provide a job for everyone. Then let them reduce the hours everyone works, dividing up the jobs – BUT with no loss in pay for anyone. There’s money to pay for this – take it from the big companies’ profit accumulated over years from our labor.
What the bosses can’t provide in the way of jobs can be provided by government investment in public services. There’s more than enough money to pay for that. Just stop giving our tax money to the banks, the big companies and the wealthy.
We all need a decent wage, a wage that allows a family to live comfortably, a wage that keeps up with the increase in prices by being tied to the real increase in inflation.
Of course, no one’s going to give us those things just because we ask. But no one “gave” our great grandparents the 8-hour day. No one “gave” our grandparents Social Security. No one “gave” our parents jobs. Those who came before us imposed those things and more on an unwilling capitalist class, imposed them through their own struggles. Can we do less?