Mar 31, 2014
Corporate profits continued their record-breaking streak. Stupendously high, profits now account for twice as much of the U.S. economy as they did in the 1990s – when profits were already very high. The Wall Street Journal calls it the long-running “profit-margin miracle.”
A “miracle”? Not at all! The capitalists just grabbed more for themselves. They increased the exploitation of the working class. They boosted worker productivity, driving fewer workers to produce more. They extended the time workers spend on the job, being forced to work overtime or second and third jobs. They cut wages and eliminated benefits. Meanwhile, tens of millions of unemployed and underemployed people scrape by on practically nothing.
Corporations gorged themselves on public spending. Government officials handed over vast amounts of money from the public treasury through subsidies, privatization and other giveaways. They cut corporate taxes, reducing the tax rate that corporations pay by 25% over just the last five years.
To pay for all these gifts to capital, government officials slashed programs and services that the working population depends on, including education and health care, as well as safety net programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps. And they hiked the taxes and fees that workers pay.
This is what produced such a flood of profits. The big corporations boosted CEO pay to the sky, enriched their biggest stockholders with higher dividends and stock buy-backs, and blew hundreds of billions of dollars buying and selling each other’s companies. And they were still left with a cash hoard of eight trillion dollars! Eight TRILLION – that’s equal to half the entire U.S. economy. Put another way, eight trillion dollars is equal to all the money the federal government spent in 2013, 2012 and three months of 2011, said tax expert David Cay Johnston.
This is what capitalist class policy boils down to: a never-ending drive to extort more sacrifices from the working population in order to increase profit.
The working class needs its own policy to defend its own interests.
The wealth these companies have accumulated should be used to assure that everyone’s needs are met, out of simple human decency.
If that money were used for the benefit of the population, millions of unemployed workers would be set to building and repairing what has been left by the capitalists and their political henchmen to rot and decay, such as the crumbling infrastructure and the stock of affordable housing. Millions more would be employed in public services, starting with decent education and healthcare for everyone.
But more than that is needed. No company making a profit would be allowed to add to the horrendous level of unemployment by laying off more workers. Bring back all the jobs those companies eliminated in their speed-up drive. The tens of millions that companies locked out of the workforce would be put to work.
Work would be divided up among everyone who wants to work – with no loss of weekly pay. If that means we all work only 25 or 30 hours, fine – but for a decent wage. No one should have to kill themselves trying to keep up either with inhuman speed-up, or inhumanly long hours.
No one is going to give us any of this: no politicians, judges or Labor Boards. And the capitalists certainly won’t willingly give it up. But we can fight for it. And given our vast numbers and the central role workers play in economic life, we can determine what happens.
The working class can determine the future. But the working class needs its own policy, a fighting policy.