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

Plenty of Money, None for the Population

May 15, 2023

A small rural county in Alabama just agreed, after a lawsuit, to stop penalizing its residents for raw sewage. The problem is that the county itself, Lowndes, says it doesn’t have the money to pay for a water and sewage system. This has meant poorer residents had been paying fines, and suffering health problems, from sewage running out of pipes they put in.

But Alabama also is a state with car manufacturers Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota, not to mention other companies that make money from the defense industries and food processing. Whatever deals were made to bring in these corporations in recent years, they did not lead to prosperity in most of the state.

Lack of funds is the excuse in Alabama for not being able to afford decent schools and waste-water systems for all. So why does the state have the lowest property tax collections in the country? In 1920, property taxes provided 63% of state revenues. Today, thanks to legislators changing state law, the Alabama constitution prevents the counties from collecting property taxes, so that such taxes now make up only two percent of state revenues.

Alabama has also had a history of preventing black and white people from voting. Lowndes County, in the 1960s, only had one black voter in the entire county. That’s why the county was part of Dr. King’s Selma to Montgomery march in 1963.

Sixty years ago, Lowndes County black residents found a way to sign up black voters and get a new party on the ballot; today they found a way to sue the county for charging them for a sewage system that doesn’t exist.

There’s money in Alabama—but it will take organizing and fighting on the part of the majority of people in Alabama to gain the services their government is set up NOT to provide. And the same is true everywhere else.