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Wrong Again

by : Daveparts
Sunday November 16, 2008 - 16:13
2 comments

By David Glenn Cox

JPEG - 26.4 kb

“Here’s what the American people need to know: that the United States government is acting; we will continue to act to resolve this crisis and restore stability to our markets. We are a prosperous nation with immense resources and a wide range of tools at our disposal. We’re using these tools aggressively.” (George W. Bush)

Or, this won’t hurt, the check is in the mail and I won’t..., well, I think you get the idea. We are not a prosperous nation; we once were but we no longer are. We do have immense resources at our disposal but we are using those resources to save only those who are still prosperous.

“The decline in the housing market has left many Americans struggling to meet their mortgages and are concerned about losing their homes. My administration has launched two initiatives to help responsible borrowers keep their homes. One is called HOPE NOW, and it brings together homeowners and lenders and mortgage servicers, and others to find ways to prevent foreclosure.” (George W. Bush)

Under the Hope Now program, it is at the bank’s sole discretion to decide who stays and who goes. There is no mediation process; it is left entirely up to the lender in a Dickensian scenario of, “Please, sir, might I stay?” The program has been in place for more than a year and is handling 1,000 borrowers a month, and according to Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s office has resulted in only 42 mortgage restructurings. 42 out of over 100,000, only 42 of what the President calls “responsible borrowers." What are we to call the other 3.7 million foreclosures so far?

True enough, the general public bought into the steal-yourself-rich real estate bubble, and true enough Americans bought into the trickle down export your prosperity and import their poverty line, until now our automotive industry lies broken at death’s door. But it makes my blood boil as I hear these pundits and experts callously cast off an industry of three million American workers as if it were the corner drugstore. All of these pundits with six figure incomes and blue chip healthcare benefits and all with cushy retirement packages blame workers whose only crime is to seek the same.

The problem, as these pundits see it, is the high wages and retirement packages. Let GM go into bankruptcy they say, let the company escape these contracts. But my friends, they are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. The wages of American autoworkers are a vestige of what the American wage scale once was. The autoworker’s wages are not too high; it is the rest of American wages that are now too low.

In high school I had a friend whose brother got a job at GM’s Fisher body works and was a UAW member. It was a good job and he told me that he could probably get me on at any time because they had a high turnover. It was hard work and he was going to try and get on with Western Electric, same wages but cleaner work. My sister’s fiancé worked in the summertime with United States Steel, working in the rolling plant. He, too, was a union member but hoarded every penny for his college tuition; he didn’t like the hard, hot work of the steel mill. These were teenagers, holding jobs that many of us would kill for today and yet they were all looking for something better.

My cousin married a man whose father owned one of the largest independent used car lots in Chicago, but my aunt looked down on him because he wasn’t a college man. The milk and honey poured out on us; the ability to find high wage union employment drove non-union employers to offer competitive wages and benefits. Someone had to work at the car lots and furniture stores, and the huge manufacturing base meant a large demand for engineers and designers and scientists.

In the 1970’s American industry fled the closed shop states for the right to work states in the South. Their stay was brief. By the 1980’s they had begun to flee the country for Mexico in an endless search for the Holy Grail of lower wages. The $23.00 an hour American autoworker was replaced by the $6.00 an hour Mexican autoworker. Who, in turn, are now replaced by $5.00 a day Chinese laborers manufacturing subassemblies.

They call it free trade, but what is so free about it? Why do they call it free market capitalism if it is, in actual fact, nothing more than industrial feudalism? This arbitrage of labor to compete against the lowest-cost labor provider, regardless of the effect on the economy as a whole. The bargains and relationships hammered out during the last great depression have been subverted. Do we now need to argue these points again? Do those pundits think the road to a bright shining future for us is to be found in a permanent peasant class? Are the answers to be found in lower wages with no health care or retirement benefits?

The answers are clear and its not xenophobia to point out that the Chinese economy is growing at 10% a year and prosperity is on the rise for many Chinese workers. But lest we forget, a majority of them labor in sweatshops and Chinese miners work without basic safety equipment. And when the Chinese labor forum suggested allowing workers to form labor unions it was the American Manufacturing Association that protested directly to the Chinese government.

This is the twenty-first century, not the nineteenth; what is on trial here, despite our lame duck President’s protestations, is the future of capitalism. Poverty and unemployment have a corrosive effect on society. Those without hope for the future will seek to change the present. The American labor movement of the first part of the last century was fueled by poverty and let us not forget that in 1932 the communist party was the fastest growing political party in America. The civil rights movement was likewise fueled by poverty. The African American population lived in segregated poverty, surrounded by unbounded prosperity.

The failure to provide basic goods and services is credited with causing the fall of the Soviet bloc. Do American Capitalist economic planners think themselves exempt from the laws of the universe and human nature? So now, just as in 1932, the Democratic Party has been given full control of the government and God help them if they dither and squander what might well be a last chance. The answers this time are the same as they were before, a living wage, legitimate health care and a decent retirement, for without those things capitalism becomes no more than a failed experiment.

“Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

“Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

“Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on earth is to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man.” (Eugene C. Debs)

The incumbent President is, as always, wrong agian; the President elect has a clear path before him.

“Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

http://theservantsofpilate.com



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Wrong Again
Sunday November 23 - 19:06 - Posted by Dave Eriqat - 06bad7f99095dc1f...

It’s nice to see someone who gets it: destroying our manufacturing base in pursuit of the mythical “service economy” is really just a race to the bottom of the standard of living totem pole, but only for the peasants. Those at the top reap the windfall afforded by the lower wages.

Although China is enjoying a rising standard of living right now, if it gets too high, the manufacturers will move on to Africa. Between the 1960s and 1980s, American jobs moved to Japan. Then Japan became too expensive and its jobs and American jobs headed to China and other Asian countries. The next untapped wage frontier is Africa. After that ... America! By the time Africa becomes too expensive, America will be a third world country beset with a large pool of desperate potential workers, and a new wage arbitrage cycle can begin.

It sure must be nice to be one of the elite and in a position to move the destinies of entire continents like chess pieces.

Hopefully, peak oil will arrest all this globalization and exploitation and return the world to a simpler one of face to face interaction and appreciation for one another as people rather than cogs in the fascist machinery.

Dave
http://daveeriqat.wordpress.com/




Wrong Again
Wednesday November 26 - 16:00 - Posted by 5cb29f0cc81b9eee...

Capital’s continuing search and exploitation of cheaper labor is proof of the correctness of the labor theory of value. In the minds of many, the collapse of the monstrosity once known as the Soviet Union "demonstrated" that the labor theory of value was inherently incorrect. But, in fact, one had nothing to do with the other. Capitalists prove how correct it is every day.






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