Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trump Buffoon Whipped. Clinton Proves her Capitalist Credentials.

--> by Sean O'Torain

Approximately 100 million people in the US and abroad watched the debate between the capitalist politicians Clinton and Trump who are running for President of the USA. Many points are being made about this as the commentators from the mass capitalist media blather on. Some of these points are of significance some are less so. But the main point, the point that has to be raised is this: How come 100 million people were watching a debate in which the only debaters were two candidates of the two main capitalist parties of the USA? 

Where on that stage was there a representative of the US working class?  Nowhere. This is the main point that has to be made about this debate. Neither the US working class, nor the international working class were represented in this debate. Their voice was not heard; their interests were not represented, they were censored out of this debate. This is a missed opportunity for the US and international working class, a setback to the US and international working class, to its consciousness and its ability to fight. This does not mean that all is over for the US and international working class. Far from it, things are only beginning. But what it does mean is that with its present leadership the US working class will not be able to fight and defend its interests. 

Let us look again at this debate and its approximate 100 million viewers. Let us ask ourselves a few questions. How come US capitalism could put on a debate where the massive US working class of over 300 million and the international working class had no representative, had nobody to speak for their interests? How come US capitalism could stage a debate where the 12 million US  workers organized in trade unions had no voice, had no candidate to represent its interests?

The reason for this is very clear and very simple. The organizations of the US working class representing 12 million workers, are led by pro-capitalist cowardly leaders who support the capitalist system and are terrified that a movement against capitalism could develop. These leaders are terrified of such a movement because such a development would seek to build a new militant mass movement and along with that, threaten the power and positions of the trade union leadership and the capitalist system they support and from which they get their perks. These leaders see no alternative to capitalism, do not believe the working class can build an alternative, think that any attempt to build such an alternative would lead only to chaos, so they prop up the existing system and suppress any movement in their own ranks or in the working class as a whole which seeks to build an alternative.

Look at what they could have done around this debate. They could have withdrawn their support from the capitalist party the Democrats. They could have mobilized their 12 million members either to enter into the Green Party and transform it into a workers party or they could have built a new workers party. And on this basis then go after and demand that the capitalist parties debate them, demand that they are represented wherever the future of the country is discussed. If the mass capitalist media or the capitalist class tried to shut them out of debates then the organized trade union movement which controls electricity, communications and so on could have pulled the plug on the entire process. It is not complicated.  If the working class does not get speaking nobody gets speaking.    

On the more specifics of the debate. This Blog does not support, nor will ever support, either of these two capitalist parties or candidates. However this does not mean that there are no differences between the two candidates. Hillary Clinton will lead a vicious attack on the US working class and the working class internationally. She will lead a vicious attack on the US working class so the US government on behalf of the US corporations can cut living standards at home so they can continue to fund military spending to defend the corporations interests abroad and at home. Clinton is a measured, conscious, very experienced representative of the US capitalist class. The dominant sector of the US capitalist class want Clinton as their president. They will be happy with the outcome of the debate.

There will be another section of US society that will be happy with the outcome of the debate but for very different reasons. This is the tens of millions of women who have suffered discrimination and special oppression at the hands of misogynistic bullies such as Trump. After all what decent person would not be pleased to see a liar and thug and somebody who calls women "dogs" "sluts" "fat" "ugly" get their comeuppance. But this is more complicated than it may appear. 

Capitalist politicians represent capitalist interests. Part of these interests is to keep women workers at a lower income level than men workers. See the explosive growth of women workers now in the countries of South East Asia, China, and Latin America where they are kept in sweat shop conditions and paid a few cents a day. Clinton if elected and this is likely will represent the corporations and the capitalist system which keeps these women in extreme poverty. And not only that Clinton if elected will represent the militaristic policies of the US corporations, its wars and invasions abroad. After all the fact that Thatcher was a woman, that former secretary of state Albright was a woman, the fact that Merkel is a woman, the fact that Clinton herself is a woman  did not stop these capitalist politicians from promoting war and poverty and oppression.

Millions of women died in the wars and in the poverty induced systems of capitalism over which these women presided. No more than the fact that Obama is an African American has prevented him from representing the interests of the US corporations and sending off the drones, deporting more undocumented people than ever before, will the fact that Clinton is a woman mean that she will represent the interests of women. It is first and foremost a class question.

Trump is an ignorant buffoon member of the US capitalist class. The dominant sections of the US capitalist class do not want him. Not a single Chief Executive Officer of the top 100 corporations in the US gave him money. They are afraid of him, his ignorance, his lack of any understanding of world politics and how the world works, the world balance of forces, his insane loutish ambition, they are afraid he will end up leading US capitalism at home and abroad into explosive ventures. Only a fringe crude stupid section of US capitalism supports Trump.

We the authors of this Blog hold firm. We give no support to any capitalist candidate or party, neither Clinton or Trump, neither the Democrats or the Republicans.The task is to build a mass workers party. The trade union leaders if they were not so cowed by capitalism could do this. In the future, movements will come out of the working class that will do this. In the meantime the authors of this Blog support Jill Stein and the Green Party. We support its new eco socialist plank in its platform. And we call on the Green Party leadership to stop shying away from fighting for this plank. We also seek to convince the Green Party to build itself as a workers party, to stop vacillating between liberal groupings and individuals and de classed middle class environmentalists. We seek to convince the Green Party to  put down roots in the rank and file of the trade unions, the workplaces, the communities and schools and colleges and build itself as a workers party. And we seek to organize in a non sectarian manner, a left current within the Green Party to fight for these policies. In this way a stronger nucleus, a stronger Green Party, can be built which can help the movement for a mass workers party in the future. 

Finally a note of levity and to show just how pathetic and childish the Trump buffoon is. After the debate he complained about the movie actress and comedienne Rosie O'Donnell. It was around ten years ago she was after him ridiculing him and his hair style and looks. After the debate he brought this up as "unfair." This is the man who wants to be President of the most powerful military force in the world!!!!! He has obviously been obsessed by and on the run from the wee Rosie O'Donnell and what she said about him ten years ago. Her retort to his post debate attack was to call him an "Orange Anus". If only the trade union leaders had an ounce of her cheek.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Workers can govern society. We have to if we want a future.

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I think one thing that is the hardest for many working class people to grasp is that the economic system in which we live, capitalism, is the only way that production and human society can be organized. We are also taught, mainly through the absence of the real historical record, that we are born to be governed. That only a certain class of people, the wealthy, the formally educated, the sons and daughters of these people can govern society and that they will do so for all time.

But history is the exact opposite. The only thing constant is change as the saying goes.  So rather than write some of these thoughts I hope I make some sense of them in this short video above. I have to admit selfish motives for these ventures, they help me think about the world and are a bit of a catharsis, a way of releasing some of the anger that I feel about the human condition and the damage capitalism is doing to the planet.

I tried to sit through the whole first debate between these two rotten characters and just couldn't make it to the end. We have an intelligent conscious and absolutely ruthless bourgeois and a representative of their lunatic fringe. Neither of them have done a days work in their lives.  I'd rather read about it in the papers than look at them.

As  I say in the intro above, please send us any questions or comments you might have. Either as a comment on this post or by e mail, one we can respond to in another posting.

Navy sailor joins Kaepernick

Facts For Working People  commends this sailor for her courage and speaking the truth.

My fellow Americans,
I have been proudly serving in the US Navy Reserve Force since November 2008. I have pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to spread freedom and democracy around the world. I will never waver from that pledge. On September 19,2016, while in uniform, I made the conscious decision to not stand for the Star Spangled Banner because I feel like a hypocrite, singing about "land of the free" when, I know that only applies to some Americans. I will gladly stand again, when ALL AMERICANS are afforded the same freedom. The Navy has decided to punish me for defending the Constitution and has taken away my equipment I need to do my Naval job. It was my pleasure serving my country, I love it dearly, that is why I must do this for you. I will keep you all posted on what happens next!  Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Janaye Ervin

The situation is such in the US that what Kaepernick started is beginning to worry the ruling class a little, it is spreading.  There is so much discontent in US society as the rich continue to amass fortunes as workers and the middle class are being driven to third world conditions. Student are working full time jobs while trying to make it through college. Student debt stands at around $1.2 trillion and is being passed on to parents. There are almost daily mass killings as the pressure builds up.  The austerity will continue as the US is forced to pay for its corporate wars by cutting living standards art home even deeper.

More white Americans are also joining the protests against police murders and the general beefing up of the security apparatus.  What was very worrisome for the 1% last week was that a curfew that was called in the wake of the Charlotte protests was simply ignored. Not a good sign for the ruling class.

During the Vietnam War, it was the degeneration in the military that played a role in the eventual defeat of US imperialism by the Vietnamese. Officers were assaulted and there were many publications opposing the war published among the troops. It's hard to stick out a war, to kill others and to risk one's own life when there appears to be no threat to ones way of life and you're stuck in a jungle 12,00 miles from home.

An Alternative to Trident: Peace ships from Barrow

Peace ships from Barrow
Note: Barrow is the town in the north west of England (Cumbria) where British nuclear submarines are built. This article is a contribution to the debate in the Labour Party about whether or not a Labour government should spend money to renew British nuclear submarines, now reaching the end of their useful life.

My name is Peter Doyle. I was a NUPE/ UNISON trade union organiser in the North East of England and Cumbria from 1977 until 2005.

I worked in Cumbria and Barrow from 1987 until 2005. I actively supported strike action on a number of occasions in the Barrow ship-yard and knew at the time a number of ship-yard workers and shop stewards. I was personally devastated when the Labour Party lost Barrow to the Tories in 1983, over the issue of Trident. Albert Booth, Labour MP, was a good comrade, who voted against Trident and as a result, his 8000 majority was turned into a 4500 Tory majority (on a reduced turn out). We now have a Labour MP again and it would be terrible if Labour were to lose Barrow again because of Trident.

On the whole of the West Coast of Cumbria, we have right wing Labour MPs: extremely vocal (possibly even leading the charge) against Jeremy Corbyn and the new emerging left wing movement. We have to come up with a robust socialist alternative to Trident: keeping 7500 ship builders doing what they do best- building ships.

The workforce in Barrow do not choose to build nuclear submarines that have the potential of raining death down upon millions. They choose to work. They are a highly-skilled work force, who in the past have built war ships, aircraft carriers, luxury liners, container ships and cargo ships. You name it, they can build it.

We have to offer a real and genuine alternative to Trident: an alternative which offers pride in the job, and a belief in the future. A genuine alternative to Trident could also represent a major sea change in Britain’s foreign policy. Instead of sending aircraft to bomb anything that moves; selling arms to both sides of every conflict, and at the same time declaring that we want peace, we could be the first nation in the world to proactively and explicitly bring peace to those areas that are experiencing war and natural catastrophe. We could do this through a fleet of ships that support peace and give aid in a massive way, to every war zone and every area suffering from natural catastrophe.

Prior to working in NUPE/UNISON, I worked in Swan Hunter ship builders, at the Neptune Yard, in Walker, Newcastle. The very first ship that I worked on was a Royal Navy Supply Ship. It had already been built and was being fitted out at dockside.

To say that I was impressed is an understatement. It had huge cargo capacity. It had workshops, capacity for helicopters and engineering shops etc. That image, as well as knowledge of that ship, has stayed with me for years. Because of the technical detail of this ship, it took more ship wrights, platers, draftsman, electricians, ships’ joiners, etc to plan and build, than any other ship. I saw the possibility then for an alternative to war ships in particular and also believe there is an alternative now, which provide a viable alternative to nuclear submarines.

A fleet of Peace Ships – 6 to 8 in total – could and would be regarded as a first responder in the event of natural catastrophe, and in war zones; providing help and assistance. These Peace Ships would have the ability to carry mobile hospitals and displaced persons camps. They would have on board medical laboratories with trained scientists, doctors and surgeons, nurses –  every form of medical and humanitarian assistance that could be needed.  What impact could this fleet have had in the Ebola outbreak in Africa or the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti?

Earthquake devastates Haiti

What was needed in Haiti, was urgent medical assistance: hospitals, doctors and more than that, fresh water and food. These ships would have desalination plants, food, and medical expertise and supplies and would have been an effective and rapid response to this crisis. Instead, it is still today paying the price of an ineffective response from the UN and interested parties.

In the Ebola outbreak, the Cubans got their medical teams there first, but in most of the areas there was no power, no refrigeration, no hospitals, no clean water, no untainted food. All of these barriers would disappear with this proposal, because all of the requirements would be on board.

The refugee camps in Jordan, would immediately cease being a burden to the Jordanian government. Prefabricated hospitals would be built; schools would be built; roads would be laid; electricity would be supplied via large diesel engines carried in ship’s holds and solar panels transported in the holds. A safe refuge, where families can be cared for, where children can access education would massively reduce pressures internally within Europe. Instead of talking about something, we would actually be doing something.

This fleet could be used by the UN, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and would be the first point of call by everyone who wants to bring aid, assistance and peace in the world.

Because of the technical nature of these ships and the size of these ships, the workforce at Barrow would have to be increased, and a programme of building would last for at least 20 years.

Maintenance, modernisation and repair would last at least another 20 years, giving the workforce a longer period of job security than they have with Trident.

The steel that would need to be procured and would be significantly greater than that required for Trident. Now unfortunately as we are out of the EU, all of that steel could be procured from within GB without having to put it out to EU competition (Stephen Kinnock eat your heart out!).

All of the material required in such ships could be fabricated and built in Britain. For example, the diesel power plants that would be needed for desalination plants and to provide electricity, could be built at the Ford Engine’s plant in Dagenham, Essex. In the process, saving steel-workers jobs (hopefully nationalised) and a boost to the British motor car industry. Helicopters, small cargo delivery ships, all would have to be built, still at a fraction of the cost of Trident.

A decision along these lines would massively assist Unite in convincing its members to vote in favour of abolishing Trident. A 40 year job guarantee would undermine right wing unions like the GMB, and would enable us as a country to proudly to declare that we are not just for peace, but we deliver peace, aid and sanctuary.

The impact of such a fleet would transform foreign relationships. Barrow would end up with a full order book, for Ships of Peace, from other nation, such as Norway and Sweden etc.

We would deal a blow to the right wing of our party; confronted with a massively credible and binary foreign policy option. Do they vote for bombs or peace?

More importantly, what would the average working Joe in Barrow think of it? Work guaranteed; something to be extremely proud of; the possibility of their children being employed as part of the civilian staff on ships saving lives.

What would the people of the West Coast of Cumbria make of it? Instead of being a dumping ground for nuclear power, their workshops in towns like Whitehaven and Workington (i.e. Copeland and Allerdale), could feel pride in working on something that’s saving lives and not potentially killing them.

The youth of the country would flock to the Party if such a policy was pursued.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Keith Lamont Scott and Dylann Roof. Notice the difference.

This is how the Charlotte police dealt with  Keith Lamont Scott, a black man. What we know so far is he never threatened the police, never shot a cop, never shot anyone. You can hear what he wife is saying on the video. She shot it.

This is how the police arrested Dylann Roof. Roof, a white supremacist entered a black church in Charleston SC during a prayer service and was welcomed by the people inside. He assassinated nine African Americans. He was arrested the next day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trumka and building trades leaders join bosses, support Dakota Pipeline

An all out victory here will be a win for all workers.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444,retired

In an article on its website, the liberal leaning Common Dreams has published a letter sent by Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions to the presidents of all the AFL-CIO.  The letter condemns those unions that support the Standing Rock Sioux in their struggle to defend their sacred lands our environment. The article reads:

In the letter, McGarvey questions top leadership for not taking a firmer position in defense of the union members working on Dakota Access and calls out other AFL-CIO member unions—specifically the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the National Nurses United (NNU), the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)—for aligning with "environmental extremists" opposed to the pipeline and participating in a "misinformation campaign" alongside "professional agitators" and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

The letter condemns the other unions and the AFL-CIO for not defending the 4500 workers who will lose their jobs if the project is halted. This horror that stopping the pipeline represents for the heads of the building trades is not unlike the horror it represents to the capitalists and investors who hope to profit from it: “Should the administration ultimately stop this construction, it would set a horrific precedent,” I quoted one leader of a pro-pipeline coalition as saying in an earlier commentary.

It's not just that the stifling bureaucracy that heads organized labor doesn't care about climate change, they don't care about their own members or workers in general. The trade unions to these leaders, especially those in the building trades, are employment agencies with them as the CEO's. They are protecting a smaller and smaller dues base that will keep them in their positions and preserve the relationships they have built with the bosses and the corporations based on labor peace.

They are junior partners alongside the developers, energy companies and other huge industries in making capitalism work, keeping profits sacrosanct and flowing in to the coffers of the rich.  It is not simply a matter of disrespecting sacred or sovereignty of Native Americans whose culture was almost wiped out as capitalism spread across this continent in the wake of a racist genocidal war. The only thing sacred for the ruling class in this country is profits. The only reason that capitalists hire workers is they have to as profit comes from the unpaid labor of the working class. It is created though the labor process as workers are paid less in wages than the value the use of their labor power creates.

Part of the reason entire areas of the country are poisoned or depopulated or that our cities are crumbling and infrastructure in decay is the capitulation of the trade union leadership at the highest levels to market forces and the rule of capital.

They worship capitalism, they see no alternative to it and what the Standing Rock Tribes and their allies are doing is threatening their world. To do this can only lead to chaos.  As the employers always do in strikes, the union leader in his letter, claims the problem is misinformation, the allies are professional agitators and people, including the Sioux themselves it would seem, that care about the natural world and the horrific damage capitalism is doing to it, are “extremists”.

Yes, many of the top union officials have gotten rich and receive obscene salaries as they push concessionary contracts on their own members. But what can they do? What will anyone do that does not see an alternative to the market and capitalism, they try to patch it up and/or watch the ship go down as they feather their own nests. They ignore the devastation, and human suffering.

While the building trades are among the worst due to the nature of the industry, they are not alone; they don’t shoulder all the blame. I don’t know the details but it is obviously an important development that other unions, notably unions that represent a considerable number of public sector workers or are service oriented, are supporting the Sioux for all the right reasons, their land rights, the protection of the environment etc.

But the entire union hierarchy is guilty.  They all support the Team Concept. They all surrender rights to capital that must be denied it if we are to survive as a species.  There should have been an internal war within organized labor a long time ago, instead, any movement from below that threatened the concessionary policies of the leadership is met with suppression. The CNA, one of the better and more “progressive” unions came in to the AFL-CIO some time ago but as is always the case when unions amalgamate and join forces, leave or join the national body, these decisions are made between leaderships. There is no protracted debate and discussion among the members; it’s a top down process.  This is true of all of them.

It is tantamount to sacrilege to criticize another leadership and a mortal sin appealing to their members.

The workers immediately affected by the halting of the pipeline should be told that they will lose no wages, that they will be employed in socially constructive employment. It’s not that they don’t care, they don’t want to lose their jobs, hurt their families, not be able to keep a roof over their heads or pay the college tuition that has sky rocketed under Democratic and Republican administrations alike.  The liberals will no doubt whine on about white privilege as most of them are likely to be higher paid white workers but this is an economic issue in the main.

I recall talking to a young middle class student many years ago after she came back from a protest at a nuclear plant in Southern Cal. I think it was called Rancho Seco. She said that the “hard hats” came out and opposed them, called them names. “See,…..” she said to me with some confidence, “,,,,these union workers don’t care about the environment.”
“They care about their jobs” I replied. “They care about their daughter’s tuition fees, they have a mortgage or rent to pay.”

The issue is if you’re going to call for shutting down someone’s source of income you’d better have an alternative.  The problem is even those unions supporting the protests and opposed to the pipeline do not have an alternative. It’s the same as opposing deforestation or certain types of mining or the defense industry. The workers movement and if we had one, a workers party must put forward an alternative to the solutions that are not limited to the confines of the market or objected to by capitalist parties and politicians. How we produce in society cannot be left to market forces.

The energy industry must be taken in to public ownership under the democratic control and management of the workers in that industry and the consumers and those sections of society that are most affected by these decisions.  The only solution is to do this with all the dominant sectors of the economy including the finance industry.

By taking capital out of the hands of the clique that posses it, how we allocate it can be a truly democratic process. It would allow a massive infusion of public capital in to social infrastructure, schools, services, transportation etc. We can place human and the environment’s needs first. These are inseparable. It is not the voice of the average worker behind that building trades leader’s letter. It is the voice of the investors, speculators and banks that control the economic and political life of society and indeed the world.

AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, the former miners’ (UMWA) leader who helped undermine the Pittston Strike in 1989-90, says the pipeline should be supported because it was "providing over 4,500 high-quality, family supporting jobs". We have seen union membership decline drastically over the last period, something that was accelerated by the smashing of PATCO in 1980, the attacks that followed and the refusal of the heads of organized labor to do a damn thing about it. Workers have had wages cut in half, benefits slashed, pensions eliminated or cut, been forced to relocate halfway across the country, and Trumka and the building trades leaders are crying crocodile tears for 4500 jobs. Let’s be realistic here, it’s revenue, 4500 times so much a month union dues in the immediate and the danger of a movement developing through a victory.

The union leaders that are supporting the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies need to address genuine fears of the workers who will lose wages but they can’t. They will support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in this election and no solution, no massive public spending project will come to fruition. Clinton, like Sanders would have, will continue the disastrous foreign policy that is generating hatred for Americans abroad and poverty at home. She is an aggressive defender of capitalism and we will pay for that. *

Here is the Common Dreams article.

* The first sentence of the last paragraph previously read as: "The union leaders that are supporting the pipeline need to address genuine fears of the workers who will lose wages but they can’t."

This was an error. It has been corrected.

Don't let the AFL-CIO tops hide. They are to Blame for Trump/Cinton

If the reader doesn't think that this arrogant bourgeois' comments have contributed to anti-American feeling and the growth of terrorist groups you're not being honest with yourself. Quaddifi's government took far better care of its citizens than Democrats or Republicans do of theirs.

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retried

I came under mild rebuke for a blog entry back in June where I called for the defense of Hillary Clinton. In it I wrote:

“We should be as loud in reminding people that Hillary Clinton faces this special assault, this added barrier she has to deal with in life. We must make it clear to the misogynists that we are not with them, that we do not support gender discrimination----even among the billionaires.”

Socialists must stand against sexism and racism at all times. We must defend black cops who face racism at work. We defend business owners who are discriminated against in applying for government or municipal contracts. We oppose discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, etc. But we also understand that racism and sexism is an integral part of capitalism, woven in to the fabric of the system. These prejudices are institutionalized.

There are legitimate reasons to oppose Hillary Clinton. She’s the candidate of our enemies on Wall Street, and all the folks that meet at Jackson Hole Wyoming and Davos Switzerland. Her an her husband Bill earn millions of dollars for speaking engagements around the world in places like Dubai, a backward family run empire in the Middle East.

At Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing for secretary of state, she promised she would take “extraordinary steps…to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.” WSJ 12-31-15. This is insulting to say the least. Goldman Sachs does not fork over millions of dollars to a politician for nothing.

Clinton is a war criminal. She called for the murder of Quaddafi and gloated over it.  Does she think this improved the image of America in the mind of a billion Muslims, most Arabs and others in the former colonial possessions of western imperialism?
She supported the absolute monarchy in Bahrain that runs a state like a family business and attacked peaceful protesters demanding reform, even imprisoning doctors that treated the iinjured.

As Secretary of State she aggressively pushed her staff to act as adjuncts of the US business community, their true function. Business Week wrote: “Science officers now extoll American clean-tech companies. Military affairs officers promote US fighter planes”, and so on.  Clinton has former Lehman Brothers banker Heidi Crebo-Rediker pushing her agenda and has ordered “promotions for embassy economic officers who act as State’s liaisons to business..”.

Clinton referred to the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as “like family”. Both her and Obama clung to Mubarak, a staunch ally of US imperialism, until the opposition became so powerful they had to let him go. He was a notorious torturer.

While we defend all women against sexual discrimination, we have to recognize that Hillary Clinton is a violent and brutal representative of US capitalism. Like Thatcher, she is a staunch defender of her class.

The liberal British Guardian has an opinion piece on its US website today extolling the virtues of Hilary Clinton. It is an attempt to bolster her support in the face of recent polls that shows her and the racist Trump in a close race. It is an attempt to overcome the reality that so many Americans see, that both candidates have little to offer. These conclusion are drawn after years, decades of the same politics, the lies, the deceit, the call to vote for one candidate because the other is worse.  The opinion piece states:

“Clinton wants to tax rich people more than poor people, which is a sentence that no one should have to type ever again.”

OK. I don’t know how many times we’ve heard that one.  Donald Barlett and James Steele point out in their excellent book, America: Who Really Pays the Taxes, there are two tax codes, one for the rich and one for the rest of us. And the rich will benefit not only from lower rates as a swap for eliminating tax breaks, but will still have their politicians leave plenty of loopholes for them. We should remember; the big capitalists have two parties, workers have not one. Their legislators write the tax laws and they will write them to defend their interests-----always. Hillary’s statements onthis subject are hot air and workers know it. I wrote about this previously.

“Clinton believes in guaranteed paid family leave, because fathers are parents too, and mothers shouldn’t have to choose between career stagnation and going back to work while their episiotomy stitches are still oozing.”

How nice of her. She was part of an administration that threw working class women off of welfare in to low paid work. When I ran for Oakland City Council I used to say to a woman who was on welfare that it would be child neglect if she got off welfare for a low waged job. Her child had better health care with her mother on welfare.

There is not a mention in the Guardian article about workers or wages and benefits. So Clinton is pro-choice. Well as they drive wages down further that is a good thing I admit as no working woman will be able to afford a child and terminations may well increase.  Anyway, not every woman that opposes, or has difficulty with abortion is a right wing reactionary; this is a complicated. The issue of the right to abortion on demand cannot be separated from the right of a woman to have a child without being forced in to deeper poverty or having to give up a career if she has one and gets pregnant. On site childcare, higher wages, a closing of the gender gap and a free national health system must not be disconnected from abortion rights.  The term is reproductive rights, the right (of a woman) to choose to reproduce or not reproduce.

Whether its Hilary Clinton, Obama, his buddy Rahm Emanuel the former IDF soldier now Mayor of Chicago, and Arne Duncan who are all in cahoots with Bill Gates, the Walton family and Eli Broad in dismantling public education, the results will be the same.  We will see further attacks on the living standard of the US working class and women will not fair well under a Clinton regime. I am not saying there are absolutely no differences, but the downward trend will continue.

Clinton will aggressively pursue the disastrous US foreign policy that has cost the US taxpayer trillions of dollars, cost its victim millions of lives, ourselves thousands more and destabilized the global community. It is US foreign policy that has driven millions of refugees north in to Europe.US capitalism’s meddling in the South China Sea, Central Asian countries and the borders of Russia (yes my geographically challenged American  brothers and sisters, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Syria, are all close to Russia and the South China Sea, is, you guessed it, next to China). It is most likely Clinton will also continue the US support for fascists in the Ukraine and the despotic monarchies of the Middle East.

I am a member of the Green Party and will vote for Jill Stein in November.  The Green Party will be blamed if Clinton loses the election even though she now has the support of the Neocon George Bush the elder. Do you honestly think Bush would be supporting a candidate that was about to open a new and prosperous future for workers? That is about to increase the taxes the ruling class pays? The Greens and Stein will be blamed if she wins by a small margin.  The assault if she loses though will be ferocious.

But as we pointed out in an earlier commentary about this, the real blame lies elsewhere, with a force that hides in the shadows. A force that has at its disposal a huge social infrastructure of property, buildings, meeting places.  A social force that has hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of active members and 12 million more, mostly inactive by design.  These members work in vital industries, communication, energy, transportation, shipping, aircraft manufacturing etc. The US economy would come to a halt if they stopped working.

I am talking about the stifling bureaucracy that sits atop organized labor; the heads of the major national unions that form the leadership of the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win Coalition. They are wedded to the Democratic Party, representatives of the ideology of the capitalist class inside the worker’s organizations.

Every election time the trade union leadership directs the resources in their hands at the Democratic Party. They make the same old lesser of two evil argument. 

Hillary’s about the only person we’ve got who’s viable,” says one local trade union activist.

Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT(teachers) took a similar line earlier this year, “For us, an endorsement process is based on lots of different issues and lots of different variables,”  and that the AFT “has a long relationship with Hillary because of her long-standing support for working families.” It’s staggering the term “long standing support for working families” can be applied to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Have we not lost ground over the years? Have not the autoworkers, once the benchmark for an entry to the middle class in the US had their wages cut in half? Was this a bad dream I had?

So I want to reiterate. The labor leadership hides from public view. They can always blame the Democrats or “corrupt” politics in general as things deteriorate. They also blame the members whose dues money is the source of their often, obscene salaries. “They won’t come to a meeting”. Why should they? There is no incentive. They’ll hear the same things form their leaders as the do from the boss, concessions are unavoidable, we can’t win.

I was at an Amalgamated Transit Union rally some time ago and a member of a so-called revolutionary left group was handing out a flier about the cuts and what they should be getting etc. There was no mention at all in the flier of the trade union leadership. It’s as if they didn’t exist. I raised this and asked if his group was helping his comrade in the union build an opposition fighting caucus as an alternative to the present leadership. He accused me of having a “principle of attacking the union leadership” and said that they were not involved in building any caucus as “we are building a revolutionary organization.”.  I explained I don’t have a principle of attacking them, but I do have a principle of not ignoring their role altogether.

This is just an excuse for doing nothing and avoiding a struggle with the present leadership for the consciousness of their members and the working class as a whole. This is part of the struggle to change society.

I took another rank and file worker to a California State Labor Federation Convention in the early nineties. It was his first one. He was a bit disillusioned, all these paid officials all looking and acting more like lawyers than workers’ leaders. They actually see themselves as labor brokers as opposed to workers’ leaders but that’s another issue.

Then I pointed out to him other people that were there some of the main speakers, people the officials were all fawning over. There was the governor, the lieutenant governor, mayors of the big urban centers and other Democratic Party politicians.  It was the same at the Afscme International Convention and the conventions of all the major unions. Are we to think that the candidate for president or the actual president of the United States attends a meeting of this nature because there is no power here?

The most powerful single politician in the world is there to ensure that the potential power of the members of this organizations lies dormant, does not upset the status quo and that the union leadership, their agents inside, has things under control.

To ignore this is to abandoned the struggle for the consciousness of the membership and the working class as a whole because a transformation inside organized labor will have crucial positive effects within the millions of unorganized, The unions would become a pole of attraction.  This is what the union hierarchy fears most.

As we pointed out earlier, the Green Party must point this out. Our candidates must point the finger at the heads of organized labor. Be sure to separate the members from the leadership as some who want to avoid a conflict with the leadership over ideas do, they use the term “the union” which doesn’t make the distinction. Leadership has responsibilities and its actions consequences.

There is no valid excuse for reusing to do this. It would be like a group of people being stranded in the desert and only one of them possessing water, a barrel of it, but refusing to share it. That person would not be ignored. There would be a campaign against them and they would lose their control of the barrel, their resources would be taken from them by the collective power of the group.

The labor leadership has resources and they have alternatives; they could use these resources differently. They consciously choose not to. It is a disservice to the working class to not address this, to not point it out. Opposition leaders that refuse to challenge the present leadership cannot expect the members to fight when they won’t.

Those of us in the Green party must point to this potential force for change whose leaders, as one writer puts it, are the dog that doesn’t bark. Jill Stein must do it as the trade union leadership will be blaming her and us as Greens for their failures politically, and union members must do it as they build fighting caucuses in the workplaces and union halls to turn the tide and lead an offensive against the austerity agenda of the 1% and their Democratic and Republican parties.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Afscme/EBMUD workers. Unite the two locals, fight the Team Concept

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I wanted to address my former co-workers here but of course the general points I raise apply to any of us who work for a wage, union or non-union.  I will apologize again for the video, I am not great at this nor used to speaking in to a camera. Still, I think the situation is such that we cannot continue to avoid conflict forever.  Not just the conflict that we are forced in to with the employers, but the internal struggle that has to take place within the union. Workers have lost a lot of our history here in the US. We are not accustomed to the struggles and great social movements that have taken place in our history. 

I remember a vote that was taken in negotiations once and I was in a minority. I have been in similar situations on the executive board. Once the vote was taken I was told we have to go to the membership united as a leadership. I opposed this view. Just because a person's position is a minority position does not mean that the winning position is unchallenged when it comes to the membership of an organization.

This is undemocratic and a bit of a trick. It is undemocratic because it denies the membership the right to hear both sides, or three sides if they exist. It is a trick as well because what it is really saying is that the majority's position is all the membership hears and the minority has to give up theirs.

The membership get to hear both sides and the chips fall where they may. Then the majority decision carries the day. The minority still has a right to campaign for its position but the majority position is the position of the organization. Objective developments will determine which is the right one.

Members cannot just complain about the union they have to become involved in it. And those who have different positions than the leadership are obliged to express them and make sure the membership are aware of them. Otherwise you can't blame them for not being active. Anyway, I hope what I have to say here makes the young workers think a bit about the future.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Who are the real criminals?


by Luke Pickrell

I do not care what the police chief has to say, or who the officer was. In the end it doesn't matter. I care about the anger that will turn to determination, the fear that will turn to urgency, and the people who will turn emotions into revolutionary energy. The state executed another person today. It wasn’t done by pumping phenobarbital through his veins; or by launching a Hellfire missile; or by funding a proxy militia force; or by torture; or starvation, or exhaustion, or hunger. First came the speeding cars - sirens blaring. Then the helicopter – camera rolling. Next he was degraded – called a “bad dude.” Finally he was shot. Blood stained his white shirt. The police walked away slowly, guns still trained, and watched him die. See for yourself. Can you hear the heavy-metal soundtrack playing in the background as Terence Crutcher died? 

Much has been made by the corporate media of a bomb that went off in New York. It's called "terrorism" and is being used to numb and condition the masses and justify a massive police exercise. I'll tell you one terrorist threat: this one is armed to the teeth, praised by the president, protected by the courts, valorized in popular culture, and responsible for 3,900 deaths since 2013.  

I'll tell you about something even worse than the police: it's a society - shaped by an economic system - that produces "criminals" for the police to kill and lock away. A society - lorded over by a wealthy elite - that deprives so many the ability to meet their basic needs and leaves many communities so scarred that turning to the police is the safest option.

Said Clarence Darrow to prisoners in a Chicago County Jail

If I looked at jails and crimes and prisoners in the way the ordinary person does, I should not speak on this subject to you. The reason I talk to you on the question of crime, its cause and cure, is because I really do not in the least believe in crime. There is no such thing as a crime as the word is generally understood. I do not believe there is any sort of distinction between the real moral condition of the people in and out of jail. One is just as good as the other. The people here can no more help being here than the people outside can avoid being outside. I do not believe that people are in jail because they deserve to be. They are in jail simply because they can not avoid it on account of circumstances which are entirely beyond their control and for which they are in no way responsible...A great many folks admit that many of the people in jail ought not to be there, and many who are outside ought to be in. I think none of them ought to be here. There ought to be no jails, and if it were not for the fact that the people on the outside are so grasping and heartless in their dealings with the people on the inside, there would be no such institutions as jails.

This is how the police sells themselves to us, by feeding off the brutality of the most brutalized under capitalism. So who are the real criminals in society?

US and Japan Central Banks: From R* to r

by Michael Roberts

This is a big week for the central banks of the major economies.  The US Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday to decide on whether to resume its planned series of hikes in its policy rate that sets the floor for all interest rates domestically and often internationally.  On the same day, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) must decide whether to resume its negative interest rate policy (NIRP) by going even deeper into negative territory on its policy rate.

While both central banks appear to be going in different directions (one raising interest rates because it wants to ‘control’ a budding economic recovery and the other lowering rates in order to ‘stimulate’ a stagnant economy) in reality both banks are in a similar position.  Their reason for existence and the credibility of their strategies are in serious jeopardy.

The reality is that despite nine years of holding rates (until last December) by the Fed and despite cuts and negative rates by the BoJ, along with massive credit injections by both into the banking system through ‘quantitative easing’ (buying government and corporate bonds with the creation of new money), the economies of the US and Japan have failed to recover to anything like the trend growth in real GDP (and per capita) that was achieved before the Great Recession of 2008-9.

In effect, monetary policy as a weapon for economic recovery has miserably failed.  The members of both the US Fed and BoJ monetary committees are divided on what to do.  The Fed’s chair Janet Yellen reckoned at the beginning of this year that the US economy was on the road to achieving trend growth and full employment.  But the latest data on the economy make dismal reading.
Not only has the real GDP rate slowed to near 1% with industrial production falling, but now even retail sales growth, an indicator of consumer spending and a key plus up to now for the US recovery, has dropped back (at only +0.8% yoy after inflation is deducted).
The Fed has been following a monetary policy theory that there is some ‘equilibrium’ rate of interest that can be identified that would be appropriate for an economy to be back at trend growth and full employment without serious inflation.  The Fed calls this (imaginary) rate, R*.  This idea is based on the theory of the neo-classical economist Kurt Wicksell.  The trouble is that it is nonsense – there is no equilibrium rate.  Even worse, the Fed’s economists have no idea what it should be anyway.  In their latest projection, they reckon R* is anywhere between 1% and 5% for two years ahead, with a best guess at about 2%. The current Fed rate is 0.5%.
And because the US economy has failed to get back towards pre-crisis trend growth, the Fed’s economists keep revising down that estimate.
It’s the same with the BoJ.  Their economists have no idea what policy rate to set in order to kick-start the economy and get Japan out of a deflationary environment.  That is why they are conducting a ‘full review’ of monetary policy to be discussed at their meeting this week.

It’s clear that monetary policy has failed.  As this was a major plank of so-called Abenomics in Japan (and strongly promoted by American monetarist Ben Bernanke and Keynesian Paul Krugman), there should be egg on many faces.  The response of the mainstream economists has been to look for even more extreme measures of monetary easing: NIRP is one, helicopter money is another.

Keynesian economic journalist Martin Wolf has been calling for helicopter money.  You see, R* is not really anywhere near as high as the Fed economists think.  The major economies are in a state of ‘secular stagnation’ caused by ageing, slowing productivity growth, falling prices of investment goods, reductions in public investment, rising inequality, the “global savings glut” and shifting preferences for less risky assets.  If we recognise that R* is really low, then we can adopt the policy of handing out cash to companies and individuals directly and combine that with more public spending (with larger government budget deficits) on investment projects – something advocated by many Keynesians, like Larry Summers.

But these answers are really an admission of the failure of monetarism and monetary policy, something that Marxist economics could have told the mainstream (and some did) years ago.  Mainstream economics (like Wolf above) still fails (or refuses) to recognise what Marxist economics can explain: the capitalist economy does not respond to injections of money (or, for that matter, injections of government spending) but to the profitability of investment.  The rate of profit on capital invested is the best indicator for investment and growth, not the rate of interest on borrowing.  It is r, not R*, that matters.

I and other Marxist economists have spelt this out
both theoretically and empirically over several years. But it is not only Marxist economists. Mainstream academic economics may ignore profits as a key driver of investment and growth, but economists in investment banks (who have the money and profits for investors on the line) have started to recognise it.

First, there was Goldman Sachs, even if its analysis was locked into a neoclassical marginalist approach. Then there was JP Morgan.  In a recent repprt, JP Morgan economists reckon that business investment and profits are closely correlated – “both business confidence and profit growth are highly statistically significant in explaining capital spending.”  JP Morgan reckons that business spending “is less a function of borrowing costs than of an assessment of the outlook and profitability. On balance, this model explains 70-85% of the variation in business equipment spending growth”.
Now there is Deutsche Bank.  Deutsche Bank’s economists have noticed that “Profit margins always peak in advance of recession. Indeed, there has not been one business cycle in the post-WWII era where this  has not been the case. The reason margins are a leading indicator is simple:When corporate profitability declines, a pullback in spending and hiring eventually ensues.”  

From Q3 2014, when profit margins peaked, to Q1 2016, domestic profits have declined by a little over -$175 billion. Not surprisingly, the decline in profit growth has occurred alongside a deceleration in domestic demand.

As Deutsche points out, the year-over-year growth rate of real final sales to private domestic purchasers, “our favorite indicator of underlying demand”, peaked at 3.6% in Q4 2014 and has since slowed to 2.6% as of last quarter.  Deutsche goes on: “With that in mind, the historical data reveals that the average and median lead times between the peak in margins and the onset of recession are nine and eight quarters, respectively, which, as DB concludes, “would imply that the economy could enter recession as soon as the second half of this year.”