Friday, December 19, 2014

The bi-partisan war on pensions.


Look, I found some money
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The protests against the murders of black men on a daily basis by the police do not seem to be abating. It is clear that the black community in the US has had enough as we watch black youth and their allies and supporters confront the police and the state and demand change.  The 1% is in between a rock and a hard place as they have not armed the state security forces to the teeth for nothing; but the ferocity and extent of the protests since the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri by a white cop, is forcing the power structure to re-think things and hopefully avert the development of a wider movement against austerity.

As I commented in a previous blog, the situation is not good when sections of the mass media openly criticize the police as CNBC and the Daily News did with regards to the death of Eric Garner, choked to death by a predator cop-----one has to wonder at the logic of resource allocation when four beefed up cops are sent to arrest a man selling loose cigarettes.

The 1% would like to isolate the participants, contain the anger and ensure it remains simply a “black” issue. But US society is wracked with crisis and it is inevitable there will be social explosions ahead as the 1% is driven by the market to savage US workers, the poor and middle class.  There is a tendency when workers move in to struggle to somewhat overcome the social divisions so useful in undermining our unity and potential power, at least temporarily (racism, sexism, immigrants and terrorists lurk everywhere) so it is important we recognize the divide and rule tactic for what it is and keep our eyes on the prize.

As the state security forces continue the offensive against the black communities in the urban centers, the two parties of Wall Street continue to dismantle workers living standards through legislation.  Contained within the spending bill passed by the US Senate last week is an assault on private sector pensions, what are called the multiemployer plans jointly administered by big companies and unions; these cover about ten million workers.

These plans, like everything else in US society, are in trouble and the “bi-partisan” plan to solve the problem is to allow the funds to cut benefits even to existing retirees if needed; “That is an exception to a long-standing federal rule against scaling back private-pension benefits.”, the WSJ writes. Karen Friedman, executive vice president of the Pension Rights Center, warns that, “The bill could encourage similar cutbacks in troubled state and local pension plans, and possibly even Social Security and Medicare.”

This states the obvious of course as the same crowd in Congress are also introducing legislation that will make it harder for workers and the poor to get benefits, including drug testing and other hurdles. A victory over one section of workers always leads to attacks on others.  .  I’m sure Dick Cheney wasn’t drug tested after he shot his hunting partner in the face.

Despite being shook up by the response to the ongoing murder of black men by the police, the 1% can’t let up and as the security forces wage an offensive in the streets and communities, the body politic, the representatives of capital, continue the legislative war, a war in which the very wealthy deprive the rest of us the social fruits of our labor. Alex Pollock of the American Enterprise Institute described as a “scholar” by the WSJ supports this attack on a retired worker’s means of subsistence telling the Journal that “Facing up to the insolvency is healthy,” Pollock admits while its difficult to consider cutting retiree benefits it is often better than “taking money from other people, such as taxpayers.”, according to the WSJ. And retirees aren’t taxpayers? The “other people” for guys like Pollock are never his billionaire friends.

Pollock is a 73 year-old banker and the present chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange & Chicago Board of Trade He earned $90,083 in 2013 in fees and cash payments for his banking advice no doubt and with his stock earnings brought in 165,088 for the year according to Forbes. He sits on the board of numerous companies including Allied Capital Corp. before it was absorbed by Ares Capital.  He’s basically spent his life as a moneylender.

Democrat, George Miller and Republican John Kline who are backing the legislative assault on pensions are doing this for the people.  If they don’t cut the benefits, the plans will become bankrupt they argue and could hurt people more. It’s the same approach to wages in labor disputes; the only offers on the table are cuts in wages and benefits or layoffs. The worker chooses the former and presto, democracy has worked.

So the new plan works like this: The trustees of the plans can vote to cut retiree benefits. The retirees can vote to oppose the cuts but that vote can be overridden if the plan is big enough to pose a “threat to the federal safety net”.  The trustees of these plans and there are around 1400 such pans, are representatives of the employers involved or representatives of the employers’ organizations, as well as union representatives.  So you have the same two forces negotiating your pension plan that are responsible for the continued decline in our living standards, bosses’ and members of the union hierarchy or attorneys representing them.  In other words, two forces with the same pro-market worldview.

Miller and Kline claim they are not aiming to influence the debate about other retirement programs like mine, a public sector pension. Since the savaging of the autoworkers by the Troika, composed of the auto bosses, US government and heads of the United Auto Workers union, public sector workers, our jobs, the services we provide, and particularly our pensions are on the chopping block. This is what happens when we pay no attention to the political world around us, to what’s happening in our unions and to other workers or join the bosses and their media in attacks on the poor and less fortunate----our turn comes and we wonder why.

No thinking worker believes that an attack like this will not be extended to others. Of course it will encourage an increased assault on public sector pensions. Already, since I retired ten years ago, the young people working at my former public employer have been screwed when it comes to pensions. They will not receive what myself and others have and will have to work longer. There is no way around the reality that we are in a war and we cannot avoid a fight if we want a better life for our children. The hardest aspect of that fight for those of us in unions is the internal struggle to change the collaborative polices of the present hierarchy and in a way supported by local leaderships that refuse to wage an open struggle against them.

Some Democrats, as they always do, are whining about the bill and how bad it might be, “This is unprecedented and I worry about the impact on retirees and the slippery slope we’re about to head down,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), the Finance Committee chairman, in a statement. “I am working hard to protect retirees’ pensions, and jamming this bill through Congress virtually sight unseen is no way to solve this issue.” WSJ 12-10-14

It’s the same old rhetoric. Some Democrats are “worried” they are “fighting” etc. etc.  It’s not that one is fighting that is crucial; it’s how they’re fighting. These two parties of Wall Street play the same game the cops do, one gives you a cigarette and the other beats you up but they’re both after the same result.

And the union officialdom tails its Democratic allies.  They are “worried” too but some of them in “Affected unions” are supportive. The problem is that “Amid broad economic changes and light government oversight, some large multiemployer plans have become badly underfunded and could run out of money within a few years.” Proponents claim, and this could lead to a federal bailout. The labor leaders in the “affected unions” that are supportive are supportive because their retirement will not be “affected”. They support concessions for the same reasons, they don’t have to work under the contracts they force down their members’ throats.

It would seem then that “government oversight” and the market is the problem. So the solution should be directed in these areas.  But as always, the crisis is shifted on to the backs of the working class, in this instance, millions of construction workers, Teamsters and miners for a start.  Both political parties agree that the working class must be driven back and it is us that must pay for the crisis of capitalism----they only differ on the degree, pace and which section is at the front of the queue.

Oh, here's some more money
Might I suggest that the more than $32 trillion stashed in foreign bank accounts not paying taxes might be a good place to start when money needs to be found, and this is not corporate but individual money.  The insane War on Terror which is really a war to defend corporate profits fought by young workers who will be denied benefits and pensions in civilian life, is one major cause of government debt and possible bankruptcy. It is the US workers and middle class that are being forced in to bankruptcy in order to pay for these predatory ventures.

Some tech guy just bought a $70 million home in California, there’s no shortage of our money, it’s just in the hands of someone else.  Lobbying costs us billions of dollars, money spent to defend increase the power for corporations over the working public..

It’s hard to say how long the heroic opposition in the streets to police and state violence will last. As always, the issue of leadership is a problem.  In the absence of a conscious leadership with the strategy and tactics to confront this offensive of capital directly, all sorts of elements will arise, various anarchists, reformists, nationalists and others as we have seen. Do Jackson and Sharpton really reflect the mood and aspirations of the black youth for example? We can discount those whose philosophy claims that there is no leadership, this is dishonest, there is always leadership and it should be open and fight for its ideas among the mass. 

One thing is absolutely certain as far as this writer is concerned is that there is an explosion waiting to happen in US society, we have just seen skirmishes so far.  The state has beefed up its security apparatus because it knows that, it cannot avoid driving the US working class back 100 years and is preparing for the backlash. The passive role of the Organized labor’s hierarchy in suppressing any movement from below has produced an element of overconfidence among the ruling class in the US, this can lead to major mistakes on their part. The recent protests against police violence have shaken that confidence a bit.

I always used to tell my co-workers that our best ally in many ways was the bosses’; they will not let up.  That hasn’t changed.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

California: Fight Police Violence; Cops Out of the Schools



Oakland Students Rally Fight Police Violence; Cops Out of the Schools; Money for Education
by Jack Gerson *

Hundreds of students from high schools across Oakland walked out of class Monday to rally at Fruitvale BART Station, joined by community supporters as well as teachers and other school workers, as the wave of protest triggered by grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York refusing to indict the cops who killed Michael Brown, Jr. and Eric Garner continues to build:

    Across the bay, also on Monday afternoon, the Black Student Union at San Franciscos Mission High School organized a citywide assembly addressed by Michael Brown, Sr. and Cephus Johnson (uncle of Oscar Grant, the unarmed young black man murdered six years ago at Fruitvale Station by BART cop Johannes Mehserle).
    Two days later, on Wednesday morning, dozens of Oakland students walked out of class again to hold a spirited rally in front of OUSD headquarters. (See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M791HEM4jl0&feature=youtu.be). 
    A week earlier, the local school board in San Leandro (which borders Oakland), yielded to organized opposition from students, schoolworkers, and community and rejected a proposal to pay for more cops in the schools by diverting $1 million from funding counselors and other key educational programs.

Speakers at the mass student rally at Fruitvale BART emphasized that they were fighting conditions they themselves face every day. Were all fighting against police brutality, not only for Michael Brown, but for myself too, said student Francisco Martinez. School should be a safe space where we can learn and not be brutalized by security. Speakers called for the immediate dismissal of Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) cop Barhin Bhatt, who in 2011 shot and killed Raheim Brown, an unarmed young black man, at Skyline High School. Students also chanted Cops Out of the Schools, demanding that OUSD school board disband its police force, scrap the armored vehicles theyve received from the U.S. military, and redirect the  $6 million / year they've been spending on school cops to what's really needed, like smaller class size, more counselors, more and better resources.

Even before the grand juries (really, secret tribunals) refusal to indict legalistically, sanctimoniously, hypocritically made it clearer than ever that its open season on black men, Oakland has been a center of resistance to the brutality, power, and growing militarization of the police. The movements for justice for Oscar Grant and for Alan Blueford (18-year-old high school student murdered by a regular Oakland cop in 2012) have gotten national attention.

Still, its not surprising that students at Fruitvale Station focused on Raheim Browns murder.  It remains a live issue to the Oakland school community because (a) Browns killer, Barhin Bhatt, is still an armed, confrontational, and very visible Oakland school cop, and even more so because (b) OUSD paid $550,000 to silence Jonathan Bellusa, the other school cop involved in the murder, after he initially testified in court that high level Oakland school administrators covered up the murder and threatened him with jail and economic ruin if he refused to change his testimony on how Bhatt shot and killed Brown. Bellusa accused chief legal counsel Jacqueline Minor, former schools superintendent Tony Smith, and former OUSD police chief Pete Serna of orchestrating the cover-up. (See http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/07/01/58972.htm).

Unfortunately, Bhatt is not a one-off. There are too many other cops like Bhatt trained killers with itchy trigger fingers. We know theyre out on the streets, acting like an occupying army. Get them out of the schools. Fire Bhatt. Disband the OUSD police. Cops out of the schools.

Studies have shown what anyone with common sense already knew: putting cops in the schools turns ordinary student behavior incidents into punishable crimes, treating rebellious young people as criminals. This hurts students of color from low-income families the most, but all students suffer when schools thus become mass dispatch centers for the school to prison pipeline.

Students need smaller class size, better resources, more counselors and nurses. They dont need more cops or any cops in the schools. This is especially true in Oakland, which for more than 10 years has been closing schools, shutting down school libraries, eliminating academic and vocational programs, cutting counselors, clericals, custodians, food service workers, and nurses; paying teachers more than $10,000 / year less than the average for other school districts in the county and the state; etc. and justifying it by claiming they just dont have the money. But money has been no object when it comes to funding the school police. The $6 million / year school police budget would have been enough to reopen all the schools closed over the past three years AND to hire more counselors and / or reduce class size and caseload. The school boards priorities are upside down like those of the billionaires who run this country and the politicians who administer it for them. Turn them right side up:
    Fund schools, classrooms, and students no money for cops.
    Cops out of the schools: disband the school cops and prosecute killer cops and those who cover up their murders. 
    Fire Oakland school cop Barhin Bhatt. Remove chief legal counsel Jacqueline Minor. Initiate criminal proceedings against Bhatt for murder and against Minor for covering up the murder.

* Jack Gerson is a retired Oakland high school teacher

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

David Harvey, monomaniacs and the rate of profit

Order this book here
by Michael Roberts

David Harvey is a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY), Director of The Center for Place, Culture and Politics (http://pcp.gc.cuny.edu/) and author of numerous books. For over 40 years, he has been one of the world’s most trenchant and critical analysts of capitalist development. And he has developed a global audience for his on-line video lectures on reading Capital, (see http://davidharvey.org/).

Harvey won the 2010 Isaac Deutscher prize for the best Marxist book of the year with The Enigma of Capital (http://www.amazon.com/Enigma-Capital-Crises-Capitalism/dp/0199836841).
I have commented on Harvey’s contributions to Marxist economics on various occasions on my blog.
https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/views-on-the-great-recession-david-harvey-and-anwar-shaikh/
https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/david-harvey-marxs-method-and-the-enigma-of-surplus/
https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/david-harvey-piketty-and-the-central-contradiction-of-capitalism/

Professor Harvey has always been critical of the view that Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall plays any significant role as a cause of crises under capitalism. In his award winning book, The enigma of capital, he states that “There is, therefore, no single causal theory of crisis formation as many Marxist economists like to assert. There is, for example, no point in trying to cram all of this fluidity and complexity into some unitary theory of, say, a falling rate of profit”.
Recently, Harvey has returned to this point in the presentation of an essay to the University of Izmir, Turkey in October. You can see a You tube screening of that presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZJrNgb-iiY&spfreload=10

What was particularly interesting to me was that, in his paper, Professor Harvey singles me and my work out as an example of those who support Marx’s law of profitability as the cause of crises. He opens his paper with the words “In the midst of crises, Marxists frequently appeal to the theory of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall as an underlying explanation. In a recent presentation, for example, Michael Roberts attributes the current long depression to this tendency”. He continues: “Roberts bolsters his case by attaching an array of graphs and statistical data on falling profit rates as proof of the validity of the law. Whether the data actually support his argument depends on (a) the reliability and appropriateness of the data in relation to the theory and (b) whether there are mechanisms other than the one Roberts describes that can result in falling profits.”
David Harvey

Harvey is very sceptical of my work and that of others: “Before submitting pacifically to the weight of the empirical evidence that has been amassed by Roberts and many other proponents of the falling rate of profit theory, some serious questions have to be asked”. And he proceeds to ask them.

I think that it is significant that such an eminent Marxist economist (or I think he prefers ‘historical-geographical materialist’) should produce a paper that critiques my work. It is also revealing that he reckons there is a need for him to take to task the work of those supporters of Marx’s law as the cause of crises. Clearly, recent work by such as Carchedi, Kliman, Freeman, Moseley, Shaikh, Esteban Maito, Tapia Granados, Peter Jones, Mick Brooks, Sergio Camara and others, is gaining some traction. So much so that, recently, one Marxist economist from the ‘overproduction school’ called me a ‘monomaniac’ in my attachment to Marx’s law of profitability as the main/underlying cause of capitalist crises (see Mike Treen, national director of the New Zealand Unite Union, at the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback, held in Wellington, May 31-June 1, 2014, and a seminar hosted by Socialist Aotearoa in Auckland in November 10, 2014 — http://links.org.au/node/4156).

Anyway, I approached David Harvey for his paper and suggested that we conduct a debate on the issues involved. Professor Harvey graciously agreed that a debate would be a great idea and that we could conduct this debate in public, on my blog and elsewhere. So I attach Harvey’s paper Harvey on LTRPF but also point out to you that it will eventually appear in its final form as David Harvey, Crisis theory and the falling rate of profit; to be published in 2015 in The Great Meltdown of 2008: Systemic, Conjunctural or Policy-created?, edited by Turan Subasat (Izmir University of Economics) and John Weeks (SOAS, University of London); Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

It is not possible to do justice to Professor Harvey’s critique of the supporters of Marx’s law as the cause of crises. You must read the whole paper. But in essence, Harvey argues that the LTRPF is not the only or even the principal cause of crises. Thus it cannot be the basis of a Marxist theory of crisis.

Indeed, as he said above: “There is, I believe, no single causal theory of crisis formation as many Marxists like to assert”. He is sceptical of Marx’s law being relevant and accepts the views of MEGA scholars like Michael Heinrich that Marx also probably became sceptical and dropped it. “I find Heinrich’s account broadly consistent with my own long-standing scepticism about the general relevance of the law” (see my posts on Heinrich, http://gesd.free.fr/mrhtprof.pdf). Indeed, Harvey has doubts that it is a law at all: “we know that Marx’s language increasingly vacillated between calling his finding a law, a law of a tendency or even on occasion just a tendency”.

Harvey argues that we proponents of Marx’s law as the basis of a theory of crises are one-sided and monocausal in our approach because: “proponents of the law typically play down the countervailing tendencies”. Thus we rule out many features of capitalism that may be better causal factors in crises. For example, we ‘monomaniacs’ (to use Mike Treen’s term) “suggest financialization had nothing to do with the crash of 2007-8. This assertion looks ridiculous in the face of the actual course of events. It also lets the bankers and financiers off the hook with respect to their role in creating the crisis.” Moreover, Professor Harvey pours cold water over our “array of graphs and statistical data on falling rates of profit as proof of the validity of the law”.

He doubts their validity because there is plenty of evidence in the ‘business press’ that the rate of profit, or at least the mass of profit, in the US has been rising, not falling. And even if it is correct that there was a post-war fall in the rate of profit, “Profit can fall for any number of reasons”. He cites a fall in demand (the post-Keynesian explanation); a rise in wages (the neo-Ricardian profit squeeze explanation); ‘resource scarcities’ (Ricardian); monopoly power (Monthly Review school view of rent extraction from industrial capital).

Professor Harvey prefers other reasons for capitalist crises than Marx’s law. There is the effect of credit, financialisation and financial markets; the devaluation of fixed constant capital in the form of obsolescence; and, above all, the limits on consumer demand imposed by the holding down of real wages relative to capitalist investment and profits. He wants us to consider alternative theories based on the “secondary circuit of capital” i.e. outside that part of the circuit to do with the production of value and surplus value and instead look at that part concerned with the distribution of that value, in particular ‘speculative overproduction’. Again, he wants us to look at the crises caused by a redistribution of the value created by ‘dispossession’, a form of ‘primitive accumulation’ where wealth is accumulated by force or seizure and not by the exploitation of wage labour in production as in fully developed modern capitalism.

Well, Professor Harvey has provided a new opportunity to debate these points and hopefully for all of us interested in this to gain a better understanding of what causes crises under capitalism so we can resist and overcome the power of capital eventually. I have replied to Professor Harvey’s paper as best as I can with my own, which can be found here reply-to-harvey.

Naturally, I do not agree with Harvey on any of his points. I think that Marx’s law of profitability does provide the cornerstone of the Marxist theory of crisis, which I think is coherent and ascertained from Marx’s works, mainly Grundrisse and Capital. I don’t think Marx’s law is logically incoherent or ‘indeterminate’ or that he dropped it in his later years, as Heinrich suggests. As for being monomaniacal or one-sided, I agree with G Carchedi: “if crises are recurrent and if they have all different causes, these different causes can explain the different crises, but not their recurrence. If they are recurrent, they must have a common cause that manifests itself recurrently as different causes of different crises. There is no way around the ”monocausality” of crises.”

I don’t think that I or other supporters of Marx’s law as the basis of the cause of crises have ignored the countervailing tendencies to the tendency of the rate or profit to fall as capital accumulates. That’s because the law is both the tendency and countertendency. Henryk Grossman, supposedly the most ‘monomaniacal’ of all supporters of the law as a theory of crises, in his book devoted 68 pages to the tendency and 71 pages to all the countertendencies.

Anybody who has read my book, The Great Recession, knows that I fill large amounts of space to the role of the US housing boom and bust, the banking crisis, exotic and toxic derivatives etc. Indeed, my current blog has at least 25 posts on the relation between profitability, credit (debt), banking and the crisis. And in 2012, the year after DH gave the Isaac Deutscher memorial speech at the Historical Materialism conference, I presented a long paper entitled Debt Matters (Debt matters). The role of credit in crises is important and I and others have spent some time trying to incorporate that into a Marxist theory of crisis.

As for the data, well, I and many others have painstakingly tried to ensure proper empirical analysis and statistical techniques to justify the case that there has been a secular fall in the rate of profit of capital in all the major economies, as well as a cyclical process(or waves) of profitability when countertendencies come into play. If these data are wrong, then I await alternative data from Professor Harvey. I don’t think anecdotal evidence from the business press is sufficient.

My and the work of others have enabled us to get a causal sequence of the development of capitalist crises. As Marx himself argued, there is a point in the accumulation process when the rate of profit on the stock of investment falls to a level where new investment actually leads to a fall in the mass of profit and new value. This ‘absolute overaccumulation’ of capital is the trigger moment for the collapse of investment and then bankruptcies, unemployment and falling incomes – in other words, a slump. A study by Tapia Granados has shown this causal sequence holds for the US economy since 1945 (does_investment_call_the_tune_may_2012__forthcoming_rpe)_and I and G Carchedi have shown it holds for the Great Recession too (The long roots of the present crisis). Profits call the tune. This seems to me a much more compelling case for explaining crises (with even predictive power) than falling back on various theories from bourgeois economics based on credit booms (Austrian school), financial speculation (Minsky), lack of demand (Keynes); low wages and inequality (Stiglitz and the post-Keynesians), as I think Harvey does – see my paper, The causes of the Great Recession (The causes of the Great Recession).

All the alternative theories have one thing in common: that, if their particular theory is right, then capitalism can be corrected through financial regulation (Martin Wolf, James Galbraith), higher wages (post-Keynesians), or progressive taxation (Piketty) without removing the capitalist mode of production itself. That’s because these theories argue that there is no fundamental contradiction in capitalist mode of production that causes recurrent and cyclical crises (as Marx claimed); there are only problems with circulation.

I am ‘monomaniacally’ convinced that the theory of crisis must be found in the production process even if it manifests itself in circulation and realisation. Appearances can be deceiving.

Anyway, let’s discuss.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

OSHA is toothless. But business still hates it.

source: Daily Kos
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
12-15-14

Michael Bloomberg’s Business Week has a little snippet in its December 8th anniversary issue about the merits of the Occupational Health and Safety act that was past in 1970.
But business groups have waged a 40-year war on OSHA despite it being a relatively mild workplace safety regulation.   The presence of unions in the workplace, especially a strong rank and file shop steward movement is the best safeguard against injury and unhealthy conditions.

BW points out that since OSHA’s passing, the US workplace death rate has declined by 81%.  Still, according to David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz Huff Post political bloggers, as of 2011 more than 3 million workers a year suffer some form of work related illness. It is almost impossible to say how many actually die of work related illnesses. The authors add “….workplace accidents fell from 13,800 in 1970 to 5,657 in 2007.”

Workplace deaths still average 13 a day with the construction industry at the top of the list but as BW points out, deaths from work related illnesses like lung cancer could be 10 times as high.

Michael Bloomberg, the owner of Business Week is worth $34 billion according to Forbes, it’s not likely he’s a big fan of OSHA.  The US Chamber of Commerce opposed OSHA as it has most agencies that protect worker’s rights, even feebly.  The US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Business Round Table and other big business gangs consider unions and all worker organizations, as well as government regulation as attacks on their freedom, freedom to make profits that is. 

The Chamber of Commerce introduced a $100 million campaign to “defend and advance economic freedom.” largely in response to the Obama Administration’s efforts to launch a consumer protection agency. The Chamber’s ally in that little venture was the banking lobby. This has been the history of Business Associations of one type or another.  They are by far the most ruthless of all of society’s gangs, the Crips, Bloods, Norteños have nothing on them…..and they’re legal which helps.

If we read labor history we will find that every advance working people and all oppressed people made was blocked by the likes of Bloomberg and the legal gangs that represent the interests of big business. Every right, every benefit every freedom we have we fought for against one of the most ruthless ruling classes in history. They opposed the eight-hour day movement, said it would destroy society.  Read the papers of that period.  “A few years after the law was passed…” Rosner and Markowitz write, “ ….a Chamber of Commerce pamphlet declared ‘This is the sorry history of OSHA - a statute which serves little useful purpose; and in its administration is even threatening the entire business system.’”

Bloomberg is not likely to be in the forefront of a movement to defend OSHA, that it exists at all is in spite of people like Bloomberg and magazines like Business Week. The agency has come under attack more and more of late and only has 2, 218 inspectors nationwide. This is a joke when we consider the number of workplaces and OSHA generally doesn’t appear on the scene until workers die. Workers can’t rely on OSHA or the US Congress to protect our workplace safety; the US Congress has blocked any efforts to increase OSHA’s effectiveness.

It should be mentioned that one of the reasons for a decline in workplace deaths other than unions and OSHA is the reduction of blue-collar factory jobs and the de-industrialization of America.  Needless to say, true workplace safety will begin when those that do the work control the labor process and the workplace with it.

Industries With the Most Fatalities 2013

·      Construction: 796
·      Transportation/Warehousing 687
·      Agriculture Forestry Fishing and Hunting 479
·      Professional and Business Services 408
·      Manufacturing 304


Source: Business Week.