Sunday, October 23, 2016

Basic income – too basic, not radical enough

by Michael Roberts

The idea of a basic income has gained much popularity recently and not just among leftists but also with right-wing pro-capital proponents.  Basic income boils down to making a monthly payment by a government to every citizen of an amount that meets ‘basic necessities’ whether that person is unemployed or not or whatever the circumstance. As Daniel Raventós, defines it in his recent book:
“Basic Income is an income paid by the state to each full member or accredited resident of a society, regardless of whether or not he or she wishes to engage in paid employment, or is rich or poor or, in other words, independently of any other sources of income that person might have, and irrespective of cohabitation arrangements in the domestic sphere” (Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom).

He lists various things in its favour: that it would abolish poverty, enable us to better balance our lives between voluntary, domestic and paid work, empower women, and “offer workers a resistance fund to maintain strikes that are presently difficult to sustain because of the salary cuts they involve”.

And recent books such as Inventing the Future by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams and Postcapitalism by Paul Mason have also brought this issue to prominence. These writers reckon that the demand for a universal basic income by labour should be part of the struggle in a move to ‘post-capitalism’ and should be a key demand to protect workers from a capitalist world increasingly dominated by robots and automation where human beings will become mostly unemployed.

But ‘basic income’ is also popular among some right-wing economists and politicians.  Why? Because paying each person a ‘basic’ income rather than wages and social benefits is seen as a way of ‘saving money’, reducing the size of the state and public services – in other words lowering the value of labour power and raising the rate of surplus value (in Marxist terms). 

It would be a ‘wage subsidy’ to employers with those workers who get no top-up in income from social benefits under pressure to accept wages no higher than the ‘basic income’ which would be much lower than their average salary. As Raventos has noted, (in the American Journal of Economic Issues June 1996 with Catherine Kavanagh), “by partially separating income from work, the incentive of workers to fight against wage reductions is considerably reduced, thus making labour markets more flexible. This allows wages, and hence labor costs, to adjust more readily to changing economic conditions”.

Indeed, the danger is that the demand for a basic income would replace the demand for full employment or a job at a living wage.  For example, it has been worked out that, in the US, the current capitalist economy could afford only a national basic income of about $10,000 a year per adult. And that would replace everything else: the entire welfare state, including old age pensions disappears into that one $10,000 per adult payment.

The basic income demand is similar to the current idea among Keynesians and other leftist economists for increased public spending financed by ‘helicopter money’.  This policy means no fundamental reform of the economy but a just a cash handout to raise incomes and boost the capitalist economy.  Indeed, this is why the leftist Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis has viewed favourably the basic income idea.  A minimum equal income for everyone, Varoufakis tells us, is the most effective way to confront the deflationary trends that manifest capitalism’s inability to balance itself. Creating a minimum income that’s delinked from work, he argued, would increase effective demand without substantially increasing savings. The economy would grow again and would do so in a much more balanced way. The amount of the minimum income could become a simple, stand alone lever for the economic planners of the 21st century.

Here the basic income demand provides an answer to crises under capitalism without replacing the capitalist mode of production in the traditional Keynesian or post-Keynesian way, by ending ‘underconsumption’.  But what if underconsumption is not the cause of crises and there is a more fundamental contradiction within capitalism that a ‘basic income’ for all, gradually ratcheted up by government planners, cannot resolve?

Raventos retorts to this argument that “Some people complain that basic income won’t put an end to capitalism. Of course it won’t. Capitalism with a basic income would still be capitalism but a very different capitalism from the one we have now, just as the capitalism that came hot on the heels of the Second World War was substantially different from what came at the end of the seventies, the counter-reform we call neoliberalism. Capitalism is not one capitalism, just as “the market” is not just one market.” 

This answer opens up a whole bag of tricks by suggesting that we can have some form of non ‘neoliberal’, ‘fairer’ capitalism that would work for labour, as we apparently did for a brief decade or so after the second world war. But even if that were true, the ‘basic income’ demand stands little prospect of being adopted by pro-capitalist governments now in the middle of a Long Depression unless it actually reduced the value of labour power, not increased it.  And if a socialist worker government were to come to power in any major capitalist economy would the policy then be necessary when common ownership and planned production would be the agenda? 

As one writer put it: “The call for basic income in order to soften the effects of automation is hence not a call for greater economic justice. Our economy stays as it is; we simply extend the circle of those who are entitled to receive public benefits. If we want economic justice, then our starting point needs to be more radical.”

In his book, Why the Future is Workless, Tim Dunlop says that “the approach we should be taking is not to find ways that we can compete with machines – that is a losing battle – but to find ways in which wealth can be distributed other than through wages. This will almost certainly involve something like a universal basic income.” But is that the approach that we should take?  Is it to find ways to ‘redistribute’ wealth “other than through wages” or is it to control the production of that wealth so that it can be allocated towards social need not profit?

I have discussed in detail in previous posts what the impact of robots and AI would be for labour under capitalism. And from that, we can see an ambiguity in the basic income demand. It both aims to provide a demand for labour to fight for under capitalism to improve workers conditions as jobs disappear through automation and also wants basic income as a way of paying people in a ‘post-capitalist’ world of workless humans where all production is done by robots (but still with private owners of robots?).

And when we think of this ambiguity, we can see that the issue is really a question of ownership of the technology, not the level of incomes for workless humans.  With common ownership, the fruits of robot production can be democratically planned, including hours of work  for all.  Also, under a planned economy with common ownership of the means of production (robots), it would be possible to extend free goods and services (like a national health service, education, transport and communications) to basic necessities and beyond. So people would work fewer hours and get more free goods and services, not just be compensated for the loss of work with a ‘basic income’.

In a post-capitalist world (what I prefer to call ‘socialism’ rather than mincing around with ‘post-capitalism’), the aim would be to remove (gradually or quickly) the law of value (prices and wages) and move to a world of abundance (free goods and services and low hours of toil).  Indeed, that is what robots and automation now offer as a technical possibility.

The basic income demand is just too basic. As a reform for labour, it is not as good as the demand for a job for all who need it at a living wage; or reducing the working week while maintaining wages; or providing decent pensions.  And under socialism, it would be redundant.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Kerry, Putin, they don't speak for Workers. We need our own voice, our own party

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

A working class woman asked me what I think about Syria. Can the Russians and the US solve the problems there? Can Kerry and Putin work it out? No they can't. Capitalism cannot solve the crisis in Syria because it is a crisis of capitalism just like the environmental crisis or world hunger. These are some of my immediate thoughts on some of this.

Only a global movement of the working class can stop the slaughter, the migration and humanity from heading down the slippery slope to total annihilation.  Only a democratic socialist federation of states can solve this problem. A cooperative of nations states on a global scale that can determine what we produce, and how we produce it. The global trading of what we produce can be determined on the basis of what humanity needs and in harmony with nature. Production for profit which has its origin in surplus value, that which we produce above what we are paid for our labor power is at the root of our problems as a global community of human beings.

We need to build a YouTube channel for this blog. I have a personal one and either would like to convert it or build a new one but my skills are limited. I could take some classes but that costs. We did ask for donations recently and published that on Facebook and although our fund appeal was read by a lot of people we never received $1. If you can donate to our blog and help with our work please hit that donate button on the blog at: "Like" our Bog's FB page at:

If you can't do that and you're in the SF Bay Area and can donate time to help me with this project please contact the blog at:  A rather cumbersome address I know but it's what it is.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump Challenges Capitalist Democracy

A Statement from Facts For Working People

The authors of this Blog have explained that US capitalism is in a military, economic and political crisis. Militarily it is in stuck in wars it cannot win, it has military commitments it can no longer afford to finance and as it sinks deeper into its wars, its military will increasingly crack in its hands. We have already had members of the military speaking out like Chelsea Manning who released the famous Collateral Murder video, drone operators who sent an open letter to Obama condemning their missions, and others supporting football’s Colin Kaepernick’s protests. There are also 22 suicides a day among military veterans another sign of the crisis in the troops.

US capitalism is also in an economic crisis. Its rate of growth from the great recession of 2008 is at an all time low for recoveries from recessions and it is in debt to a level never before experienced. It's record high stock markets and its indebtedness cannot be sustained. A collapse in the stock markets, a new banking and financial crisis and a new recession lies ahead.

Political Crisis
These economic and military crises will be unlike any other in the past. This will be so because they will take place amid unprecedented political turmoil as the monopoly the two capitalist parties has  had over American life and the relative stability this provided US capitalism is coming to an end. This is the significance of the crisis in the Republican Party. This will have huge repercussions, not only in the US, but worldwide. What is happening must not be underestimated. 

Capitalism prefers to rule through what we call bourgeois democracy. This is where it holds regular elections with different political parties and where these elections are dominated by the capitalist parties and their capitalist mass media. Despite numerous parties fielding presidential candidates in the present election, the Republican and Democratic parties have ensured only their candidates are allowed to participate in national debates and the mass media coverage of this event. The Green Party with its eco-socialist platform was never allowed in any of the major debates. The result is that there is never any questioning of capitalism or the so-called free market. The only option offered is capitalism.

When there are movements that arise that give the appearance of throwing up an alternative to capitalism, capitalism and the capitalist classes brush bourgeois democracy aside and use their state apparatus, their military, to drown these movements in blood.  US capitalism did this in Chile in 1973. It did it in the dirty wars in Latin America. US capitalism has supported and does support some of the most ruthless, undemocratic regimes on the planet. Their preferred clients are regimes headed by free market dictators, those resting on a statist type economy like Iraq or Syria are a threat to the ideology that only capitalism works. They snuff out any attempts at an alternative to capitalism with a vengeance. As Assange commented in his book, The Wikileaks Files, the US didn’t invade tiny Grenada to corner the nutmeg trade.

The form in which capitalism rules at any given time and in any given country is also very much an economic question. Bourgeois democracy has been maintained in the advanced capitalist countries as a result of their colonial and imperialist plunder, it is how they got rich. This has meant that the capitalist classes in these advanced capitalist countries could make certain concessions to sections of their own working class, they have been able to provide enough to enough people, to keep them for the most part supporting the system, coming to the conclusion that it is the best that is possible. On this basis the capitalist class in these countries were in a better position to take the "democratic" road.

But there have been times, even in advanced capitalist countries, times of extreme economic and political crisis when capitalism, wasn’t able to rule through bourgeois democracy and resorted to fascist regimes like Hitler in Germany. However when it did place such lunatics in power things  tended to get out of hand. In Hitler's case this ended up with a war that lost half of German capitalism's territory to Stalinism.  The capitalist class drew conclusions from this experience. It concluded if at all possible it was best to rule through bourgeois democracy, this method was less costly, more stable and more under its control.

But in those countries whose wealth was looted, the colonial countries of Africa and Latin America and Asia for example, never ending poverty and periods of outright starvation was just about the permanent experience of the majority. This in turn led to ongoing rebellion and opposition to the market and capitalism. It is not easy, if not impossible at times, for capitalism to take the "bourgeois democratic " road in these circumstances. It is then that military rule or dictatorship of one type or another is resorted to with the violence and oppression that accompanies them.

There are other reasons, the divide and rule tactic of racism and sexism and the refusal of the leadership of the US working class to lead an offensive of our own, but the main reason US capitalism has been able to rule through bourgeois democratic means has been its economic power and dominance.

This is now coming to an end as US capitalism can no longer afford to maintain its position in the world and at the same time keep the living standard of its own working class anywhere near the level it demands. Even during the period of the post World War Two boom, US capitalism was never able to provide a secure standard of living for all Americans, it did provide it for a huge section of them and this laid the material basis for the “American Dream”.

This period has entered the history books never to return. The US can no longer afford guns and butter so the political monopoly its two parties have enjoyed for a century is beginning to fracture and with it its political crisis deepens. 

This is why Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results if he lost has been met with such anger. He has questioned the legitimacy of bourgeois democracy, that is the way that US capitalism rules, this is what he is questioning, this is what capitalism means when they talk of democracy, their preferred method of rule. Trump is questioning this, questioning their phony election and so called democratic process. This has caused a huge furor and the media has picked up on it. Clinton took it up. She wanted to show yet again that she was the most reliable politician for capitalism.  She attacked him for “Questioning the democratic process……that’s been around 240 years.” This was very dangerous talk by Trump Clinton said. She went on to say he was “denigrating, talking down our democracy.”

Trump says the system is rigged. Of course it is rigged. He helped rig it with his buying of politicians. But it is rigged in a more fundamental way. The Senate, the electoral college all give more weight to the rural states than to the big urban states. All states regardless of their population have the same number of Senators. This is to reduce the power of the urban working class.  Then there are the crooks who bribe and buy the politicians for the big corporations. It is this rigging that the majority of the population instinctively feel is  going on and which among other things allows Trump to get their ear. 

This is a watershed moment in US bourgeois politics. Election after election has seen the loser accept the newly elected president. Even in the election that pitted Gore against Bush where Gore won the popular vote yet the “rigged” Supreme Court declared Bush the winner, Gore accepted the result. He did so because he saw that not to do so would lead to a major crisis in US bourgeois politics and the way it ruled, and would weaken the US bourgeois political system. For capitalism to control through the bourgeois democratic system, large sections of the population must have some belief that the system is at least someway fair, that it at least halfway works. For Gore to have fought Bush to the end back then would have shaken belief in the system. So as the responsible capitalist politician he was and is, he took one for the team, the team being US capitalism, US capitalist stability. He stepped aside.

The danger for US capitalism now is that it is possible that Trump, being the backward ignorant maverick he is, will lose the election and will not step back, will not gracefully accept the result.

Trump’s comments criticized bourgeois democracy and suggested that he may not accept the results of bourgeois democracy. To even hint at such a thing threatens to undermine belief in the whole political system, in the way capitalism has been ruling up till now. This is what Trump is playing with. He is so stupid he does not know the monster that he threatening to let out of the bag. If he is not careful he will be eaten by this monster.

It is not possible to fully understand what is going on in the head of this egomaniac and the team he has around him, people like Bannon and Breitbart. It is possible Trump is just saying he will decide whether or not to accept the election result in order to keep himself at the center of the news for longer and possibly come out of this with a new mass media outfit and through this build a new national right wing reactionary movement based around a mass communication system. It is also possible but perhaps less likely at this stage that he and his squad might be aiming to immediately move to split the Republican Party and  set up a new extreme right wing party.

One way or another, the Republican Party is heading for a major downward plunge, and sooner or later, it will shatter.  There are huge developments that will arise out of this and the reader can read in more detail what we wrote about this last week here.

The main point is that Trump’s threats, empty or not, to undermine the bourgeois democratic process and reject the end result of an election is treading on dangerous ground and will almost certainly ensure his defeat one way or another. More so than his misogyny, his racist and nationalistic ravings, undermining how his class governs society will not be taken lightly. And we would like to add this about Trump and racism in the US. It would be impossible for a black person, especially a black man to talk the way Trump does about grabbing women, forcing himself on them etc. As a rich white man, a member of the capitalist class, he can get away with it whereas a black man would be demonized, called a "thug" in the media etc.  For a black guy to talk this way he wouldn't get in to the interview for a truck driving position never mind being the nominee of a major political party. *

But Trump is only a symptom of what is going on, a symptom of the bigger picture. He has helped let the cat out of the bag. And the cat cannot be put back in the bag. The decades of relative stability under bourgeois democracy of US capitalism are over.  The new days when the US working class will take a leading role in US society are on the horizon. Those of us who see ourselves as anti capitalists and socialists, those of us who want to end capitalism and all the filth that comes with it, have to look at our ways of working. We have to look at why the self styled revolutionary left has failed all these decades to put down roots in the US working class and see what mistakes have been made, see what changes have to be made in the work, see what is necessary to help build a new anti capitalist, democratic revolutionary socialist movement of tens of tens of millions. Such a movement can usher in a system of workers democracy where the majority genuinely do rule. 

This is the task facing us today.

*We are grateful to  Yvette Carnell at for reminding us of this aspect of the debates and US society of course. We should have stressed this point as well and have since added it.

The Clinton/Trump debate and the love for the little children.

 I mistakenly said the Sykes Picot Agreement was in 1906 but I meant 1916.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's time for organized Labor's rank and file to remove the class collaborators.

Obama, Soros and Clinton. Friends of the working class?
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
Here we are in a presidential election cycle and by all accounts from academia to the numerous polls from the mass media, the two parties of the US ruling class field the two most unpopular candidates in history.

We pointed out on this blog last week
that what this reflects is the deepening political crisis of US capitalism as the relative stability and domination of its two political parties begins to fracture.  The US bourgeois with few exceptions, cannot find a candidate they like and this unelected oligarchy that rests on the capitalist mode of production is forced to unite to a great degree around its best option, the Democratic Party and its candidate, the warmonger Hillary Clinton. The misogynists among them will swallow their pride and put their class interests first. There are a couple of exceptions as the bizarre among them like hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah support Trump along with the KKK, some cops, border guards and other extreme right wing figures

The emergence of Trump has upset the apple cart and the politics of fear is in frenzy mode. We are at the end of the world if we don’t vote for Hillary Clinton. We must take the lesser evil to save civilization. The Sanders option is no longer on the table as this populist demagogue did what he promised if he failed to get the Democratic Party nomination, support and campaign for Clinton. His campaign up to his betrayal was a fraud. He is a despicable character as far as this writer is concerned.

The lack of any serious alternative for working class people has led to millions of Americans abandoning the electoral process altogether. The antiwar president Barak Obama whose emergence brought hope to the disillusioned white liberals and African Americans alike failed them as his allegiance to his class and capitalism remained strong.

Despite the poor choices for the ruling class, having the monopoly in the political arena controlling the two major parties is a plus even as this monopoly begins to crack. It is almost certain we will have our first woman president come November.

Readers of this blog are aware that we support the Green Party and its candidate Jill Stein. This is the best option for working class people and we have urged former Sanders supporters that have come in to the Green Party to campaign and work in this party to make it a workers party, a socialist party (it already has an eco-socialist plank in its platform) and wage a campaign to change what is a dysfunctional and undemocratic internal structure.  A significant vote for Stein would affect the political direction of the country no matter who is in office as it would change the balance of class forces in the political arena and it could be seen as a real alternative to the two parties of capital.

We have argued that the Green Party is not a workers party, nor a capitalist party, and its future is not yet determined. Our Alternative to Sanders that we published over a year ago explains how we arrived at this position.

As we pointed out in earlier commentaries, the Greens and Stein will be blamed in this situation if Clinton has a narrow victory or if Trump were to win which I think is highly unlikely. Facts For People wrote in a statement in September:
“No, the fault will lie elsewhere; it will lie with the trade union leaders who control the two trade union federations, the American Federation of Labor and the Change to Win Coalition.  We know them as that dog that never barks except to echo the policies of the bosses and the Democratic Party.”

Many young people among the millions of unorganized workers that have no union do not see, so cannot grasp, the tragic betrayal of the working class by the heads of organized labor. We have used the term “passive” to describe their policies but this is not correct. The strategists atop the AFL-CIO and the CTW coalition are aggressive indeed, but their aggression is placed at the service of the bosses’ and their main political party, the Democrats. Through their adoption of the Team Concept, the view that workers and bosses have the same economic interests, they cooperate with them on the job forcing concessionary contracts on their own members, (contracts they don’t have to work under) and in the political arena by supporting the Democratic Party, the dominant capitalist party on the planet.

As I pointed out in a previous commentary, my former union, AFSCME, has 1.6 million members, approximately 3,400 local unions, 58 district councils and affiliates in 46 states according to its website. The SEIU has two million members.  The LA Labor Council represents about 800,000 workers in crucial industries and LA ranks about the 16th largest economy in the world among countries. California is the 6th largest economy in the world and is a fairly heavily unionized state with about two million workers affiliated to the State Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. The Chicago Federation of Labor has half a million workers and 300 union locals affiliated to it. AFSCME, provided some 40,000 volunteers for Mondale during his 1980’s presidential campaign. This is some potential power it can’t be denied.

But it is not simply the body count. Over decades, the heads of organized labor have handed billions of dollars of their members’ dues money to the Democratic Party and its candidates only to be rewarded with concessions, cuts both in wages and benefits but also in social services. Each election cycle we are warned that if we don’t elect the bad guy we’ll get the worse guy. Naturally, with a strategy like this, millions of workers have abandoned electoral politics altogether.

With the rise of Trump we are warned of World War 111 if we don’t elect Hillary Clinton and the trade union hierarchy joins with conservative Republican politicians and billionaires alike in the campaign to elect a proven hawk who will continue the assault on US workers including women, and will without hesitation continue the murderous US foreign policy that has slaughtered millions since the beginning of the millennia destroying nation states along the way.

From January to August this year unions spent $110 million on getting Clinton in to office, a 38% increase from the same period in 2012. Almost every large union is spending more than ever before seen in modern elections.”, the Wall Street Journal writes, though compared to what the capitalist class spends this is peanuts. The AFL-CIO has spent $11.4 million on outside political groups and the NEA, the largest union in the country (teachers) has spent $14 million.  Presidents of some of the public sector unions, AFSCME, NEA and the AFT actually organized a rally in West Philadelphia for Clinton and Kate McGinty another Democrat running for US Senate. Then hundred of volunteers went “…door-to-door in the city’s battleground neighborhoods and urge people to vote for Democrats.”, the Journal reports.
The tragic result of the union hierarchy's marriage to the Dems
In IOWA at a rally organized by Hard Hats for Hillary much of the talk was about how bad a businessperson Trump is, “He doesn’t pay” says one union member.

As this rally was taking place, “…a super PAC led by the AFL-CIO, other unions and environmentalist Tom Steyer dispatched 150 canvassers that evening to talk to voters on Mrs. Clinton’s behalf.”, the Wall Street Journal writes,  The group, called For Our Future, said it has raised $60 million this election, and has knocked on more than one million doors in Ohio alone.”
Remember that line in the Godfather when Don Corleone warned that one should keep one’s friends close but one’s enemies even closer. That is the strategy of the Democrats and the section of the US capitalist class they represent. The trade union hierarchy likes to rub shoulders with billionaires and sees them as friends. The billionaires on the other hand uses them, keeps them close by because they know that the rank and file of the trade union movement are not their friends, are their class enemies, and the trade union leadership will not be able to contain them indefinitely.

In Nevada, millions are being spent on the Senate race with nice friendly Democratic billionaires like George Soros and Tom Steyer on the one hand and Charles Koch on the other. Soros is worth $25 billion, Steyer $2 billion and Koch $42 billion.  The union leadership are with the former, billionaires just like us working folks. 

The focus on the Senate race is a reflection of the fact that many traditionally Republican donors are not supporting Trump and instead trying to salvage the party’s position in the Senate. The US Senate is a thoroughly undemocratic institution with each state getting 2 Senators. So a state like Utah with population of 3 million has the same number of Senators as California with a population of 40 million. The purpose of this is to undermine the power of the urban working class.

In Las Vegas, UNITE/HERE, the culinary union representing restaurant and casino workers is paying 100 union workers on leave from their jobs to do full-time political work for the Democrats and the national union expects to spend $3 million there according to Bloomberg BW.

It is clear that organized labor has the structure and organization to offer workers and the middle class an alternative, an independent workers party. Only the leadership prevents this.

The trade union leadership has the same world view as the bosses’ They worship the market and see no alternative to capitalism. For them, to use the resources at their disposal to actually fight for their members and workers as whole can only lead to chaos, and mobilizing the power of their members to shut down production is a terrifying thought. They are there to provide labor power at a price that makes US capitalism competitive.

It is this feature rather than corruption or their perks and obscene salaries that are at the root of their betrayals and refusal to go on the offensive.

But they are not alone. There are thousands of small locals led by rank and file members that refuse to wage the struggle within organized labor that can change the disastrous course the present leadership has set. No union local can win alone or without drawing in the working class communities in which we live and work.  This may be because they don’t know how to wage this difficult internal battle or because they too have found a niche for themselves that is comfortable. It is the membership’s job to combat this, to change the leadership and build oppositions based on an offensive program and strategy. There must be a struggle for the consciousness of the members of the union just as there must be a struggle for the consciousness of the working class in society as a whole.

Various lefts and other anti-capitalist activists in the unions must do the same. The bureaucracy’s full time apparatus is full of members and former members of socialist groups who have entered the leadership with the wrong methods. In general, due primarily to sectarianism, and shifting at times from ultra leftism to reformism, the left has failed the working class in and out of unions.  The left through its policies is isolated form the working class in general.

We learn through the struggle for reforms, from the everyday battles to improve our material conditions. In the course of the struggle to change the world around us, we draw certain conclusions, we see that we have to do more and eventually that the system we know as capitalism cannot be reformed, it cannot solve the environmental crisis. It cannot end hunger, poverty, the misery so many workers face in this country and throughout the world.  Socialists can help this process along, can, if we have a significant presence, hasten it and hopefully play leading roles as we win workers to democratic socialist ideas. But to do that we must participate in the struggle for reforms and in the war for the consciousness of the class as a whole.

Chicago Teachers: Worst contract in CTU history?

I reprint this from Substance News. It is for the interest of our readers and concerns discussions going on within the CTU over the recent contract. I am not familiar enough with the issues to comment more. The reader can read comments to this article at Substance News.

Worst contract in CTU history? Consider the actual numbers of teacher salaries since the beginning of the 21st Century...

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis discussed the upcoming strike with reporters following the October 5, 2016 meeting of the CTU House of Delegates. A last minute deal accepted by Lewis and her team goes before an October 19 meeting of the House of Delegates following the end of the strike threat on October 11. If the HOD recommends a "Yes" vote on the proposed deal, it goes to a referendum of the union's active duty members. Substance photo by Jean Schwab.

Rather than continue a debate over appropriate adjectives (one that has been going on in social media as some people who voted in favor of the deal expressed "hurt feelings" when their decision was challenged), let's try some 21st Century facts. Having reviewed all of the CTU contracts since the beginning (which are also in the possession of the CTU leadership, at the union office I once worked in research until being purged), I have been saying that this is the worst contract in CTU history.

And I am including in that the contracts we had to do during and after the "school financial crisis" of 1979 - 1982. But let's just provide readers with the information ("data" is you wish) covering Chicago teacher salaries since the beginning of the 21st Century. A large number of Chicago teachers working today began their careers during the present century, so it's as good a timeline of information as any.
Following here are the teacher salaries (minimum and maximum) and percentage increases over the previous year since FY 2002, according to the CPS Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CPS fiscal year begins on July 1 at midnight and ends on June 30, so "FY 2002" (below) is from 2001 to 2002. For those who want to check further, additional CAFR information has still be on line from CPS as of October 12, 2016.

Please note that the first "zero percent raise" in the 21st Century came after the CTU leadership agreed to end all Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaints against the Board of Education as part of the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 in September 2012.
Fiscal Year Min. Salary Median Max. % Change
2002 $33,861 $47,647 $61,433 2.00%
2003 $34,538 $48,907 $63,276 2.00%
2004 $35,920 $50,864 $65,807 4.00%
2005 $37,357 $52,898 $68,439 4.00%
2006 $38,851 $55,014 $71,177 4.00%
2007 $40,405 $57,215 $74,025 4.00%
2008 $42,021 $59,504 $76,986 4.00%
2009 $43,702 $62,384 $81,065 4.00%
2010 $45,450 $64,879 $84,308 4.00%
2011 $47,268 $67,974 $88,680 4.00%
2012 $47,268 $67,974 $88,680 0.00%
2013 $48,686 $70,644 $92,602 3.00%
2014 $49,660 $72,163 $94,666 2.00%
2015 $50,653 $73,706 $96,759 2.00%

Next, please consider the percentage raises in each year of the proposed contract, which ended the threat of a strike scheduled to begin on October 11, 2016 (information about minimum, maximum and median salaries were not available when these numbers were compiled, based on the eight-page CTU PDF provided at the time the strike was cancelled.
2016 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016 0.00*
2017 (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017 0.00*
2018 (July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018 2.00*
2019 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019 2.50*

* based in information provided by the CTU in the eight-page PDF summary of the agreement distributed on October 11, 2016.

With this information provided, it becomes clear as a picture that the six "worst" years for teacher raises during the 21st Century in Chicago have some since 2010, when the current union leadership took office. The CORE caucus (of which I am a member, as well as a founding member and for five years a member of the caucus's steering committee) took office on July 1, 2010 having defeated the "New UPC" (headed by Marilyn Stewart) in the May-June 2010 elections.

One of those worst years, FY 2012, saw the union surrender a contractual four percent raise rather than continue to fight against the CPS claim that the Board of Education could not "reasonably assume" it would have the money during FY 2012 to pay for it. (Disclosure: I was a research consultant for the CTU at the time and appeared at the first grievance hearing challenging the Board's refusal to pay the four percent, which had been negotiated in the final contract signed by the previous union leadership. We were not told that part of the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 was to give up that grievance -- which would have led to a ULP -- until I asked what happened to the grievance, which was worth thousands of dollars for every CTU member!).

During the discussion that led to the members' acceptance of the proposed agreement following the suspension of picketing in September 2012, much was made of the "non monetary" victories the union had supposedly achieved. Among these were a contract provision against "bullying" (by principals) and a contract provision to "reduce paperwork." By 2015, it was clear the both of those victories were questionable in most schools -- if not a joke.

Similar claims are being made for some of the provisions of the proposed contract that is now going to be debated at the union's House of Delegates (October 19) and then if the HOD votes to recommend that proposed contract to the membership for a referendum.
This year, all teacher members of the CTU (including low-paid substitute teachers) are paying more than $1,100 per year in union dues.
Traditionally, the two legal duties of a union in the USA to its members are:
-- Negotiate a strong contract.
-- Enforce that contract vigorously on behalf of all the union's members.

Any other objectives the union or its leadership may also have are not legal obligations to the dues-paying members, but choices made by the leadership (sometimes in consultation with the members; recently less so). These include defining a CTU strike as a strike for "better schools." During virtually all previous strikes, the union proclaimed that it was on strike for a contract. Some teachers produced signs proposing other reasons, but the main reason for each strike was to win a stronger contract.

And the best way to measure the success of a contract for all the union's members is by how it improves their pay, benefits, and working conditions.


Late in the afternoon of October 12, 2016, the CTU sent out the following clarification about what the House of Delegates vote will mean. Basically, the HOD will make a recommendation to the membership. Only a membership vote determines whether a contract has been ratified.
Be advised,

This is to provide accurate information regarding the CTU contract ratification process. Here is the actual constitutional language regarding the process in ratifying a labor agreement with the Chicago Board of Education. An earlier advisory, issued by the Communications Department, indicated that the House of Delegates had to recommend whether to send the tentative agreement to the full membership. However, according to the CTU Constitution, the agreement goes to the full membership regardless of what is recommended by the House. Please excuse any error or confusion this may have caused and here is the corrected language:

CTU Constitution says:

Sec. 1: Authority Subject to the final authority of the membership, the general governing body of the Union shall be a House of Delegates, the members of which shall be members of the Union in good standing, elected by vote of their constituent Union members.

Each member of the House of Delegates shall have full voting privileges (except as provided for in
Article VI Sec. 2b), except members representing retired members shall not vote on the authorization of a strike or the acceptance or the rejecting of a partial or final collective bargaining agreement.

Action by the House to authorize a strike or accept or reject a partial or final collective bargaining agreement shall be advisory only and in both instances shall be subject to a final, direct vote of the regular members.
The House of Delegates shall determine the actual date of the strike.
The manner of such voting shall be set by the House except that the House may never authorize indirect voting.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Democrats smell Blood. Obama savages Republicans.

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The founders of this blog do not and would never support a Democrat or any candidate from one of the capitalist parties or any capitalist party. In anticipation of criticism from the left, we do not believe the Green Party is a capitalist party nor is it a workers' party, this has not yet been defined.

But this assault by President Obama on the Republican Party and in particular its leadership is important and a reflection of the crisis in US bourgeois politics.  The gloves are off as the Democrats smell blood. There is no "reaching across the aisle" here and I'm sure Barack Obama gets a certain amount of personal pleasure socking it to them as the Republican Party implodes.

As we have on this blog over time, he refers to the backward elements the Republicans consciously appealed to in order to build a base such as right wing Christian Zionists, climate deniers, politically backward workers along with various stripes of racists, misogynists, xenophobes and cranks. But the appeal to this section of society was not just for a vote at election time.

A party needs footsoldiers and the Democrats have had the labor movement provide this service to a great degree, walking precincts, manning phone banks, raising money etc.  The Republican Party used these people to fill this void to mobilize and get out the vote, but as we warned, getting rid of them would be a different matter. These people are ideologically driven and their ideology is not egalitarian. 

Obama doesn't hold back, he lashes the Republican Party leadership for their opportunism in fueling  the flames while having some sympathy for those that actually believed what was said. For me, the fierceness of this assault confirms our assessment of likely developments that we outlined in our statement last week "US Capitalism. Its Political Monopoly comes apart. A new era opens." 

Trump will be defeated, and perhaps a right wing split led by Trump or one or the other influential right wing political figures will emerge. There is also talk of a right wing media corporation that would replace the likes of Fox News. It's hard to say but it is clear the movement is there for such an organized expression to develop. And as we point out, if this happens, it will surely be countered with some sort of left split from the Democrats. The rise of Trump and Sanders at the other end of the spectrum takes place within the framework of a global revolt against the status quo.  The US political scene and mass consciousness is entering a new era.

Please read our statement linked to above.

Obama has been very good to the US 1%. He has been as merciless as Bush as far as foreign policy is concerned and Hillary Clinton will continue in the same mold.  Obama is a powerful and astute representative of the US capitalist class, the consummate bourgeois politician. he is not, as some have described him, an "Uncle Tom".  This is a crude attempt at an insult and does not help us understand the political nature of the period.  Barack Obama defends his class with the tenacity of a Margaret Thatcher, he is a powerful man.  And in the struggle for which party of that class will govern US society for the next four years he grasps the bull by the horns and ensures the opponent not only goes down but stays there.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sports announcers tiptoe around Kaepernick as they undermine him

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I was watching a bit of football yesterday and you have to marvel at the commentators. They were going on about the weather and what this means for the players. The ball gets wet. It can slip through their hands. It’s hard to hold on to. The field is muddy and the players can slip so they might have to change their cleats.  The problem is the longer cleat could get stuck in the mud and it could cause a knee injury. Fairly interesting stuff about the cleats but like the suicide bombing instructor told his students, “I’m only going to show you how this works once.”  How many times do we need to be told you can slip easier in a muddy field than a dry one?

Yup, I can see why women were excluded in this profession for so long, discourse like that takes real brains and knowledge that is accumulated over years of playing football. It also takes an intimate understanding of meteorology and weather patterns not to mention a thorough knowledge of soil consistency.  That’s why these folks get paid so highly.

Well, I am being facetious of course, any number of men (and women) I worked with all those years could have made football commentary as interesting if not more so. But really, you can only say so much about football.

Then the real reason the dialogue is so limited is revealed in the intellectual analysis at half time. We hear the same type of chatter every week, if that’s how one spends their time that is. But this time the San Francisco 49ers were playing and got beat. They got beat pretty bad and it’s an awkward moment as Colin Kaepernick was quarterback for SF. Oh my, what can they do? It’s that elephant in the room, that embarrassing moment when you realize you have to say something but you have to be very careful you don’t upset the boss, that you don’t break the rules that are necessary if one doesn’t fall in to the abyss and have to go find a real job.

The host asked the other three (or four, I can’t remember) what they thought about his level of play. I'm pretty sure something was said about his protest, not standing for the national anthem in order to bring attention to the daily killings of black people by the police, but I missed it.  One commentator talked about Kaepernick’s need to concentrate on football, another that he needs to forget about the little things. These are references to his political statement.  “Little things?”

They can’t ignore what Kaepernick did as it has received considerable support except from folks like members of the US Supreme Court, the top judicial body that interprets society’s laws in a way that doesn’t threaten the undermine the capitalist system, but most importantly from workers, students and even military veterans. Imagine it. A simple, harmless thing like kneeling during a national anthem is so terrifying they have to dance around it. And why play a national anthem during a football game? Because it enforces the idea that there are no class antagonisms in society. They always have ads for the military too. They need our kids to fight their profit driven wars. Here's the honest truth: They are not defending us from external enemies. They are diveritng attention from internal ones.

More than any other advanced capitalist economy, US capitalism desperately fears the immense power that the US working class has. The theoreticians of capitalism are aware of the revolutionary history of this country from its early beginnings as a modern nations state and before that. The resistance to colonization by the native population, slave revolts, the rise of the industrial working class and the strikes, battles and huge factory occupations that built the unions and the black revolt that followed.

The propaganda is fierce. Hollywood churns out garbage movies that generally have us all living in neighborhoods most of us don’t live in. The struggle to pay the rent, keep the kids in college, enjoy some leisure time after working three jobs or the two months or more a year than most other workers in the advanced capitalist economies do, is all absent. Even when the propagandists of the 1% do make movies about history it is will be false. Yes, it will be the “white man’s” history as some people of color might refer to it. But which white man is the issue. It is the history of the white capitalist class; it is their history. They are white skinned, they are Protestants in the main, but these are secondary issues. Most Protestants are workers.Today there is a significant black middle class and even a small black bourgeois. It is the black petit bourgeois whose role it is to hold back the revolutionary potential of the black workers.

We are taught to worship their heroes. It’s not an accident that few American workers know of Eugene Debs, Big Bill Haywood, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn or Dan Ettor, the young leader of the great Lawrence Strike. The history of the white working class will be painted with the white capitalists brush, in their universities, their film studios their history books and it will always be taught in a way that divides workers, that keeps the racial and gender divide alive. In Mother Jones’ biography it talks of Big Mary Septak. She ran a boarding house for workers in Pennsylvania I think and led a mass of women to the picket line to confront the gun thugs hired by the coal barons because the men were so savagely beaten an often murdered by company thugs.

I wanted to find out more about her just to understand more about her history. There are millions of Big Mary Septaks from all cultures, races and religions, people to whom we owe our thanks and a debt of gratitude. They are not widely known because they are the wrong heroes. They stood against the tide.  They did what the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies are doing in North Dakota. Those who thought the Native Americans were defeated have been proven wrong.

There are a number of local issues on the ballot in my town. I refuse to support any bond measures. No taxes on workers, the middle class or community businesses. There is money everywhere, we have to go get it. To be successful workers have to be united. The bosses know this and fear it. This is why the uncomfortable Kaepernick moment at the half time analysis during the raider Kansas City game. Kaepernick's actions are not perfect, it is a minor show of defiance and he could do more. Yet he must be discredited. How the ruling class fear us.

That the analysts had to belittle Kaepernick in some way “concentrate” on football forget about the “little things, is evidence enough that we are far from free. Capitalism is constant coercion all the time and the most brutal violence when it is threatened. Had one of these commentators shown any serious sympathy for Kaepernick’s stand, let alone support him, the good living, limelight, fame and money would be gone a lot quicker than it arrived. The gravy train would end as we say.  This coercion is the same in all workplaces of course, which is why they hate unions or any unity of workers, organization makes us stronger, freer. This is not freedom.

In the absence of ownership of the mass media, all workers must support Kaepernick. It is in our interests to do so. Accepting in our own minds that we do not live in a free society but an oppressive one is a good thing. It is the first step toward real emancipation.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Opposition to Trump changes the consciousness in the country.

By Sean O’Torain

This Blog and its authors have never supported any of the three capitalist parties, the Republicans, The Democrats or the Libertarians, or their candidates for President or any other position. Nor will it ever do so. The reason for this is simple. All these parties and candidates represent the interests of the 1% and act to make sure this class stays in power, holds onto its wealth and power nationally and internationally and acts to keep the working class nationally and internationally exploited and controlled.

No support for capitalism, no support for capitalist institutions, no support for capitalist parties these are fundamental principles of this Blog. However this does not mean that all other issues can be ignored or that this position can be stated crudely and left hanging in the air. Something very important in terms of changes in the American workforce and society and consciousness is taking place at present and this must be analyzed and understood and properly related to. I am talking about developments and changes in the consciousness of a large section of the women in the workforce, in the schools and colleges as the struggle for the presidency unfolds. And also developments and changes in the consciousness of a section of men in the workforce.

In the statement Facts For Working People published on the present political crisis
that we posted earlier in the week,  we explained that the Republican Party was coming apart. And that as it did this would end the relative stability of US capitalism as it would lose the two party capitalist political monopoly it had held for over a century. We also explained that this would probably take the form of a right split from the Republicans which would evoke a left split from the Democrats and the trade unions and the formation of new movements or parties of the right and the left. And these could at least for a time have a semi mass or mass base. This would lead to an increase in class polarization and class consciousness.

Of course it will be necessary to continually monitor developments because it is possible that Trump and his bunch of thugs might so overplay their hand and so damage themselves, that they might not be able to hold together sufficient forces to evolve into or form a new right wing movement or party out of the wreckage of the Republican party. Under the leadership of such as Steve Bannon and Breitbart and Trump himself they could destroy themselves.

However this is by no means certain. There is still a significant section of people supporting Trump and they might stay with Trump and possibly stay with him and follow him out of the Republican party and set up a new extreme right wing movement or party. The section of people who are sticking with Trump, are not insignificant in numbers. And they include significant numbers of women. How can this be so?  There are a number of reasons. Jobs and wages and conditions are under attack, this attack is seen rightly as being carried out by the two capitalist parties and so these parties have been losing authority.

At the same time there are the challenges to the conventional personal relationships, recognition of same sex marriage, recognition of gay and transgender rights, more open opposition to racism and sexism and police brutality, a weakening of US power abroad, for a whole layer of people these changes are very frightening. It is here Trump comes in and how he keeps his base. Make America Great Again. This means going back to the old racist, sexist, imperialist ways. This has a certain appeal to people whose world is coming apart. This is why Trump holds onto a certain base. 

The old world that these people thought existed was of course mostly fraudulent. However this did not mean that nothing was changing.  The old world that these people imagined they lived in was coming apart. The jobs going abroad, wages being attacked. For the first time an African American President was in power. Yes change was taking place. And with the leaders of the 14 million strong trade union giving no alternative there was room for the Trump weeds to grow. 

But this post today is about another aspect of this issue. It is not about those who are afraid of change and cling to Trump, it is about those who want change and who seeing no alternative support Clinton. As the election comes closer and more and more filth comes out about Trump it looks increasingly likely that Clinton will be elected. As this becomes more likely a greater and greater enthusiasm and hope arises amongst the majority of women that Trump and his vicious misogyny can be defeated. "I want somebody who looks like me in the White House" is a familiar demand from many women. This desire tends to hide the fact that the Clintons themselves are guilty of misogyny and abuse and intimidating and abusing women. Every time Trump opens his mouth this reality is pushed to the background. More and more women look at what Trump says and has done and represents and remember all the times in their lives when they were sexually harassed and abused and "had to take it."

A powerful pent up rage has developed amongst large sections of women. A powerful demand for an end to this situation, an end to their special oppression, to their second class citizenship, has developed. A huge change in consciousness amongst women has taken place and  this is now beginning to break to the surface. Part of the reason for this change in consciousness has been the example of other struggles such as the Black revolt of the I960's, the women's revolt of the 1960's and 1970's, and more recently struggles such as those in many countries on the one day in support of Irish women's struggle for the right to choose and the recent struggle in Poland where women drove back the extreme right wing Catholic dominated government's efforts to pass new much more restrictive anti choice laws.  We have seen women factory workers in Bangladesh and South East Asia battling strikebreakers and hired company thugs. And in India where between 150 and 180 million went on a one day strike against more repressive labor laws.

Part of this change in consciousness of US women and women internationally is the huge movement of workers into the paid workforce. This is taking place all over the world. 50% of the world's factory workers today are now women. This enormously strengthens the struggle of women workers and all workers. It increases women's confidence and strength. As one woman recently said "I have my own job now I don't have to take any s... from any man." More women in the paid workforce gives more weight to the special demands and needs of women workers and all women. 

As US capitalism increases its attacks on the US working class to pay for its wars and occupations abroad, more and more women workers have to move into the paid workforce and also in many cases take more than one job. This is part of what is reflected in the support for Clinton against the extreme reactionary Trump. Women workers by moving in increasing numbers into the paid workforce have more power, have more needs and have more expectations. They want somebody who looks like them in the White House and they want the misogynist bully and violent abuser to be stopped. 

There is a saying in political struggle that sometimes the revolution needs the whip of the counter revolution. What is meant by this is that sometimes, especially when there is inadequate leadership, or in the case of the US, a trade union leadership which is so backward, the movement forward has to be threatened with, or actually go through, a movement back before it concludes it has to stand up and fight, that it has to organize and fight. This is  what is happening at present in the US. More and more people cannot close their eyes to what a Trump society would be: Back to the past, women being grabbed, women being harassed, men and women alike being fired at the bosses' will, a nut case with his hands on the nuclear buttons. Remember "You're fired". This was not a joke. All the old crap would come back.

This is what is meant by make American great again. This is what the Trump campaign is actually saying with their slogan. Trump and the scum who run his campaign are the whip of the counter revolution. They embody within themselves what society under their rule would mean. More and more people are being forced to face up to this. And as the polls show this is being increasingly understood and increasingly rejected. 

An extremely important part of understanding what is going on is what is taking place in relation to consciousness. Both the consciousness of a large section of women, but also and very importantly the consciousness of a large section of men are being affected. All are being forced to consider how they act and how they talk. Many men as well as women are being forced to think and are being repulsed by Trump. Do they speak and act like Trump with his "locker room" talk, this in itself is a lie, and his aggressive violent actions against women, or do they  treat all people with respect and consideration for each others feelings and wishes. US society is going through a period where it is being forced to look at itself and decide.

So far the majority is rejecting the Trump road. This is a major and great and wonderful development. Consider how deep rooted this change that is taking place actually is. My companion and her friends, none of whom have a political tradition or background, have bought champagne to celebrate when as they believe will be the case Trump is decisively counted out. Now we also have the professional athletes speaking up and saying that things are not like that in their "locker rooms." This comes on top of the protests against racism and police violence that are taking place in the sports stadiums. All kinds of struggles are coming together. If only the trade union leaders could even make a squeak or even a half bleat or say some goddamn thing. I once worked for a veterinary surgeon who had won an award in a war he had fought in for taking the vocal chords out of mules which carried munitions so they would not give away their positions to the enemy. I am wondering have the US trade union leaders had their vocal chords removed? 

US society has entered a new period. However long it takes for this new period to play itself out, we cannot predict in advance. But the old two capitalist party monopoly is beginning to break up. And at the same time under the threat of Trump the most reactionary, racist and sexist attitudes which exist are being challenged and thrown back.

It will probably have to go though some harsh experiences in order to learn the more harsh reality of US capitalist society as it goes deeper into crisis-------will probably have to go through the experience of a Clinton presidency which will carry on with the capitalist offensive, even step up the capitalist offensive, against its own working class and its imperialist offensive abroad.

While this must be explained, and Clinton's role spelled out and opposed, this must be separated from the entirely progressive demand and urgency amongst so many women for an end to the old sexist and misogynist society in which they have been and are treated as second class citizens. The authors of this Blog seek to do this by the most intransigent opposition to sexism and misogyny, by seeking to organize all workers into fighting trade unions, (the gap between the wages and conditions of men and women is less in those industries where the unionization rate is highest).

We also seek to take control of our own lives by ending capitalism and building a democratic international socialist society. In the coming elections we support Jill Stein for president. Her and the Green Party's policies, while not perfect, are more in the interests of women and working class people than any other party or candidate. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trump is a degenerate but he has a lot of company.

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444,retired

So Trump looks at a ten year old girl and boasts about dating her in ten years. But this comment was made on a CBS owned network. CBS made no stink about it it appears. It reminds me of the OJ case. All these executives and big shots in the entertainment and corporate world knew he was a wife beater. That didn't stop him running through airports for them selling their wares. Only when they were forced to did they dump him. The whole Trump thing is more about capitalist society, the commodification of everything including young girls. We all know people in power abuse people that is what the workplace is like. From workers being afraid to complain about an abusive boss or not getting that promotion because they do, or young girls (or boys) being groped, raped, sexually abused by pigs like Trump that’s what money allows one to do. Money is social power.

What civilized society would have these pageants anyway? Look at the ads for teenage girls on TV? Oppression is everywhere. Trump has made lots of money not just for himself but for TV executives, corporate CEO’s and other parasites. He was on a TV show where his signature call was “You’re Fired”. I spent my entire life defending workers that were threatened at work or were in fear of losing their jobs.

Trump is a degenerate, racist, and misogynist, not to mention a pedophile. I talked to a public sector worker that said he supported him. Some people not only lack class consciousness they have no brains at all. Trump would savage public sector workers and indeed all workers. Hillary Clinton of course is not much better except she is smarter, a more astute representative of her class. She will leave a trail of misery in her wake. This is the political crisis US capitalism is in, it cannot find a candidate it likes.

For workers we have no voice in this process. As a friend from abroad also pointed out, nor do they. As the most heavily armed and violent force on the planet, what it does affects everyone. It is even more dangerous as it's global superiority is threatened by the rise of China and Russia.

We are supposed to take the US State Department's word that Houthis fired on a US ship and now the US, along with its ally Saudi Arabia is also launching airstrikes against Yemen, the former colony of British imperialism. Yes, Trump is a degenerate thug. But it’s more than Trump it’s the rotten system in which we live and we have to change it we want a future for our children and grandchildren. A lot of the forces criticizing him now like CBS news and the other capitalist mass media have kept mum all along. They’re all guilty.