Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Public education, US infrastructure, victims of US wars and arms industry profits

Institutionalized racism affects the poorest sections of the working class most
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

As Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago School District move to layoff staff and increase pension contributions from teachers in an effort to trim $250 million from annual costs, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter wants to direct more money to the misnamed defense budget. The defense budget request for 2017 is $583 billion.

The money is needed to “tackle the challenges posed by Russia and China….” The Wall Street Journal reports. The Pentagon in demanding more money from the US taxpayer is taking, “The long view” Carter says. Defense officials, and more importantly the CEO’s of the arms industry, have become increasingly concerned that US military superiority is being threatened by the rise of China and Russia.

The idea that any country poses a threat to the US which is the most heavily armed nuclear power in the world and indeed, the history of humanity, is absurd. But the arms industry is a very profitable one unlike public education. “When you look at the numbers for the Chicago public schools, bankruptcy has to be an option that’s on the table. They are so broken,”, Bruce Rauner, the speculator, moneylender and investor who was elected governor of Illinois in 2014 tells the WSJ. Forest Claypool, another businessman and attorney, appointed CEO of Chicago public schools by Rahm Emanuel last year, is determined to right the wrongs in public education by further attacks, “I think we’re sending a very strong signal here that we are going to right the fiscal ship,” he says of the cuts to an already decimated system.

The school system is heading for the bond market appealing to investors for cash but capitalists don’t loan out capital for the benefit of society and their kids don’t go to public schools. So the investors are getting a little incentive as the school system is offering, “ protections” and interest rates as high as 7.75% . This is as much as 5 percentage points above rates paid by states and cities with top credit rates according to the media. We can only guess what the “new protections” are but it is safe to say that it will be some sort of guarantee that the investors get the profits on interest while the losses are paid by the taxpayer. This is how sports stadiums are built.

These two items are connected, the massive expenditure on the military industrial complex and the savaging and literal destruction of US public education. Ash Carter wants to double the present $7.5 billion budget to fight ISIS as stockpiles are, “running low” and $1.8 billion is needed buy “45,000 bombs and rockets” . (WSJ).

The extra money for Europe is part of the long term goal of countering “Russian aggression” we are told. The US has warships in the Persian Gulf to deter Iranian aggression, it is called the “Persian Gulf” isn’t it? US warships are in the South China Sea to counter Chinese aggression and the US provocatively sends an aircraft carrier through a strait to let China know it is an international waterway which to my knowledge China has not denied. Perhaps a merchant ship might have been a better bet. The US has troops on the Russian border, supports fascists in the Ukraine and through 20 years of uninterrupted bombing and warfare in the Middle East has destroyed Iraq as a nation state and laid the basis for the rise of ISIS, many of the leaders of which are former allies of the Pentagon and friends of the CIA.

Russia’s Putin, a former KGB officer is certainly no friend of working people or democratic rights, and Russia, like any nation state, particularly a big one, has imperial interests. But in a recent forum he set straight a pompous mouthpiece of British capitalism who questioned him about Russia’s aggressive role in the world. The US has surrounded Russia, China and Iran with bases and for most people in the world, excluding Americans who have the most unfree and heavily censored mass media of all the advanced capitalist economic, it is sheer arrogance for US officials to talk of aggression from other nations.

US capitalism is under threat from Russia and China as emerging market economies it’s true. Capitalism is not a friendly system, it is a highly competitive one, Two world wars were fought over a struggle for the resources of the world and markets and millions of workers died fighting them. The world’s dominant imperialist power, Britain, was replaced by the US. Empires come and go. I remember once looking at the oceanfront in the northern English town of Morecombe; it had a Victorian look to it. It was clear to see that the architecture and style was a remnant of Britain’s imperial past. Once the factory of the world British capitalism now clings to the coattails of its American cousin; itself a declining power.

The decay we are seeing in our US cities, the crisis in education and the ongoing environmental disasters that are explained away as accidents or the result of cronies and decisions by individuals with bad moral character, are a product of a decaying system. The difference this time is the immense power of the weaponry science in the service of capitalism has developed. We are now capable of destroying life as we know it. Nuclear arms have, to a certain extent, deterred world wars but the never ending regional conflict has grown. I look at this video of Homs in Syria, a short plane ride from the affluence of the UAE or Saudi Arabia. I can only imagine what this life must do to children and all its victims. I took a train from Ankara to Baghdad in 1971. I went through northern Syria, northern Iraq, took a bus from Baghdad to Basra. People were good to me; they never threatened me. They were overwhelmingly Muslim. Islam isn’t the problem----capitalism and Imperialism is.

The ongoing regional conflicts and wars will continue, there is no end in sight if capitalism is not overthrown and replaced with a collective human society and economy. At some point, some force somewhere will obtain a nuclear device. Look at that video closely. How can anyone living through that not draw the conclusion that there’s no hope in this world and be drawn to all sorts of maniacal religious and other doctrines? All hope has gone.

We have pointed out on this blog that the US too can no longer afford “guns and butter”. Even in its most affluent period, that post WW2 era that created the material conditions for the so-called American Dream, the US could not provide economic security for millions of its citizens, could not provide butter for all. Today its infrastructure is crumbling, its education system is collapsing and higher education is being priced out of reach of millions. Wall Street, awash in cash, is demanding the return of the very loans that led to the Great Recession of 2007-08 as idle capital is lazy unproductive capital. The next crash is around the corner. The 1%’s media blame us for this. They blame the US working class, teachers, autoworkers, public sector workers of all types. The poor are to blame for their poverty. If it’s not us its foreigners, but the real enemy is at home, This is the propaganda of the 1%

If the American working and middle classes continue to place such a precious social service as public education in the hands of hedge fund managers and speculators. If we continue to tolerate and elect public officials from one of the Wall Street parties like Rauner in Illinois or the Democrat Emanuel in Chicago, whose business is the business of making money. If we continue to allow our wealth to be used to wage war on weaker nations supporting ruthless regimes that oppress their populations so that US corporations can rob the region of its resources, we have no future. Throughout the US and the world, workers, peasants, indigenous people, are rising up against the ravages of capitalism. Only the working class internationally can show a way out. Most industrial workers today reside in Asia. More than half of them are women. Despite this, capitalism will not be sent in to the garbage can of history without the involvement of the US working class, without us settling accounts with the US bourgeois.

We reside in the belly of the beast here.

No comments: