Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Democrats' "Better Deal" No Deal At All.

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

US society is in a deep political crisis, perhaps the most significant crisis since WW2.  It’s not simply that the US bourgeois were unable to find a suitable candidate in the last election, or that their eventual choice ended up losing to a degenerate racist and misogynist who thinks that being the head of state and managing an economy is the same as owning a few hotels.  It’s that things have not improved at all.  The two parties of the US ruling class that have governed for over a century have no credibility with millions of working class Americans.

It’s more nauseating listening to liberal Democrats like Elizabeth Warren than the right wing Republicans. In response to a recent ABC News/ Washington Post poll finding that 52% of Americans agree that the Democratic Party is simply “anti-Trump” with 37% agreeing the party doesn’t stand for anything at all, Democrats announced a new plan for America in a small Republican dominated community less than 100 miles from Washington DC.  This party of Wall Street and the world’s dominant capitalist class, labels this new program, “A better deal”.

“We’re here today because the economy is broken. Americans know that this economy is rigged.” Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts told the gathering. Have we heard that before? Even more repugnant and insulting to working people was New York Senator, Chuck Schumer who told the massive 100-strong crowd at a park in Berryville Virginia, “Too many Americans don’t know what we stand for”. Yes we do, Chuck, like the Republicans they are a party of big business and war. We’ve felt the consequences of their policies as much as we have Republicans as they both have the same backers. Their differences are for the most part simply a matter of degrees.

That’s exactly why the voter turnout is so low in the US and also why the liberals are often hated more than the conservative types, they’re so arrogant and holier than thou; they arrogantly portray themselves as the party of the common folk, the working woman and man. The US working class and poor have been savaged by both Democrats and Republican parties, we pointed out in a previous post why it is they have to lie to us all the time. Many workers who voted for Trump voted twice for Obama the drone king but I’ll leave that out as slaughtering workers and peasants abroad doesn’t count in US politics.

Sounding like Trump, the Democrats “Better Deal” calls for 10 million new infrastructure jobs and worker training. Their plan for making that happen is giving capitalists our tax money so they’ll use some of it to hire more of us. We already do that through the tax system that the rich wrote for themselves, and with sports stadiums where even the profits are taxpayer guaranteed.

The plan calls for blocking large mergers and creating what they call a “competition advocate” to “……stop abusive corporate conduct and the exploitation of market power where it already exists” This is an appeal to the small capitalists who are also in the clutches of the corporations, insurance companies, health care companies and also through stifling tax measures. Along these lines the Democrats want to, “reinvigorate and modernize” US anti-trust laws “for a broad attack on corporations’ swollen economic and political influence….” The Financial Times (7-25-17).

This rhetoric aimed at curbing the power of huge corporations and making capitalism “fair” is not new, "Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism. ... “  Theodore Roosevelt said in the State of the Union Address in 1902 “,  …..We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth."

The Democrats are dragging out old cliché’s representing policies that have failed. Roosevelt’s big gun was the Sherman Antitrust Act, passed by Congress in 1890. The Sherman Act declared that all “combinations” that hindered competition and trade were illegal but that didn’t matter, in most cases the courts always sided with big business as they do today. The law will not forbid capitalists from exercising their natural right to do with their capital what they will. Only in times of national peril or when the system itself is threatened, will the state, (the executive of the capitalist class as a whole) step in and curb excess or activity on the part of sections of the class or individual capitalists.  Franklin Roosevelt used the state for this purpose despite serious opposition from his class.

Best Democracy Money Can Buy
Capitalism is not fair and capitalists are not in the business of fairness. The reason this idea has never been realized----corporations serving the public good------ is that the object of such formations is wealth creation for the owners and big capitalists that invest in them and the source of that wealth is profit which has its origin in the unpaid labor of the working class. Even if we consider that industrial food production actually feeds society how food is produced is harmful to us in the long run. Good healthy food, socially and environmentally friendly energy, housing, transportation and all aspects of life could be produced but it is profit that determines how we produce, not social or environmental concerns.

So the Democrats phony “Better Deal” will continue what is already failing us.

They don’t mention the millions that don’t participate in the electoral process at all, people that have determined correctly that in the main their participation will not produce the goods. We won the right to vote in bourgeois elections and we must defend it, but workers have no party and therefore no voice.

Over decades the leadership of organized labor, down to some 7% of the US working class if we leave the public sector out of it, has given billions of dollars to the Democratic Party at election time; our hard earned dues money. It is not only money, an army of foot soldiers and canvasers, union staffers and volunteers have helped Democrats in elections, what amounts to more billions in free labor power. My union, Afscme supplied 40,000 volunteers for Mondale in the 1980’s, phone banking precinct walking etc.

Yet during all of this, during periods when the Democrats controlled both houses and the presidency, Carter in the late 70’s and the first two years of the Clinton administration workers' material conditions continued to decline. Carter used the Taft Hartley against the miners in 1978 and began the regulation that Reagan continued. Clinton brought us Nafta, threw poor people off welfare in to union jobs without the same wages and benefits.

And the Democrat’s “Better Deal” never mentions the word “union” as Rana Foroohar pointed out in the Financial Times yesterday.

“Democrats will show the country we are the party of the side of working people.” Said Schumer at the rally, The Democrats’ pathetic efforts to get back in the drivers seat are too little to late to pacify the American working class and poor at this point. They offer nothing and most workers see that.  This party, the party of the slave owners, has never been on the side of working people and even less so at this particular stage in history.

This and the fact that millions of workers have opted out of the electoral process altogether reveals the weak position the two parties of capitalism are in. Neither party reaches out to this layer blaming them for not caring about the world they live in or for being apathetic. Neither explanation is true; they have simply drawn the conclusion that neither party represents them. The movement around Trump and Sanders reflect the thirst for something different. That a recent poll finds that some 57% of Americans want a new party tells us something. That Trump is who he is or that some/many Sanders supporters have no idea what socialism is shouldn’t put us off, movements when they arise are confused and contradictory things and we need not let pessimism overcome us.

That the Republicans are having such a difficult time with this health bill, both repealing Obama’s limited reforms that were also a boon to the insurance industry, as well as passing one of their own, is due to fear of provoking a serious social backlash. Politicians have been savaged at town hall meetings with such ferocity that some of them are refusing to attend them. And these were not the usual suspects.  We had the massive women’s march that brought out some 3 to 4 million people, the science marches, the airport protests against the xenophobic assault on immigrants and these come on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement, the near civil war in Standing Rock. 

Why is the Labor Leadership Silent? Why Won’t They Act?
It is not corruption in the form of bribery or their obscene salaries that forces the labor officialdom to suppress the potential power of organized labor’s ranks from rising to the occasion and drawing in to the movement millions of the unorganized especially youth. They play a role but it is exactly this potential power that forces them to suppress it. From their perspective the mobilization of organized labor’s ranks can only lead to chaos. They do not have and do not see any alternative to capitalism and the market so they are forced by their own consciousness to hold back the anger of the organized working class and the working class as a whole.

The labor leadership will not organize a serious fightback but this does not mean they will never do anything, a false view that many in the self styled revolutionary left hold which is in reality an excuse for avoiding the inevitable conflict with labor’s hierarchy for any individual or group demanding a serious change in our strategy. We are in a struggle for the consciousness of the working class both inside and outside organized labor.

Mass protests are liable to burst on to the scene at any time. The state of emergency in an affluent community in Southern California that led to huge evacuations due to a natural gas leak and a similar situation in Northern California after a spillway on America’s tallest dam ruptured causing another 200,000 to be evacuated form their homes is one example of where the fire could erupt.  Experts and environmentalists warned of this danger a decade earlier----thousands could have died had that market driven disaster not been curtailed. Then we have the poisoning of urban and rural residents drinking water something that has also been acute on Native American land along with poisoning from uranium and other mining ventures.

Faced with another slump or deep recession within the next 18 months possibly earlier, the war on workers and the middle class will continue apace no matter which Wall Street party is in the driver’s seat. The criminal betrayal on the part of the leaders of organized labor cannot be understated; we must not remain silent on this betrayal, we must act on it. People are dying, suffocated like fish out of water gasping for air in trucks after being trafficked across the Mexican/US border by unscrupulous gangsters exploiting their desperate conditions.  And the heads of workers’ organizations with 14 million members affiliated to them say nothing. Not a press conference, no threats of retaliation, no effort to link the assault on Mexican workers with the attacks on workers north of the border explaining that the same forces, the capitalist class, that tiny section of humanity that own the means of producing the necessities of life are responsible. It is the system of production they govern and perpetuate that must be eradicated, there is no escaping this reality.

Young people should consider this: In Los Angeles, one of the world’s top economies in a state of the US that is one of the world’s top economies, there is a workers’ organization that represents 800,000 workers------ the LA Federation of Labor. These workers play a crucial role in transportation particularly shipping and Pacific Rim trade which is crucial to California.  When I ran for Oakland City Council an economic analysis stressed that what determined the economics and politics of Oakland was Pacific Rim Trade.  In California as a whole there are 2 million workers in various unions organized in the LA Fed’s parent organization, the California State Federation of Labor.

In Chicago these same bodies represent half a million workers in 300 or so unions. My former union Afscme has about 4000 locals and over 1 million members, there are about 1000 labor councils throughout the country like the aforementioned LA body. There is tremendous potential power in these structures and their membership. After years of inactivity and/or betrayals by the leadership, rank and file union members have become demoralized or believe they cannot change anything, a mood that exists throughout US society. This mood is encouraged by the union officialdom they cling to the hope that things might get better and plead with the capitalists to slow down and be a little less aggressive, at least keep their members satisfied so the dues money keeps coming in and they have a job.

In many local unions there is dissatisfaction and despair. Rank and file members can and must push their locals to call for and organize meetings to discuss the present situation both domestically and internationally. Resolutions can be introduced and more importantly debated so that the issues of the day are laid on the table and consciousness raised. Whether passed or not, they can be sent to higher bodies, members can leaflet other workplaces and union halls calling on all rank and file union members to join their local in pushing their local union to do the same reaching out to the communities in which we live and work to organize meetings to discuss these crucial issues that will determine our future and the future of the planet to be quite honest.

Many workers, especially young workers are not in unions but have relatives and friends that are. You can encourage them to go to their union and fight for this strategy, for them to call meetings in conjunction with the community to discuss and debate the present situation and build a movement to fight back. The issue of rents alone is a crucial one for working class people, unions taking up the issue of housing and not limiting our demands to simply our own conditions on the job is crucial to our survival.

As I write this I have the Financial Times next to me. It reports that in Japan, a “reformist crusader” a woman is shaking up the political landscape. She is Tokyo’s first ever female governor Yuriko Koike and she defeated Abe and the Liberal Democrats in the elections for Tokyo’s assembly.  She is no friend of workers vowing that capital would be “the gravitational force of the growth strategy.” But she has things in common with Macron, Melanchon, Corbyn, the Greeks, Portugese, Spanish and numerous countries throughout the world---she is the candidate of a newly formed political party. The global status quo is braking up and it can take many forms. The right with their anti-worker, racist, nationalist and backward views can fill this vacuum if we don't.

The situation is ripe in the Unites States as well------Sanders and the degenerate Trump are proof of it. Objective conditions will force change and it will force the US working class to enter the stage at some point. At the moment we have no political voice as the 1% are reeling form political scandal and division. This opportunity should not be wasted.

I just felt the need this morning to urge my sisters, brothers and comrades not to despair but action is what counts.  As the old saying goes:

Don’t Mourn----Organize.

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