Working people are without candidates in the upcoming elections

No worker should vote for candidates that appeal to big business and accept workers have to be competitive.

Last month, US manufacturing cut 15,000 jobs in the face of a weak global economy and as two of our biggest export markets, Europe and China, begin to slow. Much of Europe is already in recession. Under these conditions, the private sector refuses to hire and investors refuse to invest in our communities as they only invest if they can make profit from their investments; social needs are secondary.  Meanwhile, the pace of work for the employed intensifies as bosses “squeeze more work from their current staff” writes Bloomberg Business Week. And “squeeze” they have; The U.S. produces almost one-quarter more goods and services today than it did in 1999, while using almost precisely the same number of workers. It’s as if $2.5 trillion worth of stuff—the equivalent of the entire U.S. economy circa 1958—materialized out of thin air.” Bloomberg Business Week pointed out in January.

Inequality in the US has risen at an alarming rate as the rich get richer at our expense. According to the Congressional Budget Office, average real after-tax household income of the top 1 percent rose 275 percent from 1979 to 2007, vs 65 percent for the top quintile and 18 percent for the bottom. It is no wonder that 85% of self-described middle class adults claim it’s harder to keep their standard of living than it was a decade ago.  For the poor, they live in a permanent state of crisis and depression.

And close to 7 out of 10 Americans believe the income tax system is either somewhat or very unfair and they are right.

The tax rate on highest earners in the US under Eisenhower was 92% Under Nixon, the Marginal Tax Rate on Regular Income over $200,000 was 77% Under Bush, the Marginal Tax Rate on Regular Income Over $297,350 was 39.1% - Over $357,700, 35%.

Capital gains, the profit of capital assets as opposed to wage income, is presently at a 15% maximum, the lowest since 1933. The Maximum Tax Rate on Long-Term Capital Gains under Nixon was 27.5% - 36.5%. You’re not dreaming---life is getting harder.

This rising inequality has occurred with the help of the politicians of both Wall Street Parties. Democratic and Republican administrations alike have helped the rich loot the wealth of society and increase their wealth at the expense of workers and the middle class. The famed Savings and Loan scandal was made possible through legislation supported by both parties.

Alongside the political offensive, we have seen a war against workers and organized Labor whose leaders have refused to mobilize the power of their members to drive back this offensive of capital.  As the power of Unions decline so do wages and benefits for all workers.  The offensive against the public sector, blaming workers and services for the economic crisis is part of the attempts to eliminate this last Union stronghold.

The privatization of public services from the USPS to education and transportation, water and power, and, of course, Social Security, is a conscious effort to open new avenues for profit making; for the coupon clippers public investment crowds private capital from the marketplace and opportunity for further capital accumulation.

San Leandro, the small town where I live has had its share of cuts and will, like communities throughout the country, be voting in local elections in a few months.  Local candidates throughout the nation will be asking for our votes and telling us that they are the man or woman for the job; they care about our community and our quality of life. 

But it is not possible for an individual to be elected to a local council or school board and drive back the forces that are destroying our standard of living; they are too powerful, in fact they are global forces.  Some candidates claim they will put “our” community first as if the fate of a small town in California can be determined in isolation from the economy as a whole.

Where I live, the candidates are all really candidates of business, not workers or wage earners.  They are either in one of the two big business parties, Democrat or Republican, or they look to investors, venture capitalists or other advocates of the so-called free market to solve our problems; these are the forces the taxpayers just bailed out.  They also all agree that to save our communities, they have to attract business, attract capital.  They all admit that other communities are doing this and we have to compete with them.

But what does this mean? How do we attract private capital?  We attract it with low taxes, low wages and no unions or compliant and cooperative ones.  If one community refuses to offer opportunity for investors to profit, the investors will go somewhere else.  It is a form of blackmail, economic terrorism in a way. There are numerous examples of this blackmail like Caterpillar moving production from Canada to Muncie Indiana where wages have been driven down to $12 an hour in order for the state to “compete” with low waged workers around the world. In 2010, US unit Labor costs in manufacturing were 13% lower than in 2000. This is what big business wants.

And we just bailed out the private sector, pulled it from the brink of the abyss. In fact, for all the propaganda about the “vibrant” private sector, it has been public funding that has brought about the great innovations of the last century. The Internet, medical advances including drugs, electricity and nuclear fission are all products of public expenditure.  And so many other scientific discoveries came about through public expenditure including through military spending which is a huge public expense. Transportation, social infrastructure like sewage systems and water which led to longer life for all of us were all developed through state spending as were the freeways that GM’s trucks run on.

One candidate in my community claims that we should vote for him as we have to compete for jobs which will bring a better quality of life. Impossible.  Competing for jobs sets workers in one community against workers in another which weakens us and prevents the unity and building of a generalized direct-action movement that can actually accomplish these things. Another says she will promote partnerships with businesses so as they prosper, we all do”

Every one of them talks about being the one to make "tough choices”. What “tough choices” are they talking about? They are talking about implementing the austerity measures that big business wants.  It means they are prepared to cut wages, education public services.  These statements are an assurance to moneyed interests that they can be relied upon to defend their interests.

Any candidate for public office that claims to represent working class people should pledge that they would not support attacks on workers and the middle class and instead use their position to build a movement that can drive back the big business offensive.  While such campaigns start locally they must reach out and link with surrounding communities as part of the effort to build a generalized offensive of our own. The money is there, it is how the wealth of society is allocated that is the issue.  Rooted in such a campaign, candidates independent of the two Wall Street parties can be put forward for office that would eventually become a national political alternative for workers, the middle class and small community businesses.

By building a direct action movement that will ensure it will not be business as usual if our needs are not met, we can change the direction our society is going in and close this inequality gap.  We cannot leave it to Wall Street and their precious free market. This is crucial for our young people whose future is one of increased instability, poverty and wars if we continue as we are. As things stand, the prisons are what the 1% have for them as the US imprisons more people than any other country.

Any candidate that wants a workers’ vote should make it clear that at a minimum they stand for:

* No cuts, no austerity: for a massive social spending program to rebuild infrastructure with Union Labor at Union rates of pay.

* For a $15 an hour minimum wage or a $5 an hour wage increase whichever is greater

*Federally funded education through all levels and a student to teachers ratio of 1 to 15

*A public health care system, no one turned away. Eliminate the Insurance middlemen.

* End the corporation’s wars abroad, bring our young people home

* Make the rich pay for their crisis. Not to raising taxes on workers, the middle class and small community businesses.

Such a campaign would attract millions of workers and the poor and a direct-action campaign can be built to change the course planned for us by Wall Street.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Fred Eiger September 27, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Why did people lose their homes???? Could it be they signed a crappy Adjustable Rate Mortgage? If people were intelligent they would have saw the falacy of ARMs and went with a traditional mortgage. However, basic economics is lacking in most people and non existence in Mellor.
Michael Allen October 05, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Richard, he's soundly beaten you in these online posts, Sir. No need to resort to name calling but you're right to not look worse by arguing with him more. You take 1930's values and apply them to today as justification for unions that have twisted their original purpose into a simple money and power grab. Union bosses have done to you what modern-day Hoffa's do to everyone, make you think they're your savior when they're your downfall. A wonderful magic act indeed. Make people think you're fighting for them, for their future, that they want to give you things for free just because of how awesome you are, and it'll all work out. Vote Democrat, oops, I mean Union. Sorry, they're soooooo much alike I get them confused sometimes. Unions lost their way. The bosses knew what they were negotiating would break the company eventually. I see them laughing at the sheep in the 50's over drinks and nice steak dinners saying, "30, 40, 50 years from now when the retirees are collecting that pension we negotiated, can't last forever! Don't worry about it, we'll be retired ourselves by then but we will have saved/invested elsewhere so when the company goes broke we'll be fat and happy!" Only an idiot wouldn't see that Social Security, and pensions are unsustainable by most entities. You need what, 10 workers to support 1 retiree? Is the population/economy going to sustain that growth as lifespans increase? No. <-- there's your answer, NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.
Richard Mellor October 05, 2012 at 07:32 PM
In response to Michael, we simply have a difference of opinion over what is sustainable or not. The shift in wealth to the top from the rest of us, the cost of predatory wars, the stashing away in tax havens by individuals (never mind corporations) of upwards of #21 trillion in cash equal to the combined GDP of the US and Japan, that 6 Americans (the Waltons) who do o work have more wealth than 100 million of us. These statistics all refute your claim, but they don't matter in your case because the difference is that you support such thievery of society's wealth and I don't.
Richard Mellor October 05, 2012 at 07:35 PM
There is one other thing that is not sustainable, and that is life as we know it on this planet. The environmental catastrophe's that are occurring almost daily, the planet cannot sustain these market driven catastrophes. And let's be honest, who would build nuclear plants on an earthquake fault next to the ocean in an area called "The Ring of Fire" due to seismic activity and in a country that gave us the term, Tsunami? There's the market at work for you?
Michael Allen October 05, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Ever hear of the "global economy"? How many people around the world work for the production of goods and services for companies that are based in the US? When factored in, what is the TRUE size of labor dedicated OR SIMPLY AVAILABLE to the US? How many times does that increase the size of the US working population? 6, 8, 20? What do they get paid vs. US workers? The most accurate solution I can find is increasing the labor pool via telecommuting and outsourcing has decreased the amount you have to pay for services, keeping the cost of goods down and inflation in check. Now, if we just sourced inside our own borders and kept all the money here, people would scream bloody-murder that we're daring to not outsource our jobs, we're selfish. No doubt many people here would echo that cry that it's just SO UNFAIR that we allow our incomes to go up while not spreading the wealth and putting the world to work. Flip-side, lets look at when incomes go up, so do the cost of goods produced regardless of the cost, margins go UP. More disposable income means higher prices because people are willing to part with more dollars on discretionary purchases. Factor that in and you see that we'd be no better off. Let's say I make $50k and buy a $4 coffee, I'd make the same purchase if I made $100k, even if that was an $8 coffee. $50K- $200 bike, $100K- $400 bike. After increased taxes I'm actually paying a larger percentage of disposable income toward that purchase.


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