Leader Of the Pack
Why the Republican Party Can’t Solve Unemployment
Well, the Republicans have now provided the nation with our first opportunity to hear from the candidates from which an opponent will be selected to run against President Obama in 2012. If there were not an epidemic of ignorance engulfing our country just now I’d say they are all sacrificial lambs. Only which lamb to be slaughtered would remain in question. They all made stiff, unimaginative, silly speeches that were entirely predictable for anyone who has been paying attention to what the Grand Obstructionist Party has been up to; especially since President Obama has been President. Although they seem not to have noticed; they exposed themselves as the enemy of workers; indifferent to the sick; contemptuous of the poor, and hostile to the public interests. I cannot imagine a more clueless and insulting bunch of pretenders to the Oval office.
It is astonishing that a major American political party could put forth candidates with the “let them eat cake” positions of these pompous, verbose, buffoons while the country is experiencing a widespread economic crisis that has millions of good, law abiding, patriotic American citizens – many of whom are combat veterans from the Bush wars – on the brink of desperation. It convincingly demonstrates that these people are such slaves to wacky rightwing ideology that they are badly misreading the real concerns of the majority of Americans.
The economic rhetoric of the Republican candidates for the Presidency begs the question as to whether they really understand economic realities and the type of policies needed to address the crisis that we are presently experiencing. The first thing they obviously do not understand is that millions of Americans are not going to settle for a life of quiet desperation, constantly struggling against hunger and homelessness. After listening to the statistics on the increasing disparity in the distribution of wealth on a recent episode of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Micah Berezniki wondered bewilderingly if this country will degenerate into class warfare.
It has long been my position that we are already in a state of class war; it’s just that the rich are the only one’s fighting. Let’s consider the opinions of the two frontrunners: Mitt and Michelle. What are we to make of Mitt Romney’s position on the auto-industry for instance? When confronted with the fact that theUS auto industry is now flourishing when he had predicted in a New York Times Op-ED that President Obama’s policies would bankrupt the auto industry, Mitt continued to insist that Obama had failed because he should have forced the auto-makers to go through bankruptcy proceedings. Mitt cared not a whit that up to three million people could have lost their livilihoods, so long as it destroyed the United Auto Workers!
How can a rational person pursue such an argument and yet claim to be a patriot who cares about the future of this country? The auto industry represents the last bastion of the American manufacturing sector that was once the most innovative and productive in the world! Mitt justifies this reckless and cold blooded position by arguing that bankruptcy would have allowed the company to abrogate their contracts with the United Auto Workers. And he described President Obama’s successful rescue of the industry using government funds to purchase the auto-companies a giveaway to the UAW.
If this ain’t open class warfare the pope ain’t Catholic and the Mittster ain’t reading The Book Of Mormon! These are arguments for morons; their only importance is in demonstrating that the Republicans believe their constituents are imbeciles. And judging by the economic demographics of the most far right segment of the party – poor whites voting anti-union plutocrats and their lackey’s into office, enabling them to control the government and use the power of the state to drive a stake through the heart of their dreams – they are right in their belief alas!
But the Grand Obstructionist Party is playing with dynamite. The people voted for Barack Obama because they thought he had the solution to their problems…the salve for their pain, which was caused by Republican mismanagement of the economy. If they switch their votes to Mitt, or some other Republican dunderhead, they are bound to be disappointed. For they will never receive the relief they are desperately seeking and things will plunge downhill fast for the working class. The economic policies the Republicans are proposing are reckless to the point of criminality.
They have sworn not to raise the ceiling on the national debt unless the President accedes to their ideologically driven demands, which would eviscerate government programs that are critical to the life’s chances of many Americans. Rather than putting the financial security of theUS first, they are driven by far right ideological dogma and have threatened to bring down the world financial system through an American default. Mitt Romney, who wants us to take him seriously, says he is willing to let the nation default if they can’t get their way. Even though he knows that to sell American government bonds after the default will cost the tax payers hundreds of millions more in interests.
That’s a crazy as Michelle Bachman’s declaration that she is for a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage but then contradicts herself: “I would not go into the states and tell them what to do,” It would be hard to find a bigger bunch of boobs anywhere. Michelle Bachman argued in defense of laws forcing women to give birth conceived in rape or incest! A former corporate tax attorney she is viscerally opposed to taxing corporations while posing as a friend and advocate of the working class. and while denouncing President Obama’s health care plan as the epitome of the much maligned “socialism” she recently wrote a letter to Obama’s Secretary of agriculture praising the Administration for intervening into the pork market by buying up a lot of the meat in order to stabalize the price of pork!
This is as clear an example of hypocrisy as one is likely to find in public life. This crazy paleface talks out of both sodes of her mouth sayng different things at the same time. She speaks with forked tongue! Although Bachman is well educated on paper, every time I hear her talk it supplies further evidence that the liberal philosophy of education has failed. Here I am talking about the broad based education in the humanities guided by reason and science, which was supposed to make people think! Instead the scientific method has been replaced by a slavish devotion to ideology. Newt Gingrich is a classic case in point: he has perverted the historian’s profession with shameless sophistry; confused prattle about “Freedom” being a function of “Free Markets.”
A Political chameleon that constantly changes colors
The truth is that the Republican economic plan cannot possibly work! This is because they have so badly misdiagnosed the problem that the cure will surely turn out to exacerbate the disease. The most obvious flaw in the Republican prescription for curing the economic maladies presently crippling theUS economic system is that it is the same economic approach employed by George Bush. The major features of their economic policy – if we can flatter such nonsense with the term – is to cut taxes to corporations even more, retain the Bush tax cuts that gave a windfall of hundreds of Billions to the rich, and no regulation of the Wall Street Robber Barons who recently plundered the economy and almost brought the world financial system down.
The Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the last election has put them in charge of the public purse, and they have refused to fund the new regulatory agency whose role is to prevent the kind of wild and often barely legal speculations that wrecked the economy and drove the nation to the brink of collapse just a couple of years ago. All of these measures will make the rich richer if they don’t smash up the economic system like they did before when the economy went into a free fall. But these policies cannot solve the problem of unemployment, because they fail to address the root causes of the crisis. The Republicans present a simple – actually simple minded – analysis of the economy that amount to little more than right-wing dogma. They argue that further cuts in the corporate tax rate will spur new investment in the economy and presto millions of new jobs will appear.
However the corporate sector is already enjoying record profits, with an estimated two trillion dollars in their coffers. But they are not investing it in the American economy. This is why we have a jobless recovery. The old model of boom and bust business cycles that saw employment rise during an economic boom and decrease during the periodic recessions is a thing of the past. The causes of today’s unemployment figures are structural; which means that it is due to changes in the structure of the economy that has eliminated the jobs formerly held by unemployed workers. This situation is not just the result of impersonal economic forces, but the consequences of decisions made by businessmen in their amoral efforts to maximize profits. This explains why the economy is back to the same level of productivity as before the “Great Recession” – which, according to the economist, have been officially over for two years – but has accomplished this with seven million fewer workers!
A front page story in the New York Times of June 10, 2011 explains how this was achieved. Titled Companies Spend on Equipment Not Workers, we are told, “Workers are getting more expensive while equipment is getting cheaper, and the combination is encouraging companies to spend on machines rather than people.” Among the people who were interviewed for the article was Dan Mishek, the managing director of Vista Technologies, a company located in Minnesota. Mishek told the Times “I want to have as few people touching our products as possible. Everything should be as automated as can be. We just can’t afford to compete with countries like China on labor costs, especially when workers are getting even more expensive.”
This is a telling and frightening admission; it portends the bleak future facing the American working class. Although they have managed to disguise their true position in the American economy, middle class white collar workers are beginning to discover that they are increasingly vulnerable to the phenomenon of economic “Globalism.” This is because the internet has obliterated the obstacles of time and space that kept their jobs safe. However it is blue collar workers whose livelihood is rapidly disappearing in real time. “Since the recovery began,” says the Times, “businesses spending on employees has grown 2 percent as equipment and software spending has swelled 26 percent, according to the Commerce Department.” The Times goes on to tell us “A capital rebound that sharp and a labor rebound that slow have been recorded only once before.”
The Times writer, Ms. Catherine Rampell, observes, “With equipment prices dropping, and tax incentives to subsidize capital investments, these trends seem likely to continue.” Dean Maki, the chief United States economist at Barclay’s Capital is quoted with the following assessment of the situation: “Firms are just responding to incentives. And capital has gotten much cheaper than labor.” The article goes on to show that “equipment and software has dipped 2.4 percent since the recovery began, thanks largely to foreign manufacturing, labor costs on the other hand, have risen 6.7 percent.”
The upshot of all this is that American companies, despite record profits and abundant cash reserves, are not interested in hiring American workers. “Many of the companies that are considering hiring say they are scared off by future costs of health care and other benefits.,” says the Times article. However a single payer national health care system would remove that fear, but the Republicans are passionately opposed to such a program and mislabel it a “job killer.”
The attitudes expressed by people interviewed for this solidly reported article all point to a bleak future for American workers without massive public works projects to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, plus well funded research and development to create an innovative new “green economy” which will produce millions of new jobs, and massive investment in education to produce an American work force that can compete in an increasingly technologically sophisticated global marketplace. Only the government can undertake a project of this sort. Just like building the Transcontinental Railroad, the Atomic Bomb, the Interstate Highway System, The Space Program, Boulder Dam, etc.
The private corporate sector cannot accomplish this and to continue to promote them as the only solution to the protracted economic crisis in America is a prescription for disaster on a scale that we have never witnessed in this country. It is a formula for the decline of American civilization as an economic and scientific leader in the world. Just consider the implications of this statement by a top corporate executive: “I dread the process we have to go through when we want to bring somebody on. When we have a job posting these days, we get a flurry of resumes from people who are not qualified at all: people with misspellings on their resumes who have never been in the industry and want a career move…It’s a huge distraction to sort through all those.” And these are the people unemployed workers are counseled to turn to? It is all a cruel hoax!
Perhaps the comment that workers ought to pay closest attention to was made by Dr. Claudia Goldin, an economics Professor at Harvard, “If you’re doing something that can be written down in a programmatic, algorithmic manner, you’re going to be substituted for quickly.” And the times writer observes “To add insult to injury, much of the equipment used to replace American workers is made by workers abroad, meaning that capital spending is going overseas.” Ironically, all of this was predicted by James Boggs over fifty years ago in his prescient book “The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook.”
James Boggs: Proletarian Prophet
With wife and Collaborator Dr. Grace Lee Boggs
Boggs was a genuine working class intellectual; he was based in Detroit and worked on the assembly line at an auto plant. From this vantage point, armed with Marxist theory and a free thinking disposition, he predicted the “cybernation” of America’s economy and the elimination of millions of manufacturing jobs. Boggs argued that Americans were going to have to accept that there were going to be people who are permanently shut out of the work force because the economy would not generate enough jobs. And then the true character of our civilization will be put to a test.
That time has arrived; however it is even worse than Boggs had imagined because today’s American worker is not only facing a loss of work through the spread of technology, but they must also compete with workers all over the globe, many of whom are living in a kind of industrial serfdom. This means that American workers must be willing to give up many of the gains they have won over the last century just to get a job. Boggs also argued that instead of a conflict between labor and capital as Marx had predicted, we will witness a fight between the employed and the unemployed for the scarce work that exist. This is where we are in America today…and Republican economic policies can only make things worse!
Bachman: Just Another Ditzy Corporate Shill?
Harlem, New York
June 21. 2011