Friday, September 17, 2010

Jobs AND Justice

Hitting the nail on the head as usual, Jobs with Justice and allies are demanding -- whaaat? -- jobs?? publicly funded? in the middle of a recession? a "Great Recession"?!?

But aren't we all lucky hold on to what we have without some Big Brother World Government Belgian Queen Elizabeth-Osama bin Laden Jr. Great Satan stepping in and taking away all our tea and freedoms, especially our filthy rich brothers and sisters, who are sitting on a mountain of cash and won't give us a job at the moment, but if we just give them a few more tax breaks they might?

In other words, you my innocent friend may ask, don't taxes take money out of the economy?

The only rational response when you hear this (all over the fracking place) is: WRONG!
(Actually it should be "Wrong, YOU DIPSTICK!") In fact what is taking money out of the economy is giving it to the rich! They aren't investing it. They're hoarding it! (See above.)

OK, carefully, now, carefully: Taxes on the rich, especially on money they are stashing away or blowing on the markets, and using that money to create jobs for working class folks who will certainly spend it, probably locally, is ... what? Taking money out of the economy? Or putting it back in? Hmmm... tough one, eh?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Uses for Poverty

"The number of people in the US who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama's watch, with ranks of working poor approaching 1960's levels that led to the national war on poverty," says an AP story on recent census figures. And considering all the low-income paranoids I know (and maybe you know) who dodge the census while their coworkers land stopgap gigs walking for the Census Bureau, not to mention how hard it always is to count the very people who need counting the most, we can safely assume that like most dire government statistics, these are optimistic.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ending the Great Recession

Robert Reich is usually on the right track, and he is again: wage or wealth inequality is clearly the festering sore at ground zero of the current Great Recession. And taking costs off the other end of the see-saw, through earned income tax credit or health insurance reform or free education, clearly help workers. (... when the health reform is fixed.) Splitting the difference when workers are forced to shift down a pay grade would help, too.

Not sure why Reich omits the speculation tax (see also this), but on another point maybe he's joining the trigger happy crowd ready to declare the Employee Free Choice Act* dead and that's too bad. Long term, as Reich knows, there will be no economic recovery without strengthening workers' rights -- and the most important right is the right to organize, which we no longer fully have. The Employee Free Choice Act is going to have to come back, and keep coming back.

Of course that's true of worker control, and sindicalism, social revolution, and so on, but there are also specific short-term reforms that need to stay in the sunshine. Of course we always have to remember to say out loud that single-payer healthcare is a necessary but not sufficient condition for social & economic justice, and so on.

The bottom line is, the rich have to be relieved of some of the spoils they've managed to accrue by hook and by crook over generations. Wealth taxes. Speculation taxes. Progressive income taxes. Industrial nationalization. We can debate and argue over which is best -- and we should -- but without one or more of these taking a big bite out of the mountain of loot the rich are sitting on, the working class will never solve any of our deep-seated economic problems.

They've been robbing us of land, wages, taxes, and on and on, and it's time they made some restitution.

But we have to remember that that's not the end. The "Peace Dividend" if nothing else proved that freeing up the money does not guarantee that we get it, by any stretch of the imagination. Part of the package has to always be spending the money on our priorities: health, education, welfare, rights at work. Their priorities get plenty of play.

[*This article gives Emanuel and the White House too much credit. In fact, just after Obama became "President-Elect" Emanuel was already signaling deep doubts in answer reporters' questions about the incoming Administration's presumed support for EFCA - despite what other aides said later. In fact, Emanuel laughed off EFCA questions, implying that the question was loaded, as if support were already thin ice. My reading of the tea leaves is this Administration never intended to help EFCA in any way, shape or form. Shame on them.]