Our Democracy Has Been Replaced By a Plutocracy
The present assault on working people and the poor shows us clearly the class warfare inherent in capitalism. The system aims to treat everything, including people, as commodities in order to maximize profits. Wages must be depressed. Basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and education must be subject to the private market. And the two institutions seen as obstacles to this, government and labor unions, must be rendered powerless.
This explains the attack on any attempt of government to play a role in extending health care to the uninsured, or to protect or extend programs benefiting the poor, aged, and unemployed. Such programs are seen as unmerited ”entitlements” rather than as humane claims for dignified living conditions and even survival.
Under severe attack, unions, are disappearing rapidly from the private sector, while businesses export once well-paying jobs to low wage countries and promote misnamed “right to work” laws. Attacks on public sector workers, who constitute most of the unionized work force, represent the last stage in an offensive on working peoples’ efforts to protect themselves. The aim is always the same — to depress wages and impose unlimited control over workers. In Wisconsin radical right wing officials are taking wages and benefits from state workers and turning them over to corporations in the form of tax reductions.
Yet those who claim to hate government intrusion most advocate government intrusion in ways that favor of the super rich minority and corporations through tax breaks, tax loopholes, tax write-offs, subsidies, outsourcing, contracting out, no-bid inflated contracts, deregulation, bailouts, and anti-union measures.
The idea that working people, the poor, and the most vulnerable in our society must suffer even more to balance federal and state budgets is a bald lie. The problems we face are largely political. Americans are subjected to high unemployment, a dilapidated national infrastructure, unprecedented loss of homes, out-of-reach utility charges, increasing hunger, and inadequate medical care, all in order that billionaires and multinational corporations can continue to accumulate unprecedented wealth. An unrestrained, radical form of capitalism is destroying American democracy and our standards of living. A perverse mentality has justified the greatest inequality between the few rich and the growing ranks of the poor since the 1930s.
The capitalist system of value ignores environmental costs. It denies or underestimates the seriousness of climate change induced by human actions in its push for unrestrained growth, consumption, and profit. Technology may improve efficiency, but it also affects employment; the growth of the GDP creates wealth for the upper echelons of society, while much of the world experiences increased poverty and inequality.
What We Need
A truly progressive national and state income tax and the closing of corporate loopholes.
Substantial reduction of the military budget and an end to foreign invasions and occupations.
A defense of the basic democratic right of all workers to organize and bargain for their rights, and a fair playing field for unions in order that they might provide some countervailing balance to the enormous and growing power of multi-national corporations.
Immigration reforms that will have protections for immigrant workers and their children, and a clear process for amnesty and naturalization based upon fair criteria.
An ecological socialism that replaces capitalism’s mesmerization with unrestrained growth, consumption, and profit with a model that gives a high priority to a sustainable natural world and a livable environment from which all, including future generations, can benefit.
The single most important change, however, must come from us. All other change depends upon it: Americans must organize in their workplaces, schools, and communities and begin to take their nation back from the plutocrats. Electoral politics can play a role in the effort, but the system is so corrupt by this point that other strategies will also be vital – community, student, and teachers’ organizations, unions, and groups formed by women, immigrants, and people of color to protect their most basic rights in the face of an unprecedented assault. We can take back our country and help others throughout the world in the process, but it will not happen without a fight.
Socialist Forum encourages all those who share in these commitment to attend its meetings every third Saturday from 2 to 4 pm at the Independent Media Center in the old post office building in downtown Urbana, for more information, call 344-7265.