We Are All Detroit

Posted by admin on July 27, 2013 under African American, Labor, Neoliberalism, Political Economy, Racism, Rightwing, Trade Unions, Wall St | Be the First to Comment

 

Statement by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

We all have a stake in the outcome of the power grab and bankruptcy of Detroit. The move to rob pensions from some 30,000 active and retired city workers and the selling off of property owned by the people of Detroit – city parks, public services and works of art at one of the most celebrated museums in the country – is a threat to us all.

The contract between the city and its workers to fund a pension plan is no less valid as contracts between the city and its corporate partners. Bond speculators’ losses should not be covered by workers’ retirement income.

No pension fund in the country will be safe. Next will be Social Security. Using the same rationale – that we can no longer afford to sustain a “greedy” middle class – the basis is laid for the complete shredding of the social contract between capital and labor won in bloody struggles of the last century.  The right to income security in old age, health care, civil rights and voting rights, collective bargaining and the promise of a rising standard of living, good housing and education in return for productive labor that creates all wealth is being torn apart.

Democracy hangs in the balance. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled State Legislature refused to follow the will of the people of Michigan who overturned by a 58% margin the law used to take over cities with a so-called Emergency Financial Manager.  The patently illegal and unconstitutional measure gives power to EFMs – unelected Czars – to strip mayors and city councils of all authority, including their salaries, tear up union contracts and sell off public assets, services and property at bargain basement prices.  Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Allen Park, Detroit – six cities and three school boards in Michigan – are now under dictatorial EFM rule. All except Allen Park have majority African American populations. These cities are largely former auto manufacturing centers deserted by GM, Ford and Chrysler in pursuit of race-to-the bottom profits. More than half of the 1.5 million African American population of the state are now under rule of an unelected EFM czar.

The Governor and legislature thwarted the public’s will on the EFM referendum at the same time they enacted the anti-union Right-To-Work (for less) law in December, a measure to further weaken unions and drive down wages. This and other reactionary legislation passed over the last several months in Michigan, as in other Republican controlled state governments, has been orchestrated by the corporate funded right-wing ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The banks will be the big winners in bankruptcy. Detroit’s EFM, Kevyn Orr, will guarantee it.  His law firm represents the banks that hold Detroit’s debt.  The debt figures themselves are politically contrived and exaggerated.  The Governor has denied Detroit $220 million in tax revenue-sharing and other funds earmarked in President Obama’s first term stimulus package. Instead, the money was used to balance the state’s budget while blaming city leaders, mainly African American, for budget shortfalls and “mismanagement.” The UBS AG bank – which pled guilty to interest rate-rigging in a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit – lent the city $1.5 billion in 2004 in a predatory scheme, causing two defaults after the 2008 financial meltdown. The defaults triggered debt ratings to plunge and interest rates to rocket.

The city’s tax base has been decimated with the loss of over half of the city’s population due to the auto industry’s near total abandonment of the city. With an unemployment rate in double digits, 50% of young people have no jobs and no prospect of getting one because there is no public transportation out of the city where the jobs are located.

A power grab and theft of this magnitude assumes that the country will not care that a predominantly African American city – the largest black majority city outside of Africa – is plundered. This is a pilot project for finance capital, a test run for every other city and town in the country.

The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism stands with unions, community and religious organizations, and all the people of Detroit who are fighting back.

We stand with the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of labor unions, which issued a statement on July 25th calling on President Obama and the Congress to make an immediate financial transfusion to Detroit. Additionally, the AFL-CIO calls on the State of Michigan to give comparable financial support to Detroit, the largest of Michigan’s cities.

In solving the budget crisis, we the people must demand of our President and Congress enactment of legislation to revitalize our urban centers in the interest of the working class, not the banks. In the face of corporate irresponsibility, we must have a government-sponsored jobs program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and our urban centers, develop new manufacturing industries to transition to a green, sustainable environment for the future of our children and our planet. We urgently need it for Detroit and for us all.

July 27, 2013

What Time Is It?

Posted by admin on July 26, 2013 under CCDS Today, Climate Change, Political Economy, Racism, War, Women | Be the First to Comment

Opening Address to to the 7th CCDS Convention

By Mildred Williamson

What time is it?  It’s a time of economic, social, environmental, and racial Injustice on steroids – a time of no respect for humanity.

We face a 9.3% unemployment rate (double or higher for Black people in certain communities); yet bourgeois economists and political pundits still characterize today’s economy as in recovery.  Bailed-out megabanks are bigger and more profitable today than prior to the 2007-2008 meltdown.  Yet millions of people, including renters, remain devastated by foreclosures, with too little help, or no help from government, or from their lenders.  And while the foreclosure tragedy has affected people of very nationality, the impact of foreclosure on black communities has virtually served to wipe out what little “wealth” that had been acquired, basically pushing the income/wealth inequality gap into something not seen in this magnitude since slavery.

In fact, how far can we say we have we come from the “3/5 of a man” Constitutional definition of how Black people should be considered in US society?  I say – not far enough, and if there is no sustained, organized struggle–witness the Voter’s Rights Act Supreme Court decision–we will have a more accelerated march backwards, away from making social progress, rather than forward.

As some observers have noted in the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, served time in prison for organizing dog fights that resulted in death and injury to animals.  However, George Zimmerman and countless numbers of official law enforcement officers throughout the US have shot and killed numerous human beings, who happen to be people of color, including unarmed youth, like Trayvon Martin; yet they have not been convicted, served time, lost pay or prestige in their positions of power over our lives.

And lest we not forget: there are hundreds, even thousands of persons incarcerated for crimes they did not commit; and even those with evidence of committing criminal acts, having such a high percentage driven by unjust “war on drugs” laws. These translate into a war on black and brown life, into war on people of color, especially youth.  Please note further that many have died in prisons of preventable causes, due to less-than-standard care provided in many cases, by for-profit correctional health care providers.

Public education is crumbling and living wage jobs are scarce, even for many with college educations.  The role and proliferation of privatized pre-school, K-12 and proprietary higher education institutions is essentially assuring that working class people with aspirations of improving their lives, will have obstacles that may be insurmountable to overcome, due to profit-making at all costs, trumping everything – even human life.

In Chicago, were it not for the solid labor-community-student-parent coalition built with leadership from the Chicago Teachers Union, local residents and the rest of the nation would not have known about the vicious scheme of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to close more than 100 schools. Through a mass fightback, that number got reduced to less than 50 – still the most school closures in the history of this country.  Stay tuned for the outcome of the two lawsuits pending – one based on racial discrimination (80% African American and Latino children affected); and the second based on 30% of students with disabilities and special needs affected by the closings.

What time is it?  Ben Jealous (NAACP Executive Director) describes the concerns of many of his young Black friends who stated their uncertainty of living long enough to reach their 21st birthdays and then shares his Grandmother’s response, when asked:
“Our generation of Black Americans was supposed to be the first not to be judged by our race or the color of our skin. Instead, we had come of age to find ourselves the most incarcerated on the planet and most murdered in the country.

“‘Grandma,’ I would ask days later, still searching for understanding: “What happened? How did things turn out like this?”

Her response was the crux of his speech to the 104th NAACP convention this week. He said, she leaned in and spoke softly: “It’s sad but it’s simple: We got what we fought for, but we lost what we had.”

Did we really get all of what we fought for – or was it derailed?

–By the impact of the Smith Act, McCarran Act, Right to Work laws?
–By the blacklisting, imprisonment, deportation and murder of radicals and communists – particularly their purge from labor and other social justice organizations?
–By the assassination of Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton & many others?
–By COINTELPERO?
–By Deindustrialization and global outsourcing of unionized, living wage, manufacturing jobs?
–By the Nixon-led Southern Strategy, virtually unchecked, followed by the Reagan right wing surge?
–By the war on drugs and mass incarceration?
–By ‘No Child Left Behind’ and ‘Race to the Top?’
–By the Vietnam war, the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, and the Gulf wars I and II?

Each of these policies and events served a purpose for the ruling class – over time, to weaken or even squash radical thought and action to reach multiracial working class power and refuse to affirm value in Black and brown life and their right to fulfill their human potential.

Though there have been extraordinary victories in the struggle for social justice, ending wars in Vietnam and Iraq, brilliant victories in numerous key elections, some union organizing successes, freedom of many political prisoners, starting with Angela Davis – we still remain challenged by the net to get the intertwining issues of class/race/gender right in our strategy and tactics of struggle on every issue, from jobs to healthcare, immigration, incarceration, the environment and climate change.  Our ability to make and sustain social progress critically depends on this.  Disciplined, organized, radical leadership is essential to move us forward.

I am encouraged by the recent demonstrations of numerous low-wage workers fighting for a living wage – McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, even Foot Locker workers.  Some of these have taken place in Chicago and consider the stories of the protesters:  One young Black man at one of the Chicago protests reported that he worked for $10.15/hour at a Nike store in 2008, and over 2 years he got up to $11.17 an hour.  Later, the store shut down for renovations; he and his co-workers were laid off.  He was called back to work for $10 an hour, which he was still making at the time of the protest which took place this spring – 2013.  This is a five-year period of his life.  He does not now, nor did he ever make enough money to live on his own – typical of most low wage, retail work.

McDonald’s, just this week developed what they called a financial planning guide for their workers which assumed the average cost for rent was $600 a month and healthcare was $20 a month, in addition to framing the entire context of having a second job in addition to their full time McDonald’s job ($24,000 yearly on average) – to make ends meet.  They also suggested that the worker simultaneously should be going to school to gain additional skills.  This is insulting to their workforce, at best. It’s a plan that was proposed for workers by a corporation that consistently makes super-profits, even during the recent massive recession, (which is not over for many of us).
What time is it?  As long as Black and brown lives are thought of and treated as disposable, in a 21st century-three-fifths-of-a-person fashion, it will be impossible to achieve working class power in this country.
Economic and social policies are literally destroying Black and brown lives, and simultaneously further weakening working class power. Case in point:  Former President George W Bush once called a meeting at the White House with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.  In an effort to persuade them to support his proposal to virtually privatize Social Security, he shared that the CBC should support this idea because:

Social Security was especially unfair to African Americans. Because their life expectancy was shorter, black workers received an average of $21,000 less in benefits than whites of comparable income levels. He said personal accounts (such as 401k), could be passed along to the next generation, and would go a long way toward reducing that disparity.  Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.298-299 , Nov 9, 2010

Instead of addressing the socioeconomic determinants of why Black life expectancy is shorter than other groups in the US, then President GW Bush cynically just said to his CBC guests that it is better to just save up on your own into a plan that is beholden to the ups and downs of the stock market.  How insulting it must have been for these Congressional leaders to sit there to hear that; just as it remains insulting for John Lewis and all other living participants of the civil rights movement to hear that Supreme Court decision to virtually butcher the Voters Rights Act.

To achieve comprehensive social change that shifts the balance of power toward the working class, rejecting white supremacy–embracing all disenfranchised elements of humanity–is essential. This requires radical, disciplined leadership that is organized in thought and purpose to build a movement anchored by the voice and action of organized and unorganized workers, and marginalized populations.  The labor movement has the right slogan – Jobs with Justice.  We need both – not either or.  Though the labor movement is at its smallest in size, that which remains, must continue and grow its coalition with others for a significant rise in the minimum wage; for massive reinvestment in public education for all; for LGBTQ rights; for the right of women to all aspects of reproductive health and freedom from abuse; for the rights of immigrants; for the right to quality public education, including higher education; for the abolishment of prisons and an overhaul of the criminal justice system – and for ending all modern vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow and genocide in institutions and in human interaction.

Finally, we must fight with humility and purpose to strengthen and promote radicalized thought and action in the quest for social justice, human rights and working class power.  This requires a fresh look at what it means to be “Left” in this phase of capitalism. What is the winning strategy to reduce the number of white working class people from voting against their own class interests, especially since fewer are unionized and fewer live in integrated communities?  What will be the winning strategy be to achieve left unity – and just what does that mean today?  How can we build respect for youth in leadership of social justice movements while still showing simultaneous respect for elders?  How do we fully move our thought and action from the multiracial unity “slogan” to normalized, genuine demonstration respect for multiple cultures, gender expressions and sexual orientation?  These questions and more tough ones – need answers in order to chart the path forward in the quest for working class power. Let’s work on them at this 7th CCDS Convention, and thereafter

The Real Cure for the College Tuition Bubble

Posted by admin on April 29, 2012 under Political Economy, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

The Need to Raise Wages and Abolish Student Debt

By Keith Joseph
CCDS in New Jersey

The rise in student debt is commonly attributed to the rising cost of tuition.  But this mistakes the chain of cause and effect.  Rising tuition did not cause us to go into debt.  Thirty years of falling real wages caused us to go into debt.  And debt causes tuition to rise. In other words, student loans cause tuition to rise.  If no student were given access to a student loan next year then tuition would dropped dramatically; the tuition bubble would burst.  This is the crucial point: tuition rises because we are being forced into debt.

That is the law of supply and demand.  As demand rises relative to supply the price (tuition) rises.

The easy credit of student loans functions the same as sub-prime mortgages.  Sub-prime mortgages, and easy credit, created a housing bubble — a dramatic rise in the price of housing caused by a rise in “effective demand” i.e. demand backed by the ability to pay.  When interest rates rose a bit there were some defaults.  Defaults create a higher interest rate by increasing “risk.” Defaults continue to rise and housing prices have been falling ever since.

Like housing prices during the bubble tuition is inflated. We are in a tuition bubble, i.e., tuition increases because student debt creates an artificial ability to pay.  Why do you need an artificial ability? Since no one in your family has ever earned enough to save for your college education, because the 1% were cutting wages since the 1970’s and replacing those wages with credit cards, we would never be able to afford college.  If we can’t afford tuition the price of a college education must fall or the schools will empty.

The struggle against tuition is the struggle against debt and the struggle against debt is the struggle against tuition.  They are one, cause and effect.  Without debt a rises in tuition is not possible.

The struggle of current students against tuition hikes must take the same path as the movement to abolish debt if it is to be successful.  We must abolish student debt and college tuition.  Yes, we must have free public college education paid for, in its entirety, by an education sur-tax on the 1%.

The problem is relatively simple.  Average citizens are not paid enough in wages or salaries to save for their children’s education.  Educated citizens are obviously the only people capable of self rule. Educated citizens are self evidently the only possible basis for democratic society, for, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, to put it in the formulation favored by Lincoln.  The current method of funding our education on the backs of our future wages has failed and this failure is about to cause a deepening of the current economic crisis.

To prevent a furtherance of the crisis and to put the economy in position to turn the corner the Federal government must cancel existing student debt and eliminate tuition by putting an education sur tax on the 1% equal to the costs of educating every 18 year old who wants to go to 4 years of college.  In this way we will have a public education system worthy of a democracy and a citizenry capable of self-rule.  We need a debtors union to impose this plan on the 1%.

Debtors Unite! Tax the 1% for the costs of education!

Book Review – Revolutionary Youth and the New Working Class: Lost Writings of SDS

Posted by admin on December 17, 2011 under Marxism, Political Economy, Socialism, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

 

cover-front-revyouth Edited by Carl Davidson,

Changemaker Publications

Pittsburgh PA, 2011

By Jerry Harris

Carl Davidson has done a tremendous service to anyone who studies the history of social movements or anyone interested in the 1960s rebellion. This "lost" collection of papers reveals the depth and richness of radical thinking coming out of the student movement as the war raged in Viet-Nam and militant protestors marched through the streets of America.

The most important document is the "Port Authority Statement," by SDS members David Gilbert, Robert Gottlieb and Gerry Tenney. Although at the time not widely circulated, it offers great insight into the thinking and analysis of SDS as it turned to revolutionary theory and debate. This is an impressive document. Detailed in statistical and economic analysis, grounded in revolutionary social theory, and innovative in its thinking and insights.

One of the most important sections of the paper was its class analysis with its focus on the new working class and the relationship of students to an economy shifting from manufacturing to services and technology. The documents notes that, "Modern American capitalism is characterized by rapid technological change with scientific knowledge growing at a logarithmic rate." This will result in the "elimination of unskilled labor (as) the blue-collar sector will decrease (and) jobs that require high degrees of education and training" will increase. (pages 88-89)

That analysis was made in 1966. Now read a recent article by Edward Luce from the Financial Times: "the middle-skilled jobs that once formed the ballast of the world’s wealthiest middle class are disappearing. They are being supplanted by relatively low-skilled (and low-paid) jobs that cannot be replaced either by new technology or by offshoring – such as home nursing and landscape gardening. Jobs are also being created for the highly skilled, notably in science, engineering and management. (12/11/11) Decades later the paper’s main thesis still holds up.

Continuing its class analysis the Port Authority document examined the capitalist class and the debate over ownership and control. The authors focused attention on the growing trend towards paying executives with large stock rewards, merging management and ownership. Again we can turn to a recent article published in the December 2011 Monthly Review that reads, "More recently, David Harvey has argued that ownership (share holders) and management (CEOs) of capitalist enterprises have fused together, as upper management is increasingly paid with stock options." (Richard Peet) This "recent" argument now being made by a leading Marxist trails Port Authority by some 45 years.

Although the authors grasped the sweeping impact that technology would have on American workers, what they could not see would be globalization and the advent of neo-liberalism as a governing ideology. As the paper notes at the time, "Corporate liberalism implies that the dominant economic institution is the corporation and that the prevailing political and social mode is liberalism." (page 68) Of course it’s understandable how such changes would be all but invisible in 1966; it’s also a good reminder why political tactics and strategy must remain flexible and activists should always be willing to reevaluate their analysis.

The above are but a few of the enticing insights that are contained in page after page of these documents. As new social movements gather force throughout the world, a look into the thinking of activists from the last great social movement can help give direction to coming future battles. I would highly recommend this book to all activists and academics interesting in building a better world.

Jerry Harris, National Secretary of the Global Studies Association and author of "The Dialectics of Globalization."

Draft Discussion Paper on the Coming Period – Comments Invited

Posted by admin on October 23, 2011 under CCDS Today, Neoliberalism, Organizing, Political Economy, Socialism | 3 Comments to Read

 

2010-2012: Deepening Contradictions of Capitalism,

New Challenges for the Progressive Majority

By Randy Shannon & Carl Davidson

Click here to download the pdf draft version with numbered lines

Discussion Paper on the Current Situation and Our Tasks

Posted by admin on May 5, 2011 under Neoliberalism, Obama, Political Economy, Rightwing | 2 Comments to Read

The Crisis of Global Capitalism

and the Specter of 21st Century Fascism

By William I. Robinson

Solidarity Economy.net via Z-Net

(The following is a synopsis of several recent talks given by Robinson, a professor of sociology and global studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara, on the global crisis, the immigrant rights movement, and 21st century fascism)

The crisis of global capitalism is unprecedented, given its magnitude, its global reach, the extent of ecological degradation and social deterioration, and the scale of the means of violence. We truly face a crisis of humanity. The stakes have never been higher; our very survival is at risk. We have entered into a period of great upheavals and uncertainties, of momentous changes, fraught with dangers if also opportunities. I want to discuss here the crisis of global capitalism and the notion of distinct political responses to the crisis, with a focus on the far-right response and the danger of what I refer to as 21st century fascism, particularly in the United States.

Facing the crisis calls for an analysis of the capitalist system, which has underwent restructuring and transformation in recent decades. The current moment involves a qualitatively new transnational or global phase of world capitalism that can be traced back to the 1970s, and is characterized by the rise of truly transnational capital and a transnational capitalist class, or TCC. Transnational capital has been able to break free of nation-state constraints to accumulation of the previous epoch, and with it, to shift the correlation of class and social forces worldwide sharply in its favor and to undercut the strength of popular and working classes around the world in the wake of the global rebellions of the 1960s and the 1970s.

Emergent transnational capital underwent a major expansion in the 1980s and 1990s, involving hyper-accumulation through new technologies such as computers and informatics, through neo-liberal policies, and through new modalities of mobilizing and exploiting the global labor force – including a massive new round of primitive accumulation, uprooting, and displacing hundreds of millions of people, especially in the third world countryside, who have become internal and transnational migrants.

We face a system that is now much more integrated, and dominant groups that have accumulated an extraordinary amount of transnational power and control over global resources and institutions.

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Scorecards & Players: Political Economy for 2012

Posted by admin on April 15, 2011 under Neoliberalism, Political Economy, Rightwing | Be the First to Comment

Graphic: Milton Friedman of the ‘Chicago School’

What is Neoliberalism?

A Brief Definition for Activists

By Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.
"
Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.
"
Neo" means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation’s economy to develop. Such ideas were "liberal" in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged "free" enterprise," "free" competition — which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

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