My Local weekly paper has this question and answer section, with the weekly question and the responses from five or six local residents. A few weeks ago the question was put to people asking which is more important to save from cuts, health care or education? A friend who was reading the issue that morning said to me: “What do you think, Rich, which is more important to save from the cuts, education or health care?”
“I don’t think we should cut either, in fact we need to increase expenditure in these areas.” I responded.
He smiled as I guess he figured that’s what I would say. But why is this the only option on people’s minds? The new anti-worker, poor hating, health care destroying governor of California, Jerry Brown, is intent on filling a .4 billion budget hole with further attacks on workers and the poor. Year after year they take more and more. The big gem will be the pensions of public sector workers and the big business press has been manipulating public sentiment in order to alienate public sector workers from private and the rest of the working class population.
Brown gave his state of the State speech Monday night and laid the groundwork by reminding us that, “California faces a crisis that is real and unprecedented.” Capitalist politicians are no different from the class they represent in that their strategy is divide and rule. Set women against men, black against white, workers against the unemployed and walk away with the loot. We are always in crisis they say when it comes to workers wanting a better life.
The solution, (that never actually comes) is to cut .5 billion from health care, higher education and other sections of the working class or, if we want to avoid that, vote for a five year extension of income and sales tax increases that were enacted in 2009. Isn’t this a bit like choices the thousands of alchemists were given when tried as witches? They had a rock tied to them and if they sank they were innocent.
This capitalist solution to the inherent crises that befall the capitalist economic system is typical----make workers and the middle class pay.
The reason why so many people answer or attempt to answer the question, “Which arm do you want cut off?” is because there is no alternative out there. This criminal Jerry Brown says that he wants to put this tax extension to a vote because, ”My plan to re-build California requires a vote of the people.” What a shining example of democratic principles he is. He wants to let us choose which arm.
Senator Mark Leno, another Democrat (lets remember this was the party of slavery and the only political party in human history to drop nuclear bombs on civilians) who is the chair of the Senate budget committee is another champion of the democratic process, “I think it’s indefensible to say that voters shouldn’t have a say.”Isn't that nice of him. What are we having a "say" about though.
What we don’t have a say in is what we are voting on.
The other billionaires’ party representatives, the Republicans are pleased with Brown but they want deeper cuts and no tax increases in case they get caught up in it. “We share the governors goal of passing an honest and on time budget,” says Assembly Republican Connie Conway, in a response to Brown. "Honest?" It makes you want to puke doesn't it? No wonder so many Americans don't vote.
I reject, and we should all reject this process. Firstly, there is no shortage of money. We on this blog http://www.weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com repeatedly give examples of the incredible wealth that exists, particularly here in California---individual and corporate wealth. Then there is the wasteful spending of our money in wars and adventures throughout the world that slaughter people abroad while destroying our youth all to make more billionaires.
And while we’re on the subject of billionaires; we have written in previous blogs http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/2011/01/after-taking-millions-of-dollars-from.html about the billionaires and millionaires in California. We pointed out a few examples on Jan. 10th when we wrote:
"California is also home to 95 Billionaires out of 946 total worldwide, according to the Forbes 2007 Index of World Billionaires. The state is also home to many millionaires. Los Angeles County had 268,136 millionaire households as of 2006, the largest number of millionaires among the counties in the U.S. and 23 % of the total for the state. Orange County had 116,157 millionaire households and San Diego 102,138. Santa Clara County has 74,824 millionaires."
We also pointed out that California is the only state in the nation that doesn’t tax oil as it comes out of the ground. Brown has not even mentioned this. The heads of organized Labor in the state, to their disgrace, spent 0 million of their members’ hard earned dues money getting these anti-worker politicians in to office. And they wonder why workers fall prey to right wing propaganda? They should be savaging Brown for what he is doing; their actions are nothing less than a criminal betrayal of working people.
Also, taxes are much lower today for the wealthy than they were during the 50’s and 60’s. The top marginal rate back then was 90% for those with incomes over 0,000 today it is about 35%.
Another blog on January 26 http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/2011/01/california-unions-endorse-jerry-browns.html offered some alternatives to the capitalist budgets. We don’t have to vote on their proposals, we should put forward our own. And we should not allow them to determine what we demand. We demand what we need to ensure a secure and fruitful life. We demand what is realistic for workers and the middle class not what is realistic for Goldman Sachs or Jerry Brown and his corporate backers. They make and pass laws all the time that take money and take our livelihoods from us legally. They take our jobs and our homes and use the police and the sheriffs to enforce these laws. That is how corporate/wealth taxes have declined; they make it legally possible through their political parties.
We do repeat these facts you might think, but we do it for a reason, to drum home the fact that we don’t have to accept their reality. This blog has a title, Facts For Working People. We want to counter this propaganda of the bankers and the billionaires. Our influence is limited, we are small but our readership is growing monthly. Use this information, use it in your Union newsletters and share it with your friends when they say there is no alternative; the thug Margaret Thatcher expressed this view when she used the acronym TINA. We use the acronym TIAA; there is an alternative. Contact us at the address on the right or comment on the blog if you have questions or thoughts about all this.
We also must reject the idea that we are weak. There are two million workers affiliated to the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO. There are some 800,000 workers represented by the Los Angeles County Labor Council alone. Consider that the California economy is about 12% of the nation’s GDP and the workers in the docks, transportation, public services, communication, are all Unionized. We have tremendous potential power that the leaders of the movement themselves are terrified of and do their best to hold back because their view of the world doesn't really differ from those on Wall Street. It's just a matter of degree.
I say to the leaders of locals and opposition caucuses within the Unions that we must build open caucuses that reject these policies of the leadership and recognize that we cannot avoid a major struggle to change our Unions. Rolling over contracts, accepting wage freeze and hiring freezes and concessions without a fight hoping that things will get better is the wrong strategy; a failed strategy.
There are also millions of youth, low waged, and unemployed. There are the renters who can barely earn enough to keep a roof over their heads and the victims of the banks whose roofs have been stolen from them by the moneylenders. Police abuse is rampant in the urban ghettos, our prisons are full of unemployed workers, almost 50% of them black workers and our environment is being poisoned by these policies. We have lots of allies.
Brown say’s he wants to “Rebuild California”, well the workers of California never tore it down. We never wrecked it, Brown and his cohorts did. So we have to make them pay. We can build a movement that can force them to pay, a movement on the job, in the communities and the streets and, through the building of an independent mass workers party that can break the monopoly that the two capitalist parties have in the US political arena.