New Years Editorial
January 6, 2017
Budget-cutting by the capitalist politicians has reached the point where, in many cities, government has stopped providing many vital services altogether. Unemployed and poverty stricken workers are denied relief and many thrown out of their homes and into the streets. Schools are shut down, more children crowded into fewer classrooms and deprived of books and supplies. Public transit is reduced to the point where many workers cannot get to their jobs. The right to health care isn’t guaranteed and untimely deaths occur that were preventable.
The politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties and at every level of government keep trying to justify these attacks on the peoples’ basic economic rights by claiming that the government doesn’t have “enough money.” In fact for many years, the politicians have been using this as their excuse for gutting social services. However, the economic rights of the people are denied not because of economic scarcity, but because of politics – because the agenda of the Democrats and Republicans are to serve the interests of the capitalist class. This becomes especially evident when government at all levels continues the program of minimizing investments in social programs as it most often does, even during times of budget surplus.
And when we look at the other side of the ledger – at taxation of the workers – we get an opposite picture. On this side we see the workers bearing most of the costs, while the capitalists pay next to nothing in taxes. Over the years, the tax policy has become more and more regressive. In 1943 corporate income tax accounted for nearly 40% of government revenues while the workers’ share amounted to about 27%. But each successive administration has created new loopholes for the rich while raising the taxes paid by the working people. A major change took place with the massive “tax reform” law of the Reagan-Bush years (which was authored by the Democrats and approved by the Republicans.) This “reform” drastically cut corporate tax rates from 50% to 36% while simultaneously reducing the tax rate for wealthy individuals from 70% to 34%. Tens of millions of working people found their taxes raised while everyone was hit with several increases in social security taxes. Altogether, by the late 20th century, the working people were paying 75% of the total federal tax bill. In addition, large cuts in federal monies going to states and municipalities have continued to prod large increases in regressive local taxes.
In addition to shifting the burden of the so-called “deficit” onto the backs of the workers, the government has taken huge sums out of the public treasury in order to fatten the profits of the monopoly capitalists. During the last decade of the 20th century for example, more than $3 trillion went to the big bankers as interest on the debt; another $3 trillion went to the Pentagon arms merchants. Trillions more were given to the capitalists in the form of fat contracts, research and development grants and infrastructure investments.
Behind this anti-social agenda is the class bias of the Republican and Democratic parties. Their bi-partisan fiscal policy is to use the government’s power as a means for picking the pockets of the workers and turning our hard-earned wages over to the capitalist billion and trillionaires.
The Workers Party calls for a working class solution. Actually it would be very easy to eliminate the budget deficits, even while increasing social spending and lowering the taxes paid by the working people. All we have to do is reverse the government’s economic policy of underwriting the profits of the big corporations and insurance companies and instead make the rich pay their share of taxes. In fact, all the basic economic needs and demands of the people can easily be met the moment we Stop Paying the Rich!
Just like the question of the budget, all the economic problems facing the people – low wages and rising prices, unemployment and job insecurity, overwork and understaffing, long working hours, etc., etc. – are class questions.
Anyone who takes a minute to analyze the economic situation can immediately see that the wealth of our country and its huge economic potential can very easily provide for the economic well-being of everyone.
Indeed, the productive forces of our country are enormous. Over the decades, we have created a modern economic infrastructure, including a system of scientific agriculture which enables a tiny fraction of the population to produce an abundance of food, factories which can produce such an excess of all the necessities that large quantities remain warehoused and unsold, an instantaneous mass communications system, and advanced science and technology which enable humanity to harness the forces of nature.
Yet, in the midst of this abundance, the poor are getting poorer, and the rich, richer. The problem is that under the existing economic system, a tiny handful of trillionaire parasites own and control the economic lifelines of the whole society.
In today’s workplaces, the minds and muscles of thousands and tens of thousands of people work together and more than 100 million American workers cooperate in a social division of labor. It is this collective character of the modern production process – the common labor of the working people – which is the secret of the vast productive capacity of our country. Yet under the capitalist system, this social mechanism is set in motion with the narrowest aim. The only goal is for the capitalist owners to grab maximum profit.
As the economic crisis deepens, the contradiction between the “rights” of this exploiting minority to maximize profits and plunder the public treasury and the fundamental needs of the overwhelming majority of society is becoming more and more acute. As for the Republican and Democratic parties, since they are completely bought-and-paid-for by the monopoly corporations, their economic policies are geared, all along the line, to helping the rich maximize their profits by shifting the burden of the crisis further onto the backs of the people.
In order to challenge the “rights” of the capitalists, in order to force a change in the government’s economic policies, the workers must break the monopoly which the big capitalists exercise over our economic and political life. The first, decisive step is for the workers to come out as an independent political force, to organize their own mass Workers Party which can lead the fight to defend the interests of the people.