Who Decides?

May 20, 2010

In this issue of The Worker, we publish two articles which provide information about the government’s program of slashing funds for vital public services. In fact, on all fronts the economic well-being of the people is under attack. Millions of the most impoverished, including hungry children, have been cut off from any income-support programs. The ever-deepening contradictions of the for-profit health care system have left tens of millions of Americans without coverage and tens of millions more who are underinsured. The public schools are crumbling for lack of government investments. Fifty percent of retired workers are condemned to poverty because of the government's failure to adequately fund Social Security. In carrying out this offensive, one of the key questions which the capitalists themselves have brought to the fore is the question of Who Decides?

Everyone knows that our country has more than ample resources to guarantee the economic rights of everyone – to eliminate, once and for all, poverty and unemployment, to equip everyone with a modern education, to guarantee a secure retirement for the working people, to provide universal access to health care, etc.

The vast economic potential of our country is precisely a product of its socialized character – of a vast, cooperative division of labor.

But the capitalist system – which sets the economy in motion with only the narrow aim of maximizing profit for a few – is unable to utilize the productive forces at its disposal and guarantee the well-being of the people.

In fact, for some time now, the capitalists have only been able to guarantee their profits and maintain their exploiting system by relying on the forcible intervention of the government. Today, federal, state and local governments account for more than 1/3 of the gross domestic product, again reflecting the highly centralized and socialized character of economic life. But because the government remains the instrument of the rich, the public sectors of the economy – including education, social services, public health, public housing, etc. – are being destroyed so that more and more funds can be put at the disposal of the monopoly capitalists. The vital resources of the country are being diverted and misdirected away from productive investments in schools, hospitals, and needed economic infrastructure and into parasitic military expenditures and debt-financing for the big banks. The very productive forces of our country are being destroyed by this government policy of taking resources out of the economy rather than investing in it.

All this shows that the issue for the working class is to assert its interests – its economic needs and vision – in the public arena, in political life. There is really only one economic question facing our country, the question of "What is the guiding line, the aim of economic life? Who decides the direction of the economy?"

The working people cannot let the capitalists monopolize the answer to this question and dictate the political agenda.

In the short-run, the workers must come forward with their own program to demand increased investments in the public sector of the economy, including education, health care, Social Security, income-support programs, etc. By building their own independent political movement, the workers seek a fundamental change in the direction of economic life so that guarantying the rights of the people is put ahead of the profits of the capitalists.
The goal of the workers' movement is to win the political power so that the people themselves can set the economic policy and completely revolutionize the economic and social relations.

The workers can only aim at replacing the capitalist system based on the exploitation of the majority with the new socialist system. Under socialism, our country's means of production will not be owned privately but by the whole society. The aim of economic life will not be to enrich a few but to continually improve the well-being of people while creating conditions for the all-around progress of the country.