Posted by Billy Wharton, co-chair, Socialist Party USA on the party website:
Mistakes are the portals of discovery. ~ James Joyce
Remember January 2009? Big banks were teetering on the edge of collapse, millions were thrown onto the unemployment lines and a new President carried the promise of relief, greater rights for working people and a new immigration policy. How far we have come from then. The Obama Administration has failed to provide a serious jobs plan, has lavished public money on Big Banks, created a clunker Healthcare reform and has failed to deliver on immigration. These mistakes have had real consequences for poor and working people throughout the country – we live with them everyday.
In one sense, politicians are not really the problem. The core of the economic problems in America lies in the fact that 5% of the population controls 85% of the wealth. This richest 5% will take any measure to protect its wealth – even if it means ruining the lives of millions of Americans. As a result, we need politics that will get at the 85% of the wealth and to put it to work creating a better future for us all. We need politicians that are brave enough to declare independence from the rich and who have ideas capable of confronting this deep inequality.
America needs more than the piecemeal jobs bills Obama has put forward as part of his public relations push before the 2012 elections. Poor and working class people need a permanent full employment economy. The right
to a job should be a civil right. There is plenty of infrastructure to build, plenty of classrooms that need teachers, plenty of environmental cleanup that needs to be done and a seemingly endless supply of creative people who should be put to work. We can show that we have learned from the mistakes of the last four years by employing democratic socialist economics to rebuild our economy from the bottom up.
And socialism is all about using democracy to reclaim the 85% of the wealth currently held by the richest 5%. The history of giveaways to the rich goes deeper than the Obama Administration. Taxation on the highest earners has declined from a rate of around 90% in the 1960’s to 35% percent today. Corporate tax rates have had a similar decline, from 50% in the 60s to around 30% today. Some big corporations like General Electric did not even pay taxes last year! These tax breaks for the rich have driven necessary public programs to the brink of bankruptcy. Socialism will deliver an economic bill of justice to the rich.
Socialism is about more than just good policies. It is about removing the chains from working people. Just as all people should have access to a job, all workers should have the right to form a union to collectively bargain with private and public employers. Obama’s refusal to live up to his promise to pass the Employee Free Choice Act – which would allow for workers to more easily organize unions – is, perhaps, the administration’s greatest betrayal of working people.
Democratic Socialism is based on the notion that democracy is a really good idea – so good, that we want to run things like the economy democratically. It is not too late for poor and working class people to discover that economic democracy offers a way out of this seemingly endless economic crisis. Working together, we can re-shape the world. So, on this Labor Day, we struggle against the current wave of budget cuts and protest against the domination of the richest 5%, Wall Street and the banks, but we are also keeping our eyes on the prize – a future organized around democratic socialist ideas that offer real hope for jobs, peace and freedom.