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Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan's oldest child Casey was killed in Iraq on April 4th, 2004. Since then she has been on a mission to end the wars and hold George W. Bush accountable

November 13th, 2010 3:02 PM

Savage Austerity

"Yes, friends, governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class."
James Connolly, Irish Freedom Fighter and founder of the Irish Labor Party

“We’re all in this together,” is the chorus the ruling class loves to sing while it simultaneously bestows “quantitative easing” upon banks after imposing “savage austerity” measures on the working class.

I have been worried about Obama’s Bowles-Simpson “Cat Food Commission” (CFC) on reducing the deficit since it was announced, and it turns out my worries were well founded.

Besides suggesting raising the retirement age to an ungodly 69, savage cuts to Social Security and Medicare are proposed. Who needs Social Security and Medicare? Not the elite, but they are not forgotten in the CFC plan, the CFC also proposes to REDUCE taxes on the top earners from an already too low 35%, to an absolutely obscene 23%! Obama is following the international sport of the ruling class of forcing the least advantaged in society to pay for the crimes and excess of the One-Percent Club—those who sit at the top of the economic food chain controlling at least 50 percent of the nation’s wealth.

One thing we must understand, especially in the U.S, is that Capitalism creates these crises to be able to “capitalize” on them. The bubbles of the past were generated for gross profit on the expansion, and economic vampirism on the contraction. We who are not in the One-Percent Club may feel some temporary prosperity on the expansion, but each contraction squeezes us tighter and tighter.

In the CFC, there are also modest cuts proposed to defense, but, if any do go through, (very doubtful) it will just be a symbolic gesture meant to prove to us that the parasites really are “in it” with us.

Why do we in the 99 Percent Guild just take it for granted that we will slave our lives away for the elite class? It not only will exploit our labor to make itself grow fatter, but it will also flood the banks with billions of counterfeit dollars to drive up prices of necessities and drive down the purchasing power of our hard-earned federal reserve notes. However, we are supposed to suffer through all this with the Protestant rectitude of our forebears.

Instead of asking the working class to sacrifice even more “savagely,” there are some obvious solutions to this threat of “savage austerity” and hyperinflation. One solution that would feed two birds with one worm would be to bring our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and then close at least 2/3rds of our bases around the world. The Pentagon budget is around 750 bn for 2011 and education gets a paltry 1/10th of that! The symbolic proposed cuts to defense are not satisfactory, nor will they stop the murder.

Alternative and renewable sources of energy must be enhanced and put into practice. When we bailed out the auto industries last year that would have been a perfect time to put people back to work to retool and move forward with more high-speed rail and public transportation. A massive public works program to move our nation from all fossil fuel to a completely renewable and sustainable future would put untold amounts of people to work doing meaningful labor at a living wage and it would make that future look brighter.

There must be an excess profit tax put on corporations and big oil’s most favored status must change to pariah and the revenue we receive from the immoral profiteering can go to help pay for our new, clean energy and meaningful work policies. The One-Percent Club must pay “savage” tax on any income over a certain amount—the median household income in this country would be a good starting point. Conversely, Americans in the middle and lower income class should have their taxes dramatically cut to stimulate the economy. Tax cuts for the wealthy only stimulate the living standards of the wealthy. The CFC would end the only two meaningful deductions still left to the 99 Percent Club: health costs and mortgage interest.

Parasitism is a type of symbiotic relationship between organisms of different species where one organism, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the host. Well, the Capitalists are definitely a species of creature that benefits at the expense of its host—the workers and our prosperity. The intriguing thing about the parasitic behavior of the One Percent Club, though, is in its very name: One Percent. One percent of the economic parasites in the U.S. are benefiting off of the rest of us.

Here though, it’s almost as if we have invited our parasites to suck the life out of us, and we not only give them our comfy beds, we cook them a delicious breakfast, too, and compose a lovely Thank You note to them to add insult to injury.

I have spent the last 10 days in three European countries listening to how the people here are responding to the Savages and the cuts that are being proposed in their services, jobs and ways of life. The experience has been educational and inspirational.

Recently, in England, students took to the streets in a massive display of protest against the huge increase in University tuition, and some of them occupied offices of Tory politicians. I met with leaders of unions that will not co-operate with the government or their union leaders who have been co-opted by the Labour Party that does not do anything to alleviate the suffering of labor.

In Dublin, tens of thousands have taken to the streets to protest perhaps the harshest austerity measures anywhere. The descendants of James Connolly will not take more oppression by the ruling class lying down.

Greece is a great example as reaction to the upcoming austerity in the U.S. They have had five general strikes since May and as I was leaving my hotel in Athens to go to a meeting, there were about 300 riot police beginning to cordon off the area around my hotel which was also close to an office of the Labor Ministry. Turning the corner, I ran into about 75 dock-workers who were carrying flags attached to three-inch dowels—instead of cowering under such an overwhelmingly potentially brutal reaction by the Police State, the dock workers were banging their flag poles on the ground. I wish I could have stayed around to watch as the workers were going to try to get into the ministry to protest their firings.

This global crisis of Capitalism gives us the golden opportunity to drive the final nail in the coffin of this oppressive and violent system. According to the UN Gini report, the U.S. has the greatest income disparity of any so-called developed nation and implementing the recommendations of the CFC will make this fact even worse.

When Congress begins to debate the bill that will arise from the CFC report, we need to have a massive response: the Teamsters need to shut down ports and block roads; we need to boycott banking and credit; we need to boycott paying our federal income taxes; oil workers need to strike; we need to be in DC to occupy the offices of our Congressional Representatives (how about an across the board pay and benefit’s cut for Congress and the president?) we just need to get out into the streets to do our part following in the footsteps of, not only our brothers and sisters in other countries, but giants in our own who sacrificed so much to win the hard earned concessions we have—or used to have.

An organized response that is committed, intelligent, militant and courageous will take the U.S. oligarchy by surprise and it’s past time the USAians take part in the global struggle against savage austerity in a more meaningful way.

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