FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

World Bankers Agree

by SHAMUS COOK

Few would consider the opinions of the world’s central bankers to be unbiased or even accurate.  These self-proclaimed wise men of international finance didn’t see the recession coming until it blew up in their faces — a blast that destroyed their credibility.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to hear them talk, not because they’re fun to listen to, but because of “the messaging” that rich investors use religiously in placing their stock market bets, while the rest of us are given a calming sermon, so that the bankers’ lackeys — the politicians — may continue ruining the country uncontested.

Recently the wise bankers jointly announced that the world economy was “on the verge” of a recovery.  The language was purposely vague: they can’t afford to be utterly wrong again and destroy their last shreds of authority.  So they’re hedging their bets.  The President of the European Central Bank was extra cautious, saying that the economy was in for a “very bumpy road ahead.”

The truth is they have absolutely no idea what will happen or when. Other mainstream economists are presenting a gloomier picture of the situation.  For example, the flagship publication of corporate America, the Wall Street Journal, recently announced that the accelerating number of bank failures in the U.S. amounted to a “new phase” in the crisis, where built-up junk-debt was beginning to tear down banks at a faster tempo.

Meanwhile, the Economist magazine concluded recently that, instead of a “V shaped recovery” —meaning a quick bounce back — we should prepare ourselves for “a gloomy U [shape] with a long, flat bottom of weak growth… [for] the next few years.”

This type of analysis is now what passes for optimism in mainstream economics.  A “gloomy U” is much better than a “terrifying w” — meaning another potential crash.  Thus, we are told that bailing out the banks averted “utter disaster” and that we should be content if the economy produces a slow, “jobless recovery.”  Of course, the economy has not recovered if millions of people remain unemployed.  Terms like “jobless recovery” were invented to accustom people to suffering, while the mega-profits of Goldman Sachs are presented as “promising signs.”  Indeed, the suffering of millions of people and the profits of corporations have a direct relationship that the media is not discussing.

Big recessions destroy wages and benefits.  The huge reserve of unemployed workers helps employers threaten workers with joblessness if they do not accept lower wages, while other companies force lower wages for “the survival of the company.”  Free market economists rationalize this by calling it a “market adjustment”: the labor market supposedly produced too high of wages for profits to be maintained.

This period is likely to continue for some time.  One reason is that retirement will not be a reality for millions of people who either were unable to save enough or had their savings in 401(k) accounts destroyed by the recession.

A Career Builders poll reported that 73 per cent of those planning to retire would delay their retirement for at least six years.  Many older workers, because of the nosedive their 401(k) took, were forced out of retirement to accept low paying jobs, meaning more competition for younger workers.

According to a New York Times Op Ed by Bob Herbert:

“…only 28 of every 100 males were employed in the 16-through 19-year-old age group. For minority teenagers, forget about it. The numbers are beyond scary; they’re catastrophic.” .

 

Many other workers have chosen to ride out the recession by going back to school.  While in school — or after graduation — these students become “interns,” a way that many employers are using to replace paid workers.

A New York Times story by Gerry Shih reported that:

“With paying jobs so hard to get in this weak market, a lot of college graduates would gladly settle for a nonpaying internship. But even then, they are competing with laid-off employees with far more experience.”

In addition to internships, many other unemployed workers are simply doing volunteer work to build their resumes.  All of these good intentions are used by employers to drive down wages or eliminate paid positions entirely.

The mass joblessness is creating a tense, dog-eat-dog situation for millions. Rather than blame the crisis on the bankers and others profiting from the recession, society’s most vulnerable people — immigrants — are likely to be the continued targets.

But targeting immigrants will not improve the lives of workers.  This can be done only by collectively confronting their employers and demanding higher wages and benefits. If necessary, workers must demand and organize to keep their jobs from being shipped off-shore to prevent companies from searching for literal slave wages.

For unemployed workers, organizing with demands on local and federal governments for a real stimulus program to create jobs is an absolute necessity.  Obama’s first stimulus has been an obvious failure: not only was it too small, but much of it was dedicated to tax breaks and not job creation.

The economy is not going to correct itself.  Powerful interests are bailing out banks while pushing down wages and will continue to do so until they are pushed back.

A job-creating stimulus that pays living wages will help ease tremendous suffering.  But such a program is unlikely to be given to us by the corporate-owned Democrats.  It must be taken.

Throughout this economic crisis the Democratic Party has eagerly served the interests of the rich:  It refused to pass serious legislation that would have greatly helped working people avoid foreclosures on their homes; it is abandoning the option of a government-run health care program; it refused to pass EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have removed barriers to forming unions; it has given billions of bailout dollars to reckless bankers; it refused to nationalize the banks, so they could begin to operate in everyone’s interests, and not just the rich; it has continued to fight foreign wars that benefit giant corporations only, while not restoring civil liberties at home; and it has failed to promote a massive job creation program that would have the potential to alleviate the suffering of millions of U.S. workers.

The lesson of this economic crisis is becoming starkly clear: working people will have to create their own political party dedicated to fighting for their own interests.  Such a party will not come into existence on its own.  Rank and file union members, community organizations, and the unemployed must begin organizing now to promote policies that the Democrats have refused to touch.  A giant coalition of progressive forces working towards these goals can easily transform itself into a political party capable of brushing aside the two parties of big business.

SHAMUS COOKE is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).  He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail