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Class Struggle

Have We Learned Anything Since Striketober?

This month marks the one-year anniversary of “Striketober.” Last fall, many expressed hopes that the labor movement was experiencing a Phoenix-like resurgence in the form of a strike wave. New data and measures of strike activity reported “dramatic” increases that garnered significant media attention. Gathered by the likes of Payday Report and Cornell’s School of Industrial Relations, these new data and measures were partly meant to question official, government measures of strike activity collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which stopped collecting more comprehensive data in the early 1980s. However, subsequent commentary threw buckets of cold water on this pyre of hope.

One In Three Americans Are Struggling: What If We United?

If you’re having trouble making ends meet right now, you’re not alone. Nearly 52 million adults – about 1 in 4 – are having difficulty paying for usual household expenses, according to the most recent Census data, and, according to Monmouth polling, more than 4 in 10 Americans, 42 percent, “say they are struggling to remain where they are financially.” So let’s split the difference between those numbers and say one in three American adults say they’ve found it difficult to cover expenses or pay bills. Does that sound like a system that’s working well? Does that sound like a machine that is just humming along beautifully? Does that sound like citizens are living the American dream? This system is clearly not working for everyone and this is happening while rich-ass Congresspeople do next to nothing to help Americans.

Media Narratives Shield Landlords From A Crisis Of Their Own Making

As landlords continue their relentless pursuit of profits, and politicians allow pandemic-era eviction moratoriums to expire, the human toll of a fundamentally brutal housing system is arguably more visible than ever—particularly in America’s largest cities. Much of corporate media’s coverage of the deepening housing crisis, however, focuses on what are presented as three great evils: that landlords of supposedly modest means are being squeezed; that individuals and families living without homes destroy the aesthetics of cities; and that, in line with the most recent manufactured panic over violent crime, people without homes pose a threat to the lives and property of law-abiding citizens. By pushing these narratives, corporate media are engaging in a strategy of misdirection.

The Fight Against Inflation Doesn’t Have To Be Rich-People Friendly

The world’s central bankers, almost without exception, are now busy swinging sledgehammers. Only whopping interest-rate hikes, they’re preaching, can pound down inflation’s rising prices. In the United States, the Federal Reserve has so far this year raised the nation’s benchmark interest rate by three points, something that hasn’t happened since the 1980s, and still more rate hikes, the Fed pledges, are coming. These interest-rate boosts, the central banker reasoning goes, will slow the economy, deflate consumer demand, and get prices shrinking. The downside? Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is readily acknowledging the hardships rate hikes are provoking. The slower growth and softer labor market rising rates make inevitable, Powell conceded this past August, “will also bring some pain to households and businesses.”

They Crush Our Song For A Reason

August Wilson wrote 10 plays chronicling Black life in the 20th century. His favorite, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, is set in 1911 in a boarding house in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The play’s title comes from “Joe Turner’s Blues,” written in 1915 by W. C. Handy. That song refers to a man named Joe Turney, the brother of Peter Turney, who was the governor of Tennessee from 1893 to 1897. Joe Turney transported Black prisoners, chained in a coffle, along the roads from Memphis to the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville. While en route, he handed over some of the convicts, for a commission, to white farmers. The prisoners he leased to the farmers worked for years in a system of convict leasing — slavery by another name.

We Need A Labor Movement That’s A Lot More Militant

Class struggle unionism is based on a very simple idea, which is that workers create all wealth. Through the employment process this wealth gets separated from the workers and flows to a handful of people in society. That is why and how we get billionaires. This view of employment is very different from business unionism, which was the main competing form of unionism to class struggle unionism. Business unionism sees itself as having a very narrow role of negotiating the sale of labor. The view can be summed up with the slogan “a fair days wage for a fair days work.” Business unionists see themselves as narrowly representing a group of workers at a plant or industry and do not see themselves as part of a larger class struggle between workers and the billionaire class.

Britain In Strike Fever After Queen’s State Funeral

After the state funeral of the Queen, class struggle has returned to the forefront in Britain. In a treacherous act by the union leaderships, class struggle had been effectively paused for almost two weeks during the period of “national mourning.” After several suspended strikes and the TUC postponing its annual congress, however, momentum is returning. Those on the side of British capital are leaving nothing to chance: Liz Truss, the new prime minister and Boris Johnson’s successor, prepared a series of neoliberal measures which were presented in Parliament last Friday. On the same day the Queen died, Liz Truss had already announced the first measures to “ease the burden” of rising costs of living and soaring inflation. A so-called “energy price guarantee” will be introduced on October 1, which will cap the cost of energy at around 80 percent of current levels.

The Return Of Fascism

Energy and food bills are soaring. Under the onslaught of inflation and prolonged wage stagnation, wages are in free fall. Billions of dollars are diverted by Western nations at a time of economic crisis and staggering income inequality to fund a proxy war in Ukraine. The liberal class, terrified by the rise of neo-fascism and demagogues such as Donald Trump, have thrown in their lot with discredited and reviled establishment politicians who slavishly do the bidding of the war industry, oligarchs and corporations. The bankruptcy of the liberal class means that those who decry the folly of permanent war and NATO expansion, mercenary trade deals, exploitation of workers by globalization, austerity and neoliberalism come increasingly from the far-right.

Poverty Is A Public Policy Choice

It should not have taken a pandemic to realize poverty is a public policy choice. Public investments in safety net programs continue to be extremely effective poverty reduction tools, as newly released Census income data show. Government social programs kept tens of millions of people out of poverty in 2021. Because of expansions to programs like unemployment insurance benefits and the child tax credit, poverty rates were actually lower in 2021 than they were prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The poverty reduction achieved through expanded social insurance programs highlights how much policymakers’ choices can impact poverty.

It Doesn’t Trickle Down

It is a feeling of outrage, with a strong sense of déjà-vu. From the vantage point in the United Kingdom — where inequality and social injustice are in particularly sharp focus — we’re on the brink of yet another social and economic crisis. Even more so than in the rest of Europe, energy prices, and the cost of living are rocketing. But what is happening at the top? What are our leaders doing? Why are some people, yet again, making eye-watering financial gains while others face destitution and a real fear of being cold and hungry this winter?

Strike, Strike, Strike

The ruling oligarchs are terrified that, for tens of millions of people, the economic dislocation caused by inflation, stagnant wages, austerity, the pandemic and the energy crisis is becoming unendurable.  They warn, as Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and NATO Secretary GeneraJens Stoltenberg, have done, about the potential for social unrest, especially as we head towards winter. Social unrest is a code word for strikes — the one weapon workers possess that can cripple and destroy the billionaire class’s economic and political power. Strikes are what the global oligarchs fear most. Through the courts and police intervention, they will seek to prevent workers from shutting down the economy. This looming battle is crucial. If we begin to chip away at corporate power through strikes, most of which will probably be wildcat strikes that defy union leadership and anti-union laws, we can begin to regain agency over our lives.

Dollar Stores Are Being Robbed At Gunpoint More Days Than Not

When you imagine a person whose job involves putting their lives on the line at work, you might think of firefighters or military personnel. But there’s a new sector of employees who are risking their lives and facing rampant violent crime on the job — dollar store workers. In August, dollar stores in the United States were robbed at gunpoint most days of the month, according to an analysis of local news reports by More Perfect Union. Dollar store workers faced armed robberies while on shift last month in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Illinois. At least four people were shot.

Is The US Legal System At War With Its People?

The very laws and government agencies created to protect the people in the United States are increasingly being weaponized against those who are often marginalized in society: people of color, the poor, and the working class. In just the last few months, there have been many incidents of this kind of violent abuse of power. On July 28, the state of Alabama performed a “botched” execution on Joe Nathan James Jr., who journalists believe may have suffered medical malpractice akin to “torture” for hours before his death. On August 12, around midnight, a police officer threatened to kill a Black pregnant woman during a traffic stop in Florida.

3.8 Million Tenants In The US Could Be Evicted In The Next Two Months

The 3.8 million facing eviction is the tip of the iceberg. The Census Bureau also estimated that 8.5 million tenants are behind on their rent as the month of August comes to a close. Millions of people are behind on rent and facing eviction in part because of the soaring rent prices. In June of this year, median rents in the US topped a staggering $2,000 per month—the highest ever recorded. Renters across the country have seen rent increase by almost 25% since before the pandemic, with an increase of 15% in just the past 12 months, according to real estate marketplace company Zillow. Nearly half of renters have been hit with rent hikes. Rents have increased dramatically due to high inflation, which the people of the US cite as their top concern by a wide margin.

How Rural America’s Assets Have Been Systematically Stripped Away

Since the 1980s, financial capital has developed imaginative new ways to strip and seize the assets present in rural zones, whether these be mutually-owned banks, industries, cooperatively-owned grain elevators, local newspapers, hospitals, people’s homes, or stores located in towns and malls.” In the wake of the fiscal austerity agenda enacted by financial and political elites in the late 20th century, the vast majority of the wealth created in America’s countryside “has accrued to shareholders in corporations and financial institutions headquartered in a handful of distant, economically dynamic urban centers.” The financialization of the American economy, especially in those places furthest from economic hubs, can be extremely opaque. But its repercussions – many of which are often seen as causes and effects of backwardness and small-town decline – are all around us.
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