|Socialist Party USA: Recent Statements
|A Socialist Message for Labor Day 2011
Billy Wharton, co-chair, Socialist Party USA
Mistakes are the portals of discovery. ~ James
Remember January 2009? Big
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.