From the Labor Commission of the CPUSA, updates, information, news, analysis, and organizing materials in solidarity with workers of the world.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Modest Bailout Proposal

How about a trickle-up Bailout instead of trickle down.

By Scott Marshall

Perhaps the biggest fault of the bailout being debated (possibly passed by the time you read this) is that it is based on the idea that the relief given to Wall Street will trickle down to hard-hit working class folks on Your Street.

Who knows? Given that the underlying problem of crazy predatory mortgages and lending practices, and the housing bubble are not fundamentally addressed, then the bailout could just as well not avert a meltdown. Most people you talk to don’t have much confidence that the bailout will slow foreclosures, unemployment, or declining incomes.

But what if the bailout went the other way? What if taxpayers bailout themselves and then the benefit trickled up?

How could you do it? What if everyone who has lost a home to foreclosure in the last year, or is in foreclosure, or is behind on their house payments, got a bailout directly from the Treasury? This would be a direct injection of liquidity into the financial markets. Banks and lending institutions would receive an infusion of cold hard cash from their victims, er… customers. This would immediately stimulate consumer spending also. It would free up stressed incomes for working class families and right the injustice of the unfair and predatory lending practices used by the big finance boys on Wall Street. If this works then Congress might want to extend it to car loans and other big loans – this would inject liquidity into the auto industry instead of the $25 billion taxpayer bailout to auto already passed by Congress.

I can hear the rightwing now. How can you reward those who used poor judgment and borrowed over their ability to pay back? Well yeah…. Isn’t that the “principal” that is already enshrined in the Wall Street bailout? Not to mention that the housing bubble that got us into this mess began with risky, predatory loans. But now increasingly the crisis involves conventional loans, overwhelmingly by folks who have faithfully paid their mortgages. Wouldn’t millions of people getting a several thousand dollar bailout do more to free up spending and money circulation than a few dozen big lenders getting billions to put in their bank vaults?

This could even be extended to health care. Instead of a bailout of insurance vampires like AIG, or silly schemes to give tax credits for private purchase of insurance, why not pay the full premiums with no deductibles and no co-pays for every person in the US. (Might be called single payer) Then, working class families (the overwhelming majority) again, would have more cash to circulate and consume – billions in liquidity. And corporations would shed billions in healthcare costs thus freeing up huge amounts of capital to invest in creating jobs and Greening their industries. Congress might then realize that the predatory “middlemen” of big financials, like private insurance companies, don’t really play any useful purpose anyway – and could be allowed to go out of the healthcare business.

Not only would $700,000,000,000 probably be enough for a trickle up bailout, it would probably also calm world markets faster, because it would get at the root of the current economic crisis. And it would promote goodwill and a better image of America. It would show that even under gigantic state owned capitalism with all it’s vast inequalities, it is still possible to fight and win humane, logical, people-helping solutions.

I can hear my conservative friends now, “This will only lead to even bigger public programs. People will start taking about nationalizing the big oil and energy companies, nationalizing the banking system, free education and childcare, and on and on.”

Well yeah……

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thanks but no thanks!

Dear Members of Congress,

As a taxpayer in good standing, I wish to inform you that I choose to opt out of participating in the financial crisis bailout.

Please send my $2,300 as soon as is conveniently possible.

Thank you and good luck in your endeavor.

Gain, Blame and Pain.

Two of the burning questions coming out of the current financial crisis brought on by the mortgage scandal are: who gets the blame and who gets the pain.

The apologists for capitalist excess say the the loaners and the borrowers share in the blame.

Let's consider.

For years Bush pushed his ownership society plan. Owning a home he told us at every opportunity was part of the American Dream and now was the time to do it. Home buyers were investing in their future. Buying a home was investing in America and investing in America was the patriotic thing to do.

Consumers listened to his message and, trusting the advice of Bush and the propaganda of the mortgage industry, bought their small slice of the American Dream. By the thousands!

In the meantime the Bush/Cheney policies of total deregulation, i.e. greed control, was creating an economic House of Horrors. A place that should have had a sign above the door that stated, "Warning: Enter at Your Own Risk."

But Bush/Cheney and their corporate pals encouraged, enticed and manipulated those folks into this House of Horrors while cynically neglecting to mention the danger.

Billions of dollars of profit were made by the lenders as they packaged and sold these new mortgages which were then repackaged and resold again. It was the time for gain.

Then the pyramid collapsed and the time for blame and pain began.

Throughout this period two things stand out that point to where the blame and pain should be directed.

The first that the home buyers' actions were based on trust and willingness to play by the rules.

The second that the mortgage loaners' actions were based on greed and economic opportunism.

Clearly a no-brainer for who should get the blame and feel the pain.

We are now witnessing an attempt by the apologists and Bush/Cheney people to spread this scam to the general public with a bail-out proposal that would make billions of taxpayers dollars available to these corporate thieves with no relief for the home buyers who stand to lose their homes and to-date investments. Congress must give its approval.

Under this proposal the corporations gain while feeling no pain. CEO's will reward themselves bonuses of millions of our dollars for their "efforts". In effect they will be rewarded for causing the greatest financial crisis in modern history.

There is a hue and cry rising from Congress and others that this proposal include regulation of any compensation these crooks are able to receive and more consideration given to helping the distressed and victimised homeowners.

The CEOs and their brethren are vehemently opposed to any such regulation and the Bush/Cheney people are saying there is no time for debating the issue, that the CEOs might not agree to join in the government sponsored bail-out if their paycheck is controlled and that we can address those questions when the crisis is averted.

Well, there is a fair and just solution to this. If the creators of the crisis refuse to cooperate with the solution they can and should be arrested and charged with economic terrorism against the State and treason!

Then we can all enjoy a good night's sleep!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Healthcare plan? Hand sanitizer

Employee benefits package? Soda in the break room.

Welcome to a workplace that’s seriously out of whack:

Let's face it. Something's wrong when CEOs rake in hundreds of times what their employees earn, and workers get the boot just for talking about unions.

It could almost be a bad joke if it weren't such a serious problem. That's why we teamed up with the award-winning producers at Brave New Films to make this video, and hope you take a minute to sign our petition after you watch.

Check out the video and take one minute to sign our petition for workers' rights.

Thank you for your support,

Liz Cattaneo
American Rights at Work

P.S. After you sign the petition, can you send this message to one or two (or 10) of your friends? We're counting on you to spread the word!

P.P.S. Watch a live online show about our video and the Employee Free Choice Act! Tune into this Friday, Sept. 12 at 1pm EST / 10am PST.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Striking Machinists at Boeing ask: “How do you hide $13 billion?”

Author: John Wojcik

“How do you hide $13 billion? Do you stuff it in an airplane? Do you give it to the CEO? Or, do you share it with your workers?”

These questions are printed on union flyers being distributed by thousands of striking Boeing workers at locations in Washington state, Oregon and Kansas as the total shutdown of the nation's largest airplane maker entered its second day.

Unprecedented profits now being made by Boeing are fueling the anger of the 27,000 workers who shut down the giant corporation Sept. 6.

Tom Wroblewski, who heads the union's negotiating committee, said that in the last five years Boeing has reported after tax profits of more than $13 billion - an increase of over 828 percent from the prior five year period.

“Yet Boeing continues to offer proposals more fitting of a company in bankruptcy,” he said.

Boeing says it is not in a position to pass along increased pay and benefits costs to customers.

“We agree,” said Wroblewski, “The costs should come out of their increased profits - not be passed along to the airline customer.”

The union says Boeing will come up with many additional excuses as to why it shouldn't share its profits with its workers but that the unprecedented backlogs of unfilled orders from all over the world, together with the record profits, constitute almost a moral imperative that the workers should see some benefit. The union makes no secret of the fact that it considers itself to be in a very strong bargaining position. “They need the workers,” a union source said, “they are hiring workers every day and they still can't fill the back orders.”

It is against that backdrop that workers became particularly angry when the company proposed not increases but cutbacks in benefits when it made its final offer.

Boeing demanded, for example, that a family of three should pay a maximum of $6,000 in out-of-pocket health care costs, up from the current $4,000 maximum. In addition, it proposed slashing of both vision and dental care benefits.