Diary: Ceiling Zero
The current debt ceiling debate in Washington is a tactical debate within the ruling class about how best to carry on a deeper austerity against workers and oppressed peoples' social wage.
The pittance spent on Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, SSI, et cetera, does not come out of the hip pockets of the plutocrats. It is the money equivalent of the value we create by our labor. The bosses pay us only a percentage of the value we produce for them; they take the rest. A percentage of our wages are taken via payroll tax to fund federal, state, and local government. Thus, the "sweat of our brow" is in every public service we get.
The cities and infrastructure we fund [and built] is today collateral. Wall Street bank owners and bondholders and speculators expect a handsome return when they loan a city or county government money, or purchase these bonds. That means the services we pay for are cut back, and the difference goes to the financial institutions of the rich.
But the rich, the ruling class, the plutocrats, have a problem. They have overproduced, and there are not enough consumers with money to buy what they had us make. So they lay many of us off. Those of us who remain on the job do the work for 3 or 4 people. And the bosses tell their Democrat and Republican myrmidons in Washington to figure out a way to increase payments to the banks and bondholders on the national debt, while at the same time reducing public payments for health and welfare of us workers. Why increase payments on the debt? Because that income/profit stream from workers payroll taxes will offset the lost profits from the unsold, over-produced commodities. It will go to the banks, the financiers, the ruling families who own the commanding heights of the U.S. economy.
The ruling class sees the explosive resistance to the same course in Greece, France, Spain, and the UK. They remember the spontaneous eruption of mass protest in Wisconsin this spring. They are conflicted about how hard to push, and against whom. Their collaborators in the high echelons of the trade unions, long compliant, find it harder and harder to get concessions; 30 years to give-backs and there is precious little left for union workers to concede.
Public sector unions, the majority of unionized workers today, are currently in the crosshairs. Local and state governments are going after them with a will at the same time they enact more oppressive laws against undocumented workers.
Washington's role in all this is to implement austerity against Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamp, et cetera, recipients. Some in the ruling class want a frontal assault; others want a piecemeal-style cut-back over a few years. Neither side, the Tea Party nor the Obama side can be supported by workers. It does not matter if our tree is cut down branch by branch, or all at once from the trunk, the guys doing the cutting are our enemies.
Over a year ago Workers World Party and the revolutionary youth organization Fight Imperialism Stand Together issued a statement entitled "Socialists Unite." Today it is more pertinent than 12 months ago. For those in the advanced fraction of our class, these points of unity need to be acted upon in practice today. There is no one else to defend our class interests but our class, and we must begin creating a pole of attraction in the working class for socialism, for independent working class political action, completely rejecting the boss austerity drive at every level of government.