The economic plan announced Saturday by President-Elect Barack Obama, with the goal of “saving or creating” 2.5 million jobs in 2009 and 2010, is a measure that has already been outstripped by events. The deepening crisis of American and world capitalism could destroy that many US jobs in the next six to nine months alone.
Now, mind you, 2.5 million new or saved jobs is better than none. The problem, of course, is that it looks like there’s a good chance that that’s a number that have already been lost or are in the process of being lost. If the numbers end up being a push from where we are today, then we’re still pretty well screwed.
The collapse of the auto industry itself would wipe out 2.5 million to 3 million jobs according to most estimates, canceling out the entirety of Obama’s plan, even if it were to be enacted quickly and in full by the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress. The broader recession, well under way, is expected to increase the ranks of the unemployed by a million or more by next spring.
Maybe we should just let the American auto industry die. I, for one, don’t want GM owned by the Chinese Red Army. What’s needed for it to survive is for the ownership of the companies to be turned over to the workers, with no one in management being paid more than a trained worker. GM also needs to be broken apart. It also needs to take the $1 billion it wants to spend in Brazil and spend it here to save it’s US operations (that is, if they want any US taxpayer bailout).
Martin points out something very important:
His concluding remarks were perhaps the most significant. Hailing what he called “the American dream,” he declared, “It has thrived because in our darkest hours we have risen above the smallness of our divisions to forge a path towards a new and brighter day. We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together.”
The gauzy, patriotic rhetoric conceals a lie. The economic and class divisions in the United States are not small; they are the largest and widest in American history. Never has such a tiny minority of the population monopolized such a huge proportion of overall wealth, to the detriment of the vast majority. As for the demand that action be taken “above all, together,” it means that the financial aristocracy, which is responsible for the crisis, should not be compelled to pay for it. Instead, the burden will be placed on the backs of “all,” i.e., on working people.
As we look into the pit that neoliberal capitalism has dug for all of us, we need to look at our economic system and decide if the system should serve the few or serve all. We know what serving the few does: It’s where we are now. Are we brave enough to look toward our shared interests rather than the bottom line? The answer will set how the US citizenry gets treated economically until the next major bust.
In other words, these selections demonstrate that Obama will pursue economic policies determined by the same class interests upheld by his Republican predecessor. The primary concern will be the defense of the financial system-i.e., the accumulated wealth of the financial aristocracy, embodied in the giant banks, hedge funds and other huge financial institutions, whose parasitic and speculative operations precipitated the current crisis.
It looks like the Bush tax cuts will continue for two more years (don’t be surprised should it be decided that they should become permanent). We already know that Obama’s loaded up with financiers to oversee the economy. ‘Change’ is not coming from above. It will have to come from below. The question is are ‘progressives’ truly such or are they willing minions to those in power?