The Economy

Taxes—and the Crisis of Capitalism

maketherichpayWe see record profits for big business, alongside continued “tightening of the belt” for the working class, as well as the biggest federal budget crisis to date. Europe is on the precipice of financial meltdown, and two of the world’s biggest economies, China and Germany, seem to be stagnating. India, Brazil, and Russia are also experiencing slowdowns. There are rough seas ahead and we may well be heading toward a period similar to that of 1937–38—“part two” of the Great Depression. All this while corporate America sits on trillions of dollars in cash. To many, the answer seems simple: tax the rich! But this is an extremely limited slogan.

Maximum Work for a Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage IncreaseIn President Obama’s recent State of the Union address, he announced his intention to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour by 2015. “Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.” However, this mild increase will barely scratch the surface of poverty in America. This “reform” must be understood as just another half-measure that has come to be expected of the Democratic Party. Now Obama is “for” increasing the minimum wage, but many of those making the minimum wage will still have to live in poverty. This is another page out of Obama’s playbook: it sounds nice enough but it fails to address the problem in any meaningful way.

Capitalist Crisis Hits Youth Hardest

studentloans1In January 2011, a 26-year-old street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, lit himself on fire in protest against repeated harassment by police in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. This marked the beginning of the Arab Revolution. Bouazizi’s self-immolation was simply the catalyzing event that connected with the anger and frustration of a large layer of society—anger and frustration that had been building up for years.

The problems faced by Bouazizi weren’t limited to him as an individual; his were just one example of the problems faced by millions of youth in the Arab world. Despite the dictatorial regimes that existed in Tunisia and Egypt at the time, these problems—chief among them being unemployment—are not at all limited to this part of the world. Youth in Greece and Spain find themselves in a similar situation—massive movements have already erupted there as a result—and here in the United States, conditions are also being prepared for a social explosion.

The Crisis of Capitalism by the Numbers

We republish here a graph that was originally published in the New York Times, based on figures from “The State of Working America” by the Economic Policy Institute. It covers the period from 1913 to the present, with a focus on the period after 1947. This is significant because 1947 can be considered the starting point of the post-Word War II economic boom, a period during which the capitalists were extracting so much profit from the workers that they were able to throw them a few extra crumbs. The mass workers’ movements in the 1930s and the strengthening of the unions after the war had taught them a few lessons about how to try to maintain relative class peace.

The Wall Street Mentality

Angry TraderAs the effects of the 2007–2009 “Great Recession” continue to unfold, workers worldwide are beginning to see that capitalism fosters a reactionary psychology that puts the profits of a tiny minority of society above the interests of the overwhelming, productive majority. The Occupy movement that has unfolded is scarcely the beginning of a protracted process that will inevitably result in an upsurge in the class struggle and a renewal of interest in genuine socialism, which has nothing in common with the infamous Stalinist regimes of the twentieth century.