(The Workers' Advocate, December 1, 1987, pp. 1,5)
. Times of crisis reveal what is often hidden in normal times. That's what the stock market crash has done.
. Bloody Monday [October 19, 1987, when stock markets around the world lost anywhere from
20% to 60% of their value in one day] has shown just how this vast land of over 200 million
working people is held in hock to a gang of Wall Street speculators. If there's any question here,
just look at what's been going on in Washington these days: Reagan and Congress joining hands
to skin the working people to soothe the stock market.
Stock Market Demands Lower Living Standards
. The stock market has been hit by a trillion-dollar shakeout. Now the scramble is on to shore up stock values.
. This scramble has been joined by all the capitalist media and all the bourgeois politicians -- both Republican and Democrat. The trillion dollar question of the moment is "how to restore investor confidence?"
. Their answer is nearly unanimous: To smooth the crisis on Wall Street will require a new round of squeezing the workers and the poor.
Business Week has even put a figure on just how much sacrifice from the people Wall Street needs. Prescribing wage cuts, tax hikes, and cutbacks in social programs as the best cure, the BW scribblers are eager for lowering living standards by 7% "at a minimum." (Nov. 16)
. The immediate focus is on the huge federal deficits. Financing the national debt is keeping interest rates up and putting pressures on the stock market. Wall Street is crying deficit reduction.
. But surprise, surprise. The same corporate chiefs and investors demanding action on the deficit are also lobbying that nothing be done to cut into their tax breaks and other subsidies. After all, that might hurt profits and frighten the stock market.
. So the capitalists have agreed that the working masses will have to be skewered with another
round of budget cuts.
White House and Congress Do Stock Market's Bidding
. Within days of Bloody Monday, the politicians in Washington were pledging to do whatever has to be done to calm the stock market. An emergency summit between the White House and leaders of both parties in Congress was called. On November 20 it came up with a bipartisan deficit reduction plan.
. If passed next month, this bill will keep the across-the-board Gramm-Rudman cuts from going into effect. But the same "fiscal conservatism," the same "damn the masses!" spirit that created Gramm-Rudman inspired this agreement among Reagan and the Republicans and the Democrats.
. The biggest victim of the agreement is health care for the poor, including a $2 billion cut in Medicare. This at a time when soaring costs are putting health care out of reach for millions. When infant mortality in the inner cities is climbing towards the levels of dirt poor Honduras. When AIDS continues to reap its grisly toll.
. But the capitalists have their priorities. And treating the jumpy nerves of the investment bankers comes first.
. The plan also cuts farm programs. To a large extent, these programs subsidize the wealthy farmers and agribusiness. They also provide a crutch for small and poorer farmers on the edge of going under.
. But driving out a few tens of thousands of farmers is a small price for sending a soothing signal to the idle rich.
. On paper, the deal calls for $5 billion in cuts for the Pentagon. In reality, the current budget has already scheduled a $10.4 billion boost for the military over the next year. This leaves the Pentagon with a $5.4 billion net gain. (Gramm-Rudman was scheduled to eliminate this increase.)
. This too is said to be good for stock market "confidence"; war contracts are high profit.
. The Democratic majority leader in the Senate, Robert Byrd, praised the agreement as "a good
message to send to the markets." The Wall Street experts responded that it didn't go far enough.
So talk is already in the works of sending more "messages" to the stock market at the expense of
the working people.
Stock Market-Government Alliance
. Oh, yes. We are told that this is a government "of the people and for the people." One of Reagan's favorite words is "freedom" (as in the "freedom fighting" contra mercenaries). The Democrats go one better and speak about "human rights" and the rights of labor and the poor.
. But when push comes to shove, when the big bucks are on the line, our government leaders come down on the side of the dictates of the capitalists against the working class and oppressed.
. Theirs is the "freedom" of the rich to impose their will on the poor, the "rights" of the exploiters to inhumanly exploit the working people.
. In his work The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, the communist pathbreaker Frederick Engels gave the U.S. as an example of the "brotherly bond" between
government and stock exchange. He pointed out that in a democratic republic the state remains
in the hands of the capitalists. This is realized "by an alliance between the government and the
stock exchange." (He also noted the role of high government debts in effecting this alliance.)
Liberate Labor from the Stock Market!
. The crash of '87 is helping to reveal this alliance to the working people. The working class must seize the time to pose sharp questions.
. Why must we sacrifice any further for a handful of Wall Street sharks? Let us stiffen the fight against concessions, layoffs and cutbacks!
. Why must we be saddled by the stock market's hop-and-fetch-it men, the political gangs of Republicans and Democrats? Let us workers build our own revolutionary movement that defends our own interests!
. Why must we bend to the rule of capital that offers a future of "lowered living standards," crisis
and ruin? Why can't those who produce take control of production? Why can't the majority, the
working class in alliance with all who work, become the ruling power? Let us organize and
struggle for the socialist revolution which can liberate labor from the stock market! <>
Last modified: February 16, 2009.