Yet the Obama presidency has carried out the GOP agenda, hook, line, and sinker, from Afghanistan to BP (British Petroleum) and the oil spill in the Mexican Gulf, to health care, Medicaid , the federal budget, funding for education, to unwavering support for Israeli military campaigns against the Palestinian people, and the bailing out of the banks as opposed to the homeowners.
[The Smelting Pot]
New Mantra: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
While Barack Obama is making his run for a second term in office, we are still witnessing a vast job crisis mushroom under his administration’s first term.
The American people and the African American community in particular are the victims — not only of a litany of injustices and inequities , e.g., police violence, lack of health care, and lack of educational opportunities — but on a more profound level, of the inability to come to grips with the reality that they face under this Obama administration.
There is an argument is that “we know that it’s been hard under Obama, but without him, it would be worst, as it was under the GOP.” Yet the Obama presidency has carried out the GOP agenda, hook, line, and sinker, from Afghanistan to BP (British Petroleum) and the oil spill in the Mexican Gulf, to health care, Medicaid , the federal budget, funding for education, to unwavering support for Israeli military campaigns against the Palestinian people, and the bailing out of the banks as opposed to the homeowners.
The list goes dreadfully on.
It now seems that our community has been asked to leave our critical thinking at the door, as “we” enter the White House. We are so elated by this victory in civil rights, that we have exchanged the symbolism of “realizing” King’s Dream for our actual material interests. Perhaps the tune “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” is the the new national African American anthem – we should all turn a blind eye to social and economic ills in deference to our emotional and psychological well-being.
Perhaps the African-American political leadership has an outlook that facilitates their seduction by the powers-that- be, their abandonment of their constituency, and their failure to adopt fight-back as a strategy of realpolitik.
At this juncture in history we have to address some very difficult questions around the issue of economic survival. Both the American working class and the Black community at large must face the possibility of a an economic depression where destitution rather than prosperity becomes the new American way of life.
The “good social life,” after all, is fundamentally based on material well-being – e. g. adequate incomes and resources, and real opportunities for social and skill development for ourselves and our children. Since as a community we don’t own vast reserves of wealth via the upper class mechanism of family inheritance and/or corporate stock-holding, our social well-being ultimately depends upon wages and employment.
Yet when it comes to questions of material well-being wage, we see that a number of working class people have an emotional investment in the delusion of becoming part of the upper middle class –by either hitting the lotto number, or being the elusive draft pick for a million dollar professional sports contract or the American Idol talent who signs a recording industry contract, or when all of the above fail by attempting to become a wiz at multilevel marketing schemes.
The working class suffers under the delusion of becoming a 21st century version of Horatio Alger, the fairytale American social climber par excellence, who magically rises from rags to riches.
We see and hear many social platitudes such as “do for self” and “all one needs is a correct entrepreneurial attitude” — and ironically this advice is increasingly doled out not to the Wall Street types who dream of climbing the corporate ladder and amassing great fortunes, (for they know that the true secret to such success is thru theft and fraud), but: to those who are struggling to barely make ends meet, those without financially stability; those who are fighting to keep their heads above water, and; to keep from drowning in a sea of debt.
What is needed is an American reality check. As we witness the worst mass unemployment crisis in the United States since the 1930s, states throughout the US are responding by adopting measures to cut benefits to the jobless.
Arkansas, Missouri and Michigan have already reduced unemployment payments, and Florida, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are preparing to do the same. Many are beginning to realize that the illusion of climbing up the social ladder and
achieving the American Dream is as solid as ice in a frying pan over a blue flame on a stove.
At this time the states of Michigan and Missouri have cut down its 26 weeks of unemployment insurance down to 20 weeks. While the state of Florida and its legislature has passed a law that would cut benefits and time to receive the
benefits down to 12 weeks, depending on the official unemployment level in the Florida state.
These vindictive and punitive measures—which threaten jobless families, in particular the Black working families whose unemployment rate is actually at 15.8% not 8. 8% since 7% of unemployed Blacks are not counted because they have stop searching for work —are part of an ongoing drive by the American ruling class, led by the Obama administration, to abolish and eradicate every social benefit won by the working people of America.
This comes at the same time as government austerity measures, the closure of schools, cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and the lay-off of hundreds of thousands of government employees on both the state and federal levels. What has to be noted is that the ultimate aim of these measures is to create conditions in which millions of people have no access to even the most basic government assistance, in order to create such levels of economic desperation that workers will take any job, at any wage.
Whenever we hear talk about an “economic recovery,” we should immediately ask “for whom?” Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have had official jobless rates of 9 % since April, while real unemployment is much higher.
There are currently 24 million people in the United States who either want to work but can’t find it, or are working part-time involuntarily. This figure is larger than the populations of Chile or the Netherlands, and is twice the population of Cuba.
At this point there are some 5.8 million people who’ve been out of work for the last 27 weeks or more. Economists say that over one million people have lost all federal unemployment benefits last year after being unable to find work for the
last 99 weeks. Nearly two million people are now a part of this group of unemployed called the “99ers.”
The segment of working-age people who are still employed is about 58.5%, this is the lowest level since 1983. What this means is that the transformative effect of woman entering the work forced over the last 25 years has been offset by the catastrophic and devastating rise in unemployment. The employment / population ratio for men is at an all time low –the lowest in over 40 years.
In previous America eras, such conditions would have been treated as a national crisis, and the political establishment would have felt some obligation to make social and economical concessions to stabilize the social environment
and to co-op popular political anger and discontent. A quick look at history confirms this. On January 11th, 1944, as the United States was finishing up the war in Europe , President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave an address to Congress in
which he proclaimed that the political rights which were guaranteed in the American Constitution had proven inadequate, thus necessitating an “economic bill of rights.”
The first of this “Second Bill of Rights,” thought Roosevelt, was the right to “a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.”
Roosevelt ’s suggestion and offer was dead on arrival. The hierarchical class system of American capitalism was so entrenched that the notion of reducing class divisions by exterminating poverty and unemployment was unthinkable, even during America’s boom years in its postwar period. But for decades afterward, elected officials in the US would give lip service to the concept of full employment as basic goal of domestic policy.
Unemployment insurance was introduced in some states in the US back in 1932 and then expanded throughout the country in the 1930s, in response to the Great Depression. This was a part of a general program of social reform driven
in no small way by fear within the American ruling class of social upheaval and revolution. Roosevelt himself was speaking only 27 years after the Russian Revolution.
In 2011, the present corporate American policy under the Obama administration, is rapidly moving toward the elimination of whatever remains of the reforms of the post-war period, including unemployment benefits. Under Obama, the political establishment has discarded even the vaguest indication that people have a right to a job.
This past week, the Obama administration released the centerpiece of its bull manure platitudes –a new “jobs’ policy” —a program of corporate deregulation to eliminate existing constraints on corporate profits. The extra profit, Obama argues, would be used to hire workers. Yet one must note that under contemporary conditions, corporations have at their disposal one the largest cash reserves accumulated in US history, and are yet refusing to hire, waiting for wages to come down even further.
The cause of the transformation was the child of an ugly dialectic of American capitalist society. The industrialists of Roosevelt ’s age were people who made their money from the productive process. But in the past twenty years, under conditions of economic decline, the American ruling capitalist had to split its attention between dismantling domestic industry and creating a grand Ponzi scheme via investment in the financial services industry that went bust back in 2008.
The American capitalist class had pursued a policy of deindustrialization, with the banks flourishing to the point where by late 2000, speculative industries such as finance and real estate had generated more than 40 % of all corporate profits.
The vast increase in the wealth of the financial aristocracy over the last thirty years has been bound up with this process. Now, as of June, 2011 — which is three-and-a-half years after the beginning of the recession, not a single social program or measure to lessen and ease unemployment has been introduced. Instead, the economic crisis has been a way and an opportunity for capitalists to knock down working class people back to the conditions before the Roosevelt “New Deal.”
Last year when Obama gave his State of the Union discourse, he pledged to double exports within five years. We need to understand however, that the only way to do that is through the reduction of U.S. wages to the point where they could compete with those of the developing countries. Thus, the driving force of this transformation is very high unemployment that is forcing people to accept lower and lower wages, as the new American way.
There is a growing number of people who work from 8 AM to 4 PM and go to another job from 5 PM to 12 midnight — if they’re lucky, but their ends still don’t meet for a healthy existence.
Well, welcome to the American job crisis and all praises due to American capitalism as someone tries to get you to join some multi-level marketing scam as an opportunity to earn a real income.
For the American people and in particular the Black community, history is on their side, but not time…..
“Speaking Truth To Empower.”