Monday, June 22, 2009

Another Perspective: Abayomi Azikiwe PBS Commentary on "More Help For Working People and the Poor"

Week of 6.19.09

Another Perspective: More Help for "Working People" and The Poor

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Abayomi Azikiwe, spokesperson for Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions, talks about what he feels is irresponsible action by the government and corporations in regard to American employment and the poor. Moratorium NOW! held a protest rally—called "The People's Summit"—outside The National Summit, a conference of business CEOs and leaders which took place in Detroit June 15-17.

People's Summit activists marched through downtown Detroit on June 15-16 2009

Over four million people have lost their jobs in the United States since December 2007 and more than two million people have lost their jobs since the beginning of this year. But neither the corporate community nor the American government have been able to respond to the deepening economic crisis by creating jobs for the unemployed and underemployed.

There are numerous factors involved in this apparent inability by multi-national corporations and the government to create jobs and provide other assistance to families suffering from home foreclosures, evictions, lack of health care and the evaporation of their savings and pension funds. Current policy imperatives of the ruling elites in this country favor the profit-making capacity of the financial sector and the most wealthy business people based in America and abroad. This is to the detriment of the interests of most working people and the poor.

The assumption is that if these banks and firms prosper, the benefits will flow downward to the workers in the form of lucrative employment and social benefits. However, this theory has been totally discredited through the lowering of real wages, the rise in joblessness, underemployment and the widening income gap between working people and the rich.

Many corporations have decided to go to areas of the country and the world where they can more freely exploit workers and consequently reap higher profits. When this system faced collapse during the fall of 2008, U.S. taxpayers were forced to bailout the very same financiers, insurance providers and automotive companies who had engineered the crisis. The collapse resulted in the worst loss of financial wealth since the Great Depression.

There must be a restructuring of national priorities in the United States. The $10 trillion in public funds and Federal Reserve-induced liquidity that was utilized to ostensibly prevent a full economic meltdown in 2008 could have easily been invested in government programs to create millions of jobs in the U.S. There could have been a national moratorium on foreclosures that could have allowed people to remain in their homes pending the outcome of the current crisis.

At the same time, the $700 billion annual defense budget—including the continuing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan—is draining the resources of the country in wars that have no end and that could not possibly be won by a western industrialized nation against peoples of the developing world. These Pentagon resources could be re-allocated to build mass transit systems throughout the country, reopen closed schools, and rehire laid-off educators. There could be a genuine effort to repair the national infrastructure. All of these initiatives could result in the creation of millions of jobs.

What is most important in any plans to create jobs and stimulate economic growth is the empowerment of working people and the poor. This is something that receives a hostile response from the corporate community and the federal government. Nonetheless, if people feel they have no influence in the actual operations of the state and capital, their productivity and general outlook will be severely affected.

If there is no rapid reversal of the massive job losses in the U.S., the long-term implications will be catastrophic. With the need for 25 million jobs for the unemployed and underemployed this year, consumer spending will further decline and more businesses could slide into bankruptcy, resulting in even more unemployment.

Consequently, the epidemic of job losses and home foreclosures will contribute substantially to the erosion of living standards and social stability. Those who have guided the economic policy of the country must yield to the needs of the people who are the engine of any real program of reconstruction and renewal.

No comments: