Capitalism and Economy en Tampa Bay residents brace for Hurricane Irma <p>Tampa, FL - Hurricanes are a common experience to most Floridians, especially to residents of the Tampa Bay area, where hurricanes and tropical storms hit or brush by about every two years. However, Category 4 Hurricane Irma, which is now projected to move up the center of the state, is making some of the most seasoned Floridians panic. </p> <p>Hurricane Irma, which at its peak reached wind speeds of up to 185 miles per hour, could cause four to eight inches of rainfall. For residents on Florida’s west coast this could mean flooding and road closures. This risk is especially high for the poorest areas of Tampa, where drainage is inadequate and most homes are only five to 20 feet above sea level.</p> <p>A few residents were able to prepare beforehand and are in a better position to face Irma. </p> <p>“My family started getting things like water, food, flashlights, batteries and stuff like that early. We didn’t have to struggle that much,” said Brandon resident, Genesis De Gracia.</p> <p>Many Tampa residents do not share this position though. On its own Irma could be catastrophic for central Florida but the threat Irma poses grows far greater as the local, state and federal governments fail to address proper preparation for the rest of its residents.</p> <p>While helping on a Hurricane hotline yesterday, Jenna Ferreira, a pharmacy technician who works at a critical care hospital in Pasco County, commented, “Hillsborough County’s information on preparedness was much more readily available online than Pasco or Pinellas. People from those counties were calling us to get information. But one of biggest problems in Florida, especially Tampa, is that there's no infrastructure. We don't have much besides the HART buses, which are limited, for public transportation.”</p> <p>While volunteers have been called upon, there are still a lack of resources available for these volunteers. </p> <p>“I wish there was more information and training on how to volunteer. For example, the USF Sundome is the largest special needs shelter in Tampa. Its physical capacity is 10,000 but they have a limit of 1000 sheltered people. I assume this is because of a lack of trained staff. You need people who know ventilators and oxygen tanks.” Ferreira continued, “I’ve talked to a lot of elderly and disabled people who were scared. Several hadn't been to the store yet. I wish there was a way they could register and either government employees or volunteers could help them prepare. It breaks my heart, it’s not a fair playing field for them.”</p> <p>The police of central Florida have proven to be equally unhelpful, and even more harmful. One of the communities that is the most heavily affected by the local government is that of undocumented immigrants. </p> <p>When emergency centers began opening to dispense sandbags, a precondition was created that demanded residents prove their citizenship before being able to attain the sandbags. Likewise, only U.S. citizens will be allowed to take refuge in the shelters around Tampa.</p> <p>Nearby Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd stated on his public Twitter account, “If you go to a shelter for Irma, be advised: sworn LEOs will be at every shelter, checking IDs. Sex offenders/predators will not be allowed.” In another tweet he said, “If you go to a shelter for Irma and you have a warrant, we'll gladly escort you to the safe and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail.”</p> <p>While claiming these identification checks pertain to sex offenders and sexual predators, the recent dissolution of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and increased attacks on undocumented people all over the country point to these checks being concerned with finding and expelling undocumented people, not protecting other residents. These tweets also indicate a carefree attitude on the part of the police towards the lives of residents, as a sheriff jokes about the Polk County Jail being a shelter.</p> <p>This is the nature of disaster under our current system. The state and federal governments have proven this by their relative inaction and their priority of arresting people instead of protecting them. After the devastation in Houston by Hurricane Harvey, a lack of preparation is inexcusable on the part of the government. </p> <p>Unlike the wealthy of Tampa, many people in poor communities have had no choice but to sit and wait as the highways fill, and gas and airline prices are gouged. Due to material shortages, these same people often do not have access to the materials necessary to fortify their homes or stock up before the hurricane. This situation serves as a reminder that under the current system groups like undocumented, low-income, African-American, elderly and disabled people, will never be safe. Rather, the people united can end that system and create a new one that ensures the safety and protection of all.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Environmental Justice Florida hurricane Hurricane Irma Irma Tampa bay Oppressed Nationalities Poor People's Movements Fri, 08 Sep 2017 23:07:16 +0000 Fight Back 6304 at Gas crisis hits Dallas, set to spread <p>Dallas, TX - As of Thursday evening, August 31, most gas stations in the greater Dallas area are out of gasoline. Those that still have fuel are charging as much as triple the usual price.</p> <p>The price gouging came on the heels of panic buying sparked by reports that damage from Hurricane Harvey has put 25% of U.S. oil refining capacity out of commission. Most industry experts indicate the actual supply disruption was a relatively small part of the problem.</p> <p>Although the Dallas area has a mass transit system, most people rely on cars to get from place to place, due to a limited rail network and infrequent bus service.</p> <p>Meanwhile, price gouging and panic buying is reportedly also underway in Austin, Texas.</p> <p>As of Thursday evening, the Gas Buddy website indicates that only about 1000 Texas gas stations out of the more than 13,000 it tracks actually had fuel.</p> Capitalism and Economy gas prices Fri, 01 Sep 2017 03:49:48 +0000 Fight Back 6281 at Tucson to tell Trump: Hands off Venezuela! <p>Tucson, AZ - The Tucson Anti-War Committee has called for an emergency rally on Thursday July 27, at 5 p.m. at the Federal Building located at 300 W Congress Street. This is organized to tell the Trump administration and U.S. Senators like Marco Rubio: “Hands off Venezuela! No sanctions!”</p> <p>The U.S. sanctions come as a threat to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's call for a Constituent Assembly as a popular, democratic means to end the months-long right-wing opposition violence and destruction. </p> <p>For more info visit the Tucson Anti-War Committee page on Facebook</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Socialism Americas Venezuela Venezuela Poor People's Movements Thu, 27 Jul 2017 02:21:55 +0000 Fight Back 6219 at Republicans make federal default a possibility <p>San José, CA - On May 24, Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury and former Wall Street investment banker for Goldman Sachs, urged Congress to raise the federal debt limit before they go on break July 28. The U.S. Treasury first bumped up against the maximum that the U.S. government can borrow back in March, and has been continuing to borrow by using accounting measures.</p> <p>These tricks were thought to put off the debt limit crunch until the fall, but a drop in tax payments by the wealthy has brought the deadline forward. Ironically, it is Trump and the Republicans in Congress who are proposing big tax cuts for the rich that are leading the rich to hold off paying their taxes.</p> <p>While Mnuchin has called for a ‘clean’ increase in the debt limit - that is one without attached conditions such as cutting funding for Planned Parenthood - Trump himself has not taken a clear position. Trump’s head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, who is a former member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, has refused to commit to a clean increase that could attract Democratic support.</p> <p>The House Freedom Caucus and other republicans in congress have used the debt limit in the past to try to force spending cuts on social programs. They repeated this position this year, hoping to blackmail the government into spending cuts to avoid a default on debt payments.</p> <p>As a congressman, Mulvaney even suggested that it would not be that bad if the U.S. did not raise the debt limit and defaulted on some of his debt payments. Trump himself, who has declared bankruptcy for his businesses many times, also suggested during his campaign for president that default would not be that bad and that he could negotiate lower payments from government bond owners.</p> <p>On June 2, Mulvaney said that the government would faces “difficulties” if the debt limit were not increased but swore that there would be no default on debt payments. Unfortunately, this could only be done if the government put off paying its other obligations, of which Social Security and Medicare are among the biggest.</p> <p>In response, Democrat and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi did not commit to a clean increase, pointing out that increasing the debt limit could enable the Republicans to give huge tax cuts for the rich that would increase the deficit. In fact, the federal government debt has historically had three causes: First, shrunken tax revenues and increased safety-net spending because of a financial crisis, for example, after the depressions in 1929-1933 and then again from 2008-2009; second, increases in military spending and expensive wars in the 1980s under Reagan, and then again in the 2000s under President George W. Bush; and third, the big tax cuts for the rich in the 1980s and 2000s.</p> <p>While many in Congress, including both Republicans and Democrats, have talked about cutting Social Security and Medicare to help reign in the federal debt, in fact Medicare has paid for itself and Social Security has run up almost $3 trillion in surplus over the last 30 years. The biggest danger to working people is not that the federal government would default on its debt and cause financial chaos throughout the capitalist world, but that a ‘bipartisan’ plan would trade off raising the debt limit (which Wall Street wants), with cutting Social Security and/or Medicare (which Wall Street also wants).</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Socialism Capitalism Default Donald Trump Republicans United States U.S. Sun, 04 Jun 2017 00:27:42 +0000 Fight Back 6147 at Twin Cities rallies to protect Metro Transit <p>St. Paul, MN - More than 100 people rallied at Leif Erickson Park, near the Capitol Green Line Light Rail station, May 16, to voice their opposition to proposed public transit budget cuts and fare hikes. The rally was organized by the Transportation Forward Coalition who has been promoting resistance to Republican budget proposals at the Minnesota state legislature. </p> <p>Chants of "Fund transit now!" and "Shame!" were heard from the crowd between speeches made by transit riders and transit workers. Under the proposed budget cuts of 40%, some bus routes would have to be eliminated completely, while some buses would run shorter hours and have longer wait times. </p> <p>Mel Reeves, an organizer from Minneapolis, spoke about the proposed transit cuts and fare increase: "On some level what they are doing represents a storm, a human storm, one that lacks empathy, one that lacks sympathy. Why is this storm cloud of human beings threatening public transit?"</p> <p>With legislative end-of-session negotiations underway for the May 22 adjournment approaching, Transportation Forward is pushing for Governor Dayton and legislators to "at a minimum, provide sufficient funding to maintain current Metro Transit service levels and current fares" in addition to increasing the current transportation budget.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Twin Cities Poor People's Movements Wed, 17 May 2017 17:47:00 +0000 Fight Back 6108 at Resist Trump’s attacks on Syria! <p>Tampa, FL - On the morning of April 7, President Trump ordered the U.S. military to attack Syria, firing over 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian government targets near Homs, Syria’s third largest city. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that only 23 of 59 missiles struck intended targets, with the majority assaulting nearby villages. Syrian media sources are reporting at least nine civilians died in the attack, including four children. </p> <p>At $1.59 million per missile, the attack cost the U.S. government $93.81 million. But it also instantly added nearly $5 billion to the collective stock value of big American corporations that make missiles and weapons, including Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. The Trump administration’s bloated military budget is money robbed from crucial social programs such as education and healthcare, which face significant cutbacks. Trump’s racist attacks on the Syrian people are therefore also an attack on the rights of workers and oppressed people here, and only benefit the wealthiest 1% of corporate owners. </p> <p>Trump’s attacks are a dangerous escalation of the six-year-long U.S. war on Syria, as it is the first time that Washington is openly announcing military strikes aimed at the Syrian government. Such attacks could create a deadly confrontation between two nuclear powers: the U.S. and Russia. Russia has been assisting the Syrian government against U.S.-funded proxies dominated by al-Qaeda. For years, the U.S. government has spent over $1 billion per year funding and arming right-wing proxy forces that have ripped the country apart, creating millions of refugees. In 2016 alone, the U.S. military dropped 12,192 bombs on Syria, destroying the country's infrastructure and killing thousands. Economic sanctions have strangled the Syrian economy, resulting in massive inflation and poverty. The Syrian health service, one of the best in the Middle East before the U.S. intervention, is now close to collapse. </p> <p><strong>Bomb first, investigate later: U.S. policy in the Middle East</strong></p> <p>The U.S. government claims their vicious attack against a sovereign country in the Middle East was punishment for a recent poison gas explosion in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed 70 people, which U.S. blamed on the Syrian army. In Hillary Clinton’s first interview since her presidential election defeat, she eagerly united with Trump’s plan, encouraging the U.S. to bomb Syrian airfields mere hours before the attacks started. </p> <p>The corporate-owned media immediately began parroting these war-hungry claims, without any independent investigation, even though the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice just two months ago publicly boasted on NPR, “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile [in 2014].” This is the same racist media that demonize Black and Latino youth as ‘criminals’ in order to justify mass incarceration in for-profit prisons and police murders. </p> <p>In 2003, the U.S. government used fabricated ‘proof’ of weapons of mass destruction owned by the Iraqi government to publicly defend their invasion and occupation of Iraq. No such weapons even existed, yet the war raged on. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died, tens of thousands of American troops suffered life-changing injuries or were killed, and al-Qaeda (a right-wing fundamentalist group, founded by Osama bin Laden and other forces that were funded and trained by the U.S. government in the 1980s to overthrow Afghanistan’s left-wing secular government) in Iraq became ISIS. </p> <p><strong>U.S. government confirms, ISIS empowered by U.S.-led ‘war on terror’</strong></p> <p>A recently declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document written in 2012 exposed plans by Western powers and their regional allies to facilitate the rise of ISIS in order to "isolate the Syrian [state]." The document is confirmation from the highest level of U.S. intelligence that they see ISIS as a tool for overthrowing the Syrian government, and it acknowledges that al-Qaeda dominates the anti-government forces in Syria. Trump’s recent attack targeted a Syrian army base at odds with ISIS, allowing ISIS to launch an offensive on Syrian troops in the area. </p> <p>It has long been the strategy of the U.S. government to fund right-wing proxy groups to weaken or overthrow governments which do not fully align with U.S. corporate interests. The ‘war on terror’ is effectively a war on the nations and liberation movements that oppose the foreign domination of their country’s land, labor and resources. </p> <p><strong>Hypocritical lies pave the way for endless U.S. wars</strong></p> <p>The U.S. government itself is guilty of the same crime against the Syrian people, as well as the Iraqi people, which they claim that the Syrian government committed. In Iraq, the U.S. military has littered the environment with thousands of tons of munitions made from depleted uranium, a toxic and radioactive nuclear waste product. As a result, more than half of babies born in Fallujah from 2007-2010 were born with birth defects. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. military fired thousands of rounds containing depleted uranium in Syria, after they vowed not to. According to weapons experts, the use of depleted uranium is a war crime and an act of genocide, because the civilian population’s exposure to it causes cancer, birth defects, immune system damage and other serious health problems. </p> <p>During the 2003 U.S. war on Iraq, American soldiers and their contractors also sodomized Iraqi prisoners with broom handles and chemical lights. Furthermore, wherever the U.S. military and their bases are, it is well documented that massive prostitution and sex trafficking follow. </p> <p><strong>No ban! No bombs! No sanctions!</strong></p> <p>The U.S. war on Syria is not about ‘democracy’ or ‘humanitarianism,’ especially not after the Trump administration closed its doors to Syrian refugees and enacted two Muslim bans. Rather, it is about the imposition of an economic and political order which protects the interests of Western powers and their regional allies. Syria is a passageway of important oil and gas pipelines, while the U.S.-backed state of Israel perceives the Syrian government as a threat due to its support for resistance against the Israeli occupation of Arab lands across the Levant. Trump’s attacks have allowed Israel to accelerate its drilling of oil and gas from the Golan Heights in Syria, an area which has been under Israeli military occupation for the past 50 years. </p> <p>It is the duty of all freedom-loving people in the U.S. to organize and mobilize the broadest number of people against all U.S wars. To defend the interests of workers and oppressed people in the U.S. is to demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria, as well as an end to the bombings and killer sanctions on the Syrian people.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Antiwar Movement #DumpTrump Anti-Syria Intervention Donald Trump Hands Off Syria Middle East Syria U.S. Tue, 11 Apr 2017 03:00:09 +0000 Fight Back 6036 at The Farce of the Deal: Trump, the TPP and trade <p>On Jan. 23, President Donald Trump signed an executive action withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Negotiated by then-president Barack Obama, the TPP would have standardized trade between the U.S., Japan, Mexico, and nine other countries in the Pacific Rim, lowering tariffs and regulations between countries to favor corporations. The agreement drew heavy criticism from labor unions and environmental groups, who argued the TPP would hurt workers and hamper efforts to address climate change.</p> <p>Trump's executive action on trade has a lot of people confused, and it's understandable. Like he did on the campaign trail, Trump has played off his executive order as ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘shaking up Washington.’ After all, Wall Street and corporate America wanted the TPP passed, along with most Democrat and Republican leaders.</p> <p>But Trump immediately filled his cabinet with billionaires and corporate executives, who generally support the same 'free trade' deals he criticized. For instance, Trump's pick for treasury secretary, former Goldman Sachs executive Steve Mnuchin, is a major free trade proponent, as is investment banker Gary Cohn, who will head up Trump's National Economic Council. Even Vice President Mike Pence built his political career supporting free trade. So what the hell is going on, exactly?</p> <p>First off, Trump's executive order on the TPP barely drew a yawn from Wall Street, much less a harsh condemnation. Investors priced this move into the stock market months ago. Support in Congress for the TPP dried up even before Trump's unlikely victory in November 2016 due to widespread opposition to corporate outsourcing. To Wall Street, Trump's order was just a formality.</p> <p><strong>An offer he can't refuse: Opposing free trade deals important to Trump's victory</strong></p> <p>Wall Street has accepted the TPP isn't happening. The 2016 election pitted two candidates who represented Wall Street, and the billionaire, Donald Trump, won. While Trump now acts as the political representative for monopoly capitalism in the U.S., it's important to remember that he was not their first choice to win either the GOP primary or the presidency. Wall Street largely favored Clinton in the election, fearing Trump's unpredictable behavior and some of his populist rhetoric. Even Trump himself didn't expect to survive past the first few caucuses and primaries, according to campaign sources.</p> <p>But from literally the first day of his campaign, Trump made repealing trade deals a defining issue. Along with building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, opposing trade deals became his signature platform point. Both Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders campaigned against free trade, and this message resonated with many working class voters. It's one of the major reasons why Trump trounced the field of typical corporate Republicans in the primary and mobilized enough votes to win Rust Belt states in November.</p> <p>Trump had to kill the TPP. He's already walking back on other promises that were completely farcical - making Mexico pay for the wall; repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act on the first day; deport all undocumented immigrants. He's already made peace with Wall Street and corporate America - and they with him - but opposing free trade agreements struck a particular nerve with a massive part of Trump's mass base. He can't afford to turn them against him this early, especially in the face of giant street protests.</p> <p><strong>Bring the jobs back: Lies and damned lies</strong></p> <p>Trade deals have hurt workers on all sides of the U.S., Mexican and Canadian border. Beginning in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan launched an offensive against unions and struck down restrictions on trade. Wall Street began to buy up manufacturing businesses, outsource operations, cut jobs, bust unions, and slash wages and benefits. Corporations stepped up manufacturing goods in Third World countries because of lower wages, fewer labor laws and little to no regulations on safety or pollution. This continued into the 1990s under Bill Clinton, who signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Mexico and Canada, and into the 2000s.</p> <p>From the signing of NAFTA in 1994 to 2015, the U.S. lost about 4.5 million manufacturing jobs total. Outsourcing and trade agreements contributed to this trend as corporations imported cheap goods manufactured in the Third World.</p> <p>However, the major source of U.S. manufacturing job losses was automation, not trade agreements as Trump claims. Technological innovations and robotics in the last 30 years phased out millions of jobs, which lowered labor costs while raising productivity - and profits. Rising wages in developing countries, where U.S. companies exploited cheap labor for decades, has made outsourcing manufacturing operations less profitable and riskier. As a result, quite a few companies have already moved manufacturing operations back to the U.S. They simply employ less workers.</p> <p>Trump's populist talk about the decline of good manufacturing jobs touched on real anger felt by workers, who saw their wages and standard of living decline because of capitalist greed. But he can't and won't deliver on his promises to "bring manufacturing jobs back" from Mexico, China and other countries - jobs largely eliminated by automation. Instead, Trump plans to viciously attack unions, wages and benefits with National Right to Work legislation and more, all in the name of corporate profits.</p> <p><strong>Rise of the machines: Using automation to boost profits, hurt workers</strong></p> <p>Contrary to Trump's claims, manufacturing output in the U.S. today is actually double that of 1979 when adjusted for inflation, totaling $1.91 trillion in 2015, according to the Department of Commerce. But while the industry produces more, it employs fewer workers due to automation. For example, auto manufacturers like General Motors employ roughly a third of their 1979 workforce despite producing far more cars.</p> <p>Even when productivity increases in the U.S., the workers don't see the benefits. From 1975 to 2015, productivity increased about six times more than wages, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In other words, corporations rake in greater profits from automation and technological progress while workers lose jobs and wages.</p> <p>Far from pushing a comeback of well-paid manufacturing jobs, Trump and his cabinet of billionaires plan to further leverage automation against workers. Andy Puzder, the former fast food CEO of CKE Restaurants and Trump's pick for labor secretary, strongly supports using robotics and technology to eliminate even more jobs. In 2014, Puzder argued for replacing workers with robots since, in his words, robots are "always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case." For Puzder and other fast food CEOs facing pressure from workers in the Fight for $15 movement, they see automation as a weapon against labor's demands for higher wages and benefits.</p> <p><strong>Trump and war against China: Wall Street's long-term policy</strong></p> <p>Wall Street had already accepted the fact that the TPP wasn't going to pass. To them, the trade agreement was never particularly important as a purely economic initiative. In the short and medium term, most economists projected it would actually amount to a net loss for the U.S.</p> <p>The real value of the TPP to Washington was as a long-term foreign policy maneuver: a centerpiece of Obama's so-called ‘Pivot to Asia.’ Long-term, the overall policy of the U.S. is preparing for a war with the People's Republic of China. Most of Wall Street favored the Obama administration's approach of boxing out China in Southeast Asia and Latin America and positioning military pieces for war, all while avoiding direct conflicts in the meantime. They hoped the TPP would keep countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, New Zealand and Peru from aligning with China, bribing their national capitalists with unrestricted access to U.S. markets and investment.</p> <p>Trump, along with a huge section of industry, has something different in mind. They also plan on war with China, but they favor ramping up economic and military aggressions sooner rather than later. Steve Bannon, an avowed white nationalist advisor to Trump, recently placed in charge of the National Security Council, said on his radio show in March 2016, "We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to ten years." Other key officials in Trump's cabinet, like commerce secretary nominee and billionaire Wilbur Ross, favor taking adverse economic action against China. Trump himself threatened to label China a "currency manipulator," slap tariffs on Chinese imports, and risk a trade war.</p> <p>Energy corporations like Exxon-Mobil - who’s former CEO Rex Tillerson now runs the state department under the Trump administration - want to speed up the time table for confronting China. In Africa, South America and even parts of Europe, Chinese investment continues to grow, which threatens U.S. energy corporations' control over key petroleum and natural gas reserves in countries like Angola and Nigeria. The Obama administration's gradual pivot to Asia offered few immediate benefits for the fossil fuel industry, especially in light of expanding domestic energy production in natural gas and shale oil.</p> <p>Similarly, the auto industry and other domestic manufacturers viewed the TPP with skepticism. While weaker regulations in the agreement could have boosted car exports, industry executives also feared an influx of cheap imports, especially from Asia. With rising wages in many developing countries and automation driving down production costs, the promise of exploiting cheap overseas labor isn't as attractive to corporate executives as it used to seem.</p> <p>Rather than large, multilateral free trade deals like the TPP, Trump has signaled moving towards a series of bilateral trade agreements between two countries. Britain seems particularly willing to take this approach with the U.S., following the country's vote to leave the European Union last year. Seeking to take advantage of the instability to the E.U. caused by far-right and fascist parties running for elections across the continent, many monopoly capitalists in the U.S. believe bilateral agreements grant them greater flexibility in consolidating their power in a rapidly changing international order.</p> <p><strong>The master of optics</strong></p> <p>Far from benefiting U.S. workers, Trump's protectionist trade policies are war preparation measures. Proposals to waive taxes on the repatriation of overseas corporate profits aim at bringing capital back to the U.S. in order to insulate the economy from the effects of war. Tariffs on foreign imports further incentivizes the return of manufacturing by negating the benefits of cheap overseas labor and speeding up the drive towards automation. These policies benefit big business and hurt working people, who will bear the heaviest burden from a trade war with China in the form of higher prices on basic goods.</p> <p>Before becoming president, Trump was best known for his shameless self-promotion and antics on his reality TV show, <em>The Apprentice</em>. As a grand showman with an eye for spectacle, Trump is particularly useful to the class of monopoly capitalists that rule the U.S. for selling their agenda to the public.</p> <p>Trump's game is optics designed to mask his pro-billionaire, anti-worker agenda. In a much publicized deal with Carrier corporation’s management shortly after the election, he claimed to have struck a deal to save 1100 jobs from outsourcing. It came or later that Trump's deal was a farce, saving less than 800 jobs - many of which were not manufacturing jobs - while granting the already profitable company an additional $6 million in tax cuts. When critics pointed out this deceptive corporate handout, Trump used it as an opportunity to attack United Steelworkers 1999, the union that represents Carrier workers in Indiana, and blame them for outsourcing.</p> <p>Similarly, Trump took to Twitter - his mass propaganda outlet of choice - to criticize auto manufacturers like Ford and General Motors over plans to outsource factories to Mexico. When corporate executives at both companies announced plans to expand operations in the U.S., Trump claimed victory again. Never mind that both companies had abandoned their outsourcing plans months before due to market demand and further automation. Trump used the moment to boost his ‘anti-establishment’ public image, even while Ford CEO Mark Fields praised him for "pro-growth policies" and pursuing "what's right for our business."</p> <p>Meanwhile, Trump has signaled an aggressive employer offensive against organized labor. He seeks to throw millions of working people off their health insurance, and opposes minimum wage increases.</p> <p>The TPP would have hurt working people in the U.S. and the other 11 countries that signed on to the deal. Unions lobbied against it, and widespread opposition to Wall Street and corporate America killed support for the agreement in Congress - long before Trump took office. From that perspective, this is a victory.</p> <p>But it's not a victory delivered by Trump. Workers in the U.S. need to see Trump's so-called opposition to free trade agreements and ‘anti-establishment’ rhetoric for what it really is: the farce of the deal.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Opinion 2016 elections Donald Trump Donald Trump Elections Labor Op-Ed Workers and Globalization Labor U.S. Wed, 08 Feb 2017 01:11:52 +0000 Fight Back 5932 at Trump’s tax plan just another Republican tax cut for the rich and big business <p>While Donald Trump claims to be for the working man, his tax proposal is just another Republican tax cut for the rich and big business. The biggest single tax break would be for corporations, whose tax rate would be cut from 35% to 15%. This and other tax cuts for corporations and other businesses would cut federal tax revenue by about $4.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years, or about $450 billion dollars a year. This would mainly benefit the top 1%, who own about half of corporate and business wealth and other high-income individuals who could change their tax status to be a business.</p> <p>Trump’s tax plan would also cut personal income taxes for the well-to-do and rich. By cutting the top tax rate from 39.6% to 33%, eliminating estate and gift taxes, and ending the Alternative Minimum Tax or AMT, it would mean that almost half (47.3%) of the individual tax cut dollars would go to the top one percent of tax payers, and almost a quarter (24.2%) would go to the top one-tenth of one percent of taxpayers. While the top one-tenth of one percent of tax payers would each get more than a million-dollar tax cut per year, the poorest fifth of taxpayers would only save $110 each!</p> <p>Even worse, almost 8 million families that have single parents or a large number of children would actually pay more under Trump’s tax proposal. This is because the Trump plan would eliminate the head of household category used by many single parents, and also eliminate the tax deduction for dependent children. These families could face tax increases in the thousands of dollars, despite Trump’s claim that he would protect the middle class and working class.</p> <p>The Trump tax plan would cut federal government tax revenues by more than $6 trillion over the next decade and cause an even larger growth in the federal debt because of interest costs. The Trump campaign claims that his tax cuts would stimulate economic growth and lead to more tax revenue to make up for the cuts. Most tax experts disagree with this idea. </p> <p>In addition, the experience of the tax cut under former President Ronald Reagan is important. The 1981 Reagan tax cuts slashed business taxes, cut the top tax rate from 70% to 50%, cut the estate taxes, which benefited businesses and the rich. Reagan and his supporters claimed that this would stimulate economic growth, but in fact the annual rate of growth of Gross Domestic Product or GDP (a measure of value of goods and services made in the U.S.) fell from 3.4% in the 1970s to 3.1% in the 1980s. Slower economic growth and less tax revenue meant the federal debt almost tripled from $900 billion when Reagan took office to $2.6 trillion when he left. </p> <p>Many economists would argue that with interest rates so low, it would be good for the federal government to borrow and spend more on roads, bridges and education. This could both create more jobs now, and be an investment for the future. But to borrow more, so that corporations that are sitting on trillions of dollars of profits and the rich who have their biggest share of income since 1929 can have even more, would be of little benefit to the economy, but it would be a gift to the billionaire class to which Trump belongs.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy 2016 elections Donald Trump Donald Trump Elections U.S. Mon, 28 Nov 2016 22:41:59 +0000 Fight Back 5791 at Speech by FRSO leader Fernando Figueroa at ‘Stop Trump’ rally <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the text of a speech by a leader of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Fernando Figueroa, which was delivered shortly before the July 18 march on the RNC in Cleveland, OH.</em></p> <p>My name is Fernando Figueroa, and I am a proud member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. I became a revolutionary in 2008 while organizing students to defeat John McCain. I honed my theory and practice as an organizer during the 2012 March on the RNC in Tampa, Florida, where we said no to Mitt Romney. Today I am a rank-and- file Teamster active in the trade union movement, and I’m standing with you all to stop Trump and the system he represents.</p> <p>History has shown us that there’s only one response capable of stopping bigots and billionaires like Donald Trump. The mass political movement we’re forming today as we march on the RNC is a firm step forward for poor and oppressed people. This is true not only in the U.S., but for people all over the world. This mass movement has the 1% and all of their backwards supporters terrified – as evidenced by the police they’ve sent to welcome us to Cleveland.</p> <p>The 1% that rule this country are terrified of us, and they should be. Their system of protecting the rich and powerful at the expense of working and oppressed peoples is coming to an end. The age we’re living in is like a pathetic giant, lashing out as the working class and oppressed nations of Black and Chicano people organize. We’re organizing because we believe a better world is possible, a just society where people’s needs are taken care of and capitalist greed is abolished. By uniting today to stop Trump, we are delivering a blow to the 1% and their pathetic giant.</p> <p>My friends, the road ahead of us is long and treacherous. It is fraught with attempts by the enemy to frighten and discourage us, but by uniting activists and supporters from across movements, across the country and across the world, we will overcome the obstacles that lay before us, like Donald Trump.</p> <p>Our mass movement is growing by leaps and bounds as we build the fight of oppressed nationalities fighting for justice and an end to police crimes. Our movement grows as we build the struggle of queer people and women, and the fight for equality and liberation. It grows when we demonstrate solidarity with people oppressed by our government in places like Colombia, the Philippines and Palestine. It grows when we struggle to protect the environment and ensure everybody receives a good education and healthcare. The working class will realize it is the most powerful force ever created, and it will rise up to smash the political parties of the 1% including the Republicans and their figurehead, Donald Trump.</p> <p>Victory is ours if we choose to work for it. This year, we are going to stop Trump, and it’s up to us to bring the lessons we learn here today back to our communities and workplaces.</p> <p>There’s nobody I am happier to call my comrades than all of you assembled here today. The Freedom Road Socialist Organization is proud to stand among so many veteran and rising organizers. Together we will scale the wall that tyranny, backwardness and hatred are building to keep us from political and economic power. I’ll see you on the other side.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Antiwar Movement Anti-fascism Cleveland Elections Fernando Figueroa Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) ohio Republican National Convention RNC RNC 2016 In-Justice System U.S. Sun, 24 Jul 2016 01:11:52 +0000 Fight Back 5569 at Trump, Clinton, and the 2016 elections: Let’s build the struggle on the streets <p>As things stand, billionaire and bigot Donald Trump will be the Republican standard bearer for the presidency. In many ways he is a symbol of everything that is wrong with this country. He is a tireless promoter of racist anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim attacks. He is a misogynist, who defends the oppression of women. Trump spreads the gospel of ‘greed is good’ while pretending to be a friend of the working person. He is a right-wing populist with only one redeeming feature – that, barring some big change, he is unelectable.</p> <p>While Trump is an unabashed advocate of capitalism and greed, many of the rich and powerful are nervous about handing him the keys to the White House. They see him as erratic and unfit to run the empire they have built. As for the people of this country, most reject Trump’s reactionary agenda.</p> <p>Hillary Clinton is a known quantity; she is a faithful servant of Wall Street and a war criminal to boot. An enemy of low-income women, she backed welfare ‘reform’ which plunged millions into deeper poverty. Why do big bankers and financiers host her speaking events and pay her big sums of money? Clinton tells them what they want to hear. From the coup in Honduras to the U.S./NATO attack on Libya – she is a candidate with a track record of leaving a trail of blood in her wake.</p> <p>If anything shows the bankruptcy of the money-dominated two-party system, it is the presumed candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties - Trump and Clinton. Monopoly capitalism is an exploitive, failed and dying system, whose principal political representatives are worthy of the Jerry Springer show. Both are apologists for police crimes and terror. They have no claim to our respect and support. This is not a call to boycott elections. The point is this: the unelectable Trump is an insufficient reason to organize support for Clinton.</p> <p>The outpouring of support for Bernie Sanders represented a rejection of the way things are and a yearning for something better. There is a profound dissatisfaction in this country with the billionaires, Wall Street and capitalism. Millions of people are attracted to the idea of socialism. There is the potential for this broad, progressive political current to contribute to a growing struggle against the ruling elite.</p> <p>Things in the country have changed. Everywhere people are in motion. Every major city, and many of the small ones, have been rocked by protests against police crimes. This country is a prison house for the oppressed – Africans Americans, Chicanos and Latinos, Asians Americans and Native peoples. The spark has been struck and the fight is on for equality and liberation.</p> <p>When the students of Chicago shut down Trump, they signaled the way forward. Every city the bigot Trump shows his face in, he should be shut down. We are building a movement against everything he stands for.</p> <p>In the months ahead it is vital that the people’s movements are in the streets, advancing our demands. The billionaires have bought and paid for politicians from the two parties to represent their interests. We need to fight for our own.</p> <p>The epidemic of police terror, rampant inequality, attacks on our standard of living, and endless wars serve as indictment of a system that is guilty as hell. We can do better than this. A country where things are radically wrong cries out for a revolutionary solution. We need to end the rule of the wealthy, to break the grip of the billionaires. It is not going to happen tomorrow – but in the long run we get what we fight for. Working and oppressed people need the political power and control of the economy to remake society in our interests. Capitalism must go and socialism will set us free.</p> Capitalism and Economy Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Elections Elections 2016 Hilary Clinton RNC 2016 US Elections U.S. Thu, 14 Jul 2016 17:24:45 +0000 Fight Back 5554 at