Capitalism and Economy http://www.fightbacknews.org/department/antiwar en Steelworkers, U.S. Steel far apart in negotiations http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/9/19/steelworkers-us-steel-far-apart-negotiations <p>Washington, DC - Contract negotiations between United Steelworkers (USW) and U.S. Steel have failed to make headway after an overwhelmingly successful strike authorization vote took place earlier this month. In what has been described by the negotiating committee as a “frustrating series of negotiations,” the company continues to offer the same concessionary proposals by shifting around wages, benefits and bonuses. </p> <p>Additionally, U.S. Steel is attacking retirees and new employees by refusing to fund pension plans and pushing a two-tier system. USW continues to reject these concessions and remains committed to winning a decent contract.</p> <p>The company is proposing that employees’ health care coverage be switched to a plan which would double deductibles, coinsurance and out-of-pocket expenses. For an industry as dangerous as steel manufacturing, this is nothing short of an attack on workers’ health and livelihood. U.S. Steel is also demanding the ability to use money from the retiree health care and life insurance fund to pay for active employees’ health care costs.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/9/19/steelworkers-us-steel-far-apart-negotiations#comments Capitalism and Economy strike Strikes U.S. Steel United Steelworkers usw Wed, 19 Sep 2018 23:02:03 +0000 Fight Back 6962 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Janus, fallos anti-obreros no pueden detener un movimiento obrero en lucha http://www.fightbacknews.org/node/6961 <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;" dir="ltr"><span style="background-color: transparent; font-family: Calibri; font-size: 11pt; white-space: pre-wrap;">Por la Organización Socialista Camino a la Libertad</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">El fallo de la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos en el caso Janus V. AFCSME es un asalto directo por la clase dominante en contra del movimiento sindicalista dentro los EEUU. Es un ataque liderado por las corporaciones y fundaciones derechistas, como la Fundación Nacional para el Derecho al Trabajo y la Fundación Bradley, que está completamente apoyado por la administración de Trump. Aunque este asalto en particular, la decisión Janus, está enfocado en los sindicatos del sector público, no hay que equivocarse, los efectos se sentirán a través del movimiento sindicalista y toda la clase obrera.</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">El sector publico esta sindicalizado a un índice cinco veces más grande que el sector privado. Los índices altos de sindicalización en el sector público y sus sindicatos más fuertes han ayudado a sostener a los sindicatos del sector privado y han ayudado a los obreros a establecer estándares mas altos en la materia de salario, beneficios, y condiciones de trabajo.</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">También se debe notar el papel que los sindicatos de sector público tienen en las políticas. Desde el tiempo de la administración del presidente Reagan, el mundo empresarial estadounidense ha estado librando una guerra en contra de nuestros sindicatos y, hasta un grado, el dinero gastado en mellar unos de los peores ataques derechistas ha sido dinero bien gastado. Dicho eso, hay un problema: los dos partidos políticos mayores representan los intereses de los grandes negocios, y muchos políticos están mucho más interesados en gastar nuestras cuotas sindicales que en proseguir una agenda pro-sindicalista. Pero eso es una discusión que los trabajadores necesitamos tener dentro de nuestros sindicatos – y rechazamos la idea de que el gobierno o los jefes deberían decidirlo por nosotros.</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 700; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Aumento de líderes sindicalistas jóvenes</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Aun con los retrasos, debemos reconocer y celebrar nuestras victorias. El número de miembros sindicalistas en los Estados Unidos subió en el 2017. Tres cuartos de los nuevos miembros sindicalistas han cumplido menos de 34 años de edad. Los jóvenes de 18 a 29 años de edad son los más probables en tener una vista positiva de los sindicatos que cualquier otro grupo de edad. Ellos están tomando papeles de liderazgo sindicalista con mas ideas radicales sobre el fortalecimiento del movimiento sindicalista. Este cambio generacional se debe a las condiciones económicas afrontadas por los trabajadores jóvenes. Eso muestra una apertura a ideas mas audaces y radicales, porque el statu quo ha fallado a los trabajadores jóvenes.</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">El fallo Janus significara el incremento de la discriminación racial y la desigualdad para las mujeres.</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Muchos sindicatos del sector público fueron ganados atreves de las luchas libradas por los trabajadores Afroamericanos durante el movimiento por los derechos civiles. Hoy, las nacionalidades oprimidas y las mujeres todavía se encuentran fuertemente representados en el sector público. Sin duda este ataque es uno que será particularmente sentido por las mujeres y los trabajadores de nacionalidades oprimidas. Porque los sindicatos del sector público también lideraron el camino en defender y abogar por los servicios como la educación pública y los programas de salud y nutrición publica, la calidad de vida para esos recibiendo estos servicios se disminuiría debido a los ataques derechistas continuos. Estos servicios están en la mira de las corporaciones que quieren hacer lucro por medio de la privatización. Sin sindicatos del sector público en el camino, la privatización será más fácil en lograr.</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 700; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Construir el movimiento sindicalista</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: justify;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">El movimiento sindicalista ha afrontado condiciones más difíciles en el pasado. Hemos vencido barreras organizando obreros aun cuando hacerlo era ilegal. Hemos resistido a los jefes entablando la lucha militante a pesar de la represión violenta en parte de la clase dominante. Podemos aprender de los triunfos pasados de nuestro movimiento. Debemos seguir el ejemplo de los maestros que recientemente obtuvieron conquistas materiales aun sin el apoyo del liderazgo de sus sindicatos y aun con sus paros de trabajo siendo ilegales.</span></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p></p> <p style="line-height: 1.2; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;" dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Al fin, el pueblo obrero no debería esperar para que los políticos cambien las leyes; debemos reconocer que simplemente votar por demócratas no es suficiente. Necesitamos votar en contra de los esbirros de Trump en las elecciones venideras. Obreros también deben reconocer que el sindicalismo empresarial o de modelo de servicio no es el camino hacia adelante – ese modelo es moribundo. La manera en que la clase obrera construye el poder político es organizando un movimiento sindicalista militante de lucha de clases. Nuestros sindicatos deben convertirse en sindicatos luchadores. La gente se unirá a sindicatos militantes y organizara no solo por principios morales, pero por que sindicatos fuertes materialmente mejoran las condiciones económicas de la clase obrera. Los sindicatos necesitan guiar a sus miembros a tomar acciones audaces en el ámbito de su trabajo para sobrevivir y florecer bajo Janus. La Organización Socialista Camino a la Libertad clama por la construcción de alianzas estratégicas para la creación de un nuevo movimiento social y para la transformación de los sindicatos en centros de la lucha de clases.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/node/6961#comments Capitalism and Economy Janus Por la Organización Socialista Camino a la Libertad Public Sector Unions Trump Wed, 19 Sep 2018 22:56:30 +0000 Fight Back 6961 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Trump announces all-out trade war with China http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/9/18/trump-announces-all-out-trade-war-china <p>San José, CA – On Sept. 17, President Trump announced that tariffs of 10% will be slapped on $200 billion of Chinese goods starting Sept. 24. These tariffs will rise to 25% at the beginning of 2019. Trump also said that he would put tariffs on another $267 billion dollars of imports from China if China responds to his tariffs. Along with the tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports already in place, this would mean steep tariffs on virtually all of the $500 billion in goods that the United States buys from China.</p> <p>China has all along replied to Trump’s tariffs with tit-for-tat tariffs, while calling for negotiations. While it cannot match the United States, as it imports much less than the United States in terms of tariffs, U.S. businesses do have much more extensive business in China that could be restricted. China’s currency has also been falling in value, offsetting part of the price increases that Trump’s tariffs would bring.</p> <p>The main goal of the Trump administration is to slow or stop China’s modernization drive, which seeks to put China on an equal footing with Western nations and Japan in terms of high technology. This goal of blocking China has wide backing among the big capitalists and both their political parties (the Republicans and the Democrats), even though many disagree with his tactic of a unilateral trade war. This goal, along with Trump’s desire to restore basic manufacturing in the United States at the expense of China, would leave China in the position like many former colonial countries of having an economy based on low-wage labor such as textiles and exporting raw materials.</p> <p>China’s socialist modernization, along with opening up to world trade, has led to one of the greatest reductions in poverty in world history. China is currently trying to make sure that it is not caught in what is called the “middle-income trap,” where poorer countries make some economic progress but are not able to close the gap with high incomes in the United States, Western Europe and Japan. The Trump administration’s desire to roll back China’s economic progress will never be accepted by China’s government or people.</p> <p>Many of Trump’s advisors and Wall Street pundits argue that China’s economy is hurting because its stock market is in bear market territory, down over 20% this year, while the U.S. stock market is near record highs. But they don’t understand the basic difference between the two economies. In the United States, with its capitalist economy, the stock market is seen as a key barometer of corporate profits, which drive the U.S. economy. The Chinese stock market plays a secondary role in what is still a largely socialist economy dominated by state-owned banks and businesses.</p> <p>Ultimately, the impact of price increases for imported consumer goods will fall most heavily on poor and low-income working-class Americans. At the same time the trade war could push Chinese businesses to put even more effort in developing their own higher-technology goods, the very thing that Trump is claiming to oppose.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/9/18/trump-announces-all-out-trade-war-china#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Capitalism China economy International Trump China Tue, 18 Sep 2018 17:38:39 +0000 Fight Back 6956 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Hurricane Florence: Capitalism, climate change, and manmade disasters http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/9/13/hurricane-florence-capitalism-climate-change-and-manmade-disasters <p><strong>Hurricane Florence set to hit Carolinas</strong></p> <p>Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall on the Carolina coast. The storm is a monster, at 500 miles across, with sustained tropical storm winds extending out 200 miles. Florence is forecast to stall offshore near Wilmington, North Carolina early Thursday and roll slowly south before coming on shore Saturday, Sept. 15, near Charleston, South Carolina. Up to 40 inches of rain in a 24-hour period are possible, with flash and river flooding extremely likely. The storm surge at high tide will be of six to thirteen feet.</p> <p><strong>Hurricanes in a warming climate</strong></p> <p>A few years back, Senator Jim Inhofe brought a snowball to the Senate floor. As much as the Oklahoma senator wanted it to – the snowball didn’t disprove climate change any more than Florence proves it. Hurricanes in themselves, are not new and no particular weather event can be definitively linked to global climate change and the overall warming of the earth. Scientists are seeing changes in the behavior of individual hurricanes that are linked to climate change. Florence is exhibiting some of those characteristics.</p> <p>Hurricanes forming as far north as Florence often do not make U.S. landfall, as dominating weather patterns cause them to turn northeast and back into the Atlantic. Record warming of sea water at the poles is linked with an abnormal collapse of the polar vortex, causing that weather pattern to instead steer Florence into the mainland. This same warming at the poles reduces the winds that drive hurricanes forward. Florence will be an enormous rain event, because it is drawing moisture from waters that are three to four degrees warmer than average and because it will move very slowly. These characteristics make it similar to Hurricane Harvey that devastated Houston in 2017.</p> <p>At this point no one who is serious about science doubts that climate can change is real, and that human activity is driving that change. Specifically, capitalism is a system that is all about the highest rate of profit. Corporations have the lion’s share of the responsibility for the greenhouse gases that are fueling climate and making ‘extreme’ weather events more common place.</p> <p><strong>Mother Nature hates trailer parks? Not really</strong></p> <p>Climate change is just one portion of the manmade disaster. Wealth inequality and the poverty imposed by the capitalist class is the most direct and pressing thing turning natural disasters to manmade ones. In storms like Florence, most people die from a lack of electricity and flooding. Poor people die from being without insulin and medications or from running out of oxygen or by being without the transportation to evacuate and nowhere to go during the evacuation. Flash flooding wipes out poorly-fortified housing and those homes don’t get bailed out by federal flood insurance, while the beach homes of the wealthy get bailouts.</p> <p>Cuba, a country with great expertise in keeping people safe in a hurricane, sends transportation to pick up people and belongings and take them to evacuation sites. Additionally, they send out community work teams to trim branches that might knock out power lines and assist with the board-up of homes.</p> <p>During Hurricanes Harvey and Rita prisoners were subjected to cruel and unusual conditions, including being trapped in cells flooded with sewage, no climate control, little clean water and food. In South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster is setting up a very similar situation, by refusing to evacuate MacDougall prison. MacDougall is in the evacuation zone near Charleston.</p> <p><strong>Trump says: 3000 deaths an “incredible unsung success”</strong></p> <p>During a White House briefing on hurricane Florence, Donald Trump touted his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico as “an incredible, unsung success.” The official death toll of Hurricane Maria was formally raised to 2975 people.</p> <p>Since that is what is termed a ‘success,’ anyone who is not a Hilton Head real estate mogul can expect to see no meaningful assistance beyond a few rolls of paper towels.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/9/13/hurricane-florence-capitalism-climate-change-and-manmade-disasters#comments Capitalism and Economy Climate Change Environmental Justice Hurricane Florence Thu, 13 Sep 2018 17:06:41 +0000 Fight Back 6948 at http://www.fightbacknews.org FRSO on the current state of the economy http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/8/10/frso-current-state-economy <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following resolution on the economy, that was adopted at the 8th Congress of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). </em></p> <p>FRSO Eighth Congress, 2018</p> <p>Resolution on the U.S. Economy</p> <p><strong>The Current Economic Expansion </strong></p> <p>In June of 2009 the worst economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression of the 1930s officially ended. For the last nine years the U.S. economy grew, albeit at a slow pace. This makes the current expansion the fourth longest in U.S. history. [1]</p> <p>But the current economic expansion is a recovery for the capitalists, not for the majority of the working class. Stock prices, as measured by the S&amp;P 500, are more than 60% higher than the previous peak in 2007. Corporate profits are up 30% from their pre-crisis high. These gains have been enough to raise the income of a typical U.S. household to a new high in 2016, for the first time since 1999. [2]</p> <p>On the other hand, most working class households still earn less than in 1999. Most of the jobs added in the current expansion are in the most well-to-do neighborhoods, while the poorest neighborhoods have seen no net job growth at all. Millions of long-term unemployed have given up looking for work. This has caused a drop in the “labor force participation rate” from its peak of 66.4% in 2007 to a low of 62.4% in 2015. This means that there are about 6 million people who would have been working or looking for work in 2007 that are no longer. This represents a big expansion of what Marx referred to as the “reserve army of unemployed” and a factor in the slow rate of wage growth in this last period of economic growth. [3]</p> <p>Other factors holding down workers’ wages include the capitalists’ restructuring of the labor market to increase the number of part-time, temporary, and contract workers. This is taken to the extreme with the rise of the so-called “sharing” economy with on-demand workers such as those in Uber. With wages rising 2.2% after inflation, while workers’ productivity (value of their output) rising at an 11% annual rate, capitalists’ profits have swelled. [4]</p> <p>At the state and local level, attacks on government workers have intensified, led by Republicans who want to break the power of public-sector workers' unions, but also joined by Democrats who are intent on cutting the pensions for government workers. These attacks and cuts are part of ongoing national oppression and gender inequality, as they fall the hardest on women and oppressed nationalities, who are much more likely to be public sector workers, especially those with lower and middle incomes (excluding police, fire, and professional workers).</p> <p>One important gain for the working class and oppressed nationalities has been the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The number of workers and lower-stratum of the petty-bourgeoisie without health insurance has fallen by almost one-half. Millions of people were able to join the Federal Medicaid program for lower-income Americans. Millions more were able to get health insurance from their jobs because of the employer mandate in the ACA. This represents the biggest expansion of health insurance in the United States since the 1960s. While a step in the right direction, the ACA does not guarantee healthcare for all, as it is NOT single-payer health insurance. President Trump has already launched attacks on the program, showing the unstable nature of healthcare reform under a capitalist system. [5]</p> <p><strong>The Most Recent Crisis of Monopoly Capitalism </strong></p> <p>One of the features of capitalism noted by Marx was that each resolution of a crisis laid the groundwork for an even greater crisis. After the dot-com bust in 2000-2001, speculative capital flowed into the mortgage market, fed by historically low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve. The boom and then bust in the housing market led to both a recession, and then a financial crisis, the scale of which had not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.</p> <p>The main features of the last economic crisis were first, the increased exploitation of the working class, cuts in government services, and schools, and generally lower standards of living as the capitalists try to shift the burden of the crisis on to the working class and oppressed nationalities. A vicious cycle developed where jobless workers fall behind on their debt payments, and then are denied jobs because of their bad credit! More and more people were losing health insurance as businesses cut benefits and individual plans become too expensive. Homelessness grew and mothers and children were thrown off of TANF and into the streets due to 5-year limits.</p> <p>One of the functions of economic crisis is that it is an opportunity for the capitalists to restructure the economy to increase their profits over the long term. The most recent crisis sped up the loss of unionized, middle-strata working-class jobs. At the same time there are more and more part-time and temporary jobs. More and more businesses do not even give their workers regular schedules, but change them week to week and even day to day, to reduce their labor costs and increase profits, and at the same time playing havoc with their workers’ lives.</p> <p>The crisis accelerated a fundamental tendency of capitalism to eliminate jobs and increase the reserve army of labor by substituting machinery and equipment for labor. This tendency, which is what Marx called increasing the organic composition of capital, is responsible for most of the losses of well-paying auto and steel jobs, not imports. For example, the United States is producing about the same number of cars as it did 20 years ago, but with 25% fewer workers. [6]</p> <p>The crisis also increased economic inequality along national lines. The income of a typical Black household was only 59% of white households in 2011. While the income gap is large, the wealth gap is huge. In 2009 the typical white household's wealth was TWENTY times as large as the typical Black household and EIGHTEEN times larger than the typical Latino household. During the crisis the wealth gap between whites and oppressed nationalities, which was very wide to start with, became even greater, as the typical white household lost 16% of their wealth, the typical Black household 53%, the typical Asian household 54%, and the typical Latino household lost 66% of their wealth! [7]</p> <p>Secondly, the crisis destroyed means of production. Plants closed down, never to reopen. Stores and even entire shopping malls were boarded up. Some banks went as far as tearing down foreclosed homes to try to prop up prices for remaining houses. The Obama administration's "rescue" of U.S. auto makers actually led to more and faster closings of plants and dealers than GM and Chrysler had been doing on their own. The crisis of unemployment worsened, with the official unemployment rate rising to more than 25% in the hardest hit city of Detroit. [8]</p> <p>Third, the concentration and centralization of capital accelerated as smaller and weaker firms folded and the bigger and strong ones snapped them up or even preyed on each other. This can be seen in the U.S. banking industry, where four giant banks (Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo) have emerged with over half the bank assets in the United States. [9]</p> <p><strong>The U.S. Economy and the World</strong></p> <p>The recent crisis also sped up the relative economic decline of the United States. There is growing criticism of the free-market economics pushed by the United States to further its own economic interests. Other countries are beginning to questioning the large debt of the United States to the rest of the world, and the role of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency. [10]</p> <p>In our judgement, the high tide of imperialist globalization has passed. From the end of World War II to the last recession of 2007 to 2009, the U.S. monopoly capitalist class held a bipartisan consensus in favor of “free trade” which favored the export of capital. However, the tide began to shift with the most recent economic crisis, with some reports showing the United States to have enacted more protectionist measures than any other country. The election of Donald Trump to President 2016 marked a major break in the free trade consensus among the U.S. elite. [11]</p> <p>One of Trump’s first acts was to cancel the U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, effectively killing the agreement. His administration is also carrying out more protectionist policies by putting tariffs on Chinese solar panels. However, Trump and other Republicans have had to walk back a number of their campaign promises and proposals. Trump has gone from cancelling NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, to “renegotiating” the treaty. Republicans in Congress have dropped their proposal for a “Border Adjustment Tax” that would have acted as a tariff, or tax on imports, under pressure from many big businesses.</p> <p>The relative stability of the world capitalist economy over the last few years in no way has overcome the law of uneven development under monopoly capitalism or imperialism. While there is a high degree of globalization in manufacturing (witness the ubiquitous iPhone), there are increasing barriers and competition to U.S. corporate domination. China and Brazil led a revolt of developing countries in the World Trade Organization that has effectively blocked U.S. plans to dominate intellectual property and undermine even more state sovereignty through the WTO. The growing size of the Chinese economy has moved it into more and more of a leading role in industries such as solar panels and electric cars. [12]</p> <p>Contradictions among the capitalist countries continue to break out into conflict. The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on Canadian lumber and is trying to put tariffs on Canadian jet planes made in Europe. The Brexit is major blow to the capitalist unity project known as the European Union and also to U.S. influence in the E.U. which was largely channeled through Great Britain.</p> <p><strong>National Oppression and the Economics of Racism in the Era of Trump</strong></p> <p>The foundations of the U.S. economy were built on Native American lands and the genocide of native peoples as well as the chattel slavery of Africans. In periods of economic crisis, Black Americans, Chicanos and Latinos, Asian Americans and other oppressed nationalities and indigenous peoples are the first to suffer and the last to recover. For example, the increase in wages in 2016 finally lifted the average household income in the U.S. back to the level they were in 1999. However, this wasn’t true for Black households whose income has not recovered.</p> <p>Since the election of a bare-faced racist to the White House, there is an increasing awareness about white supremacy, police crimes, as well as acts of hate and other examples of virulent racism in the country. These are features of the superstructure of monopoly capitalism in the U.S. which are based on underlying profits that result from seizure of land, underpaid labor, inflated living costs, and the denial of government services. One of Trump’s first actions was to sign an executive order to clear the way for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).</p> <p>National oppression has always been driven by super-profits gained from lower-paid labor, or unpaid labor as in the chattel slavery of the U.S. South for 250 years. Latino households make $18,000 a year less than white households, and Black households make $25,000 a year less. This wage differential is an important source of super-profits. While the unemployment rates for all nationalities have dropped from the double-digits during the last economic crisis, the gap between Blacks and whites continues, with African American rates still twice that of whites.</p> <p>The thirst for profits is also driving the free market policies that look for private profits from what used to be government services, such as the public schools. If a capitalist can’t make profit from them, then they are shuttered, or replaced by charter schools. Black and Latino communities are disproportionately hit by these attacks. The closing of factories is followed by closing of schools, and then real estate plans to flip and gentrify poor neighborhoods.</p> <p>This is one of the fundamental contradictions of monopoly capitalism: that the economic boom in certain areas actually makes many oppressed nationalities worse off. The gentrification of poor and inner-city neighborhoods has a disproportionate impact on oppressed nationalities, who are driven out of their homes. Homelessness is on the rise.</p> <p><strong>Government Economic Policy Under Trump</strong></p> <p>Despite his pledge to support Social Security and Medicare, Trump has joined with Republicans in Congress to undermine these programs and slash spending on Medicaid. Already millions of people have been left out of getting health insurance through the ACA as Republican state governments have blocked the Medicaid expansion in almost half of all states. Trump and Republican in the House also voted to undo the ACA, that would have taken health insurance from more than 20 million people.</p> <p>After a burst of Keynesian tax cuts and spending increases in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. government swung to austerity, with $900 billion in spending cuts in the 2011 Budget Control Act and $600 billion in tax increases in the 2012 Taxpayer Relief Act. The most recent Trump budget proposal slashes domestic spending to pay for tax cuts for the rich and an even faster military build-up.</p> <p>Trump and the Republican Congress also have plans for tax “reform” that would cut taxes on the rich and large corporations (this was one of the main reasons that they tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act). Right after being elected, Trump proposed to slash the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. He wants to end the estate tax and AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax which forces some high income individuals, like Trump, to pay taxes by disallowing some tax breaks), and reduce the tax rate on the highest incomes. In fact, a quarter of the tax breaks would go to the top ONE-TENTH of 1%, and another quarter to the other 9/10 of the top 1%. Trump’s tax plan would have raised taxes on single-parent working families and those with larger numbers of children. [13]</p> <p>Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement was part of his campaign to blame regulation for loss of jobs in coal mining areas. But the decline of Eastern and unionized coal mining jobs is mainly due to the low price of natural gas (because of increased use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which Trump supports), and greater coal production in non-union, more mechanized Western coal sites. [14]</p> <p>Trump and the Republicans plan to “reshore” manufacturing jobs mainly consists of keeping wages low and spending billions of dollars to subsidize big corporations to set up shop in the United States. With the federal minimum wage at the same level as 2009, and at the lowest level, adjusted for inflation since 1950, it is barely above the minimum wage in South Korea. Republican Governor Walker is proposing $3 billion dollars in subsidies to bring Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, to Wisconsin. But like many other new manufacturing plants, it will be highly automated with relatively few workers. [15]</p> <p><strong>The Peoples' Struggle and Socialism </strong></p> <p>As of the time of this draft (October 2017), it is clear that the world economy is in a temporary period of relative stability. The U.S. economy has been growing for more than eight years while the economic crisis in the Eurozone in Europe has calmed down for now. Even the Japanese economy, which has been stagnant for more than twenty-five years, is growing again.</p> <p>But it is only a matter of time before another economic crisis overtakes the United States. This crisis could emerge within the U.S. economy, where there are some early signs of weakness in the expansion. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates, even though inflation is well below their target. Or it could emerge in Europe or even Asia, and spread to the United States through an increasingly globalized capitalist economy. There is also a small, but not insignificant chance that a misstep by the Trump administration and/or Republican Congress, could trigger a crisis. [16]</p> <p>But no matter what the monopoly capitalists do and say, the last economic crisis shook confidence in the capitalist system. Opportunities for educating people about the true nature of monopoly capitalism are growing. However, the right-wing, reactionary section of the monopoly capitalists have been promoting white chauvinism to claim that oppressed nationalities at home and other countries abroad are at the root of economic problems of the (white) working class. It is important at this time to point to the need for socialism, a system based not on the profit of privately owned corporations, but one based on serving the needs of the working people through government and collective ownership and control of businesses and natural resources.</p> <p><strong>Endnotes: </strong></p> <p>[1] Business Cycle: National Bureau for Economic Research, U.S. Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions. Note that in January, 2018, the current expansion will become the third longest, following only the 1991-2001 and 1981-1990 expansions.</p> <p>[2] S&amp;P 500 data from &lt;<a href="http://www.bigcharts.marketwatch.com" target="_blank">www.bigcharts.marketwatch.com</a>&gt;. Corporate profits from Bureau of Economic Analysis, GDP and National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) database at &lt;<a href="https://www.bea.gov/iTable/index_nipa.cfm" target="_self">https://www.bea.gov/iTable/index_nipa.cfm</a>&gt;.&nbsp;Median income: Ben Leubsdorf, “New Record for Household Income,” Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2017, page A2.</p> <p>[3] Excluding the top 20% of households, which is most likely to include members of the middle and upper stratum petty bourgeoisie and capitalist classes, households in the lower 40% of the income distribution are still below their income in 1999, adjusted for inflation. Job distribution from Jordan Yadoo, “The Rich are Getting Richer in the U.S. Recovery,” Bloomberg News, September 25, 2017. Labor Force Participation Rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The official U.S. unemployment rate only counts those who are not working for pay AND are looking for work. Mainstream bourgeois economists use the employment number (number of jobs), not the unemployment rate, to define turns in the business cycle such as the start of a recession. (National Bureau for Economic Research, <a href="http://www.nber.org/cycles/jan08bcdc_memo.html" target="_blank">http://www.nber.org/cycles/jan08bcdc_memo.html</a>)</p> <p>[4] see Fightback! News: <a href="http://www.fightbacknews.org/2015/8/18/businesses-restructuring-job-market-keep-wages-down-profits" target="_blank">http://www.fightbacknews.org/2015/8/18/businesses-restructuring-job-market-keep-wages-down-profits</a></p> <p>[5] Census Bureau, “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016”, September 2017.</p> <p>[6] Bureau of Labor Statistics, “All Employees, Motor Vehicles and Parts, Seasonally Adjusted” database.</p> <p>[7] "Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics," by Rakesh Kochnhar, Richard Fry, and Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center: July 26, 2011. <a href=". http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/26/wealth-gaps-rise-to-record-highs-between-whites-blacks-hispanics/" target="_blank">http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/26/wealth-gaps-rise-to-record-highs-between-whites-blacks-hispanics/</a></p> <p>[8] The official unemployment rate for Detroit in January 2010 was 25.3%, more than twice times the national unemployment rate of 10.6% (both rates are NOT seasonally adjusted). The official unemployment rate understates the economic pain to workers by not counting people without jobs who want to work but did not look in the previous month (discouraged and marginally attached workers), and those who are working part-time but cannot find full-time work due to the economy. In January 2010 the alternative unemployment rate including these other workers was 18% (not seasonally adjusted). Bureau of Labor Statistics.</p> <p>[9] "Breaking up the Financial Industrial Complex," by David Weidner, Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2010.</p> <p>[10] The United States is net debtor nation, that is, foreign-owned U.S. assets are greater than U.S.-owned foreign assets by $4.9 trillion. One advantage that the U.S. has in borrowing from abroad is that the U.S. dollar is the reserve currency used to do international trade in, so that other countries need to hold dollars to finance trade. Federal Reserve: Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States, Flows and Outstandings, First Quarter, 2017, Table L.106, page 70.</p> <p>[11] Business Insider, “The country that imposes the most restrictions on trade might surprise you” by Linda Shen, September 30, 2015. The shift towards protectionism is also a characteristic of empires in decline. For example the British empire shifted from a free trade policy to a more protectionist one after World War I.</p> <p>[12] “China’s Leap in Electric Cars,” by Trefor Moss, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 3, 2017, page 1.</p> <p>[13] see Fightback! News: <a href="http://www.fightbacknews.org/2016/11/28/trump-s-tax-plan-just-another-republican-tax-cut-rich-and-big-business" target="_blank">http://www.fightbacknews.org/2016/11/28/trump-s-tax-plan-just-another-republican-tax-cut-rich-and-big-business</a></p> <p>[14] see US Energy Information Administration (EIA), June 16, 2017: <a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=31672" target="_blank">https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=31672</a></p> <p>[15] As of January 1, 2018, the minimum wage in South Korea will rise to 7,530 Won per hour. With an exchange rate of 1,225 won per dollar at the time of writing, this is about 6.70 U.S. dollars as compared to the Federal minimum of $7.25. Also see editorial in Bloomberg business news,&lt;<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-08-03/foxconn-s-dubious-deal" target="_blank">https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-08-03/foxconn-s-dubious-deal</a>&gt;</p> <p>[16] As of August, 2017, there are signs of weakness in household income, consumer spending, car sales, and rising credit card repayment problems. New housing construction never recovered from the last boom and bust. But so far, business spending on capital goods has maintained. Usually the first sign of a definite crisis ahead are declines in business investment in structures and equipment.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/8/10/frso-current-state-economy#comments Capitalism and Economy Socialism 8th congress economy Freedom Road Socialist Organization International Marxism-Leninism U.S. Fri, 10 Aug 2018 22:12:54 +0000 Fight Back 6900 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Trump’s latest tariffs may make for a gloomier holiday season http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/7/11/trump-s-latest-tariffs-may-make-gloomier-holiday-season <p>San José, CA - While most Americans won’t have a ‘white Christmas’ this year, many of us will be looking forward to the displays of lights on many homes and businesses. Now the Trump administration’s escalating trade war with China threatens to dim this coming holiday celebrations - or at least make them more expensive.</p> <p>On July 10 the Trump administration began another round of escalation of its trade war with China. Trump announced a 10% tariff on an additional $200 billion of Chinese-made goods. While the initial 25% tariff on $34 billion of imports from China had very few consumer goods, this broader list, which is almost 200 pages long with some 7000 types of goods, does.</p> <p>One of those listed are Christmas lights. The U.S. imports over $500 million of these lights each year from China. These lights make up over 90% of the total light imports, meaning that U.S. buyers will not be able to switch to other countries to avoid the tariffs. If these tariffs go through they would raise the cost of holiday lighting.</p> <p>There are a number of imports where the U.S. gets 90% or more of its imports from China. At the top of this list are laptop computers, which are valued at almost $40 billion. With 93% of all imported laptops coming from China, and almost no laptops being made in the U.S. (ironically, the only U.S.-made laptops are made by Lenovo, a Chinese company), another round of U.S. escalation is bound to hit more expensive items such as laptops and cell phones.</p> <p>This is exactly what the Trump administration has promised to do when the Chinese government responds to the latest round of U.S. tariffs. China only imports about $150 billion of goods from the U.S., and is already placing tariffs on $50 billion of them in response to U.S. tariffs. But China also imports services such as U.S. movies (half the top-selling movies in China in the first half of this year have been U.S. films) and education (China is the single largest country of origin for international students and about a third of foreign students in the United States). U.S. corporations also have major investments in China, usually with a Chinese partner. General Motors actually sells more cars in China than in the U.S. under this arrangement (China is the world’s largest car market in terms of number of vehicles sold). China could use a variety of so-called “non-tariff barriers” to hit back at the U.S. tariffs.</p> <p>Not only are prices on consumer goods likely to go higher as Trump escalates the trade war with China, but prices of U.S. exports to China are already heading down. Prices of soybeans are near a ten-year low and fell 15% last month alone. China is the single largest market for U.S. farmers exporting soybeans, taking about a third of all exports. The pain for U.S. workers and businesses is growing in the wake of Trump’s trade war.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/7/11/trump-s-latest-tariffs-may-make-gloomier-holiday-season#comments Capitalism and Economy China holidays tariffs trade war Trump Wed, 11 Jul 2018 20:48:27 +0000 Fight Back 6862 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Capitalism’s impact on mental health http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/7/5/capitalism-s-impact-mental-health <p>New York, NY - On June 5, fashion designer Kate Spade died via suicide. Three days later, chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain also committed suicide. Along with his TV show, Bourdain was a supporter of Palestine and the #MeToo movement, as well as openly criticizing Henry Kissinger for his foreign policy.</p> <p>Both cases resulted in a widespread, mainstream discussion about suicide and mental health, but the solution typically suggested is for individual people to seek help via suicide hotlines, going to therapy, and reaching out to friends and loved ones for help. While all of these may help someone in need at that moment, it doesn’t address the larger issues at hand. Here are just some of the ways in which the U.S.’s monopoly capitalist system affects workers here, as well as how inflicts mental harm upon its victims around the world.</p> <p><strong>Economic basis</strong></p> <p>Band-aid solutions to mental illness only help remedy the symptom, but do not address the system that is at the root of the problem. Capitalism creates conditions for mental illness and suicide to manifest. From a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, people earning less than $34,000 are 50% more likely to commit suicide, and unemployed people are 72 more likely to commit suicide than employed people. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide rates are higher in rural areas, where Native Americans and Alaska Natives have the highest rates.</p> <p>At the same time that capitalism reinforces mental illness, it also limits the accessibility to mental healthcare in the U.S. Over 6.3 million adults with mental illness are uninsured, and even those who are insured still face high costs, such as copays, treatment not covered by insurance, and providers who do not take insurance.</p> <p><strong>Treating the symptom, not the cause</strong></p> <p>The ability of working class and poor people to access adequate mental healthcare is limited by a lack of time outside of working hours, as well as an economic inability to afford treatment, even with health insurance. For those that do decide to seek treatment, the costs of such are high and the treatment is insufficient in the long term.</p> <p>There is a motive for psychiatrists to prescribe medication instead of providing psychotherapy. According to Dr. Daniel Carlat of Tufts University, a psychiatrist can make two to four times more money by prescribing medication than providing therapy. While psychiatric medication can be a necessary aspect of mental health treatment, it is used in a system that prioritizes profit over people while forgoing longer-term treatment that addresses the individual’s particular conditions.</p> <p><strong>U.S. Imperialism’s effect on mental health</strong></p> <p>Along with conditions in the U.S. contributing to suicide, U.S. imperialism also is a major factor in mental illness and suicide. In May 2018, a Honduran man named Marco Antonio Munoz killed himself in a Texas jail cell after being separated from his family, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Palestine, which is occupied by Israel with financial backing of the U.S., leads in the Middle East and North Africa region in depression and anxiety disorders, including in children.</p> <p><strong>Mental health under socialism</strong></p> <p>Where can we look to in order to find an alternative system to the U.S. healthcare system? Cuba is one example of how socialism can provide solutions to those suffering with mental illness.</p> <p>According to Sandra Soca Lozano from the University of Havana, psychologists are incorporated into all aspects of healthcare, and psychologists and physicians work closely together. A psychologist will assess medical patients for contributing mental factors, and physicians will evaluate psychiatric patients to look for contributing physical conditions. Since no private organizations offer health services in Cuba, everyone has access to public care.</p> <p>Due to the restrictions set on Cuba from the embargo, preventative care is emphasized for mental healthcare. This includes all Cubans having annual mental health screenings as part of their primary care (including home visits if unable to go to the office), the ability to access psychologists and physicians in their neighborhoods, and creating their own technology and techniques for detection of mental illness.</p> <p>A more widespread discussion about mental health and suicide is a positive step, but discussion alone will not solve the problem. In order to fix the broken mental healthcare system, we must fight to overthrow capitalism and ensure that under socialism, everyone will have adequate access to mental healthcare and treatment.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/7/5/capitalism-s-impact-mental-health#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Socialism Opinion Capitalism health care mental health Socialism Workers and Globalization Thu, 05 Jul 2018 19:04:50 +0000 Fight Back 6847 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Stock market slumps again on trade war worries http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/6/26/stock-market-slumps-again-trade-war-worries <p>San José, CA - U.S. stock markets fell again, June 25, as trade war worries continued to weigh on investors. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 1.3% or more than 300 points, after regaining some ground from a 500 point sell-off earlier in the day. The NASDAQ index, which includes more stocks of high-tech companies, fell over 2%.</p> <p>The only news over the weekend was that the Trump administration was going to limit the purchases of technology companies. When Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin denied that the investment limit was aimed at China, stocks fell even further. They bounced back on the news that Trump’s trade representative Peter Navarro contradicted Mnuchin and said that only China is being targeted. This is just another example of deep divisions within the Trump administration over trade policy.</p> <p>The report that China’s President Xi promised, in a meeting June 21 with major U.S. companies doing business in China, that China “would punch back” over U.S. trade tariffs gained more media coverage on Monday and may have helped to rattle the market. Other financial news that didn’t help the stock market was the flattening of the so-called ‘yield curve.’ The gap in interest rates on ten-year U.S. government bonds and shorter term bonds fell to the lowest level since 2007. If the gap turn negative (that is, if the interest rates on long-term bonds drops below that of short-term bonds) or what is called an ‘inverted yield curve’ is a very strong predictor of a recession in six months to two years.</p> <p>At the time this article was written, stock markets across Asia continued the sell-off.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/6/26/stock-market-slumps-again-trade-war-worries#comments Capitalism and Economy stock market Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:34:08 +0000 Fight Back 6808 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Stock markets around the world rattled as Trump vows to escalate trade war with China http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/6/20/stock-markets-around-world-rattled-trump-vows-escalate-trade-war-china <p>San José, CA - On June 19, stock markets around the world fell in reaction to U.S. President Trump’s promise to escalate the U.S. trade war with China. The Japanese Nikei index fell almost 2% along with other Asian markets. In Europe, Germany’s export-oriented economy meant its stocks were hit the hardest, with the German DAX index down more than 1%. The world sell-off ended in New York City, with the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 1%, bringing the average to below its starting point for the year.</p> <p>The stock sell-off followed the announcement that Trump would seek to place 10% tariffs on an additional $200 billion of U.S. imports coming from China. Trump thinks that the U.S. can “out-gun” China since U.S. imports from China, at about $500 billion, are much larger than China’s imports from the U.S., which are only about $150 billion. But an hour later, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce that it would respond with its own tariffs. Their statement also implied that China would take other measures, which could include restrictions on U.S. businesses operating in China. General Motors, for example, actually sells - along with its Chinese partner, the SAIC (formerly the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) - more cars in China than in the U.S.</p> <p>Many other countries are afraid that they will be hurt as the U.S. escalates its trade war with China. About 60% of all exports from China to the U.S. are made by multinational corporations, which import a lot of parts from other countries. For example, Apple’s iPhone, which is assembled by the Taiwanese Foxconn corporation in China, actually gets half of its value from parts coming from Japan and Germany and only 5% is value added in China.</p> <p>One result of this is that relations between China and Japan have recently improved. Sino-Japanese relations have long been strained by the first Sino-Japanese war in 1895 where Japan colonized Taiwan (and continue to occupy the Chinese Diaoyutai Islands - called Senkaku by Japan), and the Japanese invasion and occupation of China in the 1930s and 1940s.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/6/20/stock-markets-around-world-rattled-trump-vows-escalate-trade-war-china#comments Capitalism and Economy tariffs Wed, 20 Jun 2018 05:21:02 +0000 Fight Back 6795 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Trump administration’s trade war with China and the fall of U.S. hegemony http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/6/15/trump-administration-s-trade-war-china-and-fall-us-hegemony <p>San José, CA - On Friday, June 15, President Trump signed orders to place tariffs (taxes) on $34 billion of imports from China beginning July 6. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will be imposing tariffs on another $16 billion of imports from China in the near future for a total of $50 billion in imports facing 25% taxes. This represents another turnaround in trade from a few weeks ago, when Trump’s Commerce Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the trade war was “on hold” after initial negotiation with the Chinese government, which had offered to increase purchases of U.S. goods and further open the Chinese economy to foreign investments.</p> <p>This action against China is another sign of the rising power of trade hardliners in the Trump administration such as Peter Navarro, director of the White House Trade Council. Navarro was recently in the headlines for saying that there was a “special place in hell” for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after Trump refused to sign a statement of the Group of Seven (G-7) meeting of major capitalist countries. This hard line on trade can also be seen in the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada, the European Union and Mexico on ‘national security’ grounds.</p> <p>The Trump administration’s trade policies follow a mercantilist outlook that trade deficits are bad and that a country grows strong through a trade surplus. Mercantilism was adopted by early European colonial powers as they advocated taking colonies, taxing imports, subsidizing exports, and restricting trade to a few government sponsored monopolies. Many of the British colonists’ economic grievances against the King were caused by these policies.</p> <p>The mainstream economic view of free trade was championed by Adam Smith, a British economist who published The Wealth of Nations in 1776. In his work, he used the term “the invisible hand” to describe the virtues of a free market, where small businesses would compete for customers by offering cheaper and better quality goods and services.</p> <p>With free trade, countries would specialize, and Smith saw the British colonies as producing agricultural goods for British factories. While this was embraced by southern American plantation owners, who used slave labor to produce cotton for export, northern manufacturing interests wanted tariffs in order to develop American industries like weaving, with their cloth protected from cheaper British goods. These tariffs were passed in 1862 after the South tried to leave the U.S. over the issue of slavery.</p> <p>As U.S. industries came to dominate the world capitalist economy, replacing Britain as the number one economic power, the U.S. took over Britain’s role as a champion of free trade. Towards the end of World War II, the U.S. set up a number of international institutions to bolster free trade and U.S. economic domination. The Bretton Woods currency agreement, which fixed foreign currency exchange rates where the U.S. dollar was paired up with gold to replace the British-led gold standard. The General Agreement for Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, which developed into today’s World Trade Organization or WTO was designed to lower tariffs and allow for more U.S. foreign investments. Finally, the International Monetary Fund or IMF and the World Bank would make loans to former colonial and oppressed nations to enforce free trade and government austerity in the interests of the U.S. and other former colonial powers in western Europe and Japan.</p> <p>But the decline of U.S. economic hegemony has led to the unraveling of this web of institutions. Bretton Woods was first to go in the 1970s when the U.S. dollar lost its status as being ‘good as gold.’ Since 2005 the World Trade Organization has been deadlocked when developing countries, led by Brazil and China, refused to discuss U.S. demands for more free investments after the U.S. refused to discuss its own trade policies such as subsidies for agriculture. The World Bank is being challenged by a recent Chinese initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Bank, which has started up despite a U.S. effort to prevent other countries from joining.</p> <p>The U.S.-dominated free-trade system is being challenged on two fronts. In the rest of the world, other economies are growing stronger and demanding more equal treatment from the United States, or absent that, setting up alternative institutions. One of the major economic threats to U.S. domination is China’s Belt and Road initiative that seeks to re-establish China-centered trade and investment links throughout the Eurasian continent.</p> <p>The other challenge for the U.S. is that free trade policies have facilitated the export of capital, and along with that, jobs, especially in manufacturing. This is spearheaded by U.S. big business as well as European and Japanese corporations. For example, the United States now imports most of its cars (not including pickup trucks and SUVs) as big auto companies export their factories to take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).</p> <p>The Trump administration is trying to take the widespread discontent with free trade among the working class here, and trying to turn the working class against the rest of the world, painting other countries as the enemy. This is a common theme in the administration’s trade policy, their inhumane treatment of immigrants (such as separating children from their parents), and funding a major military buildup to prepare for more major wars abroad.</p> <p>The challenge for labor movement and other progressive activists to try to build an alliance between workers and oppressed communities here in the United States with the working people in other countries who also do not benefit from corporate-led globalization.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/6/15/trump-administration-s-trade-war-china-and-fall-us-hegemony#comments Capitalism and Economy China China Donald Trump tariffs trade war Fri, 15 Jun 2018 20:08:46 +0000 Fight Back 6785 at http://www.fightbacknews.org