Month: September, 2013
Soviet TV programs from the 1980s
| September 30, 2013 | 7:50 pm | Action | 1 Comment

200px-Hammer_and_sickle_svgThe following links will take you to videos taken from TV programs from the Soviet Union. You will notice some differences as compared with TV programs from the USA. One is that there are no commercials. Another thing to keep in mind is that commentators from the USA typically characterize the Soviet Union as bland and colorless. Certainly these programs disprove that lie. This should lead viewers to question the many lies told about the Soviet Union and to study the history of this important experiment which sought to build a socialist state.

http://youtu.be/W2bJXEdW148

http://youtu.be/bIpzJjORK10

http://youtu.be/5kyk90IG9bc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zl7h3LbrNtE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7JsOm2kj18

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWBiW2ngKEI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FilNIyv5vhw

Scottish and Welsh independence – A socialist view
| September 29, 2013 | 8:53 pm | Action | No comments

Here is a link to a discussion of Scottish and Welsh independence by leaders of the CPB

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhjvihyg940&list=PL0x0XrJYIFYq6FdSu0AMXIOJ3EA37fcBZ

Britain’s road to socialism – Kevin Halpin
| September 24, 2013 | 8:34 pm | Action | No comments

Check out this video from a legendary British communist:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB7MShlDVu4&list=PL869A1EF75AA2A32C

Class against Class
| September 20, 2013 | 7:30 pm | Action | No comments

– from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

Every commentator of every stripe concedes that US workers have been battered over the last five years since the onset of the global economic crisis. What most fail to concede is that the battering was the direct result of a one-sided class war.

From every perspective, measured by every economic indicator, all US workers– those organized into trade unions and those not– have been hammered relentlessly. Unemployment, measured by the government’s least telling index, remains unconscionably high. Labor force participation, a better measure of the job picture, continues to decline. And the jobs that do become available are unprecedentedly part-time, low-paying, or temporary.

Wages are stagnant or declining in every sector and labor’s share of national wealth continues to atrophy. Benefits are under attack with workers’ contributions to existing benefits growing and employers’ share shrinking.

The oft-cited road to success for working class youth– a college education– has proven fool’s gold. The average student is saddled with $25,000 in student debt and a marginal job that retards getting out of debt and capturing meaningful savings.

At the same time, a “recovery” has occurred: production and national wealth have rebounded to and surpassed their pre-crisis levels. Profits and profit growth are well above historic levels and trends. And the stock market has revived energetically.

The widely heralded “recovery” has only been a recovery for the very wealthiest. A recent study by the formidable economic research team of Saez and Piketty shows that 95% of the income benefits of this one-sided recovery have accrued to the top 1% of income recipients. The other 99% must settle for a tiny share of the meager remaining 5% gain in income!

That US workers’ fate and the fate of their employers and their minions are on two separate, divergent tracks is undeniable. That these two tracks are sustainable is entirely a different matter, a matter to be settled when workers embrace a fight back in the struggle between classes.

While pundits from across the political spectrum acknowledge the huge and growing chasm between the rich and working people (see, for example, Paul Krugman’s Rich Man’s Recovery, The New York Times), they offer little by way of explanation and even less toward addressing and correcting the condition.

Instead, they deplore and regret, condemn and rue the sorry plight of working people in the face of burgeoning wealth channeled to the privileged. They trot out a host of tired, ineffective nostrums that consistently evade changing the dynamics that invariably generate growing inequality. Slogans like “tax the rich” warm the blood, but get no political traction. And on the rare occasion when tax increases and the like survive political mine fields, the rich find ways to evade them. Given the political power that inequality confers to the wealthy, it should be no wonder that even modest reformist proposals are decisively aborted by the best “public servants” that monopoly corporations and their wealthy owners can buy.

What, then, are the dynamics that generate inequality? What really accounts for the ever widening income and wealth game between a tiny minority and the vast majority of US citizens?

No understanding of economic inequality in a global capitalist economy can begin without an acknowledgment of class. The existence of social classes is the unwelcome analytic tool that capitalist apologists devote careers to denying. Media savants and academic authorities choke on the word “class.” To them, class division is a distant memory of hereditary aristocrats and down-trodden peasants. Surely, they affirm, the rise of representative government has eradicated class distinctions.

To avoid the obvious, liberals and so-called “progressives” have created a class that simply hangs in the air, absent any supporting structures: the middle class! A favored idea embraced by politicians, top labor leaders, and social workers, the middle class is said to shrink, decline, or disappear; yet no one tells us where the lost members go!

This slick trick hopes to mask the simple fact that the US is not a classless society.

Contrary to popular mythology, social life in the US is not all harmony and bliss. Instead, it is one of conflicting and incompatible interests. Moreover, the sharpest differences, the differences that determine material well-being, are differences of social class. The great contribution of Marxism is to reveal exactly how class is best understood– not as social position, profession, or subjective perception, but as a material relation between employer and employee. That is, the most useful discrete divide is between those who engage the labor of others and those who provide that labor. The former constitutes a class of employers and their minions; the latter– a much larger group– constitutes the working class.

Even a casual reflection on the relation between the two classes in capitalist society exposes a sharp and irreconcilable difference of interest. Those who employ labor share no other goal than maximizing the profit of their enterprises. Put simply, from the Mom and Pop store to the largest monopoly corporation, owners are in business to make money. While small enterprises are limited in scope and intensity, larger enterprises, especially those with investors and shareholders, are driven relentlessly to achieve greater and greater rates of profit and sums of profit.

It is the logic of capitalism to reduce the costs of economic activity and command a greater share of that activity for the owners, investors, and shareholders. From the perspective of the worker, “reducing costs” translates into a relentless attack on the wages and benefits of the working class. The less that must be shared with the worker, the more that can go toward profit.

Since the dawn of capitalism, workers have recognized the divergence of interest between profit maximization and realizing their desire to improve their economic standing. They have understood the necessity of fighting to both maintain and expand their share of the fruits of economic activity. The history of labor is a history of the development of the instruments (unions, political parties), techniques (unity, strikes, demonstrations), and ideology (class, class consciousness, class struggle) necessary to secure a greater share of the surplus generated by the labor process. And among the most advanced, visionary workers, a world entirely free of the employer/employee relationship, a world without exploitation, a world of common, social ownership, is the goal.

Thus, we can and should measure the success or failure of the working class movement by how well it has fared in the battle with employers for a greater share of that surplus.

And by that measure, or any other, not only the last five years have been a disaster, but the previous three decades as well. Income and wealth distribution has shifted dramatically in favor of the employer class and its attendants. The rich are winning a class war for the lion’s share of socially produced wealth. The working class is losing even the gains of the past.

How does this happen?

While the employers have mounted an aggressive assault on workers’ wages and benefits, ostensible workers’ organizations have failed workers.

The Democratic Party enjoyed the support of the working class thanks to both real and imagined gains won through the New Deal of the 1930s. In the ensuing years, that high point of labor-friendliness dissipated, with its last echoes embodied in the 1978 Democratic Party platform. Of course that platform was betrayed by the Democrat President-elect, James Carter. Never again did the Democratic Party embrace labor’s cause, despite Don Quixote-like efforts by Jesse Jackson in subsequent years. While establishment Democrats mocked Reagan’s lame “trickle down” economics, a decade later they celebrated the same idea with their absurd slogan that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Obama, the latest political “friend” of labor, has so far failed to deliver anything of significance to workers in the five years of his administration, nothing that might have reversed the grinding, painful decline of working class standards of living.

Certainly the top leaders of the trade union movement have served workers no better. Accordingly, they have been punished for their failure by a sharp decline in union membership, a decline that has lead them to panic before their own fate.

Of course their concerns, born of self-preservation, are nothing compared to the devastation of the working class inflicted over the last four decades. Their failure to use the available tools of class struggle, their reliance on cozy arrangements with bosses, and their identification with the health and flourishing of corporations are policies that have proven severely injurious to the working class.

Collaboration that links the fate of the working class to the fate of the corporations has paid off handsomely… for the corporations. A recent study summarized in The Wall Street Journal submits that by the end of this decade, “Adjusted for productivity, average labor costs will beat Japan by 18%, Germany 34%, and France 35%.” The study doesn’t bother to mention what this will mean for US workers, of course. Their losses to the gods of competitiveness are capitalists’ gains!

To take an example, US auto sales have soared to levels unseen since before the economic crisis first struck. Corporate profits are growing at a record pace.

How do they do it?

First, the US auto industry received massive tax-payer bailouts from the Obama administration, but only on the condition that they close plants and lay off workers! So much for the Democratic Party friends of labor.

Secondly, the industry produces the same amount of vehicles with less than 80% of the former workers, a forced-march increase in productivity.

And thirdly, at United Auto Worker unionized plants, the union submitted to deep concessions. Entry level UAW workers now make $15.78 an hour, a rate commensurate with an annual wage a mere 12% above the level defined by the Federal government as “living in or near poverty.” Once, the UAW wage and benefit package was the gold star of industrial unionism!

Because of their total capitulation to the auto industry bosses, the leaders of the once proud UAW have resorted to pursuing the organization of the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen plant by sneaking through the back door. They hope to use a European Union regulation and their cozy relation with the company to secure recognition. How else to “win” a non-union shop when union and non-union wages are virtually equal? (Actually, when relative costs-of-living are factored, they are sometimes better in non-union plants).

Indeed, there is no class war when one side is always in retreat. The rout can only be reversed if workers shed their blind support for the Democratic Party and vigorously exercise their independence. The rout can only be reversed when workers transform their unions into class-struggle weapons and launch a counter-offensive.

The future doesn’t have to continue with the past.

Zoltan Zigedy

zoltanzigedy@gmail.com

Capitalist crisis, socialist solution
| September 16, 2013 | 10:02 pm | Action | No comments

Capitalist crisis, socialist solution with Rob Griffiths, Communist Party of Britain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU6Y2incxfE

John “Juancho” Stanford, Presente!
| September 14, 2013 | 10:06 pm | Action | No comments

He was an example for all of humanity. He was a fighter for justice and the unity of the working class and will definitely be missed. He fought against racism in all its forms and fought against war. He lived an exemplary life and was a progressive in the sense that he did many things which resulted in progress for humanity. Although he was an internationalist, he also focused on local struggles for the working class. He was the enemy of oppression and injustice. He was a humble man and when praised would politely tell the person praising him to stop. He will long be remembered and honored for he truly changed the world for the good. Many people have benefitted from having him as a mentor, friend and comrade. Let’s not forget him and let’s not let him down. Don’t mourn, organize! Let’s go on to organize!

You can read about him at:

http://www.keywiki.org/index.php/John_Stanford

https://www.facebook.com/john.stanford.7587

http://www2.sacurrent.com/news/story.asp?id=67051

http://blip.tv/mexican-american-peace-project/john-stanford-on-the-hutto-immigration-detention-center-381874

http://tx.cpusa.org/jstan.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_v._Texas

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/379/476

http://www.peoplesworld.org/gentle-giant/

John Stanford

John Stanford

Resolution 54: AFL-CIO Convention Resolution on the Affordable Care Act
| September 12, 2013 | 10:21 pm | Action | No comments

Submitted by the Building and Construction Trades Department, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the American Federation of Teachers

Referred to the Resolutions Committee
Referred to the Executive Council by the Resolutions Committee with the Recommendation that It Be Sent to the Convention for Adoption
Referred to the Convention by the Executive Council with a Recommendation for Adoption

“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO reaffirms the health care resolutions adopted by the 2009 convention, including the commitment to pursue health care for all ultimately through a single-payer system;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ACA should be administered in a manner that preserves the high-quality health coverage multiemployer plans have provided to union families for decades and, if this is not possible, we will demand the ACA be amended by Congress;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that non-profit multiemployer plans should have access to the ACA’s premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions on behalf of working families, just as for-profit insurance companies will;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the employer responsibility rules should be fixed by applying a full employer penalty for failing to provide affordable comprehensive coverage to workers who average 20 or more hours per week and adding an employer penalty on a pro rata basis for employees who work fewer than 20 hours per week.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the employer responsibility rules should be fixed further by extending employer responsibility requirements to more employers, especially to construction companies with five or more employees as was provided by the Merkley Amendment included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that employers that attempt to shirk their responsibility in its entirety by dumping low-income workers into Medicaid should be penalized;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will strongly oppose taxing workers’ health benefits;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO supports the preservation of collectively bargained plans, union administered plans, and other plans that cover unionized workers, by eliminating the ACA Excise Tax, Reinsurance Fee and all other fees;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the federal agencies responsible for implementing the Act to exempt supplemental welfare benefit plans from the PCORI and reinsurance fees.”

WHEREAS, in 2009, the AFL-CIO Convention passed two health care resolutions—Health Care Reform Now and the Social Insurance Model for Health Care Reform—which reaffirmed the labor movement’s commitment to health care for all, ultimately through a single-payer system. In 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA);

WHEREAS, the AFL-CIO continues to support the ACA’s goal of securing high-quality, affordable health coverage for all Americans; three years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we reaffirm our commitment to the goal of affordable, quality health care for all but recognize that the ACA remains a work in progress;

WHEREAS, the ACA’s expansion of comprehensive health insurance to 25 million more Americans, support for affordability through expanded Medicaid eligibility and premium subsidies and insurance market reforms are clear gains for working families. The new law also has eliminated some of the worst insurance company abuses, cut costs for seniors, and appears to be contributing to lower rates for individual coverage in states like California and New York;

WHEREAS, the federal agencies administering the ACA have interpreted the Act in ways that are threatening the ability of workers to keep health care coverage through some collectively bargained, non-profit health care funds. Republican governors in many states have refused to participate in implementing the Act and are even actively blocking efforts to provide health care to all through Medicaid expansion;

WHEREAS, for decades before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, such quality, affordable health coverage has been provided to workers and their families through non-profit multiemployer health plans negotiated between unions and participating employers, including the approximately 20 million individuals covered by such plans today;

WHEREAS, the health coverage provided through multiemployer plans has met the goals of the Affordable Care Act by providing portable, affordable, high-quality coverage for workers who would otherwise be left out of typical employer plans, including participants in industries where employment is mobile or part-time;

WHEREAS, multiemployer health plans have been attractive to employers because they provide predictable, consistent and cost-effective long-term health coverage for workers;

WHEREAS, multiemployer health plans have been attractive to employees because they provide a consumer-oriented plan design, portability, stability and flexibility;

WHEREAS, contrary to the law’s intent, some workers might not be able to keep their coverage and their doctors because the federal agencies’ current implementation plans will be highly disruptive to the operation of Taft-Hartley multiemployer plans, substantially changing the coverage available for millions of covered employees and their families;

WHEREAS, the federal agencies tasked with implementing the law have unnecessarily imposed an interpretation of the Affordable Care Act which imposes additional costs and fees for which plan participants receive no benefit, unnecessarily driving coverage costs higher;

WHEREAS, in industries like construction, where 93 percent of employers are considered small under the ACA, the playing field is now even more tilted in favor of companies that shirk responsibility toward their workers;

WHEREAS, current negotiation of collective bargaining agreements setting the terms of health insurance coverage for plan participants are already demonstrating the adverse impact of the application of the Affordable Care Act to multiemployer plans;

WHEREAS, the multiemployer plan community, including the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations, has engaged the Administration since the passage of the Affordable Care Act to work toward a legally supportable regulatory approach that would enable multiemployer plans to continue to provide the valuable coverage they provide today and to allow participants to keep the coverage they have;

WHEREAS, unless changes are made, the ACA will effectively use taxpayer dollars to subsidize employers that refuse to take responsibility for providing their employees health care, placing more responsible employers at a competitive disadvantage, and destabilizing the employment-based health care system. At the same time, the ACA will be taxing non-profit worker health plans for the exclusive benefit of for-profit insurance companies. Employers will then have a financial incentive to drop coverage and force low-wage workers onto the exchanges, making it nearly impossible for those workers’ plans to continue. The end result will be that millions more workers and their families will be forced onto the exchanges, increasing the costs of the exchanges to the federal government and undermining the finances of the ACA;

WHEREAS, the labor movement has pushed for a requirement in the ACA that allemployers assume responsibility for contributing toward the cost of health care for their employees, either by offering health benefits or by making substantial contributions to a public fund to finance coverage for uninsured workers;

WHEREAS, the ACA includes a limited employer responsibility penalty that applies just to medium and large employers, and then only for employees who work 30 or more hours per week on average, it falls short of what is needed to prevent irresponsible employer behavior. Employers are preparing to avoid paying penalties by cutting workers’ hours and pay, thereby creating a new underclass of less-than-30-hour workers;

WHEREAS, we must not shift costs to working families and retirees or endanger the quality of care or limit access to care by underfunding urban, safety-net hospitals and other critical providers. ACA’s payment and delivery reforms are an important step toward lowering costs, but they should be implemented in a way that protects the availability of services for our communities. And the cuts in reimbursement to hospitals and other providers should be accompanied by stronger mechanisms to ensure the maintenance of safe staffing and effective care delivery;

WHEREAS, workers should not be penalized for negotiating good health care benefits by having them subjected to special taxation—particularly so long as the tax system as a whole is tilted so severely in the direction of the very rich;

WHEREAS, denying eligibility for health benefits to immigrants on the path to citizenship is not only cruel, but also short-sighted given the important connections between coverage expansion and controlling the growth of health costs;

WHEREAS, it has been a common practice for public unions in New York and elsewhere to build a benefit structure through three different plans: 1) a comprehensive basic health plan negotiated with the employer, providing hospital, medical and related benefits; 2) a per-employee cash contribution to a union-sponsored welfare trust fund that is used to provide supplemental benefits such as prescription drugs and other health care benefits; and 3) voluntary member-paid benefits, sponsored by the union or union trust funds for insurances like umbrella policies that cover catastrophic health care claims. Under the current construction of the ACA, each separate insurer (or plan if the benefit is self-funded) will pay the Transitional Reinsurance (TR) and Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees. This means that these fees will be levied three times on the same group of workers. These fees should only be charged once and only to the plan sponsor of the base health plan, as is the ACA rule for single employers;

WHEREAS, the ACA Excise Tax, Reinsurance Fee and other fees will drive the costs of collectively bargained, union administered plans, and other plans that cover unionized workers, to unsupportable levels, resulting in pressure to shift costs to workers, cut wages, and to agree to unacceptable high deductible plans;

WHEREAS, the federal agencies have not provided a regulatory approach that provides a positive environment for all of our plans, including multiemployer plans;

WHEREAS, this resolution is not meant to be a comprehensive list of the benefits and the problems of the ACA;

WHEREAS, because of these factors and the impact on our members, many unions have called for changes in the Affordable Care Act;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO reaffirms the health care resolutions adopted by the 2009 convention, including the commitment to pursue health care for all ultimately through a single-payer system;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ACA should be administered in a manner that preserves the high-quality health coverage multiemployer plans have provided to union families for decades and, if this is not possible, we will demand the ACA be amended by Congress;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that non-profit multiemployer plans should have access to the ACA’s premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions on behalf of working families, just as for-profit insurance companies will;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the employer responsibility rules should be fixed by applying a full employer penalty for failing to provide affordable comprehensive coverage to workers who average 20 or more hours per week and adding an employer penalty on a pro rata basis for employees who work fewer than 20 hours per week.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the employer responsibility rules should be fixed further by extending employer responsibility requirements to more employers, especially to construction companies with five or more employees as was provided by the Merkley Amendment included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that employers that attempt to shirk their responsibility in its entirety by dumping low-income workers into Medicaid should be penalized;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will strongly oppose taxing workers’ health benefits;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO supports the preservation of collectively bargained plans, union administered plans, and other plans that cover unionized workers, by eliminating the ACA Excise Tax, Reinsurance Fee and all other fees;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the federal agencies responsible for implementing the Act to exempt supplemental welfare benefit plans from the PCORI and reinsurance fees.