Friday, May 08, 2020

Coronavirus is a wakeup call

The Socialist Party advocates for the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system in every country in the world. Capitalism is a world-wide economic system (China too) based on private or state ownership of wealth and the means of producing wealth. Some of the obvious pieces of ideological double-think are:

1. That resources are scarce (they are plentiful — it is just under capitalism production and therefore consumption are restricted to what can be sold at a profit);
2. That governments somehow play a neutral rôle in the economics they are supposed to control, in that government action is aimed at producing the best results for all in society — this ignores the fact that society is divided into two classes (capitalist and working) and the interests of the two classes are diametrically opposed, what is good for one must be bad for the others. And, most absurd of all. 
3.  that given certain (impossible) conditions, capitalism’s price mechanism leads to resources being distributed in the best interests of society.

Capitalist society has as its aim, in producing anything, sale with a view to profit it cannot take into account the satisfaction of human requirements, where no profit is to be made. When mankind ends capitalism, and by its own conscious action replaces it with socialism, wealth that is produced will be freely available to ail in society. Free access to everything will include free access to knowledge. There will be nothing to prevent man’s natural curiosity about the world. True to our basic principles the Socialist Party does not support suppression of opinion, no matter how false we believe that opinion to be. Democracy means a method of conducting affairs where a majority decision is reached on the basis of all information being readily available. The suppression of "unpopular views does not eradicate these ideas. This can only be done by a free exchange of ideas. It’s inevitable that the profit-driven institutions responsible for death, destruction, and despair will attempt to manipulate public opinion for their own benefit. We must recognise the actions of these institutions and expose them for what they are: callous, and cynical ploys to reform their public image.

While their wealth is buffering the rich from the effects of the coronavirus, the poor are bearing the brunt. In April as 30 million Americans filed for unemployment, and small businesses fear closing for ever the U.S. stock market had its best month in more than 30 years. Stocks and shares are what protects the rich from the consequences of this pandemic. Half of all stocks in America are owned by the wealthiest 1% of people. So long as the stock-market is doing okay, there is no urgency for the ruling class to protect the lives of everybody else. While working people survive on life-support, the capitalist class were given a life-giving transfusion of wealth in a trillion dollar bail-out. Private healthcare companies have seen major gains, boosting the fortunes of healthcare billionaires, just as an estimated 9 million Americans were lost their employer-sponsored insurance plans—a figure that may climb to 43 million. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, America’s billionaires saw their wealth shoot up by $282 billion in just 23 days as the country was sheltering in lockdown. Overall, U.S. billionaire wealth grew by nearly 10% at the same time over 20 million people filed for unemployment, and by April 10 had passed $3.2 trillion—topping last year’s level. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and already the richest person in the world, saw his fortune inflate by $24 billion in the first three months of the year, a surge the report’s authors say is “unprecedented in the history of modern markets.” Meanwhile, his workers have staged a series of walkouts and other labor actions to protest a lack of basic workplace protections as warehouse employees have fallen ill with the virus, and some have died. Thanks to a change to the tax code tucked into the relief package, 43,000 Americans who make more than $1 million will be saved an average of $1.7 million annually, costing U.S. Treasury $90 billion in 2020 alone. Of the original $350 billion allocated for the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program in the CARES Act, over $243 million ended up going to large corporations. Meanwhile, the banks handling these loan applications made off with $10 billion in fees—including many of the same banks that were bailed out by taxpayers during the last recession in 2008. For their wealthiest clients, the New York Times reports, these banks—including JPMorgan Chase and Citibank—offered “concierge treatment” to put their applications at the front of the line. It is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Institute for Policy Studies report, taxes paid by billionaires fell by 79% between 1980 and 2018. Over this period, corporate taxes have similarly been drastically cut, including by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As a result of this shift, US government coffers have dried, social safety net programs have been slashed, the working poor have been squeezed and the 1% have accumulated more money than they could spend in multiple lifetimes.  

Government policies has been sacrificing workers’ lives in the service of accumulating capital. Our only choice is to re-imagine our society. It’s a no brainer. If there was ever a time for social change, it’s now.   

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