May Day Couldn’t Have Come at a More Appropriate Time This Year
Once again, we’re living in an era of record high levels of household debt, as was the case right before the Great Depression. On average, Americans owe over $15,000 on their credit cards ($854.2 billion in total credit card debt, roughly the same amount banks and insurance companies received from the government, wiping out their debts, in 2008).
High levels of credit card debts show incomes are not keeping pace with everyday expenses for millions of people, but they also exasperate the situation, as people end up paying more of what little they do earn to banks in interest, keeping them poor and making them even poorer and the bankers happy. The absurdly high level of student loans (the average student loan is over $33,000, totaling $1,115.3 billion) are also a disaster in the making, as students, faced with dismal job market, are lured into taking huge loans, some as large as a purchase loan for a house, to get higher education, in the hopes of getting a job. The promise of good paying jobs is thus postponed to a later time. Many among the young find no choice, but to undertake such loans, due to lack of decent jobs, and most of those who graduate, soon find out that it’s still hard to get a decent job, even with the education that they will be paying for, for the rest of their lives, which essentially means they will remain in the ranks of the poor, as long as they live.
The idea of progress, that the society ought to move forward and make life better for its inhabitants, that the new generation ought to live better than the previous, seems to have been buried and forgotten. On the contrary, families are getting accustomed to the new paradigm and seem to have accepted that things will not get better, and for good reason.
Why did this change happen and what caused it? Nothing particularly strange or unusual. It’s the way the system works (or rather doesn’t). The system has worked the way it was supposed to for corporations and their owners, who are richer and more powerful than ever. Two interrelated things have helped them with their success: the attacks on and virtual defeat of labor unions, which began soon after they were formed and accelerated with urgency and intensity by President Reagan (this is one reason President Obama speaks highly of him). Also, corporations have been able to shed much of the regulatory and oversight functions of the government, much of which were implemented thanks to labor movements of the past. Their ability to buy politicians and fix elections has also increased, as has their ability to go to wars.
It’s been estimated that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were started by Bush and continued by Obama, have cost at least $4 trillion, as well as over a million lives in Iraq alone. What the US accomplished in return was to hand Iraq and its oil to US corporations, not in the sense of owning it, but controlling – both its politics and economy and it’s oil. The outcome was neither beneficial for the Iraqis, nor for the American people. Same was done in Libya, where a democracy movement was used as the pretext to get rid of an “uncooperative” dictator, who was increasingly an obstacle for the control of the continent and its resources, including its respectable amount of oil. Another country was sacrificed and left in devastation because its leader was not playing with Washington’s rules. Syria, too, which is strategically and politically important to them in their long term plan for total and complete control of the region, was an opportunity they could not pass on. Iran is next, of course, while the current breather is used to strengthen NATO’s military presence at Russia’s borders, surrounding it for future envisioned, if not yet planned, confrontation.
The point is: things are not getting better and in fact, are getting worse by the day. The American people are getting poorer and staying poor, and they’re the lucky ones, since those overseas are getting killed. The environmental ruin has reached a critical point because it’s the last thing on the list of concerns for corporations. Corporate CEO’s who in the past would set policy by buying and influencing politicians, are now getting cabinet posts, themselves, making the government a subsidiary of their company. They’re quietly merging with the government and they never cared for the well being of the people they rule over, and they never liked civil liberties for their subjects. The Obama Administration is quietly canceling Americans’ civil rights to prevent return to those days of protesting, union organizing and civil rights movement. That’s why shortly after the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was a threat to corporate rule, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes the president, as the representative of corporations, to order anyone detained, indefinitely, by the military, in an unspecified military prison, without any charges, explanation or due process. It’s designed to make leaders of future movements disappear, decapitating the movement.
That which they try to prevent us from doing is exactly what we need to do. The Earth is in danger; peace is in danger; our health is in danger; our future is in danger. May Day is this Thursday.
The photo shows a May Day demonstration in Seattle in 2013.