America wastes its wealth
As poverty and social misery rise in the US five years after the 2008 financial crash, the ruling class is amassing unprecedented wealth.
The top ten highest-paid US chief executives each earned over $ 100 million last year, according to a poll released Tuesday by GMI Ratings. Two of them made over $ 1 billion each, and together they made $ 4.7 billion - in a single year.
From a different perspective, the total executive income is 50 percent higher than the amount earmarked for government heating surcharges next year. It's twelve times the total Detroit budget deficit, which is used as a justification for slashing government pensions and health insurance and selling the art treasures of the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of the world's most famous museums.
Mark Zuckerberg, the highest-paid CEO in 2012 ($ 2.27 billion), would have enough annual income to pay all 2,300 workers in the Bay Area transportation company that Zuckerberg lives in for more than sixteen years. Even so, during the four-day strike that recently ended, the transport workers were the ones disparaged as selfish and overpaid by the media and politicians!
A month prior to the release of the executive pay report, the Forbes 400 list was released, showing the wealth of the US 400 richest residents increased 17 percent year over year, from $ 1.7 trillion to over $ 2 trillion . The fortunes of these 400 people are more than double what it would take to cover the US government deficit, which is used as an excuse to cut grocery stamps, education, housing allowances, pensions and health care programs.
In addition to this obscene self-enrichment of the financial aristocracy, poverty continues to rise. A study published earlier this month by the Southern Education Foundation found that nearly half of all public school students in America were living in poverty by the end of the 2011 school year. Of the 45 richest countries in the world, the USA has the second highest child poverty after Romania.
According to a report by the US Department of Education on Thursday, more than 1.1 million public school students were homeless at any time during 2011 and 2012, 10 percent more than 2010-2011 and 72 percent more than before Beginning of the economic crisis. Even these numbers underestimate the real number of homeless students.
Living conditions for a large part of the population in every respect - household income, poverty, unemployment - have seen a historic decline, the effects of which will continue for decades. Older workers cannot retire as pensions and health insurances are under attack. For young people, the future holds ongoing economic difficulties, poverty, debt and unemployment in store.
The ruling class is in no way prevented by the catastrophe that has caused it and the monstrous growth of poverty and inequality from further plundering society and its war against the working class, but is exacerbating it. By appointing Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve, the Obama administration and the White House are making it clear that the Fed, the US central bank, will continue to inject over $ 1 trillion a year in cash. And after the government shutdown, the government and Congress are working to cut hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare and Social Security programs.
Growing inequality is the prevalent and ubiquitous social reality in America, but it is not confined to the United States. Since 2008, the plutocracy, which controls the mechanisms of economic and political power, has organized an unprecedented worldwide redistribution of wealth from the bottom up. In countries like Greece and Spain, poverty and unemployment have become the norm as banks dictate austerity measures to pull as much out of the pockets of working people as possible to pay off debts. It's not much different in the rest of the world.
It is said that society cannot afford to pay workers a decent standard of living. You could not afford to finance education for young people, to finance health care for the sick and the elderly. In ruling circles the big problem is debated that people live too long and consume resources that could otherwise be used for the top one percent of the richest.
Two things need to be said about the claim that there is “no money” to meet basic social needs. For one, that it is utterly absurd in the face of the accumulation of personal wealth on a level never seen before in human history. The claim that there is not enough money does not become more credible if you repeat it over and over again.
On the other hand, the representatives of the ruling class speak a devastating judgment of their own economic system when they subliminally admit that the rescue of capitalism requires that the broad masses of the population give up everything they have fought for in the past. The relentless attacks on wages, benefits, social benefits and public infrastructure are de facto an admission that capitalism is a failed system that no longer has historical justification.
In reality, society cannot afford the rich. Society can no longer afford their voraciousness and their devastating and irrational waste of the resources needed to satisfy their insatiable greed. The working class cannot allow all of its rights and interests to be subordinated to the accumulation of ever greater wealth.
The point here cannot be to appeal to the ruling class and its political representatives to carry out reforms. The fact that the looting of society is an international phenomenon that continues despite its catastrophic consequences for humanity shows that it is objectively part of the nature of the capitalist system.
The historical task is to put an end to this system. The only way to end the social inequality, poverty, and misery that dominates American society is to expropriate the vast fortunes of the financial oligarchy and use those resources to meet social needs.
The crisis of the capitalist system also creates the conditions for its overthrow. Millions of people watch the current state of affairs with growing anger. You are looking for an alternative. But working people's anger must take political form. It needs to be organized and given a conscious articulation and direction. A party is needed for this - a leadership based on historically established revolutionary and socialist perspectives.
We call on all workers and youth to study the program of the Socialist Equality Party and its sister parties in the International Committee of the Fourth International and to join the struggle to build a socialist movement of the working class.
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