Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign
FIRST, we want to thank you for your support of the Workers’ Emergency Recovery Campaign (WERC). Our call for endorsements received almost 500 responses, including prominent labor officials and nationally recognized leaders of progressive political campaigns.
As the economy sinks deeper into economic turmoil and the ranks of the unemployed swell, the need for working people to organize themselves becomes increasingly urgent. Only if we mount a COLLECTIVE struggle to demand programs that will address our needs – jobs, health care, housing, and so on – will we have any prospects for success. The banks have lobbied vigorously for their bailouts and then spent the money on bonuses, office renovations, buying up other institutions, and dividends for shareholders. We oppose bailouts for the banks. We need to press for programs that will benefit working people. After all, we constitute the vast majority of the population.
NOW, we want to move aggressively forward with WERC. We are calling on people to volunteer to help organize committees that could take the first steps towards translating this campaign into reality in their specific geographic locations. In particular, these committees could reach out to labor or community struggles in their area in order to help cement ties among working people. More immediately, these committees could begin to organize forums that would analyze the problems currently confronting working people and propose solutions.
For example, Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University professor and former economic adviser to Bill Clinton, in a recent CNN interview (January 26, 2009) recommended nationalizing the banks under government control, arguing that the government could more efficiently deal with their “troubled assets” and could reorient the banks so that “the incentives of the banks can be aligned better with those of the country.” He went on to add that once the balance sheets of the banks were restored to solid ground, the banks could return to private hands. (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/26/stiglitz.finance.crisis/index.html )
But this analysis raises more questions than it answers. If the government can run the banks more efficiently than the private sector, why not keep the banks nationalized? And would it not be in everyone’s interests to have the banks incentives ALWAYS aligned with those of the country?
Also, George Stephanopoulos, former Clinton aid, recently interviewed President Obama and asked: “At the end of the day, are you really talking about over the course of your presidency some kind of grand bargain? That you have tax reform, healthcare reform, entitlement reform including Social Security and Medicare, where everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good?” And, according to Stephanopoulos, Obama responded: “Yes.”
Working people need to be able to make our own proposals concerning Social Security and Medicare. In particular, we could demand that the cap on paycheck contributions be removed since it allows the rich to pay less into Social Security than the rest of us. The bankers were rewarded for greed and recklessness. Working people should not be required to sacrifice in order to subsidize these rewards.
Finally, countless studies on health care indicate that a universal single-payer system that eliminates the for-profit health insurance industry from the equation would provide higher quality health care at a lower cost than our present private system. (See, for example: click here) As more and more people lose their jobs and their health care coverage tied to their employment, doesn’t the government have a responsibility to initiate a program, as mentioned above, that would provide health care for all the uninsured?
These are examples of questions that could be raised and discussed in forums organized by WERC. As the severity of the economic crisis intensifies, the need for working people to understand the causes of the problems plaguing society and to provide solutions to them will become increasingly acute. In this way working people can proceed to mobilize effectively to fight for their interests.