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Vol. 74/No. 47      December 13, 2010

Who’s sharing in the sacrifice?
“Shared sacrifice.” The capitalists and their governments, from Ireland to the United States, are preaching these words to workers as they cut our pay, shrink our pensions, and eliminate jobs. The latest is President Barack Obama, who said, “All of us are called to make some sacrifices” as he announced a two-year pay freeze for more than 2 million federal employees.

Every time the capitalists hit a downturn in their profits, they try to get us to see their problems as our problems. “We” have to figure out how to work faster for less money so “our” company can compete better against rivals abroad. “We” have to make “tough decisions” about the budget deficit. But it’s not “our” deficit.

Recently, the bosses at General Motors celebrated the fact that the company made $1.9 billion in profits last quarter. The automaker’s “recovery” has come at the cost of tens of thousands of jobs, wage cuts of up to 50 percent, and speedup on the assembly line. Where’s the “shared sacrifice”?

Now the White House and Congress want to extend this, saying, “Sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government. After all, small businesses and families are tightening their belts.” The bosses and their politicians always try to pit workers against one another, to disguise the real source of the problem—the profit system. They tell us federal workers are greedy because they get a cost-of-living-allowance, health insurance, and pensions. Unionized workers are to blame; they’re too highly paid and the boss can’t arbitrarily fire them. The elderly are driving up the cost of Social Security—they’re living too long!

What working people need is not more “sacrifice”—we need jobs, quality housing, education, health care, and secure retirements. The capitalist system is proving itself less and less capable of providing these basic needs even as worker productivity is higher than ever. Capitalist governments are increasingly detached from the reality of everyday life for working people as they scramble to bail out banks and big corporations on the backs of our labor.

Workers need a revolution in this country that mobilizes millions of working people in a struggle to end exploitation, racial oppression, wars, and environmental degradation that the capitalist system perpetuates; and begin the fight for a socialist world.
Related articles:
Workers in Ireland protest gov’t austerity
Capitalists press wage cuts, layoffs
White House targets gov’t workers for wage freeze
Official inflation is flat; food, energy prices rise  
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