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Vol. 81/No. 40      October 30, 2017

(front page)

Workers face carnage amid capitalist ‘recovery’

The broad social and economic assaults battering working people are not fading away. These attacks led millions of workers not to vote in 2016, or to vote for Donald Trump for president, seeking to “drain the swamp” of Washington politicians of both parties who do nothing to stop the disaster they face.

And the Democrats, the liberal media, some Republicans and the middle-class left, still furious about the election of Donald Trump, continue to try to drive him from office.

Eight years into an official economic “recovery,” millions continue to face declining incomes and a lack of full-time or decent-paying jobs, especially in smaller cities and rural areas. The metropolitan area that includes Steubenville, Ohio, and Weirton, West Virginia, is one of the so-called “rust belt” regions, where workers switched from supporting Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 — seeking change and not getting it — to voting for Trump in 2016.

“There are thousands fewer jobs in the metropolitan area,” Eduardo Porter wrote in the New York Times Oct. 11, “than there were at the onset of the Great Recession. Hourly wages are lower than they were a decade ago. The labor force has shrunk by 14 percent.”

Porter is one of those people who think workers have it rough because they’re just not smart enough to join today’s new world. “Built on coal and steel, Steubenville and Weirton were ill suited to survive the transformations brought about by globalization and the information economy,” he wrote.

Perhaps Porter thinks steel, coal, automobiles, washing machines, toasters and the rest of the products we use all come out of 3-D printers or when you push the print button on your computer, as opposed to being made by millions of workers worldwide.

He says the two working-class cities “may be too small to survive.”

Arguing that manufacturing is a thing of the past, he claims that “opportunity in the information era has clustered in dense urban enclaves where high-tech businesses can tap into rich pools of skilled and creative people.” So what’s the bottom line for the workers in Weirton? “Perhaps the best policy,” Porter opines, “would be to help them move to a big city nearby.”

He thinks all the “smart people” are moving to New York, San Francisco and the like. So the rest of the country is destined to empty out!

Those with this view think the working class is a danger to their world. They’re backward, bitter and angry, responsible for Trump’s presidency. However, if the overwhelming majority of the population is smart, hip, gig-economy folks in the big cities, how could they have lost the election?

The Weirton Daily Times reports that West Virginia’s fatality rate from the opioid epidemic in the working class is three times higher than the national average, the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the country. And the state has the highest rate of babies born dependent on opioids.

Legislators in Middletown, Ohio, are discussing a proposal to have cops there place a cap on use of the opioid antidote Narcan. If you OD, they’ll give you the antidote two times. After that, it’s “three strikes and you’re out.”

But in New York, the only difference is that the carnage is more and more sharply class divided.

Workers moving from rural areas to the cities will find others, like themselves, confronting worsening conditions. In New York the number of homeless public school students — let alone adults — hit 100,000 last year. That’s 10 percent of schoolchildren.

Sky-high housing costs, stagnant wages, a crumbling subway system, cop brutality — all these and more face workers in the Big Apple.

And opioid addiction and deaths are soaring, especially in the Bronx and Staten Island. Deaths per person are the highest in the Bronx. In Staten Island, the New York Times reports a “severe treatment gap” for addicts. The few available treatment centers are located precisely where drug use is the lowest, making it hard for people to get help. The soaring number of opioid deaths there has gotten media attention, the Times says, because it involves Caucasian workers.

Trump won’t solve the problems workers face, any more than Obama did. They’re both beholden to the capitalist rulers who seek to boost their sagging profit rates in the midst of a long-term crisis of production and trade, by taking it out on workers. And as millions continue to search for change, the Socialist Workers Party finds widespread openings to discuss the roots of the crisis with working people and growing interest in the party’s program and activity.  
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