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For a Workers Recovery Plan - The Causes and Cures of a New Great Depression

Lerner, Eric

Publisher:  International Luxemburgist Network
Date Written:  17/01/2009
Year Published:  2009  
Resource Type:  Article

Economics is now not just for the experts. If anything is clear from the panic that started in mid- September, 2008, it is that workers must understand the economy. For clearly the 'experts' have no idea what they are doing.



Economics is now not just for the experts. If anything is clear from the panic that started in mid- September, 2008, it is that workers must understand the economy. For clearly the 'experts' have no idea what they are doing. The leading economic minds have put forward new bailout plans and rescue plans on a nearly daily basis, but the markets have swirled down a bottomless drain. They have thrown their 'free market' ideology overboard like so much excess ballast. Despite their best efforts, mass layoffs are spreading from the US to China, steel plants are shutting down because commodity prices are falling too low for profitable operation, privatized pension funds are evaporating, housing is becoming impossible to buy or sell, government budgets are being slashed. So it is up to us to understand what is going on and what can be done about it.

For this crisis, grave as it is, opens up the possibility of radical change. If someone is poisoning you, you may die before you even know you are under attack, but if someone comes at you with a battleaxe you have a better chance of taking action and fighting back. The working class has been suffering large losses in living standards for three decades but these gradual losses have been like slow poison, never triggering massive resistance from workers. This crisis has shown workers that someone is coming at them with a battleaxe and they want to fight back. Around the world, workers are united in anger at the spectacle of governments funneling trillions of dollars -- taxed from workers -- to rescue the richest of the rich. The bailouts have raised in concentrated form the question -- what should the government do about the economy? The capitalist system has spectacularly failed and workers are fighting against paying for the cost of that failure.

But to fight back, we must know what we are fighting for. The working class must arrive at its own solution to the crisis. Coming together, from many different movements -- immigrant rights, labor, anti- war, civil rights -- and from every region, eventually form all across the world, we have to arrive at a global Workers Recovery Plan that we all can unite around. To do this will take organizing and effort, conferences and discussion at all levels.

The key question is what must be done to end the crisis -- what is the cure to the economic sickness that has gripped the world? To find a cure, we must know the cause. We must answer some basic questions: How serious is this crisis -- is a new Great Depression, like that of the 1930's beginning? What caused that Depression and is this a similar situation -- what has caused this crisis? Will any of the rescue plans work? How do we judge what economic theories or ideas are right? And most important of all, what actions can protect the working class, can create rather than destroy jobs, raise rather than lower wages and standard of living, end the crisis and move society forward? For above all we have to remember that this crisis is not some act of nature that must be endured like an earthquake. The factories are still standing and can produce just as much today as in 2007; the workforce is still able to do the same work. No physical destruction has yet taken place so there is no physical reason why workers living standards must go down.


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