Raleigh-Durham Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)

Revolutionary socialist youth in the US South

Defend public jobs and services against capitalist, racist attacks!

Posted by raleighfist on February 15, 2011

The following is a statement written by Raleigh FIST that was distributed at HK on J on February 12, 2011 about the capitalist crisis and the attacks on the public sector. A longer pamphlet will be out in the coming weeks, and will be posted here once it is available.

The attack on public workers and public services is a vicious, organized, right-wing, and anti-labor campaign. Wall Street banking magnates and their corporate allies are both the organizers and beneficiaries of this endeavor. Across the US and worldwide, the public sector is under attack in a way which has never been witnessed before.

Mental health and other state workers in UE 150 and supporters gather to defend public services and jobs at Feb 5 hearing in Goldsboro, NC.

Since the onset of the capitalist economic crisis in 2008, the process of taking back the social programs and services won through years of struggle has accelerated. Worker pensions, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, and public services are all under increased attack. As states grapple with budget holes of many billions of dollars, they have adopted programs to “manage” this crisis on the backs of working people and have taken direct aim at the public sector. Moreover, while states and the federal government are dealing with huge budget deficits, these attacks on the public sector are part of a broader political program of the ruling class: to crush organized labor in the U.S. in order to maximize profits.

In the 1950s, 35% of all U.S. workers belonged to a union. However, in the 1970s, this shrunk to 25% and is currently at 12%. 36% of public workers are union members and account for more than half of the organized labor movement as opposed to only 7 percent of private sector workers. The majority of public sector workers are African-American, Latino/and other oppressed people, particularly women. Attacking public workers is racist and sexist, and should be viewed as such in the fight against budget cuts.

Public sector workers in North Carolina also still do not have the basic human right to collectively bargain, which is banned by the Jim Crow NC GS 95-98. This deprives workers of a key power on the job and against such cuts. The Republican-controlled NC legislature has said that they will balance the state’s budget with cuts alone. Consequentially, nearly 21,000 public sector workers could lose their jobs. Indications are that cuts of 10% could be leveled against education, while 15% could be cut from all other departments.

The community in North Carolina have already faced massive state budget cuts the last 2 years that have gut $9.6 billion, more than 10% of the services and programs from education, health care, transportation, sanitation and other vital services. State workers also haven’t received wage increases in two years, further eroding their already low wages. They also face a defunded state retirement plan and perpetually increasing health insurance premiums.

Defend public education

The attacks on education have been multifaceted throughout both the K-12 system and the public university system in North Carolina. The General Assembly looks to cut about 15% from UNC system universities, which would lead to about 2,000 layoffs and firings across the system, and/or the potential closing of a UNC system university. In addition to the cuts, the Board of Governors seeks to increase tuition another 6.5% in addition to the over 20% it has also increased in the past year. Course sections continue to be cut, and class sizes continue to increase. On Feb 11, 2011 they approved cutting 60 degree programs! Access to college decreases with each gradual tuition increase.

Students and youth from across NC joined together on the opening day of the General Assembly on Jan 26, 2011 to march against cuts to education funding, against resegregation, and for access to education for all.

In Wake County, an astroturfed and Tea Party backed school board “majority” has begun resegregating the K-12 education system. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the resegregation process has already led to school closings and privatization. The NC Legislature also seeks to lift the cap on charter schools, which would begin the process of privatizing the public education system and further exacerbate a two-tiered education system, leading to poorly funded and resegregated schools. SB 8, if passed, would both lift the cap and other restrictions on charter schools. This is all in addition to a proposed 10% across the board cut against education.

Globally, students in Britain, Puerto Rico, Greece and across the world have risen up to defend their right to a public education. Education is a right, not a privilege, and must be fully funded and free from K-12 through post-graduate school. Working class students should be given a stipend to attend school without the stress of working a job.

Tax the wealthy and corporations!

US businesses earned record profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter of 2010. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago. Yet, at the same time, federal, corporate and individual income taxes are at lowest since 1950. Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008, the last full year of the Bush presidency. Corporate taxes will be lower by a third, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Yet, the Democrats and Republicans in US Congress have allowed the stimulus money to expire and refuse to invest more in state and local infrastructure.

In NC, tax collection is currently 12% below its peak before the recession. NC’s corporate tax rate is also one of the lowest in the country at 6.9%. In many state departments, the median wage for a worker is between $25-30,000 per year. Yet, in most areas of the state, including rural areas, it takes at least $45,000 to raise a family of four. Low-income North Carolinians also pay a greater share of their income in state and local taxes (9.5 percent) than the wealthiest 1 percent of North Carolinians (6.8 percent). The only way to make sure this budget crisis doesn’t get worse is by making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

The struggle to win is international

In the UK, Egypt, the Phillippines, Puerto Rico, Tunisia, and worldwide, millions of people across the world have taken to the streets to oppose budget cuts, layoffs, and cuts to social services and education. Without this fight, there is little chance of keeping the social benefits for the people that have been won through generations of struggle. Social Security, free public education, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and Medicare have only come through tremendous pressure and struggle from the working class. While the corporations and Wall St have had a “recovery” of their profit margins, thousands of people are still losing their jobs, their homes, and futures.

How can it be that after $10 trillion in government bank bailouts, a $787-billion stimulus package and a 12-month upturn in profits, 30 million workers still need work and there is no money for public services? Capitalism is failing, and there is no savior for the system. This system of private property (for the rich) and the “free market” in fact requires these crises, despite their tremendous negative impact on people.

Capitalism is a system based on putting the needs of profit before people. It requires unemployment, so as to pit workers against one another. It requires foreclosures, homelessness, poverty, war, racism, and countless human suffering to survive.

Our only way out is through struggle. We need to struggle to keep our jobs, education, and public services. At the same time, we must build the struggle to abolish capitalism, the root of the crisis. That means seizing control of the economy and the means of survival, the means of production and distribution, for the working class and the oppressed and using these resources for human need, not for profit. Ultimately, we must fight for socialism.

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