Workers face desperate jobs crisis
["You have to work to live, and then they want to deprive
you of your work."]
By Tom Eley and Lawrence Porter
An abandoned Ford factory; jobs were shifted to Mexico
to take advantage of cheap labor there, and concomitantly
to break labor unions in the United States. [Please
see our article, "Jobs
Flying Faster from the US."]
It is the great curse of all PAST
elites that they fail to perceive (until it's too late)
the "disconnect" between themselves and the
great bulk of "ordinary" people, and the resulting
loathing and disgust they eventually elicit from those
over whom they rule. This is what happened between the
French Aristocracy and the French people on the eve of
the French Revolution; it's what happened between the
Russian Aristocracy and the Russian people on the eve
of their revolution. It's what I call the "Versailles
Versailles is located just outside Paris in a beautiful
expanse of French countryside; it was built by Louis XIV
as an exquisite and very sumptuous hideaway (really, "playground")
for the French Aristocracy who wanted to escape the mean,
narrow streets of the vast slum that was Paris in those
days, and the filthy, evil-smelling and nauseous rabble
which populated those streets. The lawns and gardens which
surrounded Versailles were supposed to be (and were in
fact) the most magnificent in all world, and were filled
with exotic plants and animals from all over the earth.
It is reputed to have been the most beautiful place
in Europe - indeed, it was much more than a simple palace
(like Buckingham in England or Potsdam in Germany), but
was instead a magnificent and lavish series of apartment
complexes where the whole of the French Aristocracy could
meet and entertain itself without ever having to be concerned
with (let alone see) the poverty which was everywhere
apparent throughout France in the years preceding Louis
XVI and the French Revolution.
Versailles as it appeared just
prior to the French Revolution
So completely cut-off was the French Aristocracy at
Versailles on the eve of the French Revolution, that when
Marie Antonette, the French Queen, was told that the rabble
in Paris had no bread to eat, she was reported to have
said, "Let them eat cake."
What most people do not realize today is that she
did not mean that as a cynical jest; she said it as one
who - when told that a neighbor had run out of a particular
brand of coffee - would tell them that they should drink
tea instead (which she would have reason to presume they
had on hand). She had no idea that what was meant here
was that the people had NOTHING to eat. This is how great
the "disconnect" between the French Aristocracy
and the French people had become in France on the eve
of the Revolution; neither had that self-same aristocracy
any real idea of how hated they were by the French people.
I am against thee, O destroying mountain [i.e.,
Babylon - meaning the United States], saith the
LORD, which destroyest all the
earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee,
and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make
thee a burnt mountain. (Jeremiah 51:25)
And so it is today insofar as the American elites
and their lackey elites around the world are concerned.
Please see our articles, What's
Happening Now in Egypt," "A
Permanent 30% Unemployment Rate" and "2010
Sets US Home Foreclosure Record."]
They seem to be totally ignorant of the misery they
are causing — so isolated are they in their lavish
apartments in New York City, in the Hamptons, and in various
other "playgrounds" scattered around the country and in
the world at large. This ignorance (really, this hard-hearted
attitude) towards the plight of ordinary Americans is
amply demonstrated by the "coverage" that Fox News is
giving to the "worker rebellion" in Wisconsin.
The Bible tells us, however,
that this present elite — the one that now rules
in Washington and in the corporate board rooms of New
York City - will survive the wrath of the people by creating
a police-state against which the battered masses will
hurl themselves in vain — THAT
IS, UNTIL THE LORD OF GLORY COMES AND PUTS AN END TO IT.
[Please see our article, "American
Nowhere in the US is the unemployment crisis more severe than
in Detroit and its metropolitan area in Southeast Michigan.
Once the hub of the US auto industry and home to some of the
best working class jobs, Detroit is now the poorest big city
in America. [Please see our article, "Dying
Detroit: The Impact of Globalization."]
Detroit residents face a desperate situation—continued
mass unemployment, the cutoff of extended federal benefits,
the ever-present danger of having their utilities shut off or
their homes seized. Whatever jobs are available pay poverty-level
wages, hardly adequate to keep food on the table.
The unemployment rate in the metropolitan area is 13.4 percent,
down two percentage points in one year. However, this decline
is largely attributable to the long-term unemployed falling
out of the workforce. The real unemployment rate may be 20 percent
or higher. In Detroit proper, real unemployment—including
those involuntarily working part time and those who have given
up all hope of finding work—is estimated at 50 percent.
[Please see our article, "A
Permanent 30% Rate."]
By refusing to extend unemployment benefits, Congress and the
Obama administration are condemning the population of cities
like Detroit to mass impoverishment.
this report, long-term unemployment benefits have been
extended another two months. Whether these benefits will
continue beyond the end of February is anyone's guess,
especially given the fact that Republicans now control
the House of Representatives.
Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site recently went to
an office of the Michigan Bureau of Workers' and Unemployment
Compensation to speak to workers about the consequences for
themselves and their families.
The unemployment center
The office is located, with historical irony, in the old headquarters
of General Motors, once the biggest private employer in the
world. The expansive size of the building, Cadillac Plaza—once
the largest single-occupant office building in the world—and
its vaulted ceilings and marble, granite, and limestone construction,
stand in sharp contrast to its present purpose. In addition
to the office for unemployment, the building holds a state lottery
claims center and other state offices.
The benefits office was busy; there were perhaps 150 workers
waiting in line for assistance. However, this is still a small
fraction of the unemployed in Detroit. Most claims and filings
now happen on-line or by telephone.
All sorts of obstacles are set up to keep workers from accessing
unemployment benefits. There are strict requirements related
to the length of steady employment prior to being unemployed.
Workers are also required to prove they are actively seeking
employment. If benefits can be secured, they are kept low as
a punitive means of "encouraging" the unemployed to seek work.
In Michigan, weekly benefits are low even relative to the rest
of the country and are generally equivalent to the levels prevailing
in the Deep South.
Nikita Johnson and husband Sylvester Strickland
The WSWS spoke to Nikita Johnson and her husband Sylvester
Strikland. Nikita lost her job in October 2010 following an
injury. She worked as a medical technician in an apartment complex
for senior citizens. Despite her recovery, the company refused
to hire her back.
Nikita said she understood what the long-term unemployed were
going through. "I feel that it is wrong to cut off the extension,"
stated Nikita. "Even though they were given extensions, they
still need the income. What is going to happen if they are cut
off? Many of those people will lose their homes and become homeless.
A lot of people will lose their families. They don't understand
that people wouldn't be asking for it if they didn't need it.
It's like they don't care." [Please see our article, "Making
a Crime out of Being Homeless."]
Nikita said that a lot of the jobs these days are paying $7,
$8 maybe $10 an hour without benefits, and people just can't
live on it.
Sylvester, self-employed as a mechanic, said working people
face a terrible jobs situation. "This government should be ashamed,"
stated Sylvester. "If they cut off people, and we are talking
about 2 million people, what are they going to do for money?
It's going to be a bad situation for everybody."
"A lot of people are doing whatever they can to get by," Sylvester
continued. "Some people are becoming self-employed like what
I am doing. You just can't find a job." [Please see our articles,
"No Escape from Poverty"
and "Working Two Jobs and Still
Looking at his wife and child with him at the center, Sylvester
said, "I know a lot of people are moving in with their families.
It is not unusual now to have three families living in the same
house hoping that someone is going to get a job."
Sylvester said he is convinced that the census count in Detroit
is skewed because of the number of people living together.
"A lot of people are living with illegal utility hookups, and
with ten or more people in a house. It's tough, but what are
people supposed to do?"
Eric Quick is unemployed with children. He is not eligible
for benefits because he has been out of work for too long. The
decision to allow unemployment benefits to expire is "just going
to run the crime rate up," Quick said. "People are going to
steal, rob, and kill to try feed themselves and their families."
"Not too much has changed with Obama," Quick said. "Nothing
has changed for the poor. Maybe things are better for the rich."
Levon has been out of work for a year since being laid off
from the Thompson Group, a Detroit-area manufacturer. He now
gets $300 every two weeks in benefits, with two kids to support.
"There are no jobs. When I put in applications, they say I'm
either not qualified or over-qualified," Levon said. "You have
to work to live, and then they want to deprive you of your work."
"You get into the situation that you can't afford your heat
and gas, you're not sleeping at night because of the cold, and
you're not eating square meals."
Levon asked the WSWS about the Wall Street bailout. "What's
going on with all the money the banks have been issued?" he
asked. "Why aren't they issuing that money to people?"
Jose is an out-of-work construction worker, born in Mexico.
"There are no jobs. I did asphalt construction, but it's over,"
he said. "I'm hoping that in the spring jobs will come back.
Somebody's got to pay the bills"
Francisco, 31, has been laid off from a landscaping job for
seven months. He gets checks every other week for $400. He must
support three kids on that income, plus the money his girlfriend
earns as a nurse. Francisco hopes to get a job with a friend
clearing snow for the winter. He is also considering moving
out of Detroit to the suburb of Southfield because he believes
insurance will be cheaper.
Francisco is angry that funding for the jobless benefit extension
was ended, even as Congress works on extending tax cuts for
rich. "That's what I hate," he said. "They always look out for
the rich people."
"Obama hasn't done anything," he continued. "The only thing
he's done is take us to war. He's no different than any other
president we've had."
"I got arrested and put in prison when I was 18. I was young
and dumb. That was 12 years ago, and I can't get a job because
I was a convict. But I was only 18. I've tried everything. Nobody's
Francisco says he knows many households that live without utilities.
Some of them make "little bonfires" inside their houses to keep
warm on cold days, he says. "One of my girlfriend's friends
just got her gas cut off for being $2 short on a bill. She owed
$117 and she accidentally sent in $115, so they cut the gas
and lights." He worries about "innocent little kids dying in
house fires because they're in homes without heat or lights."
God bless you all!
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WANT TO
FELLOWSHIP ON HOW TO GO ON IN THESE DANGEROUS AND TROUBLED TIMES,
WE URGE YOU TO CONTACT US AT: [email protected].
IN ADDITION, WE URGE YOU TO DOWNLOAD THE NEW ANTIPAS PAPERS,
PRINT THEM OUT YOURSELF, AND STUDY THEM CAREFULLY; SHARE THEM
WITH YOUR FRIENDS.
FINALLY, WE URGE YOU TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT OUT THE FLYER
WE SENT TO YOU RECENTLY.
Then make copies and take these copies out to the campuses
where you live; pass them out; OR if that seems
too "daring" for you right now, post them on telephone
poles, the sides of buildings, on campus bulletin boards; post
them in union halls, in the neighborhoods of the poor and downtrodden,
near employment offices, wherever you can.
Once again, we URGE you to read (or re-read):
We need your help to spread the word concerning Antipas Ministries and the
eschatological viewpoint it represents; WE NEED YOUR
HELP BECAUSE WE DO NOT "LINK" WITH OTHER SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN"
WEBSITES which are, for the most part, "in the tank"
insofar as their loyalty to the United States is concerned
- a loyalty that has made them partners in the BLOODY
trail the American military has left in its TERROR-RIDDEN
rampage throughout the world, as well as making them partners
in the abject poverty that American corporations have
imposed on the peoples and nations the American military
machine has ravaged - A BLOODY, TERROR-RIDDEN RAMPAGE
THAT HAS TO A LARGE DEGREE BEEN CARRIED OUT IN THE NAME
OF THE "PRINCE OF PEACE." [Please see our articles,
"The Third World
as a Model for the New World Order," Inside
the American New World Order System" and "The
American Empire: The Corporate / Pentagon / CIA / Missionary
YOU CAN HELP BY EMAILING
THIS ARTICLE TO
YOUR FRIENDS AND