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Top Left to Right: Cathy Talbott; Detroit Teachers
photo/Daymonjhartley.com
women at U.S.Social Forum, Atlanta.

PHOTO/Donated

By Cathy Talbott

“Well, thank God those LIBERALS were defeated in the midterm elections!” This was a comment made to me by a person living on SSI. I had to ask him, “What liberals and what do we do now?” The corporate plunder and take over of our America is nearly complete. The assault on the people has only just begun.

So now that Obama doesn’t have those “liberals” to contend with, what does the administration do but propose more draconian cuts to programs that benefit low-income Americans. Life-saving programs that are on the sacrificial altar are the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), community service block grants, Ameri-Corp, and food stamps. These programs have been a life preserver for many communities in Southern Illinois, where I live. (I came here after losing a job in 1980, becoming virtually homeless for six weeks until friends offered my family a place to live.)

LIHEAP will lose $2.5 billion, down from 2009’s $5.1 billion. 8.9 million households are expected to need help this year. The cuts will eliminate 3.5 million households from assistance this year. How many will be affected here is not known by this author at this time, but even a few are too many!

The White House intends to reduce community block grants by half, from $700 million to $350 million. According to David Bradley, director of the National Community Action Foundation, “Once the Obama administration throws a poverty program in the water, it starts a feeding frenzy.” The Republicans will now ask for this cut to be $405 million.

Following $11.9 billion in cuts to the food stamp program, an additional $2.2 billion in cuts will pay for the child-nutrition bill that Michelle Obama championed. According to the Food Research and Action Center, this will mean that a family of four will receive $59 less per month starting in 2013. At the times I had to rely on the food stamp program, they never covered the entire month and I am a very frugal shopper and fed my children simple meals. This would have meant my family would go without some other necessity to buy food.

According to Arthur Delaney, reporter for the Huffington Post, although more than 100 Democrats protested and promised to block the child nutrition bill due to these cuts, they were persuaded by the White House to back down and fall in line.

A total of $43 billion will be taken from domestic and international programs (including $544 million in international food aid). However, military spending will be increased by $8 billion.

With the cooperation of both Democrats and Republicans, billions of dollars were added to the deficit with an extension of tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Obviously, deficit reduction will not come from the pockets of the super rich. The poorer you are, the more vulnerable you become and the more you’ll pay for the burdens of deficit reduction.

We need to ask ourselves, “Where is the Party that represents us?” Why aren’t the Democrats pushing for tax increases on the wealthy and rich corporations that have more than enough to pay for these shortfalls? We should be demanding, “No more sacrifices from the working class! We demand that the social wealth created from our blood, sweat and tears over generations be used to secure the future for us and our families!”







“… a Phoenix must arise from these ashes”

By Anthony D. Prince

This month marks the 100th anniversary of one of the worst, unpunished industrial homicides ever committed. On March 25, 1911, fire roared through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on New York’s lower east side. In its deadly wake, 146 mostly female workers trapped behind locked doors paid with their lives to satisfy the profit lust of owners. The outrage that followed led directly to a revived labor movement and the recognition in the United States of International Women’s Day, now celebrated each March 8 around the world.

One hundred years after the Triangle disaster, the sweatshop, the firetrap, the life-threatening American workplace remains a reality for millions. Every year in the U.S., 5,000 workers are killed on the job and hundreds of thousands more suffer and die from occupational diseases like black lung, silicosis, asbestos-related cancer and toxic workplace poisoning. And, just as it was at Triangle, the terrifying threat of being burned alive continues to hang like a sword of Damocles over those who mine the coal, drill for oil, sweat the industrial furnaces and pour the molten metals that make commerce and fortunes flow to the wealthiest one percent of our society. What is the legacy of these fallen workers? What kind of phoenix will arise from these ashes? That is the question we face 100 years after Triangle.

Today, our government is relentlessly turning back the clock on the meager protections that exist for American workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which elevated a safe and healthy workplace to the status of a legal entitlement, has been legislatively gutted. The vast majority of employers are now permitted to “self-report” rather than be subjected to on-site inspections. The Department of Labor has thrown proposed regulations to curb the epidemic of crippling musculo-skeletal injuries and other safety and health standards onto the scrap heap and buried them beneath the pro-corporate rhetoric of “creating incentives to business” and “removing obstacles to profitability.” In 1911, the “obstacle to profitability” at the Triangle factory was the problem of workers who might want to escape the suffocating atmosphere of that sweatshop by opening a door. The cost for “eliminating” that obstacle—in the form of a padlock—was paid with the blood of 146 human beings. Today, our challenge is to rip that price tag from the American workplace and pose the fundamental question: is it necessary to kill people in order to produce the necessaries of life? Must we continue to countenance industrial slaughter to insure the maximum profit for energy industry capitalists, for agri-business, for multi-national sweatshop operators? Because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Once upon a time in America, there were defenders of another system for the production of goods. These defenders also claimed that without the specific production system in existence at that time — with all its attendant human misery involving four million men, women and children in chains — ships would remain idle for lack of sails and the world would go naked for lack of cotton cloth. But in fact, those goods survived the destruction of southern chattel slavery despite the slavers’ claim that human misery was an indispensible cost of production.

One hundred years after the Triangle fire, the vision arising from the ashes is not a mythical bird, but a real, practical and historically inevitable movement towards a new social order of which the battle for safety and health on the job is a necessary part. Anthony D. Prince is a labor lawyer who served as Union Safety and Health Chairman for Steelworkers Local 65 in Chicago.





From the Editors

Women’s History Month 2011 finds the economic position of women declining in the world. Yet at the same time, global corporate profits are soaring.

In the U.S., some women have worked their way up the corporate ladder and are enjoying these profits. But for the majority of women, poverty is growing by leaps and bounds. What is new is that this poverty is increasing among sections of America that have up to now not suffered from economic deprivation. The poor in America’s suburbs, for example, have grown by 37 percent. Many of these people are in households headed by single women where 32.5% of families are poor and 14.8% are living in deep poverty.

Today, as computers and robots and globalization eliminate industrial jobs, women are forced into joblessness or into backbreaking jobs that do not pay enough for basic family needs. Women are fighting for their lives and the lives of their children against a capitalist system that is depriving them of their rights and life.

Women are the numerical majority in society, the majority in the working class and the majority of the destitute here and globally. Consequently, women’s position makes them key to social change. Yet, there can be no further progress for women — or for any worker — until the fight for those who have the least is at the cutting edge of our struggle, and until the movement grasps a vision of a new society.

Our vision is of complete societal transformation — of a cooperative society where the abundance created today by the new labor replacing technology will be distributed according to need for the benefit of all. In such a society, private property and the giant corporations will be a thing of the past, as will the inequalities between women and men. Women will have their rights — as will all humanity.



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