From the March 1985 issue of the Socialist Standard
The supposedly opposing Republican and Democratic Parties are both 100 per cent united in their support of the existing society, seeking solutions and palliatives to the problems that result from its very nature, that forever remain immune to the never-ending "cures".
Two crucial political fallacies permeate thinking at voting time. First, that the present system can be so organised that it will operate in the interests of the majority, through a process of applied reformism, and second, that "proper leadership" is an essential requirement. However, neither of the foregoing will ever remove any of the major social evils. An examination of the economics of capitalism, together with its awesome history, supports this contention.
American workers are urged to be concerned about an approximate $175-200 billion annual Budget deficit while 8,000,000 of them are unemployed, surviving on a pittance, and those slightly more fortunate are doomed to a precarious wage-grubbing existence that keeps them perpetually mired in the red ink of their own debts. Since the election in November the Treasury Department has announced a plan to overhaul taxes including the full taxation of all unemployment compensation. Under the guise of "taxation”, unemployment benefits are to be reduced. Is it not an insult to intelligence to expect the working class to ponder the problems of the national Budget while enduring the inequities of a system that creates their own, personal, ongoing deficits and deprivations? The whole question of taxes belongs squarely with the capitalist class and their representatives, and should be recognised as a non-issue as far as the working class is concerned. In any event the gigantic US Budget deficit is likely to remain for years to come, fuelled by an armament programme with an insatiable appetite.
Taxation techniques create the illusion that both the rich and the poor have joined hands in the mutual maintenance of the capitalist state. Such is not the case. The working class are solely responsible for the production of the surplus value from which their employers derive a livelihood and from which the financial burden of the state is paid. In reality the bulk of the taxes "paid" by the working class constitutes a bookkeeping item only, reflecting mythical earnings that never in actuality reach the recipient. Net wages figures are the ones that count, in conjunction with what the money can buy. Nor is the trade imbalance of nearly $70 billion in 1983 a working class issue. The workers are limited in their "trading" to the sale of individual labour power and therefore should turn a deaf ear to such matters that remain extraneous to their own affairs.
Interest rates (which have dropped somewhat) and inflation (which is supposed to be under control but still persists in a slow upward trend) are constantly varying factors which adjust to the economic climate, more susceptible to the inordinate workings of the system than to the tinkering afforded by governments. Thirty years ago US houses, masonry constructed, could be purchased with approximately 5-6 per cent financing. Today, homes literally built of wood and cardboard/stucco are predominant in, for example, Arizona with a current mortgage rate of approximately 13-14 per cent.
Over the years inflation has been progressive, with utility bills in many instances equalling the mortgage payments of bygone eras. In fact, in many parts of the country people's lives are in jeopardy during the winter because of utility costs and the danger of cut-offs when bills are not paid, resulting in sickness and death through lack of heat. In the final analysis, notwithstanding inflation and interest rates, working class wages will guarantee poverty and insecurity — "perpetual recession" during employment. "depression” for the job-seekers. The elderly, those who have endured a life-time of toil, with a limited few years remaining on government handouts, are assured an income that is way below the official poverty line. As to the destitute, during an NBC TV news broadcast on December 4 we were informed that “there are more homeless on the streets than at any time since the Depression".
The working class are conned, by innuendo and incessant misrepresentation, into a tacit acceptance of a concept of common interests wherein the problems of the capitalist class and the state machine are theirs also. The suggestion is that we in the US all belong to one of the world's mightiest military and industrial powers, sharing equally in the glory; and let's all work still harder to increase the arms and wealth of the rulers. The belief that there exists a community of interests from which we all derive common benefits is mistaken. The capitalist class and the state are primarily concerned with safeguarding and improving the efficiency of a society geared for the realisation of rent, interest and profits. Those who, in order to survive, have to depend on wages should approach these problems from a completely different angle
World Socialist Party of the United States