Auto bailout — not one job saved, not one community protected

December 21, 2008

Workers and citizens punished for executives’ and bankers’ decisions

I oppose the $17.4 billion bailout for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

The agreement by the Bush administration to use a small part of the $700 billion already promised to Wall Street bankers is no victory for working people, including union members, in Michigan. Not a single job was saved, not a single community was protected.

The loans support the failed policies of the current corporate leaderships. Not only have they systematically pressured the union to dismantle the higher living standards won by a whole generation of working class people, but they have undermined the construction of mass transportation, fought laws to reduce pollution, and refused to build ecologically friendly automobiles.

GM, Chrysler and Ford are not democratic institutions. Product choices and policy were and are made by the board of directors and the top executives. Why are the workers and communities punished for decisions which weren’t theirs?

The good that comes from the UAW membership – some measure of racial equality in the factories, production workers with political strength and clout, a high standard of living for production workers who provided the foundations for all workers, including salaried professionals, to have higher wages throughout the North – is gravely threatened.

The bailout now puts the full weight of the central government behind the wealthy owners and bankers, who, as exhibited by the bloodthirsty howls of the southern senators, want to reverse the gains of the UAW, to turn back into profits a large part of the workers’ wages and benefits and, in that process, tear apart families, crush hopes, terrorize communities.

GM, Chrysler and Ford facilities should be nationalized with their assets controlled locally and democratically by workers and communities. Workers and affected communities need decisive control over what happens to jobs, to work at the factories, and the factory equipment.

Michigan needs a real safety net for its residents. Michigan has been in this recession longer than most states. We need to guarantee all residents a livable income. We need a moratorium on all foreclosures and utility cutoffs; unemployment benefits paid as long as there is a recession. Food stamps and food kitchens must be opened and supported in all needy neighborhoods.

We need quality education available without charge for all residents from kindergarten through college. We need to develop training programs for all types of skilled, environmentally friendly green jobs and work.

We need a public works program to offer employment to everyone who wants to work at a livable wage, full health care benefits. This is an opportunity to create green spaces, urban farms, large living cooperatives in our cities. It is an opportunity to support and strengthen rural life through locally supported and approved projects.

We need to develop a green economy — local agriculture, local manufacturing, local work and life environments, extensive recycling and reuse facilities, new sources of energy — wind, thermal, wave.

None of this will happen without positive action from the majority of people. We have entered a new period. The election of Obama, the victory of the Republic Window workers, the powerful rebellion by Greek youth, all show the new period we are in.

Working class people need to fight against this bailout and for real alternatives to unemployment, poverty and slashed living conditions.

They need to support each other in all these struggles. People need to think and act independently of the auto executives, the bankers and their spokespersons, the Democratic and Republican Parties. They need to learn about socialism — the democratic ownership and control of all the resources of society, the end of private property in the social sphere.

The auto bailout, like the larger bailout scam it is part of, offers no real hope for millions of citizens. Like so many things from our government under Republican and Democratic Party leadership, it is an illusion of help, hiding continued steps down the wrong road.

A brighter future is up to us.


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