CHALLENGE, December 18, 2002

Imperialist Oil War: Good for Big Business

‘Secret’ of the Budget Crisis: Bankers Bank Billions

Transit And Phone Workers: Same Enemy, Same Fight!

Transit And Phone Workers, Unite

Not Workers’ Job To Balance Bosses’ Budget

IAM ‘Leaders’ United with Bosses

Workers, Patients Face Terrorist Threat—From Bosses’ Gov’t

Fight Fascist Attack on International Students

Racist Rulers Gang Up on Black, Latin Youth

Health Care Under Capitalism: Workers Are Expendable

Salvador Health Care Strikers Battle Cops, Rulers’ Schemes

Marchers Protest Women’s Murders

In Memoriam: Andy Allen


Steel Workers Still Talking

Purdue ‘Speak Out’ Opposes Iraq War

Red Eye On The News

Imperialist Oil War: Good for Big Business

Imperialist war is part of the capitalist business cycle. The only way to deal with this horror is to turn imperialist wars into revolutionary struggles of workers, soldiers and students for a society without bosses, the cause of war. The process begins now, joining and building the communist PLP.

U.S. rulers are masters of hypocrisy as well as mass murder. While the "weapons inspection" sham continues in Iraq, they’re calculating the economics of a war they’ve been planning for years.

The Pentagon’s current "war games" in Qatar, aimed at installing a Persian Gulf command post, indicate that the invasion to conquer Iraq’s oil fields is merely a matter of time. Iraq has the world’s second-largest known reserves. If Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco et al., add this prize to their Saudi oil empire, U.S. bosses believe they can rule the world. Any differences among them concern only how best to achieve this goal.

The U.S. economy is mired in a recession with no clear end in sight. The rulers need to estimate the potential short-term financial benefits and risks of a new oil war. The debate itself reveals the monstrous nature of the profit system.

On September 17th, The Institute for International Economics (IIE) reported that, "War with Iraq now seems probable…[It] will boost federal spending over the next 12 months — from $50 billion [Pentagon estimate] to $100-200 billion [Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey]. This could help recovery. A short successful war is unlikely to boost oil prices much beyond current levels." The IIE board includes David Rockefeller, Harvard President Larry Summers and long-time Rockefeller agents Paul Volcker and Pete Peterson.

For Bosses, Depleted Uranium Is an ‘Economic Stimulus’

Only capitalism can consider the use of horrific depleted uranium weapons as a means of "economic stimulus" (killing present and future generations with nuclear radiation — see CHALLENGE, 12/4). Only a system based on maximum profit can slaughter hundreds of thousands of workers and children to jump-start a sluggish economy.

This cold-blooded calculation is based on the bosses’ own best and worst-case war scenarios. A short war would cost them $50 billion, a longer conflict more than double that amount. "Even so," notes the British weekly The Economist (11/28), "America can afford all the scenarios."

The Russian rulers still hold lucrative contracts in Iraq, including a $20 billion deal for LUKoil to develop the giant West Qurna oil field. But the Bush administration is already working with pro-U.S. forces to create a post-Hussein oil industry where Exxon Mobil calls the shots. Reuters estimates that a post-Hussein government "would review existing oilfield developments with French and Russian companies and could favor U.S. firms instead."

According to Stratfor, "a sustained U.S. economic recovery" depends on "decreasing global oil prices." The Asia Times says that Washington wants crude prices eventually as low as $13 a barrel. Russia’s 2003 budget is based on getting nearly double that amount. The Russian economy can’t sustain prices below $18 a barrel. Such a scenario would drive down the market value of Russian energy firms and make them takeover targets for Exxon Mobil and European rivals.

U.S. rulers are the greatest philosophical idealists, as well as the greatest butchers in history. They cannot conceive of a world they no longer dominate. They can’t imagine setting in motion a chain of events that could eventually lead to their own downfall. Yet this is exactly what they’re doing. Even if they manage to seize Iraq’s oil fields, sustain a relatively low level of casualties and avoid a major anti-imperialist uprising at home, it will still cost them hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild the Iraqi oil industry, including a prolonged military occupation. This could lead to large-scale anti-U.S. violence throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Short-term triumphs will only lead to more war.

Russia will eventually re-emerge as a formidable rival. China is already on its way. The long-range trend is that eventually the U.S. will stand alone against the rest of the world’s imperialists.

But workers, soldiers and youth have no interest in the realignment of the world’s bosses. Our task is building a mass, revolutionary communist movement that leads the international working class to turn the guns around and overthrow the rulers, from Washington to Moscow to Beijing to Baghdad. Nothing less can set the world straight and end the monstrosity of a system that holds the price of oil dearer than the lives of our children.

‘Secret’ of the Budget Crisis: Bankers Bank Billions

NEW YORK CITY, Nov. 25 — With all the hype about how "we" have to "share the sacrifice" to close a two-year, $7.5 billion city budget deficit, not one word is being mentioned about New York’s "dirty little secret"— not by the Mayor, nor the City Council nor any other politician, nor the city’s union leaders, and certainly not by the bosses’ media. The "secret"? Wall Street banks are not "sharing the sacrifice." No, they will rake in $7.5 billion in principal and interest over those two years, a payment mandated by (the bosses’) law. In other words, if there were a two-year moratorium on debt payment to the banks, there would be no "deficit" at all!

City and state budgets are experiencing a major financial squeeze. The bosses say this crisis is beyond anyone’s control, and the only way out is for the working class to tighten our belts — pay higher taxes and suffer cuts in vital services.

But these periodic "fiscal crises" are built into capitalism. The bosses — especially the big banks — reap billons in profits in the form of interest on loans to the city to "balance the budget." New York is a prime example.

NYC owes the banker-bondholders $40 billion, or $5,000 for every one of the eight million New Yorkers. This doesn’t include debts owed by the Transit Authority or the Port Authority, whose financial structures are separate from the city as a whole.

The bosses’ law says that the banks have first crack at the city treasury, before one dime is spent on sanitation, firefighting, child welfare or any other vital public service. Similarly, the transit debt (which may hike subway and bus fares 33% to $2.00) must also be paid to the bankers before any money is spent on maintenance, improved service, or workers’ wages and benefits.

This huge debt to the banks comes from past and current loans, in the form of tax-free bonds, to cover previous budget "gaps," created by these very same banks — a vicious, capitalist cycle.

The capitalists control the state apparatus, which sets the government’s tax and spending policies. The bosses’ drive for maximum profits impels them to keep corporate taxes as low as possible. This makes it impossible most years for the city to cover its expenses for vital services and capital spending (new construction of schools, sewage treatment plants, highways, etc., or purchase of new equipment for all the vital services). It forces the city to borrow heavily to make up the "deficit" created by the bosses’ refusal to pay for these items in the form of higher taxes on their incomes and profits.

For instance, the city used to levy a 5¢-a-share tax on every stock transfer made on New York’s stock markets. This was repealed in 1981. Had that tax been in effect last year, it would have netted the city treasury $7.8 billion; there’d be no deficit for the next two years. In fact, just a ½-cent tax per share would have brought in $800 million, or triple the cuts Mayor Bloomberg has scheduled for the Board of Education and the City University.

If a moratorium were declared on this debt, stopping payments to bondholders for a year or two, Wall Street would lower the city’s credit rating, rendering it unable to sell bonds, thereby creating another "fiscal crisis." The city, unable to pay its debts, would be "broke." This occurred in the mid-1970s when the banks demanded that any future bonds floated by the city be guaranteed by workers’ pension funds. The union leaders, especially the teachers union (UFT) and the city workers’ union (AFSCME), bailed out the banks! That’s what comes from defending the capitalist system.

A fight to force the bosses and bankers to give up some of the profits they steal off our backs might lead to an even greater "fiscal crisis." But it would also raise the stakes of the class struggle. In a process led by communists, this could create the opportunity for the working class to grasp that the only solution is to destroy the profit system altogether. Then all the fruits of workers’ labors, that create all value, would be shared according to need by the entire working class.

Workers Suffer During Bosses’ Boom and Bust

Boom or bust, it’s the working class that suffers. During the 1990s’ stock market boom, the bankers made billions while workers faced mass unemployment, huge layoffs, an increase in racist police terror, homelessness and "replacement" jobs created at poverty-level wages. For a couple of years, the NYC treasury had a surplus from taxes paid from this wild stock speculation, while Giuliani kept cutting vital public services. There was no fiscal crisis then and not much "trickle down" to the working class.

However, when the "new economy" "" bubble burst — which had produced no real value — Wall Street profits and bonuses declined from $35.3 billion in 2000 to $15.5 billion in 2002. Over 22,000 were laid off in the financial services industry. "The city will get about $1.3 billion less this year then it did during the market’s joy ride of 2000."(NY Daily News, 12/2) But the big banks will still get their $7.5 billion in loan payments from the city, Wall Streeters will "get by" on $7.5 billion in bonuses and workers will lose jobs, pensions, health insurance and vital services. Not much "sharing of sacrifice" there.

Transit And Phone Workers:

Same Enemy, Same Fight!

NEW YORK CITY— On November 24, Verizon workers protested the company’s plan to lay off 4,000 workers, the first time in recent history union phone workers face firings. Two years of layoffs in the telecommunications industry has slashed half a million jobs worldwide.

Killing Telecom Jobs

These layoffs are the result of overcapacity — essentially overproduction of the means of production, a hallmark of capitalism. Every telecom company sought to increase market share by expanding capacity. This was financed by huge loans from the big banks, resulting in gigantic debts. Verizon, largest phone company in the U.S., owes $51 billion and has already cut 14,000 jobs. Yet only 2% of all long distance capacity is actually in use.

Last August, Communications Workers of America (CWA) president Morton Bahr ordered Verizon workers to cross picket lines of other striking workers, and accepted a settlement that he said, "helps sharpen Verizon’s competitive edge." Now that "competitive edge" is throwing 4,000 workers out on the street.

Killing Transit Workers

At the same time, two subway workers were killed in separate incidents while doing cleaning and maintenance of subway tracks in Manhattan tunnels. Joy Antony, 41, and Baby Kurien, 57, each had two children.

Transit union vice-president John Samuelson said, "In both cases, the Transit Authority [TA] violated its own rules by not ensuring that adequate cautionary lights and flagmen were in place to warn train operators that workers were ahead." (New York Daily News, 11/26) In other words, they were murdered by capitalist terror, in the form of refusing to spend money on adequate safety measures. MTA bosses are preparing to raise transit fares as much as 33% while workers are dying because of TA negligence.

Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 leaders were elected on a militant platform and are in the midst of a big contract fight. But they failed this test miserably. They admit that the MTA rebuffed them several times in the past few years over safety issues, but all they did now was meet with bosses to "discuss" safety procedures.

Thousands of transit workers have rallied in the last few months, protesting health care cuts (their Health Benefit Trust is on the verge of bankruptcy) and the "plantation justice" of the discipline-crazy bosses. But the TWU Local 100 leadership used those rallies basically to support the Democratic Party before the Nov. 2 elections.

A strike of the 30,000 mostly black and Latino transit workers to enforce safety measures could give leadership to all NYC workers during the bosses’ new "fiscal crisis." [See article page 2]

While many workers favor striking and others are on the fence, every member’s talking about a strike — except union president Touissaint. But with the bosses rejecting all union proposals, the contract expiring Dec. 15 and no strike preparations to date, chances for a sustained struggle against the MTA aren’t good.

Transit And Phone Workers, Unite

These twin attacks in transit and telecommunications occur at the same time U.S. rulers are spending hundreds of billions to launch an imperialist war for Middle East oil, and establish a fascist "Homeland" police state to prevent rebellion at home or abroad. But the pro-capitalist union leaders who put U.S. flags in the hands of protesting Verizon workers, will never link these attacks.

Bahr and all the other "labor lieutenants of capital" help the bosses’ "free market" enslave the workers. A united fight back against cutbacks, fare hikes, layoffs and murderous working conditions, disrupting the bosses’ war effort, is the furthest thing from the minds of these union "leaders." The revolutionary communist PLP will fight for the political leadership of the working class, up the ante of class struggle against the rulers, and build an international movement to overthrow all the bosses, from NYC to Baghdad.

Not Workers’ Job To Balance Bosses’ Budget

NEW YORK CITY, Nov. 27—About 700 City workers rallied today at City Hall Plaza to protest the devastating layoffs billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning. No speaker mentioned the deeper crisis of capitalism, the drive towards war or increased racism, despite a predominance of black and Latin workers. However there was no shortage of patriotism, which is suicidal for any workers’ struggle.

The speakers hammered away at privatization, an issue consistently raised by city unions, especially since the design of the long-proposed Second Ave. subway was farmed out to private engineers. They complained that jobs would be farmed out to private agencies, at a higher cost to the City and with less efficiency. AFCSME’s District Council 37, the largest city union, whined that the city hasn’t even read its "white paper" on how the city could save money through non-privatization. Only one speaker even used the dreaded "strike" word. These union officials have signed "no-strike" contracts for almost the last 40 years.

The rally ended with the promise of more and larger demonstrations to pump people up with a show of union solidarity. But their main purpose is to divert anger and energy away from directly challenging the City bosses and uniting with other workers facing similar attacks (see above). The union mis-leaders are trying to avoid the axe by "showing the City" how to balance the budget, save jobs and increase services at the same time.

The City won’t stop "privatizing." There’s a $7.5 billion deficit over the next two years. The state deficit is double that. Former Mayor Giuliani left a huge deficit thanks to tax cuts, mismanagement and heavy borrowing, with billions going to Wall Street banks. (See above) The City has over $40 billion in outstanding debt. And it still hasn’t recovered from the draconian cuts of the mid-1970s. Sanitation workers, road crews, housing and bridge inspectors are still below former levels. Over one-third of the city’s bridges need immediate repair. There’s a perpetual housing crisis — the waiting list for public housing is 5 to 12 years; 32,000 people, including 13,000 children, sleep in a shelter (or on the floor of a welfare office) every night.

Meanwhile, corporate taxes as a proportion of city revenue have been declining for over 30 years. The top rate of personal income tax in New York City is 3.5%. Somehow there’s been over $1 billion in subsidies for giant corporations to keep their headquarters in the city over the last few years, and many of them either go bankrupt or leave anyway.

It’s not our job to balance the bosses’ budget. Capitalism won’t turn Donald Trump’s condos into public housing. The ruling class needs money to invade Iraq, not for hiring thousands of teachers. The rulers and their politicians don’t operate based on workers’ needs. And the last thing union officials want is for workers to see capitalism as the source of the problem.

We need to unite against layoffs and fight for jobs. But we can’t leave the struggle in the hands of people whose idea of "militance" is publishing a white paper. The bosses’ union lieutenants are one of the main obstacles in the fight against capitalism. The more workers recognize that, especially by reading CHALLENGE — many bought the paper at the rally — the more workers build and join PLP, the stronger we’ll become and the closer we’ll get to solving our problems with communist revolution.

IAM ‘Leaders’ United with Bosses

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) union leadership has sunk to the lowest depths of class collaboration in the United Airlines mechanics’ fight against huge wage and benefit give-backs. After 57% of the workers rejected the company/union sellout in a Nov. 27 vote, the union has forced another vote scheduled for Dec. 5 amid "immense pressure …from executives [and] union leaders…[on mechanics] to reverse their earlier decision." (New York Times, 12/4)

The Times reports that "many mechanics say the [rejection] vote…was as much an expression of dissatisfaction toward their union…as it was a slap at United’s management."

"I’m not a union hater," says San Francisco turbine mechanic Kenneth Epps, 43, "but…a lot of folks don’t trust the union. Voting no is a no vote to the union and…to the company." And with good reason. Consider:

• In 1994 workers agreed to a deep wage cut with no raises for six years — their first raise came last March, eight years later — in exchange for stock options, now worthless as United’s stock has dropped sharply. (So much for the "guarantees" of capitalism’s free market.)

• Mechanics are irate over starting times for swing shifts, outsourcing work to other companies and the ineptitude of floor supervisors and middle management about which the IAM has done nothing.

• Workers fear that management and union threats of United filing for bankruptcy if they don’t swallow these give-backs is a ploy to destroy them. "I…fear…they’ll file for Chapter 11 no matter what we do," says 17-year veteran mechanic Joe Schwirian who voted no the first time. "I think it’s in their game plan....They gain too much from filing for Chapter 11 — they can close bases or do other things to skirt the contract." (NYT)

The union leaders’ threats may very well produce a "majority" vote this time around, but, as the Times reports, workers’ "anger…burns as hot as the engines [they] maintain." Past company-union class collaboration will pale before what’s to come, especially given the deepening crisis of capitalism — especially affecting the airlines — with its war-inciting, union-busting Homeland Security police state.

Workers, Patients Face Terrorist Threat—From Bosses’ Gov’t

CHICAGO, IL Dec. 2 — On November 13, the FBI and the Justice Dept. issued terrorist alerts at hospitals in several U.S. cities. At the University of Chicago Hospitals (UCH), President and CEO Riordan issued a memo ordering workers to "wear their ID badges at all times," and to "report suspicious activity or people." While this threat appears to be fabricated, the fear and racism it caused are real.

One Cook County Hospital worker said, "I think I know which Middle-Eastern doctors would do [a terrorist act]." Fear and racism are causing some workers to ask for more security and police protection, leading to even more fascistic conditions.

Recently the FBI investigated a hospital worker after a racist co-worker called them about her pro-Palestinian views. Two weeks ago, Secret Service and FBI agents held a Palestinian family captive in their southwest side home for 12 hours, without a search warrant, seizing family computers and one document. The oldest son of the family told the police, "I’m an American citizen and I know my rights." The police told him, "At the moment, you have no rights." His family was terrorized because he drove past the Lincoln Library, where Bush was to speak, with an "I Love Islam" bumper sticker on his car.

Health care workers and patients should be concerned with a terrorist threat, but it is coming from Washington and various state capitols. The executive director of the National Governors Association said, "You will see huge cuts in Medicaid." (New York Times 11/26)

With a huge tax cut for the rich, rising unemployment and billions being shifted to war and Homeland Security, state budgets are in worse financial shape than even the national economy. The Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State Univ. of NY found that state tax revenues were down 6.3% for the fiscal year ending last June. The New York State budget director said budget cuts would be deeper than expected. The state deficit is estimated between $5 billion and $10 billion.

In California, a special session of the State Legislature will be called to cut $5 billion in spending; the deficit for 2003 could be $21 billion. In Illinois, the budget deficit could grow to $2.5 billion and more cuts are on the way.

In a very direct way, the Homeland Security is attacking public health care. The states are spending $3.5 billion to train and equip cops and rescue workers. The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that the cities are spending $2.6 billion on new security measures. On Oct. 1, states lost $1.2 billion in federal funding to provide health coverage for low-income children.

Imperialist war and fascism are not "outside" issues for public health workers; they are the main issue. We are taking modest steps in fighting for the political leadership of health care workers, from UCH to Cook County Hospital, from the 20,000-member Teamsters Local 743 to the 8,000-member SEIU Local 73. The main measure of this effort is increasing the distribution of CHALLENGE, especially by winning many new distributors. In SEIU Local 73, we’re raising the broad issues of war and fascism in the midst of chaotic local union elections. Whoever claims the leadership of health care workers must fight racist budget cuts, imperialist war and refuse to cooperate with the growing fascist police state. To serve the people we must fight for our class.

Fight Fascist Attack on International Students

Attorney-General Ashcroft has issued a special registration order to all male international students over 16 from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Bahrain, Eritrea, Morocco, North Korea, Afghanistan, Oman, Yemen and United Arab Emirates. He’s demanding they bring a certificate of enrollment from their university to an INS office to be fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed under oath. If they don’t meet the January 10 deadline, they’ll be "considered out of status and deportable." A West Coast university system chancellor then ordered all department heads to compile a list of their international students, turning professors into spies.

One campus administration distributed a flyer describing Ashcroft’s order, causing anger, fear and disbelief among many students, faculty and staff. Recently they’ve seen steps toward a police state. Last semester, the FBI invaded this campus requesting unfettered access to student files (grades, classes attended, disciplinary files, library records). ROTC is threatening to cut federal aid if they are not allowed to develop an on-campus program. Now the Justice Department is asking professors to help round up international students.

On one campus, a student coalition plans to leaflet against Ashcroft’s witch-hunt and stand in solidarity with our working-class brothers and sisters. An attack on international students is an attack on all students. As U.S. rulers gear up to invade Iraq, they will also attack those involved in anti-imperialist and anti-racist activities.

Some in this coalition receive CHALLENGE. As fascism intensifies, students who were not interested even six months ago now ask many questions. Several want to help distribute our paper. We are inviting more people to study groups, linking the growth of fascism with war and capitalism and the need for a mass PLP. We will wage a long-term fight to smash fascism and imperialist war and create a communist world without borders, profits, racism or sexism.

LAPD Murders Two Teenagers

Racist Rulers Gang Up on Black, Latin Youth

LOS ANGELES, CA Nov. 19 — On Friday night, Nov. 15, the LAPD murdered sixteen-year-olds Salvador Sibrian and Uriel Damian. Salvador’s older brother, Miguel Angel, is in a coma after being shot in the eye and the leg. Miguel is a marine who was home on leave before being sent to Iraq to defend Exxon Mobil’s oil profits. Two other youth were injured.

The five were leaving a party. Miguel was driving his father’s white Lexus. The cops’ racist assumption was that because they were Latinos leaving a party in South Central LA, the car was stolen. The cops fired 17 shots into the car, claiming Miguel "didn’t stop quickly enough."

The day Salvador and Uriel died LA’s new police chief William Bratton told the LA Times he is going to "crack down on gang-related violence in South LA." None of the youth was in a gang. The press lied about every aspect of the shooting. Bratton is targeting all black and Latino youth in South Central LA, but only a tiny minority are in gangs.

Friends of the five youth distributed leaflets condemning the racist killings. On the Wednesday after the shooting, over 150 people picketed the main LA police station. The victims’ parents condemned the police as racist killers and accused Bratton of terrorizing black and Latino neighborhoods. The families called for more demonstrations and marches against police terror. Some in the crowd chanted, "¡Policía, cochina, fascista y asesina!" (police: fascist killer pigs!) But some "community coalition leaders" worked hard to stop the many youth who wanted to march and chant, saying only grieving was appropriate, not anger. The struggle for more marches is continuing.

A coalition representative called for "community policing," saying they plan to meet with Bratton to "share our concerns." But Bratton wants groups who will calm down workers and youth while the police terrorize us! When Salvador and Uriel’s parents said that Bratton must "control your cops," racist Bratton answered that parents must "control their children." There can’t be any partnership with this fascist! His job is to protect and serve the profit system that’s hell bent on war and terrorizing the working class! But he comes with the new wrinkle of winning "community leaders" to work with the police.

This racist massacre was one of eight police shootings in five days. The following week, the LAPD arrested over 300 homeless people on skid row after businessmen complained about them. Bratton has declared homelessness a "quality-of-life" crime and said the arrests were a crackdown on "parole violators" who were "hiding out." (Part of "homeland security"?)

Capitalism causes homelessness and is the biggest crime. The main source of violence against the working class is the capitalist bosses and their thugs, the cops. In addition to police violence, homicides have risen among LA youth this year. The racist LAPD will only make matters worse! Now Bratton has called in the FBI to help terrorize South LA, using the gangs as a pretext. Thus the gangs help the rulers do their dirty work. Workers and youth need a revolutionary outlook — to fight against racist police terror, rotten schools and imperialist war.

The only way to end police terror is to destroy the racist profit system with communist revolution. The bosses plan to send U.S. soldiers, sailors and marines to kill our class brothers and sisters in Iraq. But many, especially black and Latin youth, have themselves been victims of racist violence, a factor that can become the Achilles heel of U. S. imperialism. This occurred in Vietnam where these youth — based on their experiences with the racist rulers at home — began to "frag" (shoot) their own officers, viewing them, not the workers of Vietnam, as their enemy. Our enemy is the U.S. ruling class and its racist thugs, not Iraqi workers!

Health Care Under Capitalism:

Workers Are Expendable

The ruling class is dismantling the U.S. health care system, while spending hundreds of billions of dollars of workers’ taxes to launch a war to maintain control of Middle Eastern oil. Expenditures to maintain world dominance mean the bosses can’t afford to provide decent health care to everyone who needs it.

Allowing workers to die needlessly would seem to be a bad thing for a society. But under capitalism, profits take precedence over workers’ lives. That’s why U.S. capitalists are cutting health care costs to the bone, especially now. The cost of medical care is escalating steadily. The percentage of the gross national product (GNP) spent on health care rose from 10% in 1960 to 14% in 2000, while corporate profit rates fell from 9.7% in 1960 to 6.9% in 1998. In 2000, corporate health care costs amounted to 60% of after-tax profits. Every dollar "saved" on health care is another dollar for the "bottom line." For capitalism, an increase in death rates due to lack of health care is necessary to protect the system.

The bosses are attacking all aspects of workers’ health care while the workers are fighting to hang on. Communist leadership in the unions helped force the bosses to provide some health care to workers.

The collapse of the communist movement in China and the Soviet Union enabled the bosses to radically reduce the health care available to workers worldwide. Simultaneously, a massive amount of unused productive capacity has reduced the rate of profit for all basic industries. Each capitalist must maximize profits or face extinction by their competitors.

Other capitalist countries have more efficient and less costly health care systems. Some have "socialized" (state run) medicine, a minimal level of care. U.S. bosses are justifiably worried about their own viability. Therefore, workers’ health benefits become a major target for resurrecting bosses’ profits, especially since it represents such a major cost to the society. While drug companies and large private hospitals make enormous profits, it is at the expense of the rest of the ruling class (not to mention workers’ health). Health care detracts from most bosses’ profits. Services like medicine may keep workers alive and functioning but there is no ongoing use for the medical product itself. Money spent on medicine can’t be re-invested. Medical care is not a productive industry, and in fact reduces productivity.

Salvador Health Care Strikers Battle Cops, Rulers’ Schemes

SAN SALVADOR, Nov. 27 — "Anti-riot" cops brutally attacked a march by striking health care workers, professionals and supporters with tear gas, even throwing it inside hospitals. The marchers defended themselves and a fierce battle ensued.

Twelve days ago, the Legislature Assembly approved a law forbidding privatization of the ISSS (social security system) and public hospitals. But the strike continues because President Flores refuses to accept the law and to reinstate 46 people fired for strike activities.

The government is not only trying to impose its privatization union-busting scheme, but also doesn’t want the class struggle to dampen the 19th Central American and Caribbean Sport Competition here.

San Salvador Mayor Hector Silva, an FMLN member, apparently had worked out a deal with the U.S. ambassador and the national government to end the strike. But now the latter is reneging by attacking striking workers.

PLP is active in the struggle, warning workers and their allies not to rely on any politician (especially the former guerrilla leaders of the FMLN, now part of the rulers’ electoral circus). We’re also explaining that capitalism, whether state-owned or free market, whether pro-U.S. or pro-European, will never be a prescription for the decent health of all workers and patients. The fight for communism, a society where workers’ and health will be top priority, must be our aim.

Marchers Protest Women’s Murders

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico, Nov. 27—Marches and other protest activities occurred throughout Mexico in a "day against violence against women and young girls." In the last four days alone, four dead women were found here. The marchers placed 286 crosses in the Dept. of Justice building gardens here representing all unsolved murders of women and young girls in the last few years.

The same week, Mexico’s military courts declared rape to be a strategy of war — soldiers can only be tried if they "break military discipline." At least, five cases of Indian women raped by soldiers are in court, including three sisters of the Tzetal ethnic group raped in a Chiapas military barracks. Capitalism is indeed the highest form of oppression of women!

In Memoriam: Andy Allen

Andy Allen, a long-time member of the Progressive Labor Party, activist and loyal friend of the working class, died of brain cancer on November 30 2002. Andy was Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. He worked tirelessly and consistently, over many years, in the Modern Language Association (MLA) to support pro-working class resolutions, motions and initiatives, and was a loyal member of the Radical Caucus in the MLA. He also did a yeoman job translating and PLP pamphlets and articles into French. He represented the best that academics can be.

Andy was perhaps one of the most honest persons you could meet. He was very shy but when it was important for him to speak publicly and/or support our initiatives, he always did so.

While Andy’s death is sad, it is also a triumph. Andy has run his race. He lived his ideals — which are our ideals too — until the very end. No one could ever do more. We need more people like Andy, millions more: modest, hard-working, sincere, devoted to the Party and the working class.

We honor and respect his memory by continuing to work towards the goals he supported to the end: a world free of racism and exploitation, a communist world.


Workers Of The World, Write!

Steel Workers Still Talking

Recently a co-worker wanted to talk about some stuff at work. He’s a regular CHALLENGE reader, takes extra papers and has done some things with us over the years, although he hasn’t joined the Party. Then out of the blue he says, "You know, if we don’t do something about Bush’s war in Iraq, we will be just like the Germans who backed Hitler, and we’ll have to answer. I don’t want to be in that position."

We spoke for a little while and I think we were both inspired. I know I was. It got us both talking with our fellow workers about the coming war and what it means for the working class. We’ve discussed with some folks about going to an anti-war rally in our city. I’ve been distributing more CHALLENGES. The two of us went to a speak-out about the war at a local college. These are small steps, but it’s a start.

As we fight against this imperialist war, will my friend be won to the Party? I don’t know. But, in effect, he’s saying we must give leadership to the struggle against imperialist war. His point was that workers have a responsibility, a moral duty to fight the bosses. And this holds even more for communists in PLP. So my friend has, so to speak, put the ball in my court. I need to live up to that challenge, part of which is struggling with him to join the Party.

On another point, I think it’s great that there’s been some stuff about the worker-student alliance in CHALLENGE. A few years ago, when there was another imperialist war, PLP set itself apart from all the phonies and revolutionary wannabees by calling on the student movement to ally with the working class. As a working-class college student, that idea brought me to the Party. Once again, our job is to show that whether bombing Iraq or cutting pensions, it’s the same bloodsuckers killing to save their profits.

Midwest Industrial Worker

Purdue ‘Speak Out’ Opposes Iraq War

On November 6, students organized a speak-out at Purdue University at Calumet, about U.S. plans to attack Iraq. PLP gave leadership and support to the students organizing the event, which drew students, faculty, staff and the community.

Middle Eastern students said they did not support terrorist acts, but would stand by "their leaders" against U.S. oppression. PLP pointed out that the coming attack was an imperialist war for oil profits. Most of the students opposed the war and did not believe Iraqi workers threatened their safety. Others said the media was a tool to build support for the war.

People argued over the most effective political action to take against the war. Some suggested voting for those who represent "our" interests. PLP fought for building a mass anti-racist, anti-imperialist movement. Some students and professors suggested that continuous wars were based on conflicting ideals among people that create ignorance, hatred, violence and terrorism. Others disagreed, exposing the political and economic roots of imperialism. In the end, many students were considering joining together to become active agents for social change.

In the real world, PLP’s model of communism is the firmest foundation for the solidarity of the working class. Now is the time to concentrate and act on this reality. The international working class can end imperialist wars. Join PLP and smash capitalism with communist revolution. One class, one Party of workers to produce and share the benefits and burdens of society equally!

Always Red


Below Are Excerpts From Mainstream Newspapers That Contain Important Information:

Abbreviations: NYT=New York Times, MG=Manchester Guardian

Child starvation amid mountains of food — capitalism is sick

Children are dying daily of malnutrition in Argentina….Meanwhile the vast, fertile country has increased exports of meat, wheat, corn and soya this year….

In an astonishing admission, the production minister, Anibal Fernandez, last week attributed the child deaths to "a sick society and a ruling class that are sons of bitches, all of them, myself included." (MG, 12/4)

Young people eager to discuss war issues

Not since the Vietnam War, it seems, have young people been so engaged in America’s foreign policy. On college campuses, students on both sides of the Iraq issue are organizing protests, debates and symposiums. Young professionals are convening online discussion groups to pick apart daily news developments. And discussions…are taking place in junior high and high schools around the country. (NYT, 12/1)

Church opposes Iraq war, But...

Washington, Nov. 13 — Roman Catholic bishops in the United States issued a statement today saying that they cannot now find a moral justification for a pre-emptive war against Iraq because there is no adequate evidence that Iraq is about to attack….

The final statement included a compromise in which the bishops said: "We support those who risk their lives in the service of their nation. We also support those who seek to exercise their right to conscientious objection."

(NYT, 11/14)

Workers’ kids are short-changed

Free tip offered on the Web: "The application process for some of the most selective public schools in New York City often begins a year before your child is scheduled to start school. Allow yourself this year’s time to do the research." How many working-class parents can spend a year pre-navigating the system? (NYT, 11/25)

Even half-way socialism showed some of communism’s good

Pre-1989 Hungary was indeed not so materialistic, there was a healthy underground scene, the extended family was very strong and the only queues were for bananas….So why, if socialism was so good, did the people reject it?

One of the chief factors was the material superiority of the neighbouring capitalist countries. This presented a patina of gold masking the underlying inequality. So much of what was good under communism — job security, social stability and a strong sense of solidarity — was taken for granted, but has now been lost in the scramble for wealth.

As friends…in east Germany have discovered, what has been lost was more valuable that we realized at the time. (MG, 11/20)

Big jump in hate crimes vs. Muslims and Middle Easterners

Washington, Nov. 25 (AP) — Hate crimes against Muslims and people who are or appear to be of Middle Eastern descent soared to record levels last year…the Federal Bureau of Investigation said today….

Incidents in which people, institutions and businesses identified with the Islamic faith were the targets increased 1,600 percent, to 481 in 2001 from 28 in 2000. (NYT, 11/26)

400,000 protest war and more

In Florence, Italy, about 400,000 protesters from across Europe marched…last weekend against war on Iraq and plenty of other things as well….

The march was heavy on shrill whistles, communist hymns, red flags and portraits of "Che" Guevara. (MG, 11/20)

Afghanistan rulers are war criminals

In Afghanistan….by using the heroin-financed gangsters of the Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban regime and pursue al-Qaeda remnants, the US has handed over most of the country to the war criminals who devastated Afghanistan in the early 1990s….

Throughout what is once again the opium capital of the world the return of the warlords has meant harsh political repression, lawlessness, mass rape and widespread torture, the bombing or closure of schools, as well as Taliban-style policing of women’s dress and behaviour. The systematic use by Ismail Khan, who runs much of western Afghanistan with US support, of electric shock torture, arbitrary arrests and whippings to crush dissent is set out in a new Human Rights Watch report. Khan was nevertheless described by the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, recently as a "thoughtful" and "appealing" person. (MG, 12/4)