Tag Archive: Unemployment


An Open Letter to Vanilla Ice

Dear Mr. Ice,

I recall lines from your magnum opus, Ice Ice Baby, that go as follows:

If there was a problem /

Yo, I’ll solve it. . .

I don’t recall you doing much for social justice after such an impassioned battle cry, but never one to doubt your intentions or nobility, I assume your lack of solving the world’s problems is the result of a mere communication and planning error.  I’m assuming no one gave you a list.  So Mr. Ice, here is a list of problems for you to solve.

(1) Please get us out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya (without letting Qaddafi win).

(2) Please fix unemployment and create jobs, and eradicate global and domestic poverty.

(3) Please fix our two-party, corporate-funded, winner-take-all anti-democratic ‘democracy.’

(4) Please reverse ecological damage, climate change, and other important components of our ecological crisis.

(5) Please eliminate sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, and ethnic and religious conflict and hatred.

(6) Please establish economic democracy as well as political.

(7) Please save our social programs.  And expand them, so they actually work well.

(8) Please keep Huckabee (or any other Republican) from ever getting elected again.  Last election, Chuck Norris promoted Huckabee, and if Chuck Norris is against democracy, freedom, equality and welfare, consequently puppies, smiling children, rainbows, and flowers, then you’re our only hope (given Bruce Lee is dead, and Charlie Sheen is on tour).

(9) While you’re at it, please keep most Democrats from getting elected, too.  Not all. . . but most of them can go.

(10) I would like no more Ingrid Michaelson or Kimya Dawson songs.  Could you duct-tape them to Rebecca Black’s songwriters for Friday, along with Justin Bieber, and send them into the sun?

(11)  Please help M. Night Shyamalan write more movies like The Sixth Sense and less like Signs.

(12) I would like unlimited Dutch Brothers free coffee.  It isn’t selfish because I would share them.

(13) Please Free Weezy.  Oh, wait, he’s already free? YOU WORK FAST!!

(14) And finally, please end the American Empire, WTO, IMF, and World Bank so other countries can have democracy, too.

I appreciate your cooperation, Mr. Ice, and may many an epic poem be penned in your honor for saving civilization.

Yours Truly,

Me

What happened to dreams?

I miss democracy.  Sure, America was never as democratic as our high-school textbooks would have us believe.  We were founded on land secured by genocide, build off the labor of slaves in the South and poor, mistreated white laborers in the North.  “All men were created equal” actually meant men, and property owning white men at that.  But over time the people who had been shoved aside and stepped on picked each other up.  Over time, slavery ended, women fought for the vote, property qualifications on voting were abandoned, workers could form unions, and currently our Queer brothers, sisters, and transters are fighting for equality.  The revolutionary ire of the 60’s became mired in the liberal conception of freedom–doing whatever one wants without thinking too much about what one wants–and despite the beauty of the ideals of peaceful, happy, free societies, rampant drug use immobilized portions of the hippie movement from creating structural changes.  The gains of the 60s were followed with the consolidation of global capitalist power, leaving us a neoliberal train wreck of an economy–one that pits workers against each other, destroys the environment, replaces living wages with debt, and responds to its lack of profitability with layers of financial tricks stacked precariously on the edge of a very large cliff, and we all may be faced with looking into that abyss. . . or we may not.

We could make it–but we need to dream.  Mainstream economists will tell you that prices have to rise if everyone has a job.  Politicians will tell you the government can’t make jobs (let somehow the government gave them a job–I guess they just mean jobs for us).  And both of those statements are false.  If everyone gets a job, no one’s desperate for a job, so they have to be good–and wages rise.  So they raise prices to maintain a profit.  And profits are nothing other than money we earn and they keep.  Profits are bull–the purpose of job availability and pricing should be to meet needs.  And the government can invest to create jobs same as private companies–but doesn’t because it would compete with a company’s ability to make money off our needs and inadequate government.

We can do better.  What is stopping us from creating communities build around our happiness and needs? In tune with the environment and each other?  Why can’t we co-manage our own workplaces?

The Chamber of Commerce wants to wage war against whatever democracy we’ve fought for over time, hoping that corporate financing of our candidates skews our system in their favor, just as such groups hope corporate financing of NGOS skews our attempts to change the world.

If the moneyed interests want so bad to control our society, I suggest a version of what the Paris Commune tried, and so many intentional communities have tried or are trying ever since. . . I suggest we pull out of their labor markets, their consumption patterns, their apartment complexes.  We form our own worker and consumer co-ops and coordinate production and consumption with each other, and outside of the market.  Different models have been suggested, Parecon and the model developed in Towards a New Socialism–and I’m not suggesting I’m committed to either of those visions in total.  But we can take inspiration, and we can create a new world, a Post-Capitalist world from a process of creating Exo-Capitalist modes of production, consumption, LIVING.

Capitalism tends to go through crises in general–its laws of distribution result in some sort of overconcentration in investment (the organic composition of capital is the technical term), or production beyond consumption, or a lack of investment and the like. Regardless of the specific cause of the business cycle, the effects are similar; capitalists make some mistake in investment by investing in what they can’t sell, or they sit on their own capital instead of circulating it. The problem is that in a capitalist economy whose primary laws are “Profit!” and “Grow!,” staying stationary will simply cause the system to surpass you and push you out of the economy. Grow or die. Consequently, an inability to invest or grow such as in business crises will result in capitalists pushing on labor to increase profitability–firing, working longer, harder, etc. In every case where there is a systematic crash, labor suffers first even when it is capital’s fault.

Lets get to my point. In a systematic transition from capitalism to socialism, capitalist profitability will decrease or get squeezed out–consumerism will stop fueling them, the state will push industry to sell, or the like. But since it is the transition to socialism, it is still under capitalist laws, and capitalists will try to consolidate power however they can. If a particular nation tries to socialize, capital flight will likely occur, or an increase in corporations trying to bolster political influence while increasing profitability (because, as always, the will be the last to take a hit economically), or appealing to the WTO which will undoubtably attempt trade sanctions. All these actions will significantly hurt the population of a nation (or the international community–but it’s hard to see how it would get worse in places like India, say, or sub-Saharan Africa), and it would be left to charities or the government(s) to compensate, but dependence on charities are iffy at best, and governments would have to develop the infrastructure (remember: this is the transition to socialism, it has not yet occured, but is in process). Consequently, in the birth pangs of socialism, labor and the needy would be sacrificed unless there are places set up outside the capitalist system to house, feed, educate, and take care of them. Socialists need to concentrate on building places that are safe havens from capitalism–think Noah’s Ark on land. This is completely necessary–because before the international community attains socialism, corporations and capitalists will squeeze every last bit of profitability out of workers, and funnel it into every political means before they have no choice, and consequently within the current system the lower classes will be the first to suffer, and suffer much without a safe haven.