Article 43

 

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Welcome

Welcome to article43.com - a memorial to the layed off workers of (PRE SBC MERGER) AT&T, and the disappearing MIDDLE CLASS citizens of America.  It is NOT endorsed or affiliated with AT&T or the CWA in any way.

This sticky post was written the day we appeared on the internet in 2004.

In addition to INFORMATION, resources and opinion for former AT&T workers DEALING WITH the EFFECTS OF LAYOFF and looking for meaningful employment, some articles here are meant to bring into awareness the LARGER PICTURE of corporate dominance of the UNITED STATES’ political and economic policies which brazenly DISREGARDS, disrespects and EXPLOITS worker, citizen and HUMAN RIGHTS under masks like FREE TRADE and the PATRIOT ACT - resulting in a return to a society of very rich and very poor dominated by a few very rich and powerful - whose voices are anything but - for the people. If left UNCHALLENGED, the self-serving interests of those in control may result in the end of DEMOCRACY, the end of the middle class, irreversible ENVIRONMENTAL damage to the planet, and widespread global poverty brought on by exploitation and supression of the voices of common people EVERYWHERE, while the United States turns into a REINCARNATION of the ROMAN EMPIRE.  Author Thom Hartmann shares some history and outlines some basic steps to return our country to “The People” in his two articles TEN STEPS TO RETURN TO DEMOCRACY and SAVING THE MIDDLE CLASS. I support CERNIG’S idea for a new POLITICAL MOVEMENT - if not a revolution to cleanse our country of the filth ruling it - as we EVOLVE into a GLOBAL community - assuming we learn the THE LESSONS OF OUR TIME and don’t DESTROY CIVILIZATION first.

Everything here can be viewed anonymously.  Inserting or commenting on articles requires a free user account (for former AT&T employees with a real, non throw-away, email address.) Requests to the new user registration page are redirected to BLOGGED DOT COM’S site because most new signups I get are from COMMENT SPAMMERS and their ilk, so if you want to contribute, contact me through email, phone, or some other way.

There’s no third-party scripts here like privacy-eroding WEB COUNTERS, hidden datamining widgets like Pay-Pal donation boxes, or AMAZON DOT COM tracking stuff.  The RSS feeds are pulled by the server, and have no relation to anything you may be doing here.  Standard Apache WEB LOGS of info like IP, and pages visited are rotated every few days, and used internally to check the web server’s performance.  Logs of suspicious activity may be shared with law enforcement, or other ISPs, to deal with troublemakers.  Nothing here is for sale, and donations are not solicited.

If you get an email that claims to be from somebody here that’s anything but a request to post your article, or report suspicious activity (like logs sent to an ISP to report an attack) - it’s SPAM. I do not, and will not - ever - join the junk mail sender community. There are no mechanisms to prevent anyone from forging anyone elses email address in a “from” or “reply-to” mail header. For those of us whose email addresses are fraudently used, the best we can do is filter out NDR REPORTS.

Per U.S.C. COPYRIGHT LAW - TITLE 17, SECTION 107, this not-for-profit site may reproduce copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such articles will either have a web link to the source, home page, and/or show credit to the author.  If yours is here and you have a problem with that, send me an EMAIL, and I’ll take it off. Stuff I wrote carries a CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE permitting non-commercial sharing. In addition, this site’s owner forbids insertion and injecting data of any kind - especially advertisements - into ours by any person or entity.  Should you see a commercial ad that looks like it’s from here, please report it by sending me a tcpdump and/or screenshot in an EMAIL, then READ UP about how the PARTNERING OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS and companies like NEBUAD are DESTROYING INTERNET PRIVACY

Resumes of layed off AT&T workers are posted for free HERE.

Information on the Pension Class Action Lawsuit against AT&T is HERE.  More pension-related articles are HERE.

Links to some Telecom companies’ career pages are HERE.

Click HERE to learn a little about Article 43 and why I loathe the CWA.
Click HERE or HERE to learn what the CWA did when given a chance to do the right thing.
Click HERE for a glimpse of undemocratic and hypocritical CWA practices.
Click HERE for an article on Corporate Unionism.
Click HERE for an article of AFL-CIO’s undemocratic history.

If you’re looking for telco nostalgia, you won’t find it here.  Check out THE CENTRAL OFFICE, BELL SYSTEM MEMORIAL, MUSEUM OF COMMUNICATIONS, TELEPHONE TRIBUTE, and THE READING WORKS websites instead.

This site can disappear anytime if I run out of money to pay for luxuries like food, health care, or internet service.

Discernment of truth is left to the reader - whose encouraged to seek as much information as possible, from as many different sources as possible - and pass them through his/her own filters - before believing anything.

...the Devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil, is a collaboration of men…
- Fox Mulder, X Files

No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.
- John F. Kennedy

Today my country, your country and the Earth face a corporate holocaust against human and Earthly rights. I call their efforts a holocaust because when giant corporations wield human rights backed by constitutions and the law (and therefore enforced by police, the courts, and armed forces) and sanctioned by cultural norms, the rights of people, other species and the Earth are annihilated.
- Richard L. Grossman

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
- Albert Einstein

He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.
- Aquinas

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin

We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war.
- Albert Einstein

Solidarity has always been key to political and economic advance by working families, and it is key to mastering the politics of globalization.
- Thomas Palley

As we head into another depression, fueled by selfish corporate greed, and a corrupt, SOCIOPATHIC US government, MIKE WHITNEY wrote a solution in 2007 that still makes a lot of sense to me :

The impending credit crisis cant be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for Americans highest earners so that the upper 1%-- who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity---will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.

Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous sufbsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.

The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nations infrastructure.

Posted by Admin on 09/05/04 •

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Tuesday, January 05, 2021

The Appeal of Conspiracy Theories for Spiritual People

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Why are “spiritual” people attracted to conspiracy theories?

By “Steve Taylor, Ph. D.
Psychology Today
January 4, 2021

Karlfried Graf von Durckheim was a remarkable German man who helped to popularize Zen Buddhism in the west. He had his first spiritual experiences during the First World War when he came close to death on the battlefield. In these moments, Durckheim became aware of a deeper aspect of his own being. As he put it, “When death was near and I accepted that I also might die, I realized that within myself was something that has nothing whatsoever to do with death.”

After the war, Durckheim became a spiritual seeker. He was from a wealthy aristocratic family but gave up his property and inheritance to devote himself to his spiritual studies. He had a major spiritual experience while reading the ancient Chinese spiritual text, the Tao Te Ching. As he wrote, he felt as if the veil was torn asunder..."Everything existed and nothing existed. Another Reality had broken through this world.”

However, Durckheim was also a Nazi. In the 1930s, he was a great admirer of Hitler, who he described as a “new man” who had been given to the German people to awaken fellow Germans in an “infectious movement and transform them.” In 1937, he was sent to Japan as a Nazi envoy. At the same time as studying Zen, he disseminated Nazi propaganda and tried to build links between the Nazis and the Japanese government, promoting the idea that the two countries could conquer and dominate the world together.

There seems no doubt that Durckheim had profound spiritual experiences and was deeply devoted to Zen and to spirituality in general. In his later life, he wrote several books that show genuine insight and wisdom.

How is it possible for a spiritual person to be a Nazi? How could a spiritually developed person ally himself with a murderous fascist regime with a philosophy of paranoid conspiracies and bizarre racist ideas? How could a person who was clearly wise in some ways be taken in by a leader who was a deranged and brutal authoritarian?

The Strange Phenomenon of Modern Conspiracists

Durckheim’s case relates to a strange phenomenon I have become aware of over the past few months. As an author of books on spirituality and psychology, I have a lot of spiritually-minded friends and followers on social media. Recently I have been surprised by the number who have propagated conspiracy theories about the global coronavirus pandemic and the recent US election. Some of them believe that the pandemic was purposely generated as part of a strategy for a “great reset” by a global elite (including figures such as Bill Gates and George Soros). They are opposed to masks and vaccines and view the outgoing president, Donald Trump, as a messianic figure who is fighting against this global conspiracy. Of course, they also believe that Trump’s election loss was rigged, to try to derail his efforts to halt the great reset (and to fight against child sex-trafficking rings).

I know some of the people who propagate these theories personally and am aware that, like Durckheim, some of them have had authentic spiritual experiences. This begs the question: How can spiritually-minded people be taken in by bizarre and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories? And in a similar way to Durckheim with Hitler, how can they support a president who appears to completely lack spiritual qualities like empathy and compassion, and who many mental health professionals believe suffers from severe personality disorders?

The Appeal of Conspiracy Theories to Spiritual People

I would suggest three main reasons for this tendency. Ill describe these in turn, saving the most important reason for last.

First, spirituality is often associated with a sense of exclusivity. Following spiritual practices and ideas may bring a sense of “specialness,” of having access to esoteric knowledge that most people are not aware of. Of course, this is an unhealthy tendency, and actually contravenes the real aim of spiritual paths and practices, which is to transcend self-centredness and narcissism. However, some people are certainly attracted to spirituality because of this sense of specialness.

This is a large part of the appeal of conspiracy theories, too. They also make people feel special, that they possess secret esoteric knowledge that others are too naive or dim-witted to take on board. In many cases, spiritual conspiracists are simply expressing the same impulse for a sense of superiority and exclusivity in two different areas: spirituality and conspiracy theories.

Second, authoritarian figures like Donald Trump (or in the case of Durckheim, Hitler) may appeal to a devotional, guru-worshipping impulse. This relates to another unhealthy reason why some people are attracted to spirituality, and to gurus (or spiritual teachers) specifically. Although many people devote themselves to gurus to further their own spiritual development, others view gurus as powerful, parent-like figures who can take control of their lives. (Of course, these motives may be mixed to some degree).

They want to return to a childhood state of devotion and irresponsibility, when their parents had complete responsibility for their lives, protected them from the world, and satisfied all their needs. Authoritarian leaders like Trump have a similar paternal, protective appeal. Their authoritarianism is an attractive throwback to parental omnipotence during early childhood, and we instinctively offer them the same unquestioning trust that we did to our parents (which is the same unquestioning trust that many disciples offer their gurus).

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, spiritual conspiracy is caused by an impulse for connection. Spirituality is largely about connection. It’s about expanding beyond our own limited ego-identity and making connections with our own deeper selves, to other people, to nature, and to the whole cosmos. This type of connection is based on feeling or being, but sometimes the urge to connect is taken on by the intellect, where it manifests itself in an impulse to find connections in random events.

This is where conspiracy theories come in. Conspiracy theories are all about connections. Nothing happens randomly. Nobody acts randomly or altruistically. There is an agenda, or a network of nefarious agents, behind everything. World figures and global institutions are not acting independently or altruistically; they are all in it together, from Bill Gates to Prince William and the World Health Organisation. It’s all part of a coordinated effort to enslave us. The coronavirus isn’t an unfortunate accident but purposely created as a part of this effort.

Spiritually-minded people become vulnerable to conspiracy theories when their impulse for connection is misdirected into their intellectual outlook.

It, therefore, doesn’t seem too surprising that many spiritually-oriented people take on unsubstantiated beliefs and voice support for authoritarian fascist (or would-be fascist) leaders. This doesn’t make it excusable though. All of this represents the shadow of spirituality, the negative aspects that can emerge when spirituality is hijacked by narcissism, or that occurs when healthy spiritual impulses are misdirected. Healthy spirituality moves beyond the poisonous suspicion of conspiracy theories into the clarity of reason. It moves beyond unfounded conceptual connections into a felt sense of connection with other beings and the world. It moves beyond the unquestioning worship of corrupt authoritarians, into self-sufficiency and personal responsibility.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/05/21 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Everyone Was Wrong About Trump

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Everyone Was Wrong About Trump

By Caitlin Johnstone
December 23, 2020

After weeks of speculation and desperate hopes that Donald Trump might be preparing to PARDON NSA WEHISTLEBLOWER EDWARD SNOWDEN and/or WIKILEAKS FOUNDER JULIAN ASSANGE before leaving office on January 20th, what the latest round of presidential pardons has delivered is about as far from that as you can conceivably imagine.

In an audacious pre-Christmas round of pardons, President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to two people convicted in the special counsel’s Russia inquiry, four Blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians and three corrupt former Republican members of Congress, the New York Times reports.

I probably don’t need to tell my regular readers this, but a Trump pardon for Assange and Snowden is almost certainly not in the cards. Trump has done nothing but protect the imperial status quo the entire time he’s been in office and a pardon for either of those heroic government transparency advocates would be a deviation from his established patterns unlike anything he’s ever once demonstrated while in office. Its good to pressure politicians to do the right thing even when they probably won’t, but its a safe bet that he won’t.

Trump’s entire term has revealed that virtually everyone, all across the US political spectrum, has been wrong about him. And it’s a testament to the power of media echo chambers that for the most part they remain just as wrong about him as they were four years ago.

To this day, even after four years of evidence to the contrary, Trump supporters still believe their president has been ending the wars, draining the swamp, and fighting the Deep State.They believe he’s fighting the Deep State even after he imprisoned Assange. They believe he’s ending the wars even as he’s ramped up cold war aggressions against Russia, killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, vetoed attempts to save Yemen from U.S.-backed genocide, is working to foment civil war in Iran using starvation sanctions and CIA ops with the stated goal of effecting regime change, occupied Syrian oil fields with the goal of preventing Syria’s reconstruction, greatly increased the number of troops in the Middle East and elsewhere, greatly increased the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians, and reduced military accountability for those airstrikes. They believe hes draining the swamp after packing his cabinet with establishment swamp monsters.

To this day, even after four years of evidence to the contrary, liberals are still convinced that Trump is a servant of Russia who has spent his term advancing the interests of Vladimir Putin. They believe this even as he’s been shredding treaties with Russia, bombing the Syrian government and arming Ukraine (both of which Obama refused to do), many sanctions and many other escalations directly against the interests and safety of Russia.

To this day, even after four years of evidence to the contrary, many on the left still continue their frequent claims that Trump is a uniquely fascistic or Hitler-like president, despite his having far fewer deportations than Obama had. And despite the fact that he will with absolute certainty leave office on January 20th after losing an election.

All sides pretended that Trump was a radical deviation from the norm, and so did Trump, when all he actually did throughout his entire time in office was protect the status quo just like his predecessors did. As writer and activist Sam Husseini recently put it, Trump is the opposable thumb of the establishment. He looks like he’s on the opposite side, but he just helps it grab more.

After four years everyone - left, right and center - has been proven wrong about Trump. He was neither a uniquely evil monster (he was indisputably not even as bad as Bush), nor a populist hero draining the swamp and fighting for the common man against the Deep State.

Trump was a US president of fairly average depravity, with a truly massive overlay of narrative heaped on top of him by partisan media on all sides. In reality he was pretty much what you’d get if you took any average American Fox News-watching boomer who yells at Obama on TV, made him rich, and then made him president.

That’s what Trump is and has been. Nothing more extraordinary than that. It is only the effectiveness of echo chambers and the human tendency to prioritize narrative over factual data which prevents more people from seeing this.

In actuality Trump’s term has clearly established what he really was this entire time: he was a US president. Better than some, worse than others, but also deeply awful all around since he voluntarily served as the face of the most evil and destructive force on earth, namely the United States government. He was the same kind of monster as his predecessors.

Trump was a US president of fairly average depravity, with a truly massive overlay of narrative heaped on top of him by partisan media on all sides. In reality he was pretty much what you’d get if you took any average American Fox News-watching boomer who yells at Obama on TV, made him rich, and then made him president.

That’s what Trump is and has been. Nothing more extraordinary than that. It is only the effectiveness of echo chambers and the human tendency to prioritize narrative over factual data which prevents more people from seeing this.

And now he is leaving, with his imaginary crimes still held as real and his actual crimes completely ignored. Humanity will not be able to create a healthy world until we find a way to transcend our unhealthy and delusional relationship with mental narrative which so easily obscures our perspective of whats really happening.

About the author:

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at MY WEBSITE or on SUBSTACK, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is ENTIRELY READER SUPPORTED, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what Im trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, HAS MY PERMISSION to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/29/20 •
Section Dying America
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Friday, December 25, 2020

AT&T Cuts Retiree Pension and Healthcare

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AT&T Cuts Retiree Pension and Healthcare

Techstaffer
December 18, 2020

As a recruiter I’m often asked about benefit packages offered by certain companies.  Over the last year there have been substantive changes in benefits coming from Fortune 500 companies with most of the changes going the wrong way. We’ve seen many large corporations choose to cut employee benefits whether that be pension, 401(k), or healthcare. VERIZON created headlines all the way back in 2005 when they announced they would freeze their pension program. In the years to come many corporations followed suite by moving to defined contribution plans as opposed to defined benefit plans. This trend culminated in General Electric deciding to freeze the largest pension fund in the United States. Other corporations have decided to target 401(k) plans.  ExxonMobil announced earlier this year that they would suspend their 401(k) matching program indefinitely. Which brings us to AT&T

A surprise announcement was made on Monday where AT&T stated in a Memo that they will be reducing benefits in 2021 and 2022. I wanted to make sure my AT&T clients were informed about what exactly is going away.

AT&T CEO John Stankey has expressed a goal of $10 billion in cost cuts and the company has made it clear that workers benefits are next on the chopping block.

So who will be affected by these cuts? Employees retiring after 2022 will be hit the hardest, as they will lose all medical coverage typically given to retirees. AT&T will no longer supplement monthly premiums for medical or dental. This may not affect all employees. You should call the benefit office to inquire about your particular situation.

This announcement comes on the heels of AT&T alerting employees that they will no longer offer a Healthcare reimbursement account for those who retired after January 1st 2021. Currently things like out of pocket costs, supplemental coverage, and incremental coverage are covered by a healthcare reimbursement account from AT&T. According to AT&T’s Summary Plan description the HRA credit is worth $2,700 for an employee and $1,500 for an eligible dependent. If an employee takes full advantage of this benefit this would be worth $4,200 per year. Over a 20 year period this could save an employee and their family about $84,000. 

AT&T pension benefits are being reduced as well. AT&T uses a Career Average Minimum (CAM) or a Pension Band Minimum (PBM) formula to calculate your pension contributions. Your CAM benefit is determined by multiplying your career pension compensation by a percentage and then dividing by 12. Currently that percentage is 1.6%. After January 1st 2022 that percentage will drop to 1%.

Management employees may receive a benefit based on the PBM formula. The PBM benefit is determined by multiplying a percentage by your pension compensation. Currently that percentage is 1.2%. After January 1st 2022 that percentage will be reduced to 0.75%.

AT&T is not the only company to cut benefits during the pandemic. History shows time and time again that when a recession hits corporations will decrease or suspend benefits. We witnessed this in the 2001 recession when General Motors, Charles Schwab, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, & Ford all decreased or suspended their company match programs. The same happened in 2008, with Forbes reporting that nearly 20% of companies with over 1,000 employees reduced or SUSPENDED 401(k) contributions.  Unfortunately, that trend seems to be continuing in the wake of the current recession brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic. According to CNBC, 8% OF EMPLOYEES HAVE REDUCED OR SUSPENDED 401(k) CONTRIBUTIONS THIS YEAR ALONE. Major companies like Amtrak, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, and ExxonMobil have all suspended their 401(k) matching programs. In ExxonMobil’s case employees lost a company match of up to 7%, severely hindering an employee’s ability to save for retirement. AT&T’s cuts will also make it significantly more challenging for retirees to make their money last as long as they need.

Questions you need to ask yourself now on the risks of leaving and potential risks of staying at AT&T

Should I consider retiring now to lock in my company subsidy and look for another job outside of AT&T?

Are their jobs in my specialty available if I do leave?

Will my pension grow if I do stay?

Will my lump sum pension decrease If interest rates go up next year?

Would it be better to leave now with the healthcare subsidy and work a 20-hour per week job or would I do better if I stay and hope I do not get laid off?

Should I look for a contracting job in winter or wait until next year?

It is my hope that by being aware of these cuts and questions you can ask yourself can plan accordingly and make sound financial decisions going forward.

SOURCE

Links:

Santone, Angela. “AT&T: Updates to Your Retirement Benefits.” AT&T Memo, AT&T Inc., 15 Dec. 2020

“The Retirement/Transition Guide for AT&T Employees.” The Retirement Group, The Retirement Group, 11 Aug. 2020, https://telecom.theretirementgroup.com/att-guide-download-google

AT&T Nonbargained Summary Plan Description, 2020

Posted by Elvis on 12/25/20 •
Section Pension Ripoff
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Monday, December 21, 2020

Austerity American Style Part 18 - Progressive Letdown

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When Austeritys Chickens Came Home to Roost in the U.S., Bernie and “the Squad” were Unprepared
The theory of change that depicts the likes of Bernie Sanders and AOC as the leaders of the class struggle has failed to materialize in reality.

By Danny Haiphong
Black Agenda Report
December 16, 2020

The development of diverse faces in high places within the state has temporarily disarmed the Black consensus on peace and social justice.

In March, Bernie Sanders and “the Squad” were calling for a $2000 MONTHLY CHECK to be included in the first governmental response to the pandemic. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Democratic Party majority in the House silently voted for the CARES Act. The CARES Act pumped more than FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to the richest corporations while providing just a one-time $1200 payment to workers and the poor. So-called “progressive” Democrats such as SANDERS AND ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ voiced opposition to the bill but did not organize against it. Ten months later, the chickens of austerity are roosting on a global pandemic that the U.S. ruling class has used to beef up its profits at the expense of the rest of us.

AUSTERITY is the engine of U.S. capitalism in its late stages. The regime is driven by the unmitigated rule of finance capital over all levers of the state. Everything is looked upon as an opportunity for private profit and investment rather than human need. Neoliberalism is a modernized version of the very classical liberal ideology which brought capitalism into being. Only this time, monopolies are the mercantilists and the very existence of workers themselves is seen as an impediment to the maximization of ruling class wealth.

Labor cannot be eliminated under capitalism, so the rich overseers of the system have resorted to squeezing every drop of blood from the working class. COVID-19 brought to the fore the immense crisis facing more than 150 million people who were already IN OR NEAR POVERTY before the economic collapse hit in March. On January 1st, more than nineteen million people risk homelessness with the expiration of CDC-enforced moratoriums on MORTGAGE AND RENT PAYMENTS. As unemployment increased by the tens of millions beginning in March, so too did the lines at food banks. Sixteen percent of households with children in the U.S. currently EXPERIENCE FOOD INSECURITY . That number nearly doubles for Black and Latino households.

None of these conditions are by accident. Neoliberal capitalist decay is a boon for the rich even if it sends the system into an overall state of crisis. Jeff Bezos and the richest billionaires on the planet have increased their wealth immensely since the pandemic. U.S. billionaires have seen their net worth skyrocket by ALMOST ONE TRILLION DOLLARS and counting. What has been missing from the equation is a U.S.-based movement that can fight back against the resultant immiseration of the masses.

Majorities of people of all political persuasions are hungry for Medicare for All and any kind of relief from the precarity of neoliberal capitalism. Young Democrats displaced from the American Dream hoped that the rise of Bernie Sanders and “the Squad” represented the first signs of life for the resurgence of class struggle politics in the United States. A major problem with this formulation rested in the fact that Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the rest of the squad diverted their youthful and increasingly socialist base to the corporate jaws of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is where movements go to die and where austerity is given a friendly, more diverse face from which to shatter the dreams and lives of the working class.

COVID-19 has served as a litmus test for the socialist-ish elements of the Democratic Party. The theory of change that inserts the likes of Bernie Sanders and AOC as the leaders of the class struggle has failed to materialize in reality. In recent weeks, AOC and Sanders have blamed Republicans for the latest stimulus package which is half of what was formulated by Donald Trump before Biden became president-elect and excludes the singular $1200 payment to every American. They have been silent about the fact that House leader Nancy Pelosi SIGNED OFF ON THE LATEST STIMULUS PROPOSAL coming out of Congress. When asked about the change of heart toward a bipartisan stimulus, PELOSI ANSWERED, “That’s okay now because we have a new president. A president who recognizes that we need to depend on science.”

In other words, the masses will get science but no rental assistance, a vaccine but no universal healthcare, and a new president but not a new politics that will fulfill their basic needs. Sanders and his surrogates have opposed the latest Pelosi-backed bill but have only called for the inclusion of another one-time $1200 dollar payment . It is clear that the chickens of austerity are roosting on the Sanders-wing of the Democratic Party. Austerity is politically defined by the complete absence of any demands on power which disrupt the status quo and the endless downward pressure placed on the lives of the downtrodden. Sanders’ willingness to reduce his demand for a $2000 universal basic income to a $1200 one-time payment after nine months of economic crisis follows the logic of austerity to a T.

Bernie Sanders and “the Squad” have always been unprepared to challenge austerity because their struggle does not fundamentally confront the character of the U.S. state. The U.S. state is the enforcement mechanism of capitalism. Black America has historically been the most organized, vocal, and effective force in exposing the true character of the U.S. state so that the masses of people can get to the business of transforming it. The development of diverse faces in high places within the state has temporarily disarmed the Black consensus on peace and social justice. This has in turn created a huge weakness in the U.S. left as a whole. There are but a few voices calling for Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the rest of the “progressive” Democrats to move beyond demands for a $1200 one-time paycheck and even fewer challenging their silence on the nomination of Black WAR HAWK LLOYD AUSTIN to Secretary of Defense or the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) worth $740 BILLION.

Austerity’s chickens have come home to roost in the form of the most devastating economic crisis since the Great Depression and there is no end in sight. The lesson of this moment is that real demands must be placed on the ENTIRE state, even the most supposedly left elements nesting within it. Movements are defined by their demands. Without them, AOC and Sanders will continue to support bloated military budgets and capitulate to the class that actually wields power: the capitalist class. The so-called “left-wing” of the Democratic Party is accountable only to the political apparatus enforcing austerity on the masses of people. That AOC and Sanders won’t respond to the demands of the masses is a lesson that has yet to be learned by loyal Sandernistas. Because so-called progressives are unprepared for the moment, it is ultimately up to workers and oppressed people to make the United States ungovernable unless their demands for a better life, and a new world, are met.

Danny Haiphong is co-coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace Supporter Network and organizer with No Cold War. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A Peoples History of Fake News--From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). His articles are re-published widely as well as on Patreon HERE. He is also the co-host with BAR Editor Margaret Kimberley of the Youtube show BAR Presents: The Left Lens and can be reached on Twitter at-spiritofho, and email at wakeupriseup1990-at-gmail.com.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/21/20 •
Section Dying America
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