Tags: democracy, Human Rights, Labor, US politics
People on the Left, even while criticizing President Barak Obama, often argue that there is no alternative to voting for him. Chameleon-like Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, has disavowed his own greatest accomplishment–the Massachussets health care law that he passed when he was governor of that state–to pander to the hard-right Tea Party wing of the Republican party. A Romney victory, if he does not change his policies once elected and there is no indication that he will, would lead to further tax reductions on the wealthy, an increase in defense spending even though the armed forces do not request it, abject support for Israei’s Benjamin Netanyahu not only against the Palestinians but also for a pre-emptive strike against Iran even though the Israeli defense hierarchy is opposed to it, a rollback of Obama’s signature health care law, massive cuts in domestic spending that will have a disproportionately adverse effect on the poor. It would give the Republicans an opportunity to stack the Supreme Court for many years given that 3 justices are in their seventies and are likely to retire during the next presidential term. A Romney presidency would likely try to reverse Roe v. Wade especially if it can stack the Supreme Court and seek to ban gay marriages and reverse a host of social legislation. As indicated by the third and last of the presidential ‘debates’ on October 22, Romney is likely to continue an aggressive foreign policy.
Yet, because Romney is bad is not cause enough to endorse Obama. As Conor Friedersdorf wrote in the Atlantic Monthly,
If two candidates favored a return to slavery, or wanted to stone adulterers, you wouldn’t cast your ballot for the one with the better position on health care. I am not equating President Obama with a slavery apologist or an Islamic fundamentalist.
Though President Obama’s policies are not as heinous as promoting chattel slavery, as the New York Times reported on 29 May 2012, every Tuesday, the President discusses and personally approves a “kill list,” of targets intended for assassination without trial or due process by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, the Philippines and elsewhere. In these “Terror Tuesdays,” without any constitutional or legal mandate, Obama decides on the execution of people on macabre “baseball cards” including those of underage American citizens like the 16 year-old Abdulrahman Awlaki.
Obama’s rapid escalation of the drone war has not only killed thousands of innocent civilians but also probably created more enemies than those killed, apart from ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands–the constant noise of drones circling overhead in Afghanistan and Pakistan, driving people crazy by preventing them from sleeping and making them afraid of a strike at any hour of the day or night.
Domestically, the continuing economic crisis has had a disproportionately adverse impact on African-Americans, but Obama’s 2011 State of the Union speech was the first since 1948 not to mention poverty or the poor as Frederick C. Harris, director of the Institute for Research on African-Americans at Columbia University observed. Daniel Gillion, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote that in his first two years in office, President Obama talked less about race than any Democratic president since 1961.
Tags: 21st Century Capitalism, Manufacturing, Political Economy, Production, US Economy, US politics, World-economy
News today that the US unemployment rate dropped in September 2012 to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent in August and is now at the lowest level since President Barack Obama took office will undoubtedly boost his campaign for re-election, two days after his dismal performance in the first debate with his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. If this is good news for the president, the situation is less rosy than it appears. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers stuck in part-time jobs in September stood at 8.5 million, an increase of 581 million from the previous month and double the level it was in September 2007. Even worse, the number of full-time workers in the US has declined by 5.9 million since September 2007 while the number of part-time workers has increased by 2.6 million.
In fact, if the number of part-timers looking for full-time work, the U6 unemployment rate, is considered, it is unchanged
And as Moira Herbst writes in the Guardian,
It’s distressing to think that after 20th-century labor struggles won the battle for the 40-hour work week, the 21st-century struggle is a fight for enough working hours to make a living wage.
In another report in today’s New York Times, the average number of employees per new firm declined from 7.7 persons in 1999 to 4.7 in 2011. For almost the last half-century, new companies have accounted for the bulk of jobs created in the United States, In fact, without new start up companies, the United States would have seen a growth in jobs for only 7 years since 1977! The numbers of new jobs created by new companies was the greatest in 1999 as a result of the dot com boom and by 2011, it had declined by some 46 percent.
One major result of the decline of full-time employment and the rise of part-time employment is that part-timers are denied virtually all benefits. Without healthcare and other benefits, workers are increasingly compelled to rely on Medicaid and emergency room visits for illnesses and as Herbst noted, this leads to a shift in costs from employers to tax payers. This is of course covered up by both political parties in the United States: the Democrats tout the new decline in unemployment figures but never mention that 6.9 million people were working multiple jobs in the US in September. The Republicans stress cutting taxes–making health care even less accessible to the poor.
Both focus on a middle-class that is rapidly shrinking and not on the increasing numbers of people below the middle class. For them, neither candidate has anything to offer–and therein lies the shame! In today’s politics, the concerns of the masses are silent–the decline of manufacturing not only hollowed out industries but by also kneecapping labor, it has made both major political parties alike–both shifting further and further to the right, and both having nothing to offer to the vast majority of the population.