Monday, January 28, 2013

Why I voted for James Harris

Well, this is only the first month of President Obama’s second four-year term in office.  Already he has shown that he has every intention of continuing his all out, unrelenting war against working people.  Understanding this, I have a sense of satisfaction for having voted for James Harris, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for President.  To understand why I feel this way, we can look at the policies of President Obama over the past few months.

The two percent tax increase

The President has welcomed working people to his new term in office with a two percent tax increase.  He justified this horrendous policy with jargon about the so-called need to pay down the debt, and how we don’t want to “fall off the cliff.”  The reality is that Obama has favored dumping trillions of dollars on banks that he feels are “too big to fail.” 

One bank that received huge amounts of government money through their relationship with the American International Group or AIG happens to be HSBC.  HSBC happens to be the bank that was found to lauder money for Mexican and Columbian drug cartels. 

James Harris has a different approach to the taxes working people pay.  He argues that workers provide services at their jobs and this is the only payment that workers should be making.  Capitalist politicians argue that capitalists, who do no useful work, should receive enormous “incentives” like the bailout money for the banks.  James Harris argues that these same capitalists, who represent no more than one percent of the population, pay all taxes.

Hurricane Sandy

When we see the horrendous effects Hurricane Sandy, this crisis did not happen because of the hurricane.  No, the cause of the crisis related to this hurricane came from either government action or a lack of action. 

First, we need to look at the fact that throughout the capitalist world working class families are effectively forced to live in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding.  Far Rockaway, Queens is one of these areas and the residents of this area were especially hit hard by the hurricane.

Today we are seeing a trend in how the United States government deals with natural disasters like hurricane Sandy and Katrina.  First, they refuse to carry out a comprehensive evacuation plan that treats citizens with the dignity we deserve.  Then, they call those people who do not evacuate “stupid.”  Then, they refuse to pay for the damage caused by the disasters.  The results of these policies have meant that hundreds or thousands of people lost their lives, and thousands more never received adequate compensation for their losses.

James Harris points to the Cuban government that responds to hurricanes by organizing comprehensive evacuations where even chickens, dogs, and cats are evacuated.  Although the Cuban government has significantly fewer resources as the United States, even the poorest Cuban residents are given assistance to rebuild after the hurricane.


Like the presidents before him, President Obama has made war against some of the poorest people in the world his top priority.  Literally hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent to murder civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Why would anyone who has political power support this policy that appears to be so profoundly stupid?

Today about 40% of the world’s population lives on two dollars per day or less.  These people produce commodities that allow about 250 families to have more wealth than half of the world’s population.  The United States government typically goes to war to make sure people who live in dire poverty continue to live in dire poverty.

Some people from other countries make an attempt to escape the poverty they experience by working some of the worst jobs in the United States.  President Obama has already deported over one million people, more than any other president in history.

James Harris understands that our true enemies are hunger, homelessness, unemployment, poverty, illness, ignorance, and alienation.  He argues that a workers government would view human needs as more important than profits.  With these kinds of priorities, humanity can go on an all out war against our real enemies. 

How can this be possible?

Certainly tens of millions of people voted for Barrack Obama or Willard Mitt Romney because they felt this was the most rational thing we can do.  James Harris only received a tiny percentage of the vote.  So, why do I feel that his political orientation has a chance of success? 

Today the world capitalist system is in the midst of a profound crisis that can only get worse.  Working people are not mindless automatons who will simply go along with whatever the government has to offer. 

The United States was born as a result of a political revolution.  The Civil War was another revolution that abolished chattel slavery.  Then, the labor, civil rights, and anti-war movements changed the consciousness of people in this country. 

It is just a matter of time before working people begin to understand two basic facts.  One is that there is no meaningful future to the capitalist system.  The other point is how working people all over the world have the potential to transform our lives and make profound improvements in our standard of living. 

This is why I voted for James Harris and why I believe working people have the capacity to transform the world.

More information about the politics of the Socialist Workers Party can be seen at:     

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Les Misérables – A review

Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Misérables has been made into numerous theater and film productions.  The current film, starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean appears to be the most realistic rendition.  What most reviewers fail to mention is how this story continues to be a profound critique of the world we live in today.  In order to see this relevancy we need to take a look at the story.

The story

As a child Jean Valjean saw his sister’s child starving to death in France during the early years of the 19th century.  This prompted Valjean to steal a loaf of bread.  The police arrested Valjean and he served 19 years in prison.  Five of those years were for stealing the bread and 14 years were added on to that sentence for several escape attempts.  The authorities released Valjean on parole, but he needed to violate that parole in order to find employment.

After several years Valjean changed his name, became the owner of a factory, and the Mayor of the town where he lived.  A police inspector named Javert discovered Valjean’s true identity and dedicated himself to apprehending the escaped convict.

In the meantime, a woman named Fantine, who worked in Valjean’s factory, hid the fact that she was supporting a child that was born out of wedlock.  When her co-workers discovered Fantine’s secret, they pressured a foreman to fire the unwed mother.

Fantine then did whatever she could to continue supporting her daughter Cosette, but eventually died because of the life she needed to live.  At this point, Valjean cares for Cosette as if she were his daughter.

In the midst of this story the French Revolution erupts.  Young people begin to see how a completely new political system was necessary and they organized to overthrow the military.  In the process, the revolutionaries arrested Police Inspector Jabert and sentence him to death.

Valjean was given the task of executing Jabert, but he has mercy on his nemesis and allows Jabert to escape.  This act transforms Jabert and he realizes that his core values of police enforcement were all wrong and he commits suicide.  Jabert says that Valjean’s act of mercy, in effect, killed the essence of who he was.                

Today’s reality

As of the year 2011 there were 50.1 million people living in the United States who are food insecure or hungry.  Many states have a three-strikes and you’re out law that mandates sentences of 25 years to life for those who are convicted of three thefts.  Most of the prison population consists of people convicted of drug related offences that do not necessarily harm anyone but the user.  These are some of the reasons why the United States has more prisoners, per capita, than any other nation in the world.

During the last sixty years the United States government has made it a practice of going to war against nations that are some of the poorest in the world.  Many of the residents of these nations such as Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan experience the same kind of poverty as we see on the pages of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.  Millions of people in those nations have perished because of these wars.

The government, the media, as well as corporations encourage working people to blame our problems on other workers who do not measure up to corporate standards.  Along these lines, we see the media searching for individuals on public assistance who manage to receive more money than the horrendously meager allotments they receive.  This same media has no serious problem with the trillions of dollars allocated to the owners of banks that are “too big to fail.”

Unlike Police Inspector Jabert, the political officials in the United States haven’t come to the realization that their core values are one big lie.  No, Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton actually believe that enriching the affluent will, in some way, benefits the millions of people who will go to be hungry this evening.  They also believe that the best way to aid people in some of the poorest nations in the world is to kill them.

Victor Hugo understood that the answer to the problems of 19th century France could not be solved by appealing to the political officials of that day.  No, things reached the point where the people took to the streets and attempted to organize a movement to solve the problems of their day. 

Given the enormity of the disparity of wealth in the world, Victor Hugo’s ideas appear to be just as relevant today as they were over one hundred years ago.