I’ve always found Presidential debates to be difficult to witness. Those individuals in the Democratic or Republican Parties appear to live in a completely different world from working people in this country. They profess to care about people and argue that they are working in our best interests.
Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco quarterback who has refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem had this to say about the so-called presidential debate. “Both are proven liars and it almost seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist.”
So a question to be asked is: Why is there such a disconnect between what government officials say, and the actual reality working people experience every day?
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton asked the audience to fact-check their arguments. Well, we can begin our fact checking by taking a look at the science of basic arithmetic.
When we pay for any commodity the money usually goes to private enterprises or corporations. Some of that money goes to the owners and some goes to the workers who produce all goods and services. When the owners get more in terms of profits, workers get less. When workers get more in terms of wages, owners get less in terms of profits. This is basic arithmetic.
Looking at this relationship, we see that the interests of workers and owners are antagonistic. The press argues against this perspective. They routinely argue that when workers receive higher wages, employers simply raise prices. This is not true.
Prices are set because of the system of supply and demand. If corporations set their prices too high, people will not purchase commodities and corporations will go out of business. We see this with respect to the price of gasoline. Gasoline used to be about four dollars per gallon, and now it is about two dollars per gallon. Corporations lowered the price because they felt they would loose money if gasoline remained at a price of four dollars per gallon.
So, we can conclude that the interests of workers and employers are antagonistic. A fundamental problem with the Clinton and Trump campaigns is they argue that the interests of corporations and workers are the same. By doing this, they are both clearly taking the side of corporations against workers.
Donald Trump has most of his business interests in this country. He favors placing onerous taxes on commodities imported into this country. In economic terms, this is called protectionism.
Protectionist policies favor weaker capitalist economies. By placing taxes on imports, domestic industries are in a more favorable position to compete.
When Britain and France were the world powers in the nineteenth century, the United States had protectionist laws to encourage investment in domestic industries. During those years, the prices of commodities were more expensive than in other countries because of these measures.
Then, after the Second World War, the United States became the world’s superpower. The protectionist measures were abandoned. U.S. corporations could undercut the prices of corporations in other countries, and placing onerous taxes on corporations during those years was counterproductive.
However, something else happened after the Second World War. In the first part of the twentieth century, working people commonly toiled for twelve to fourteen hours per day. The wages of those times were barely enough to feed a family. Children routinely worked in factories.
So the labor movement organized and forced corporations to make significant concessions. The civil rights movement also organized to give Black people rights they had been denied. The women’s movement also organized to make real gains for women.
Corporations responded to these developments by making massive investments into manufacturing facilities where workers receive a salary of between one and ten dollars per day. This was not done just because capitalists are greedy as some people argue. No, a constant feature of the capitalist system is that corporations are routinely driven to cut costs.
One of the reasons why many capitalists favor Hillary Clinton is because her policies favor their investments in other countries. So, this is the choice. Trump’s policies might favor more U.S. jobs with higher prices. Clinton’s approach might favor fewer jobs with lower prices. Working people loose with both strategies.
We should also keep in mind that the banks nearly closed down in the year 2008. These banks were saved by literally trillions of dollars in government assistance known as quantitative easing. The government bought up nearly worthless investments to rescue the banks. This crisis can not be averted and it is only a matter of time before the capitalist debt-bubble will break.
What do working people want?
Since the interests of workers and capitalists are antagonistic, we might ask the question: What do workers and farmers want?
I will only give my opinion on this question based on my life’s experience. There are eight basic things that workers want. These include: food, clothing, housing, transportation, communication, health care, education, and exposure to cultural activities like art, music, sports, recreation, dancing, theater, and film.
The incomparable singer Etta James also said in one of her songs that she wanted “security.” For me, this means that we need to have the right to all those things workers want and need throughout our lifetimes. Of course, all these goods and services need to be of the highest quality.
Capitalists want us to be competitive. They want us to think that workers who live in other cities, or states, or countries are our competitors. My opinion is that working people have the same interests in all countries. We all would like the things I just mentioned.
Politicians as well as the media argue that it is unrealistic to have these goals. They argue that the way to get what we want is to work for a corporation directly or through a small business. The idea of working people running a government where human needs are more important than profits is totally unacceptable to those who support the capitalist system.
However, when we think about the goods and services people want and need, we might question the role of some of the enterprises we’re routinely exposed to. The cities throughout the world are filled with office buildings that house enterprises that include: banking, insurance, advertising, as well as stock brokerage houses. Thinking about what these enterprises do, they don’t directly provide for the goods and services we want and need. Yet, we need to pay for all these enterprises with every commodity we buy.
Both Trump and Clinton argue that they have plans that will reinvigorate the economy. However, there is no real plan in the capitalist system. Capitalism is continually regulated by the anarchy of supply and demand.
In 1929 there were more commodities on the market than could be sold at a profit, so capitalists merely shut down the economy. Millions lost their savings. Working people experienced pay cuts and there was about thirty percent unemployment. This same scenario almost happened in 2008. Clearly, there was no plan for these events.
Donald Trump totally discredited Hillary Clinton’s claim that working people benefitted from policies she advocated with the following statement:
“You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacture is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent.”
However, Trump also totally discredited his character when he argued that he favors “law and order.” Had there been a real debate, this statement would have destroyed any popularity Trump has.
The Central Park Five
In the year 1989 a young woman was raped and brutalized in Central Park, New York. The police arrested five Black teenagers for the crime and coerced them into signing confessions. There was no other evidence connecting the Central Park Five to this crime.
Donald Trump paid $85,000 for adds in four New York City newspapers. The headlines of these ads were: “Bring Back the Death Penalty.” Theses ads, signed by Trump argued:
“I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be made to suffer.” ‘They should serve as examples so others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.”
After serving seven years in prison, conclusive evidence emerged that someone else was guilty of this crime. All of the Central Park Five were released from prison. The city of New York eventually paid each of the Central Park Five one million dollars for every year they spent in prison.
Donald Trump argued that this settlement was a “disgrace.” He went on to say that, “The recipients must be laughing out loud at the stupidity of the city.”
So, Donald Trump argued that young Black teenagers, who were found not guilty of anything should be made to “suffer.” When it was conclusively proven that they were innocent of the crime they had been convicted of, he offers no apology. To the contrary, he calls the payment they received for being unjustly incarcerated, to be a “disgrace.”
I read the newspapers every day. Rarely have I seen any mention of Donald Trump and the Central Park Five. Yet he is in the papers every day.
Hillary Clinton chose not to call Trump in this gross hypocrisy. Clinton supported her husband, President William Clinton’s “Crime Bill.” The effect of this bill was to dramatically increase the number of people living in prisons in this country. Anyone who lives in the USA has a better chance of going to prison than citizens in any other nation in the world.
I’m supporting Allyson Kennedy for President and Osborne Hart for vice-President. They are the candidates of the Socialist Workers Party. They understand that the interests of workers are antagonistic to the interests of corporations. They understand that only by mobilizing working people will any basic changes happen. They see the interests of working people throughout the world as the same and see our interests as being international. They believe that it is clearly possible for working people to establish a government where human needs are seen as more important than corporate profits.
While they will not win the election, this strategy has the potential to transform the world.