Friday, November 11, 2016

What can we expect from President Donald Trump?

There are a few aspects of the election campaigns that I always find particularly disturbing.  We are barraged with information about the democrats and republicans who are running for office, yet the most important issues are never mentioned.

I believe in the union phrase that says: “An injury to one is an injury to all.”  We will notice that this sentence is not, an injury to one American.  No, the original concept of the labor movement was that this is an international struggle.  Keeping this in mind, let’s look at some of the most important issues facing workers and farmers in the world.

·      About half of the people on this planet live on two dollars per day or less.

·      Every day about 30,000 children die of preventable diseases.  One of the primary causes of these deaths is that these children did not have access to shoes.  Parasites enter the feet of a child.  This causes diarrhea that can lead to death from dehydration.

·      There are hundreds of millions of people in the world who do not have adequate access to water, electricity, or food.

·      Yet the United States government has spent hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars on war.  These wars cost the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers and millions of people throughout the world.

·      Despite what the media has been arguing, the standard of living in this country has been declining over the past forty years.  When we count those who have exhausted unemployment benefits, the unemployment rate is the highest it has been since the depression of the 1930s. 

Since those candidates who received publicity in the media were totally indifferent to these issues, there was never even a remote possibility that the new president would even attempt to deal with the world’s most pressing problems.

On the night of the elections I went to bed before the news media announced the outcome.  I went to bed knowing that it made no significant difference who was elected.

The next morning I was surprised to learn that Donald Trump would be the next President.  My immediate reaction was that he will just be another President who favors corporate interests above the interests of workers.

On that same day, our dog Rosie had a surgery for a tooth extraction.  Aside from the astronomical cost of the surgery, everything went well and Rosie is back to her old self.

Why do I mention Rosie’s surgery in this column?  Well, Rosie brings a sense of joy to people.  According to the newspapers and my personal discussions, most people felt that the election was about deciding on a lesser evil.  When you vote for a lesser evil, there is a guarantee that you will get evil.  So, this is why I felt Rosie’s surgery was more significant than whether a democrat or republican will be living in the White House.

Clearly, there are many people who are correct when they argue that Donald Trump is openly racist.  Black people in this country have had decades of experience with openly racist politicians, and they justifiably resent having to deal with this again.

Malcolm X spoke to this point and I will paraphrase his remarks.  Malcolm argued that Senator Barry Goldwater made no pretense that he supported the interests of Black people.  Goldwater was opposed to the Civil Rights Act and would have preferred that the Jim Crow laws remain in place. 

When Goldwater ran for President, Malcolm argued that if he were elected, this might be, in a way better for Black people.  His argument was that the only way for Black people to win meaningful concessions from a President Goldwater would be to organize.  Organizing people in mass movements has had meaningful results.  Relying on liberal democrats to make meaningful change is almost like waiting for a goose to lay a golden egg.
Clearly there are many who disagree with this perspective.  They might argue that Hillary Clinton would not be as horrendous a President as Donald Trump.  Allow me to give just one example to explain why I feel that Clinton would not be significantly different from Trump.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Clinton was the closest adviser to her husband President William Clinton.  She supported him when he enforced an economic boycott of Iraq.  That boycott cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.

While Hillary Clinton supported this boycott, she wrote a book titled: It Takes A Village.  This is a how-to book about raising children and argues that it takes a village to raise a child.

How could Clinton support a policy that, in effect, murdered hundreds of thousands of children, and at the same time write a how-to book on how to raise children?  The answer is that Hillary Clinton, like all capitalist politicians, lives in complete denial that they are responsible for their actions.

President Donald Trump

Donald Trump was raised in a wealthy family.  These families typically give their children what they want, when they want it.  It is difficult for a working person to even imagine what it would be like to be raised in this kind of environment.  Imagine never having to do anything that a boss tells you to do.  In other words, Donald Trump was raised in a world totally divorced from the lives of working people.

I would imagine that children who are raised with obscene amounts of wealth, at one time or another ask a basic question.  Why isn’t everyone wealthy?  The answer given to these children is that their parents worked hard for the wealth they have.  They are told that they are deserving and entitled to the wealth they have.  Any other answer to this question would not appear to be acceptable in the environment of the super-rich.

The facts are that working people are the ones who produce all the goods and services we need and want.  Capitalists like Donald Trump never actually work to produce these goods and services.  Capitalists take the wealth produced by working people and use it for their own benefit.  This is how the system of capitalism works.

The news media attacked Donald Trump because he didn’t pay taxes for many years.  The facts are that the number one priority of any capitalist government is to promote an environment that is suitable for corporate investment.  In Philadelphia corporations enjoy hundreds of millions of dollars in tax abatements.  Any corporation that builds in the city doesn’t need to pay taxes for ten years.

What I find more interesting is a question the news media never raised.  Trump didn’t need to pay taxes for years because his company lost hundreds of millions of dollars.  So, why would anyone invest with someone who lost so much money?

Communists argue that the system of capitalism is a roadblock for the advancement of humanity.  One reason for this is that capitalism will inevitably move towards total economic crisis.  The depression of the 1930s didn’t happen because capitalists failed in what they were doing.  No, that depression erupted because it was the inevitable consequence of successful corporate business practices.  Capitalists invested with Trump, no doubt, because all investments today are inherently risky.

During Trump’s campaign for President he argued that when he was elected he would place a steep tariff on imports from other countries.  He thinks that this will spark corporate investment in this country.

Well, the facts are that capitalists made massive investments in other countries because if they didn’t, they would have gone bankrupt.  In capitalism the percentage of profit on investment continually declines.  So, when the labor movement forced employers to raise wages, employers invested in building factories where workers receive about $2 per day in wages.  Forcing corporations to give up foreign investments ignores the reason why they made those investments in the first place.

Donald Trump also argued that he will deport the twelve million immigrants who live in this country.  We might consider that President Obama deported more immigrants than any other President. 

Thousands of the immigrants Obama deported have children who were born in this country.  When this happens, the children are sent to foster care, while the parents might never see their children again.  This is just one of the horror stories authored by President Barack Obama’s Administration.  Apparently Donald Trump is not satisfied with this horror story.  He wants to multiply this story many times over.

The twelve million immigrants living in this country have many friends.  These immigrants and their friends will create a powerful movement to prevent these deportations. 

There is another problem with Trump’s promise to deport all immigrants.  Immigrant workers are central to many corporations in this country.  I’m talking about agriculture, construction, meatpacking, restaurants, garment, and housekeeping.  Immigrant workers are also central to highly skilled work in research and development projects.  In other words, deporting twelve million immigrants would not just be a horror story, these deportations would destroy the economy.

Moments of truth

When Barack Obama ran against John McCain for President in 2008 the financial markets of the world began to fall apart.  Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson drafted a bill that would give about $700 billion to the banks that had lost immense amounts of money.  Since about half of the financial assets in this country are controlled by one-percent of the population, the lions share of this money would go to the super-rich.  Congress initially refused to hand over the money.

John McCain and Barack Obama both understood that their job is to promote an environment suitable for capitalist investment.  So, they both interrupted their Presidential campaigns to shake down Congress for $700 million.  The alternative would have been that more large banks would have gone bankrupt.

As I’ve attempted to show in this column, capitalists are not interested in the welfare of human life.  They are only interested in the maximization of their profits.

I’ve also attempted to show that if President Trump follows through with his plans, this would have a disastrous effect, not only on humanity, but also on the economy.  Sooner or later, I believe someone will sit down with President Trump and inform him that he needs to abandon his crackpot ideas or there will be dire consequences.  When capitalists do not see a way of turning a profit, they simply will not invest and would prefer to shut down the economy.

How will President Trump respond to this point of view?  We don’t know the answer to this question.  What we do know is that he might be more unpredictable than any other president in recent history.

What we do know is that the capitalist system has its laws.  In their Communist Manifesto Karl Marx and Frederick Engels argued that capitalism has a disease that has never appeared before in human history.  This is the disease of overproduction.  When there are more commodities on the market than people will buy those commodities, capitalists will refuse to invest.  Banks can close down and the economy, sooner or later, will collapse.  This is inevitable. 

Even though there is only a very small percentage of the population that supports the idea of a workers government, this perspective will win millions of adherents when workers begin to understand that we have no future in the capitalist system.

Understanding the fact that the capitalist system is in crisis explains why most capitalists supported Hillary Clinton for President.  At this point in time, they want someone who they who has proven themselves to support their interests.  Donald Trump, while he has dedicated his life to supporting capitalism, is unpredictable and could clearly spark an economic collapse.        

What does it mean to be a communist?

In my opinion the only answer to this enormous problem is to place a workers government in power.  There are those who will argue that many workers voted for Donald Trump, so why would I think that a workers government will be any better than what we have today?

We might think of our history for a moment in order to answer this question.  There were long periods of time when people adapted to the horrendous regimes of feudalism and slavery.  However, the time came when masses of people organized to overthrow these regimes.

The labor movement suffered through fifty-seven years of defeats before millions of workers joined unions and forced employers to make real concessions.  Black people experienced decades of Jim Crow segregation before the civil rights movement erupted.  This is how history has unfolded.

Working people voted for Donald Trump because they mistakenly believed that he will bring about meaningful change.  Workers who voted for Hillary Clinton were under similar illusions.  I don’t believe it will take much time for workers to become disenchanted with President Trump.

Communists believe that working people have the capacity to transform the world.  There will be real battles in our future.  The capitalist system offers absolutely no solutions. 

I wrote in the names of Alyson Kennedy for President and Osborne Hart for President and Vise-President.  They were the candidates of the Socialist Workers Party.  While I didn’t think they will be elected to the White House, I do believe that they were the best possible choice for that office.  They have confidence that workers have the potential to change the world and that the only way to make meaningful change is through mass movements and not elections. 

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