Looking back on 2013, it was a year of records. The capitalist class – the owners of the banks and corporations – brought in record amounts of wealth. Their profits have hit an all-time record in this country, making up over 70 percent of the GDP (the gross domestic product – all wealth produced in one year). Companies are making the most amount of money since anytime after 1947 – the year that records started to be kept.
Banks alone made record amounts of money in 2013. In 2012, banks made a record 141 billion dollars and are expected to make over 25 percent more when they finish adding up 2013. And the stock market ended 2013 at an all-time high, giving the wealthiest Americans their largest gain in over two decades – since only the wealthiest can afford to own that much stock.
The super-rich in this country have gotten even richer. Today there is the largest gap in wealth than at any time in the history of this country. The richest one percent owns 42 percent of all the wealth, and the richest ten percent owns 85 percent. The average CEO earns 380 times the average worker – it takes a worker two months to earn what a CEO makes in an hour.
And what is the source of all this inequality? Where did these record-breaking profits come from? Did companies magically sell more products in this country and around the world? Did they secretly stumble on some pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? No!
There is only one source for the off-the-charts wealth of the capitalists, only one reason for this unheard of inequality. The only reason the rich have gotten richer is because workers have gotten poorer. As profits are at an all-time high, wages are at an all-time low, not even increasing since 1972.
In other words the source for their wealth is that they have stolen it from us. In every major industry, as companies are reporting their record profits, they boast how they have cut their costs to make this money. What they mean is they have fired workers, cut our overall pay or benefits, and pushed more work onto fewer of us. Today fewer Americans are working than at any time since 1980.
The source of their wealth has been our labor, and they’ve stolen that wealth and made our lives more miserable in the process. But in fact, the wealth of society belongs to those who do the work. And organized together, workers can retake what they have stolen from us.
We don’t have to be the victims of their robberies. Workers have the power to fight back – we could decide how all the enormous wealth that we create gets spent. We could decide whether the trillions of dollars that our work creates just sits in banks, pays for missiles and mansions and skyscrapers – or is actually spent on what we need.
We could spend it on schools for our kids, on more hospitals, on public transportation, on affordable housing, on putting everyone to work so we can have time off. It’s our wealth, and when it is stolen from us, it only makes our lives more miserable. We should be the ones to decide how we want to spend the wealth that we create.
If we don’t want to be the victims of this crisis – we have to fight for our own interests. It’s not enough to be divided into our own little corners, with one group of workers pitted against the other. We must be part of the same fight. In every industry, all workers are facing the same setbacks. The wealth we create has been stolen from all of us. But organized together we can we control that wealth, improve our lives, organize a better way of living, a new society, and a better world.
Looking back on 2013, it couldn’t be any clearer whose year it was. Let’s make 2014 our year.