Let’s Make Next Year OUR Year

2010 is drawing to a close. People will gather with friends and family to celebrate. For those of us who don’t have to go into work on New Years day, the first day of 2011 might even be an opportunity to get a little rest. As usual, the corporate TV stations will broadcast their New Years Eve specials. In between advertisements, they will show us “Year in Review” segments of all sorts of trivial events and stories of 2010. But we know what won’t be covered – the reality of our lives.

For most of us, 2010 was a year of stress and uncertainty. For millions of people, 2010 will be remembered as a year of submitting countless applications and resumes for jobs they would never get. It will be remembered as the year we went in for two, three, or four job interviews, and were never called back or told “sorry, we had to go with someone else.” At the end of 2010, the national unemployment rate remains at more than nine percent. In California, the unemployment rate is more than twelve percent.

And for those of us who have jobs, 2010 will be remembered as year we were told over and over to “be thankful you even have a job” as the bosses piled on more work, tried to cut wages and slash benefits. For millions of workers, this year will also be remembered as the year the banks kicked them out of their homes. In 2010, more than 1.2 million homes went into foreclosure.

2010 was a year where we saw funding for our schools, public transit systems, and other programs slashed even further. In California, billions of more dollars were cut from public education. Public transit systems like AC Transit, MUNI, and BART cut service, raised fares, and attacked the wages and benefits of workers. And we were told the lie, again and again, that all of these attacks were necessary because there “just isn’t enough money”.

For immigrants, 2010 was a year of escalating attacks. More than 390,000 people were deported – shattering people’s lives and families. Arizona passed legislation requiring cops to ask for proof of legal status if they suspect someone of being an undocumented immigrant. And now Congress has voted against the DREAM Act, which would have given citizenship to undocumented young people in the U.S. if they attended college or went into the military. Even the promise of increasing the ranks of the military to carry out their murderous policies wasn’t enough.

2010 was a year of continued US wars. Obama, who promised to end the wars, has maintained the US occupation of Iraq, increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and extended that war into Pakistan with thousands of drone attacks.

But 2010 was very good for the banks, corporations, and super rich. They were given trillions of our tax dollars in bailouts. Meanwhile, the corporations announced third quarter profits of more than $1.6 trillion – the highest ever recorded. The Democrats and Republicans voted to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of the population putting hundreds of billions of dollars in their pockets.

2010 also showed us that people aren’t just accepting these attacks. Throughout the world we have seen hopeful beginnings of resistance. This fall millions of workers and students in France demonstrated and went on strike to protest the government’s attempt to raise the retirement age. We saw similar strikes in Greece, Spain, England, Portugal and Ireland. In China, thousands of workers went on strike at Honda and other factories.

In March, thousands of students, teachers, and parents in California organized large demonstrations against attacks to public education. And in the state of Georgia, 2010 ended with prisoners in at least six different prisons organizing a six-day strike against inhumane treatment.

The people who run this system are telling us to expect more of the same next year. Corporate CEOs and bankers are both forecasting record profits and more layoffs. And politicians are telling us to brace for more cuts. We don’t have to accept any of this. 2010 was their year. Let’s make 2011 our year.