As we’re getting deeper into a new wave of COVID, the weekly rate of new layoffs is increasing, just like during the earlier waves of COVID. However, CARES Act money to bolster state unemployment benefits are set to run out just before the New Year. There’s no agreement in Washington to extend unemployment benefits, let along raise them high enough to keep working-class families above the poverty line. The COVID recession has reduced state and local tax revenues so much that big cities are on the verge of large layoffs of bus and subway workers, schoolteachers, and even public health employees. At the same time, the federal government is closing down programs which are authorized to lend local governments money to keep essential services running.
But government programs to keep big business afloat during the COVID crisis have worked very well – the rise in the Dow Jones stock market index to a record high this fall is proof of that. What’s the explanation for the fact that the government has successfully bailed out big business and failed the rest of us? It’s simple, the One Percent have political power and the system is set up to work for them. Almost half of Congress are millionaires. Many of the ones who aren’t will get rich when they leave Congress to take well-paid positions with big corporations. We’re taught that we live in a democracy. If that’s true, then it must be a democracy just for the rich.
Ordinary people are only listened to when we take to the streets in large numbers or shut things down at work. Voting on which millionaire to send to Congress changes nothing, but it’s very different when we vote with our feet.