All over the world it seems countries are being swallowed by debt. It is as if the world were being hit by a natural disaster. If we listen to the news media and the politicians this is the picture we get – that the debt is a problem which we all must deal with equally. In the United States a so-called congressional super committee made up of Democrats and Republicans is debating how to make $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. And in Europe representatives of the European Union come together to settle how they will deal with the debt crisis that is overwhelming the economies of Greece and Italy. We are told that all we can do is wait for the so-called experts to deal with this crisis and hope for the best. We are all in this crisis together.
This is the biggest imaginable lie. The debt is the product of years of economic manipulation by the wealthy elite and corporations. Now with the crisis caused by their economic system they are using the opportunity to attack our wages, our pensions, our social services, and the future of our children. There’s nothing natural about this and we are certainly not in it together.
A big part of this crisis was manufactured by the banks themselves. For years the banks had perpetrated a huge scam, selling people homes with mortgages they couldn’t afford. Then the banks would sell those mortgages on the international market and walk away with a huge profit and no liability. Pension plans were sunk into investments linked to these mortgages. Cities invested in these banks’ holdings. Even whole countries such as Iceland had investments in the banks’ mortgage scam. Then in 2008 the bubble burst.
Most people in the United States have experienced this crisis in the form of job losses, cuts, and foreclosures on their homes. But what about the banks? They received bailouts from the U.S. government to the tune of three trillion dollars. In addition they have received eleven trillion dollars in loan guarantees from the U.S. treasury. They have profited from the crisis they created.
Right now the so-called super committee sits in Washington deciding how to cut the federal budget, by $1.2 trillion – most likely with cuts to Medicare and Social Security. At the same time, U.S. corporations are holding $1.9 trillion in cash – money that they are holding, waiting for a time when they can invest it.
We’ve seen the effect of this crisis hit most cities and states in the form of budget deficits. And how do they make up for these deficits? With cuts to schools, transit, health care, childhood development programs, care for the elderly and more. California just announced a $3.7 billion budget shortfall and no doubt we will see huge mid-year cuts. While the rich profit, our lives are under attack.
The picture in Europe is no different. German, French and Italian banks all pulled the same scam as American Banks. They invested in Greece, Spain and Portugal. But their investments collapsed in 2008. Now these countries are facing massive unemployment, layoffs and budget deficits.
But people have begun to show their opposition. In the United States, the Occupy Wall Street protests have been a presence for more than two months. On November 2nd more than 30,000 people marched from the Occupy Oakland camp to the Oakland port. And just last Thursday 35,000 people in New York marched to protest the closing of the camp in Zuccotti Park. On the West Coast, faculty from the State University System in Northern California went on strike and gathered at Cal State East Bay’s campus for a demonstration. And at the same time 50,000 people took to the streets in Athens, Greece to protest the cuts being forced on them.
All over the world people are beginning to stand up against those who benefit from this system of profiteering. People are realizing that those in power have no solutions because they are the ones who caused the crisis. We are the majority. We do the work of the world. We produce all the wealth. We don’t have to accept policies that only serve the wealthy. But first we have to decide that we will not pay for their crisis!