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Monday, November 5, 2012

Fwd: Resolution of the SEP Conferences: Build the Socialist Equality Party!

In an attempt at balance and fairness (after my Obama endorsement)

The Socialist Equality Newsletter for the 2012:



Socialist Equality Party

SEP Election Newsletter

Attend the Socialist Equality Party regional conferences! Rester today at socialequality.com/conferences. Please support the SEP campaign by making a donation. For information on how to vote for the SEP candidates, click here.

Contents:

Resolution of the SEP Conferences

Build the Socialist Equality Party!

5 November 2012
The following is an edited version of a resolution discussed and passed at the SEP regional conferences in Los Angeles (October 27), Berkeley (October 28) and Detroit (November 4). The conference in New York was cancelled as a result of the impact of Hurricane Sandy. A report on the Detroit conference will be published on the WSWS on November 6.
1. The 2012 elections are being held under conditions of the worst economic and social crisis since the Great Depression. Four years after the spectacular collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, there is no sign that the world economic crisis is abating. World economic growth is slumping. The economy of Europe is stagnant and is expected to contract next year, and official unemployment is at a record high. Greece and Spain are mired in depression conditions of unprecedented poverty. China has entered a slowdown due to a steep fall in exports.
2. In the United States, the claims by the Obama administration that it is overseeing a "recovery" are fraudulent. The only recovery has been for the corporations, which are seeing record profits and a soaring stock market. The jobs situation, already disastrous, is getting worse. Tens of millions of people are out of work, have seen their wages slashed, or have been thrown out of their homes. The average duration of unemployment remains near the record highs set after the collapse of 2008. Half the population is categorized as poor or near-poor, while 4 million people subsist on less than $2 a day. Student youth face soaring tuition and debt, with little prospect of a decent-paying job.
3. On the eve of the elections, Hurricane Sandy once again exposed the conflict between the basic requirements of American society and an economic system anchored in private ownership of the means of production. An event like Sandy, which impacts tens of millions of people, underscores the need for a planned and centrally coordinated social response, marshaling hundreds of billions in resources. This, however, is made impossible by a system controlled by a narrow elite that owns the productive forces. The hurricane has further exposed the immense social inequality that pervades the country. The death toll has surpassed 1 00 and continues to rise, and millions of people are still without power in New York, New Jersey and throughout the East Coast. The official response from the Obama administration and state and local officials has focused on defending the interests of the corporate and financial elite. While the political establishment in New York City moved quickly to restore electricity to Wall Street and to luxury apartments, working-class residents have received only minimal assistance, at best.
4. As with so many disasters before it, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the devastation wrought by Sandy is the product of natural events compounded by a bankrupt social system. Warnings about the consequences of a major storm have been ignored, and necessary measures to prepare have been rejected on the grounds that there is "no money." Vast resources have been devoted to bailing out the banks and ensuring the wealth of the corporate and financial elite, wh ile critical social infrastructure needs--including mass transit, electrical transmission and flood prevention--have been neglected.
5. The official two-party election contest has absolutely nothing to offer the working class. The Democrats and Republicans are equally committed to the defense of the corporate and financial aristocracy. The "debate" is between a multimillionaire asset stripper (Romney) and Obama, also a multimillionaire, who has proven himself a ruthless representative of the banks. The differences that do exist between the two parties are of a tactical nature. On all issues that concern the basic interests of the corporate and financial elite, they stand united.
6. The plans of the ruling class for after the elections are being concealed from the American people. The next administration, whether led by a Democrat or a Republican, is planning huge cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, public education and other social programs. Obama's health care overhaul, the fundamental purpose of which was to cut costs for corporations and the government, is only the beginning. Both parties are planning to cut corporate taxes, while eliminating deductions that benefit working people.
7. New wars are being planned. Recent reports show that US and Israeli planning for a military attack on Iran is far advanced. The American military is systematically building up its forces in the Persian Gulf. As in the run-up to the war against Iraq, denunciations of Iran for its nuclear program provide a pretext for pursuing a policy of regime-change. A war with Iran could quickly ignite a general war in the Middle East, bringing in China and Russia and producing a military conflict between the major powers with unimaginable consequences. Washington is simultaneously escalating its neocolonial intervention in Syria.
8. After the elections, the attack on democratic rights and the expansion of the police powers of the state, launched after 9/11 and intensified under Obama, will be stepped up. The Obama administration has already implemented a global policy of state assassination, including of US citizens, without judicial review. Obama's military and intelligence advisers have developed a "disposition matrix" to institutionalize extrajudicial killings, which are already taking place on virtually a daily basis. It is only a matter of time before such methods are transferred to the United States.
9. The experience of the Obama administration has underscored the imperviousness of the political system to the interests of the vast majority of the population. The past three-and-a-half years have confirmed the SEP's assessment that Obama's election did not signal a revival of social reformism, but rather a new stage in the corporate onslaught on the j obs, living standards and social rights of working people.
10. Chief among the promoters of Obama are the official trade unions and the array of liberal and pseudo-left publications and organizations that orbit around the Democratic Party, such as the Nation magazine and the International Socialist Organization. These forces speak on behalf of a privileged layer of the middle class that is deeply hostile to the working class. Having proclaimed Obama's election in 2008 a "transformative event"--largely because he is the first African-American president--they are once again lining up behind his reelection.
11. The Socialist Equality Party and its candidates, Jerry White for president and Phyllis Scherrer for vice president, have intervened in the elections as a means of building a socialist leadership in the working class, uniting the struggles of workers and youth, and politically organizing them to carry out the revolutionary transformation of society. The SEP rejects the argument that since only a Democrat or a Republican can win the November 6 election, working people should support the Democrat as the "lesser evil." This has been the last line of defense of the political domination of big business in America for more than a century. The two-party political monopoly is thoroughly undemocratic and must be swept away.
12. The SEP and its candidates explain the inseparable connection between the struggle of working people for their basic social, economic and political rights and the program of international socialist revolution. The corporate and financial aristocracy's death grip on the resources of society is the main obstacle to social progress. The SEP insists that the rights of working people cannot be secured except through the independent mobilization of the working class in a struggle to take political power, radically redistrib ute wealth, establish social equality, and reorganize economic life under the democratic control of the working masses so as to serve social needs, not private profit.
13. The SEP has placed at the center of its program the fight for the international unity of the working class. In the backdrop to the American elections is a global economic crisis that has already begun to produce explosive class battles--from South Africa, to Europe, to the United States itself. The interests of the working class cannot be defended on the basis of a national program. In every country, working people are oppressed by transnational corporations that scour the globe for cheap labor and profits, pitting workers of one country against their class brothers and sisters in other countries in a fratricidal race to the bottom.
14. The economic crisis is having a profound impact on the consciousness of workers and young people. The Am erican working class is losing confidence in the capitalist system. The objective development of the crisis and the experiences of the working class create the basis for the emergence of a mass revolutionary movement in the United States, the heart of world capitalism.
15. The great and urgent task is the building of a new political leadership that gives conscious expression to the objective development of the class struggle. The working class needs its own political party, one that begins from the understanding that the capitalist system has failed. A new socialist leadership must be built in every section of the working class and among students and young people. Workers and young people face a major decision, but it is not the empty choice between Obama and Romney. It is the decision to take up an active struggle for socialism. It is not enough to bemoan the political choices as they are presented by the ruling class and its political sys tem. It is necessary to join and build the alternative--the Socialist Equality Party and its youth organization, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality.

A socialist policy for the victims of Hurricane Sandy

Statement of Jerry White, SEP candidate for US president
2 November 2012

White speaking at a meeting in Ann Arbor last month
As the Socialist Equality Party's candidate for US president, I want to express my solidarity with all those who have suffered the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. I call for the allocation of hundreds of billions of dollars to make the victims of this disaster whole and rebuild the homes, schools and infrastructure in the storm-ravaged states.
Tens of millions of people in New Jersey, New York and other states are facing a catastrophic situation. The death toll is quickly approaching 100 as rescue workers pull more victims out of the rubble. Across a 1,000-mile swath of ten states, powerful winds, flooding and fires have destroyed homes and cars and left millions without electricity.
Much of the New York City metropolitan area--the most densely populated region in the country--has been cut off from subway, commuter rail and airport connections. Damaged and ruined businesses have left workers, already living paycheck-to-paycheck, without any income. Power outages and shortages have left residents to forage for food and wait in line for hours for gasoline.
The official response--by the Obama administration, state and local authorities, and the utility giants--has been an insult. At every juncture, the social needs of the population come into conflict with the profit interests and prerogatives of the corporate and financial elite that both the Democrats and Republicans defend.
As the bitter experience of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters shows, many homeowners and small businessmen who lost everything will never recover. Insurance companies are expected to pay out no more than $10-20 billion--a fraction of the estimated $50-70 billion that was lost.
The homeless have been piled into rescue shelters and victims told to apply for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is notorious for delays and denying help to disaster victims.
Like everything else, the allocation of resources has been directed to the top. The city's billionaire mayor and the utility giants made sure electricity was quickly restored to the New York Stock Exchange so Wall Street investors could continue reaping their profits. The lights were also turned on in the luxury high-rise apartments in lower Manhattan.
Meanwhile, working-class and poor residents of the city have been abandoned. In Staten Island, one woman told the news media, "We are not getting help because we are a working class neighborhood and it's a kind of fend for yourself thing."
In public housing projects--without water and electricity for lights or elevators--residents have been forced to get water from open fire hydrants and lug containers up multiple flights of stairs in the dark. One resident--a transit worker who had spent the previous 24 hours helping to restore the train system--told the WSWS, "Different classes get taken care of differently."
Opposing any significant allocation of resources needed to address this crisis, the politicians and the corporate-controlled news media have stressed the need for "self-reliance," telling victims the government cannot do everything and recovery will take a very long time. Moreover, they say, the government is already facing a fiscal crisis that will limit the response.
The Socialist Equality Party rejects these claims. This disaster demands a massive, socially coordinated response. The country's full technological, financial and human resources must be marshaled to provide immediate relief to those in need and rebuild homes, schools, businesses, and transit and infrastructure systems in the affected areas.
There are millions ready and able to work. The national jobless rate for construction workers alone is over 16 percent, with some 2.2 million fewer workers employed in the industry today than in 2006. These workers must be put to work--at guaranteed good wages and benefits--through a massive government-funded public works program. This must include a comprehensive program to upgrade and modernize anti-storm and flood-control systems, mass transit, and the electrical generation and transmission system.
To claim that there is no money for these essential needs is a lie. The Bush and Obama administrations made an estimated $23 trillion available to bail out the criminals on Wall Street who plunged the economy into the worst crisis since the Great Depression. After being handed the keys to the US Treasury, these financial sharks are making more money than ever. On top of this, four trillion dollars have been wasted on the war s in Afghanistan and Iraq on behalf of the energy conglomerates and big banks.
Far from providing any relief to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, both millionaire candidates--Obama and Romney--are committed to a "Grand Bargain" to slash $4 trillion from the federal deficit. This will involve savage cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that will cost lives and make the population even more vulnerable to the impact of such disasters.
Hurricane Sandy has once again exposed the impossibility of addressing the needs of a modern, mass society within the framework of the outmoded capitalist system. Again and again, social needs run up against the absolute obstacle of an economic and social system in which the productive forces of society--and all of the decisions about the allocation of resources--are monopolized by a tiny handful of the population.
Scientists have repeatedl y been warning New York city and state officials of the probability of a weather disaster involving widespread flooding and damage to electrical and transit systems. Proposals for the building of strategic storm barriers in and around the New York harbor--which would have prevented the catastrophic flooding--were rejected out of hand because of the estimated cost of $10 billion. This is nothing compared to the profits and bonuses of the banks and financial institutions headquartered in Manhattan.
The Socialist Equality Party calls for the nationalization of the banks and their transformation into publicly owned entities. The working class, which produces the wealth of society, should take control of these resources so that human need takes precedence over the greed and ever-greater enrichment of the financial aristocracy. At the same time, a radical change in course and social priorities is needed, including a policy to contain global warmin g and upgrade basic infrastructure.
Such a transformation is not possible through a political system completely dominated by the rich. The working class must build a mass socialist party to fight for a workers' government and genuine social equality.
My running mate Phyllis Scherrer and I entered these elections to fight for these policies and to build a new revolutionary leadership of the working class. I urge you to make a class-conscious vote for us on November 6, and above all, to make the decision to join and build the SEP to lead the fight for socialism.
For more information and to become involved, visit socialequality.com

SEP candidate Phyllis Scherrer campaigns among NYC workers in aftermath of hurricane

By Sandy English
5 November 2012
On Saturday Socialist Equality Party vice-presidential candidate Phyllis Scherrer spoke to workers and young people in Lower Manhattan about the need for a socialist program to prevent the kind of social disaster that has affected many millions on the East Coast of the United States and in the Caribbean in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Lower Manhattan was severely impacted by Sandy one week ago.
Residents of the Baruch Houses public housing development still had no heat on Friday afternoon and only recently had power restored. No relief agencies were present at the development, although individual volunteers who had signed up online for private relief initiatives were arriving to bring supplies to tenants. Most of these volunteers were younger people from neighboring areas who themselves had lost power and other essential services after the storm.
Many Baruch families were heating their apartments with their ovens, leaving windows open to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Inside and around the Baruch Houses a huge police presence was evident, with police vans, squad cars and groups of officers standing at street corners. As Scherrer spoke to residents, ambulances and fire trucks arrived. Other utility trucks lined the streets in an area of Manhattan that was overwhelmed by floodwaters.

Scherrer with Millie, her children, grandchildren and family
Scherrer spoke to some of the utility workers who have been working 12- and 14-hour shifts to restore power, asking them about the state of the infrastructure. One worker told her that that the failure of the electric grid was entirely preventable.
Scherrer approached a group of residents standing at one of the entrances. They explained, "This is the largest housing complex in Manhattan. We just got our lights back last night. We didn't have a blackout. They cut the power out purposely."
"They shut you down intentionally?" asked Scherrer. One of the residents explained that the city had hoped they would all leave, and there have been rumors that the city wants to tear down Baruch Housing and replace the complex with luxury high-priced condominiums.
Scherrer asked Ernest Brown, an event planner, and his nephew Shawn Washington, about the conditions in the area after the hurricane.
"No help came at all, " Ernest said. "We got space-ship food [military rations] from the police. Everyone was triple-charging you."

Scherrer speaks to residents of Baruch Houses

Ernest remarked that the development was not a violent area, and that most shootings were by the police. He said that the city did not provide for basic needs of the residents. "We need a new community center. There is a shut bathhouse, four floors that could be used for a community center, but the city won't hear of it. They're stopping us from going place to place in the complex. The police are beating people up and stopping and frisking them."
Discussing the election and its relationship to the social crisis, Scherrer explained, "Regardless of who is elected, whether it's Obama or Romney, we're going to see austerity, much worse than we've already seen. There is going to be an intensification of the war drive and an attack on social programs. What you've seen and probably been experiencing for years is what a larger section of the popul ation is going to be experiencing. There is no way to impose this type of social inequality peacefully. They took money from us to bail out the banks. We are for a redistribution of that wealth back to the population. This will only happen with a socialist government."

Scherrer and volunteers at Baruch Houses
Scherrer remarked that the so-called "fiscal cliff" due in January would mean an automatic end to long-term unemployment compensation and other basic programs for working people, "all because we bailed out the bankers to the tune of $23 trillion."
"They can only do this," she said to the Baruch residents, "because we don't have our political independence as a class. The working class is tied to the parties that made the decisions about who would get relief after the sto rm and who wouldn't. We need our own political party that we build and will fight for us."
"The conditions facing workers in Baruch are a class question and a part of an international assault on the working class." Scherrer pointed to the role of Barack Obama, hailed as the first black president who would therefore bring fundamental change but who was carrying out class war policies for the rich against the working class.
Ernest nodded in agreement and said, "Those of us poor people who know what's going on know that Obama didn't deliver on his promises."
During the conversation, two young volunteers--Leroy, an art director, and Lynn, a graphic designer--approached the entrance of the building with batteries for the tenants. They listened to the conversation as Scherrer emphasized the international character of the crisis, particularly in Greece, Spain and South Africa. S cherrer went into detail, particularly on the situation in South Africa, where the government with the support of the National Union of Mineworkers had shot down striking miners. She spoke of the ruling African National Congress as an instrument of the bourgeoisie in post-apartheid South Africa.
After listening to a brief explanation of post-apartheid South Africa, Leroy asked, "So this transcends race, it's a question of the haves and the have-nots?"
Scherrer said that it was, and asked Leroy and Lynn why they had come to the Baruch Houses. Leroy said, "We wanted to help out." He lives down the street from the development and had also lost power and heat. "I thought it was the entire area. I know Wall Street got power, but I didn't realize that it was a lower class versus people-with-money issue."
Scherrer spoke to a number of people who were shopping at the Key Food sup ermarket, one of the few in the neighborhood. "This was an entirely preventable crisis," she said to Millie Cruz. "This disaster could have been averted."
Millie said, "It certainly could have. It was like two separate worlds. No one knew anything about us down here. Only toward the end trucks came with food and water. We were stranded. No information, nothing whatsoever. Battery Park City and certain other areas had light and we had nothing here. They don't see the people down here."
Scherrer also spoke to people who did not live in Baruch, such as James, a truck driver, who expressed broad agreement with the program of the Socialist Equality Party.
He and his wife had been bringing flashlights and dry ice to the seniors in his building, "I saw a lot trucks in Battery Park City. I think they should have been sent to the places in need. You have people that are still with out." Commenting on billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg's original insistence on continuing with plans for the NYC Marathon, James said, "He was going to be handing out water to runners in Staten Island while Staten Island is devastated. It's just him not being in touch with reality."
Scherrer said, "The mayor and the ruling class in this city were worried about a social explosion. People saw that they had generators, food and water for the marathon while many thousands were suffering without basic necessities. That's why they canceled the marathon." She mentioned the hotel manager that had cancelled reservations for marathon runners because he was housing hundreds of refugees from the storm. "A crisis like this brings the real class tensions to the top."
Tanaya Johnson and Shantel Dunbar spoke to campaigners outside of Key Food. "We didn't even have heat before the storm and one elevator wasn't working in my building. I think they should have backup generators. There are no windows in the stairwells and it's dangerous to carry water up to the 13th floor," Shantel said.
Tanaya said, "If Cuomo hadn't been concerned about the CEOs and their companies downtown, I believe it would have taken much longer to restore electricity in this area. "The city doesn't take care of the grounds here. Even before the storm leaves blocked the drains. You can see the difference by neighborhood, which ones they're concerned about and which ones they're not.
"This country is run on the back of the working class and the poor. We pay more in taxes than [Warren] Buffett or Romney," she added. "They've cut our afterschool programs and the school buses, and Head Start fees have risen to $600 a month and our wages aren't going up."

SEP candidate Jerry White speaks to Chrysler workers in Detroit

By a WSWS reporting team
3 November 2012
White
White speaking to Chrysler workers at shift break
SEP presidential candidate Jerry White and a team of supporters spoke to Chrysler workers at a campaign rally Friday afternoon at the Warren Truck assembly plant in suburban Detroit. The factory employs some 2,300 workers who build the Dodge Ram and Dodge Dakota.
Campaigners called on the hundreds of workers to vote for the SEP in Tuesday's election. SEP supporters also distributed hundreds of copies of the World Socialist Web Site Auto Workers Newsletter, which included the statement by White "A socialist policy for the victims of Hurricane Sandy."
Many workers expressed support for the socialist candidate and stopped to discuss the program advanced by the SEP. Several workers signed up to attend the Midwest Regional Conference, "Socialism and the 2012 Ele ctions," this Sunday at Wayne State University in Detroit.
In response to a discussion about the way in which working-class residents of New York have been abandoned in the wake of the hurricane, one worker responded, "That sounds familiar. It happens to us everyday inside of there," he said, pointing to the factory.
"Everyone forgets us," another worker said. "Even the UAW [United Auto Workers]. It's unsafe in there and the conditions are getting worse. Both Obama and Romney live off the sweat of the people that work for a living."
White
White discusses with a worker
White explained that billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had made it a priority to ensure that power was restored to the New York Sto ck Exchange and luxury apartments for the rich. "In working-class neighborhoods," White said, "workers and their families have been left to fend for themselves, without electricity, heat and water."
Many workers expressed frustration with the choice presented between president Obama and multimillionaire Republican challenger Mitt Romney. "There is no difference between them," was a common refrain.
A worker with 18 years spoke bitterly about the 2009 forced bankruptcy and restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler imposed by the Obama administration.
"There is all this talk about Obama 'saving' the auto industry. But in 2009, he told Chrysler and the UAW to go back and negotiate big concessions to get the bailout. The UAW accepted a new absentee policy that allowed the company to fire older, better-paid workers so they could be replaced with lower-paid second-tier workers. The absentee program is very strict but the management and the international UAW reps don't have to adhere to it. The White House also cut the wages for all the new hires.
"The UAW got workers to vote for the deal because they feared losing their jobs in a bankruptcy. The day after the contract was ratified, Obama announced that Chrysler was going into bankruptcy anyhow."
Other workers spoke about the impact of the betrayals carried out by the UAW. One young worker said he had been a part-timer for years and was finally hired in as a full-timer a few years ago. Under the new contract he had to take a $7-an-hour pay cut to become a full-timer.
Bryan, with 19 years at the company, said, "We're all looking to do something for our kids and make sure that they have a better life. But all the corporations here and abroad are cutting wages to boost their profits--that's capitalism ."
Another worker, responding to White's call for the building of a party of the working class, said, "We're the overworked class."
White explained that the SEP campaign represented the only genuine alternative for the working class in the 2012 elections.
The capitalist system has failed, said White. The only alternative is the international struggle by the working class for socialism. This includes the nationalization of the banks and auto industry under the democratic control of the working class. It is only through such a program that the vast productive forces of society can be utilized in a rational way to meet human needs instead of corporate profit. "I call on workers to vote for me and my running mate Phyllis Scherrer on November 6 as a class-conscious vote for the building of an independent revolutionary alternative for the working class."
For more information on the SEP campaign, click here.

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