Good public policy would put jobs before profits

Opinion

Allan Greenspan, Federal Reserve Board chair, has been talking to the U.S. Congress. Once more he has been explaining what the best ways are for U.S. capitalists to raise profits to higher levels. Profits are rising so high now that Wall Streeters describe them as “fabulous.” They say these profits can be maintained through more technology and higher productivity.

Higher productivity, they hope, will also help put off the day when the Federal Reserve Board might find it necessary to raise interest rates and thereby slow down economic growth. Slowing down economic growth, of course, means slowing down job growth. But then Greenspan isn’t speaking about the jobs crisis. He’s speaking about avoiding a profits crisis.

Even though the Federal Reserve Board has not raised interest rates, its constant utterances about the potential need to raise rates have already caused rates to rise sharply. He has let the fox get into the chicken coop.

U.S. finance capital is already squeezing every drop of blood from working people, who are forced to live in a credit-card economy.

Capitalism as a system can only move in one direction – toward the sphere that produces the highest rate of profit. Capitalists have but one aim – to make the highest rate of return on their investments. Greenspan’s interest rate chatter is helping them do it.

But what if this “public servant” were to speak in defense of the interests of the whole people, not just the corporations? If he did, this is what he might have said to Congress:

“It would be good public policy – good for business and good for the working people – if Congress were committed to a program of providing a job at livable wages for every worker who is ready, willing and able to work.

“Our country needs an overhaul, land, sea and air. Our health care, education and transportation systems are in disrepair.

“You have the power and authority to enact such a program. It would create new mass purchasing power. And, new sorely needed tax revenues for state and local budgets.”

Needless to say, Mr. Greenspan did not advocate this logical program because he isn’t answerable to the people. But Congress is. The members of Congress who listened to Greenspan are answerable to the voters. Yet they didn’t ask Greenspan if he thought that kind of program could better serve the nation.

However, if we are ever going to create meaningful numbers of jobs, Congress must adopt such a program – if not this war-spending Congress, then the new one we elect Nov. 2.

It will take every bit of energy and resources that labor and its allies can bring to bear to elect a responsive Congress and president. That’s the priority now.

It will be that new-found strength that will give labor a real voice in renegotiating trade agreements so that ideas such as Rep. Dick Gephardt’s, for an international minimum wage and safety measures, become part of the trade deals.



Pat Barile is a member of the National Board of the Communist Party USA. He can be reached at pbarile@cpusa.org.