What Can Workers Do About Unemployment?

A Socialist Labor Party Statement
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What Can Workers Do About Unemployment?

From what you read in the newspapers, hear on radio and TV, or are told by the politicians, you might think that unemployment was some strange disease with an unknown cause. But the cause of unemployment is not really all that puzzling.

Just ask yourself a few questions:

Are millions of Americans jobless and plants closed because there is no need for what they could produce?

Are thousands of auto workers out of work because Americans have too many new cars or because they have good mass transit? Has the housing industry shut down because working people no longer need decent places to live?

Have layoffs spread throughout the clothing industry because every American is well clothed?

The answers aren't hard to find.

Working people are out of work for one main reason. Namely, they have produced goods which too few people can buy even though the crying need for these goods can be seen everywhere.

For a long time now, the great wealth produced by working people has been a problem. Not because it can't be used, but because it can't be sold at a profit. And if the people who own the industries can't make a profit, they close up shop, no matter how pressing the needs of the people may be.

Why do the owners of industry have the right to choke off production and throw millions out of work when their profits grow too slim? Because they privately own the industries and therefore control the American economy.

Every lay-off notice makes a lie of the claim that unemployment is the fault of the jobless worker. Every call to accept "cutbacks" to save jobs shifts the blame away from where it belongs. The blame belongs with the capitalist system itself.

Under capitalism, a small group, the capitalist class, owns the raw materials, the machinery, the factories and the big busi- nesses. Growing unemployment is caused by the profit drive of this small class which guides every part of our economy. Their interests clash with the needs of the majority of the American people.

Many workers look to the government for help. But politicians can't come up with a cure for unemployment. They call a 6 percent unemployment rate "full employment." They admit that unemployment is here to stay.

For the last 25 years, the United States has had an average unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. That's one of the highest in the world. Today it is about 10 percent! One out of every 10 workers can't find a job. Millions have even given up looking for work. The government expects unemployment to stay high throughout the 1980's.

Since it can't stop unemployment, the government offers unemployment insurance. But the only thing the payments "insure" is poverty. Many unemployed workers are facing even tougher times as their benefits run out and they still can't find a job.

Some people think that the government could get rid of unemployment by spending billions to create government jobs. But in the last 40 years, the government has done just that. More than 17 million people work in government jobs and yet unemployment is growing.

All of the so-called "solutions" of the past have failed. And workers should have no faith in any new versions coming from either the Democrats or the Republicans. Both major parties serve the interests of the capitalist class. Any plan they come up with will try to save the capitalist system at the expense of working people. Unemployment is here to stay as long as capitalism lasts.

To be sure, workers are fighting back -in the only way they know how. Strikes, protests and other signs of unrest are everywhere. Workers seem to know that the hardships they face just don't have to happen.

But, as yet, workers haven't begun to organize their real strength. Their fight has been too limited. Demanding short term make-work projects won't do. Putting different politicians in office won't do either. Unemployment is a BIG problem and calls fora BIG solution.

The working-class answer must be to scrap the whole capitalist system. Not sometime in the future, but now. We must build a movement that will give the workers control of the economy. Production for profit must be replaced with production to meet people's needs. The capitalists should no longer control the things that we need in order to live.

American workers must rely on their own strength. No one else will save them -- certainly not the present labor unions. Their leaders claim to support the workers, but they plead the case of the employers.

We need new unions that base themselves on the interests of the workers. They must not be split up by crafts or contracts. They must join all workers in the same industry together. These unions must unite all workers -- employed or unemployed, skilled or unskilled. And they must be controlled by the rank and file. Their goal must be to overthrow the capitalists' rule over the industries and to build a new society.

At the same time, we must build a political party based on workers' interests. For too long, workers have trusted politicians who are working for the capitalists' interests.

The goal of this new union movement and a workers' political party must be to replace this capitalist system with a new, socialist system. Socialism means that the industries would be owned by all of society and controlled democratically by the workers themselves, through these new unions.

A political party of the working class and a new kind of union, both aimed at a socialist goal -this is what is needed!

The job of educating and organizing for a new society is a big one. But putting it off will delay the only real solution we have -- replacing capitalism with genuine socialism. There is no other way out and no one but the American workers to do the job.

Maybe you've heard bad things about socialism. But if you have, it's because the capitalists who own the industries don't want people to know that there is a better and fairer way for society to be organized. They don't want socialism because socialism would mean that they would have to give back all the wealth they've made off the backs of working people. So they spread a lot of lies and confusion about socialism.

If you want to know what socialism is really about, get in touch with the Socalist Labor Party. Take a look at what we have to say, learn the truth about socialism, and give it a fair chance in your mind. Just use the coupon below for more information.