Monday, January 26, 2009

Bloody Monday

With the announcement of over 70,000 job cuts in a single day, today was Bloody Monday, the worst carnage so far in an economic depression that still has a long way further down to go. I don't know if it was a coincidence, but on my job today the president sent out a major letter to all employees about the economic crisis and what it means for the university. The bottom line: in reassuring language, he assured us that nothing is assured. They don't plan any layoffs--but they can't promise layoffs won't occur. They're instituting a wage freeze, except for employees like me covered by a union contract--but I have no confidence that they won't go for a contract reopener and impose a wage freeze on the accommodationist leadership of my union. Overall, the big boss said, the university's finances are in good shape--except that they did lose $20 million or so invested with Bernie Madoff.


A few days ago, in a brief column published in the Cuban newspaper Granma, Fidel Castro commented on the inauguration of Barack Obama, "president No. 11 of the United States since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in January 1959." Fidel wrote that no one can doubt President Obama's sincerity when he lists all his aspirations for the U.S., and called him "the living symbol of the American dream."

"However," Fidel cautioned, "despite all the tests he has withstood, Obama has not passed the central one. What will he do when the immense power in his hands proves absolutely useless for overcoming the system's insoluble antagonistic contradictions?"

The system, of course, is capitalism. The contradictions produce worse and worse crises that no zillion-dollar bailout of the capitalists can overcome. No politician has a solution to the hard times bearing down on us. The only answer I can see is for us, working people, the people being hit hard, to unite, organize and hit back, demanding that we, not the crooks, be the ones bailed out. All this is put much more eloquently in a recently issued position paper from the Bail Out the People Movement.