Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Friday

Black Friday

This Thursday, families across Texas will be coming together to celebrate and reaffirm their connections. Thanksgiving has traditionally been a day of rest – one of the few available to wage-earning workers in this country where there are no mandatory holidays. Even public transportation agencies will operate on reduced schedules to allow many of their workers to spend time with their families. Here in Texas, Houston METRO (1) and Dallas DART (2)  will operate Sunday schedules on Thursday, and Saturday schedules on Friday.

For businesses, however, Thanksgiving and Black Friday represent opportunities for profit. Walmart is currently advertising sales that start as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, although many 24-hour stores will remain open all day. Target, Kohl's, and Sears will also open their stores at 6 p.m. Workers will likely be required to report for work half an hour or an hour before these times. Add in the average commute of 25 minutes (3), and an employee scheduled to work the 6 p.m. opening would need to leave home between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. These employees are being forced to give up time with their families for the benefit of their employers.

Walton Family Wealth

It is not simply that workers are being deprived of a traditional day of rest and togetherness. Corporations make money by paying their employees less than the full value of their labor. This value extracted from workers is then distributed to executives and shareholders. One example of this is the wealth of the Walton family, the heirs to the founders of Walmart. While many Walmart workers earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (or $15,080 a year if they're full-time, before taxes), the wealth of the Walton family in 2010 was $89.5 billion, equivalent to the wealth of 41.5 percent of all American families combined. (4)

Protests

To support Walmart workers fighting for fair pay and better working conditions, people will be showing up at numerous Walmarts around the world to protest. Check http://www.blackfridayprotests.org/actions for locations in your area. Please remember that in Texas, you will not be able to protest on Walmart property, to include their parking lots and any sidewalks owned by them. The above site also includes more advice on what you can do.

James Wheat

1) http://www.ridemetro.org/SchedulesMaps/Holiday.aspx
2)  http://www.dart.org/rideralerts/fullra.asp?id=2324
3)  United States Census Bureau, Means of Transportation to Work by Selected Characteristics for Workplace Geography (2011-2013 American Community Survey 3-year Estimates). Retrieved from http://factfinder2.census.gov
4)  Bivens, J. (2012, July 17) Inequality, exhibit A: Walmart and the Wealth of American families. The Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.epi.org/blog/inequality-exhibit-wal-mart-wealth-american/

Socialist Party Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury Ruling

Socialist Party Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury Ruling

The mask is off. We have seen behind the curtain. American Imperialism has
come home to roost, and it is wearing a badge.

The grand jury decision in the case of Darren Wilson -- the officer who shot
Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American man six times -- is
another tragically clear indication that the people of the United States are
the targets of a brutally racist and oppressive system that has multiple
definitions of "justice" dependent on one's class position. Racism, police
brutality, and oppression have received pardons. Again.

The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin are tragedies, but
not isolated incidents. Such deaths have become disturbingly frequent in an
era of increasing police militarization, decreased police accountability, and
continued racial profiling.

Police departments have reacted with increasing force in response to protests
stemming from public outrage caused by the deaths of these men, and many
others. Across the country, many police officers have demonstrated their
willingness to harm innocent civilians with impunity. These are not mere
accidents, but rather the predictable result of aggressive ‘shoot first, ask
questions later’ policies that allow police officers to use lethal force with
little consequence.

The Socialist Party USA stands in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown.
We denounce Jay Nixon and call for his removal from office, and for Darren
Wilson to be held accountable for his criminal acts.

We stand by those who have taken to the street to demand justice for these men
and all the victims of police brutality and systemic racism. We support non-
violent efforts to confront the growing police state in the US and condemn the
constant harassment and brutality that communities of color and working-class
people face.

The people have received their marching orders. Together, we can and will
fight for the changes that deliver equality, peace, and justice for all.
Nothing short of universal equality, peace, and justice is acceptable.

Passed by the Socialist Party USA National Committee 11-24-2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Democrats Steer to the Right and into Defeat

Democrats Steer to the Right and into Defeat
by the Socialist Party USA National Action Committee 11/8/2014

If progressives can learn one thing from the 2014 election cycle, it is
that they no longer have a place in the Democratic Party.

With Republicans on the offensive, Democratic incumbents and hopefuls
spent the entire election running away from anything perceived to be
associated with President Obama. In effect, this created numerous
Democratic campaigns that ran to the right of a president that was already
on a long-standing drift to the right of his own. This is in contrast to
the normal state of affairs, which is where Democrats campaign on ideas
that appeal to the progressive base and then do not deliver when elected.

This set of events left progressives and even many liberals without the
party that they would normally identify with and vote for. The result was
a sweeping defeat for Democrats in the congressional and gubernatorial
elections, losing their Senate majority in the process.

At the same time that voters gave a resounding defeat to the Democrats,
they also voted heavily in favor of raising the minimum wage in several
states. Voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota all
approved minimum wage initiatives by double-digit margins, while at the
same voting down statewide Democratic candidates by double-digit margins
in three of the four states. By doing this, working class voters have
proven that they are prepared and willing to embrace the issues and cast
off the party and politicians that fail to deliver on them.

Outside of the twin parties of capitalism, Tuesday's election saw
candidates running to the left of the Democrats collectively receive over
a quarter of a million votes. The parties and specific beliefs of these
candidates may be different, but the fact that so many people threw their
support behind at least one left-wing candidate cannot be ignored. Our own
Adam Adrianson can take credit for 33,000 of these votes from his
Socialist Party campaign for the Michigan State University Board of
Trustees.

Moving forward, progressives in the United States have to realize that
they no longer have a party that represents them. The Democratic Party is
on a one-way charge to the right, and progressive-minded people have no
place on that trip.

Politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the limit of what
the Democrats have to offer. They serve as icons to entice progressives
and liberals with populist messaging and hopes of building a radical
element within the Democratic Party. In reality, they are puppets meant to
distract voters and activists with hopes that will never be realized in
the current political alignment.

Aside from staying in place and becoming increasingly marginalized and
powerless, the only alternative for progressives in the United States is
to break from the Democratic Party and move to the Left. By this, we mean
the real Left, rather than the left that the Democratic Party has
pretended to be.

Socialism, specifically democratic socialism, offers the social justice
and economic democracy that progressives yearn for but will never see in a
Democrat majority or the capitalist system. By moving towards democratic
socialism, working class people who currently identify as progressive or
liberal will find radical ideas they could have never dreamed of with the
Democrats, along with a rapidly growing movement that is dedicated to
building a new society of radical democracy from below.

We hope you will join us in this struggle.