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Editorial & Opinion

There’s no action like job action like no action we know



To understand the root cause of poverty, inequality and all other the problems of capitalism there is no need to read Marx’s collected works. All it takes is a glance at the next two charts.

The Productivity–Pay Gap
Continued surge in strike activity signals worker dissatisfaction with wage growth

Notice the vast recent increase in work stoppages from involving 25,300 workers in 2017 to 455,400 in 2019. Some of these job actions took place in Rhode Island, such as the strike at Stop and Shop, the at Rhode Island Hospital, and quite a few other ones.

Rhode Island Hospital receives 10-day strike notice from UNAP
An overview of the Stop & Shop strike

Last week, the University of California, as a true representative of the dead liberal class, tried to intimidate international graduate students in an attempt to break a wild cat strike. Students have to sleep in their offices or their cars because they cannot afford housing; they’re fed up.

We’re California Graduate Students, and We’re Not Taking Poverty Wages Anymore

This is a struggle against the power elite, with its privatization, its austerity, and its entitlement issues. A perfect example is Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama Administration. As LABORNOTES reports: “University of California President Janet Napolitano proudly touted her opposition to Trump’s racist immigration policies before he even moved into the Oval Office. Now she’s following in Trump’s footsteps, threatening international students with actions that could lead to their deportation in an attempt to smash a wildcat strike at the university’s Santa Cruz campus.”

The younger generation, the Sunrise Movement in particular, understands the dynamics: the misleading nature of the unemployment numbers, the gig economy, and the increasing inequality. They also understand what it will take to deal with the mushrooming climate catastrophe: Organize Vote Strike.

Can we please ask a favor?

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We must end the war economy and bring back the tax structure of the 1950s with its 90+% tax on the top. We’ll have to impose a wealth tax to cut down to size the empires of Amazon, Bloomberg, CVS, and the rest of the alphabet of parasites. Robotization means that we need a four-hour work day made possible by universal basic income, health care, and free education for all. What once may have sounded like a dream today is a matter of human survival.

As Rutget Bregman put it: “Time and time again, researchers have shown that ‘free money’ may be the most efficient, the cheapest, and the most civilized way to combat poverty.”

Peter Nightingale is a theoretical physicist and teaches at the University of Rhode Island. He strives to leave behind a more just, peaceful, and sustainable post-capitalist world for future generations, and for his children and grandchildren in particular.

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