Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fiscal Crisis of States

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, what next?  In the United States,1 a "fiscal crisis" of states and municipalities, both real (masses of public-sector workers are getting laid off even now2) and imagined (bogus public pension liabilities stats used in right-wing propaganda to attack unions3).

Money is out there, though, if only we had a powerful coalition to tax the rich!

There's a very good pro-labor, anti-racist, Green rationale to prioritize this fight above all, since one of the sectors under attack is urban mass transportation, whose workers are often unionized and, as in many other sectors of civil service, are often non-white.  Needless to say, state and municipal public service is the most feminist thing in the United States, in terms of profiles of both workers and beneficiaries.

Leftists can't win everywhere pursuing this battle to tax the rich, but we can win here and there,4 which would help build more durable bases for future actions than anything else.  There's nothing like victories to build a Left!

Taxing the rich is also better financial reform than any "oversight" of finance that the Democrats come up with at the federal level.  The less money the rich have, the less money for their gambles.  The financial reform PR message here is to tax the rich and spend their money here, so they won't spend it to bid up, say, real estate prices in China or something like that.

1  In the eurozone, the fiscal crisis expresses itself as the euro core of Germany versus the euro periphery of PIIGS.  See Jayati Ghosh, Heiner Flassbeck, Joseph Halevi, Costas Lapavitsas, and Mark Weisbrot.

2  Dean Baker, "State and Local Governments Have Shed 72,000 Jobs since December," MRZine, 2 April 2010).

3  Nathan Newman, "No Crisis in Public Retirement Systems: Debunking the Hype and the Attacks on Employee Benefits" (MRZine, 17 April 2010).

4  Rick Wolff, "Oregon Counters Massachusetts" (MRZine, 27 January 2010).

No comments: