The Economy Goes Into Crisis

It’s Their System, They Broke It, And We’re Not Paying To Fix It.

We are watching the greatest financial crisis since 1929 unfold before our eyes. Even if they manage to shore up their system for the moment, there is no doubt that a serious international downturn in the economy is getting underway. As this situation begins to impact the lives of our families and communities, we must understand and prepare to deal with what the crisis will mean to us:

People protesting the bail out in New York

1.Financial bailout for the rich: Governments everywhere have responded to the crisis of financial institutions by pouring hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars into various bail-out packages for the rich. For years, they have been telling us no money exists for decent wages, proper housing, schools or health care and, certainly, no money to ensure that poor people on assistance can pay the rent and eat properly. Now we see that this was all a lie. When the banks and corporations are in trouble, a Niagara Falls of public money suddenly becomes available to them. Don’t tell us, when we lose our jobs and can’t pay our rent or put food on the table, that ‘we can’t spend our way out of a recession’. Government must start spending for us as they have for corporate interests.

2.Get ready for ordinary people to feel the crunch: This downturn is unfolding in a context where EI and welfare systems have been cut back considerably over the last few years. Recently re-elected Harper Conservatives have made clear they will not put resources into social programs and other initiatives crucial to our survival. In fact, they will try to do the very opposite. As the downturn cuts into government revenues, government will try to cut programs, in order to balance their books. This should not only be expected from the openly right wing Federal Government. Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty has already made clear that economic downturn will delay Queen’s Park’s ‘poverty reduction’ measures. Undoubtedly, the ‘progressive’ Toronto City Council will respond to an upsurge in welfare cases by ensuring local offices turn away as many people in need as they possibly can.

3.Communities under attack will have to organize: As the downturn hits, we can expect a lot of jobs to be lost. In Ontario, this has already begun in the manufacturing sector. Companies will try to lay off workers without paying money owed to them. The number of people facing eviction for non-payment of rent will go up considerably. Unscrupulous employers will try to take advantage of the desperation of the unemployed by cutting wages and not providing overtime and holiday pay. People needing EI and welfare will face a bureaucratic wall built to deny them income they need and have a right to. Already overcrowded shelters for the homeless will face a huge increase in the numbers turning to them. We will need to bring people together to take action. Delegations from the community will have to confront government agencies that withhold income.We will have to mobilize to defend families facing eviction and fight to ensure evictions are banned during the crisis – a tactic already being employed in the US. Additional resources for income support programs for those without work must be provided. To win such things, we’ll need to take strong and bold action. Grassroots organizations must work together, to demand necessary government actions. Local committees will have to form, to take up this kind of work. We’ll need the strength of trade unions, with their strike weapon, to be set in motion. If the leaders of these unions are too timid and conservative, their members will have to make them take action or get out of the way and make way for those who will. There will have to be a major fight-back in Toronto and across the country, to prevent poor and working people from being saddled with the costs of a mess created by the greed of banks, corporations, and the governments who serve their interests.

4.We must fight for what we need: We live under a system of capitalism expressly organized to make profit for a few at the expense of the great majority. As this system moves into crisis, those few will seek solutions that work in their favour. For at least thirty-five years, capitalists and government have worked to rescind the concessions they made at an early time. Social supports have been removed, workers’ rights undermined, and the world markets have been given a free hand to engage in a wild frenzy of parasitic speculation. Now, it seems to have blown up in their faces, and the response will be to make working and poor people cover the cost. And yet, money remains available for the things their profit system requires. The federal government still finds money to wage war in Afghanistan. Dalton McGuinty has just announced that $635 million to fund the Pan Am Games is available, but a $500 million budgetary shortfall exists, so hospitals and schools should expect less funding. The banks will be allowed to come back with their hands out as many times as they like, and public funds will be thrown at them without delay. For the needs of poor people, however, nothing will be provided, unless we fight. We will become a priority when we pose enough of a problem that that they have to treat us as one. Otherwise, we will be the ones paying for this crisis. Get ready to fight back.

If you would like to work together, to organize in your community to ensure people under attack are supported, to demand and win our basic needs and rights, please get in touch.