It’s always pretty rich to hear conservatives posing as the defenders of the working class. This now-common claim seems vaguely possible because of the real desertion of the working class by the Democratic Party. Recently, Donald Trump visited East Palestine—the site of a Feb. 3 train derailment which has contaminated the area with toxic chemicals—and handed out MAGA hats and offered to buy food for police and firefighters. President Biden, for his part, has indicated that he has “no plans” to visit the area. But beyond these recent facts, even the lightest scrutiny leads Republicans’ claims that they give a shit about the working class to utterly collapse. Republicans have done all of the following: insisted on ending pandemic aid to working households, supported the Biden administration in blocking a strike by exhausted rail workers, blocked a minimum wage increase, and fought the expansion of Medicaid for poor families. As Warren Buffett once said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” And conservatives are the shining knights in this war, leading the heroic charge against those dark progressive enemies who would try to give single moms child care aid.
But these are dark hours to the twitchy, paranoid conservative eye, since the defeat of their blundering semi-fascist president by a conservative Democrat, whose administration has seen some actual halfway-decent policy, especially the funding for climate-related programs in the Inflation Reduction Act. With the new, incredibly narrow and incredibly ungovernable GOP House majority, the time came to take a brave stand against any future such outrages with H.R. 9, a Resolution Denouncing the Horrors of Socialism. Stepping boldly aside the mountain of corpses starved to death by capitalism every week around the world, our wise leaders decided that any past socialist regime needed to be brought in and condemned. Democrats were split by the measure rather than uniformly voting for it, as would have been the case in the past—arguably a sign of a small, wretched crawl toward progress. Hakeem Jeffries, Nancy Pelosi’s successor as House Speaker and among the largest recipients of hedge fund dollars in the House, voted for it along with a great number of liberal, centrist, and conservative Democrats.
And yet, as much of an utter bombing joke as this resolution seems, it comes at an hour that puts the gag in pretty bad taste.
It’s especially funny that the GOP rushed to pass this anti-socialist, pro-capitalism resolution right at this moment, opening with the claim that “socialist ideology necessitates a concentration of power.” But who has the power in this country? To hear the great and often accidentally-Marxist Wall Street Journal tell it, as they reported in a recent headline, “The Bosses Are Back in Charge.” A masterpiece even by the Journal’s standards, the piece reads:
CEOs are reasserting their authority now that workers are starting to worry about job security amid rising layoffs. … America’s bosses are starting to feel bossy again. Many executives say that they are no longer scrambling to retain workers, after several years of doing whatever it took to keep people on staff. Pay increases are slowing. For some jobs, hiring is getting easier. … A wave of corporate layoffs that began in technology is now flowing through other industries. … [E]mployers as varied as toy maker Hasbro, Inc., chemicals giant Dow Inc. and payments pioneer PayPal Holdings Inc. announced job cuts, following reductions at tech giants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. … Inside many organizations, there is a shift in sentiment, executives and their advisers say. Employers who felt they had less leverage in the tight labor market of the past couple years say they have more power in negotiations with employees. … Others are enforcing in-office attendance mandates that previously were ignored by some staffers. … In recent years, the balance of power in the labor market shifted toward workers, executives say, as companies had to aggressively lure employees. As layoffs occur, some employees might be more accommodating to the needs of companies. … That includes consideration about where people do their jobs.
A real estate CEO adds “This whole concept of working from anywhere went too far.” The chair of consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is quoted saying “There is a segment of CEOs who are like, ‘All right, I got the power back.’”
So just as the highest-circulation newspaper in the country is reporting that capitalist bosses are regaining power over their workers, forcing them back into workplaces that may be filled with the various respiratory diseases running wild, thank God the Republican Congress is taking time to condemn socialism.
High Life Expectations
Meanwhile, even as the struggle against socialism continues in the House, capitalism continues to put us in our place. From 2015 to 2017, US average life expectancy fell, an ongoing incredible development for the richest country on God’s Earth. The number was pulled down primarily by the rapid spread of deaths attributed to opioid abuse, itself mainly an issue in communities whose economies were hollowed-out after decades of industrial globalization. The national lifespan figure rebounded somewhat in 2018-2019 only to be smashed by COVID. Unsurprisingly, the federal data reveal that Hispanics and Black families were hit with steeper declines, likely related to their disproportionately blue collar “essential” jobs keeping them on the clock during the worst of the plague. And crucially, only a little less than three-quarters of the decline is attributed by the CDC analysis to Covid-19, with the remaining quarter including rising impacts from the diabetes, liver disease, and homicide that have grown in our alienating, declining society.
The mirror image of this ugly portrait of American economic decline is the continuing rise of our richest capitalist bastards. Just have a look at the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to see the sea of green numbers under the “$ YTD change” column, with nice wealth gains for the best-known rogue’s gallery of US and world billionaires—a $14.5 billion gain for Jeff Bezos, $23 billion for world’s richest man Bernard Arnault, a whopping $42 billion gain for Elon Musk. These numbers are all the more impressive after the long bear market of 2022.
Their rocketing gains reflect the fact that the great global corporations of today can’t be stopped. Apple Inc. is still the biggest corporation in the world by market capitalization, despite having a full trillion dollars wiped off its market cap by the tech stock declines of last year, finally deflating tech’s decades-long bull run. Apple’s fiscal 2022 first quarter (ending December 2021) saw the greatest corporate quarterly profit ever recorded in the US, $34.6 billion over three months. As we decline in our wealth and lifespans, the corporate immortals and their elite’s-elite owners sustain their ascent.(Also, do not be fooled by some GOP rhetoric about being anti-tech. Their supposed opposition to Big Tech is pure hypocrisy.)
So, I’m still waiting for the Congressional Resolution Condemning the Horrors of Capitalism. Perhaps in the far future, if the small socialist cadre in national politics grows to one day take power and institute a national healthcare program, maybe we can pass one then. And turn the American life expectancy frown upside down.