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People Across America Are Waking Up to the Effects of 'Disaster Capitalism' -- a Much Better Way of Life Is Possible

People are taking initiative rather than waiting for leaders.

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This week, we are being told that there is a budget crisis and that we must accept more cuts, more austerity measures. But many Americans understand that austerity actually causes more economic decline rather than recovery. In response, nurses and health care workers in 13 countries had a global day of action against austerity, cuts to healthcare and for a tax on stock transactions. And there have been some victories. This week in New York City, nurses won a series of battles in the courts and electoral arena that will keep community hospitals open.

We know that the economy is rigged so that the working class is subsidizing the richest, that our wealth is trickling up.  An analysis published this week found the average U.S. family subsidizes Big Business by $6,000 annually.  This is outrageous at a time when most Americans are struggling to survive.

Instead of accepting cuts and declining wages, workers are fighting back. We’ve been reporting on the striking Walmart and fast food workers. Now people are realizing that they are fighting for all of us. And, in North Carolina where teachers are not allowed to unionize or strike, there is talk of a teacher walk-out.

Labor unrest is building and big labor needs to change to catch-up to American workers anger. There is lots of criticism of big labor for its ties to the Democratic Party and cautious lack of activism, but there are some good signs in labor as well.   United Students Against Sweatshops which has been winning victories, is allying with the AFL-CIO.  Our hope is the students pull the AFL-CIO toward more activism.

People are seeing that the Democratic Party is behind the neo-liberal economic agenda. Democrats are joining the GOP to privatize and log national forests and cut education funding.  And the husband of Senator Feinstein is selling our commons, in this case publicly-owned Post Office buildings, to his friends cheap in order to line his family’s pockets with our commonwealth.

On the bright side, as people speak-up, mobilize and take action not only is there a growing movement but the power structure is being divided. Divisions are occurring in the Democratic Party where some are being pulled away from Obama’s pro-Wall Street, market-based policies that undermine the social infrastructure.  

We hope that trend will continue, especially with regard to the mother of all neo-liberal policies, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that has been negotiated in secret for more than three years. This is a rigged corporate trade agreement (falsely called “free trade” for marketing purposes) that will do very little to get the economy going but will add to many of the mistaken market policies that hinder the economy and make it unfair. A study published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research made some amazing findings about the TPP: (1) the impact on economic growth will be almost nothing, only a .1% increase in the GDP, but (2) the impact on most Americans will be negative with 90% of workers seeing their wages decline.  The TPP will add to the decline of the middle class, race to the bottom in wages and continue the expansion of the wealth divide.

As it comes down to the wire – we expect a push by the President for Congress to grant him Fast Track (Trade Promotion Authority) so that he can sign it before Congressional review – resistance to the TPP is growing. In Maine, where the state House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution opposing “Fast Track,” Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat sees the a broad, bi-partisan opposition developing. The OWS made the TPP a focus of its anniversary protest with Adam Weissman of Occupy Trade Justice describing it as the “anti-Occupy” agreement, “a 1% power grab.”

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