A New Feature Now Appearing Weekly in Labor Advocate Online

The Week in Review
November 30, 2003

The Close Of a Bloody Month
Neither a resumption of aerial bombing, nor a secret dinner trip to Baghdad by the commander-in-chief, could slow down the carnage in occupied Iraq. In addition to 74 U.S. GI deaths in November there were victims from Italy, 19; Spain, 7; Japan, 2; Korea, 2; and one from Colombia. The occupying forces don't release figures on Iraqi casualties.

While virtually everyone in the world knew of Bush's stealthy mission, and Hillary Clinton's prowar visits to both Iraq and Afghanistan,  there has been little publicity about an American delegation that departed for Iraq yesterday. AP reported,

“[they]will leave their hometowns on Saturday, forming a small delegation with other relatives of servicemen to bring a message of friendship for the people of Baghdad. They also bring with them doubts about the United States' involvement in Iraq and the Bush administration's handling of the war. `A mission of peace, that is what we are trying to do,' said Suarez del Solar, whose son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez del Solar, was killed in Iraq eight months ago. `The idea is that the people of Iraq understand that we are not their enemies, that we are also suffering in this war.' The group of 10 includes two wives of soldiers based at Fort Bragg, N.C., and four veterans of the Vietnam and Gulf wars, two of whom have children deployed in Iraq.”

Which of these visits do you think best demonstrates support for our troops?

Medicare Down, Social Security Next?
As we reported last week, the only hope for stopping the Medicare bill was a Senate filibuster. Senators Kennedy and Byrd launched that effort but no fewer than half of the Senate Democrats promptly joined most Republicans to break the filibuster. After safely assuring the bills passage some of these “opposition” Senators then cast a symbolic vote against the measure on the final roll call.

More bad news about this thousand-page new law is being revealed almost daily. For example, the federal government is expressly forbidden from negotiating with drug companies about prescription costs.

More has also been exposed about the motives for the treachery of the AARP. AARP's member health insurance program, administered with major insurance companies United Healthcare and MetLife, reaped at least $161 million for AARP last year. They stand to gain even more from privatization initiatives under the new system. Many AARP members were shocked to learn that the CEO of this “nonprofit” made $458,468 last year, plus $9,266 for expenses.

This rollback of Medicare benefits, and launch of an aggressive privatization drive, represents the most serious attack on our meager social benefits to date. But now that the wolves have tasted blood they are not going to stop here. “Bush may try to parlay his legislative victory to pursue changes in Social Security, associates say” reads a subhead in an LA Times article this morning. “...Republicans close to the White House say Bush's success at forcing through Congress structural Medicare reforms will stiffen his resolve to pursue even more ambitious changes in Social Security...” the story continues.

And why shouldn't he? Who is going to stop him? Not our “advocates” in the AARP. Not the congressional Democrats.

The working class never got Social Security—or anything else—as a gift from benevolent politicians. Social Security was won in the 1930s as part of a broader upsurge of the working class in the workplace and in the streets. It was fear of losing even more that motivated the bosses and their politicians to come up with the few social reforms that we have. It will take a similar struggle to hang on to what we have, much less get what we need and deserve.

Labor Party resolutions:  Just Health Care; Protect Social Security

Ain't We Human?
Dec. 10 is International Human Rights Day, commemorating the anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which guarantees the right of people in every nation to come together into unions and bargain collectively.

In Iraq, the U.S. occupation force has kept Saddam Hussein's laws banning legitimate trade unions in force.

Here at home the actual situation is little better. No other industrialized country has such antilabor laws, restricting our rights to organize, bargain, and to take collective action.

That's why many unions around the country will be demonstrating December 10, demanding our labor rights as basic human rights. The following links to UE, AFL-CIO, and Labor Party have a great deal of useful information as well as a directory of December 10 events.

December 10th Day of Action ...

Campaign for Worker Rights

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