French Labor Activism, US Labor Passivity
In the United States, unemployment rose from its level in 2008 (5.8%) to its level in the second quarter of 2010 (9.7%). These are numbers never seen before. However, by comparison, French unemployment rose from 7.4% in 2008 to 9.2% in the second quarter of 2010. This data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show unemployment had risen further and faster in the US than in France across in the last 3 years. This is found in economics professor Rick Wolff’s article “French Labor Activism, US Labor Passivity.”
Yet French workers are in the streets by the millions demonstrating against anti-worker austerity policies, government policies that could cut workers’ payroll or the services that are provided to the public. Meanwhile US workers are taking it sitting down, there’s no resistance. In California, there’s now 22% unemployment and it takes the average unemployed American about 35 weeks to find a job. US states and towns cut payrolls and public services and as President Obama’s special commission gets ready to reduce social security benefits to the American people. Consider that in September 2010, according to the BLS, while the total US private sector added 64,000 jobs, state and local governments fired 77,000 people.
- This is a tsunami of a political movement. All the six different organizations of trade unions have unified in organizing and moving these demonstrations. They haven’t unified on anything for a long time. They’ve drawn in students.
- Sarkozy almost in a way provoked the students to join the demonstrations in huge numbers.
- The students quickly understood that if the older workers stayed in their jobs an extra 2 years, those are jobs they’re not going to get. 70% of the French people support demonstrations. What we see now is a minority government, isolated, entrenched.
- If you want to see a movement that is doing something, mobilizing mass opinion, you got it.
- If you read what the French are saying, it’s this. We’ve already paid for the crisis, with unemployment, lost homes, insecure jobs.
- We’ve done our part, we’ve accepted that. We’ve drawn our line in the sand. We’re not gonna pay for fixing this mess from which have suffered. Why is this relevant? It is exactly like the United States.
- The atrophy of left here is much more palpable then what happened there. We’ve had a much worse decline of our trade union movement then they did.
- We have to create anew the organizations that could bring people together into an effective coalition. The last thing we need is 800 single-issue groups, cultivating their own gardens and not talking to the other.
Guest – Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan.
Last week, the four men accused of planting bombs outside synagogues in the Bronx and plotting to fire missiles at military planes were convicted in a case that was the test of the entrapment defense. The jury of the Newburgh 4 trial convicted James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen of plotting to bomb synagogues and shoot military planes. Cromitie and David Williams were also convicted of conspiring to kill officers and employees of the government. Sentencing is scheduled for March. The four face life sentences.
It wasn’t difficult for Shahed Hussain, a government agent provocateur who was facing incarceration, to offer food, money, marijuana, cars and vacations to the four men and ultimately coercing them to collaborate on so-called “terror plots.”
According to a press release by Project Salam (Support And Legal Advocacy for Muslims). The defendants had absolutely no intention to commit any terrorist crimes until the FBI agent provocateur, Shahed Hussain, promised them each $5,000––and in one case $250,000––if they did his bidding. He posed as a rich man who could give the defendants everything they’d ever wanted. He chose the targets, he told them how it would all work, and the FBI paid for everything. The four defendants were petty criminals, none of whom had a car or even a driver’s license. When the so-called leader, James Cromitie, decided to back away from Hussain’s scheme and refused to answer his calls for about a month, Hussain said, “Brother, I told you you could have $250,000, but you don’t want it.” Cromitie’s response: “OK, I’m in.”
- We were really surprised, we thought the edge had been reached here. They (Newburgh Four) were convicted of participating in this plot that had been cooked up, manufactured by the FBI.
- These are four individuals who had no way to undertake any kind of terrorist plot. They had no automobile, no driver’s license, no money, no training, they had nothing. The FBI simply provided everything, including driving them to a spot where all they had to do is deliver a package, outside of building to complete this crime which the FBI concocted. There’s no other way to look at it.
- There is the predisposition idea and that comes from the ready-response argument. That has simply been misused.
- Example: Would you like a loan of $5,000, or a gift of $5,000? Then only afterward you find out this “gift” has to do with money laundering.
- In the meantime, the person is being asked to make a ready-response. In the Newburgh case, Shahed Hussien, the informant, suggested an illegal plot. The main person he was working on James Cromitie, essentially backed out of it.
- There’s a six-week period that James didn’t correspond with the government at all. Then finally, Shahed called and said, look, you’ve got $250,000 here if you go through with this.
- These people had been somewhat exposed to Islam in prison, but didn’t know much about the religion.
- One of them had a crack cocaine problem, another had mental problems, very serious mental problems.
- You could’ve gone to any place in upstate New York and found somebody who would grab at a deal like this.
- It was a lot of money for potentially very little activity.
- The building that was going to blow up would be unoccupied, the plane was on the ground without people in it.
- They were paid to make a political statement and not to kill anybody.
- These things are very very cleverly crafted by the FBI.
- Because people don’t know much about Islam, the government is free to play upon stereotypes and fears that people have.
Guest – Attorney Steve Downs, retired chief attorney with the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct, is a founder of Project SALAM (Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims).