From Sun Jul 13 19:00:10 2003 From: “WW News Service” <> Sender: “WW News Service” <> To: “WW News Service” <> Subject: wwnews Digest #663 Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 18:32:54 -0400

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Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 16:35:06 -0400
Subject: [WW] Bush's sneak attack

Bush's sneak attack

Editorial, Workers World, 17 July 2003

Endless war. That's what the Bush administration has promised. And that is what it's delivering, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Philippines and Liberia. The military operations of the Pentagon are top news every day.

But there's another war that barely gets any mention, except in the pages of union newspapers or the Black press. It is the domestic war of the Bush administration, the war on the multinational working class.

Unemployment is growing relentlessly—partly pushed by the cutbacks in social services. The economy for everyone but the rich is continuing to decline. Wages are going down. Prices are generally rising, as are many taxes on the working class, especially sales taxes and fares for public transportation. And to top it off, the Bush administration is now attempting to eliminate the right to overtime pay.

Unemployment is the highest it has been since 1994. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.4 percent of the work force, or 9.4 million workers, are jobless. But this significantly understates the real level of unemployment, because it leaves out so-called discouraged workers who’ve given up on finding a job, as well as part-time workers who want and need full-time jobs. The Economic Policy Institute says that the underemployment rate—which includes the officially unemployed as well as part-time workers who want full time work and discouraged workers no longer seeking jobs—is now at 10.3 percent. Again, this is the highest rate since September 1994.

The rate of unemployment among teens can run as high as 50 to 60 percent, especially in oppressed communities.

Perhaps more revealing of just how bad is the economy is the fact that the average number of weeks spent by unemployed workers looking for new jobs is now at its highest level ever, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track in 1967. The average number of weeks of unemployment is now 19.8, matched only once before in August 1983.

The Bush administration's motto appears to be, “Kick ‘em while they’re down.”

They used the world's most highly armed force ever to invade Afghan istan, one of the poorest countries in the world with the most antiquated weapons, crushing the population with overwhelming force and massacring thousands of civilians. They followed that with an invasion of Iraq, a country whose infrastructure was weak from over a decade of sanctions and a previous invasion, and whose military was almost completely disarmed before the invasion began.

And now, for the workers in the United States, the Bush administration is aiming its bombs at rights won through years of union and civil rights battles.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established the 40-hour workweek. For most workers, it guarantees the right to overtime pay—”time and a half”—for each hour beyond 40 worked in a week. Currently about 80 percent of the country's 120 million wage and salary workers are entitled to overtime protection under this law.

Now the Department of Labor is proposing to change the law in a way that could make more than 8 million more workers ineligible for overtime pay. It's only because of the sharp eye of some unions that this move was even revealed; the government was trying to make the change on the sly. Sort of like slipping a bomb in the back door when no one is looking.

This is class war. And there is only one way to fight this war. It takes mobilization, organization and resistance.