Workers are not to blame for crisis – a reply to Newton Emerson

Below is a reply to an article by Newton Emerson written in letter form to the Irish News.

Dear editor,

Newton Emerson’s opinion piece last week (Irish News 14thOctober) flies in the face of the facts relating to the cause of the recession and who is really to blame. The idea that we are all to blame for the collapse of the financial sector and the underlying causes of the recession is complete fiction. It was not ordinary workers, or the unemployed, who are responsible for the grotesque speculation in property which pushed house prices to obscene levels. The greed of property speculators, landlords, estate agents and the banks who were raking in huge profits created a completely unsustainable bubble in property prices, which was not matched by rising income and wages of ordinary people. The political parties in the Assembly also share some responsibility for standing back and watching this profiteering while working people were forced to take out massive mortgages from the banks in order to buy a home.

The crisis of world capitalism which is still unfolding can be traced back to the incessant thirst for profits of the major multinational corporations, financial institutions and banks. This led to a lack of investment in production and the cutting of real wages on a global scale. De-industrialisation in the major Western economies and the transfer of production to low-wage economies decreased wages overall and made it necessary, from a capitalist point of view, to extend the use of credit to enormous levels in order to sustain economic growth. It was not the fault of workers that they had to rely on credit for the basics of life. Unlike the picture painted by Newton Emerson that we have not “earned” our “astonishing quality of life”, the facts are that the average hours worked by ordinary people has risen – one in eight now work more than 48 hours a week.

Mr Emerson is also incorrect in his assertion that the “overwhelming majority” of people support cuts to public services. The recent survey carried out by BBC’s Spotlight programme showed that 43% of those surveyed did not accept that cuts need to be made – a major opposition considering the avalanche of pro-cuts propaganda in the media and from politicians. The fact that 64% stated in the same survey that they would not pay water charges if introduced next year shows that working and middle class people will not pay for this crisis. The Socialist Party has recently initiated the Stop the Cuts Alliance to organise workers and communities to resist the cuts which will be implemented by the governments in Westminster and Stormont. We are also campaigning within workplaces and the trade unions for support for a one day public sector strike against the cuts. The response we are receiving already indicates that those intent on carrying out cuts will be met with mass opposition.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Mulcahy

Socialist Party

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