Challenging anti-government ideas

Build the fight for jobs – Part 3

Third in a series of three articles

Rick Nagin also co-authored this series.

Aside from “supply-side economics,” the other pillar of right-wing corporate ideology is the false claim that “the government can’t do anything successfully” or that “the government is not the solution – it’s the problem.”

We need to show that the American people through their struggles have established the basic institutions of democratic society including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Postal Service, safety and municipal services, the Veterans Administration, the federal highway system, the public schools, colleges, libraries and transit systems, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, the federal and state parks, the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Centers for Disease Control, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation etc, etc. When we bring these facts to light, we can help people understand that the “government is bad” idea is dead wrong.

One underlying factor in the anti-government ideology is racism – the idea that government programs primarily benefit racially oppressed minorities, but are paid for by white taxpayers. The fact is, government programs benefit and are paid for by all races and ethnic groups.

The claim is also made that jobs programs are unaffordable and will only increase the deficit. Of course, this claim is never made when it comes to military spending, which puts no goods in circulation, or for the bailout of the banks, which created no jobs. Nor is it made with regard to the huge increase in the deficit brought on by the Bush administration’s massive tax cuts for the rich.

The fact is, after an initial investment, jobs programs will reduce the deficit by reviving the economy, expanding consumer demand for real goods and services and increasing the tax base.

The dominant corporate culture has also promoted the totally false notion that the giant public works projects of the New Deal were merely “make-work” projects that may have put people to work, but produced little of importance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The New Deal Public Works Administration created huge transformative hydropower projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Grand Coulee Dam that continue today as major nonpolluting providers of electricity.

The Works Projects Administration (WPA), established in 1935, lasted until 1943, when right-wing forces in Congress got it repealed while the U.S. was at war. During its existence the WPA employed over 8.5 million people. African Americans were employed at double their percentage of the U.S. population. WPA workers built or improved over 800 airports, 124,000 bridges and 125,000 public buildings, including schools, hospitals and post offices, and produced over 650,000 miles of roads. The WPA Federal Artists Project employed thousands of artists, writers and musicians, who produced over 10,000 arts projects. Many of these projects were murals that beautified post offices and other public buildings.

“Government has a final responsibility for the welfare of its citizens,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt told Congress in his annual message in 1938. “If private cooperative effort fails to provide work for willing hands and relief for the unfortunate, those suffering hardship through no fault of their own have a right to call upon the government for aid. And a government worthy of the name must make a fitting response.”

Now, just as during the Great Depression, the private sector will not and cannot produce the jobs needed to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and the new green energy projects, and revitalize our nation’s economy. There is simply no market. Working people have been impoverished and cannot buy the goods and services to revitalize the nation. Further, there are not sufficient profit margins for the private sector to shift and take up these badly needed projects. There is no solution without massive, direct intervention of the federal government.

Our fight can win!

The fight for jobs will be a tough one, but one we can and must win if we are to realize the rest of the reform agenda and move to the next level of struggle for a better society.

With the Obama administration and Democratic majorities in Congress a window of opportunity has opened. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this development. Instead of fighting for our lives, and facing an extremely hostile pro-corporate Republican majority and presidency, for the first time in decades we have potential allies in powerful positions. A strong fight, mobilizing millions, for jobs/relief, can be the catalyst to move the labor-led people’s movement, finally, from the defensive to an offensive program for the progressive change our society so badly needs.

Part 1 of this series: Jobs for America Now can be catalyst for mass action
Part 2: Confronting corporate ideology in the fight for jobs

Photo: / CC BY 2.0





Bruce Bostick
Bruce Bostick

Bruce Bostick is a retired steelworker and labor activist in Ohio.


  • I see my posts and questions are being deleted. Great way to answer questions. Bye.

  • You write: “Being personally far from perfect, I’d like to challenge our critics to discuss, debate, our varied tactical approaches AFTER we’ve all become involved in our local coalitions and have a real basis to compair our work.”

    Seems to me we need to see what you are doing right from the start so we all know what to do and how to do it.

    Your article should be a series of a work in progress.

    Take us step by step through what you are doing then we can all be doing the same or similar things.

    A good union organizer like you can teach us how to initiate and develop movements.

    Most of us live in areas where there are no coalitions yet. You must know this. We will have to build the coalitions. We need to know how to do this.

    Best if you show us what to do.

  • We need to expose at every opportunity the “pillars” of right wing ideology. For several decades now these extremists have wrecked havoc with our lives by letting capitalism run wild and pushing the working class deper and deeper into poverty.
    You are right we must demand vigorous action from our government in creating jobs.

  • Barb. You have got to be kidding. These three writers are taking their lead from the AFL-CIO. They publish a nice sounding article not intending to do anything. Let’s see some photos of the work their clubs are doing to initiate anything like you are talking about. I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting these three to do anything. This is just a re-write of an AFL-CIO press release. I doubt these three even belong to any active cpusa clubs. If they do let’s hear what their clubs are doing in line with what you have suggested. The only campaign Nagin is leading is efforts to change the name of the cpusa.

    If they were serious this website would have a section dedicated to movement building in line with this article containg the articles about just the kind of activities you describe so we could all plug into helping to build a real grassroots nationwide movement from the ground up.

    Bostick and Nagin are nothing but rightwing social democrats.

  • H. I forgot some points:

    I. How to organize a vigil.

    J. How to organize an educational picket line.

    K. How to organize great big demonstrations.

    You might have to make the installments for this article into some kind of “never ending story.”

    I almost forgot; maybe you could provide information about the role of Communist Party Clubs in all of this?

    Looks like there might still be some need for a vanguard.

  • Jim raises an interesting question:

    Do we want jobs or wars? We can’t have both.

    Why has the coalition you decided to push in the first installment of your excellent article that has left nothing to one’s imagination with the exception of a few minor questions, not put forward the demand:

    We want jobs, not wars.

    Can you explain if you have tried to convince the members of this coalition to make this first on their list or at least a prominent part of their program?

    If so, obviously they disagree; but why?

    Also, I notice the enforcement of affirmative action is not an agenda item or even mentioned by this coalition; can you explain why not? What was this coalitions response when you suggested that enforcement of affirmative action be an agenda item?

    It is nice to have a five point program. Five is always popular with people as were the “Five Year” programs.

    However, wouldn’t it serve working people better if this particular five point program you are advocating for became a seven point program with “Jobs not wars” and “Enforcement of Affirmative Action” included?

    I think it would be good if you included another installment or two as part of this series which would include:

    A. Sample “letters to the editor”

    B. A petition

    C. Leaflet

    D. Resolutions to take to political parties and union locals supporting this program.

    E. “How to” information about selecting for an organized campaign:
    i. a neighborhood
    ii. a school
    iii. a church
    iiii. a mine, mill, factory

    F. Press releases and organizing press conferences as much of this coalition’s work seems to be focused on press conference after press conference getting not much coverage on television, radio or newspapers.

    G. Using tools for the Internet- blogging, etc.

  • Follow the lead of the AFL-CIO. Hold another press conference. Where are the resources to initiate any of this to come from? Name the potential allies.


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