May 1: International Workers’ Day

Only 117 years ago, May 1, 1886, Albert and Lucy Parsons and their two children led 80,000 workers up Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, arm-in-arm, singing. That day, a third of a million American workers answered the call of the Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions, predecessor of the American Federation of Labor, to lay down their tools, demanding relief from the brutal 12- and 14-hour workdays imposed by the capitalist employers.

A few days later, a suspicious bomb blast killed several police and protesters in the city’s Haymarket Square. Chicago’s captains of industry used that event to try to stamp out the troublesome labor movement once and for all by framing up and executing its leaders.

In a travesty of justice, Parsons and three other leaders were executed by the state of Illinois. But the working class movement around the world seized on the cause of Chicago’s workers and set May Day as a day of international workers’ struggle.

Looking back at that first Chicago May Day march of immigrant and native-born working class families in 1886 – led by Albert Parsons, a typographer and Civil War veteran, and Lucy Parsons, a seamstress with African American and Mexican American roots – conjures up an amazingly current picture of today’s struggles.

This year, thousands of supporters of immigrants rights are converging on D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago, while central labor bodies from cities and towns like Cleveland, Ohio, and Albany, N.Y., are reviving their May Day traditions in militant strike-support activities.

Today, far from being crushed, around the world, and in the U.S. workers and their families, unions, religious and community groups are marching arm-in-arm, singing and chanting, fighting the effects of corporate greed, demanding shorter hours, better pay, peace, immigrant rights, free speech and a better life for working families.

The People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo Editorial Board takes special delight in greeting our readers on May Day, 2003, from our new home in Chicago, birthplace of International Workers’ Day

It’s the system!

There’s something wrong, somewhere. The White House tells us the rich need to be given more money to encourage them to work harder. Therefore, tax cuts of more than $60,000 per year for those with annual incomes over a million dollars. On the other hand, we’re told the poor should receive less money so they will work harder. Therefore, deny earned-income tax credits (average amount less than $2,000) to four million poor people who already have jobs. It doesn’t make sense, but, then, that’s the nature of the capitalist system.

The IRS says these people cheated the Treasury out of $6.0 billion in 1999, and it’s time to put an end to it. So they want to hire 640 new investigators and, come July, people claiming the earned-income tax credit will be required to submit advance proof of their eligibility. To prove their relationships to children, they are expected to produce marriage certificates, in some cases for other people’s marriages; for marriages that took place abroad; and in a few cases, for marriages of great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. Children will have to produce school or medical records.

And what about the corporations that managed to sidestep at least $54 billion by hiding profits in tax shelters, while people running their own businesses.cheated Uncle Sam out of $38 billion by failing to report all their income in 1992? Nothing – just the cost of a high-priced tax lawyer.

The most recent I.R.S. data shows that 300,000 people who claimed the earned-income tax credit were audited last year – about one in every 64. By contrast, one of every 120 taxpayers with annual incomes over $100,000 was audited, as were about one in 400 partnerships, most of which are owned by the wealthy.

Simply put, there’s a double standard operating here. But, as we said earlier, that’s the capitalist system.