Hire the unemployed to meet the snow emergency

Our nation is experiencing what is being described as the largest snowstorm in the country’s history. This massive storm is spread over 30 states and weather experts are saying it is going to leave a foot of snow stretching some 2,100 miles.

Oklahoma City is one of the cities that is going to be hard hit. Chicago could get up to two feet of snow before it’s over.

New York City hasn’t come anywhere near to recovering from the last series of storms. Some neighborhoods still have no power, with cars plowed in and streets blocked up. New York’s mass transit trains and buses still get stuck and service remains backed up. Some elevated train lines have had to be shut down completely. People are slipping and falling and ambulances can’t get through.

People without mass transit in areas across the country are just plain stuck. In rural, suburban and urban communities, schools are closed, emergency vehicles can’t move. Many, especially the elderly, are unable to get to food and drug stores; lives are at stake. It seems like the poorer the neighborhood, the longer it takes to clean up the snow and that is a tragic shame. Remember Katrina!

In addition, airports are closed down, interstate buses are not running, people are stranded.

Meanwhile, governors and mayors are cutting back services and laying off tens of thousands of skilled public workers, replacing them with non-union private contractors with some working overtime, but they don’t have the capacity to solve crises such as this one.

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg recently faced the wrath of the people because his administration failed to clear up the snow and is still way behind on picking up the trash.

Several cases have been publicized where people died because the streets were blocked and they couldn’t get to hospitals. Thousands of fire hydrants are still under big piles of snow. If there is a fire, clearing away the snow to gain access could be a critical delay in saving lives and property.

What is worse is that the storm will be followed with cold temperatures and freezing rain.

How long will it take to dig out of this mess? How long will whole communities be paralyzed? It could be weeks before some towns and communities get back to normal.

There’s a real problem here, people! It is the role of government to do something about it. This is a national emergency and people are in danger. The government must act.

There are 15 million unemployed in our nation. Many are able-bodied, ready and willing to work. It’s time to hire the unemployed at union wages and help save lives and clean up this mess.

Laid off public workers should be the first to be hired back. The money should come out of federal disaster funds and from taxing the rich individuals and corporations who are hoarding billions and refusing to invest in the American people.

The right-wing corporate-financed Republican and tea party fanatics only want to talk about high taxes and big government. The truth is that public workers and government are key to our everyday ability to function as a nation.

In national emergencies like today’s we cannot survive without them. The national experiment with privatization has meant even more corruption and criminality. Just look at what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just look at the long history of corruption and ripoffs with the military budget.

Call your congressional and state representatives. Call city council members, the mayor and the governor. Call the White House. Tell them: We need the labor of the unemployed to meet the snow emergency! Tell them to do what is necessary. Hire the unemployed; call on the people to solve the crisis.

Photo: Unplowed street in Brooklyn, N.Y., December 27, 2010. postopp1 CC 2.0



Jarvis Tyner
Jarvis Tyner

Jarvis Tyner is former executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board. He was a founding member of the Black Radical Congress and served on its national coordinating committee for five years. Tyner joined the Communist Party USA at the age of 20. After several years working in various industrial jobs in the Philadelphia area, where he was a member of the Amalgamated Lithographers and the Teamsters union, he moved to New York in 1967 to become the national chair of the DuBois Clubs of America, and later founding chair of the Young Workers Liberation League. He was the Communist Party USA candidate for vice president of the U.S. in 1972 and 1976, running with party leader Gus Hall. Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appeared on the media, campuses and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality and the socialist alternative.