Another ‘freedom ride’

While we organize for the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, the Marcha por la Vida (March for Life) was happening in Honduras. Residents of the Olancho area are marching to protect their way of life in this biologically diverse district. They are opposing logging and the building of the Babilonia dam.
Typical of this period of capitalism, an environmental activist, Carlos Arturo Reyes, has been murdered. Others are being threatened. An example is the leader of the Marca por la Vida, Father Tamayo. The Mayor of Salama, has stated that the environmental problem in Olancho “will only be resolved by ordering the killing of Father Tamayo.”

Information and suggested actions can be found at the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared,

Nick Bart
via e-mail

‘Socialist market’ article helpful

Thank you for Erwin Marquit’s ‘Why the shift to a socialist market economy?’ (PWW, 7/12/03) The article helps one to understand some of the deficiencies and problems that faced the USSR. The problems of a socialist society are complex and many. I welcome the clarity brought by the article. It helps explain some of what went wrong and made it more difficult to advance the standard of living even faster than it did.

Karl Dennis
Tucson AZ

One-sided, dogmatic analysis

There are serious errors in Mr. Marquit’s very one-sided, dogmatic presentation of the virtues of market solutions versus “utopian” planned economy. There are tremendously broad assertions that the planned economies of the USSR were incapable of producing increasing living standards and consumer goods.
Where is the empirical data proving this? Where is the “historical-materialist” method of actually looking at the history of the USSR before 1970?

The USSR after World War II was faced with the tremendous task of rebuilding almost all of its heavy industry. During the period of 1947-52, there was a tremendous upsurge of production of the means of production rising two and a half times that of 1940. Consumer goods also jumped to one and a half times that of 1940.

Where in this article does it take into account the tremendous growth of the quality of health care and education? Where is the role of bureaucracy, bribery, and corruption and its effect on the economy? During the Khrushchev period, numerous reforms were introduced to speed productivity. Consumer goods were greatly increased and living standards were rising every year. It is during the time of Brezhnev and his rollback of Khrushchev’s reforms when the serious problems started occurring.

Yes, the arms race did have a tremendous burden on the USSR as well as the U.S., but the true failure of Mr. Marquit’s argument is trying to apply the laws of motion under capitalism in a place where the entire economy lies in the hands of the State. The solution is complete workers’ control and management, not bureaucratic control or a “shift” to market socialism!

Michael Feldman
Brooklyn NY

Why omit Cuba?

Almost every week you have an item on Cuba, sometimes a fairly big story. But week after week you print a map of the world as the logo for your International Notes, and where’s Cuba? It’s larger than Iceland or Ireland, but you show them and almost never run a story on those countries. How ‘bout some cartographical solidarity?

Art Gordon
Los Angeles CA

Unemployment benefits gone

I have a question that I hope somebody can answer. What happens to a person if they are unemployed for 26 weeks and use up their extended 13-week benefits? My daughter’s husband has been unemployed for so long, has put in applications, called and gone for job interviews with no success. Is there any way they can get any additional weeks for unemployment? They are getting very worried. Any feedback will be appreciated.

A. Pellegrino
via e-mail

Editor’s note: Over one million jobless workers have exhausted all of their state and federal benefits. The Bush administration and Republican congressional leaders have consistently blocked additional extensions, yielding only when there is mass pressure to do so. Call your elected officials, demonstrate with local labor and community groups, and agitate for an additional extension.