This Labor Day, numbers tell why we must dump Trump
Trump claims the economy is booming, but as many as 56 million people may be jobless, and the Republicans in the Senate continue to block the federal unemployment help that people need. | Paul Sakuma / AP

Workers, their unions, their allies, and all progressive forces have much at stake in the elections that are less than two months away. Not since the Great Depression has there been so much at stake for them and, even before the obvious threat to democracy foisted upon the country by the Trump administration, there are the numbers. Those numbers reflect a life or death battle millions are facing, a battle to keep a roof over their heads and a battle to feed themselves and their families.

Even without considering all of the criminality and corruption we’ve seen from the Trump administration these past four years, the economic numbers alone are reason enough to replace the Trump-Pence team with the Biden-Harris team.

Still looking for work in the Trump ‘recovery.’ | Paul Sakuma / AP

Officially, there are slightly more than 30 million unemployed people in the nation. The government’s declared jobless rate was 10.2% in July. That’s the second-highest rate since the Great Depression. Yes, that Great Depression. The highest was in June.

Now add in people who have become discouraged and dropped out of the workforce, the seven million or so jobless even before the depression hit, and millions more in restaurants and hotels whose jobs just plain went up in smoke and are never coming back.

Don’t forget those who are not officially counted as jobless because the state unemployment systems don’t cover them. They include farmworkers, home health care aides, and “independent contractors” such as musicians, actors, adjunct professors, and port truckers.

Put all those millions together and there are as many as 56 million unemployed.

Second, most of those jobless are out of cash. They had—emphasis on the word “had”—$600 weekly federal jobless checks, on top of state-based unemployment aid. For the people not covered by state jobless aid, those checks were their sole source of income.

But those checks are gone. Trump and his GOP say $600 a week, which is $15 an hour, is “too much.” Never mind that 60% of the jobless (read that number again) earned less than that before being thrown out of work, which says something about the U.S. wage scale. The Biden-Harris team is calling for enactment of the House-passed stimulus bill which would continue those payments until January and provide trillions in aid to the states, localities, schools, and the people.

Any happy talk issued by the Labor Department Friday declaring that 1.37 million jobs were added last month is meaningless for the more than 56 million out of work and out of cash. What they don’t reflect is that in the coming weeks, major corporations are going to announce many more permanent layoffs, and those layoffs are coming at a time that the Trump-GOP regime is choking off any further stimulus to the economy. The Republican plan: no more aid for anyone, not for small businesses and not for the people; let the coronavirus infections spread faster than ever; ignore the fact that the economy cannot recover while the virus rages out of control. The only plan Trump and the GOP have is to keep the top 1% comfortable: Keep Wall Street booming while everyone else suffers. Keep those tax breaks for the rich and keep killing regulations that protect workers on the job and regulations that protect the environment.

There’s an army of unemployed because governors and mayors had to force businesses to close and crowds to disperse and buses to run empty and office buildings to shutter and everyone to keep social distancing in order to try to combat the coronavirus. They had to do this because the Trump regime had no nationwide plan to battle the virus.

As of Friday morning, the beginning of Labor Day weekend, some 6,151,253 people in the United States had tested positive for the virus in this pandemic, according to the most authoritative source, Johns Hopkins University. And 186,806 Americans had died. The numbers continue to climb, and the Centers for Disease Control warns the actual infection rate is far higher.

Almost all the deaths and illnesses could have been avoided, if the Trump-Pence regime had taken responsibility for the war against the pandemic, rather than first denying its existence and then wasting valuable time when it could have been stopped.

Motorists take part in a caravan protest in front of Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy’s office asking for the extension of the $600 in unemployment benefits to people out of work because of the coronavirus in New Orleans, La., July 22, 2020. | Max Becherer / The Advocate via AP

Finally, the coronavirus pandemic, the depression, and rampant police shootings of unarmed Black people have exposed for the entire nation to see that people of color, especially Black people for 401 years, have been oppressed and exploited by the criminal corporate and capitalist class—even more so than all the rest of the workers have suffered at the hands of the 1%.

“Labor is superior to capital,” Abraham Lincoln said. He’s right.

Why are workers subject to this combined calamity on Labor Day 2020? In a word, politics, and especially the politics of white nativist right-wingers, on Capitol Hill, in “red states,” such as Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Idaho, and especially at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Trump sits in that White House, now hidden by high fences and barbed wire. He and all those other right-wing politicians turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the bankruptcy of millions, to the 56 million who now have no jobs, to the coronavirus illnesses and death, to racism that afflicts people of color, and to denial of workers’ rights that reduces all but the richest 1% to the status of serfs and slaves.

In addition to Trump, it’s also Republican senators and governors who march in lockstep behind the GOP president, and their corporate controllers who smash workers, voters, and people of color.

It is time to trump and trample the oppressors and their “system.”

In a quotation often mistakenly attributed to Thomas Jefferson, French revolutionary Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac declared on Jan. 16, 1793, to that country’s National Convention: “The tree of liberty only grows when watered by the blood of tyrants.”

Paul Sakuma / AP

That means political tyrants—Trump & Co., including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who also faces voters this fall—and economic tyrants, such as the Walton clan, social media tycoon Mark Zuckerberg, the Koch network, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

It means every corporate criminal who sacrifices workers’ wages and workers’ lives in the pursuit of lining their own pockets. It means every Wall Street private hedge fund mogul who devours companies, sells their assets, fires their workers, sends them into poverty and homelessness, and walks away with the proceeds, all to benefit the mogul and his investors.

In short, it also means it is not only time, as workers, to take power back into our own hands, but to dismantle the political illness and economic system that brought us to this state—capitalism.

Happy Labor Day. As peasants—and that’s what we are to Trump, his political partners, and the 1% in back of them—grab pitchforks, both at the ballot box and, if necessary, for real! Don’t let anything or anyone deter you from voting Nov. 3 in what is one of the most consequential elections in U.S. history.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners. El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People's World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.