The capitalists who run this country – and who own and operate both of the political parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – and who also own and operate the Green Party and the Libertarian Party as well – tell you that you should not expect to make a decent living wage while working at a typical service economy job. It was this same capitalist class – or their parents – the capitalists of the last generation – who systematically dismantled the large industries of this country in the 1970s and 1980s – the steel mills – they shut them down; the factories – they shut them down and moved them overseas where the unions were weak and the wages were low. The US capitalist class deliberately destroyed millions of high-paying union jobs here in the USA – and told the workers “oh don’t worry; the economy is just evolving into a service economy – there will be plenty of jobs for everyone.” What they didn’t tell you is that these new jobs would be low-paying and unskilled and that they would be non-union jobs. And now when you demand that you be paid a decent living wage in this new “service economy – they tell you that your demands are unreasonable; that raising the minimum wage will hurt the economy! When you play by the rules that the capitalist class creates to make themselves rich and drive you into poverty you will lose every time. Is $15/hour “unreasonable”? No! In fact, $15 an hour is far too low to be a living wage.
Economists have told us that in order for a person or a family to live decently, to be able to afford to pay for housing, food, clothing, daycare and all the other expenses of life – and now they have added the burden of paying for health care too, something that no workers in any other industrialized country have to pay for – in order for us to live well we should not have to pay more than 25% of our monthly income for housing. Originally, back in the 1970s, the limit was 25% – in the 1980s, when it first became clear even to the government economists that very few people in the US actually paid just 25% of their income on housing – they were paying much more – they raised the limit to 30%. So now they go by this new limit that you should never have to pay more than 30% of your monthly income on housing. And so they took that 30% number and they used it to create what they call a “living wage”: that is: how much money does a worker have to make to be able to pay no more than 30% of his or her given monthly income in any city in the USA? And for Chicago – and this was ten years ago! – they came up with the figure of $20 an hour or something like that. That was 10 years ago – and it was confirmed again in a new study published in 2015! This is true!
In 2015 the “National Low Income Housing Coalition” published a study called “Out of Reach – Low Wages and High Rents Lock Renters Out”. Now you know that this study’s conclusions must be very reasonable because the study was funded by the banking firm of J.P. Morgan and Chase! In this study, the average housing costs are calculated for every state and every county in every state, and then they determine from what the rent costs for an average two-bedroom apartment in every county and use that figure to determine what the mimimum wage must be in order for workers to not have to pay more than 30% of their income on rent. For Cook County, IL – this was a study published in 2015, so the figures at the time of publication were most likely a year old – they determined that a fair minimum wage for a worker with a small family who needed a two bedroom apartment had to be at least $21.02/hr or $43,720 a year! This is why we in the Independent Workers party of Chicago don’t understand why your leaders are “Fighting for $15” when even J.P. Morgan Chase’s own study says that in order to live like a human being here in Chicago you need to make at least $21/hour! Obviously, the leaders of the “Fight for $15” movement are overly concerned that if they ask for $21 – which is what is actually necessary – they will seem unreasonable to the capitalists. So they are limiting the demand to just $15/hour. Very reasonable, right? They are more concerned about looking reasonable to the billionaires than they are about fighting for you and your families!
So the organizers of “Fight for $15” go and bring their very, overly reasonable demand for a statewide $15/hour minimum wage to Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois. Now as we all know, Bruce Rauner is a very wealthy man. He’s not just a millionaire – he’s not even a “hundred-millionaire”! He’s a BILLIONAIRE! He has spent his life robbing the workers of this nation blind so he could have all that money – that is a fact – no one gets to be a billionaire without ripping off a whole lot of people!
And what does Billionaire Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner say to you when you ask him for the very, overly reasonable minimum wage of $15/hour? He tells you to go to hell! Why? Because in his opinion – and in the opinion of the US capitalist class – which makes up less than 5 percent of the US population – it will “ruin the Illinois economy” if millions of Illinoisans get paid just $15/hr. ! “$15/hr is UNREASONABLE” says billionaire Bruce Rauner!
Well that is bullshit! But do you want to know what is really unreasonable and what is really ruining the US and the world economy? What is REALLY unreasonable is that capitalist billionaire Bruce Rauner and his billionaire friends – who together make up only 3% of the US population – own over 50% of the wealth of the USA! The billionaires of the US – and that includes that racist pig president we have now, the friend of the Nazis and enemy of the workers Donald Trump – these billionaires who make up just 3% of the population own over 50% of the national wealth! And does Bruce Rauner think that THAT is unreasonable? NO HE DOESN’T! He thinks that it is fair for 3% to own 50% of the wealth – to him and his capitalist friends, they’re splitting the wealth evenly 50-50: 50% for the 3% who are billionaires and 50% for the other 97% of the US population! And he has the nerve to tell you that your very reasonable demand for just $15/hr is UNREASONABLE and that if it is adopted it will ruin the economy!
Bruce Rauner is a liar! When the minimum wage is increased all of that money that gets paid to the workers gets put right back into the economy and makes the economy grow. The more the workers make the better the economy is. For the workers all that money is going to get spent on the necessities of life for ourselves and our families. So when Bruce Rauner or anyone tells you that raising the minimum wage is going to ruin the economy, they are lying! What these lies about raising the minimum wage mean is that these billionaires who own this country and who own and operate both of the political parties in this phony democracy of ours would rather see you all drop dead than give you a living wage so you and your families can live like human beings! And this 3% of filthy rich greedheads will impoverish the entire nation and get away with it because they own and operate the political parties in this country! The fact is that in this phony democracy of ours, the minority rules! The 3% can tell 97% to go to hell and get away with it every time because they own the politicians in all of the major political parties – and then they turn around and call this a democratic system of government!
How is it that just 3% of the population gets to own 50% of the national wealth and gets to deny the vast majority of the population – you, the working class – the right to raise the minimum wage to a reasonable level for survival? They get to do this because YOU the workers – who make up at least 70% of the population – do not have even ONE representative at the state or national levels of government! Every single state rep and state senator – every single representative and senator in Washington – is owned by the billionaires of this country. The billionaires have bought every important politician in the statehouses and in the national government – and you the workers, who make up the vast majority of the population – do not have even ONE representative fighting for your rights! How did this happen and what can you do about it?
It has happened because you have not created your own workers party that is owned and operated by you – instead you have remained loyal to the two parties of big business – the Republicans and especially the Democrats. So when they tell you that you don’t need your own political party, all you need to do is “speak truth to power” power can ignore you, because you do not have even one representative in the state or national governments of this country. Because you the workers have not understood the importance of having your own political party owned and operated by you – a workers party that has the power – because you are the vast majority of the population of this country – to run this nation in YOUR interest – “power” can just ignore you and can continue to run the government in the interests of the 3%.
They tell you that the Democratic Party is “the party of the working class”. Well everyone knows that is a huge lie. If the Democratic Party was “the party of the working class”… when Barack Obama was first elected and came into office in 2009 the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. The Republican Party had been completely discredited in the corrupt swindle of the housing crash of 2008. The Democrats, who controlled the White House, the House and the Senate in Washington could have passed any kind of legislation they wanted to! If they wanted to make the minimum wage $15/hr they could have done it right then and there. But they didn’t: instead, they took out a loan for $1.7 trillion dollars to bail out the banks that had created the housing crash in the first place – and then they stood by and did nothing as millions of people lost their homes. They didn’t even send one banker responsible for this biggest-ever swindle in the history of the world to jail! And they didn’t do a damned thing for the workers in the entire 8 years of Obama’s presidency. The Democratic Party runs most of the major cities in the USA – which means that they run the racist police departments of the USA! It is the racist police run by the Democrats who have been murdering black workers with impunity and getting away with it because Democratic States Attorneys refuse to prosecute the cops even for the most savage crimes against the workers. Anyone who thinks that the Democratic Party is “the party of the workers” should have their head examined! The Democrats do not now and they never have been “the party of the working class”. Almost every single Democrat and every single Republican in the last analysis is a bought-and-paid-for servant of the billionaire class – the capitalist class of the US.
What can you do about this? It is absolutely necessary – if you want to be able to exercise your rights as the vast majority of the population as workers – you absolutely MUST dump the Democrats and the Republicans and build yourselves a workers party that is 100% funded by you, run by you and operated solely in YOUR class interests. You need a workers party that will lead the fight for a workers government – those who labor should and must rule! That is the kind of party we in the Independent Workers Party of Chicago want to build. It will be a party that is owned and operated by you the working class. It will not represent the capitalist class at all – it will only represent you the workers. But how will we fund this party? It will be funded through your donations and for those who want to be members of the party through your membership dues – just like a trade union. All of the money will be spent on organizing this party and getting as many worker-representatives elected as possible to the local, state and national legislative bodies of this nation. This party will be an actual political party – not just a lame NGO that relegates itself to “speaking truth to power”. The working class will BE the power! We will no longer go around begging the politicians owned and operated by the working class to “do for us”: we will do for ourselves! We will be in a position not to just BEG for a raise in the minimum wage, we will have a majority in the house and senate and we will be able to pass whatever legislation we want. In other words, a workers party will demand that the majority – the working class – must decide how this country is run and will take the power out of the hands of the 3% of greedy billionaires like Bruce Rauner and place it in the hands of the vast majority – you, the working class! We need to throw out of power – permanently – that gang of greedy billionaires that is right now using their Democratic and Republican parties to run this country like a slave plantation!
The revolutionary Trotskyist Independent Workers Party of Chicago says: the organizers of the fight for $15 are being far too reasonable: it costs more than $15/hr to live decently in Chicago. The capitalist system is a system by which the vast majority of the population is robbed blind so a handful of billionaires can live like kings! We do not want to be “reasonable” we want to get rid of the capitalist system before it gets rid of us and our families! In Illinois we need a $25/hr minimum wage – and that minimum wage should be strictly indexed to inflation – and it should be automatically raised each and every year at least 1% above the rate of inflation! Workers should not be made to pay with their lives so that a handful of millionaires and billionaires can steal half of the wealth of the nation and use it to purchase total control of the political system of the nation! We need to make the billionaires pay for the suffering caused by their crumbling capitalist system which robs the poor and gives to the rich; which makes a handful of people obscenely rich and leaves a constantly growing number of millions of workers in poverty!
We’re the Independent Workers Party of Chicago and we say: Dump the Democrats and Build A Workers Party! Dump the Capitalist System before it dumps you! Build A Workers Party to fight for a revolutionary Trotskyist workers government! You can find us at iwpchi.wordpress.com and on Twitter @IWPCHI. Happy Labor Day Everyone!