Marie Lynam, joint-Political Officer Camden-Momentum.
Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, individual initiative
Due to the coronavirus crisis, the Trump’s administration has promised a $600 billion kind of bailout to the top North American companies. It plans to distribute $250 billion between the North American workers – each to receive $1,000. But what is $1,000 if it is only once, or even twice? The Trump government also arranged for the Fed to be able to buy ‘commercial paper’ to the amount of 4 trillion, this sum to be injected into the stock exchange. At the news, the markets rose by 5%.
‘Commercial paper’ is ‘a money-market security’ (google says), i.e. a promissory note sold by large corporations or banks to obtain emergency funds to meet exceptional needs. It is an unsecured short-term debt. It will be repaid at agreed future dates and at a fixed rate of interest (presumably the very low current one). Be all this as it may, it represents vast sums suddenly available to salvage the operations of capital and all its works.
One article I saw said that these trillions could have served to cancel all the US students’ loans and the debt of every US citizen as well. The trillions could have bought – or got manufactured – millions of masks, test kits, gowns, ventilators, ICU beds, new hospitals, etc.
In the UK, the British government found also great surpluses of money to deal with the virus crisis. Perhaps influenced by the Corbyn-McDonnell electoral campaign, and certainly short of better ideas, the Johnson-Sunak budget will pump £330 billion is loan schemes “to support business”. Showing by the way that Tory austerity had always only been a stick to beat the workers with. Beyond the possibility of an eventual £1,000 cheque for those losing their jobs, Rishi Sunak did not have much else on offer for the workers. The 5 million low-paid, part-time, zero-hour and self-employed UK workers were not mentioned in the budget. If they were vaguely mentioned afterwards, it was to calm all the unions’ protests and the growing panic.
UK government officials warn that the elderly are in the firing line of the coronavirus, but the budget made no mention of the state of social care for the elderly. And if the promised £6 billion new funding for the NHS does materialise, what help will this be when the hospitals had an ‘overspend’ of £141 billion at the end of 2019?
I don’t think the top capitalists would be so concerned about the virus if they did not foresee extremely big economic and social trouble to come. Imperial College has produced a study along those lines. But for the capitalists, the major concern is for themselves. When Boris Johnson warned that: ‘many more families should expect to lose loved ones’, he may have thought that he did his job. But he did not. His first plan to allow the coronavirus to spread with up to 60% of the population becoming infected (for it to acquire ‘herd immunity’) was suddenly replaced by a policy of “social distancing” without having first procured the test-kits through which to pilot future controls. This empiricism due to egoism and arrogance is already costing lives. But ‘who cares’ Boris Johnson will say, as long as the money-making machine is being spared?
I have every certainty that the working class is organising industrially and politically against this new crime; and that our Labour Party will defend this working class, or that it will have no role.