Unemployment in the USA has officially risen to 6.2%, although the real figure is surely much higher. The massive budget cuts and the deterioration of the dot.com industry are major factors in leaving more people out of work. The collapses of WorldCom and Enron, plus the layoffs in the telecommunications field, have also played a part in ruining lives. As is always the case, unemployment figures are higher for people of color, women, and young people.

Corporations and state governments claim that there is just not enough money to go around to pay their workers. We know that the corporations are making billions of dollars on the backs of working people. Keeping profits up means keeping wages low. “Expendable” workers are laid off to “minimize spending.” Our lives are not expendable!

The corporate scandals of Enron, WorldCom, etc. show the “creative accounting” used to defend the interests of the rich. We should not trust the corporate backstabbers. Verizon says that they need to lay off workers because “there is no money.” However, any Verizon shareholder knows that Verizon made more profits in the last year than nearly any other company on the planet!

State governments claim they are in “crisis.” However, this only translates into a crisis for working people, while the rich backers of our moneybag politicians sit comfortably. Public sector workers get laid off, and public services for everyone suffer. Firehouses shutting down means less safety; less teachers translates into bigger class sizes and worse education; laid-off healthcare workers means more sick people. Enough is enough! Every state in the country can be bailed out of budget crises through a simple solution: tax the rich!

We need a strategy to fight back against unemployment. When layoffs are proposed, we need to take action to defend our jobs and services. Unions need to take up the issues of the unemployed by demanding more jobs and job training programs. A shorter workweek (with no loss of pay) would create more jobs to go around.

To create more jobs, we need massive public works programs that provide services for working people. A quality universal healthcare system and free education with smaller class sizes would provide jobs. Jobs could also be created through a program to clean up the environment. We can’t expect big business politicians to fight for more jobs. We need to fight on the streets and in the workplaces to defend our jobs and services.

We need a working people’s party to bring people to office who represent our needs, not corporate greed.