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Issue #1910      April 6, 2020

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT

“Socialism is no longer a dirty word” is a phrase we now hear people screaming. Even corporations are appealing to the state to fix the dying economy, to take care of the health system, and take over responsibility.

The Morrison government, as expected, has its priorities wrong in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The first thing the government must do is ensure workers will have an income to feed their families so that they can quarantine. Workers have been dumped by employers from the very beginning of the pandemic. Even before the federal government announced some stimulus measures to assist businesses it was evident workers were going to be put out the door, led often by multinational corporations that boast obscene profits.

Last week we saw workers lining up outside social security in the thousands across the country. With the perspectives of up to two million unemployed workers an economic recession is almost certain. The shocker of the week was the laying off of 600 nurses from private hospitals in NSW. Such a criminal action of bastardry while other states desperately seek health professionals to employ, including calling out those in retirement to assist with the crisis.

The many years of neoliberalism in which privatisation of essential services went rampant are now exposing how those policies fail the people.

Countries like Spain and Ireland have begun a process of putting private hospitals into public hands to put some control into the health system.

The Morrison government has been able to put a $180 billion stimulus package together including an extra $1.1 billion into Medicare. The years of undermining Medicare requires it to be strengthened to deal with the pandemic. We don’t want to see a situation where health workers have to decide who lives or dies due to lack of resources.

The funding needed to take full control of the private health sector is readily available by abolishing the thirty per cent private health insurance rebate which amounts to some $10 billion. If that is not enough to fully fund the required national health system and workers’ wages savings must be found elsewhere. A good place to consider meeting this is through a reduction of at least ten per cent from the military budget. The real enemy is already here and has to be fought here. International cooperation to fight the pandemic is necessary and humanity must win.

Socialism is, and continues to be, the answer to rapacious capitalism. Workers must continue to demand a better system that works in their interest. The crisis must not be paid for by working people. People in Southern Italy and other parts of the world are already taking to the streets to take control of shops and to demand government action. Current times are very dangerous, our civil and democratic rights are under attack and the pandemic is put to use as an excuse.

The situation that arises when people are desperate and no longer prepared to live under the same circumstances can be full of opportunity and danger. Workers could now rebel and take control of their own destiny. Social change will come and the prospects are therefor the formation of national unity governments that could be formed as a result of the pandemic and economic crisis. This social change has to be in the interest of working people not the corporations.

I want to end these few lines by thanking the health workers out there on the front line who despite facing shortages of personal protective equipment and other essentials continue to do their jobs and are, right now, in our hospitals and clinics saving lives.

I also thank our small team in the Guardian collective who with so many limitations are managing to put The Workers’ Weekly Guardian out every week working from home. The message to all our Party members and readers is to keep the struggle going while staying home to help prevent the spread of the virus. Humanity shall overcome!

Next article – AN ASSESSMENT OF THE RENT STRIKE

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