Sunday, April 12, 2009

Global steel industry awaits auto turnaround as layoffs on the Iron Range mount and MN DFL twiddles thumbs

Statement of the Iron Range Club of the Communist Party, USA

Barack Obama in an Easter Sunday holiday message had the nerve to lie to the American people about the nature of the economic depression we are in. Obama said he sees "glimmers of hope."

We ask: Where are the "glimmers of hope?"

Obama has not been to the Iron Range.

We ask: Where's the change?

Here on the Iron Range there are no "glimmers of hope;" only the despair that accompanies growing growing joblessness and dire poverty making the Iron Range, what Alan Maki has referred to "the Appalachia of the North with the same pits, pollution and poverty."

The economic situation and social conditions are worsening by the day on the Iron Range as working class families are now experiencing dire economic straits our grand parents tell us they have not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930's.

We and our grand parents were assured such conditions would never come about again.

We were told that Karl Marx was wrong. We were told that the capitalist system could be managed by flaky, weirdos like John Maynard Keynes and Alan Greenspan.

This generation was assured by the best paid economists Wall Street could buy that this generation would never live through an economic depression where the capitalist system collapses.

Yet, today, all economic indicators--- contrary to Barack Obama seeing "glimmers of hope," are pointing to the worst depression ever along with all the misery for working people such a catastrophe will most certainly entail as this "ball continues to drop" if we don't push back against Wall Street, and push back hard.

Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council--- Barack Obama's chief economic adviser--- describes the economy like a "ball dropping from the table that has not stopped falling."

Something is terribly wrong with this entire scenario. We are being played for suckers and fools as if we do not have the brains or capacity to reason and think.

Vice-president Joe Biden stated months ago that he and Obama are trying to "dropkick the ball." Here we are, months later, with Larry Summers telling us "the ball is still dropping" and hasn't even touched the ground yet.

Key to Obama's lies is that he continues to state economic troubles were caused by the "crisis in the housing market." This is an outright lie. The housing market, sabotaged by a bunch of greedy crooks not of which one has been prosecuted to date as millions of people lose their homes, is part of the problem; part of the problem contributing to the main problem. But not the primary source of the problem that Barack Obama and his over-paid economic advisers are well aware of but refuse to acknowledge because to do so would expose the capitalist system for what it has become: rotten to the core.

The present crises the capitalist economic system is experiencing is the direct result of the corporate assault on the standard-of-living of the working class that has been well underway in this country for over thirty years, and Wall Street has intensified this assault on the working class over the last eight years of Republican domination over our lives while Democrats sat back like cowards and did nothing.

The problem is one from which the capitalist economic system cannot escape:

Workers not being paid enough to purchase back what they have produced. Most working people in the United States have been receiving poverty wages; unable to purchase even the minimal basic necessities required to live decent lives.

Capitalist exploitation is THE PROBLEM. Capitalists stealing the wealth created by the working class is the source of this economic mess.

Common sense tells us that if the wealth created by the many is being constantly stolen by the rich few there is going to be severe economic problems down the road; we are now at the end of that road.

High-paid corrupt union leaders like Leo Gerard, Ron Gettelfinger and John Sweeney have worked in cahoots with big-business in forcing concession after concession from the very workers whose dues are paying their big fat salaries when they should have been putting the unions' resources into organizing the unorganized. Instead, they plowed union dues into supporting Barack Obama and the Democrats who are now kicking workers in the head while down on the ground.

How else can one explain taking away the homes of working people who are jobless and going hungry?

A moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions should have been and still is the NUMBER ONE requirement needed by hard-hit workers. This is so basic to common human decency we Communists should not even have to be stating this.

Minnesota Senator David Tomassoni could not even get the vote of one single Democrat in support of "the Minnesota People's Bailout." And the United Steel Workers and United Auto Workers unions are pumping money into getting these servants of the Chamber of Commerce, the mining, auto, banking and power industries elected!

If Senator Tomassoni and any other DFL'ers who consider themselves "progressive" don't see the need to leave the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party after this (first it was betrayal and sell-out on saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant) now these same rotten Democrats have defeated "the Minnesota People's Bailout" which would have halted foreclosures and evictions so widespread across the Iron Range and the rest of the state and the entire country.

Now these same Democrats are kicking the living daylights out of the working class at every opportunity; not missing an opportunity to kick workers in the head. Case in point: the auto workers; and miners right here on the Iron Range.

No two unions did more to help elect Barack Obama and the Democrats than the United Steel Workers union (USW) and the United Auto Workers union (UAW).

Steel workers and auto workers are now getting kicked in the head by Barack Obama and the Democrats without any help from the Republicans.

What does this tell us about the two-party system?

It should tell us what Communist Party leaders William Z. Foster and Gus Hall said over and over again:

Labor needs its own political party.

The time has come for working people to get up off the ground and fight back.

Since the labor "leadership" is not willing to fight back; the rank-and-file is going to have to stand up and slug it out with these corrupt and wholly incompetent labor leaders, the Democratic Party and Wall Street.

Military recruiters are not shy about walking into our public schools trying convince our children to go fight Barack Obama's dirty imperialist wars.

A third of the ore that has been taken from the ground on the Range has gone into wars and militarism as our children die in these senseless wars that Barack Obama said were "stupid" when he wanted our votes.

Barack Obama and the Democrats are not as eager to solve our problems as they are to ship our kids off to war.

In fact, to a large extent the social and economic problems we are experiencing are directly related to these dirty imperialist wars.

As Alan Maki has pointed out, we need "800 public health care centers spread out across the United States instead of over 800 U.S. military bases dotting the globe."

On this Easter Sunday, we on the Iron Range don't see Barack Obama's "glimmers of hope."

The steel and auto industries need to be nationalized and brought under public ownership and the democratic control of the people.

We will not get a "people's bailout" until we organize some kind of "people's lobby" as part of a "massive people's front" in the struggle for an end to foreclosures and evictions and a legislated minimum wage that is a real living wage directly based upon and tied to all cost-of-living factors.

Polls now show the American people have completely lost confidence in capitalism.

The same polls demonstrate that the time is now to place socialism on the table; socialism is the only way working people are ever going to get out of this economic mess.

The time has come for working people to create a people's political party to challenge the monopolies for power, and put us on the high road to peace and jobs through socialism.

We ask Barack Obama and the lying, warmongering Democrats: Where's the change?

As the article below points out, the steel and auto industries are the key to any healthy economy.

We ask: Does anyone see any indication of these two industries ever recovering again under capitalism?

China bailed is out and saved thousands of jobs for us here on the Iron Range.

Now that Chinese "leaders" have betrayed their people like union "leaders" here and jumped in bed with Wall Street after having been sold a bill of goods by Alan Greenspan, the CATO Institute and the Heritage Foundation that capitalist markets could provide a "quick fix" to their problems there is no place else for us to look other than to our own strength which comes through our own working class unity in getting out from under this mess.

Make no mistake, this economic mess was made by Wall Street capitalists in their never-ending drive for profits; there is no reason for the working class to have to shoulder the burden by way of being driven into poverty to get these vultures and parasites out of this mess that they created.

The corporate CEO's and bankers who created this mess are walking away with multi-million dollar "unemployment checks"--- our tax-dollars; and Barack Obama and the Democrats who expect our votes can't even come up with unemployment checks for workers from time of unemployment until time of re-employment as part of a "people's bailout." This is a disgrace.

We ask: Where's the change?

Since working people are called upon to solve the problems we had no part in creating, we need to resolve these problems in a way that benefits the working class by improving the lives of working class families and not Wall Street pigs gorging themselves at the public trough provided courtesy of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party at our expense.

Again, we ask Barack Obama and the Democrats: Where's the change?

In response to those still saying: "Give Obama a chance;" we say:

Join the Communist Party.

Join the fight for peace and jobs through socialism.

Iron Range Club, CPUSA

Global steel industry awaits auto turnaround

PARIS (AFP) – Steel is on edge and the global industry is cutting back hard, hanging on for either a budget blast from China, new credit for vast Middle Eastern building schemes or resurrection of the US auto industry.

Demand has dwindled and steelmakers, notably the giant of them all, ArcelorMittal, are damping down surplus furnace capacity while waiting for credit to flow, construction cranes to turn and factories to roll.

A decision by ArcelorMittal last week to pursue temporary production cutbacks, slashing European output by more than half from the end of April according to a union source, dramatises the extraordinary ride and role of steel in the last few years.

In just months the global industry has gone from a boom driven largely by China, emerging markets and a property extravaganza in the Middle East to a narrow line between excess capacity and the costs of waiting for recovery.

"Over the past six months, demand for steel has dropped dramatically and, as a result, producers have been cutting production," analysts at Barclays Capital said in a study last week.

In another report, Morgan Stanley predicted "the current demand shock to lead to excess steel capacity."

Consequently, the bank said, steel plants should operate at rates below 75 percent of capacity until 2012.

"The steel market is not very different from base metals as a whole, but steel has reacted more rapidly and dramatically since September," said commodities analyst Perrine Faye of London-based FastMarkets.

She said the future of the steel industry depended on three factors -- the impact of Chinese economic stimulus efforts, a pick-up in the Middle East construction sector and a revival of the once mighty US auto industry.

"Chinese imports and exports are at a standstill. Everyone is waiting for the Chinese stimulus package to see if it will revive demand."

The Chinese government last month announced a four-trillion-yuan (580-billion-dollar) package of measures that it said could contribute 1.5 to 1.9 percent to the country's economic growth.

Industry experts have meanwhile spoken optimistically of China's prospects.

Thomas Albanese, chief executive at steel maker Rio Tinto, said earlier this year that the company foresaw "a short, sharp slowdown in China, with demand rebounding over the course of 2009, as the fundamentals of Chinese economic growth remain sound."

Analysts have said steel inventories are falling in China in anticipation of projects expected to emerge from the country's huge stimulus package.

"It is encouraging that the inventory of steel products, especially long products, which are mostly used in construction projects, have started to fall (since the end of March), likely suggesting that end-demand is gathering momentum," Frank Gong, a Hong Kong-based economist for JPMorgan, wrote in a research note.

On-the-ground evidence suggested that the Chinese industry had been re-stocking in the first two months of the year, followed by a pause in March before major infrastructure projects were expected to start in the second quarter, Gong wrote.

In the Middle East, according to Faye, the big problem is a shortage of credit, notably for real estate developers and builders.

Construction planners had "counted on a higher price for oil and on credit to finance their huge projects."

In addition, demand for such facilities, especially in the Gulf, has died.

"They were hoping that Americans and Europeans would buy apartments. But property prices have collapsed in the Middle East as well."

In the United Arab Emirates more than half the building projects, worth 582 billion dollars or 45 per cent of the total value of the construction sector, have been put on hold, a study by Dubai-based market research group Proleads found in February.

In Dubai, one of the states of the UAE, prices in the real estate sector have slumped by an average of 25 percent from their peak in September after rallying 79 percent in the 18 months to July 2008, according to Morgan Stanley.

Faye said the fate of the steel sector was in addition tied to that of the struggling US auto industry, once a thriving steel market but one in which two of its giant players, General Motors and Chrysler, are staring at bankruptcy.

The two companies are currently limping along thanks to billions of dollars in government aid.

"We are waiting to see if the auto sector in the US will get out of the crisis intact," she said.