Governor Brewer lets out a mighty class war cry of sheer victorious glee after signing the corporate tax cut earlier this year.
So it is with the bad news that Arizona has fired more than 10,000 public school employees -- more than 6,000 of them teachers -- and the good news that one in every ten bosses who dies on the job is murdered, that we announce what we hope to be an ongoing agitational broadsheet aimed at regularly stoking the fires of opposition here in the Copper State, Phoenix in particular. We're calling it, simply enough, "The Crisis" and it is intended for hand to hand distribution in the city.
Since the last year's struggles against both the reactionary rightwing attack and the wishy-washy leftist recuperation, we have become more and more aware that no one in the state is addressing the increasingly perilous and precarious economic situation of so many workers and excluded people in Az. Lines at state social service agencies stretch for hours in the 110 degree heat, jobs have not come back, wages have fallen and the economic situation of more and more people every day seems to sit on a knife's edge.
The successful division of the working class created by the racist right has limited the ability of the class to find ways to fight back against the attack, as well as to envision new ways of organizing life that go beyond merely calling for increased intervention into poor and working class people's lives. In Arizona this is particularly an interesting question because there is such hostility to government solutions, even among the working class.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore the obvious class assault that is the imposition of austerity. Vital services are disappearing. Take for instance the recent decision by the state to throw more than a hundred thousand poor and working class people off the state's health care plan. Beyond that, people making more than $920 a month have been disqualified from eligibility, at the same time that the state weekly unemployment benefit pays out about 210 dollars a week. Given that payments in Arizona top out at $240 a week, that average means substantial numbers of unemployed people who once could count on health care while out of work no longer have it.
In addition, the state currently runs a budget surplus, largely made on the backs of the foreclosure crisis, as formerly working class folks ejected from their homes have lost the mortgage deduction, boosting income tax revenues. And never mind that the arguments for austerity coming from the political and business class were built on dire -- even catastrophic -- budget projections. Meanwhile, the state passed a corporate sales tax cut, further shifting the tax burden onto the poor and working class with a whopping $1.5 billion dollar giveaway to the rich over the next seven years.
At the same time, the legislature continues to contemplate a flat tax, which would cut taxes on the rich even more, with a resulting rise in tax payments at the bottom. And, if it couldn't get any worse, this summer the state rejected Federal money for unemployment extensions, potentially stranding thousands of unemployed Arizonans when their state benefits run out. With an unemployment rate of 9.6%, and an average length of unemployment steadily creeping up towards a year, that's guaranteed to leave some very marginalized people hanging.
As usual, we don't find these conditions depressing, we find them interesting and worthy of intervening in and experimenting with. Potential exists for some interesting organizing and possibly for a breech in normal politics. So, look for copies of the new broadsheet soon. Once more into the breach we go!