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Views in brief

July 8, 2005 | Page 6

OTHER VIEWS BELOW:
Correction to Berkeley report
Saying no to EU bosses
Should Bush be impeached?

Governator attacks labor

AS A former Californian and son of a public school teacher there, I very much appreciate Socialist Worker's consistent coverage of growing grassroots resistance to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's planned budget cuts and union busting. However, an important aspect of the Governator's extreme budget slashing has not yet been mentioned.

As Union Voice, an online network that raises awareness around labor issues, reports, Schwarzenegger is planning to cut funding for labor research in the University of California (UC) system. The only research unit to be targeted in this way, the governor is explicitly trying to single out labor studies for elimination. As Katie Quan, chair of the UC-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, wrote, "This is clearly a political attack on working people.

This $3.8 million fund has generated important research about employment issues, such as the living wage, conditions of immigrant workers and changing union trends. The money is a small fraction compared to funds allocated for business research.

"This is also an attack on academic freedom," wrote Quan. "If the governor can reach into the university budget and eliminate any program that he does not like, then no program is secure from political whim."

Perhaps Arnold is angry at the labor research program due to its recent finding that Wal-Mart's low wages and lack of benefits account for a massive drain on California's social programs. Surely Arnold does not want the public to know that Wal-Mart is partially responsible for the supposed "lack of funds" for public projects.

Always rabidly anti-union, Schwarzenegger's focus on cutting research on labor issues should come as no surprise. In fact, he proposed the same cuts last year. Yet he was forced to retreat in the face of an outpouring of opposition. It is imperative that the growing coalition against the Governator incorporate the demand to fully fund the UC labor studies program.
Sam Bernstein, New Haven, Conn.

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Correction to Berkeley report

IN MY report on Berkeley teachers' contract, " attendance" was incorrectly interpreted as "teacher attendance" ("Berkeley, Calif., teachers," June 17). Student absenteeism, not teacher absenteeism, is a budgetary issue because the state of California (and many other states) partially funds school districts based on average daily student attendance (ADA).

Our new contract makes the issue of ADA in Berkeley (where attendance is 5 to 6 percent below our neighbor Alameda, Calif., for example) a factor in teacher pay. This will force teachers to spend more time calling the home of absent students, an increase in our workload.

We demonstrated in our work-to-rule action how much we already work beyond the hours we are paid for. Many other districts (such as Alameda) either purchase an automatic calling machine, which leaves a message at every absent student's home, or hire someone specifically for this purpose.

As in dropping test scores and other issues, teachers are being made the scapegoats for what is not within our scope to fix.
Jean Whittlesey, Berkeley, Calif.

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Saying no to EU bosses

YOUR ARTICLE and interview on the tremendous victory against neoliberalism in the French referendum on a European constitution contained a number of errors ("'Non' to a bosses' Europe," June 3).

It is not "impossible to know exactly what the contribution from each of the forces was" to the "No" campaign. The campaign showed the most united and dynamic left campaign for 50 years. A thousand united front "Collectives for No" were set up in towns across France. The revolutionary left was very visible in the heart of these collectives.

The collectives have now decided not to disband, but to move forward together with a national convention, and may form the embryo of a new radical left force which could be the breakthrough we have been looking for, in a country with a high level of class struggle, but a low level of confidence in existing parties, including those of the revolutionary left.

The far right, on the other hand, was almost completely absent from the campaigns. For every far-right poster calling for a "No" vote, there must have been 500 left posters. The left meetings drew thousands in towns where a "normal" political meeting was 20 people. The far right had perhaps a dozen meetings, all of them flops.

The Socialist Party dissident leaders who campaigned for a "No" vote were not "mavericks." The majority of Socialist Party voters voted "No" to the constitution. The majority of activists also voted no, although the in-party referendum of last autumn was won for the "Yes" vote by 58 percent--made up more of the passive members of the Socialist Party. More important, the "No" vote was a class vote. Well over 70 percent of manual workers, and well over 60 percent of office workers voted "No."

The Socialist Party leaders who called for a "No" vote have been disciplined by their party, and the autumn conference may produce a split in the Socialist Party which would multiply the chances of progress for a radical left force in France.

Finally, it is important to mention the tremendous politicization of our class during the campaign. Opinion polls showed only 19 percent of French people were "uninterested" in the campaign against the neoliberal constitution.

It is the finest victory we have seen for many decades, and there are a lot of happy French revolutionaries here.
John Mullen, Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire, Montreuil, France

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Should Bush be impeached?

IN A recent essay published on the CounterPunch Web site, progressive Norman Solomon wrote that it's time to get serious about impeaching Bush. There are few presidents in recent memory more deserving of impeachment than Bush--but then again, which one hasn't committed an offense deserving of impeachment?

Clinton deserved it--for war crimes and murderous sanctions against Iraq, not blowjobs. Carter kicked off decades of bloodshed in Afghanistan and around the globe by sponsoring militant fundamentalists. Kennedy invaded Cuba, nearly caused a nuclear holocaust and involved the U.S. in Vietnam--which Johnson escalated with the help of lies and a compliant Democrat-led Congress.

Truman killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese. The racist FDR locked 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry up in concentration camps--and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent German and Japanese civilians while ignoring the plight of Jews in Nazi death camps.

The terrible crimes committed by Bush and his predecessors from both parties must be seen not as policies of individual administrations, but as the natural outcome of imperialism--where rival nations, controlled by their wealthy elites, duke it out on the world stage for control over resources, markets and land.

The U.S. didn't invade Iraq because it was Bush's pet project, but because it is in the interest of the U.S. ruling class to control Iraq's oil and use it as leverage over emerging world powers with which they are in competition.

Even if we could impeach Bush, his legal successor is Cheney. If we got rid of President Dick, then we'd get that sad sack Hastert. Next comes the drill-happy Sen. Ted Stevens (Senate President Pro Tempore--the most senior Senator from the majority party), then Bush co-conspirators Rice, Snow, Rumsfeld, Gonzales and the rest of his corrupt cabinet.

Even assuming that impeaching Bush is the best course of action, achieving that will require a mass movement that can hold both Democrats and Republicans accountable. Building such a movement is possible, but only if it is founded on a solid anti-imperialist political basis and maintains its independence from both major parties.

The movement will fail to achieve the critical mass it needs if it excuses the offenses of Democrats or allows itself to be co-opted by that party. Just look at the failure of the antiwar movement in 2004 to cry out against the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Falluja--in the name of supporting the other pro-war candidate.

However, when we succeed in building a force powerful enough to force Congress to impeach Bush why should we constrain our demands to merely removing him from office? Why not demand an end to war and discrimination, fair taxation, national health care, jobs, education and a real democracy that truly represents the will and interests of the working class?

It's not enough to demand the ouster of Bush--we need to turn the whole system upside down because it is the drive for profit that corrupts our public institutions and so-called democracy.
Nicholas Hart, Seattle

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