Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s words have been censored. Prison officials have banned his voice. And so I will read to you one of his essays.

“The rich rob the poor, and the poor rob each other,” Sojourner Truth. Why did the government launch its attack on the welfare system? What was behind its rhetoric? If you analyze it closely, you’ll find the push for this policy came from American business. Here’s why: the business cycle is crucial to capitalist economies.

Back in 1958, an economist noted that when unemployment rises, wages fall. This is so because when most workers are employed, business is pressed to react to wage demands. However, when there is significant unemployment, business knows they can find labor at lower wages. Thus, unemployment drives down wages for all workers.

What does this have to do with welfare? Well, welfare is a form of income maintenance. And as such, it served as a buffer between the employed and the unemployed. Therefore, workers were not desperate for any job they could find. When workers are not desperate, when they have security, they demand higher wages from Capitol. Who would have thought that the poorest among us, those on welfare, strengthened and stabilized the wages of workers?

It’s for this reason that Capitol launched its attack on income maintenance programs, through its political agents, Republicans and Democrats, using the sleight of hand label of “welfare reform.” Both parties of Big Business joined hands in the battle against the poorest, egged on by Big Business media conglomerates.

Why do you think every time news comes out about low unemployment, Wall Street panics and stocks tumble? When masses of people are unemployed, that’s called good for business? How can “bad for people” be “good for business”? So what is to be done? The French unemployed took to the streets nationally. This remarkable mobilization showed the power of a movement of unemployed. That movement leaped across the border to Germany, where marches sprung up in over 200 cities.

We can learn from the French, who did not hesitate to organize and mobilize the poor and unemployed. The slogan of a French may not translate well to us here, but it bears repeating: “Who sows misery reaps rage.” The politicians ain’t the solution. The people are. Let us organize.