Bring on boss freedom day

Those wacky right wing free marketers at the Centre For Independent Studies (CIS) came up with the idea of “Tax Freedom Day”, which has received a bit of publicity. It’s aimed at creating resentment towards paying tax, and CIS hope it will build support for tax cuts for the rich. It works like this: if you separate total income into tax and take home pay, then if you arbitrarily decide the tax portion is earnt in the first part of the year, “Tax Freedom Day” (April 22 they say), is the day you finish paying tax and start taking money home.

At least with tax we get some back as social wage, like a health system and public transport, things that can only be achieved collectively. A much more useful day to publicise would be Boss Freedom Day. As an example, my employer makes, $300,000 per employee as profit, this is money which goes to shareholders who do no work. Adding my wage of $50,000 that’s $350,000 in total, in other words I get a seventh.

So my Boss Freedom Day, would be October 9, that’s the day I stop working for the boss for nothing and start earning money for myself. Karl Marx called this process exploitation, imagine what the world would be like if we got rid of it.Chris Breen, Melbourne

Workers’ role in Cuba

Chris Slee (Letters, Solidarity No. 2) criticised David Glanz’s article in Solidarity by claiming that the working class played an active role in causing the disintegration of Batista’s regime, citing the January 1959 general strike.

But he is wrong to attribute any significant role in the toppling of the old regime to this action. The dictator Batista had already fled the country before the strike. His regime was so corrupt and discredited that almost no one came to its defence. There is a widespread consensus that all classes within Cuban society had abandoned the regime, as had its imperialist sponsor, the US government. As a result, in the face of the military challenge from Castro’s guerrillas, the army and state machine around Batista simply collapsed.

He also cites the resignation of president Manuel Urrutia as evidence of the role of mass action in Cuba. There were mass protests to demand his resignation. But these were mobilised and controlled from above by Castro. When Urrutia proved an obstacle to the direction in which Castro wanted to take the country, Castro resigned his post as prime minister and made an appearance on radio and TV denouncing him. The president, who owed his position to Castro’s enormous popularity, resigned the next day.

Cuba today has allied itself with the new left governments in Latin American in an attempt to make common cause with their challenge to US domination of the continent. Socialists should support Cuba against US imperialism. But Cuba should not be held up as a model for the rest of Latin America. Real socialism requires workers’ democratic control of society-something that has never existed in Cuba.

James Supple, Sydney

Union action for green jobs

On Thursday 8 May, 200 people attended a rally to promote a new solar power proposal to Victorian Labor politicians.

Backed By the Electrical Trades Union and Environment Victoria, protesters argued for a scheme that would encourage more people to install solar panels and a new industry that could create jobs.

But Labor wasn’t listening. They have made it seem like the environmentalists’ proposal would cost low-income families more. The opposite is the case.

The scheme is based on a new industry working successfully in Germany where the renewable energy industry employs 250,000 people, employing 23,500 in making solar panels. It’s based on the feed-in tariffs scheme used in more than 45 countries around the world.

The Victorian government has supported a limited version of the scheme, also available in Queensland and South Australia, which pays consumers with solar panels for only their excess electricity fed back into the grid.

The German experience is that it is more cost-effective for the government to pay for all electricity generated on home-based solar panels than engage in complicated calculations to determine how much is excess.

This shows how unions and the environment movement can collaborate in a scheme that is cost-effective for working class families and can provide those jobs that the power industry needs if coal production is reduced-there are no jobs on a dead planet.

Judy McVey, Melbourne

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