A socialist answer to the global rise in gas prices

Published on WSWS.org, by the Editorial Board, 5 July 2008.

3 short excerpts of a long text: The sharp rise in gasoline prices in recent months has imposed enormous burdens on working people in the United States and internationally. With prices at the pumps averaging over $4 a gallon in the US and well on their way to $5 or even higher this summer, working families – already burdened by rising food, housing, medical and other costs – are experiencing a drastic cut in their living standards.

Due to the sprawling character of American metropolitan areas, the long distances from home to work and a general lack of investment in public transit alternatives, working people in the US are more dependent on their cars than many of their counterparts in developed countries. This has made the population even more vulnerable to the rise in gas prices, which have shot up 38 percent since last July …

… Another major aspect in the rise of global oil prices is the speculative frenzy that has erupted on the New York Mercantile Exchange and other commodity markets. The growing global financial instability of the last five years – the plunging dollar, the bursting of the dot-com stock market boom, the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage and housing bubble, etc – has led wealthy investors to shift their money into commodity market, where they have engaged in the buying and selling of futures in oil, corn and gold, essentially betting on the continuing rise of prices …

… The problems facing humanity are not primarily due to the lack of resources but the irrational character of the capitalist system, which squanders vast amounts of human labor and creative potential in order to enrich an already fabulously wealthy elite. The world’s productive and natural resources must be freed from the constraints of capitalist private ownership and the nation state system and marshaled in a scientifically planned, rational and democratic fashion to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The fight for this requires a struggle against the world’s governments, which represent the corporate and financial elite, not ordinary people. In the US, this means a political break with the Democratic Party and the building of a new political party of the working class based on a socialist and internationalist program.

This is the perspective fought for by the Socialist Equality Party in the US and its sister parties throughout the world. (full long text).

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