International Economic Crisis: A Fable or Reality?

By Aima Mahmood, Executive Director, Working Women Organization, Pakistan

The whole world is in extreme economic crisis. Multinational corporations and their puppet governments are trying their level best with full obstinacy that instability caused by them should be paid by depriving the world's people of their jobs and necessities of life. The killing crisis of this period has left more than 6,500,000 people in America, 2,600,000 people in Canada, 2,800,000 people in Australia and 2,000,000 people in England unemployed. Before knowing the effects of economic ruin in Pakistan, it is important to look at the role of multinational companies in Pakistani economy. Due to the privatization policies of government, the following departments are working under foreign corporations: power sector, petroleum and refining, chemicals, tobacco and cigarette, oil and gas, food, trade, means of communications, transportation, food packing, cement, storage, personal services, tourism and textiles.

Effects of economic crisis in Pakistan are different as compared to other countries. Here foreign companies have created shortage of electricity which not only resulted in unbearable power cut off but it has also raised the prices of food, petrol, gas, transport and other needs of life to the point of zenith. In 2008, value of rupee decreased by 21% whereas inflation increased by 25%. Most of the population has to live hands to mouth; acquiring the education, health and employment facilities is out of the question for them. 75% of population is living below the poverty line.

Due to the unavailability of electricity and gas, hundreds of factories in Faisalabad, Lahore, Sialkot and Karachi are shutdown. Keeping new industries aside, only 550 out of 2250 existing industrial units are working. Within the last six months, in the largest industrial area of Karachi 250,000 casual and temporary workers are fired from jobs.

Women workers are also being fired in these circumstances like men workers. A large number of women in Pakistan and other developing countries are working on domestic level. Due to the closure of the factories, these women are also deprived of the livelihood.

According to the International Labor Organization, internationally unemployment among women is 6.3% which is more than men's 5.9%. According to estimation, this ratio among women will be 7 percent by the end of 2009. In third world countries, women workers have to suffer the direst consequences of economic crisis because when it comes to terms of firing people from job, preferably women are dismissed first. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, in formal sectors, women are greater in number in textile, electronics, garments and food sectors. In these industries, during the downsizing the women are dismissed first. Women are also deprived of equal wages of the same work. According to ITUC, the income of women in 2008 was lower than their male colleagues' income by 22%.

At this time when the economic crisis is roaring everywhere, it is important to know that what economic crisis is. Who has created it? And who are the beneficiaries of it?

Economically that anxious period is called economic crisis when industrial and trade activities are cut down and unemployment is increased. Due to less productivity business class cuts down its production and downsizes working force. Due to less opportunities of work, salaries are also decreased. Expenditures are increased against income and buying power of people decreases. Currency value rapidly deteriorates. This increases the prices of consumer goods and utility bills which increases the inflation and stock market crashes.

Who has created this economic disturbance? All over the world capitalists intrigue consumers to spend more and more upon nonproductive goods using different tools like advertisement, internet, cable television, print and electronic media. For example: new models of cars, mobile phones, music system, computer games etc. Banks and monetary institutions encourage this behavior by loans at easy conditions. When people are caught into debt by spending more than earning and their savings remain cipher, big monetary institutions and their owners start announcing bankruptcy to banks, capitalist and government institutions where people invest. As American policies are driving international economy, therefore the current market failure also started from there.

They produced artificial rise in property rates. Banks declared the investment in property profitable and started giving people lease and loans at easy conditions. The same procedure was practiced in the rest of the countries. When people invested big amounts, big property dealers, construction companies, banks and monetary institutions gathered wealth and increased rate of interest and abruptly made it impossible for debtors to payback loans. The prices of houses fell down at once. Banks started confiscating the properties. In America, 8.8 million of people have less property value than the loans they have taken from the banks.

Economic restlessness is also being created by war, mismanagement and terrorism. America has imposed war on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine and many other African countries in the name of so called "War on Terror." Moreover, in different countries and areas there is a civil war. In these circumstances, the resources that can easily provide people with food, education, health, clothes and accommodation at a mass level are being wasted on arms and armory. Due to the monopoly of a few countries on 80% of the resources of the globe, the crisis of currency and energy has created an economic ruin. Since the beginning of this monetary jumble, many self-assigned scholars created a storm in the cup by anticipating the failure of capitalism which is rising.

However, if we see with open mind, it will be clear that this decline in reality is created by big investors and their apostles themselves. If big banks, insurance companies, car industry and other industries are being bankrupted, the owners whose first priority is to get maximum profit are responsible for this.

Where many other elements are needed for the sustenance of investment, there the market depression is the blood for the life of investment. This is the situation where on one hand, millions of people are deprived of livelihood and food, and on the other hand some investors get a chance to grow money in leaps and bounds. According to International Monetary Fund, monetary crisis period comes within 8 to 10 years. In past three decades, the world has gone through three big crises. According to economists, there have been 32 crises since 1854. However, world has faced monetary topsy-turvy only 8 times.

The monetary crisis of 2008 appears to be on bigger level because, due to privatization, globalization and open market economy, only a few companies are not just controlling finance, banking, petrol, food, insurance and communication but also are free to establish their monopoly and are not accountable to anyone. That's why self created failure of a company does not keep in a country only but it also affects many other countries. This was the basic reason of rise in the prices of food and oil internationally last year.

Now question is how to get rid of monopoly, unchecked liberty and economic injustice of a few thousand exploiting investing companies. The answer is tough as well as easy.

On international level, we all humans, workers, men and women should be aware that those who impose privatization, globalization and free economic policies on world want everything except the prosperity of laymen. Therefore, trade unions, workers and women organizations and human rights institutes should understand the negative impacts of globalization and offer policies to cope up with these impacts.

It is not possible to cut exploitation without knowing the ambitions of exploiting bodies. We general public badly need to be aware that where the globe has shrank to village for these few investors and monetary companies, there they have built big boundaries of nationalism, racism, language, color and religion among the people of world. To evoke the air of terrorism in the whole world, they are not only making people dislike each other but also making them afraid of one another by making them enemies. In the name of terrorism and the so called War on Terror not only transportation from one country to another is limited but is also monitored strictly. The progress in means of communication is used to control human beings.

We workers are obliged to make united movement against anti-people and anti-workers policies strong and successful nationally as well as internationally. We should end our biases and differences and create not only the ambition of universalism and mutual integrity but also strengthen it. There should be a trial to eradicate the current economic and social system which gives importance to profit on prosperity of the people.

The liberation from this outdated and cruel system lies in practicing a new economic, cultural and political system. It is important for trade unions and workers organizations to struggle for a movement beyond their group benefits for the protection of rights and benefits of common people. May 1st Workers' International Day is the name of this message and this is the very truth for which the martyrs of Chicago and coming afterwards sacrificed their lives. Only after acting upon this truth, we workers can predict and stop the next, coming economic hurricane.