25, 50 and 75 Years Ago

December 17, 2018

December 20, 1993

Fleshing out President Bill Clinton’s campaign to “end welfare as we know it,” the administration’s task force on welfare reform has prepared draft legislation that will force most recipients to work at low wages after two years. The program will be financed by cuts in welfare and other social services.

The task force document outlines two options for those who exceed the two-year limit. The first places welfare recipients in private business jobs for 35 hours a week at minimum wage. Under the second, recipients must enroll in a “community work experience program” — again at minimum wage — to receive their benefits. 

Employers in both the private and public sector will receive government subsidies as part of the program. The employment offered through the program will be temporary.

December 20, 1968

The Seamen’s Union in Wellington, New Zealand, refused to bring U.S. soldiers ashore from the carrier America Nov. 18. They also refused to service or supply the vessel as a protest against the Vietnam war.

“In line with Federation of Labour and Labour Party policy,” the union said in a statement, “our efforts have been aimed at the withdrawal of United States, New Zealand and all aggressive troops in Vietnam. Our refusal to man Union Steam Ship Company tugs to supply stores and ferry men to and from their recreation is a further indication of our stand in operations.”

The Wellington Harbour Board and U.S. government agencies were forced to rent tourist launches from the nearby town of Picton to ferry the military personnel ashore. The seamen stood firm in their antiwar action.

December 18, 1943

The Smith “Gag” Act, passed in 1940, is being used to deprive the American people of their right of free expression. It was deliberately designed to stifle working-class opposition to the reactionary foreign and domestic policies of the administration. The 18 leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and of Minneapolis Truckdrivers Local 544-CIO have been prosecuted under this Act and railroaded to prison for 12 to 16 month terms solely because of their opposition to the crimes of Big Business, because of their militant union activities and their revolutionary socialist ideas.

Although the Smith “Gag” Act under which the 18 are the first to be convicted clearly violates the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Supreme Court brazenly refused — without explanation — to hear their appeal.