Tuesday, September 30, 2008
More on Child Poverty Levels
Of the 13,233,320 children in the UK, 5,559,000 - more than a third - live in low-income families or families in poverty.
"A child in poverty is 10 times more likely to die in infancy, and five times more likely to die in an accident. Adults who lived in poverty as a child are 50 times more likely to develop a restrictive illness such diabetes or bronchitis." Campaign director Hilary Fisher said
The research was compiled from Government statistics and also includes the numbers of children in families on Working Families Tax Credit.The campaign classes households as being in poverty if they are living on under £10 per person per day.
Monday, September 29, 2008
TIME UP AT IBROX
Rangers' blue is used on the dial and the logo is engraved into the oscillating weight seen through the sapphire crystal case back.
Martin Bain, Rangers' chief executive, said: "International brands are now looking at football clubs that offer partnerships which go beyond local exposure."
The club commissioned a global research agency to look at Rangers' exposure across the world last season and found that it reached more then 73 million people in Europe alone. "Importantly, we can now tell brand owners exactly who was watching, in which countries and at what time," said Bain.
The ABC of Inflation
The Royal Mint said it was illegal to make or use counterfeited coins.
However what happens when world governments behave like counterfeiters? Nowadays the pound is an inconvertible paper currency and enormous additional amounts have been printed and put into circulation. It is legal but the consequence is inflationary. This article from the Socialist Standard in October 1972 explains some of the fallacies.
The ABC of Inflation
THE LABOUR PARTY and the Tory Party accuse each other of being responsible for the continuing rise of prices, but there is absolutely nothing to choose between the records of the two parties. Measured by the government's own Retail Price Indexes, the Labour government 1945-51 scored a 28 per cent rise and the Labour government 1964-70 another 30 per cent (of the 1964 level); while the Tories marked up 50 per cent between 1951 and 1964 and another 17 per cent (of the 1970 level) between 1970 and June 1972. Added to the 32 per cent rise recorded between 1939 and 1945 under the National government (admitted to be an understatement), the present price level is at least four times what it was before the war.
In 1944 the three parties-Tory, Labour and Liberal -in the National government committed themselves to do what they could after the war "to stabilise prices", and at each of the eight general elections Labour and Tories both repeated the promise-and it hasn't meant a thing.
Individual prices can rise (or fall) for several different reasons. Good harvests will reduce prices and bad harvests will raise them. Booming trade increases demand and sends prices up, bad trade will send them down again. Even against the present trend of rising prices metal prices fell heavily last year as demand slackened off-the price of copper fell by 40 per cent. Improved methods of production, by reducing the amount of labour required, will operate to lower prices, while the exhaustion of easily accessible seams of mineral ores (coal and metals) will operate the other way because mining at greater depths or in less rich seams requires more labour to produce each ton.
During the nineteenth century when all of these price factors operated the general price levels in Britain went up in some periods and down in others, or remained nearly stationary, but the extent of the movement up and down was always within a range of about 25 per cent either way-nothing like the 300 per cent added since September 1939. Wages also rose and fell during the nineteenth century; sometimes in line with the movement of prices, sometimes by more or less, and occasionally wages moved in the opposite direction to prices.
All sorts of explanations have been offered for the abnormal rise of prices since 1939 as compared with the up-and-down movements of prices in the nineteenth century. Most of the so-called explanations take the form of blaming some group or other for being "greedy"; bankers, or manufacturers, or retailers or trade unionists. It is an explanation that a glance at certain facts will show to be nonsense. Did the copper companies reduce their prices by 40 per cent in 1971 because they had suddenly become less greedy? Between 1948 and 1968 prices rose by 100 per cent in Britain, but only by half that amount in America and Switzerland: are the British twice as greedy? In the nineteenth century did the whole population go through alternating phases of being more greedy and less greedy? Between the end of 1920 and the middle of 1933 prices fell by over 50 per cent. The fall was continuous for thirteen years. What had happened to greed?
The fact is that sellers always try to get as big a price as they can, "as much as the market will bear", and if they can get more or are forced to take less it is because external circumstances over which they have little or no control determine that it shall be so.
Two popular beliefs are that prices go up because wages go up, or vice versa. It does not occur to those who hold one or the other view that wages are prices - the price the worker gets for the sale of his labour power, his mental and physical energies, to the employer. So, properly stated, their two propositions become the single useless assertion that prices go up because prices go up.
If they re-stated it in the form that one group of prices (wages) go up because the other group of prices go up-or vice versa-they overlook the truth that both groups of prices go up because of common external factors which affect both of them, more or less to the same extent. To illustrate this we can note that in summers when more Londoners visit the country the harvests are good. Nobody asks whether it is the London visitors who make the corn ripen, or whether it is the ripened corn which attracts the visitors. It just happens that a long hot summer both produces the good harvest and attracts visitors to the country - the sun is the common cause of both.
Paper & Prices
The new factor which has operated to push up prices abnormally since the war-the "sun" in relation to prices and wages-has been the continuous and accelerating "depreciation of the currency". In the nineteenth century the amount of notes and coin in circulation was controlled by the device, enforced by law, that the pound sterling was a fixed weight (about a quarter of an ounce) of gold, and Bank of England notes were always convertible on demand into the corresponding weight of gold. Nowadays the pound is an inconvertible paper currency and enormous additional amounts have been printed and put into circulation. In 1939 the total of notes and coin in the hands of the public was £454 million. It is now over £3,500 million and rising steadily, an amount far in excess of whatever increase would have been necessary in line with the actual increase in production and sales of goods.
Karl Marx, whose study of the subject has never been rivalled, enunciated the economic law in the form that if the amount of inconvertible paper currency exceeds the amount of gold that would be needed if gold coins circulated, the excess simply operates to push up prices. Before Keynesian doctrines were swallowed by most of the modern economists and politicians, this relationship between excess issues of inconvertible notes and the price level was generally accepted by economists (including Keynes). In 1919 the government deliberately put a stop to the issue of additional notes and this played a large part in the subsequent fall of prices. Now the political parties and the trade unions have deceived themselves, against all past experience, into the belief that what they call increasing "money supply" leads to greater production and the maintenance of "full employment".
Not quite all of the economists and financial authorties have swallowed the "new economics". One exception is the First National City Bank of New York which, in its Monthly Bulletin for January 1970, ridiculed the notion that rising prices are due to greed or to the wage demands of trade unions:
Most of the blame for inflation is misplaced. For although inflation has a hundred faces, it has but one essential cause : overly expansive and erratic monetary policy that has pushed up the quantity of money more swiftly than the quantity of goods and services.
Governments, even if they perceived the truth of this, are afraid to repeat the restrictive policy applied in 1919 because they think it might lead to a big depression and much heavier unemployment. The economist Lord Robbins, speaking in the House of Lords on 5th July, said:
I know of no case in history where inflation of the order of magnitude of that from which we are now suffering has been stopped by measures of this sort without that sort of effect.
The government's view, according to Patrick Jenkin, Chief Secretary of the Treasury, is that while curbing the money supply would affect prices it would do so only after a considerable time lag:-
"The immediate effect would be increased unemployment and reduced output. As a solution, it was politically, wholly unacceptable". (Financial Times 17 July)
They Lord Robbins and Jenkin, are equally afraid that continued and accelerating depreciation of the currency may end with the kind of monetary collapse that Germany experienced between the wars.
Most workers believe that if only prices came down or were at least stabilised their chief troubles would be over. They should remember that while it is true that at present hundreds of thousands of workers cannot afford to buy a house on mortgage, exactly the same was true between the wars when prices of houses and prices in general (and wages) were only a fraction of what they are now. For the workers capitalism means hardship whether prices are high or low or falling or rising. H.
Socialist Standard October 1972
$3.5 BILLION IN 2 DAYS
THE TOP 400
Sunday, September 28, 2008
PROFITS ARE THE PRIORITY
(Independent, 8 September) RD
ROCK AGAINST RELIGION
Saturday, September 27, 2008
MORE SILLY IDEAS
(Yahoo News, 18 September) RD
Friday, September 26, 2008
IF YOU'VE GOT IT, FLAUNT IT
(Times, 21 September) RD
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Getting the blues in suburbia
Who are the working class?Is there a middle class?Do you agree with this view?Let us know. A member's view from yester year.
There aren't many factory workers like me in the area where I live-a pleasant suburb called Giffnock which lies just over the south side of the Glasgow boundary. I moved there about five years ago and when my workmates heard where I was moving to they were amazed. Almost all of them live in council flats or houses (Scotland has a much higher percentage of council and other rented housing than England) and they seemed to place Giffnock in the same wealth bracket as Beverley Hills or Mayfair. "They've all got money up there" I was told.
Of course, when I moved into the place I found the reality to be just as I expected. Nearly every household is dependent on at least one wage or salary earner and so far I haven't met or even heard of a single millionaire. On the other hand, I have met people who have equally strange notions about factory workers. They presumably get their ideas (prejudices would be a better word) from the media and are quick to condemn strikes and wage demands which they imagine industrial workers indulge in every five minutes, just for the fun of it.
Obviously, different sections of the working class have false ideas about the others, but it only needs a look beneath the surface to see the essential sameness of all their lives.
Every morning from Monday to Friday, excluding holidays, I leave home at three minutes to seven. I buy my newspaper in the newsagent round the corner and stand in a shop doorway waiting for my lift to work. I get picked up about five minutes past seven and we are on our way. The streets are deserted and as we approach Eastwood Toll we, pass the big houses and the tall blocks of luxury flats which sell for around £80,000. All of them are in, darkness so the occupants must still be in bed, and' it's the same with the bungalows just along the road.
In the next ten minutes we pass through the massive Pollok council estate. There's plenty of lights burning in the houses here and lots of activity, with people walking along the streets, standing at bus stops or waiting at corners for their lifts. Most of them probably feel, like me, that it's tough having to start so early, but in an hour's time the Fenwick and Kilmarnock roads will be jammed with the cars of the salary-slaves from Newton Mearns, Whitecraigs, Williamwood and Giffnock all heading into. the city. For despite what my workmates may think, most of those who live in the big houses, luxury flats and bungalows are employees too, and the fact that they start around nine changes nothing-except that they get home in the evening an hour or two later than we do.
So there are superficial differences between these owner-occupiers and council tenants but the things they have in common are much more important. Like problems, for instance. When we read about all those redundancies in factories, shipyards and steelworks, does anyone imagine that only the shopfloor workers are involved? "White-collar" workers, right up to the highest levels of management, get the push, too. They are not immune to this (nobody is these days) and many of them live in places like Giffnock.
Just recently we noticed that Ian, one of near neighbours, was home a lot during the day and, his car was usually parked outside his house. Eventually we learned what had happened. He worked as some kind of executive (he sometimes talked about his "staff") in a big whiskey company, and as the trade is in the middle of its biggest slump in over fifty years his employers had "let him go".
Ian's problem now is to find a new employer. Naturally, a man in his position will look up the situations vacant columns in so-called "quality" newspapers like the Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald rather than the more "popular" Daily Record. There was a time when he could have made an appointment at the impressively titled Executive Register, but not now. The Register was closed as part of the government's economy drive so instead of a private interview in a posh office with a fitted carpet, Ian may have to go to the local Job Centre the same as anyone else.
It cannot be denied that the inhabitants of Giffnock are generally a bit better off than those in, say, Pollok. Here and there you can see an extension being built onto the back of a house or maybe double glazing being installed, but they feel the pinch just the same as workers in industry. Another neighbour, Colin, hasn't taken his family on holiday for two years. "Can't afford it", he tells me; the high interest rates which mortgage payers currently face could be the reason. There must be lots like him in Giffnock.
So some of them try to earn a bit extra just as electricians, plumbers, painters, joiners, and other workers do by taking on "homers" in their spare time. The local newsagents have some cards in their windows which demonstrate this. For example, a local man who is probably an architect will draw up plans for your new extension or garage; an accountant offers his services and someone who is "fully qualified will provide English tuition in the evenings. In the next street there is a woman who does part-time market research. They need more cash, too.
The classified ads in the newspapers also tell a story. Some years ago the discovery of oil in the North Sea encouraged speculation that the fuel would cost next to nothing, so people in places like Giffnock rushed to have oil-fired central heating systems installed. Nowadays the rush is to convert to cheaper gas and the ads are filled with unwanted oil burners and tanks but you can't give them away. I know, I had to pay the local dustmen to get rid of mine.
The fact that many people in places like Giffnock live in better houses, do different work or earn more money than some others does not elevate them out of the working class. They still have to work for a living, worry about making ends meet, face the indignity of the sack and in one degree or another, suffer the problems created by capitalist society. This is what places them firmly in the ranks of the workers whether or not they like it or my workmates know it, and the passing of time makes it more and more evident.
V.V. Socialist Standard January 1981
He said it had become - much as Marx suggested - "a kind of mythology" in which people invested their faith, wrongly assuming it would work for the common good.
In a speech to bankers by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
he called share traders who cashed in on falling prices "bank robbers and asset strippers".
"We find ourselves in a market system which seems to have taken its rules of trade from Alice in Wonderland, " he said. "One of the ironies about this financial crisis is that it makes action on poverty look utterly achievable. It would cost $5bn to save six million children's lives. World leaders could find 140 times that amount for the banking system in a week. How can they tell us that action for the poorest is too expensive?"
Unfortunately , these two theologians are incapable of taking their arguments to its full conclusion i.e. calling for the abolition of the capitalist system as a whole and not simply eliminating what they consider the unpalatable parts . Both men place their faith in an unachievable ethical fair capitalism .
Council workers in strike action
Up to 150,000 council staff in Scotland staged the second 24-hour strike over pay in two months.
Schools, ferry services and rubbish collections are being disrupted as members of the Unite, Unison and GMB unions take part in the action.
It comes after the rejection of an amended offer from local authority umbrella group Cosla to change the 2.5% pay offer from three years to one year.
The unions are calling for a 5% increase in line with inflation.
Matt Smith, Unison's Scottish secretary, said he was impressed by the turnout for the strike and threatened more industrial action if the dispute continued.
Members of the Socialist Party participated in this walk out, just as ordinary workers who are union members.We reject any notions of wage increases 'ever' being the cause of inflation.Wages always play 'catch-up' with inflation.
There is over a century of socialist writing on this subject which can be accessed on the SPGB website, as this search will show.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The Worker's Weekend
FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY the weekend is the time most of us look forward to. This is the time for living it up or taking it easy, and so well is this recognised that numerous books and songs have been written and films made which deal with this theme. Indeed "the weekend" has become one of the most important social institutions in modern society. Life without Saturday night and Sunday morning would be unthinkable for most
people and yet the weekend is only one more institution which, like any other, is evolutionary in character and must eventually disappear.
Just as the legal and political institutions of a society must correspond to the needs of that society (more accurately, of its dominant class) then so must the institution of leisure. The weekend can only have any real meaning in capitalism: it didn't exist in feudalism and certainly won't exist in Socialism.
In feudalism production was largely agricultural so time off work was partly governed by the seasons of the year. Even so, the Church made sure that many holidays (holy days) occurred in winter when work in the fields was often impossible anyway. And the idea of today's summer break would have been ridiculous in medieval times as summer is when work is most needed in agriculture. Modern industrial society requires its work to be carried on throughout the year as the market knows no seasons and it has the artificial means (factories, mills, etc.) to do this. Indeed, lost working time in capitalism is usually caused by purely social factors - slumps leading to redundancy are an obvious example.
The Church, as the most powerful social and political institution in feudalism, decreed when and how many holy days should be observed. In medieval England and, right into the 17th century, the Catholic countries of Europe there were over a hundred holy days a year on which no work could be done and Church courts inflicted fasts and penances on those who broke this law. Further opportunities for leisure were provided by the many Fairs at which the known world displayed its wares. Eileen Power describes in Medieval People how Bodo, a Frankish peasant in the time of Charlemagne, and his family looked forward to these Fairs although their real purpose was to provide essential trading outlets in an age of poor communications. Obviously they have little relevance to modern society and have been replaced by the airborne travelling salesman, the telephone, and the manufacturer's prospectus.
Medieval holidays took place irrespective of the day of the week they fell on. The Church was powerful enough to see to that. And they didn't follow the mechanical two consecutive days-out-of-every-seven pattern like today. Rather they occurred in conjunction with important social, religious, and trading events like feast days and Fairs. In capitalism holidays have to coincide with the demands of industry -whereas May Day traditionally fell on May 1, today it has been relegated to the first Sunday in May. In other words, times for living it up in feudalism happened when there was an excuse for it. They were times for dancing and drinking, sport and lechery, with the clerics wailing that more sin was committed on holy days than on any other. We can confidently say that medieval leisure (or recreation) was geared to the productive forces and social relationships of feudal society.
Meanwhile, as the merchant class grew in strength and power it could see that the medieval system of holidays was incompatible with its need for an ideology fostering the regular working habits required by the new manufacturing system. The cry that England's allegedly weak competitive trading position was due to the "misspending of our time in idleness and pleasure" occasioned by holidays and absenteeism is not the pro-duct of the mid-20th century but of the early 17th.
With the triumph of capitalism over feudalism and the consequent further weakening of the Church's power, the holy days were steadily eliminated until by the 1830s they had almost vanished. Holidays for much of the new-born working class meant, apart from Sundays,
only Christmas Day. The same trend affected office workers too. The Bank of England closed for 47 holidays in 1761, 40 in 1825, 18 in 1830, and 4 in 1834. In Italy, where the Church is still powerful, the remaining Church holidays are coming under fresh attack and legislation is being prepared to rearrange these for the convenience of industry.
The long term effect of such harshness was that many workers used Sunday to drown their sorrows in and the resulting over-indulgence in alcohol produced widespread absenteeism. The shrewder of the employers saw the way to combat this and even rejuvenate the workers by providing more recognised holidays. The 60 hour week in the 1860-70's produced the Saturday half holiday and by 1878 the term "weekend" was in use. Next came secular holidays unconnected with religious festivals and with dates specially picked to suit industry. In the 1890's came summer holidays when whole industries closed down for a week with many workers spending the time away from home. The weekend which we now take for granted -Saturday and Sunday off-was not widespread until after world war two (this writer, employed in engineering, didn't get it until 1948) and was due to the improved bargaining position of the workers caused by full employment.
Leisure as we know it today is the product of a modern industrialism which compels a division of labour within the factory and at the same time gathers all the work of the plant into a unified production process. Similarly, whole industries with their many plants and diverse component units become an integrated network. All these industries are linked together on a global scale so that all the workers directly or indirectly engaged come under this single dominating influence to which they must co-ordinate their use of time. This is why we have the weekend and why we all take our holidays together-to fit in with the requirements of those who as a class monopolise industry - the capitalist class.
Obviously, the way we spend our leisure has changed with the passing of centuries. In feudal times recreation was associated with participating in physical activity such as sport, dancing, etc. Today it means paying to watch others do this, going to the pub, or, more likely, watching TV. But there is an important similarity between the two ages in that both were societies in which men's labour was controlled by a ruling class, so they usually hated their work. Up to the present day work and recreation have been strictly segregated and considered to be mutually exclusive.
But must this always be so? After all, there are some people, even in capitalism, who enjoy and even live for their work. This is especially so when they have some control over what they do and when the work is useful and stimulating. This will certainly be the case in Socialism, a society of production for use with everyone owning and controlling the means of production and distribution in common. People will be able to indulge in work that is engaged in from choice because of the enjoyment and satisfaction which it brings and is not subject to the compulsion imposed by the wages system. What people today call work may well be regarded as leisure or recreation in the future. So even our very concept of leisure changes along with changes in the economic basis of society. Certainly no regimentation of leisure such as today's weekend represents will be tolerated in a free society like Socialism.
If the reader looks around him today he can see that this is not so far fetched as it may seem. Already there is an evolution away from the weekend idea. The increase of rotating shiftwork has made many workers dissatisfied with fixed leisure time by giving them a taste of something different. Also, the growth of "Flextime" where workers may report for and depart from work within certain limits is an indication of their desiring and achieving more control over their own time. These developments should mean that workers hearing the socialist case aren't required to mentally bridge such a wide gulf between the practices of capitalism and of Socialism. Our task as propagandists is made easier by developments within capitalism which erode fixed ideas about the world.
V.V. Socialist Standard April 1972
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
AND EVEN MORE NONSENSE
Monday, September 22, 2008
ANOTHER REFORM OF CAPITALISM
–- Labour – One of the processes by which A acquires property for B.
- Economy – Purchasing the barrel of whisky that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford.
- Scribbler – A professional writer whose views are antagonistic to one’s own.
- Scriptures – The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.
- Saint – a dead sinner, revised and edited.
- Justice – A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition the state sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes, and personal service.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Never a truer word spoken
Nevertheless , however, the Labour faithful should not be too downhearted. Ussher kept calling contributors "comrade" throughout the proceedings.
EVEN MORE NONSENSE
Israeli Foreign Minister and newly elected Kadima party chair Tzipi Livni
"An ultra-Orthodox Jewish party run by an octogenarian rabbi who has said Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment emerged Thursday as the kingmaker in forming the next Israeli government. Having won a fight to be leader of the ruling Kadima Party, Tzipi Livni now will likely need Shas as a partner to become prime minister. But Shas opposes any compromise on Jerusalem, and including it in a coalition could tie her hands in peace talks with the Palestinians."
(Yahoo News, 18 September) RD
MORE RELIGIOUS NONSENSE
'recession crime wave'
According to crime figures, around 95 percent of all statutory crime is property-related. This breaks down very roughly as follows: 25 percent theft from or of motor vehicles, 25 percent burglary, 30 percent other forms of theft – fraud, forgery, shoplifting etc., and 15 percent criminal damage to property. The remaining five percent comprises four percent violence against the person and one percent sexual offences . The great bulk of the residual five percent (violence against the person and sexual offences), can be attributed to the everyday stresses and alienations that are part and parcel of our existence in capitalist society. We are conditioned into seeing our fellow workers, with whom, economically, we have everything in common, as rivals; as competitors for jobs and houses.
The system is almost entirely responsible for statutory crime. In socialist society, common ownership and production solely for use would prevail. Almost all statutory crime would fade away. Theft would not exist. What would there be to steal? Your own property? If you really want to be “Tough on crime; tough on the causes of crime”, the solution is very simple – abolish capitalism and establish socialism.
Predictions by the government that deteriorating economic conditions will send crime rates spiralling are borne out by an Observer analysis of official police figures which reveals a significant increase in burglaries across England and Wales. In many cases, the percentage rise was in double digits and in most it was more than 5 per cent. The figures suggest that years of falling crime may be coming to an end. For more than a decade the number of recorded thefts from homes has been on the way down, partly because the plunging value of household goods such as DVD players and stereos has made burglary less lucrative.
Jacqui Smith, warned last month that crime levels will increase amid the economic downturn. A leaked draft of a letter to Downing Street from Smith suggested there will be 'significant upward pressure on acquisitive crime [theft, burglary, robbery] during a downturn'.
It said that if the economic slowdown was on a similar scale to the last recession, property crime would be likely to rise by 7 per cent this year and a further 2 per cent in 2009. Smith's letter warned that the economic climate could boost support for 'far-right extremism and racism'. It also suggested there would be an increase in public hostility to migrants as the job market tightens.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
AN EMPTY SOCIETY
WORKING-CLASS HEROINE: Price at a book signing in London this year for
“Angel Undercovered.” Like her other novels, “Angels Uncovered” is ghost-written
in a distinctly Katie Price voice: cheeky, unpretentious and hypersexual.
"I regret to inform you that Katie Price plans to put her removed breast implants up for auction on eBay with a minimum bid of one million pounds; that her reality show is a continuing success on British television; that her three autobiographies, all written before she was 30, have been No. 1 best sellers; that her endorsed product lines of lingerie, jewellery and perfume are about to be joined by house wares and baby clothes — and that her original renown springs not from any distinction as an actress, dancer, singer or ... anything, but from a career as a topless model."
(New York Times, 12 September) RD
TURN THE OTHER CHEEK?
Lebanese troops have intervened a number of times to quell violence
"A gunfight between rival Christian political groups in northern Lebanon has left two people dead and three wounded, security officials say. The clash between the anti-Syrian Lebanese Forces group and the pro-Syrian Marada group was triggered by a disagreement over hanging banners. On Tuesday, leaders of 14 of Lebanon's rival factions started talks aimed at solving deep divisions in the country. The army has now set up checkpoints around Bsarma where the clash occurred. Violent incidents across Lebanon in recent days have raised fears of a return to sectarian violence that left at least 65 people dead in May, correspondents say."
(BBC News, 17 September) RD
THE PROFIT QUEST
WORLD HUNGER WORSENS
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A MURDEROUS BUSINESS (2)
A MURDEROUS BUSINESS
KNOWLEDGE AND PROFITS
Don’t Buy That Textbook, Download It Free
"In protest of what he says are textbooks’ intolerably high prices — and the dumbing down of their content to appeal to the widest possible market — Professor McAfee has put his introductory economics textbook online free. He says he most likely could have earned a $100,000 advance on the book had he gone the traditional publishing route, and it would have had a list price approaching $200. “This market is not working very well — except for the shareholders in the textbook publishers,” he said. “We have lots of knowledge, but we are not getting it out.” While still on the periphery of the academic world, his volume, “Introduction to Economic Analysis,” is being used at some colleges, including Harvard and Claremont-McKenna, a private liberal arts college in Claremont, Calif." (New York Times, 14 September). RD
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
(CNN.com, 15 September) RD
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
PROFITS BEFORE PATIENTS
SUFFER THE CHILDREN
SWEAT SHOP FASHION
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
THE RESTRICTIVE SOCIETY
During the struggle between the capitalists and the aristocracy, the proletariat was used by the latter to win the fight and then cast aside, pointing the way to a new direction for the workers – class consciousness and political action. Gustav Bang in “Crises in European History” writes,”The proletariat had been betrayed and they knew it. They began to perceive that only through independent action could they make any progress. For obviously any cooperation with the bourgeoisie ran counter to all common sense, since the interests of the two classes were diametrically opposite. The capitalists were given added political power without the slightest gain to the workers – the circumstances attending the latter would be no less oppressive and slave-bound. The capitalists, with the aid of the workers, had acquired new powerful political means that could be used with equal effectiveness against the workers below and the landed aristocracy above. The emancipation of the working class must be its own class-conscious work.” On which rests much of our case for achieving socialism.
DYING FOR CAPITALISM
Monday, September 15, 2008
Food for Thought
- That contrasts wildly with “The High Cost of Low Wages” (Toronto Star,22/08/08) which asked the question, “Why should billion dollar corporations be allowed to pay poverty wages in Canada?” (so the superrich can pay for billion dollar condos, stupid!) More than a million workers in Toronto earn less than $30 000 per year. As the economy shrinks and pinches the workers, big oil and banks report record profits.As we continually point out, don’t expect capitalism to work for the workers.- Capitalism also forces people to act in strange ways –
1.Jazz Airlinesrecently announced that in order to save weight, and therefore fuel, they were removing life jackets from all its planes, including those flying over water. Now you have to hang on to your seats, literally!
2.The high price of gas – a Kentucky woman was arrested for trading sex for the pricey commodity.
3. A German purse thief escaped a would-be captor byexposing her breasts and yelling rape.
4. A man is arrested in San Jose for breaking into a small airport and siphoning airplane fuel into his cargas. tank.
5. Police in Peel Region (near Toronto) arrested two men and confiscated fake high-end labeled goods worth $10 million.
6. In Toronto thieves make off with 14 catch basin (road sinks) covers for scrap value and leave gaping holes in the roadway edges. The rest are being welded on.(mostly taken from “Proof the World is getting Worse”, Toronto Star).-
On the environmental front, Clayton Ruby (Toronto Star 16/08/08)reports that the Alberta Tar Sands Project is the ‘single most destructive fossil fuel development in the world.’ There are 207 countries in the world that track the emissions they emit and the tar sands alone out performs 145 of them. Each day the project uses 300 million cubic feet of natural gas, enough to heat 3 million Canadian homes. Each barrel produced in Alberta produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions of a conventional barrel of oil, yet $50 billion a year is being invested there instead of developing new clean technologies. Is there a better example of how capital slavishly follows the path of greatest profit now, without regard to humans or their environment? Harper’s intensity targets which reduces emissions per unit while letting overall emissions rise freely on greater volume, Dion’s carbon tax that allows trading of carbon credits,and Layton’s ‘make the polluters pay’ (as if!) don’t even begin to address the problem, just as you would expect. Our government did go to Washington to tout the green energy (sic) of the tar sands. Unfortunately for them,while there, a large flock of ducks landed in the ever-growing tar ponds, died en masse, and hit the headlines.- In the 1990s, Big Tobacco was in a life and death struggle to retain market share as cigarette prices soared to $50/200. The answer was to work through Canada’s native reserves and smuggle cigarettes in at cheap prices. They got caught and the resulting civil settlement reported onAugust 1 (Toronto Star) said that Imperial Tobacco and Rothman’s, Benson &Hedges paid out $300 million. On the second of August the same newspaper reported that the federal government paid out compensation to the tobacco farmers, who are being squeezed out of the market by a diminishing customer base, to the tune of …$300 million! John Ayers
Sunday, September 14, 2008
INVADE AND THEN PROFIT
Saturday, September 13, 2008
THE INDIAN RUPEE TRICK
BEHIND THE RHETORIC
Thursday, September 11, 2008
"It will make more money for us."
Whether meant as a joke or not , spoke the truth of what drives capitalism .
Who owns the North Pole - Part 13
"The potential is there with undetermined boundaries and great wealth for conflict, or competition.There's always a risk of conflict," Rear Admiral Brookes said. He added that this was especially the case "where you do not have established, delineated, agreed-upon borders".
Russia is staking the largest claim to the Arctic but Denmark, Norway, Canada and the United States are all involved in border disputes as well . Even China is deploying a research ship to within 200 miles of the North Pole.
Socialist Courier will continue to follow this development of a virgin territory becoming an area of economic and military rivalry due to its valuable natural resources becoming viable and exploitable .
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Labour cant and won't
"...we know that inequality doesn't just come from your gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. What overarches all of these is where you live, your family background, your wealth and social class..." says Harriet Harman to the TUC conference
Ms Harman accused the Conservatives of being "false friends of equality" and of "sidling up to the unions".
Hmmm.....Socialist Courier wonders what the reason for her own speech may have been , eh ?
This is just more hypocrisy and cant from the Labour Party .
Gordon Brown conceded in an interview with Monitor magazine that "social mobility has not improved in Britain as we would have wanted".
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Money worries 'may harm health'
The economic downturn could be bad news for our bodies, as well as our pockets
Britons are cutting back on expensive fruit and vegetables, and gym membership, claims a report by the Blood Pressure Association.
Professor Graham Macgregor, the Blood Pressure Association's chairman, said: "It is clear that Britons are under pressure and this could have serious consequences..."
Monday, September 08, 2008
People on low incomes will be the worst hit by the price increases because of prepayment schemes. Five million people pay for their energy this way, incurring higher tariffs, and by 2010 they are expected to be paying £65 more than those who get a quarterly bill.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Socialist Standard September 2008
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
George Bernard Shaw
GOD'S NEW MOUTHPIECE
KOSHER BUT ANTI-UNION
(New York Times, 31 August) RD
GROWING OLD AND POOR
Saturday, September 06, 2008
CAPITALISM IS AWFUL
(from “Value, Price andProfit” pp39/40. In other words, inequality is part of the capitalist modeof production and can only be rectified by an end to the wages system.
Friday, September 05, 2008
FROM HEROES TO CONVICTS
Thursday, September 04, 2008
PROUD TO BE BRITISH?
US GAP WIDENS
POVERTY AND CRIME
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
(Independent 29 August) RD
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
MARX AND MODERNITY
THE RICH GET RICHER
(Wall Street Journal, 28 August) RD
BABY, IT'S COLD INSIDE
It was reportedly purchased for only £21,000 by George III in 1761.
The Queen's weekend retreat, Windsor Castle, has also been valued for the first time at £180 million.
The Market System Must Go! Why reformism doesn't work
'The Market System Must Go!' was subtitled ,'Why reformism doesn't work'.
The link takes you into Glasgow's site and the pamphlet is available in HTML or PDF formats.
This pamphlet, on the subject of ‘reform or revolution’, is intended to explain why the Socialist Party advocates a revolutionary transformation of existing society rather than piecemeal reform, like the Labour Party or the Conservatives. It is primarily intended to be a detailed back up to our more introductory pamphlets putting the case for revolutionary change, and to our journal The Socialist Standard.
Much of the material in this pamphlet is from the late nineties , but some has been adapted from previous editions of our pamphlets, principally the now out-of-print Questions of the Day. The earlier chapters develop the case against reformist politics in general, while later chapters discuss specific subjects of concern to modern reformers, ranging from the welfare state to tax reform. It provides a comprehensive critique of the outlook of those who oppose the politics of democratic socialist revolution in favour of reform activity, and is to be particularly recommended to those who consider that reform intervention can make capitalism run in the interests of the wage and salary earning working class.
Monday, September 01, 2008
POVERTY STALKS THE USA
What is the basis of present-day society? T his is called a "property-owning democracy" where 10% own 90% of the wealth. Ther...
Are the planet’s resources of energy, and raw materials coming to an end? Is a real society of abundance only a dream, impossible to re...