Saturday, February 28, 2009
Campaigners from across South Ayrshire are to march through Ayr town centre to protest against council cuts.
They are angry at the closure of Girvan swimming pool and the Gaiety Theatre, two sports barns and registrar's offices in Maybole and Troon.
The minority Conservative-led council said it was spending £8.5m more in 2009/2010 than it did in the last financial year. But it said it had to take tough decisions to balance its books
When the capitalists system finds it is not so profitable it reduces the benefits available to the community, people protest, but unfortunately, a downturn in the economy means the community at large must suffer, the more active will miss the swimming pool and sports barns, however, maybe when the forecasted upturn comes around, the councillors will promise to open them up again if you vote them in.
Unfortunately this has been the roundabout workers up to now have allowed themselves to hang on to, as socialists we say workers can provide all their needs by a system of common ownership which we call socialism.
Friday, February 27, 2009
The number of properties in Britain lying empty is set to pass 1 million
Politicians of all the major political parties have "solutions" for what they call the "homeless problem". In fact there is no homeless problem, what we have is a poverty problem. Here is a recent press story that shows that there are plenty of empty houses available if you have the money. "The number of properties in Britain lying empty is set to pass 1 million. New figures will show that Britain is on course for a record number of houses and flats lying empty. Some of the rise has been caused by home owners facing repossession. Other empty homes were bought by property developers who have since struggled to raise the money to renovate and furbish them for occupation." (Daily Telegraph, 10 February) RD
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The families of those workers from China and Indonesia who lost their loved ones did so because of the insane capitalist society that splits the world into borders and countries. Inside world socialism that would be impossible. We are all brothers and sisters - nationalism is nonsense. Too late for our Chinese and Indonesian workers though, but their deaths make us want to work even harder for world socialism - a society without countries or borders. RD
That is the priorities of capitalism - keep up military expenditure to protect the owning class's markets and sources of raw materials, but sack teachers and worsen the education of worker's children RD
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Lord Mandelson introduces the Royal Mail bill in the House of Lords
The working class has always to struggle to achieve benefits, the capitalist class will always attempt to erode any benefits when there is a downturn in business, contrast the billions of pounds given to banks with the government dealings with the post office
The Government today launched controversial proposals to part privatise the Royal Mail, sparking a fresh row over its plans to sell off part of the business.
It’s the way I tell them as the Irish comedian says, when it’s workers benefits the government have Lord Mandelson telling us on Wednesday he was determined not to walk away from the plans, despite the "political pain" - adding that without new investment the Royal Mail was in danger of running out of money.
He argues that the taxpayer cannot be expected to fund potential liabilities in the region of £8bn without seeing an improvement in the performance of the company.
The BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, said that by introducing the bill in the House of Lords, the government had given themselves a couple of months to try to win the argument.
The Communication Workers' Union accused the government of trying to "scare" MPs into voting the plan through, by publishing a letter from Royal Mail pension fund trustees warning that it faces disaster if the sale does not go through.
Lead researcher Dr Marianna Virtanen, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said: "The disadvantages of overtime work should be taken seriously."
"There is a fundamental connection between economic hardships and our high suicide rate," said a ministry official
In South Korea, a commuter train operator is even installing doors blocking access to railway tracks due to a sharp increase in people committing suicide by jumping in front of trains.
Millions of people in Asia have lost their jobs and retirees and other small investors have lost their life savings due to plunging stock markets and the collapse of investment funds. Asian governments are setting up hotlines and counseling centers to help those hit hardest by the financial crisis and the subsequent economic downturn.
Paul Yip, a mental health and suicide prevention specialist in Hong Kong, has seen a jump in the number of patients coming to his clinic for help to cope with the downturn.
"Work is very important to the Asian because we don't have very good social security and losing one's job is associated with the loss of 'face'. So the trauma can be great,"
Hong Kong started special hotlines in October for people suffering from the financial crisis and it opened "depression clinics" in some public hospitals this month.
"The clinics were opened in expectation of more people suffering depression because of the crisis. The government has also ordered more anti-depression drugs," said William Chui, education director at the Society of Hospital Pharmacists.
In Japan, some half a million contract workers are expected to be laid off in the six months until April. The industrial center of Aichi in central Japan, home to Toyota car factories and other manufacturers, has been particularly hard hit.An official in Aichi said the number of people bringing their problems to mental health centers rose by nearly 15 percent in December, compared with the same period in 2007. Japan's suicide rate rose sharply during a severe recession in the late 1990s when guarantees of lifetime employment collapsed, there were mass retrenchments and university graduates struggled to find jobs.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Unlike many diseases, malnutrition has a cure - a balanced diet, regular consumption of fortified foods, supplements when local foods don't have the nutrients needed, and animal-based products like milk, fish, eggs and cheese.
One solution is to increase spending on nutrition. According to the Lancet nutrition series, $300 million a year is spent on nutrition while $6 billion is spent on HIV/AIDS.
"Nutrition can only be sustainable if people ultimately pay for it," said Dr. Alfred Sommer, dean emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
What he means is for people to pay in pounds and pence, dollars and cents. No matter how well meaning those experts and NGOs are, they are bound by the confines of the capitalist system and the most obvious solution of actually providing such nutrition freely is simply beyond their ken. ajohnstone
"It is as if the entire population of Rome were to die in the next five years."
(Times, 21 February)
This from the leader of the Labour Party who vigorously defend the killer society that is capitalism! RD
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Ireland, which was once one of Europe's fastest-growing economies, has fallen into recession faster than many other members of the European Union. The country officially fell into recession in September 2008, and unemployment has risen sharply in the following months. The numbers of people claiming unemployment benefit in the Irish Republic rose to 326,000 in January, the highest monthly level since records began in 1967.
Trade union organisers of the march said workers did not cause the economic crisis but were having to pay for it.
"I've a mortgage to pay, I've children to put through school, and now I'm being told I have to take cutback, after cutback, after cutback." said one protester
"Our priority is about ensuring that people are looked after, the interests of people are looked after, not the interests of big business or the wealthy," Sally-Anne Kinahan, Irish Congress of Trade Unions secretary general
Grand sentiments from a trade unionist but always there must be added a caveat and it was from Karl Marx - that trade unions can only offer defensive strategies against the encroachments of capital and it is only when the working class recognise that it the abolition of wage labour and the whole stinking system of the capitalism that their real interest will be served .
"Perhaps more than any other commodity, fine wine came to symbolise the conspicuous consumption of life BC - Before Crunch. Barely a month went by without some extravagant tale of vinous excess. Most famously there were the "Barclay Six", the bankers who ran up a £42,000 wine bill at one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants, but they were examples of a decade-long phenomenon. The sheer perversity of spending so much money on something so ephemeral seemed to be the very point of such orgiastic spending. The rich could, almost literally, piss their money away. Or just spray it on the walls, which are how one bonus-fuelled investment banker disposed of £21,000 of Crystal champagne in the London club, Movida."
(Times, 19 February) RD
As always the people who will be paying the real price of this slump , is not the rich but it will be the working class - once more .
The Scotsman reports
HOMES were repossessed at the rate of 110 a day last year – but experts warn the figure could double this year as the recession puts hundreds of thousands of homeowners at risk of defaulting on their mortgages.Figures released yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) revealed that 40,000 homes across the UK were seized in 2008, a 12-year high, and up 54 per cent on the previous year's 25,900.The CML does not provide separate repossession figures for Scotland, but housing charity Shelter Scotland estimated they could reach 7,000 by the end of 2009. By the end of 2008, 182,600 of the UK's 11.7 million mortgages were in arrears of more than three months.
One expert accused the group of being "too conservative" and said repossessions were likely to peak at 82,000 homes, or 225 a day.
Brown vowed to "do everything we can to stop repossessions" but the government was accused of "giving false hope" to people at risk after it emerged that a rescue scheme announced in December will not come into effect until April.
SC await a news item of just one bank executive losing his/her house in Barnton or whatever rich peoples enclave they and seeking the help of Shelter or the council housing department .
Also data from the Ministry of Justice showed that nearly 56,000 people applied to become bankrupt through the courts last year, up from about 53,000 in 2007 and the highest number since comparable records began in 1995.
Friday, February 20, 2009
The Mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard does not even recognise the authority of President Felipe Calderon after a disputed election two years ago. He argues that Calderon's use of the military against the drug cartels has worsened the situation, causing extreme poverty and more crime in rural areas dependent on drug-trafficking for income. His new initiatives may be more about politics than anything else, and with elections looming in July, candidates across Mexico are beginning to lay the groundwork for their campaigns.
To bolster the fortunes of his leftist Party of Democratic Revolution and to further his own dream of becoming the country's president in 2012, Ebrard has pushed to legalise abortion and gay civil unions in the capital and crack down on illegal street vendors and unlicensed taxi operators, who have long been associated with crowds and crime. His plans to expand subway and bus services are ambitious and popular.
In announcing the erectile dysfunction programme in November, Ebrard, 49, portrayed it as a way of bringing smiles to the faces of those who have reached the "tercera edad"; or third age, as Mexicans call the golden years.
"Everyone has the right to be happy," the mayor said, noting that many of the poorest elderly people do not qualify for employer-based health plans and have been abandoned by their families. "They don't have medical services, and a society that doesn't care for its senior citizens has no dignity"
Getting men into public clinics with the promise of free medicine could help them get treatment for other related health problems, like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and depression believe health officials. "This is a public health problem," said one doctor.
Not everyone is enamoured by the new programme. One of Ebrard's rivals for the presidency, Fidel Herrera, 59, the governor of Veracruz State from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, dismissed the Viagra handouts as ridiculous. "What's the point of encouraging old people to have sex?" he asked in a recent interview. "There's such a thing as nature. You can't play God:"
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Capitalism always dreams up euphemisms to disguise the horror that is the buying and selling system, but we doubt if this change of name makes the plight of workers forced into this occupation any easier to bear.
"Jose Luis Gonzalez, 60, has been called many things — almost none of them nice — in his 40 years working the streets of Lima, Peru's sprawling capital. "They call us vultures or scavengers most of the time, but sometimes they are meaner, saying we are thieves, criminals. It has never been easy work," he says. Gonzalez is one of an estimated 100,000 people in Peru who make a living diving through garbage to collect refuse — paper, metal, glass — that can be resold for a profit. It is a hard scrabble life, but one thing positive may now be handed to him and his fellow trash sifters: a new name for their profession. Early each morning, he mounts his modified tricycle cart, pedalling through the streets of the seaside district of Barranco in search of treasures. He forgoes a shrill horn for his booming voice, shouting for glass, paper or used items that he can resell. "You have to be considerate and not make a mess. If you cause trouble, the police will take your cart, and then you're stuck," he says. On a typical day, which usually includes six hours' collecting goods and two hours' sorting and selling items to middlemen at a municipal lot, he clears around $3.50. ...Now, the new National Movement of Recyclers of Peru is hoping to change that. Founded six months ago, the group has an ambitious plan that would double income levels while helping the country's municipal government deal with the problem of solid waste. The first step is changing the image Peruvians have of this army of cart-riding men and women, promoting the word recycler instead of more traditional and derogatory terms like garbage picker and scavenger. "The movement increases self-esteem. Society has always scorned recyclers, seeing them as the last rung on the ladder," says Galo Flores, who provides support to the movement through a local organization, Ciudad Saludable (Healthy City). (Tme.com, 18 February) RD
“Bishop Announces Plenary Indulgences.” In recent months, dioceses around the world have been offering Catholics a spiritual benefit that fell out of favour decades ago — the indulgence, a sort of amnesty from punishment in the afterlife — and reminding them of the church’s clout in mitigating the wages of sin. ... “Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.” ... According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Mary’s as penance, they still face punishment after death, in Purgatory, before they can enter heaven. In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament. There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years, and plenary indulgences, which eliminate all of it, until another sin is committed. You can get one for yourself, or for someone who is dead. You cannot buy one — the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567 — but charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one. There is a limit of one plenary indulgence per sinner per day." (New York Times, 9 February) RD
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"We are outraged that the government, which has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out financial institutions -- and they in turn have given $18 billion as bonuses to their top executives -- has no funds to support vital services for their senior citizens," said New York City head of the State Wide Senior Action Council. " We are of a generation that fought in the sixties," she said. "We're out there doing it again."
City figures show that in 2006, one-fifth of New Yorkers age 65 and older lived in poverty, twice the national average. Advocacy groups say by now it is closer to one-third, and New York is second only to Detroit among major U.S. cities in its rate of poverty among the elderly. Minorities tend to fare worst, with 30 percent of Hispanic, 29 percent of Asian and 20 percent of elderly blacks in poverty compared with 13 percent of elderly whites in New York City.
Monday, February 16, 2009
In the real world: During the week I listened to the Prime Minister Answer questions from the parliamentary committee re.”The banking Fiasco”. He made the point that interest rates were at an all time low and the inflationary rate was almost zero. The target for inflation was 2% so any increase in the money supply would give the bank of England some leeway in keeping to the 2% target.
Pensioners and unemployed workers, people on limited income, faced with the rising costs of essential food prices, result of the inflationary measures the increased money supply will cause, suffer a reduction in their already meagre standards. I say the essentials because it’s not everyday that workers are buying TVs. etc. Other workers faced with the same problems have the difficult job of battling for a wage rise in slumping markets. The process of inflating the money is not new, however, it allows the employers not to be seen attempting to cut wages and disguises the class struggle to some extent. The slump happens because the workers are so productive the capitalist are unable to sell their products, the useful workers who are capable of producing commodities in abundance will have to suffer until their bosses can make a profit, the workers who are still in a job will be urged to be even more productive. Who said he had eradicated the boom, burst system?
Sunday, February 15, 2009
(BBC News, 15 February)
This sums up how capitalism operates. They need you to work for the lowest possible wage and may have to let poorer workers into their country to depress your wages, and if you don't want to kill people? They will use lower paid workers to do the job. Capitalism sucks. RD
Saturday, February 14, 2009
"Think pawnshops, and you probably conjure up old jewellery, desperate customers, and seedy store fronts. Hardly, it would seem the ingredients for innovation. Yet amid recession, the country's largest chain, Cash America International (NYSE:CSH - News), is using the credit-crunch boom time to lure new customers and expand. To woo the growing number of consumers facing a credit squeeze, Cash America is boosting the amount of short-term loans it offers online, and is adding a cash-advance feature to electronic payroll cards. Such cards are gaining popularity among employees with poor credit, or those without traditional bank accounts." (Yahoo News, 5 February) RD
"The cost of Britain's military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq this financial year has soared to more than £4.5bn, an annual increase of more than 50%, figures released yesterday reveal. Operations in southern Afghanistan accounted for a little over half, nearly £2.6bn, compared with £1.5bn last year. Most of the money was spent on providing tougher armoured vehicles for soldiers who face a growing threat of roadside bombs. Surprisingly, as the government prepares to withdraw from Basra, the cost of Britain's military presence in southern Iraq this year increased to nearly £2bn, compared with less than £1.5bn last year, according to the figures released by the Ministry of Defence. ...The defence budget will be increased by more than £500m to reach a total of just over £38bn this year, the MoD said yesterday." (Guardian, 13 February) RD
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Glasgow Branch of the Socialist Party
Spring/ Branch Programme
COMMUNITY CENTRAL HALLS
304 MARYHILL ROAD, 8.30pm
Speaker John Cumming 18 February
How Near is Socialism?
For over a century the objective conditions necessary for the establishment of socialism, i.e. the development of the means of production and distribution of wealth to a level which first permitted abundance and now superabundance, have existed. So, why has it not happened? When will it happen?
These questions are obviously much easier to ask than they are to answer
Subjective Conditions, a majority of socialists.
To answer these questions, it would probably help to look at some indicators within society which might show us what progress, if any, has been made in the last century or so towards increasing socialist consciousness, and consequently towards socialism itself.
Some Indicators within society
What does the decline of belief in religious superstition during the last century tell us about the state of consciousness amongst wageslaves?
Has this decline been accompanied by a correspondingly better understanding of the society in which they live?
What effects do globalization and improved. communication systems, such as the internet, have upon the potential for greater class consciousness amongst workers?
Globalization is not new: it is a development which has been in progress for at least several hundred years, but its effects have become much more noticeable as a result of modern communication systems. Globalization has joined the lexicon of buzz-words used by our bosses' media machine.
What are the effects of this media machine upon the minds of the working class
We are often told that certain events should be seen as "important", or "significant", or even "historic". The recent presidential election in the United States of America was reported as such an event.
The fact that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were both seeking to be candi-dates for the presidency, we were told, was in itself an "historic achievement".Now that Barack Obama has become the new President of the United States, we are invited to see this as some kind of great event. There is much goodwill, and sadly adulation, for this latest disappointment-to-be who now occupies the White House. Will those who support this man today be ready for socialism any time soon?
These are some of the items Comrade John Cumming will be discussing at our 18th February branch meeting, looking forward to seeing you all there.
In one of the most developed countries in capitalism we have this shameful plight for the old and poor. After a lifetime of working for wages many workers find themselves in this sad predicament. RD
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"Prince Edward spent last week on an official visit involving lots of good works to Barbados, including lunch yesterday at the Sandy Lane hotel (favoured by Michael Winner and Simon Cowell, with rooms costing around £3,000 per person per night) and an afternoon at the resort's golf course."
Here is another from the charity WaterAid
"Every 17 seconds, a child in the developing world dies from water-related diseases, in around the time it takes you to read this paragraph, someone, somewhere, will die. Everyday, people in the world's poorest countries face the dilemma of having to trust their health and that of their children to the consequence of drinking water that could kill them. It's a gamble that often carries a high price - seeing children needlessly dying is simply heartbreaking." WaterAid suggest that the answer is to send them £2 a month. Socialists suggest that we get rid of this insane society even though it might interfere with Prince Edward's £3,000 a day golfing trip. RD
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
It is noted that for a hundred years pensions have been struggling to remain at 25% of the national average earnings, the Trade Unionist who said we are running fast to stay still got that one correct, as socialists we say reforming the capitalist system can only ensure its continuation and workers must bin this system for one based on the common ownership of the means of production, a system where all the necessities are produced in the quantities that provide for everyone. Where pensions are a thing of the past.
The article below, gives an excellent account of the struggle to remain just where we are.
“The first pension payments were for those aged 70 and over and were between one and five shillings a week with nine out of 10 of the 650,000 recipients getting the full amount . Five shillings (25p) was then the equivalent of 25% of national average earnings.Comparing pensions and earnings has long been a way of assessing how pensioners are doing in comparison to the working population and the long-term trend has not been in the pensioners' favour. In fact, it wasn't until the 1970s that the basic state pension again rose to around 25% of average earnings, briefly topping that level - at 26% - in 1979. Before 1974 the state pension was not increased at specific times or by an amount based on any kind of formula and since 1979 annual increases have been based only on inflation. Restoring the link with earnings is one of the key pension reforms demanded by trade unions, and a regular element of the pensions' resolutions passed at the TUC each year. Speaking at a lobby of parliament organised by campaigning group the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said that although the state pension remains a key achievement, "its value has melted away since the link with earnings was ended by the last Conservative government". If the link to earnings had been retained then a single pensioner entitled to the full basic state pension would now be getting £143.15 a week instead of the actual rate of £95.25.”
“Trade union persistence on this issue finally paid off in 2006 when the government decided that it would restore the link to earnings increases but only from 2012. The current basic rate is the equivalent of just 15% of average earnings and the restoration of the earnings link from 2012 will effectively set this as the long-term level unless a future government makes additional increases.
The low level of the basic state pension has been acknowledged for many years and various governments have tried to address this. At the end of the 1950s the Conservatives came up with the idea of a graduated retirement benefit that was the first attempt at supplementing the basic pension. The Labour government of 1974-79 decided that this was inadequate and wound the scheme up and replaced it with the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS). The idea was that this would provide a pension worth roughly 25% of "band" earnings - that is earnings between the lower and upper earnings limits for National Insurance contributions - on top of the basic pension, mainly for workers who were not covered by occupational pension schemes.
Employees could start building up entitlement from 1978 but before anyone could retire on the full benefits of the scheme the Conservatives began to make cuts with a major reform introduced in 1986 followed by further changes in 1995. According to calculations made by the Pension Policy institute, the combined impact of these reforms is that a man on average earnings retiring today with a full SERPS contribution record gets a pension 17.5% lower than he would have done if the reforms had not been implemented.”
Trade unions wanted to see more compulsion on employers to contribute to pensions, but the Labour government elected in 1997 steered away from this proposal and instead launched a new system of persona! pensions, called stakeholder pensions. The intention was that stakeholder pensions would tackle some of the major personal pension system - high fees and charges. Employers were required to make stakeholder pensions available to employees but there was no requirement for employers to contribute.
Stakeholder pensions failed to take off and the government was left still facing a major pensions challenge. This consisted of an inadequate basic state pension, a complicated earnings-related pension that failed to provide additional benefits for many low-paid workers and a system of private pensions that many workers were reluctant to invest in. This combination of factors was made worse by massive cutbacks in occupational pension schemes. A period of falling stock markets undermined the financial position of many of the main occupational pension funds in the private sector. From the mid-1990s a growing number of employers were closing these final-salary schemes to new employees and replacing them with defined contribution schemes whose payouts were dependent on fluctuating stock market returns.
There are several elements in the government's current pensions strategy that try to address these problems. It has changed the entitlement rules for the basic state pension and replaced SERPS with a new Second State Pension. In both cases it is now much easier for parents and carers with significant breaks in employment to build up pension entitlement and with the reduction in qualifying years more people will be entitled to the full rate. The Second State Pension is gradually being transformed into a simple, flat-rate payment and so will be much easier for people to understand than SERPS. Although the new pension will be less generous for those on above average earnings, it will provide more generous benefits for those below average earnings.
The third element of the strategy is to introduce new pensions accounts, a system that will require employer contributions. From 2012, employees will be automatically enrolled into a personal account with a 4% contribution made by them and 3% from the employer.
The issue of employer responsibility was made clearly at last year's TUC Congress by Adrian Askew, general secretary of the Connect communication workers' union, in the debate on pensions. "While increases to the state pension are most welcome, that alone will not provide a reasonable standard of living in retirement," he said. "The state pension should in reality be a decent safety net but employers/businesses need to recognise their responsibility and not simply argue that increases to the minimum provisions provided by the state are adequate and somehow absolve them as employers of their obligations."
While it is too early to say whether the new system will begin to fill one of the many gaps in the UK pension system, what is clear is that for most trade unions, the basic state pension is the core of the system and needs to be increased substantially as part of a strategy to reduce poverty among pensioners. The means-testing system of pensions credits, in place since 2003, has helped some pensioners but £1.3 billion a year goes unclaimed - 1.8 million pensioners are eligible for the top up but don't receive it.
Speaking at the lobby of parliament last October, NPC general secretary Joe Harris said: "After 100 years of the state pension it's a national disgrace that at least 2.5 million older people are still living below the official poverty line, and millions more are struggling to meet the rising costs of living." The NPC, supported by the TUC, wants to see the basic pension paid to all existing pensioners on a universal basis with the single pension raised to £151 a week.
Monday, February 09, 2009
A Survey by pension’s provider Friends Provident claims that people can live ‘comfortably’ on an income of £832 a month, excluding rent or mortgage payments.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Charities are experiencing hard times, right? No so the Toronto Sick Kids’ Hospital in Toronto. In an article telling us that its top fund raisers are leaving (Toronto Star, 9/Jan/09), it is revealed that the top guy, hired in the US, is paid over $600 000/year and its top ten officials shared $2.8 million, up 35% from the previous year. A spokesperson for the hospital commented, “Our philosophy is we hire for excellence in fundraising and marketing.” Of course, most people who do all the leg-work and phone work, do it for nothing as volunteers.
In the military sphere, the 108th. Canadian soldier died recently. For what? You may well ask. In “Everything for Sale in Land of Graft”, Dexter Filkins (Toronto Star, 2/Jan/09) tells us that, “Kept afloat by billions of dollars in American and other foreign aid, the government of Afghanistan is shot through with corruption and graft. From the lowliest traffic cop to the family of President Hamid Karzai himself, the state built on the ruins of the Taliban regime seven years ago now often seems to exist for little more than the enrichment of those who run it”.
Canadians are waiting to hear, in the light of the imminent closing of Guantanamo torture camp, the fate of Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old when attacked by American insurgents and had the audacity to fight for his life by allegedly (a lot of doubt and strange cover up on the facts) lobbing a grenade and killing an American medic while he (Khadr) was shot in thechest. Now 22, he is incredibly charged with “murder in violation of the laws of war”. Figure that one out!
Saturday, February 07, 2009
(Toronto Star (03/01/09)
Fired workers in Guandong, China, smashed motorcycles and company equipment in anger as their dreams of prosperity and their $175/month jobs disappeared and the reality of capitalism bites – you work at the pleasure of capital.
In “Canada Should Strut It’s Stuff” (David Olive, Toronto Star, 18/Jan/09), an article designed to show the world what Canada is made of, the author reveals that and estimated 900 000 children in Canada live in poverty and wretched conditions. Some stuff! Some strut!
For those who have lost their jobs, unemployment insurance is much harder to get and much lower, and lasts for shorter periods than previously. In the 1970s, unemployed workers received 75% of their wage, today it’s just 55 %. In the 1990s recession, workers received $150/week more than today. Requirements are tougher and part time workers need not apply. Only 42% of Canadians who are unemployed receive relief, just 25% in Ontario. The futility of reform.
On the other hand, some are coping quite well. The Wall Street financial sector, the one that ran the surest, most prestigious institutions into the ground and then came begging for a trillion dollars, has just handed out $18.4 billion in employee bonuses. To the chagrin of president Obama, who castigated them publicly, and then ordered more bailout money!
According to The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada’s top 100 CEOs pocketed one billion dollars last year, averaging $10 million apiece, which means that by coffee time on the second work day of the year, they’ve made the average Canadian workers’ annual salary of $40 237.
Friday, February 06, 2009
“Even many environmentalists trumpet growth cloaking it in green. With clean, efficient, carbon technologies, they say, we can have more of everything and keep the planet inhabitable.”
He cites a recent Pembina Institute/ David Suzuki Foundation report thatclaims that within 12 years, Canada could cut emissions to 25% below 1990 levels, expand the economy 20%, and create 1.2 million jobs. On growth, Gorrie quotes a senior economist at York University, Peter Victor,
“ What’s wrong with growth? In the first place, it hasn’t fulfilled the promise of full employment, less poverty and a better environment: Growthhas been disappointing.”
No kidding. I wonder when they will come to the realization that we need a better system!
- Also on the environment, a Moncton recycling initiative by a community group has had to close, put five people out of work, and send its stock to the landfill because it is losing money. Money rules! John Ayers
Thursday, February 05, 2009
“ But to consider matters more broadly : You would be altogether mistaken in fancying that the value of Labour or any other commodity whatever is ultimately fixed by supply and demand. Supply and demand regulate nothing but the temporary fluctuations of market prices. They will explain to you why the market price of a commodity rises above or sinks below its value, but they can never account for that value itself. Suppose supply and demand (were) to equilibrate, or, as the economists call it, to cover each other. Why, the very moment these opposite forces become equal they paralyse each other, and cease to work in one or the other direction. At the moment when supply and demand equilibrate each other, and therefore cease to act, the market price of a commodity coincides with its real value, with the standard price round which its market prices oscillate. In inquiring into the nature of that value, we therefore having nothing at all to do with the temporary effects on market prices of supply and demand. The same holds true of wages as of the prices of all other commodities.”
(Value, Price and Profit, p26 Little Marx Library)
Still on bottled water, Maude Barlow of The Council of Canadians revealed CBC Radio interview) that Ontarians buy one billion bottles per year and two-thirds end up in landfill sites. Also, she said, close to four million, mostly children, die from consuming contaminated water every year. Please synthesize these last two items to demonstrate the insanityof capitalism. John Ayers
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
(Guardian, 31 January) RD