Saturday, January 30, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The charity described government promises to end child poverty by 2020 as "increasingly hollow"
Douglas Hamilton, Save the Children's programme director in Scotland, said: "We are absolutely outraged that so many children have to go without essentials - we're talking about winter coats and proper shoes, real basics that families just can't afford...."
Monday, January 25, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Inside a socialist society everything won't be perfect we will have disasters such as the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti "The leading US general in Haiti has said it is a "reasonable assumption" that up to 200,000 people may have died in last Tuesday's earthquake. Lt Gen Ken Keen said the disaster was of "epic proportions", but it was "too early to know" the full human cost. Rescuers pulled more people alive from the rubble at the weekend, but at least 70,000 people have already had burials. Relief efforts are being slowed by bottlenecks, and many thousands of survivors are fending for themselves. Many Haitians are trying to leave the devastated capital city, Port-au-Prince, and there are security concerns amid reports of looting and violence." (BBC News, 18 January)
Inside a socialist society we will have a commitment by every human being on earth to help every other human being. We won't have some well paid politician in Britain saying that we we will extend our aid from £1 million to £3million in aid. Inside a socialist society we will all try our best to help. Most of the people who died in the earthquake were poor people living in poorly constructed housing. It was ever thus. RD
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Oh , how often we come across the expression "middle class" , as if those people are somehow different from the working class. This article from the archives of the Socialist Standard explains why there is no such thing as middle class and that we are all members of the working class.
Getting the blues in suburbia
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.
Socialist Standard January 1981
Friday, January 15, 2010
"A rare 1913 U.S. coin once owned by an Egyptian king and later featured in a famous U.S. TV detective series was sold for more than $3.7 million (2.3 million pounds) in a public auction in Florida, the auctioneers said on Friday. The so-called Liberty Head nickel, one of only five known of that specific date and design, was sold "in spirited bidding" to a private East Coast coin collector in Orlando late on Thursday, said Greg Rohan, president of Dallas, Texas-based Heritage Auctions. The buyer wished to remain anonymous. The $3,737,500 price for the five-cent coin included a 15 percent buyer's premium." (Yahoo News, 8 January) RD
Thursday, January 14, 2010
A letter to the press from Joe Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger is very revealing. "In 2008, even before the economic downturn had its worst impact, 1.5 million city residents lived in poverty, 104,000 more than in 2000. More than 1.3 million New Yorkers are now forced to use food pantries and soup kitchens. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, there are 45 percent more people staying in city homeless shelters nightly than when Mayor Bloomberg took office, with levels at an all-time high. On Jan. 7, there were 36,961 people, including 15,727 children, sleeping in city shelters, enough to fill Madison Square Garden two times over. While the number of billionaires in the city dipped slightly in the last year (from 64 to 56), their combined net worth still equaled more than 27 times the yearly income of all 1.5 million New Yorkers in poverty." (New York Times, 11 January) RD
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
"All across the country, diary farmers are facing the loss of their livelihood. In 1985, there were 28,000 diary farmers in England and Wales. By last November ... there were 11,551 left. As recently as two years ago Britain was self-sufficient in milk. Now we import 1.5 million litres a day. For the farmers who struggle on, their working lives and that of their herds have become a grind: such is their despair that one a week commits suicide. Forget the idyll of the straw-hatted farmer watching his contented cows chewing the cud in open pasture. Many herds have never seen fields. They are indoors day and night and are milk-producing machines, fed on grass brought to them and mixed with concentrates to boost their yields. The chief villains are the supermarkets which, by driving down milk prices, are forcing farmers to intensify production or go out of business and leave the way clear for foreign imports. Currently one litre of full fat milk costs around 75p of which farmers get around 26p, the exact cost of producing it." (Daily Telegraph, 9 January) RD
"About 1 million families have resorted to using credit cards to pay their mortgage or rent during the past year, the housing charity Shelter claimed today. A survey by the organisation found around 6% of households had used their plastic during the past 12 months, in order to keep up with their housing costs. People in working class professions were most likely to use debt to cover their mortgage or rent at 8%, but 4% of ABC1s also admitted they had used their credit card in this way. "If people are already struggling to the extent that they fear losing their home, increasing credit card debt cannot be the answer," said Kay Boycott, director of policy and campaigns at Shelter." (Guardian, 11, January) RD
In Scotland today it’s true that there is a struggle - as there is in England , Wales , Ireland , or rest of the world for that matter . But the struggle in Scotland is not , as the Scottish National Party would have us believe , the struggle for home rule , self - government , self- determination , or self anything . The struggle in Scotland , as in the rest of the world , is a class struggle: the struggle between the working class and the capitalist or owning class.
The SNP tell us , the workers , that independence from England and the control of our own purse strings will cure all our problems . What they do not seem to realise is that the problems they are going to try to solve are an integral part of the capitalist system , and history has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that within this system there is no satisfactory solution to these problems apart from Socialism .
The SNP talk about the Scottish culture and the Scottish way of life . But in what way is the life of a Scottish wage slave basically different from that of an English , an American , or for that matter a Russian wage slave? There is no basic difference in the way of life of the world’s working class because we all suffer from the same problems such as poverty and insecurity . Independence from England will not cure the poverty and insecurity of the Scottish workers , because they will still be the wages labour and capital relationship.
There is no truly independent country in the world , because international capitalism has made sure of this , and our own experience here in Britain , especially since 1964 , should have brought it home to us . The past few years should have shown us just how independent Britain is , when foreign "bankers" tell the British government how to spend money , and how it must not spend money , in order to keep the international capitalist class happy .
Independence for Scotland therefore is a myth put about by the Scottish National Party , which further confuses the Scottish section of the working class and blinds them from the real struggle - the class struggle .
The outcome of the class struggle is the abolition of capitalism and an end to poverty , insecurity and the ever-present threat of war.
Socialism is a sane society , where the means of life will be owned in common by the whole of the world socialist community . By the means of life we mean the land , mines , factories , railways , and the like - in short , the means of production and distribution . In Socialism the rule of life will be : from each according to his or her ability , to each to according to his or her need. There will be no need for buying and selling , just a free world for a free people . It could be like that now , so why not do something about it ? The world is ours for the taking . So why not take it ?
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE FOR SOCIALISM !
J. Moir , July 1969
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Cynthia Magnus holds up unworn, destroyed clothing she has found in the garbage.
"The country (Nigeria) has a population of about 150 million; its roughly 400 ethnic groups speak more than 400 languages. Half the nation prays to "Allah" and the other half to "God." Hardly anywhere in the world has the ongoing rivalry between Christians and Muslims claimed so many victims, with at least 10,000 dead? There has been killing everywhere. Muslims have been hunted down in the southern port city of Lagos, while Christians have been victimized in Kano in the Muslim north. But the majority of deaths occur in the Middle Belt, in places like Kaduna and Bauchi, and particularly Jos, where followers of the two religions live relatively close to one another. In almost no city in the world is the clash of civilizations more evident. Without a wall, Jos is a divided city. Entire neighbourhoods go up in flames, over and over, most recently in November 2008. Each new conflagration claims hundreds of lives. In 2001 Muslims set fire to the enormous indoor market buildings in downtown Jos, which house more than 10,000 market stalls. Most of the casualties were among members of the primarily Christian Ibo tribe. After each new conflict, the divide between religions becomes rawer." (Spiegel on line, 6 January) RD
Monday, January 11, 2010
Capitalism is a society based on deceit. It purports to be based on freedom yet it is a ruthlessly class-divided society that enslaves millions in its quest for greater and greater profits for its owning class. A good example of the facade that is capitalism is the recent completion of the tallest building in the world the Burji Khalifa in Dubai. This 2,717 foot edifice has 600 apartments, 300,000 square feet of office accommodation, the world's highest swimming pool and mosque. Behind this facade of opulence lies another story.
"Many of Dubai's construction workers live on starvation wages: £120 a month on average for a six-day week, with shifts of up to 12 hours. ...Construction workers on the Burj Khalifa have rioted on several occasions, including in March 2006, when 2,500 protested at the site, and again in November 2007. A Human Rights Watch survey found a cover-up of deaths from heat, overwork and suicide in the emirate. The Indian consulate recorded 971 deaths of their nationals in 2005, after which they were asked to stop counting." (Observer, 10 January)
Death, destruction and exploitation that is what lies behind this monument to capitalism's avarice. RD
The incredible hotchpotch of ideas contained in the new organisation soon became a cause for alarm among the more sensible members and drove one, Lewis Spence, to complain that the party was… a maelstrom boiling and bubbling with the cross- currents of rival and frequently fantastic theories, schemes and. notions we have people who wanted all Scotland to speak the Gaelic….
some hark back to the hope of a sixteenth-century Scotland regained still others a Jacobite
restoration. A certain group sees in the expulsion of all the English and Irish in- Scotland the country's only chance of survival . All is hubbub, outcry, chaos. There is no plan,Nothing approaching a serious, practical Scotsman-like policy in -either art or politics. (H. J. Hanham, Scottish Nationalism. p. 154)
Poor- Spence, but he should have known. With the loss of interest in Home Rule of the Scottish ruling class-and their political sidekicks, the nationalist cause had fallen into the hands of all sorts of cranks, literary and otherwise, who were more concerned with ,,culture" than economics or social matters. Certainly they had little idea of the history of the toilers' conditions as could be seen by their constant harking back to a mythical time when ,our people were prosperous and contented" before the Union.
Anyway, the- party was established and membership was open to all. Tories and Liberals as well as Labourites flocked in and even Lord Beaverbrook showed interest. Inevitably, some of the more opportunist leaders wished to "broaden the base of the-party" and after an internal battle the party merged with a Tory splinter group to become the Scottish National party (SNP) in 1934. ...More >
NATIONALISTS BELIEVE THAT ALL CLASSES IN SOCIETY should hold allegiance to "The Nation". Socialists do not and point out how nations have always been the creation of a ruling group having nothing to do with working-class interests.
What is a nation? It is simply the people and the territory which have been appropriated by a class of robbers at some point in history. It has less to do with a common language, religion, race, culture, and all the other things which nationalists imagine or pretend are essential ingredients in the making of nations
This is certainly true of Scotland and far from having a common history or anything else the population there are mainly the descendants of native Picts, in-vaders from Ireland (the original Scots), Western Europe and Scandinavia. After centuries of what were really tribal wars the whole land came under one king by the middle of the ninth century and the nation was born - by the coercion of the people and in the interests of a class of bandit chieftains....More >
Sunday, January 10, 2010
"British companies have benefited from the award of oil contracts in Iraq because of the decision to help to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Gordon Brown's chief foreign policy adviser told the Chilcot inquiry yesterday. Simon McDonald said British companies had "done pretty well" in a recent auction of oil rights and that Britain had "privileged access" to the Government of Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister." (Times, 6 January) RD
Saturday, January 09, 2010
"Two UAE orders for military helicopters and guided bombs capped a remarkable year for procurement in which the Emirates became the largest foreign purchaser of US defense equipment, a Pentagon agency said. The UAE, which has peacekeepers in Afghanistan, awarded Sikorksy Aircraft a US$171 million (Dh628m) contract for 14 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which are used for tactical transport. Separately, the US defense security co-operation agency, a unit of the Pentagon, said last week it had notified Congress of a potential sale of enhanced guided bomb units, parts, training and support to the UAE for about $290m. The same agency said in November that in the last fiscal year the UAE became the largest foreign purchaser of US defense equipment with sales of $7.9bn, ahead of Afghanistan ($5.4bn), Saudi Arabia ($3.3bn) and Taiwan ($3.2bn)." (The National, 2 January) RD
Friday, January 08, 2010
"It is Europe's dirty secret that the list of nuclear-capable countries extends beyond those that have built their own weapons Britain, France and Russia. The truth is that Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands store nuclear bombs on their air-force bases and have planes capable of delivering them. There are an estimated 200 B-61 thermonuclear-gravity bombs scattered across these four countries. Under a NATO agreement struck during the Cold War, the bombs, which are owned by the U.S., can be transferred to the control of a host nation's air force in time of conflict. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dutch, Belgian, Italian and German pilots remain ready to engage in nuclear war." (TIME, 4 January) RD
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
prosperous decade of suburbs and big-finned cars and were unaware of the famine, "It's not a story that's well understood or appreciated." Said Arctic sociologist, Frank Tester. No details of numbers are given but it has to be noted that ten years earlier the Canadian government had no trouble getting men, supplies and armaments across the Atlantic Ocean, but failed to do the same in their own country when the need arose. John Ayers
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
There was a time when sport was supposed to be a pleasant physical exercise. The popularity of association football inside capitalism made it an activity much adored by workers too unfit to play it themselves, but keen to follow the efforts of their local sporting heroes. With the development of capitalism football has just become another business opportunity. Its development more likely to be followed by financial journalists rather than football ones.
"Manchester United is exploring a bond issue as part of efforts to refinance its £700m debt, with the English Premier League champions in talks with two banks about how to reorganise its borrowings. JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank are advising the football club on its options. It is one of a number of clubs whose debts have alarmed football authorities. People familiar with the situation said the options under consideration included the issue of high-yield bonds. These would be used to refinance bank debt or payment-in-kind notes an instrument that allows borrowers to roll over cash interest payments which helped Malcolm Glazer, the US sports franchise owner, and his family take over Man United in 2005 in a £790m leveraged buy-out. The club would be the latest company to take advantage of the recovery in bond markets to refinance debt." (Financial Times, 2 January) Every activity that capitalism touches it turns into commodities. RD
Monday, January 04, 2010
On the environmental front, we got pretty well what was expected out of the Copenhagen Conference nothing. Despite the loud shouting of accomplishments from the world's leaders, it was the usual 'long on praise and short on substance' result. The chasm between the developed and developing' countries was apparent for all to see, but, as we have continually said, in a world of some 200 competing nations, all acting in the interests of their capitalist class, it is near impossible to get a consensus to do anything worthwhile, so they will keep on fiddling while the world burns, or until the workers of the world become class conscious and realize they have to do the job and to hell with nations, governments and leaders. The Toronto Star pretty well admitted this when its December 20 editorial began,
"The stakes were high in Copenhagen: charting the course of carbon emissions over the next decade and beyond to stem the rise of global warming. And the odds of success were low, given that it required cobbling together a deal among more than 110 world leaders and all 194 nations at the summit, with trillion-dollar trade offs on the table."
Greenpeace called the summit, 'a climate crime scene'. A letter to the same newspaper declared.
"The Star's editorial and crusade with other newspapers world-wide was laudable but surprisingly made no mention of the role of our economic system of capitalism in climate change. We believe in and practice (sic) an economic theory that is neither viable nor sustainable. The causes of global warming are directly related to free market capitalism principles limitless consumption, overproduction of goods leading to the massive waste of precious resources, limitless profits putting power and control in the hands of private enterprise and a complete disregard for humanity in the process."
Enough said. John Ayers
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Lastly in our investigation into whether poverty is still among us, the Star tells us (Dec 6, 2009) about the Dixon Hall soup kitchen which continues to do a roaring business after 80 years in service. In fact, it began in the Great Depression. We have come a long way indeed So it seems, Mr. Broadcaster, that we have plenty of poverty right here in Canada and will continue to do so while we have a system where the social product is divided into 90% for the richest 10% and 10% for the rest, and until we have common ownership and free access. It's not all doom and gloom, though. The Royal Bank recorded a 10% Increase in profits for the third quarter at $1.24 billion, but was still disappointing as over the whole year, profits were $3.86 billion down and compared poorly to other banks. Maybe the poor would like to be that poor. John Ayers
Saturday, January 02, 2010
A recent CBC current affairs program asked 'What is poverty, and will it Always be with us?' Even in the capitalist media it keeps raising its ugly head. Talking to 'some of Toronto's most successful business people' (WHY?), she stated, " One hundred per cent more children are living in poverty now than twenty years ago." (Toronto Star, 26/Dec/2009).
- The same source (20/Dec/2009) trumpets the success of the Warm Coat program for homeless people. "Have you ever wondered what a homeless person wants for Christmas?" the article begins. Maybe you should start with a home! All this takes place in the shadows of the billion dollar sky scrapers in downtown Toronto. John Ayers
Friday, January 01, 2010
We are taught in their schools at an early age to have a "sense of values". We are taught by our masters' employees to weight things and decide what is important and what is trivial. We may even if our masters' employees are paid enough learn to dismiss the nonsense of the Sun, Express and Daily Mail and prefer the "quality press". In a world where a third of the population may die from starvation, where the whole human race may be destroyed in a nuclear holocaust or where global warming may threaten our existence what does one area of the "quality press" concern itself with? "An "irreplaceable" medieval stained glass window has been saved after fire broke out at York Minster's stone yard, police said today. More than 30 firefighters tackled the fire at the Minster Yard in Minstergate late yesterday evening. The window, which was undergoing restoration, was safely removed by fire crews working with York Minster Police and other Minster staff." (Independent, 31 December)
Whoopee! A piece of medieval nonsense was preserved but we still have the threat of starvation, global warming and human annihilation. This is the "quality press" as taught to us by our school teachers. Isn't it time we grew up? RD
Y ou have read that socialism w ill result in the loss of individual liberty; that all power would be surrendered to the state or the go...
"Where are the leaders and what are their demands?" will be the question puzzled professional politicians and media pundits...
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