Thursday, September 30, 2010


"We need to win the public to our cause and what we must avoid at all costs is alienating them and adding to the book of historic union failures. That is why I have no truck and you should have no truck with overblown rhetoric about waves of irresponsible strikes." (Quote from Ed Miliband's speech)

Ed Miliband, does not say what a responsible strike is, however, this article from the Socialist Standard, September 1977 indicates the realities for the reasons of strikes past, present and future while capitalism exists.

Strikes : An unchanging pattern

MANY PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK that strikes and similar disturbances are caused by laziness, intransigence, stupidity, a willingness to be led, greed, resentment, a want of foresight--in short, for moral failings on the part of employers and their employees, chiefly the latter.
     This is odd-because all sorts of people have been involved under different circumstances and at different times - miners, civil servants, policemen, bank clerks, doctors, school teachers, shop assistants. Have they all suffered from lack of fibre? It is even more odd that the pattern does. Not change, repeated again and again since the early days of capitalism, and well recorded. Recently Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South has been reprinted (Penguin 1976). Much of the central part of this book is concerned with the strike in a northern manufacturing town in the mid-1850s.
     Although it is not the main theme of the novel, and though Mrs. Gaskell was sympathetic to the workers both in her narrative and in real life, religious and individual issues were more important to her—as they usually were in nineteenth-century novels. Her account, though fictional, is clearly based on her own experience and closely observed.
     She describes the by now familiar features workers goaded to strike, the struggle to maintain a standard of living, union leaders trying to keep the issues clear and to hold the reins, some strikers against their union's advice - trying to force the issue by direct confrontation, collision with the police, broken heads, the threat of prison, attempts to make the closure total, employment of foreign labour, (in this case, Irish).
     When scientists find in circumstances which are varying a constant pattern they assume an underlying cause. In this case we do not have to carry out research to discover what it is. Discord is at the base of capitalism. A worker will try to sell his labour-power for the best price and in the best possible market. His standard of living depends on it, and with his standards his way of life itself. He cannot live out of society. There, are always blandishments to induce him to spend his money-even, in fact to owe it. The capitalist, on the other hand, his employer, seeks to buy labour-power as cheaply as possible-profits depend on it. These are the seeds of struggle. There is bound to be contention. When it leads to strikes or other conflict then-since capitalism hasn't changed--they are likely to run to type. It has nothing to do with moral dereliction. It has everything to do with the economic and unavoidable nature of, capitalism. C.  D.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Which political philosophy?

THE VIEW HELD by the SPGB, that Socialism can only be established when a large majority of the working class understand it, is constantly being attacked. The attack comes not from capitalists but mainly from supporters of the Labour Party, the Communists, and the "left-wing" militants. All without exception question the ability of the working class to understand Socialism.(Read)



Labour have been criticising the Liberals assisting the Tories into office, however, this article from the Socialist Standard of November 1977 will recall that Labour have wheeled in their help from time to time.


Lab-Lib: A Rabble

There is AN OLD SAYING that if you lie down with a dog you get up with fleas. No doubt it has dawned on the leaders of the Liberal Party that the idea of projecting themselves as an alternative government to the Labourites and Tories is a non-starter. With thirteen MPs and a discredited minority government, their only way to power is through the side door.
      With no ideas to put to the working class, the only alternative to a future in the political wilderness and possible extinction was to do a deal. But, such are the fortunes of opportunism and reformism, they could be cutting their own throats either way. The price they will inevitably pay for "dealing" will be to forfeit the phoney image they have built up over twenty or thirty years that they had distinctive policies and independent ideas. For them to line up openly with one of the parties they have claimed to be so different from can only lose the support of those who had turned to them, having despaired of the other two.
     In an effort to have his cake and eat it Mr. Steel, the Liberal leader, sought to pose as champion of the motorist and pledged himself to vote against Budget increases in petrol prices and road tax. He argued that these increases fell outside the arrangement, and as there had been no consultation on them the Liberals were free to vote against them. After the by-election massacre at Stetchford the motorist did not seem to matter so much. A more urgent need instantly asserted itself: avoiding a General Election, with the threat of annihilation. The great and courageous leader had to find a way out while still trying to sound plausible, at least to the gullible. So he discovered that the increases in motoring costs would not be voted on as a separate resolution in Parliament, but would be tied to other proposals; so it might be best to let the thirteen Liberals make up their own minds, and led from behind.
     The Labour Government are like drowning men desperately clutching at anything in the agony of their disastrous attempt at running capitalism. Having repeatedly declared against coalition, they turned to the Liberals to survive. The one-time "firebrand" of the Left, Michael Foot, will solemnly sit down each week in consultation with the Liberals to keep his mob in power a little longer, unless the whole thing blows up in their faces. Then they will blame each other and fall back on any feeble excuse to try to save their political hides. There is no expediency too shabby for any of them.
     The IMG, WRP, IS and the CP, who urged workers to vote Labour and now go round muttering demands for "socialist policies", get the policies of the Labour Party which they voted for. The policies which these Lefties hold to be Socialist are in fact just as useless and reformist as those of the Labour Party.
     When Mr. Steel claims that his deal with the Government will mean no more nationalization in this session of Parliament, is he really silly enough to believe he is saving capitalism? Is he unaware that his own Party, when in power, carried out Acts of nationalization? He only displays his ignorance if he thinks a Labour Government represents any threat to capitalism, or that nationalization has anything to do with Socialism. It is a shame that questions like these never occur to people like Robin Day during those boring mock-interviews on television, like the one on polling day for Stetchford. But of course they would not keep their cushy jobs for long if they did.
     Mrs. Thatcher and her Tory tribesmen can get as indignant as they like, but under Heath in l974 they were quite willing to talk coalition with the Liberals. The readiness of the Liberals to co-operate with either of the "major"Parties, shows how little there is of fundamental difference between any of them. In fact, Steel said it is his belief that people "will find the artificial Party battles irrelevant to the problems of the day" (Guardian, 24th March). It is the parties that are irrelevant, Mr. Steel. The problems arise out of capitalist society, and you are all dedicated to its preservation.
     For the Tories Mrs. Thatcher said: "We believe in capitalism and democracy". What about the other combinations, Mrs. Thatcher? Capitalism and war? Capitalism and poverty? Capitalism and crises? Capitalism and unemployment? Even Callaghan said in the same report: "I would not like to guarantee that the decline in unemployment will continue in the next few months". None of them can guarantee anything. But while the system lasts the misery and political trading it has always produced will continue.
     Enoch Powell pledged not to bring the Labour Government down and abstained on the crucial vote of confidence. Callaghan and Co. had been just as prepared to deal with the Ulster Unionists as they were with the, Liberals. Just to show that they all have the same priorities, seven Liberals voted against cuts in war potentials in the first vote after the deal.
The working class trust any of them at the expense of their own interests. Apart from war-time coalitions when Tories, Labourites and Liberals joined forces with "Communist" support to pull capitalism's chestnuts out of the fire, there have been deals between the Labour Party and the Liberals from the very early days of the Labour Party. The 1924 Labour Government was voted into office on Liberal votes. As early as l9l0 there were electoral "arrangements" between these two reformist Parties.
     The Socialist Party of Great Britain has one objective, Socialism. This can only be achieved when a majority of the working class reject the squalid expediencies of opportunist politics.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Capitalism is an insane society. Millions die with easily prevented or curable diseases whilst millions of dollars, pounds, Euros and yens are spent on new ways to destroy human beings with ingenious methods of military mayhem, but surely capitalism has reached the epitome of madness when children are trying to exist on less than £1 a day and we can read of the following insanity. "It's simple, but no less appealing for that. Celine's classic box bag may cost a pretty penny but its sleek lines make it among the most wanted bags of the season.Price: £2,150." (The Independent, 20 September) Yes, the equivalent of years of nourishment for a child spent by some parasite as a gift to his latest girlfriend. Mad, mad, mad! RD

Monday, September 27, 2010


Top management, company directors and top bankers, all have managed to increase their bonuses and perks while workers in lower paid jobs face wage cuts and unemployment. This summary of this article indicates there are others doing very well for themselves.

Investigation by Paul Hutcheon, Sunday Herald 26 Sep 2010

Police chiefs are receiving lucrative housing allowances on top of generous salaries and in some cases bonuses from the taxpayer, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

Chief constables are still receiving an outdated property perk that was taken away from officers who signed up to the service after 1994.

The total bill for the subsidies across the Scottish forces amounts to millions of pounds a year.

The UK and Scottish Governments are set to slash funding for all public bodies, including Scotland's eight police forces.

Plans being drawn up by police bosses to fill the black hole include laying off thousands of civilian staff and moving towards a single force north of the Border.

Les Gray, the chair of the Scottish Police Federation, has already warned ministers that planned cuts of up to 25% could lead to an increase in violent crime.

However, the cuts are coming in spite of police forces spending millions of pounds every year on a perk that was axed for most officers 16 years ago.

Before September 1994, police officers were granted an allowance that contributed to their housing costs.

The then Conservative Government scrapped the handout for new recruits, who had to make do with their salary.

But existing beneficiaries did not lose their entitlement to a rent or housing allowance, which can work out at around £3000 a year for ordinary beat police, and nearly £6000 per annum for chief constables……..

Sunday, September 26, 2010


"This Monday, world leaders are gathering at United Nations headquarters in New York City to address the UN's "Millennium Development Goals." The fight against hunger, along with education and healthcare, tops the list. The delegates have failed categorically on the first point. Leaders at the UN summit in New York in the millennium year 2000 declared food security their top priority, setting a goal of reducing the number of hungry in developing countries by half by 2015, compared to 1990 levels. That would involve reducing the total to around 600 million people. No discernable progress has been made toward this goal. In fact, quite the opposite is true -- the number of hungry has increased sharply in recent years, at times to over 1 billion. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 925 million people currently suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Estimates say a further billion are undernourished, suffering from so-called silent hunger." (Der Spiegel, 20 September) RD

Saturday, September 25, 2010


In an age of increasing food insecurity, more than one billion people today woke up not sure where their next meal is coming from. This is not solely the fate of those in poorer, developing countries. According to the Department of Agriculture, 14.6 percent of Americans regularly have to limit the amount they eat near the end of the month for reasons of cost. With the added stress of epidemic levels of home foreclosure and mass unemployment, the numbers of people unable to adequately sustain themselves is on the rise. (The Nation, 16 September) RD

Friday, September 24, 2010

we don't want crumbs

About 200 striking Tunnock’s workers who make the world-renowned teacakes, caramel wafers and logs sang a protest song to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine on the picket line after downing tools in a pay dispute yesterday.

“Come to Tunnocks, come to Tunnocks. It’s a place of misery. There’s a signpost in the foyer saying ‘welcome unto thee’.
Don’t believe it, don’t believe it, it’s all a pack of lies. If it wasn’t for Karen and Fergus it would be a paradise. Build a bonfire, build a bonfire. Put Karen on the top. Put Fergus in the middle and we’ll burn the bloody lot.”

One placard read: “We Don’t Want Crumbs”

The entire 500-strong Tunnock’s workforce, who are taking part in two 24-hour walkouts after they accused management of pleading poverty to keep wage costs down while giving themselves huge pay increases. They are protesting over a 1% increase in their average £7-an-hour salary last year when executives and directors received a 62% pay increase in the year to 2009. Adding to the discontent was the scrapping of overtime bonuses worth £200 for a Saturday and Sunday shift.

poverty in scotland

New figures revealed this week by the Save the Children charity show that the education gap between poorer children and their classmates remains wide open. Save the Children says it has found a stark link between levels of deprivation at home and a child's success in the classroom. Children from wealthier homes in the Borders perform on average more than 60 per cent better in school than those receiving free school meals.
Douglas Hamilton, Save the Children's head for Scotland said "Too many children in Scotland are not reaching their potential at school simply because they are poor.
Poverty continues to be a key determining factor in how well a child will do at school and this is absolutely scandalous. Many of Scotland's poorest children live in substandard housing, have fewer books and educational games at home, lower aspirations and less confidence in their own ability to achieve their dreams. At every stage of school, children from poorer backgrounds do far worse than their better off classmates."

Also in the news:

More than one in three of the 600,000 Scottish carers battle poverty and depression as a result of caring for a family member, new research revealed. A survey conducted by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers found that 40% of carers in Scotland said they did not want to wake up in the morning because of dire financial circumstances. 73.3% have had to borrow money from family and friends. Nearly half fear they will lose their homes, and almost two thirds have been forced to spend their savings as they struggle to make ends meet. Almost a third of those surveyed say they are "fearful for the future".

Thursday, September 23, 2010


"This summer, it took London real-estate firm Marsh & Parsons less than a month to sell a pricey property in Kensington, one of the most prestigious parts of the British capital. Sixty-three potential buyers flocked to view the white row house, which has five bedrooms, a ground-floor kitchen and a strip of gravel for a garden. The sale price of £6.75 million ($10.4 million) was both above the asking price and the home's price in 2007, when it was previously for sale and the market was at a record high before the global financial meltdown. A Kensington house recently sold for £6.75 million - above both the asking price and the home's price in 2007, when it was last for sale. Real estate in the most upscale parts of London has enjoyed a roaring comeback from a short dip during the downturn, with prices for the area's luxury homes back to stratospheric." (Wall Street Journal, 14 September) RD

Monday, September 20, 2010


"The recession may be officially over, but six in 10 Canadians are still surviving from paycheque to paycheque, a national survey showed Monday. Fifty-nine per cent of Canadian workers say they would be in financial trouble if their paycheque was delayed by just a week- the same proportion as last year when the economy was still mired in a downturn, according to a poll of 2,766 people by the Canadian Payroll Association. The survey comes as the OECD today warned that record high debt levels have left many Canadians vulnerable to any future adverse shocks." (Globe and Mail, 13 September) RD

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Politicians' stock in trade is pretending to represent the whole of society when in fact only representing the owning class. Thus we have Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats claiming that he is concerned about the poor and exploited at election time, but in power forced to declare his real aims. "Poor must accept benefit cuts: Clegg on collision course with own party by backing welfare axe. Nick Clegg has waded into the row over welfare reform by warning that benefits should not be there 'to compensate the poor for their predicament'. On the eve of the Liberal Democrat conference, the Deputy Prime Minister backed the Coalition's programme of welfare cuts and dramatically shifted his party's policy on the subject." (Daily Mail, 16 September) If you represent the owning class, despite your glamour TV image, you sometimes have to tell the truth. You are poor? So what, we are not here to "compensate" you! RD

Saturday, September 18, 2010



 "The Obama administration is set to notify Congress of plans to offer advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to $60 billion, the largest U.S. arms deal ever, and is in talks with the kingdom about potential naval and missile-defense upgrades that could be worth tens of billions of dollars more. The administration plans to tout the $60 billion package as a major job creator—supporting at least 75,000 jobs, according to company estimates—and sees the sale of advanced fighter jets and military helicopters to key Middle Eastern ally Riyadh as part of a broader policy aimed at shoring up Arab allies against Iran." (Wall Street Journal, 12 September) RD

Friday, September 17, 2010


Socialists can't tell just how everything will operate in a socialist society; one thing they can say is the tremendous amount of social energy used in the protection of private property will be available for other purposes once the common ownership of the means of production is a fact.
In this article from the September issue of Labour Research, claims an annual budget of £9 billion; the general secretary warns there is an alternative, unfortunately, it's an alternative that leaves the working class producing wealth for the profit of the bosses.

One in five justice jobs at risk

The PCS civil service union has warned that 15,000 of the 80,000 staff at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) could be at risk of losing their jobs. The warning follows an announcement that the department has to make £2 billion worth of cuts from its £9 billion annual budget. As the MoJ is the first department to agree the actual scale of the cuts, the PCS is expecting more bad news to come. General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This is the first indication of the true scale of the cuts being imposed upon departments by this coalition government, and it paints a devastating picture." According to the PCS, the cuts are equivalent to the entire budget for prisons, or the money the department spends each year on courts and tribunals. And it warned that cuts on this scale cannot be delivered without closing prisons and bringing courts to a standstill. "lt is clear that the civil service will simply not be able to cope," Serwotka warned. The union "will take every opportunity to remind the government and the public that there is an alternative and that these politically-motivated cuts are entirely avoidable", he said.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


"Last week, defense group BAE Systems said it was cutting near 1,000 jobs, while 700 were lost at Connaught, the social housing group that fell into administration last week. BAE chief executive Ian King's comment at last week's defense select committee were chilling. He claimed the cancellation of a £5 billion contract for two Royal Navy aircraft carriers would jeopardise Britain's entire shipbuilding industry." (Observer, 12 September) RD


The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record on President Barack Obama's watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty. Census figures for 2009 the recession-ravaged first year of the Democrat's presidency are to be released in the coming week, and demographers expect grim findings. It's unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when control of Congress is at stake. The anticipated increase from 13.2 percent to about 15 percent would be another blow to Democrats struggling to persuade voters to keep them in power." (Yahoo News, 11 September) RD

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Capitalism is a very wasteful society. When fruit growers have a more than bumper crop it is common to let some of it rot unpicked. When charities ask for the surplus they are told that to give it away would lower the price and that these charities at present pay for the crop that is picked. Here is a recent example in the retail clothing trade. "High Street retailer Primark has been criticised by charities for its policy of shredding damaged and unwanted clothes. Aid organisations have described the practice as "worrying" and "a shame" - saying items could be used to raise vital funds. Primark said the practice was common and was to protect consumers." (BBC News, 13 September) Overlooking the hypocrisy of Primark's "to protect consumers" remark, the purpose of all production inside capitalism is to sell goods in order to realise a profit. Capitalism isn't interested in protecting consumers or aiding charities. Fruit can rot while people go hungry and clothing can be destroyed while people go about ill-clad. That is how the capitalist system operates. RD


Save the Children's head of Scotland, said: "Poverty kills childhood and severely affects life chances. Too many children in Scotland are not reaching their potential at school simply because they are poor. Poverty continues to be a key determining factor in how well a child will do at school and this is absolutely scandalous.Many of Scotland's poorest children live in sub-standard housing, have fewer books and educational games at home, lower aspirations and less confidence in their own ability to achieve their dreams.At every stage of school, children from poorer backgrounds do far worse than their better-off classmates..."

Children from wealthier homes in Scotland perform around 60% better in exams on average than those from poorer backgrounds who get free school meals.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


A two stone ring with a rare triangular blue diamond the size of a quarter on a gold band with baguette-cut diamonds could bring at least $15 million when it is offered at auction in New York next month. At 10.95 carats, the stone is the largest triangular-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond ever to come to auction, Christe's told The Associated Press in advance of the Oct. 20 sale. It is paired with a 9.87 carat white diamond cut in the same shape. ( Yahoo News, 10 September ) RD

No religion too

The Humanist Society of Scotland yesterday unveiled the message that 40% of the population do not follow an organised religion. The billboard sits on Paisley Road West, near Ibrox Stadium, which is on the route of the Pope’s cavalcade.

It believes that the two million figure is an underestimate and suggests 66% of Scots are not religious.

Also see our early pamphlet Socialism and Religion

Saturday, September 11, 2010


"The rest of the country is still struggling with high unemployment amid a sluggish-at-best economic recovery -- but the wealthiest members of Congress are in high cotton. Indeed, the top 50 wealthiest lawmakers saw their combined net worths increase last year, according to the Hill's annual analysis of financial disclosure documents. Combined, the 50 lawmakers were worth $1.4 billion in 2009 -- an $85.1 million increase over their 2008 total . ...The list of 50 lawmakers spans both parties (27 Democrats and 23 Republicans) and both chambers of Congress (30 House members, 20 senators), the Hill reports." (Yahoo News, 1 September) RD

Friday, September 10, 2010


"India's grain warehouses are bursting at the seams and sacks of rice and wheat lie rotting in the open for lack of storage space. These government-managed stocks are for offsetting a fall in agricultural production in the event of drought or floods, but are also meant for sale to the poorest segment of the population at subsidised prices. But because the public distribution system (PDS) is undermined by bureaucracy and corruption, 60m tonnes of grain is lying in warehouses or under plastic sheeting, and, according to the Hindustan Times, 11m tonnes of it has been destroyed by the monsoons. A committee of experts appointed by the supreme court has claimed that this is nothing short of "genocide", and last month the court ordered the free distribution of the grain to the poor rather than have it eaten by rats. Since the 1970s green revolution, agricultural production has continued to rise, but not to benefit the hungry. Half of India's children aged under five suffer from malnutrition, and the rate remained stable between 1999 and 2006 despite the economic growth in those years. India is the world's 11th largest economic power but still has more people in poverty." (Guardian, 7 September) RD

Thursday, September 09, 2010


"Nearly 54,000 children living below the poverty line will be pushed farther down the scale by cuts to housing benefit, according to figures from the charity Shelter. Their families will be left with less than £100 a week once housing costs have been paid. Of these, 33,00 children will be in families trying to live on under £50 a week." (Times, 7 September) RD

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


"One out of every six Americans are in government anti-poverty programs, according to USA TODAY. More than 50 million Americans are in Medicaid. Forty million receive food stamps and 10 million receive unemployment benefits. The long and deep recession has increased federal assistance by about $200 billion a year." (The Atlantic, 30 August) RD


Workers in this country should be well aware of the hypocrisy of Christian claiming they have a God of love while Popes and Bishops bless armies before battles, but the Christians don't have the only claim to hypocrisy, Jews and Moslems are pretty good at the same game. Here is an 89-year-old Rabbi's latest rant. " Only days before US-brokered peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, the spiritual leader of an Israeli party in the government has called on God to smite the Palestinian leadership of President Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. "Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from the earth," said Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who provides religious guidance to the ultra Orthodox Shas party, which holds several key ministerial post." (Times, 31 August) Not to be outdone Judism the Moslems are at the same theme of death and damnation. "An Iranian newspaper said yesterday that Carli Bruni deserved to die after expressing solidarity with a woman sentenced to be stoned for adultery. ...The newspaper's editor is appointed by Iran's supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei." (Times, 1 September) RD

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Marks and Spencers like other high street clothes retailers like to project a glamourous image, so we have models like Twiggy twirling on television adverts to extol the virtues of the latest M&S fashionable outfit. Behind this trendy image lurks the awful reality of capitalist exploitation. "Workers at an Indian factory used by Marks & Spencers claim they have been beaten up while protesting about poor working conditions. The Viva Global factory in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of Delhi, was exposed last month by an Observer investigation for paying workers as little as 26p an hour and forcing them to work excessive overtime." (Observer, 5 September) RD

Monday, September 06, 2010

£1.2bn boom in 'pay day' loans

Pay day loans which carry sky high annual interest rates are surging in popularity, according to today's Metro, I'm sure the popularity comes from the pawnshop owners and not necessary from the people taking on these loans. The article goes on to read,
"The number of people taking loans, which can be approved in minutes on the web or by phone, have quadrupled since 2006. Some 1.2 million people are now borrowing £1.2bn from the increasing slew of short term money lenders, say researchers.
John Lamidey of the Consumer Finance Association, which represents most short-term loans firms, said "People want to borrow a smaller amount of money for their immediate needs and desires and pay it back quickly. If this is not a product people really like, then why is there the growth? We really don't want to lend to people who aren't in work," he added
He said high APRs are misleading because most customers repay straight away, paying between £10 and £30 for every £100 borrowed.

Well that makes one feel much better

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Food for thought

Canada's new `get tough with crime' legislation, costing billions in new construction, is going ahead despite an ongoing debate on the validity of locking up large numbers of people in the US. The argument of Tory minister, Stockwell Day, in face of the declining crime figures in Canada, is that there is an increase in 'unreported crime'. That logic escapes most people with brains. More, and longer, prison terms for misdemeanours only seems to result in wasted lives, angry people on the street on release, and more disrupted families. Neal Pierce (Toronto Star, August 15, 2010) tells the tale of the 65 year old Texas orchid importer who was accosted in his own home by armed police in flak jackets, frisked, held incommunicado for four hours while police ransacked his home and then charged with smuggling flowers. He was thrown into prison with murderers and drug dealers and sentenced to seventeen months, and then, suffering from Parkinson's disease, was put into solitary confinement for 71 days for bringing prescription drugs with him to prison. Another consequence of higher rates of incarceration will be higher rates of homeless people on the street as it means higher numbers of released prisoners coming out of jail without money, contacts, or jobs. It's just another form of intimidation by the state.
Toronto Star sports writer, David Perkins reported that it is unlikely that National Hockey League players will be available for the next winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The reason? Time zone difference means prime time live games won't be available and hence the NHL will not get the media coverage it wants for scheduling a two week break in the middle of the season and it's not worth the risk of injury to star players for the clubs. Perkins agrees everyone WANTS to see the best play the best, but what everyone wants is not what everyone gets, especially if it costs other people's money. It sort of sums up capitalism – it's not what is wanted or needed that counts, but what works for the profit system. John Ayers

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Food for thought

Gwynne Dyer in EMC, a local newspaper, writes that Pakistan's problem with water is not too much, but too little. India and Pakistan, by treaty, share the six rivers descending from the Himalayan Mountains. Trouble is, the glaciers are diminishing, demand is increasing, and Pakistan's rivers are disappearing faster. What will happen in a few years when the problem becomes crucial? Dyer expects water wars, as would be the norm in capitalism – all wars are fought over economic/resource factors. As with the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases, cooperation is not an option in a competitive system.
Final figures for the G20 weekend are in. The total number arrested was 1,105, the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. By Saturday morning, only 20 had been arrested, Saturday night 150 and 700 on Sunday. Of those arrested, 278 were charged, 827 unconditionally released or never booked. Most of the 278 are expected to be discharged or get a token sentence. We'll see if the state intimidation will have worked at the next rally. John Ayers

Friday, September 03, 2010

Food for thought

As expected, Canada's economic recovery is cooling off as national unemployment `seasonally-adjusted' figures rose to 8%. Insecurity is the order of the day, as usual, for the working class.
The futility of reform – The Ontario Provincial government promised tough new labour laws to protect the 700 000 most vulnerable workers - temporaries. Right to holiday pay, overtime and other basics were to be mandatory. That legislation has now been `modernized', i.e. workers will be forced to confront employers with their complaints before filing a claim with the Ministry of Labour, rendering the law virtually useless.
Canada's environment minister, Jim Prentice, is elated that the arctic ice is receding. An investigator buff, he is happy that the ice-free ocean has turned up the HMS Investigator, sank 155 years ago while searching for Sir John Franklin's doomed Northwest Passage expedition. In his article, Peter Gorrie (Toronto Star, August 7, 2010), observes, "Climate change will unseal many other arctic treasures over the next few years. Most important – less romantic but incomparably more lucrative than an old boat – are oil and gas." No wonder they do not want to admit to, or do anything about, climate change! John Ayers

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Food for thought

The Province of Quebec is a massive hydro producer due to its many fast flowing rivers and dam projects that continue apace. Unfortunately, demand has slowed since the beginning of the recession and several paper mills, large customers, have gone belly-up. Now, Hydro Quebec has to pay $200 million a year to keep the giant Becancour plant closed. In an article entitled, "In a Competitive System, Surpluses Discouraged" (Toronto Star August 21, 2010), Hydro Quebec spokesman says, "If someone can tell us what will happen in three years, I'd like to hear from them." The article continues, "He's merely illustrating the system's fallibility…predictions are made and contracts are signed with electricity producers in order to meet the forecast demand, which can sometimes be wrong." That about says it all re, capitalist production and planning. The anarchy of production and the vagaries of the market will get you every time.
It seems the Afghan war is getting worse. Obama's 30 000 troop surge has failed to meet objectives; the Taliban have not been rooted out of the opium territory and, in fact, are more active with roadside bombs, even in Kabul; 15 000 afghan prisoners remain in prison without charges. As in Iraq, the American-led NATO forces will eventually pull out leaving behind a mess for the local populations. Anyone hear of Bin Laden recently? Of course, the war may well have met the goals of the resource and military-industrial communities but who cares about the people? John Ayers

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

More Reading Notes

The madness of capitalism never fails to amaze. In "Hitler's Scientists" (Penguin), John Cornwell describes the building of the crematoria for burning bodies and eliminating 'undesirables', "Together (Himmler and Bischoff) they designed a crematorium which boasted five furnaces, with three crucibles in each furnace; that is, fifteen crucibles in all, capable of dispatching sixty bodies an hour, or 1,440 bodies every twenty-four hours. (Later, more efficient models were built, capable of burning 1 920 bodies a day). "The surviving documentation and the torrent of engineers' blueprints, moreover, tell a story of technical struggles against time and 'strains' on capacity, as well as bitter squabbles over materials, design features and standards, delays in delivery, costings, and profit margins." The crematoria were treated just like every other commodity in capitalist production – subject to profit as the only consideration.

For socialism, John Ayers.

Reading Notes

The R.A.F raids on Hamburg which began on the night of the 24th. July, 1943, known as Operation Gomorrah, culminated in an inferno four nights later – a fireball that surged two kilometres into the night sky, imploding oxygen and raising furious wind storms strong enough to uproot trees. Sugar boiled in cellars, glass melted and people were sucked down into the asphalt on the streets. On that night an estimated total of 45 000 Germans died (most probably not one of them responsible for the war – my comment) compared with a similar number killed in Britain during the course of the entire war. German estimates of civilians killed by allied bombing of cities and towns in the Reich are 450 000 killed and 600 000 injured." Like the dropping of the H-bombs, little or none was necessary as the war was virtually won and military targets were low on the priority list.
- Re WWI, " Fritz Haber, now a professor at Berlin University and director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry, had broken atrociously the acceptable norms of warfare in the early twentieth century. He claimed, as would other gas poisoners, like the British physicist, J.B.S.Haldane, who swiftly emulated Haber's example, that new technology in weapons had the power to save lives since it could achieve swift victory. Haber believed, or at least said so, as did Haldane, that gas warfare was `a higher form of killing' – that to be injured by gas was better than being blown up by a conventional shell." Somehow the logic escapes me! Only in capitalism, eh? Who are the terrorists? Both quotes come from "Hitler's Scientists" by John Cornwell.

For socialism, John Ayers