Sunday, January 30, 2011
ALL RIGHT FOR SOME
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
A SENSE OF VALUES
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE USA
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
who owns the North Pole - Part 26
The international survey – conducted by EKOS Research for the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation – found that a majority of Canadians see Arctic sovereignty as the country’s top foreign-policy priority; they also believe military resources should be shifted to the North, even if it means taking them away from global conflicts.
Harper has made the Arctic a major political platform, taking every opportunity to remind Canadians that his government is determined to defend this country’s sovereignty in the Far North. The poll’s findings would suggest that Canadians have embraced his rhetoric.
“It is something that allows him to play the nationalism card, particularly since it resonates with the population,” said Brian MacDonald, a senior defence analyst with the Conference of Defence Associations.
It ranked eighth for earnings, with an average weekly wage of £516.70.
Monday, January 24, 2011
POVERTY IN FLORIDA
Sunday, January 23, 2011
On January 22 - Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday: The Revolution of 1905 On January 22, 1905, about 200,000 workers and their families approached the czar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.
They carried a petition asking for better working conditions, more personal freedom, and an elected national legislature. Nicholas II was not at the palace. His generals and police chiefs were. They ordered the soldiers to fire on the crowd. Between 500 and 1,000 unarmed people were killed.
Russians quickly named the event “Bloody Sunday.”
Lenin called the incident a “dress rehearsal” for the later revolution that would usher in the state capitalist Bolshevik regime.
Bloody Sunday provoked a wave of strikes and violence that spread across the country. Though Nicholas still opposed reform, in October 1905 he reluctantly promised more freedom. He approved the creation of the Duma —Russia’s first parliament.
The first Duma met in May 1906. Its leaders were moderates who wanted Russia to become a constitutional monarchy similar to Britain. Hesitant to share his power, the czar dissolved the Duma after ten weeks. Other Dumas would meet later. Yet none would have real power to make sweeping reforms.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
WAR IS BIG BUSINESS
Friday, January 21, 2011
A TALE OF ONE CITY
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
one law for the rich ...
Birkbeck was driving a £70,000, 3.6 litre Range Rover Vogue TDV8 when he was detected by police speeding at 90mph on the M90 motorway.
“If he is disqualified for six months there will be a large number of redundancies at House of Bruar...He would have no option but to let people go – breadwinners who live in the local area." Solicitor David McKie, defending, said.
Actually, to Socialist Courier, that sounds very much like blackmail.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Hero no more..
“Sheridan told he faces years in prison for lies about sex and socialism”, so ran one newspaper headline the day after a jury found the former MSP guilty of perjury (Times, 24 December).
We don’t know, or care, if he told lies about his sex life to get at a scandal rag that was trying to entrap him. It’s only the political aspect of the case that interests us, and it’s true that, as a reformist politician, he had certainly told lies about socialism. But this is the first time we have heard of this being a crime punishable by imprisonment. If it was, the prisons would be full of journalists, politicians and academics. Of course the Times – like the News of the World, owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch – was merely trying to discredit socialism.
Sheridan was a Trotskyist, originally of the Militant Tendency variety, and although he could no doubt explain why the USSR had been a “degenerate workers state”, or why some common or garden reform was a “transitional demand” and so a stepping stone to “socialism”, he was not that kind of Trotskyist.
Trotskyists, being Leninists, hold that workers are incapable of evolving beyond a “trade union consciousness” (defined by Lenin as “the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc.”). So, according to them, putting the straight socialist case for common ownership, democratic control and production for use not profit to workers is to cast pearls before swine.
Instead, according to Trotskyists, what must be put before workers are demands that the government introduce this or that reform within capitalism. Getting workers to support such “transitional demands” is the only way they calculate they can get the mass support which, when the government fails to respond, can be used to catapult their vanguard party to power. But this requires people on the ground who are capable of winning a personal following. Normally, the Trotskyist gurus who direct their organisation from the shadows, are not up to this. They require front men. As it happens, Militant has been rather successful in this, with Derek Hatton in Liverpool, Joe Higgins at the moment in Dublin, and Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow.
Sheridan first came to prominence in the anti-Poll Tax campaign of the 1980s when he, along with the rest of the Militant Tendency, was still boring from within the Labour Party. Sheridan earned a reputation for being an indefatigable fighter, defending non-payers before the courts and himself getting a six-month sentence for contempt of court.
The trouble, from the point of view of the Trotskyist gurus in the background, is that such front men have, because of their following, a degree of independence and can prove difficult to control. Which is what happened in Sheridan’s case. When Kinnock clamped down on Militant – Sheridan himself was expelled from the Labour Party in 1989 – the group’s leaders didn’t want to change their tactics. They wanted to continue boring from within the Labour Party, in accordance with the argument they had used for years, that when the workers began to move against capitalism this would begin as a swing to the left by the Labour Party, so that’s where the vanguard cadres should be. Sheridan and most others disagreed. They wanted to form an independent party, opposed to Labour. They won out and a new party called “Militant Labour” was formed (the minority are still somewhere in the Labour Party, so deeply buried as to be invisible). In Scotland this became, in 1998, the “Scottish Socialist Party” with Sheridan as leader. It departed from traditional Trotskyism by embracing the idea of Scottish independence which of course is quite irrelevant from a working class and socialist perspective.
In 1999 Sheridan was elected a member of the Scottish Parliament. He was re-elected in 2003 with 5 other SSP members. This was the heyday of “Scottish socialism” (more properly, Tartan leftwing reformism). Under other circumstances they might have held the balance of power and given parliamentary support in exchange for some reforms to an SNP government. But it was not to be. In 2004 the News of the World published allegations about Sheridan’s sex life. He (apparently) told the SSP executive that there was some truth in them but that he was going to deny them. A majority disagreed and he eventually resigned as leader and, after winning a libel case against the Murdoch scandal-rag, left the SSP to form a new party, “Solidarity Scotland’s Socialist Movement”. In the 2007 elections to the Scottish Parliament both parties were wiped out,
Neither of them stood for socialism, only for reforms of capitalism and an independent Scotland (i.e. an independent capitalist republic like southern Ireland). Solidarity’s founding statement, for instance, declared that it was “a socialist movement that fights for the redistribution of wealth from big business and the millionaires to working class people and their families.” It does do this, but this has nothing to do with socialism, which is not about the redistribution of wealth within capitalism but about the common ownership of the means of wealth production.
Following the end of his career as an MSP Sheridan has only been involved in minor-league reformist politics, standing for Bob Crow’s petty nationalist “No2 Europe” list in the 2009 European elections and for the Militant/SWP TUSC in last year’s general election (the Militant and SWP Trotskyists, despite reservations about his views on Scottish independence, had followed him out of the SSP into Solidarity). On both occasions he stood on a reformist platform, a series of demands that the government must do this or not to do that which would have left capitalism, and its problems, intact.
From Socialist Standard January 2011
A bunch of cults the lot of 'em
The cult of leadership
In 1997 Britain emerged from the dark days of Tory rule, liberated by the Labour Party—their path to victory illuminated by the dazzling smile and radiant glow of sincerity from Tony Blair, who promised "Things Can Only Get Better!" If only the People would trust him to lead them. It was He, and He alone, with his charm and iron-willed leadership, that brought victory to the Labour Party. It was He, and He alone, who could save Britain. It was He, and He alone, who was fit to give us leadership.
The Cult of Tony was born!
And the members of the Labour Party, from the knockers-on-doors to the MPs in Westminster, to the people who owed their very jobs to Tony, saw how He and He alone brought them victory. And they believed. They believed it was Tony what won it, they believed that Tony could do it, they believed they owed it all to Leadership. And they looked out into the darkness in the world, the places where Tony's light—alas!—did not and could not shine, and they knew what was the one thing needful.
The Cult of Leadership was born!
MORE LEADERS! More leaders was the answer. Wherever the darkness of poverty, inefficiency, despair and degradation existed in the Land, leaders were the solution. Things can get better, things must get better, but only if the resolute will of a Leader can be brought to them. But, how to find these great leaders? How to bring the resolute will to bear? Then, the London Bells spoke, and all became clear: new elections were needed.
The Cult of Elected Mayors was born!
Don't quite buy it? Well, neither do we. It seems a nice idea—everything running smoothly, no hassles, no delays, no backroom haggling or party politicking, simply One Man charging through the wilderness solving problems at a stroke. It is, though, just a fantasy. Leaders spend a lot of time, money and effort, trying to persuade us that someone, someone at least, is in control, and that we have some real control in our own lives, through (of course) them.
The truth is that no elected politician can control the market—which operates for the private gain of a tiny number of owners. As long as the market exists we cannot have control of our own lives, run things in our own, and our own communities' interests, because that would threaten the profits of the tiny few. Leaders can't change that. Only we can, by acting together, without leaders, to end the whole profit-driven, market system.
From Socialist Standard Editorial October 1999
The Guardians of the Countryside ?
An authoritative new report for Government advisers shows thousands of rare and beautiful hen harriers are being illegally persecuted across huge swathes of the country. But publication of the report has been blocked by the landowning lobby. Another expert study, due to be unveiled in the next few weeks, suggests as many as 50 golden eagles are being illegally poisoned, shot or trapped every year in Scotland. This is far higher than previously suspected.
"It is the grouse industry that is responsible. They simply won’t tolerate birds of prey on grouse moors.” said Mark Rafferty, a former police officer who now investigates wildlife crime for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The birds of prey are being killed to protect lucrative grouse moors on estates owned by some of the country’s richest men and women. The owners of sporting estates are keen to control the numbers of birds of prey, because they eat or scare grouse. This leaves fewer to be shot by paying visitors, many of whom come from abroad. But environmentalists argue the birds can happily coexist with thriving grouse moors, if the land is well managed.
Labour MSP Peter Peacock says landowners are deliberately delaying "A Conservation Framework For Hen Harriers In The UK," by scientists for Government wildlife advisers Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and was to have been published on December 17. But this was halted at the eleventh hour after the landowning lobby formally complained, claiming they were not properly consulted. to stop it from influencing the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill.
“It is further damning evidence of what appears to be a group of serial offenders in the shooting fraternity, persisting in destroying iconic species,”
Andy Wightman, Scottish land expert, writes "Historically, Scotland’s landed gentry have secured their private interests because they effectively made the law. Even following the reform acts of the 19th century, they ruled in the House of Lords. Locally, they had control of county administration – police, roads, justice – as the Commissioners of Supply up until 1890, and their role was not abolished until 1930...Scotland’s landowners remained adept at spiking unhelpful legislation and promoting causes advantageous to their vested interests...Old habits die hard though, and some may have reverted to nobbling civil servants behind closed doors and trying to suppress inconvenient truths about sensitive topics such as wildlife crime...But this is not just about the power of elites, it is about land laws that vest so much power in the hands of an elite so few in number most of their names can fit on a few pages of a letter. With vast tracts given over to private hunting reserves, it is time to bring an end to the charade that our wildlife is best managed by this distorted form of landholding... "
A senior consultant surgeon has spoken out against screening patients for bowel cancer in Scotland’s most deprived areas...because they are likely to suffer from other serious conditions which could kill them anyway.
Angus Macdonald, consultant colorectal surgeon at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, said that in his experience in Lanarkshire, an area of high deprivation with one of the country’s lowest life expectancies, many patients with small tumours were more likely to die from other conditions before the cancer claims their life.
Health officials estimate that the NHS’s bowel cancer screening programme, for people between the ages of 50 and 74, could prevent 150 deaths annually. But Macdonald argues for some sections of the population it would not actually change the age at which a patient will die. “When you roll out a screening programme there is a very real possibility that you will identify cancers in the people who would normally have died from something else. We might operate on them and as a result we might actually shorten their lives.”
Research carried out by Macdonald, which is due to be published in the Journal of Colorectal Disease , adds weight to the principle of addressing the underlying determinants of ill-health such as socio-economic deprivation rather than of early detection and treatment of cancer as a principle health improvement strategy in such populations.
He said: “For the elderly time is precious. We’ll have some people coming up to their 50 years of marriage who have put together plans for over five or six years to save up for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday. When you tell them they have cancer they say they’ll cancel the cruise. I say, don’t. Go away and enjoy yourself if you can. It doesn’t matter if you have your operation just now or in two months, it is not going to make any difference at the end of the day.”
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Who owns the North Pole - part 25
As part of the deal Rosneft will take 5% of BP's shares in exchange for approximately 9.5% of Rosneft's shares. It is BP's first deal since the Deepwater Horizon spill last year, which cost it billions. The BP shares stake is worth just under $8bn (£5bn). Rosneft is 75% owned by the Russian government. So it will look to many as though the Russian government is taking a 5% stake in a company with strategically important oil reserves all over the world, including - of course - the US.
The firms will explore in three areas - known as EPNZ 1,2,3 - on the Russian Arctic continental shelf. The areas covers 125,000 square kilometres in an area of the South Kara Sea.BP gets access to resources, Rosneft gets access to expertise and knowledge. BP and Rosneft have agreed to set-up an Arctic technology centre in Russia which will work with Russian and international research institutes to develop technologies for the extraction of hydrocarbon resources from the Arctic shelf.
GG or GS
"I'm against the separation of the country and Tommy's group is for independence," Galloway explained. "I'm a Labour man and they're more of a far-left crew, but most importantly if Gail Sheridan runs as my number two my election campaign will become a referendum about Tommy Sheridan, about his trials and tribulations...a vote for Gail Sheridan would be vote for Tommy Sheridan - or not"
It is believed that Gail Sheridan will be going for the swing vote...
Thursday, January 13, 2011
sticking plaster remedies
Dumfries councillor Ronnie Nicholson explained “Dumfries and Galloway has a problem with sub-standard housing which is why the figures for this area are so high compared to elsewhere in the country. There is a lot of social housing in the region with inadequate heating and insulation, there are also a lot of old farmhouses and cottages in rural areas suffering from the same problem.” He added: “Fuel poverty is a significant problem in the region and I fear that our solutions are only a sticking plaster as the Government do not have the funds to properly tackle the issue.”
Four senior local government officials, all of whom receive salaries of between £75,000 and £105,000, have been suspended after paying consultants hundreds of thousands of pounds to deliver savings that failed to materialise.
Meanwhile, in Edinburgh the city’s new chief executive has said the disaster-hit trams project must go ahead because too much money has been spent to cancel it.
Who Owns the North Pole - Part 24
"We're not doing OK," said Lt. Cmdr. Nahshon Almandmoss "We definitely don't have the infrastructure available to operate for an extended period of time in the Arctic in the summer, much less in the winter when it's more critical for logistical purposes."
In a report last September, the Government Accountability Office said the Coast Guard lacks adequate infrastructure or equipment in the Arctic.
"With 20 percent of the yet-to-be-discovered oil, gas and minerals remaining in the world in the Arctic, the U.S. can't risk losing it," said Rear Adm. Christopher C. Colvin, commander of Alaska's 17th Coast Guard District, from Anchorage.
The Arctic nations - Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States - have been preparing to claim larger chunks of territory under a clause in the treaty that governs the world's waters. Non-Arctic nations like China and South Korea also have been eyeing the economic potential in the far north. The only international treaty that applies to the Arctic is the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, ratified by more than 150 nations. But although it helped draft the convention and subsequent revisions, the United States has not ratified the treaty; conservatives say it impinges on U.S. national sovereignty. Under the treaty, a nation that can prove its continental shelf extends past the current boundary of 200 miles off its coastline can be granted up to 150 additional miles of seabed. Like other Arctic countries, the United States is gathering scientific evidence for its claim to an extended continental shelf in the Arctic. Russia has been preparing a territory claim that would absorb nearly half of the Arctic into its possession
"An extra 150 miles of shelf can be billions or trillions of dollars in resources," said Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, commander of Alaskan Command, Joint Task Force Alaska, Alaskan North American Defense Region and the 11th Air Force.
In 2007, Russia planted a flag in the waters below the North Pole. Canada planted one nearby soon after. Denmark placed its flag on the north's contested Han Island (which Canada promptly removed and delivered back to Danish officials.) America and Canada cooperated on scientific and military operations last summer. Canada bought fleets of F-35 fighter jets and is building a new base along its Arctic coast. Russia is building new icebreakers and new nuclear-power stations on its north coast.
Nations are taking steps to position themselves.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
ITS NOT CRICKET
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
POVERTY AND CREDIT CARDS
Monday, January 10, 2011
Cameron threatens the unions
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union countered: “If David Cameron thinks he can batter working people into the dirt through his undiluted brand of fiscal fascism, then he’s got another think coming.” He added: “Millionaire public schoolboys, who are insulated from the lives of working people taking the daily hit of VAT increases and spending cuts, are in no position to tell the unions what we should and should not be doing to defend our members.”
Grahame Smith, the STUC general secretary Cameron was deliberately raising the political temperature with an anti-union sentiment, which, he argued, was “extremely unhelpful" and explained that "If union members want to take industrial action, they do so not against the Government but against their employer. Any industrial action will not be politically inspired,”
He said: “It is not that I would discard such people. I would simply give them a more human and humane approach, which would use less intensive NHS facilities. The big debating point is: would people die earlier? And the answer I would give to that is we do not know. You might actually live longer if you do not have all the stress associated with going to the hospital for treatment and healthcare-associated infections. We all get to that stage in life where your systems begin to shut down, albeit slowly, and medicine cannot reverse that. If you treat the person as if you are going to reverse that, you actually do them harm and that is what we do at the moment.”
Hanlon, who trained as a doctor, said: “The system is designed to deal rapidly with you, shunt you through and get you off the waiting list. All of that is not human and humane.”
Some estimates, he said, suggest one in five hospital admissions is at least in part caused by previous treatment. He envisages a more open conversation between health professionals, patients and their families about whether fewer tests and treatments would be desirable in what is likely to be their last 12 months of life. Decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis, however, he stressed.
Lindsay Scott, communications manager for charity Age Scotland, said: “As an organisation, we would look at this proposal from a discrimination point of view. It was the idea in the first place with the NHS that from cradle to grave everyone is treated equally.” However, he said some older people would support Mr Hanlon’s ideas. A survey of 300 pensioners in Scotland found 65% supported assisted suicide for people with a terminal illness and 54% would consider it as a means of ending their own lives.
Sunday, January 09, 2011
Food For Thought
Apparently sharks, who have lasted since before the time of the dinosaurs, are becoming an endangered species, falling prey to capitalism. Conservationists blame the practice of 'finning' slashing prized fins off the fish and leaving them to die so the fins can be sold to the on the growing Asian market. After what was done to whales to produce oil and the
material for corsets, is this any wonder?
As we move ever closer to 1984, scans at airports become ever more invasive. You can take a scan that reveals just about everything you physically possess, or you can refuse and get groped for your trouble. The Civil Liberties group says it has received 600 complaints in 3 weeks over the busiest travel period of the year. Great world we live in! John Ayers
Saturday, January 08, 2011
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Hollywood's Billy Bob Thornton confirms what we've known about movies for a long time, "In our current state of affairs, especially in the entertainment business, we're living in a time when we're making – in my humble opinion – the worst movies in history." Thornton goes on to elaborate that movies are geared to the video game-playing generation, becoming increasingly unrealistic, violent and shallow in an artistic sense. But, Billy Bob, they make lots of money for little outlay and that's what drives everything in this system, including movie making.
Environment – the Cancun Climate Conference did not instill much confidence – a 'breakthrough" was seen as agreeing to a 'second commitment period' for the already failed Kyoto agreement which, if fully implemented, would still have been far from doing what needs to be done. Canada, again deservedly winning the "Fossil" award, reportedly aligned itself with Russia and Japan to block the Kyoto extension.
Scientist and broadcaster, David Suzuki, was accused of turning his back the Cancun Conference, but, as he explained, he had little confidence in the process after it was recently revealed that the Canadian government teamed up with the oil industry to secretly lobby against climate policies around the world, including California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard Act. Canada already subsidizes the oil industry by $1.4 billion a year. Another example of how your government does not work for you. John Ayers
POVERTY AND WEALTH
Thursday, January 06, 2011
First the greasy pole, now the gravy train
Despite claims the peer needed the travel arrangements for security reasons, the journeys are understood to have been made unaccompanied by any police officers or drivers trained in protection. Chauffeurs usually picked up Lord Reid either at his home or Glasgow Airport, drove him to the ground, waited, then took him back home or to an airport. The cost of Lord Reid's travel included a £1,376 bill for two fixtures - against Hearts at Celtic Park and a clash with Aberdeen at Pittodrie. A further £723 was spent on trips to Celtic Park - including the day of the club's annual general meeting - or the team's training ground.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said "Lord Reid is the chairman of Celtic Football Club and it surely should fall to that club to shoulder the costs of his attendance at matches and training grounds."
POVERTY AND SEX
A warning from Shelter
Shelter estimated that 9% of people in Scotland have had to increase their work hours or take on a second job, compared with the British average of 7%.
Some 4% of respondents in Scotland said they had moved in with family or friends, double the 2% average across Britain.
The survey of 2,234 people across the UK also indicated that around two million people paid their rent or mortgage with credit cards over a year. The charity said the proportion was equivalent to about 5% on average in Scotland and across Britain.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said:
"A reliance on high-interest options such as credit cards to pay rent or a mortgage is a highly dangerous route to go down and is known to contribute toward uncontrolled debt, repossession or eviction and, eventually, homelessness. It is also very worrying that thousands of people in Scotland are being forced to move in with family or friends and that many more are having to take on extra hours and or a second job just to make ends meet.As we brace ourselves for the full impact of savage cuts to jobs and housing benefits, we are very concerned that more people are going to face even greater debt and the threat of homelessness."
Atishoo Atishooo and we all fall down
Four people in Scotland have died from H1N1 recently, while another 12 patients were taken to intensive care in the week before Boxing Day.The number of cases is expected soar this month, with the GP consultation rate for flu now more than 50 people per 100,000 visits.
wages or jobs?
“The recruitment freeze is already condemning a generation of young people – many of whom have trained for years – to unemployment..." the union explained
Aberdeen City Council's SNP-LibDem coalition voted in December to begin negotiating with the unions about a 5% pay reduction, which would remove the need to shed about 1000 members of staff.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In the same vein, The Toronto Star (11/12/10) published an article by John Cartwright, president of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, in which he blames corporate greed for eroding the foundations of a just society, "21st Century corporate culture demands that pension plans be gutted, benefits weakened, and jobs outsourced wherever possible." Mr.
Cartwright should be reminded that it was no different in the 20th century or the 19th century and what he is looking at is the constant attacks on labour, until we, the people, are in charge.John 'Ayers
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The New York Times (5/12/10) began an article on warfare with, "War would be a lot safer, the United States Army says, if only more of it were fought by robots." Apparently, 56 nations are now developing robotic weapons and the race is on. The winner not only gains an advantage on the battlefield, but will win the 'selling sweepstakes' with lucrative military contracts.
Perhaps the use of robots will eliminate the need for government to pay disabled war veterans at all. The Canadian veterans are in a legal battle to stop claw backs of their military pensions when they leave the forces and become eligible for Veteran's Affairs pensions. Robots won't file the class actions suits our veterans have! John Ayers
NATIONAL ILL-HEALTH SERVICE
A bankrupt society
PKF predicts that final figures will show about 22,000 Scots were sequestrated (the Scottish term for bankruptcy) or took out a Protected Trust Deed (PTD) in 2010, or 425 a week, and that this year will see even higher levels of personal insolvency. Personal bankruptcy during 2011 will be impacted by the Comprehensive Spending Review (the full impact of the CSR is yet to be felt) , which is likely to result in higher levels of unemployment among public sector employees, and potentially by the effects on mortgage-payers of rising interest rates.
“Many people are only able to cling on to their homes as long as their mortgage payments are being kept at an historicallly low level due to the 0.5% base rate. Once interest rates start to rise, I believe we will begin to see a considerable growth in what might be termed the “middle class insolvent” Bryan Jackson, corporate recovery partner, explained. It was likely that interest rates would have to start rising this year, whereas the housing market was unlikely to start a recovery until 2012 at the earliest, which meant “there will not be the escape route of rising equity to reduce debts which has been used by thousands of individuals in the recent past”.
The VAT increase, coupled with rising utility costs, would pile further pressure on those who were staving off insolvency. There is already evidence of an increased take-up of payday loans and other products from high-interest lenders which only temporarily put off the inevitable.
Monday, January 03, 2011
A SHITTY SOCIETY
Luke Bosdet, of the AA, said: “The facts are that fuel is being taxed like a luxury item such as champagne. But it is a necessity for everyone, from the youngster starting his first job, to volunteer drivers, to cabbies, and lorry drivers. The duty on fuel is an unfair tax as it hits everyone the same. There is no means-testing built in so it affects people that can least afford it. Enough is enough.”
Inflation-busting rises in rail fares took effect yesterday with some mainline season tickets going up almost 13%. Overall, main-line fares rose by an average of 6.2%, with regulated fares, which include season tickets, going up by an average of 5.8%. But these are just average rises – some fares are going up by far more than this, with the cost of an anytime direct return from Aberdeen to Cardiff set to rise 9.7%, from from £321 to £352. An annual season ticket between Glasgow and Edinburgh will now cost £3188, while Glasgow to Stirling is up to £1740 a year. The 5.8% average main-line rail increase in regulated fares, which include season tickets, is based on the July 2010 retail prices inflation (RPI) figure of 4.8% plus 1%. The train companies are allowed to use “flex” (flexibility) to average out the increase, so some fares can go up by more, provided others go up by less.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, said: “Some passengers will be facing rises way above inflation and, in some cases, it will be back to the bad old days of double-digit fare increases.”
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Post cards from New Internationalist magazine - not strictly socialist, but they do say something about the state of things under capitalism :
"When we talk about equal pay for equal work, women in the workplace are beginning to catch up. If we keep going at this current rate, we will achieve full equality in about 475 years." (Lya Sorano, US womens' rights activist).
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under abridge." (Anatole France).
"The Air Force pinned a medal on me for killing a man and discharged me for making love to one." (Leonard Matlovich, USAF sargeant).
" Years ago I recognized my kinship with living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. (Eugene Debs).
Best wishes for a happy and healthy year,
For socialism, John Ayers
Saturday, January 01, 2011
happy new year
What is the next step as we enter the new year?
The next step is to organise – to organise for change. In groups and meetings and on the internet we need to band together to fight against the reason most of us fell fearful or miserable - the market economy itself and the politicians who oversee its operation. Without this, our "Happy New Year" greeting will be the empty platitude it usually becomes every year.
Our New Year's wish is that we will not accept the lie that this capitalist system is as good as it gets, that it's "natural", that there is no alternative to "practical politics". The alternative is called socialism. Once the overwhelming majority of workers understand it and want to implement it then that alternative will be very real and will become the only practical political solution forward. As socialists, we argue that we should stop being the helpless victims in society, prey to the mercenary forces of the market, and instead get up off our knees. As socialists we want to participate in a progression of the global community to free humankind’s real human potential.
Socialists are equal but are each different. We don’t accept leaders. Begin to free yourself, be confident, be disobedient; think for yourself, ask questions and inquire about the socialist case. We have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a world to win.
What is the basis of present-day society? T his is called a "property-owning democracy" where 10% own 90% of the wealth. Ther...
If capitalism is presently incapable of solving the more pressing problems faced by humanity, we can well ponder what a difficult time ahe...