Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Childcare and education – excluding private school fees – account for the biggest costs to parents. Childcare is estimated cost £67,430 over the course of a child’s upbringing. Other regular expenses that have risen in cost at a rate higher than inflation include clothing, which is up 11.7% compared to last year, holidays (up 6.4%), food (up 5.9%) and personal care items, such as toiletries, which have risen by 5.1%. Overall childcare costs are £84 for 25 hours a week – more than half the gross average part-time weekly earnings of £160. In addition, Government support to parents to fund childcare is going down – from 80% to 70%.
"Three-quarters of parents said they were having to economise because of the financial pressures they were under, with nearly half making savings on holidays.” Satwat Rehman, director of One Parent Families Scotland, said those on lower incomes were particularly vulnerable to rising costs. "The cost of basics are going up and the greatest impact is on parents who are at the greatest risk of poverty.”
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
In January this year, Glasgow had Scotland's highest proportion of youngsters in severe poverty at 18%, followed by North Ayrshire, West Dunbartonshire and Clackmannanshire at 14%, and Dundee at 12%.
The charity said Glasgow had almost 18 people chasing every job vacancy, and that in West Dunbartonshire there are more than 36 people vying for every job.
Douglas Hamilton, Save the Children's head of Scotland, said: "Urgent action is required in Scotland's most deprived areas or we will end up with a lost generation. Some of these children will grow up living in households with no working adults - they have never seen a parent or grandparent work and this becomes the norm. People don't see a route out of poverty or this cycle of worklessness "
Meanwhile, Pensioners should lose a series of benefits, including free TV licences, free bus travel and the winter fuel allowance, to ease the financial squeeze on younger people, according to the think-tank., the Institute of Economic Affairs.
David Manion, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “Suggesting that all older people enjoy a ‘privileged’ economic position shows total ignorance of the reality of life for the majority of over-65s. In fact the UK has one of the lowest state pensions in Europe, with 1.8 million pensioners living in poverty and many more surviving just above the breadline.”
Yet Elinor McKenzie, chair of the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum, said: “Every year around 3000 older people in Scotland die over the winter months from cold-related illnesses."
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Millions of people have been trained to think about what they buy through advertising slogans. They go into the grocer for a packet of "exceedingly good cakes" and some "prolongs active life" for the dog; in the sweet shop they pick up a "helps you work, rest and play" bar and perhaps "just one Cornetto" - to the approved tune, of course; then on to the travel agent to book two weeks in Benidorm with "we'll take more care of you"; down to the garage to pick up the "Vorsprung durch Technik" and fill it with a few gallons of the petrol which" you can be sure of". It is hardly surprising that a buying and selling society has taught the consumers to go in for commodity-talk, Think of all the language we'll lose to a world of free access: no more mindless slogans and jolly tunes to persuade us to buy shoddy brand A rather than bargain brand B. In a moneyless society l suppose we will have to learn to survive without the ad-men telling us what we want.
Steve ColemanSocialist Standard July 1985
Monday, February 21, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Deaths of people who were waiting for appeals to be heard against the loss of benefits has prompted calls for a fairer assessment system. The claimants from West Dunbartonshire, died from the conditions which caused them to claim Incapacity Benefit (IB) while waiting for appeals to be heard against cuts to their benefits.
One was deemed fit for work during a work capability assessment, despite having a deteriorating chronic illness, and lost both incapacity benefit and disability living allowance. When his support worker appeared at the appeal tribunal she had to report her client could not be present because he was dead. The appeal was upheld and the backpayment will become part of his estate.The other had a congenital condition which caused difficulty in walking but was assessed capable of work and his incapacity benefit was withdrawn. He was waiting for a date for an appeal tribunal when he died.
A third person, again from West Dunbartonshire, died recently after winning a second appeal tribunal following three years of repeated assessments and decisions being overturned.He worked as a shop assistant in his 20s but was forced to give up due to severe heart and lung problems caused by a degenerative syndrome.An “indefinite” award of IB and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was revoked after only two months on the basis of a questionnaire he had filled in.Six months later it was reinstated by an appeal tribunal. Despite this ruling and the finding that his condition was worse than the original assessment, his case was once again referred for medical assessment. Once again, the benefit was withdrawn. He appealed again, with help from staff at the Clydebank Independent Resource Centre, and a tribunal date set for a further six months on. By that time he had been confined to bed with severe pain for several days and his extreme difficulty in reaching the chair in the tribunal room caused the chair of the panel to say the hearing would be as short as possible and that a taxi would be waiting to take him home. He won the appeal but only after three years of unrelenting anxiety over whether his benefits would be cut.
Mary Hodgson, from Annan in Dumfries and Galloway, worked from the age of 16 until she was 41, latterly as a support worker for people with learning disabilities. That ended suddenly when a lower disc cut through her spinal cord leaving her semi-paralysed. “I went from being a fit and healthy person to being unable to walk without crutches and needing a wheelchair to go any distance,” she said. “The damage to my nerves has caused other problems and I need daily care from a nurse.” She was assessed as fit to work. That decision was overturned on appeal and she now receives the higher rate of Employment and Support Allowance, but the experience has left her fearful over her future support.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
A BBC report out today argues, "Scotland is facing its "most difficult" challenges in tackling poverty in years, campaigners have warned.
The Assembly for Tackling Poverty, which is due to meet in Glasgow, said levels of poverty in Scotland have "not been improving for a number of years".
It said about 250,000 Scottish children were living in low income households.
The assembly will hear from community and voluntary organisers, faith groups, trade unions, academics and policy makers." ( Faith in reforms is a huge part of resistance to the solution: Added MC)
The assembly is part of a four-year project supported by the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland.
(Capitalism is a lottery right enough but it is stacked from the beginning in favour of those already winners:.Added MC)
It aims to support community and voluntary organisations to become more involved in developing anti-poverty policy.
A spokesman said it was now "crucial" to find solutions to the causes of poverty.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12491459
However well meaning some of this group are, we would have to point out that there is only ever going to be a solution to poverty however one may define it by getting rid of the system which causes it.Capitalism must be destroyed. ( What is Capitalism?)
Official statistics show that despite taxation the distribu¬tion of incomes and wealth remains as it must be under capitalism: concentrated in the hands of a few. The few are rich through their monopoly of the means of life and their returns on their investments as rent, interest and profit; the workers get as wages and salaries little more than enough to keep themselves and their families in efficient working order. State action, such as tax reform and social security benefits, cannot alter these basic inequalities of capitalism any more than they can solve the problems in housing, health and education which arise for workers as a result.
Don't be fooled either by Labour politiians in opposition now positioning themselves as teh champions of the poor.
On 20 July 1946 the late Aneurin Bevan claimed in a speech at Durham that: "when the next election occurs there will be no housing problem in Great Britain for the British working class" (Hansard, 14 July 1948, Col. 1202); and the Labour Party announced that "destitution has been abolished" (Labour and the New Society, 1950, page 5). Merely to recall these claims is to expose the futility of reformism.
The Labour Party has always shown disdain for the Socialist Party of Great Britain's insistence on first convincing the workers of the need for Socialism,(What is Socialism?) choosing instead to put forward reforms in its electoral programmes in order to gain working class support and thus obtain political power. 'The workers want something now', we have always been told, the implication being that a workers' party should imitate the openly capitalist parties and make promises of reforms in order to catch votes. Such reasoning ignores the fact that a party which rises to power on non-socialist votes can only administer capitalism. The fate of successive Labour governments is proof of this.
The question needing to be put to this group is, can capitalism be made to work differently? Or must there be a social revolution to replace capitalism with some other society? (Reform or Revolution?)
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
An article, by Kate Devlin, UK Political Correspondent for (The Herald, February 12.) headed, "60,000 Scots cheats to lose sickness benefits" Discloses, "People claiming sickness benefit will now have to apply for unemployment benefit, potentially losing over one thousand pounds"
Evidence from a socialist's point of view that Trade Unions (TU) should re-examine this idea, that continuous battling with the employers, will be rewarded by a continuous improvement in the wellbeing of the workers.
"ABOUT 60,000 Scots claiming sickness benefits face being told that they are fit for work, according to the results of two pilot projects, including one in Aberdeen.
The move is part of Coalition plans to save £11 billion from the welfare bill. Every person claiming incapacity benefit (IB) across the country will be reassessed between now and 2013.
Under the process, claimants are asked to fill in a medical questionnaire and then invited for interview". (Why bother? you might wonder, the heading implies the Scots are cheats even before the interview)
Socialists don't advocate reforms of capitalism, we would agree that TU do and must struggle against continuous pressures in a capitalist world, however, the evidence is overwhelming, the solution is not continue as before, i.e. "running faster to stay still" as it was once put at a TUC conference. (are we staying still? would you agree?)
"The shake-up of welfare payments could save the Tory-LibDem Coalition up to £40 million in Scotland alone.
The first reassessments of those receiving incapacity benefits currently worth up to £91.40 a week found that more than two-thirds were able to work.
Just less than one in three, 30%, was told they were able to work immediately and could no longer receive sickness benefits. Another 39% were told they would be given support to help them back into the workforce, because it was felt they could hold down a job, possibly part-time, in the near future. The rest were allowed to remain on sickness benefits"
"Announcing the interim results from the pilot projects, Coalition ministers claimed too many people had been "abandoned" to a life on benefits". (I don't know the benefits of being abandoned to a life without benefits are, but the coalition ministers are determined that we find out right away)
"Chris Grayling, the UK Employment Minister, said: "The initial findings from Burnley and Aberdeen serve to underline why it is right to reassess IB claimants and to launch the Work Programme to give those who can work the specialist help they need to do so. Too many people were simply abandoned to a life on benefits; we are determined to put a stop to that terrible waste of potential." (What about the terrible waste of potential, most workers know that the cuts will bring to those in employment? When workers can't make a profit for the bosses the problem for bosses is getting the workers back into work i.e. returned to profit making. The urge to reduce there costs is relentless and in the current capitalist crisis any benefits workers are perceived to have gain in boom times are attacked. The years of struggle will have to continue, unless, a new reason for producing is considered).
Socialists appeal to all workers to realise that the future can never be better than chaotic in a capitalist society, where profit overrides needs. We have the ability to produce most necessities in abundance; however, we need the will to get rid of a system that provides abundance for a small class of capitalist and replace it with a system of common ownership of the means of production i.e. Socialism.
"The gemmes a-bogey" - we are in a recession
"Ahve loast mah joab so ahm gaun doon tae sign oan the broo." - unemployment is on the rise
Friday, February 11, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Monday, February 07, 2011
Saturday, February 05, 2011
Finally, the cause of the Mexican hotel explosion last year has come to light. Rather than a build-up of swamp gas, it was a leakage from improperly installed gas pipes that mysteriously did not appear on the blueprint. Chalk another one down to corruption, graft, and greed. - The Toronto Star (Jan 8, 2011) asked the top 100 Canadian CEOs, who average $6.6 million in salary per annum, if they thought they were worth it. Only one replied and he was thankful his salary was set by the board and not him. Considering they have earned the average working man's annual salary by lunchtime of the second day (i.e. 155 times more) and do not produce anything useful or any surplus-value, I think the answer would be a resounding 'NO'. John Ayers
Friday, February 04, 2011
Perhaps someone would care to explain why we have ever-growing line ups at the food banks. The quote, "when I fed the hungry I was called a hero, when I asked why there were starving people, I was called a communist" may apply quite well here.
Recently in Toronto, an unfortunate incident occurred. A man in bare feet and with obvious mental problems stole an unattended snow-plough and proceeded to run amok on the city streets. The police, unable to stop him, finally fired three shots into him but in the process, one constable was run down and killed. The officer was given a state funeral where 12 000 uniformed officers marched through city streets for hours and all major Toronto television stations interrupted normal programming for the entire day to bring wall to wall coverage of the event. All major national newspapers led with the story on the front page. The Saturday Hockey game in Toronto was delayed for a ceremony in his honour. The coverage was way over the top and a thinly disguised attempt at jingoism to make the public forget the black eye that the police have been getting over their handling of the G20 crisis that continues to bring forward incidents of police misconduct. That they can amass so much media support is truly staggering. John Ayers
Founder, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, said "There are still one billion children living in poverty, so our work is not done yet."
Sad to say that the work will never be done.
The necessity and prevalence of charity in a world capable of producing a sufficiency of food, clothing and shelter to easily satisfy the needs of all, is an obvious indication that something, somehow, somewhere, is rotten to the core. The socialist claims that it is capitalism. Capitalism automatically produces poverty which in its turn perpetuates charity. Eliminate the cause, and you eradicate the disease. Rather than deal simply and directly by providing ready access to storehouses of goods, as would occur in a sensible world, there are those who prefer instead to deliver the great mass of wealth to the privileged minority and present tear-drenched appeals for charity for the impoverished majority.
Charity! Sweet charity! Upheld as evidence of the innate goodness of man. Providing an outlet for the energies of people who feel that something ought to be done and who might otherwise find time to think about doing things really helpful. Indecent, unwholesome charity! Preying on the natural willingness of ordinary people to help one another, even to the extent of depriving their own of needed things. Charity! Symbol of a society that neither intends nor desires to end the conditions that ensure its existence.
One day the means for producing and distributing the needs of life will become the common property of all the people and will be operated for no purpose other than to provide abundance to all the members of society. On that day a socialist society will be established, bringing an end finally to exploitation, along with all the other abominations of capitalism, including charity.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Alan Greenspan - the legendary chairman of the United States' Federal Reserve - is the high priest of free market capitalism.As a young man he was even a devotee and acolyte of arch libertarian writer, Ayn Rand.
Keep that pedigree in mind when you consider the striking observation he made in a television interview last summer:
"Our problem basically is that we have a very distorted economy, in the sense that there has been a significant recovery in our limited area of the economy amongst high-income individuals...Read link
This ,of course, is no surprise to socialists who have been pointing it out as an inevitable concomitant of capitalist economics.
If you are born poor you will most likely die poor.Whether this is in actual real terms ,or in relative terms, in relation to the amount of wealth produced, is neither here nor there.
What is crazy is the notion that capitalism can be reformed or tamed,or have its rapacious appetite curbed in any way.
Its goal, as Marx pointed out so long ago is,to, "Accumulate, accumulate".
"Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets! “Industry furnishes the material which saving accumulates.”  Therefore, save, save, i.e., reconvert the greatest possible portion of surplus-value, or surplus-product into capital! Accumulation for accumulation’s sake, production for production’s sake: by this formula classical economy expressed the historical mission of the bourgeoisie, and did not for a single instant deceive itself over the birth-throes of wealth.  But what avails lamentation in the face of historical necessity? If to classical economy, the proletarian is but a machine for the production of surplus-value; on the other hand, the capitalist is in its eyes only a machine for the conversion of this surplus-value into additional capital. " Link for above quote
Capitalist society is a parasitic economic system which sucks out the productive capacities of the vast majority,(working -class) to satisfy a minority class of owners of wealth(capitalist -class)..
The solution is to get rid of the monstrous system and replace it with socialism , a system of common ownership,democratic control and free access to all of society's wealth,everybody having the right to participate in decisions on how global resources will be used. It means nobody being able to take personal control of resources, beyond their own personal possessions.
This then,is in stark contrast to the reformism of the Left, S.S.P.,S.W.P., Solidarity, S.L.P.,or the Labour Party, (all of them result in a case of 'meet the new boss', same as the old one.) which leaves intact the waged- labour versus capital social system.
Socialism ,as we define it in its original context, before the Left besmirched the name in their failed experiments, is a revolutionary solution to capitalism's rationed access. Moreover, it is a real solution,one which ends wage-slavery, poverty, and war.If a truly human society is to be created where we can relate to each other as members of a real community instead of as isolated atoms colliding on the market place, we need to create the conditions (common ownership of productive resources by the whole community) in which the market has no sense.
One where the organising tenet applied globally , instead of capitalistic, "..... "each man for himself, and the devil take the hindermost" ", is
replaced by, " From each according to their ability ..to each according to their needs".
Prison building hit a new high (seven stories) or a new low as the latest jail in Ontario goes ahead with prefab modular building blocks that look like something out of a sci-fi picture. It's to cost $600 million in a time when crime is going down.
Finally, some sense coming from the phony war on drugs. The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy basically came to the conclusion that the war on drugs is lost and its time to move away from the punitive aspect and focus on policies based on public health, human rights and common sense. (Toronto Star, Jan 23, 2011). Of course, removing money from the mix would do the trick right away. John Ayers
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
In the same review we are told that installing seat belts on US school buses would cost the equivalent of $40 million for each child's life likely to be saved (which probably explains why it has not been done). As we say, capitalists know the price of everything and the value of nothing. John Ayers
"Where are the leaders and what are their demands?" will be the question puzzled professional politicians and media pundits...
A myth pervades that 1917 was a 'socialist' revolution rather it was the continuation of the capitalist one. What justification...
Socialism is the name given to that form of society in which there is no such thing as a propertyless class , but in which the whole ...