Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Cameron and other apologists for the status quo claim that the whole population will have to make “sacrifices” to keep paying for those public services. What these defenders of capitalism utterly and deliberately fail to tell us is that the overwhelming burden of the sacrifice will have to be made by the working class. The rich will, for the most part, as usual keep their privileges and luxurious lifestyles. Capitalism always works in the interests of the rich minority and against the interests of the majority of the population, no matter how many reforms are introduced. Work harder, pull together, make sacrifices today, they used to say, and in a few years you’ll reap the rewards. Of course tomorrow never came. They are no longer saying this now.
Most economists and political commentators are saying that the UK’s budget deficit and indebtedness will usher in a period of significant austerity. This problem is a global one, as the problems of Greece has well publicised. Instead of meekly accepting that it must pay the price for capitalism’s crisis, and waiting for the austerity measures to be handed on down, the Greek workers set about angrily resisting them. There has been general strikes in the country.
To-day over 300,000 Scottish public sector workers will stage a strike against the Government pension changes. Success through striking may well encourage other workers to stand up for their rights in the workplace more. A group of workers' strength, however, will continue to be determined by their position within the capitalist economy, and their victory a partial one within the market system. Only by looking to the political situation, the reality of class ownership and power within capitalism, and organising to make themselves a party to the political battle in the name of common ownership for their mutual needs, will a general gain come to workers, and an end wrought to the need for these battles. Otherwise, the ultimate result of the strikes will be the need to strike again in the future. There can be no real and lasting "victory" within the profit system.
In a world that has the potential to produce enough food, clothes, housing and the other amenities of life for all, factories are closing down, workers are being laid off, unemployment is growing, houses are being repossessed and people are having to tighten their belts. Capitalism in relative "good" times is bad enough, but capitalism in an economic crisis makes it plain for all to see that it is not a system geared to meeting people's needs. What can be done? Nothing within the profit system. It can’t be mended, so it must be ended.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
More than 1.4 million homes have failed to meet a key housing standard, new figures have revealed. In 2010 61% of houses, 1,014,000 in the private sector and 393,000 in the socially-rented sector, failed to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard.
One-fifth of the stock in Scotland is now more than 90 years old, a third of the housing stock is more than 60 years old and a fifth of homes have been built in the last 30 years.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
UK families typically had £164 a week left of income in October after paying regular bills such as food, clothing and housing costs, 7.1% less than a year ago.
Charles Davis, managing economist of the Centre for Economics and Business Research compiles the report, said: "Worsening employment conditions, alongside the persistently elevated rate of inflation, are continuing to erode household real incomes and family spending power." He warned: "UK households will remain under pressure for some time."
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Rebecca Taylor, web editor and mother of one said "The reason families don't spend enough holiday time together is because we are all desperately clinging to the jobs we do have in order to earn just enough to pay our huge childcare bills. Some mothers I know haven't managed a proper fortnight off since they gave birth."
Nicola Chappell, who has worked in TV for the past 20 years, says in that time, she has witnessed an almost complete transformation of attitudes. "I always make sure I take every single day of holiday that's owed to me but I've noticed that younger people in the office don't seem to take any. It's freelance culture – they're far too scared of losing their jobs to go away."
Dr Martina Klett-Davies, a family sociologist thinks our increasing reluctance to take proper holidays is directly related to the state of the economy. "We are living in an age of austerity. It becomes more prevalent to hold on to your job for love nor money and if that means forgoing holiday to do so, so be it."
"Having worked in HR for many years it is amazing how many people are willing to lose holidays or would rather be paid than take time off," says Tanya Milson. "This year in particular I have noticed a lot more unused holiday. It seems we are living in a world where none of us simply ever have enough time to get all our work done."
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Tommy Sheridan’s former press chief Hugh Kerr has resigned from Solidarity to join the SNP, claiming he wants to fight for an “independent Socialist Scotland” within Alex Salmond’s nationalists and also said he would be “delighted” to stand for the SNP as a Holyrood candidate or in the 2012 council’s elections.
Kerr said that the far left had become a “sideshow” as he resigned from Solidarity and claimed that the only way he and other Sheridan supporters could have “any influence” would be to join the SNP. He said: “The split with the SSP and other factors has meant that the far left is doomed to be a sideshow for a decade and if I’m to have any influence the truth is that this has to be in the SNP, which has the support of the majority of Scots."
Former Labour MEP Kerr told The Scotsman he had held talks with Sheridan during a prison visit to his former boss, whom he insisted was “very sympathetic” to his decision to join the SNP. He also said that there “could well be” other members of Solidarity planning to defect to the SNP, a move which could see left wingers entering Mr Salmond’s party in a similar tactic used in the 1980s and 1990s to influence Labour by far left groups such as the Militant Tendency.
Monday, November 14, 2011
The Scottish "Socialist" Party despite its name, does not stand for socialism but is a left-wing nationalist - a Tartan Trotskyist - party. The SSP is a direct descendant of Militant and campaigns to get elected with non-socialist votes on a programme of attractive-sounding reforms to capitalism. It is a ploy to attract a following. But it's a bad tactic that can only encourage illusions about what can be achieved under capitalism. It glosses over the fact that capitalism is not a system that can be humanised or reformed or transformed into something better. What those who want a better society should be doing – should have done – is to campaign to change people's minds, to get them to realise that they are living in an exploitative, class-divided society and that the only way out is to end capitalism and replace it by a new and different system. The SSP, for instance, advocates the break-up of the British state and the creation of a free Scottish socialist republic. But a single Socialist country in a hostile capitalist world is just impossible, and the SSP aim is Scottish state capitalism.
We don't care if Tommy Sheridan, the leader of Solidarity Scotland’s "Socialist" Movement, told lies or not about his sex life. It’s only the political aspect interests us, and he has certainly told lies about socialism. Sheridan was a Trotskyist, originally of the Militant Tendency and Trotskyists, being Leninists, hold that workers are incapable of evolving beyond a “trade union consciousness” . 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 ( McCombes co-author with Sheridan of Imagine) who direct their organisation from the shadows, are not up to this. They require front men - Tommy Sheridan. 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.
Both parties have done so much to discredit the idea of socialism by associating it with a state-run economy. In spite of all their revolutionary posturing both parties devote their time to chasing reforms of capitalism. Scotland is only a small part of an economic system which embraces the whole world. It could never enjoy any real autonomy or self-sufficiency in the face of the world market. From day one it will be buffeted by hostile economic forces entirely beyond its control. In no time at all, Scotland will be faced with two choices—either total ruin, or the complete restoration of capitalist economics. The SSP's and Sheridan's independent socialist Scotland would be neither independent nor socialist.
Members of the Socialist Party understand well the urge to do something now, to make a change. That makes us all the more determined, however, to get the message across, to gather our fellows to clear away the barrier of the wages system, so that we can begin to build a truly human society.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
The medals jingling on parade
Echo of battles long ago
But they’re picking sides for another go.
The martial air, the vacant stare
The oft-repeated pointless prayer
“Peace oh’ Lord on earth below”
Yet they’re picking sides for another go.
The clasped hands, the pious stance
The hackneyed phrase “Somewhere in France”
The eyes downcast as bugles blow
Still they’re picking sides for another go.
Symbol of death the cross-shaped wreath
The sword is restless in the sheath
As children pluck where poppies grow
They’re picking sides for another go.
Have not the slain but died in vain?
The hoardings point, “Prepare again”
The former friend a future foe?
They’re picking sides for another go.
I hear Mars laugh at the cenotaph
Says he, as statesmen blow the gaff
“Let the Unknown Warriors flame still glow”
For they’re picking sides for another go.
A socialist plan the world would span
Then man would live in peace with man
Then wealth to all would freely flow
And want and war we would never know.
J. Boyle, 1971
How different it is for the rich and famous. Chelsea Clinton has been appointed to the board of a large corporation at age thirty- something with no experience and a salary of $300 000 per year.
Canada's Tory government lost the Supreme Court case to close the safe injection site in Vancouver. It could have probably opened safe sites in every major city with the money spent on lawyers. Our 'tough on crime' government would rather lock them up and count them as criminals. Many, of course, have mental health issues but there won't be any money going there any time soon. John Ayers
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Speaking of sharks (the human kind), Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler CEO has weighed in with a call for cutting costs of auto manufacture. The union gave up the right to strike as part of Chrysler's bankruptcy restructuring in 2009 so he expects an easy time with the contracts. He wants worker compensation to reflect how well (or not) the company is doing. He also came out with this gem, "As a producer, you cannot be small and cute and compete. You're going to get killed." There goes the myth of the small entrepreneur being the driving force of the economy. Welcome to capitalism. He wants to end the present two-tier wage system, saying it makes for an unhappy work force. He would like everybody to be on the lower rate, of course! John Ayers
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
While the Arab Spring has proven to be enduring, widespread, and a popular movement, it is not a done deal. Apart from the lack of socialist understanding, gains won are hard to hold. The Toronto Star reports (Oct 1, 2011) that actor Sean Penn turned out with thousands of others on the Egyptian streets to urge military rulers to end emergency laws that date back to Mubarak. That's the problem of waiting for the next great leader and hoping he/she will be a good one. Democratic councils would have been a major step forward and would have done the job once and for all.
After Gadhafi, who's next? There are lots of top candidates, the Al Khalifa family in Bahrain, Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and the top prize, Bashar Assad in Syria. Whatever the outcome, you have to give top marks for people who face guns every time they protest. John Ayers
115,000 Scots will lose their incapacity benefit. 65,000 people in Scotland will be pushed out of the benefits system altogether, forcing a big increase in reliance on other family members and will add 35,000 to the number of those seeking Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Glasgow will be hit hardest. The report estimates that more than 22,000 people are likely to lose their incapacity benefits and more than 12,000 will be denied benefits entirely. Other hard-hit areas have been identified as Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and Clackmannanshire.
Professor Steve Fothergill, who co-wrote the report, said: the reduction in the numbers did not mean there is currently widespread fraud or that the health problems and disabilities were “anything less than real”.
Since the creation of the Scottish Executive, business representatives have had access as secondees to the Executive and civil servants have been seconded outwards to the private sector. Companies involved include, Inward, Scottish Power, Scottish and Newcastle, Stagecoach, Ernst and Young, PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Outward: Lloyds TSB Foundation, Scottish Power, McGrigor Donald (law firm and lobbyist), Scottish and Newcastle and business lobby groups Business in the Community and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce. The Executive also run a scheme to second staff from road building and consulting firms to their Road Network Management and Maintenance Division. The biggest firms in the area such as Babtie, Scott Wilson and Fairhurst bid to be included in the scheme in which they supervise road building projects and even assist with the procurement process for such projects. As Minister Andy Kerr noted inward secondments “foster and promote links, co-operation and a mutual understanding”. Not to mention the financial benefits of helping to decide which consultants get which road contracts. In Scotland the allegedly environmentally conscious members of the Business Council for Sustainable Development include road building consultancy Scott Wilson, two of the biggest users of natural (Water) resources Scottish Power and the brewers Scottish and Newcastle and the oil giant Shell. In such circumstances the distinction between civil servant, public official, elected representative and business operative begins to break down.
"Scotland is governed not simply via the institutions of formal governance (meaning the political institutions of Scotland), and not simply via the traditionally understood “Scottish elite”, meaning either the various elite groups in the Scottish village or the Scottish capitalist class. Scotland is also run by political and economic decision-makers only some of whom are based in Scotland. Other centres of decision making are obviously London and Brussels, the Headquarters of the WTO/IMF/World Bank and the board rooms of the transnational corporations, including those which have no interest or base in Scotland."
The Scots should turn a deaf ear to the siren song of Scottish independence where any prosperity would as always only be for the elite ruling class and not for the working class.
"The working man has no country" declared Marx
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Friday, November 04, 2011
One hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2" thick and contains $10,000.
$1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000) can be stuffed a grocery bag.
$100 million would require a standard pallet.
$1 billion ten pallets.
But one trillion, that's a million million. It's a thousand billion.
It's a one followed by 12 zeros - 1,000,000,000,000. See the little man? This is what he would look like to stand next to a trillion dollars on pallets.
If you laid one dollar bills end to end, you could make a chain that stretches from earth to the moon and back again 200 times before you ran out of dollar bills! One trillion dollars would stretch nearly from the earth to the sun. It would take a military jet flying at the speed of sound, reeling out a roll of dollar bills behind it, 14 years before it reeled out one trillion dollar bills. A trillion dollars is a stack of 20 dollar bills 3,000 miles high!
Instead of spending on the military and weaponry it could be spent on basic education for the 2.2 billion children in the world, a mere $6 billion, water and satitation for the whole world's population , at a trifling $9 billion, or basic health and nutrition for all at $13 billion or the world's women's reproductive health at $12 billion
"...It is great owning your own stretch of water and being able to bring your family and friends for a day’s fishing.” - William Jackson, the agent
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Comments from Wall Street as reported by New York Times -- "Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll."
"Who do you think pays the taxes/" "It's not a middle-class uprising. It's fringe groups. It's people who have the time to do this." (maybe because they are unemployed?). The newspaper asks, "Do the bankers get it? (Obviously not!)
On CBC radio, the one percent was invited to comment. One was 'don't forget it's the one percent that provides the entrepreneurs and the driving force for the economy'. The old myth that we depend on them and we would be lost and staggering around starving without them.
The good thing is the speed with which it spread around the world - as we always say, ideas respect no boundaries and socialism would do
the same. Also, capitalism is becoming the target more and more. John Ayers
Beware of Greeks bearing votesGreece gave us democracy, Europe and economics, in both concept and language.
While referendum is from a Latin route, Greeks also gave us chaos and catastrophe.
Also from Greek, Fathom Consulting's Yiannis Koutelidakis has today taught me a word that's going to weigh heavily on the Hellenic people - euthinophobia, meaning the fear of responsibility and duty.
All this is playing out in a global drama (another gift from the Greeks), with markets taking a deep dip on the news that the people could be about to have their say on the state of their nation's finances.
It is an delusion that 'we' can control or regulate a capitalist economy to do anything other than create the conditions of the next crisis.Capitalism comes with uncertainty, war,crisis as inbuilt inevitable concomitants of it. It is a global system and can only be replaced by a revolutionary alternative.A free access society of common ownership and democratic control without markets.In other words, socialism. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-15548435?postId=110757181#comment_110757181
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
- Editorial: Beyond the Cutbacks
- Material World: This Land is Our Land
- Cooking the Books: Producers and Predators
- Halo Halo! - Rowan Williams v New (and old) Atheism
- Tiny Tips
- Greasy Pole: Djanogly – One Of The Family
- Where Will It End?
- Is 20 Years of the Big Issue Something To Shout About?
- What is Wrong With Using Parliament?
- Casino Capitalism: Inefficient and Irrational
- Cooking the Books: Ground Rents and Coronets
- Obituary: Margaret Hopwood
- Book Reviews: 'Why Marx Was Right', 'Speak for Britain!', 'The Political Economy of Development'
- Proper Gander: Stripped Blair
- Action Replay
- 50 Years Ago: Labour Conference
- Voice From the Back
- Cartoon: Free Lunch