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Showing posts from July, 2012


We can read every day about the super rich acquiring a new third or fourth house in some exotic part of the world at some ridiculous price, but less prominent in the media you can also read of less fortunate workers who are without a house of any sort. "The number of households declared in need of emergency accommodation in England rose by about 25% over the past three years, new figures suggest. SSentif said some 50,290 families and individuals were classed as homeless in 2011/12, up from 40,020 in 2009/10. But the data company said spending on tackling homelessness had fallen from £213.7m to £199.8m over that period." (BBC News, 31 July) The plight of the homeless is another glaring example of the class division that exists in such so-called modern, developed countries like Britain. RD

It's Scotland's Oil

Umm...not quite..

 China may soon get control of a large slice of UK North Sea oil supply, which is key to determining global oil prices, if bids by its state firms for assets of Canadian oil companies Nexen and Talisman are cleared by the regulators.

 The Chinese state-controlled energy giant CNOOC last Monday unveiled a $15.1bn (£9.7bn) bid for Canada’s Nexen, the second biggest oil producer in the North Sea. If successful, the takeover will be China’s largest ever foreign investment. If approved, the Chinese would take control of the UK's largest producing oil field - Buzzard - and the Golden Eagle development, which includes both the Golden Eagle and Peregrine reservoirs in the North Sea, about 43 miles off Aberdeen.

Oil from Buzzard, although only 0.2 percent of global supply, plays a crucial role in setting prices because it is the largest contributor to the Forties oil blend, one of four North Sea crude streams making up the Brent oil benchmark. Forties usually sets the va…

Heartless capitalism

Disability tests are  'sending sick and disabled back to work'. People deemed too sick or disabled to work are being refused their benefits because the current assessment is inadequate, according to the expert appointed to review it. Prof Malcolm Harrington, the government appointed adviser on testing welfare claimants, admitted the work fitness test was “patchy”. Professor Harrington said: "There are certainly areas where it's still not working."

It emerged dying patients are being forced to attend interviews to prove they are unfit for work. It is claimed that because regulations over who is assessed are discretionary, thousands of terminally ill patients are being forced to prove they are incapable of work or face losing their benefits

Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said "Evidence appears to suggest that people with serious health conditions are sometimes being declared fit for work."

Macmillan Ca…

Blasting Galloway with Uranium

Depleted uranium is a radioactive and chemically toxic heavy metal produced as waste by the nuclear industry. It has been widely used by UK and US military forces to harden armour-piercing shells fired in the Gulf, Balkans and Iraq wars. When DU weapons burn, they release a hazardous dust that can contaminate wide areas. Civilians and soldiers exposed to the contamination claim to have suffered from cancers, birth defects and other illnesses as a result.

A new ruling by the UK Government after a secret review that depleted uranium (DU) weapons are acceptable under international humanitarian law means that DU tank shells could again be tested at the Dundrennan military firing range near Kirkcudbright on the Solway coast. Between 1982 and 2008, over 6000 DU shells were fired at Dundrennan. Soil samples taken in 2006 showed DU contamination breached agreed safety limits and high levels of DU have been found in earthworms on the site. The MoD has fired more DU in Scotland than anywhere e…

"Us" vs "Them"

The world forever changes often before our minds can fully grasp the implications. Circumstances change and people change, yet many cling to an outmoded view of themselves and the world. Grasping the reality of one's situation can be painful. "Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, from Crime and Punishment. Large numbers, perhaps even the majority of people have applied their energies and talents to avoiding change; they labour, moment by moment, day by day, to construct and dwell within what passes for normalcy. And in addition there are powerful interests which want to keep us at one another’s throats rather than working together.

We humans are by nature social creatures, even the most introverted of us, and we tend to trust and follow the thinking of the groups with which we identify. Some of these groups are small and select, our drinking buddies in our "local". Others groups are bigger but still rather specific…

More doom and gloom

Scottish firms are going bust at their fastest-ever rate, official figures revealed.

 “We have seen long-established, well-known businesses collapse in the past year and yet there appears to be no end in sight for the misery facing Scotland’s business community. It is undoubtedly due to a whole raft of factors including low consumer demand and confidence, with export markets in turmoil due to the European Union financial crisis and economic figures that are unrelentingly gloomy.”
Bryan Jackson, corporate recovery partner at accountancy firm PKF said.

Joanne Gillies, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, said:“Patience seems to be running out for those businesses that have been given time to trade their way out of trouble – either by financiers or other parties such as HM Revenue & Customs"

The state-owned company bailed-out Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley yesterday warned it was braced for an increase in customers struggling to cope with their mortgages. The uncertain…

The Crisis

Capitalism’s financial markets are the lubrication for the entire capitalist economy. The advance of credit mostly keeps capitalism running smoothly and speeds up greatly its circuits of production. The problem arises when--as always happens as the boom reaches its peak--credit is being advanced effectively as a life-belt to those enterprises in serious difficulties because they have produced too much for their available market. The more credit is advanced, and the longer this process continues, the more serious the necessary "correction" will have to be. If financial institutions keep extending credit to unprofitable enterprises, they will all go under, not just the latter.

From one point of view, this crisis is caused by capitalists choosing not to buy, that is, not invest profits because they judge they won't make any profits or not enough. The current crisis of capitalism is that there is "surplus liquidity". In other words, the rich have so much wealth th…


A walk down the streets of Houston would impress most visitors. The beautifully appointed offices of some of the most powerful corporations in the USA could not fail to impress, but behind the facade of opulence lurks the poverty of many of their employees. Janitor Alice McAfee got a standing ovation when she spoke to the NAACP convention in Houston about her plight and that of over 3,000 fellow janitors in the city. "The Houston janitors are currently paid an hourly wage of $8.35 and earn an average of $8,684 annually, despite cleaning the offices of some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world—Chevron, ExxonMobil, Wells Fargo, Shell Oil, JPMorgan Chase and others in the "City of Millionaires." They are asking building owners and cleaning contractors for a raise to $10 an hour over the next three years; the counter offer is a $0.50 pay raise phased in over five years, virtually guaranteeing that the janitors continue to live i…


Politicians, supported by the mass media are always telling us that capitalism is the most efficient way to run modern society. Inside Europe as the economic crisis worsens that claim looks more and more insupportable. "Some 5.7 million Spaniards, equivalent to almost one in four, are now seeking work, according to official figures. The country's unemployment rate rose to 24.6% during the April to June quarter, up from 24.4% during the previous quarter. That is the highest rate since the mid-1970s, when the right-wing dictator Francisco Franco died and the country reintroduced democracy." (BBC News, 27 July) Forty years of so-called progressive democratic capitalism and one in four is unemployed - some progress!  RD

Past Reflections 3

It’s a pity that there is so little written information about the history of Glasgow branch. However,  when I joined in 1963 there were still two founder members of the branch  and some other members who knew stories about the branch’s early days while the old minute books contained some really fascinating tales, but be warned, what I can tell is mostly hearsay. 

There may have been individual members in Glasgow before the branch was formed because in 1907 the SOCIALIST STANDARD carried details of seven newsagents in the city where the S/S could be obtained.

The founding of the branch was reported in the December 1924 issue of the S/S, but branch details in the S/S vanished in August 1927 so there was no Glasgow branch until the details re-appeared in October 1928. Included among the early members were John Higgins, Tommy Egan, Harry Watson, “Professor” Barclay, W. Falconer and Alex Shaw.

I’ve already written about the contribution made by Alex Shaw but it was probably John Higgins wh…

A class education 2

Once again Scottish universities are in the spotlight over their failure to recruit sufficient numbers of students from deprived backgrounds. Scottish universities will take 40 years to achieve fair access for students from the most deprived backgrounds at current rates of progress, according to a new report. The proportion of Scots from the 20% least advantaged backgrounds going to university increased by just one percentage point – from 10.6% to 11.6% – between 2005/06 and 2010/11. St Andrews, where Prince William studied, recruiting only 13 students from the most deprived backgrounds in Scotland in 2010/11.

The universities– while accepting more can be done – feels the issue is not of its own making. Numerous previous studies have shown that the educational gap between the haves and have-nots opens up from nursery onwards – and can become insurmountable by the time pupils start sitting exams such as Standard Grades and Highers.


One of the illusions beloved of supporters of capitalism is that although workers may suffer some social problems these are gradually lessening and the future will see them disappear. The following report seems to knock that notion on the head. "Struggling consumers spend the equivalent of one week a year worrying about money as personal debt soars, says a study. With families facing the toughest squeeze on living standards since the Twenties, it found the average person spends three hours and 15 minutes a week fretting over finances. The Which? Quarterly Consumer Report into how we are coping with the downturn says more are being forced to take on new forms of debt to make ends meet." (Daily Mail, 24 July) RD

Producers and Parasites

The only useful people today are those engaged in producing the wealth. It is they alone who must eliminate the parasites and usher in a new social order. The future of civilisation is in the hands of the producing class.

 Many other workers talk about “my job.” It is partly habit and partly belief that in some way or other it is their job. The job is regarded as a sort of fundamental right, but the truth of the matter is that the worker has not got a job. It is the other fellow’s job. The capitalist own the means of wealth production; therefore, they own the job. When the capitalists tells the workers to “get out” They are obeyed. The workers have to leave. They are obliged to leave “their jobs” behind. Dependence upon a job and the wages are the invisible chain that binds us to the machine cuts them to the quick. The workers must struggle to keep up their wages and to better their standard of living. In this struggle the odds are always against them and on the side of the capitalist…

A Class Education

Despite some of Scotland’s most exclusive fee-paying secondary schools charging more than £30,000 for a year’s tuition, 80 per cent of their annual rates bills are being paid for by ­councils – because they are classed as charities. The classification of private schools as charities, not businesses, means the public purse foots almost all of each independent school’s annual non-domestic rates bill – even although they are already exempt from income and corporation tax. As a result, Scotland’s most prestigious private schools enjoy massive tax relief despite charging colossal annual fees while state schools struggle. In Glasgow and Edinburgh, the state schools’ non-domestic rates bill in 2011 was £23.6million, paid for by each council.

Edinburgh’s George Watson’s College, was spared £330,119 of charges.

Fettes charges £27,150 a year for senior school boarders. Its bill for non-domestic rates last year was £209,139, but an 80% discount meant the school had £167,311 taken off. By contrast…


Fifty-four people trying to reach Italy from Libya have died of thirst after a 15-day voyage in which their rubber boat gradually deflated, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said, citing the sole survivor. The agency said on Tuesday that the only survivor, an Eritrean national, was rescued by the Tunisian coastguard in a state of advanced dehydration and clinging to the remains of the boat after being spotted by fishermen the previous night. "The Eritrean said that he left Libya towards the end of June as part of a 55-strong group, half of whom came from Eritrea. "He told us that there were immediately problems on the boat, that unfortunately they weren't even allowed to take a bottle of water and so once they got lost and the voyage went on, people started to feel unwell and die because of the lack of water," Laura Boldrini, a UN spokeswoman, told reporters." (Aljazeera, 10 July) Workers are so desperate for work they are dy…

Fact of the Day

8 million Italians, 11% of the population, are living in poverty, while nearly one in four living in southern Italy are defined as poor.


Inside Israel like every country in the capitalism world there are many problems but the one that most motivates the owning class is how do they keep a grip on their class ownership. One of the most obvious ways is to frighten other owners away from their possessions. "The navy is looking to purchase four 1,200-ton vessels which will be required to accommodate an advanced radar system, a helicopter as well as a launch system capable of firing long-range air defence and surface-to-surface missiles. OC Navy Adm. Ram Rothberg said that the navy needed the new ships to effectively protect the state's economic waters, the gas rigs and the pipelines that will carry the gas to Israelis shores." (Jerusalem Post, 9 July) Hey, Israel workers may have problems but the main job of the Israel capitalists is to frighten other capitalists. RD


Socialists are probably the only people that say it but modern war is caused by capitalist countries quarrelling over trade routes, sources of raw materials and spheres of political influence so we may be the only people who are concerned about this development in the Mediterranean where Israel and Turkey are in dispute over who owns recently discovered gas sources. "Israel can support and secure the rigs that we are going to have in the Mediterranean," Landau told a security conference when asked if Israel would safeguard the gas platforms after the warship challenge floated last week by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "That's the simple answer that I can give," Landau said. .... Landau, whose formal title is national infrastructure minister, said there had been no claim so far by any state that the Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields, estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars, do not belong to Israel." (Haa…

Fact of the Day

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization post-harvest losses in Asia are estimated at around 30 percent of yearly food production which means at least 100 million tons of food is lost every year.
In rice-producing countries all over Asia, rats are blamed for the loss of 6 percent of production, which is equivalent to the amount that 225 million Asians consume in a year.

As others see us 2

The late Paul Foot, the veteran SWPer, and nephew of the ex Labour Party leader, Michael Foot,  in an article in the Socialist Worker called "Why I became a Socialist" recalls hearing a member of the SPGB speaking on an outdoor platform where that member, who had worked in the shipyards, told of his disgust at the celebrations in Clydebank of the local yards getting a contract, because it meant more misery for workers on Tyneside and Belfast. He attended a lot of SPGB meetings when he worked in Glasgow for the Daily Record. He, of course, dismissed the Socialist Party as impossibilists.

An excerpt from a letter (15th January 2003) wrote of his memories of the SPGB in Glasgow in the early sixties, when he was living and working there as a journalist:

    "I went to Glasgow for my first job (a reporter on the Daily Record) in September 1961. I joined the Young Socialists and the Woodside Labour party. A highly influential figure in the Woodside YS at the time was Vic Vanni…

Giving their blood for others

Obviously Socialist Courier wonders why a member of the working class should randomly slaughter 14 people in a movie theater. But one lesser publicised fact was that Colorado residents flooded local blood centers and hospitals after the deadly shooting eager to help - literally with their on blood.

About 17.2 million units of blood are collected in the U.S. each year of hich 15 million are transfused. Nearly 11 million donors give blood each year, including about 3.1 million first-timers

Fact of the Day

Critics claim that Britain is over-crowded. They are wrong, whatever you might feel about being packed into a crushed commuter carriage. The UK is only the 39th most crowded nation; we could add almost 10 times the latest population increase and still be less packed than the likes of Belgium or Holland.

A housing crisis

Scotland is facing a housing crisis with local councils planning for 180,000 fewer homes than are needed for the nation’s growing population. Unless there are more homes, the analysis suggests, Scots will face rising house prices, a struggle to secure rented accommodation and family friction as young people are forced to spend years ­living with their parents. Professor Glen Bramley, a lecturer in urban studies at ­Heriot-Watt University, said the consequences of a housing shortage would ripple out across Scotland. “A shortage means house prices rise and only the most affluent can ­afford to buy. This means the middle classes may rent ­instead of buy and they in turn push out other people from the rental market, which puts more pressure on social housing. It will mean young people have to live longer with their parents and that has its own problems if the house is small.”
Planning experts Geddes Consulting studied the housing plans of local authorities in the four main city regions –…

Fact of the Day

The bottom 50% of American households held just 1.1% of the nation's wealth in 2010 while the top 10% of earners held a whopping 74.5% of the nation's wealth during the same period.

Who owns the North Pole - Part 50

We have now reached a land-mark half-century of posts titled Who Owns the North Pole. Why bother? Because it raises questions of national sovereignty over a previously ecologically vulnerable region that will become increasingly exploited for its natural resources as a consequence of climate change. The issue of the arctic reveals the nature of capitalist expansion.

Dan Sullivan, a former state attorney general, is the commissioner of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources says that Alaska has about 40 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and more than 200 trillion cubic feet of conventional gas.with some experts predicting that the United States could become the largest hydrocarbon producer in the word -- outstripping Saudi Arabia and Russia -- by 2020. Developing Arctic resources will promote our American interests in many ways: securing a politically stable, long-term supply of domestic energy; boosting U.S. economic growth and jobs; reducing the federal trade defi…


Inside capitalism we have countries, inside socialism we will have no countries. We will live in a worldwide society. There will be no borders. The German energy company EWE has begun construction on an offshore wind park in the North Sea, but Germany and the Netherlands can't agree on which side of the border it is on. "When the Riffgat offshore wind farm is finally finished, it will include 30 gigantic wind turbines jutting above the waves of the North Sea. The columns to be driven into the sea floor are fully 70 meters (230 feet) long and the first of them have already descended to the sea floor. Construction has already gotten underway. And yet, despite the building activity, nobody quite knows if the project site is part of Germany or part of the Netherlands." (Spiegel, 9 July) Inside capitalism one group will win another lose, inside socialism the human race would gain. RD

Failing to report

Roche, one of the world's biggest drug companies, is at the centre of an investigation after failing to report that people died while taking their medication. Roche, which made profits of £6.3 billion in 2010, has a legal duty to examine every suspected side effect and report them to regulators around the world so that potential safety concerns can be investigated. This means that each side effect reported to the patient support call centre should have been immediately sent to the safety team to be assessed. These must then be sent to regulators – within 15 days for the most serious reactions – even if no link between the drug and the reaction be proved.

15,000 people died while taking its medicines. Roche also failed to pass on a further 65,000 reports of suspected side effects that were recorded by patient.

How other see us

How the the Small Party of Glesga' Bookies (as the local branch in Glasgow was known in its early days because, it turns out, a number of its members were bookies, an illegal occupation back then) has been seen by others.

At the Barras market in Glasgow about 25 years ago open air political meetings were not uncommon, and the best were conducted by a fiery brand of working-class revolutionaries called the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Founded about a hundred years ago (and still going, I’m glad to say) and proudly hostile to all other allegedly socialist or communist political parties, they had several fine speakers and in those less apathetic days could always raise a fair crowd of the starvelings whom they hoped to rouse from their slumber. Scorn for their hearers’ meek acceptance of poverty and satire upon the quality of goods and services supplied to the workers were prominent in their arguments, as when the speaker would draw our attention to an evil-looking greasyspoo…


There are many events inside the capitalist system that sicken socialists. One of them is reports of world hunger, starvation and death caused by poverty whilst the owning class indulge themselves with all sorts of luxuries. This is a particularly nasty example. "If you're feeling flush with money, this could be the ultimate domestic accessory on which to splash your cash. Toilets made from solid gold have been created by a company that specialises in manufacturing luxury loos for super yachts. Designers customised the bathrooms on board a new £12 million Majesty 135 yacht at the request of a wealthy Arab client. Now other multi-millionaires are said to be queuing up for the bespoke toilets and bidets that cost up to £10,000. Made from regular porcelain, the toilets are then coated in three layers of 21 carat gold. For those who want an extra bit of sparkle, a platinum finish is also available." (Daily Mail, 5 July) Its time we flushed capitalism …


Not all of the population is experiencing an economic downturn as can be seen from the returns from the auction house Christie's. "A record breaking £53.8 million price tag for an abstract painting by Mark Rothko has helped Christie's to deliver a healthy surge in art sales as wealthy collectors splashed out on postwar masterpieces. The auction houses half-year art sales jumped by 13 per cent to £2.2 billion in a sign that the top end of the market remains largely exempt from global economic uncertainty." (Times, 18 July) The Rotho is by no means unique as a Yves Klein painting went for £23.6 million and a Henry Moore sculpture fetched more than £19 million. The owning class seem to be surviving the recession rather well. RD

scotland's health shame

Scotland's suicide rate is almost 80% higher than England and Wales. More people die by suicide than from road accidents and drug deaths put together. It is the leading cause of death in young men. Over the past year, Tayside Police has collected information about every call where someone was at risk of suicide. It attended about 150 attempted or threatened suicides every month. On average, four suicide deaths a month in just Tayside.

 Detective Chief Inspector Gordon Milne said of the figures: "Extend that out across the whole of Scotland; there is a significant number of calls every day, every week, every month, every year, involving people who are in mental health crisis."

The mental health charity SAMH said even these latest figures from Tayside were still just the tip of the iceberg. Kirsty Keay, the charity's national programme manager for suicide prevention, said: "Suicide devastates Scotland's communities..."

A quarter of patients who end up in in…


All over the world millions of workers find themselves homeless but in the city of Guangzhou in China they have come up with a "solution" to the problem of homelessness. "Sharp concrete spikes are cropping up under China's city bridges in a bid to stop homeless people from sleeping there. Pictures of the lethal 20cm high barbs in Guangzhou have sparked online outrage with citizens angry that authorities are trying to 'hide' the homelessness problem. A staggering 200 million of China's 1.4 billion population are believed to be living on the streets, according to recent statistics." (Daily Mail, 3 July) No doubt in some American and European cities the local authorities will soon be considering this Chinese "solution" to homelessness! RD


You can always rely on the political experts in the HM government to come up with facts that are blindingly obvious. "Published this month, the all-party parliamentary group report, 7 Key Truths About Social Mobility, confirms the OECD's findings that the UK has the lowest social mobility rate compared with any other "developed" country and warns that "it does not appear to be improving". Key findings from the report include the discovery that, by the age of just three years old, the "class" of British children is already defined. Also, half of all British children's future prospects will be determined by the circumstances of their parents." (Aljazeera, 27 June) All over the world we live in a class divided society wherein the majority own little or nothing but their ability to work for a wage or a salary and must sell this ability to the owning class who live off the resulting profit. We don't need "expe…

Fact of the Day

The six heirs to the Walmart fortune are worth as much as over 40% of all American households.

The Walton family was worth $89.5 billion in 2010, the same as the bottom 41.5% of U.S. families combined, according to Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute. That's 48.8 million American households in total.

Glasgow branch of the Socialist Party



“Of all the distortions of socialism that we have to deal with probably the most obvious one is that the USSR had something to do with socialism. The failure of the USSR to deal with the problems of the working class has been portrayed as the failure of socialism. In this discussion session I hope to have a look at how this distortion became possible and how many workers have become confused about Marxism and Leninism.”


Times are tough even for members of the capitalist class as this news item shows. "Landscape artist John Constable's The Lock has become one of the most expensive British paintings ever sold, fetching £22.4m at auction at Christie's in London yesterday. The sale is also highly controversial. .... But as the BBC reports, the Constable's sale by Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza has prompted Sir Norman Rosenthal, one of the European art world's most respected art curators, to resign as a trustee of Madrid's Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in protest. The baroness called the sale "very painful" but said she was forced to part with the painting because the current economic crisis had left her with "no liquidity"." (The Week, 4 July) The Baroness once the beauty queen Miss Spain has been finding things tough recently but £22.4m should keep the wolf from the door for a little while we imagine. RD

doom and gloom

Insolvency body R3 figures could mean 274 retail businesses and 30 hotels in Scotland had a "high risk" of failure. A further 1,238 retailers and 137 hoteliers were "vulnerable to failure" in the next year.

 R3 indicated 26.15% of all retail firms and 17.99% of all hotels were at risk.

 A report last week by accountancy firm PKF suggested Edinburgh's hotels may struggle later this year to compensate for a poor performance in the spring. Its hotel survey for May reported a fall in both occupancy rates and revenues for the third month in a row.

Fact of the Day

In 2012, the World Economic Forum calculated that 1 per cent of the world's population - just 70 million people - own half of the world's wealth.

Past Reflections 2

 Another installment in the recollections of members and once again from Glasgow member Victor Vanni.

The party’s heyday began with WW2 and lasted into the early 1950’s. During this period party activities and membership grew and this certainly applied to Glasgow branch. Huge audiences attended indoor and outdoor meetings and from 1945 to 1948 the branch even had a rented shop and eventually enough members to form a second branch in the city until 1961 when the two branches amalgamated.

By the time I joined in 1963 the branch’s activities were really expanding. Several parliamentary and council elections were contested while new, successful outdoor speaking stances were established, but the big day of the week was Sunday when two outdoor meetings were held in both Glasgow and at The Mound in Edinburgh. If Donnelly was the speaker in Glasgow then Shaw spoke in Edinburgh with the order reversed the following week.

These meetings at the Mound were my own favourites. The afternoon meeting …


We are quite used to hearing of the awful financial straits that exist in European countries such as Greece and Spain but capitalism's crisis is world wide and it even affects the USA. "Stockton filed for Chapter 9 protection on Thursday, making it the largest American city by population ever to declare bankruptcy. The filing comes after officials were unable to reach a deal with the city's creditors to restructure hundreds of millions of dollars of debt under a state law designed to help municipalities avoid bankruptcy. Stockton, a river port of 290,000, is the first California city to file for bankruptcy since Vallejo, which did so in 2008." (New York Times, 28 June) Capitalism is a world wide system when it enters recession it effects even formerly prosperous California. RD

End of the Dream

No, not third division Rangers FC but the United States of America.

The "American dream"- consisting of the traditional ideals of freedom, equality and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work - turns out to be a myth, according to Howard Friedman, a statistician and health economist at the United Nations. The United States, the land of opportunity is no more.

Friedman drew this conclusion after systematically comparing the United States to 13 other wealthy countries in five key areas: health, education, safety, democracy and equality. All wealthy countries with GDP per capita exceeding $20,000, and have populations of more than 10 million. They are: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Portugal, The Netherlands, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom.

In the last 30 years, the gap between rich and poor has widened. The top 1 per cent of US citizens saw their incomes grow by 275 per cent between 1979 and 2007, according to the Co…

Nothing new in New Zealand

New Zealand today has one of the worst rates of income inequality compared with other developed or wealthy countries. Two-income families are increasingly worse off than single-income families were a generation ago.

Inequality has increased here faster than in any other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country. Most of the increase has been the result of larger rises in overall incomes for the top 20 per cent of income earners; and incomes for the bottom 20 per cent have decreased over the two decades from the mid-1980s. To make things worse, wealth is even more unevenly distributed than income and the level of wealth inequality is twice that of income inequality.

The most recent statistics available show wealth inequalities have increased to the extent that the top 10% of the population accounts for 51.8% of the country's net worth, while the bottom 50% of people owns just 5.2%

Over 500,000 people live in households with "negative wealth" - t…

truth - the wounded casualty of war

“The human rights situation in Libya now is far worse than under the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi,” stated Nasser al-Hawary, researcher with the Libyan Observatory for Human Rights. Hawary is no fan of the Gaddafi regime. The former Salafist and political oponent of Gaddafi was imprisoned numerous times as a poitical dissident by Gaddafi’s secret police. Hawary emerged from his periods of incarceration beaten and bloodied, but not broken.

Despite the interim National Transitional Council’s (NTC) pledge to bring the more than 6,000 detainees currently in detention to trial or to release them, only some have been freed while the atrocities committed by pro-revolutionary rebels have been overlooked. Armed militias controlling the streets and enforcing their version of law and order is a problem even in the major cities where the NTC has supposedly retaken control.

“All the young men here have guns,” former rebel fighter Suheil al Lagi tells IPS. “They are accustomed to sorting out politic…


All over the world capitalism is experiencing an economic recession. Even formerly booming Japan is feeling the pinch with markets in free-fall. Amidst this period of uncertainty and fear there is of course one section of the population that continues to spend, spend, spend as usual. "An apartment that is believed to be the most expensive one-bedroom property in the world is on sale in Tokyo with a price tag of a cool Y1.8 billion (£14.72 million). .... The price means that 1 square foot of the property costs £3,320.33. The owner of the penthouse apartment – whom Sotheby's would only identify as a successful and married businessman – spent 18 months completely refurbishing the property from a four-bedroom family home." (Daily Telegraph, 13 July) The owning class continue to indulge themselves no matter the economic world climate. RD

What is wage slavery?

“At one time in the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century, a hundred and fifty years ago, working for wage labor was considered not very different from chattel slavery,” so said Noam Chomsky. In the decade between 1846 and 1855, more than three million immigrants came to the United States, with a vast majority of them settling in the free states of the North. By 1855, foreign-born residents were becoming a majority group; immigrants approached or exceeeded half the total population of several Northern cities.The growing industrial economy of the North swallowed these new workers into its factories, employing them for long hours at low wages. These manufacturing jobs were repetitious and sometimes hazardous. And from their meager earnings, Northern labourers had to pay for every one of life's necessities. For some Southerners of the period, the situation of Northern workers looked a lot worse than slavery. In fact, they argued, unlike the "wage slavery" of the North, the sla…