Now that China has become a major economic power, it needs powerful armed forces (to match other super powers) to protect and further its economic interests and ambitions. Recently released statistics show that China spends $188 billion annually on the military, second only to that of the US. This is pushing other Asian countries to increase their 'defense' spending. Viet Nam's budget has increased 83% in the last five years, Japan's $48 billion budget is the biggest ever, expanding its main coast guard fleet from forty-one vessels to three hundred and eighty-nine. Its proximity to China and Russia is driving the spending. The capitalist class in every country needs access to raw materials and markets to gain its share of the profits. Conflict and war are inevitable at some point, as we have seen many times in the past. John Ayers.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Thought we were getting safer as the cold war ended and nuclear weapons arsenals would be de-commissioned? Think again – the US for one is ramping up nuclear weapon production to replace the aging stockpile. A sprawling, state-of-the-art plant in Missouri has thousands of employees working on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. This comes under a president who made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. Capitalism needs to show who is boss when it comes to discussion of treaties. It is an antagonistic system that can never change. John Ayers.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
While workers are anxiously trying to keep up with rising costs and low increases in pay, there's no such problem at the other end of the scale. Two former vice presidents of the Pan-Am games committee left after less than four years on the job and managed to win severance payments of over $300,000. John Ayers.
Friday, November 28, 2014
The existence of migrant workers offers the possibility of divide and rule, bosses have not always been successful in their unbridled exploitation of migrant workers. It is worth recounting a dispute in Sweden when Latvian workers were brought in to refurbish a school by the subcontractor on 9 euros an hour, rather than the nationally agreed 15 euros. The Swedish Byggnads union picketed the site and drew accusations of xenophobia from bosses and the Latvian government. The response of the Swedish union was not to demand “Swedish jobs for Swedish workers”, but to place a full statement in the leading Latvian newspaper inviting workers coming to Sweden to join the trade union. Solidarity between workers is not automatic AND the existence of separate racial and ethnic groups could lead to either unity or fragmentation, depending on the role played by workers associations. The disputes in the UK construction industry and in oil refineries in January 2009, under the slogan of “British Jobs For British Workers”, were a salutary lesson in the importance of uniting indigenous and migrant workers, and of the role of trade unions. While it is true that some sectors are dominated by these migrant workers, for instance in agriculture and food processing, they are also employed alongside British workers as bus drivers and on building sites. Where Polish workers have been in organised workplaces they have been on strike alongside British workers.
Bill Clinton is credited with bringing his family back from the edge of bankruptcy. How, by hard work? Not on your nellie. In seven days he gave speeches to corporate executives in Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and the Czech republic and was paid $1.4 million. In fact, since 2001 when he left the White House to January 2013, he has made $104 million for 542 speeches. Lots of talking, maybe, but less of value than a day in the factory and a hundred times more lucrative. Hilary's standard fee is $200,000. Values are distorted in capitalism. (Toronto Star, June 28.) John Ayers.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Thirty-six hours after the Obama government banned the importation of the AK-47 rifle as part of the sanctions against Russia, gun stores in the states sold out of them. Some customers bought eight to ten rifles at nearly $1000 each, stockpiling them as investment. " The great irony here is that the threat of regulation has the perverse effect of stimulating sales, and not by a little," said Philip Cook, a Duke University gun researcher and the author of, "The Gun Debate That Everyone Needs to Know." Whatever the intentions of the purchasers, two things are clear – the fact that there are so many guns out there regardless of whose hands they are in is indicative of a dysfunctional society, and the need for a society where no guns are needed or even produced. John Ayers.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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