Tuesday, June 30, 2015
"It should shock no one that in the matter of access to health care, even to the organs in other people's bodies, the wealthy and well-connected...are different from the rest of us.' The rich do better', Dr, Arthur Caplan, head of bioethics at New York University Medical Centre, told the Star (May 23). 'I don't know that that's a headline, but it's nonetheless true. Right down to the homeless, health care is a tiered system. John Ayers.
Monday, June 29, 2015
On May 1, Canada and the US announced a ten year plan to phase out trains like the one used in the Lac- Megantic disaster in Quebec. It set a series of deadlines by which different models need to be retro-fitted. By 2020 all types of cars carrying crude oil will have to have new shells, head shields and thermal protection. To quote the Transport Minister, I know the safety measures we have outlined today will not be easy and, quite frankly, they will not be cheap, but the financial losses and the costs of cleaning up after such events as Lac-Megantic will in the long run be more burdensome." In other words, it costs less to improve safety features than have a derailment. The minister said nothing about the loss of people who died in that and other disasters. Money counts, people do not. John Ayers.
The New York Times reported that the sale of a Picasso painting for $179 million is a reflection on inequality. The soaring price for art over the last generation shows the growing number of people with vast amounts of money for such things is producing a competitive market that drives prices ever upward. It begs the question, where is all the money coming from. While billions struggle with poverty and deprivation of vital needs the world over, including in the 'rich world', they are eclipsed by the incomes of the top 0.1 per cent, and, as the article says, "And the kind of people who can comfortably afford to pay a nine-figure sum for a Picasso, the top 0.001 per cent, say, are doing still better than that." What a crazy system where children die of malnutrition and the rich can fork out millions for a painting! John Ayers.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Perhaps the high-light of Glasgow branch's activity during March was their annual dance, which took place at the New Astoria Ballroom, Sauchiehall Street, on March 12th. Over 750 friends and sympathisers enjoyed themselves at the dance."
Many young people from Spain, Greece, and Italy went to Germany to seek work after the financial crisis of 2008. They received lower pay than their German counterparts and worked longer hours, even though they were better qualified in some cases. Some tried to quit but were locked into contracts that demanded they pay off language lessons and accommodation provided by the employer. (a tactic as old as the hills in capitalism). There are cases where up to US$12,000 was demanded after employees left their jobs early. It's a modern version of indentured servitude, better known as slavery. Taken with the above point re nail workers, it is easy to see that we are losing many gains won in the past century. Another reason why we want revolution, not reform. John Ayers.
In "The Hidden Price of Nails" (New York Times, May 17) we are told that in the 17,000 nail salons in the US, exploitation of workers, mostly young Asian and Hispanic women, is rampant. Picked up in battered Ford Econoline vans they are ferried to the salons for ten to twelve-hour shifts. For this they carry their own tools and pay $100 to the salon owner for the privilege of having a job. Interviewing one hundred and fifty nail salon workers, the NYT learned that most are paid below minimum wage, routinely lose their tips for minor infractions, and are often subjected to physical abuse, to say nothing of the cancer risk and serious health problems due to the toxic nature of the products they use. Third world conditions are alive and well in North America and will become more and more common as capital puts the squeeze on workers to increase its returns. John Ayers.
Is there any wonder why there is perpetual war in the world? The New York Times (April 26) that "US arms sales fuel the wars of the Arab states'. Saudi Arabia is using Boeing's F-15 fighter jets to bomb Yemen, United Emirates' fighter pilots are flying Lockheed Martin' F-16s to bomb Yemen and Syria and want to use Predator drones for spying missions. Middle Eastern countries that have stockpiled American military hardware are now using it and wanting more. The result is a boom for American defence contractors And the fuelling of a new arms race in the region. The long time ban on selling certain types of weapons that could be sold to the Arab nations to ensure that Israel maintains its military advantage, is being lifted, at least partially, as those Arab nations fighting ISIS are now seen as allies. Alliances may change, countries can be redrawn but the profit motive carries on unabated. John Ayers.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
The Toronto Star of May 2, had two articles about leaders, one about a school for leaders, and one about new leaders for the Upper Canada Law Society. Furthermore, we have recently heard a lot about leaders re the UK election and we expect a lot more as Canada goes to the polls in the Fall. The moment somebody says they need a leader, it is an admission they cannot think for themselves, so they elect someone to do it for them. Then, as that leader fails to deliver on promises, they go looking for the next leader. When people start to think for themselves, they will realize they do not need leaders and can make their own decisions and can administer a truly democratic society. It will be a society where (in the words of W.S. Gilbert) 'everyone is somebody and no one is anybody. John Ayers.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Paris is a city that is often equated with romance but not so much nowadays. Residents and visitors are much too busy coping with pollution. According to Airparif, the city's air quality monitor, the concentration of particles called P10 and P2.5 are so thick they are as bad as in Beijing, a city world renowned for bad air. Lowering the particulate matter to World Health Organization recommended levels would avoid four hundred and seventy-six hospital admission a year and one hundred and twelve deaths. It would also add six month's to residents life span but the problem is that the cost would have to come out of profits. On the capitalist scales of justice, the tipping is towards the profits, of course. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has responded by banning heavy trucks, allowing free rentals of the city's fleet of electric cars and bikes, and limiting driving to alternate days. The environmental minister had criticized this arguing that it curtails freedom of movement. Death also curtails freedom of movement. John Ayers.
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