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The Capitalist

The Capitalist is a frequently misunderstood person. He is often portrayed in something less than glowing terms. Not that his clothing is shoddy. Usually it is shown to be carefully tailored and made of costly materials. But he is offered to us as a smirking, pear-shaped specimen, lips folded over a fat cigar, whose weight is mainly encompassed by his belt. Sometimes he appears as a banker, a big bad banker, who has corralled all the money and won't let the rest of us have any except at impossible rates of interest. Sometimes he turns up as a munition maker who plots to keep the world at war so that he may sell his guns and tanks and other wares and keep the profits flowing in. Then, again, he may be a landlord whose girth is gained from high rents on slum dwellings inhabited by poor people.

 He may be found in any of these categories, or he may be found in any of a number of other categories equally distasteful. Indignant people are the ones who portray him in thes…

Banking 1/7

Are the banks and greedy and incompetent bankers to blame for the current economic crisis? That’s what a lot of people think and what the media seems to want us to think. Certainly, bank directors generally are greedy – awarding themselves huge “salaries”, bonuses and pensions – and some of them are incompetent on their own terms. But blaming them is to let the real culprit off the hook: the capitalist system of production for profit. There are few places in the world more pointless than a bank. There are few compelled to toil more uselessly than bank employees. In every respect, the function of banks is to facilitate a form of exchange in which nothing is produced and much can be lost. A world without banks would be a wholly better place.

For all its worth, the distinction between productive and non productive capitalists remain a question of who gets what share of the unpaid labour of the working class.

Workers are exploited by virtue of the fact that we produce surplus value for t…

What is capitalism?

"If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire."George Monbiot


"Capitalism is the natural system of humanity, it's all these small businesses and people coming together to compete. Everyone gets the amount of money they deserve because they've earned it, or if you're poor it's because you're lazy and if you're rich it's because you've earned it. The system works perfectly. It grows as long as the government stays out of the way; technology is just going to make the system better. And it's the only way to organise a society that's not going to be living in caves and rubbing two sticks together."

That's the catechism of those hopeless apologists who support the status quo and advocate the unreal laissez-faire philosophy of no governmental interference with business (as if they are not dependent on governmental interference!), a balanced budget, lower taxes, en…

Screwing the workers

Just four years after the worst shock to the economy since the Great Recession, U.S. corporate profits are stronger than ever. In the third quarter, corporate earnings were $1.75 trillion, up 18.6% from a year ago, according to last week'si gross domestic product report. That took after-tax profits to their greatest percentage of GDP in history.  How is that possible? It’s simple: profits have surged because wages and other labor benefits are down.

Today’s economy is a market. The 1% populariSe the view that today’s economy is a fair and argue, as Margaret Thatcher put it, There Is No Alternative (TINA). The market's real invisible hands are at work insider dealing and anti-union maneuvering plus outright looting and fraud. What they all seek is power is hire strike-breakers, lobby for special favors and backing politicians pledged to act on behalf of the 1%. Firms use political leverage to make sure that anti-labour laws determine employment and working conditions. Capital-int…

Rangers are staring into the abyss

One hundred and forty years of football history has been brought to an end. Rangers, who played their first games in 1872 and have been Scottish champions a record 54 times, will go into liquidation. This is a massive football club that has been ransacked by crooks and their underhanded dealings, clearly over years.

The European Court of Justice ruling in the case of Bosman is authority for the view that professional footballers are workers like anyone else.

PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said that Rangers prospective owner Charles Green had a legal obligation to consult the union about his plans. Players will be free to walk away from the club if it goes into liquidation. Equally, they would also be free to accept offers to stay on at Ibrox under the new company which is set to take over Rangers but the choice would be theirs.

Green said that players would be in breach of contract if they opted not to move to his “newco”. Arguing that Transfer of Undertakings (Protectio…

chinese crackers

ZhengYonggang's $600m (£377m) fortune was built by taking a state-owned firm into the private sector. Zheng does not owe his success to sheer hard work.He has insisted on working no more than eight hours a day and has a 20-minute nap on weekdays. Zheng has developed his own management strategy which he calls "pagoda structure management". Instead of micro-managing, he adopts a more Western style, with a team of senior staff responsible for their own departments.

Lamborghini sales tripled in China. Rolls-Royce's rose 146% overtaking the UK and on course to soon surpass the US. Bentley's sales almost doubled, making it the firm's third-biggest market. Porsche up 60% from 2009. Despite the surge in sales of 300kmph cars, the rush-hour speed in Beijing is rarely above 25kmph.

inescapable burden of debt

Up to five million homeowners could be in negative equity by the end of this year if house prices continue to fall, research has claimed Andy Thwaites, director of insight at GfK Financial, said: "The shift to negative equity has the potential to be a mammoth welfare disaster for the nation, particularly when so much of the population has recently relied on the capital appreciation in their home to supplement their lifestyle, consolidate debts and fund retirement.The reality is that if there are further job cuts, the problem will become significantly worse." The average person approaching Citizens Advice for money advice owed £16,971, the organisation said. It would take around of 93 years for people contacting a debt charity for help to repay their borrowings at an affordable rate. "Low income, combined with irresponsible lending, unreasonable debt collection practices and badly informed financial decisions are at the root of many of our clients' debt problems."

capitalist crisis kills

With South Korea about to enter its first recession in a decade and exports suffering their biggest ever drop, the country's health ministry has launched a suicide prevention program. South Korea's suicide rate nearly doubled during the Asian financial crisis 10 years ago with experts blaming it on stress caused by job and income losses.
"There is a fundamental connection between economic hardships and our high suicide rate," said a ministry official
In South Korea, a commuter train operator is even installing doors blocking access to railway tracks due to a sharp increase in people committing suicide by jumping in front of trains.

Millions of people in Asia have lost their jobs and retirees and other small investors have lost their life savings due to plunging stock markets and the collapse of investment funds. Asian governments are setting up hotlines and counseling centers to help those hit hardest by the financial crisis and the subsequent economic downturn.
Paul Yip…

Strange Bed-Fellows

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticises those who buy and sell debt solely for their own profit. Dr Williams attacks "unbridled capitalism" and defends the socialist theorist Karl Marx's critiques of the system.
He said it had become - much as Marx suggested - "a kind of mythology" in which people invested their faith, wrongly assuming it would work for the common good.

In a speech to bankers by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
he called share traders who cashed in on falling prices "bank robbers and asset strippers".
"We find ourselves in a market system which seems to have taken its rules of trade from Alice in Wonderland, " he said. "One of the ironies about this financial crisis is that it makes action on poverty look utterly achievable. It would cost $5bn to save six million children's lives. World leaders could find 140 times that amount for the banking system in a week. How can they tell us that action for th…

'recession crime wave'

The Socialist Party in its case for socialism have argued that there is an economic cause to crime , rather than an innate human nature reason for its existence .

According to crime figures, around 95 percent of all statutory crime is property-related. This breaks down very roughly as follows: 25 percent theft from or of motor vehicles, 25 percent burglary, 30 percent other forms of theft – fraud, forgery, shoplifting etc., and 15 percent criminal damage to property. The remaining five percent comprises four percent violence against the person and one percent sexual offences . The great bulk of the residual five percent (violence against the person and sexual offences), can be attributed to the everyday stresses and alienations that are part and parcel of our existence in capitalist society. We are conditioned into seeing our fellow workers, with whom, economically, we have everything in common, as rivals; as competitors for jobs and houses.

The system is almost entirely responsible fo…

the rich list

Credit crunch ...food inflation ...property price crash ...Yet the UK's super-rich have never been richer reports the BBC . The richest 1,000 people in Britain have seen their wealth quadruple under Labour, according to The Sunday Times Rich List published today.
The top 1,000 richest people in the country now have more than £400 billion between them, it estimates - up almost £53 billion in the last year. A fortune of £80m is needed to be one of Britain's richest 1,000 people - up from £70m in 2007.

Philip Beresford, who has compiled the list since it was first published in 1989, said: "Until now, the 11 years of Labour government have proved a boon for the super-rich, rarely seen before in modern British history..."

“The 11 years of Labour have been absolutely fantastic for the super-rich,”said Philip Beresford, “Having a friendly Labour government has almost been better than having a Tory one..."

RICH LIST TOP 10
Lakshmi Mittal, steel (£27.7bn)
Roman Abramovich, oil…

hunger: it’s a market thing

From Ian Bell of the Sunday Herald

Lots of food, lots of hunger: it’s a market thing.

Last week the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development was published...Its main findings were simple enough, however. There is enough food for everyone. It is cheaper and, broadly, more nutritious than it has been in decades, but 800 million go hungry...

...there are no food shortages. Instead, according to one of those complicated theories they teach at Oxford and the like, there are money shortages. Or rather - and this is apparently so complicated it never gets discussed - some people are very short of money and some are anything but...

...The relationships between land, food security, politics and bread at £1.13 a loaf are not abstract. The laws of economics should not be mistaken for acts of God...

As Bell writes , the law of economics is not abstract but neither is it complicated . Simply put , in capitalism , if you cannot pay , you cannot have , no matter yo…

On the Fiddle

Capitalism is a strange type of money society . We read throughout the 1920s stock market crash, the Second World War and the oil crises of the 1970s, there was one stock which remained steady – fine violins. As global financial uncertainty strikes again, investors shy of the FTSE and put off by property may wish to consider putting their money into a Stradivarius instead.

This is the hope of the Fine Violins Fund, a syndicate set up by the renowned violin restorer and trader Florian Leonhard, which is hoping to attract investment for about 50 pre-19th century Italian violins. The project aims to loan the instruments to up-and- coming performers – old violins are worth more when they are in use, and being linked to the career of a musical star can also increase their value. The cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, the historian and philosopher Theodore Zeldin and the principal of the Royal Academy of Music, Professor Sir Curtis Price, all sit on the advisory board of the investment vehicle, t…

Lest we forget - Hung out to Dry

The richest 10 per cent of the UK population increased their share of the nation's marketable wealth (excluding housing) from 57 per cent in 1976 to 71 per cent in 2003.

Over the same period, the speculative capital that could be deployed or invested by the bottom 50 per cent of the British population fell from 12 per cent to just 1 per cent.

The wealthiest 1 per cent of the population, on current government figures, now control more than a third of all the marketable wealth – and this ignores the vast sums held in offshore tax havens.

The New Economics Foundation has shown that global growth has not aided the poor. In the 1980s, for every $100 of world growth, the poorest 20 per cent received $2.20; by 2001, they received only 60 cents. Clearly , growth disproportionately benefits the rich and further impoverishes the poor.

Real wage increases in the top 13 countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have been below the rate of inflation since about 1970…

Food Shortages - "it's capitalism" - says a capitalist

We have reported on the rise in food prices that many commentators blame on changes in supply and demand for grain but the Times reports that the managing director of Greggs, the well known high street baker-shop chain , has attacked speculators for driving up the price of wheat and fuelling famine in Africa.

Michael Darrington said commodity traders were more to blame for spiralling food price inflation than poor harvests or farmland given over to biofuels.

“There are stocks of wheat and grain in the world, and crops are growing at the moment but funds are being set up as speculators see an opportunity to make some short-term money and someone has to pay for it. It's really sad for people in the developing world where food can account for 70 per cent of the family budget. Wheat is predominantly grown in America, Australia, Europe - the wealthier areas - and people in under-developed nations are hurting the most.” He added I suppose that's just capitalism but it's jolly …

Scottish Capitalists - Little Changes

Scottish investment trust boards are still open to the charge that they recruit their members primarily on the golf course, according to research .

Coburn Blair, an Edinburgh-based specialist in recruiting non-executive directors, has analysed the boards of the 48 investment trusts managed by Scottish-based fund managers and concludes: "... in truth, not a lot has changed."

Although some boards now go through a formal selection process, others in practice continue to recruit informally in the way they have always done.
"If you want to join an investment trust board it still certainly helps if you're already known to the chairman or other board members. So, if it's fair to say that the Edinburgh mafia of old is no longer such a cosy clique as it used to be, it is still true that once you're on the board of one investment trust and can demonstrate you know how to hold your knife and fork at the after-meeting lunch, it's usually only a matter of time before yo…

Capitalism - Bad for your health

There could be thousands more heart attacks if the Northern Rock crisis was repeated at other banks across the UK, a Cambridge University study suggests. Cardiac deaths surged "briefly and regularly" every time there was a systemic bank failure, the team found.

The report, which examines how banking crises have affected health in the last 40 years, is one of the first to look at the relationship between the two. When a financial crisis hit a developed country, heart attacks rose by 6.4%. This figure was even higher in the developing world, the Globalization and Health journal study suggested. In countries such as India a combination of both poorer banking regulatory systems and inferior health care could lead to an even higher death toll - with deaths rising by as much as 26%, the researchers suggested.

Extrapolated to the UK, more crises in the style of Northern Rock, where funding problems last year triggered the first run on a British bank in more than a century, could lead…

Kids'R'Profits

Most adults in the UK believe that children's well-being is being damaged because childhood has become too commercial, a lifestyle poll has found. The children's market is worth an estimated £30 billion a year.

The Children's Society said adults had to "take responsibility for the current level of marketing to children...To accuse children of being materialistic in such a culture is a cop-out," said the chief executive of the society. "Unless we question our own behaviour as a society we risk creating a generation who are left unfulfilled through chasing unattainable lifestyles."

Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is patron of the inquiry, said: "Children should be encouraged to value themselves for who they are as people rather than what they own. The selling of lifestyles to children creates a culture of material competitiveness and promotes acquisitive individualism at the expense of the principles of community and co-operation…