Wednesday, January 04, 2017
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 these terms. People who believe that more of the good things of life could come to those in need if more money or cheaper money were made available, or that wars could be reduced in number or intensity if profits were removed from the sale of arms, or that better or cheaper housing would be possible if curbs were placed on his bad habits. Indignant people, rebellious people, people who see wrongs in society that must be righted, and who see in the capitalist the source of so many of these wrongs.
Then there are other people who portray the capitalist differently. They see in him a public benefactor, a philanthropist, a captain of industry, a financial genius, an all-round fine fellow. Press reporters and politicians often tell of his benefactions and sterling qualities. Preachers and elderly ladies dote on his philanthropies. Educators discourse on his industrial and financial greatness.
In the eyes of these good people he brings grace, goodness and distinction to a society which, with all its faults, already scintillates with fine features. The way people look upon society has much to do with the way they look upon the capitalist. Those who see evils about them tend to place these evils at his door.
Those who observe instead blessings in modern life tend to credit him with these blessings. He is truly the object of much attention.
And most of it is undeserved. It is unquestionably true that he picks up a dollar here and there through colourful banking operations, the sale of guns, the renting of rat traps and other indiscreet activities. And it is equally true that his industries provide jobs for people, that he contributes generously to churches and charities, that he gives his support to all kinds of groups engaged in social uplifting and public improvement, activities widely conceded to be of worth. But he is really not much different from the rest of us. There may not be patches on his britches or holes in his socks, or callouses where ours are. He may have better clothing, a finer home, a more attractive bank balance. But he could walk along the road with any of us - and who could determine which one owned the alarm clock?
The thing that makes him a capitalist is not the thing that makes him good or bad in people's eyes. Most people don't even give a thought to the thing that makes him a capitalist. They content themselves with some particular feature of his activities and judge him accordingly.
He is a wicked banker, a blood-stained munitions maker, a thieving landlord. Or else he is the embodiment of many virtues.
The most important thing to note about the capitalist is that he is a member of an economic category. He belongs to a class in society - the capitalist class. As such he shares with his fellow capitalists in the ownership of the mills, mines, factories, in fact, all the means that exist in society for producing and distributing the food, clothing, shelter and other things needed for the preservation and enjoyment of human life. He and his kind own all these things: the rest of society don't own them. It is this fact of ownership that determines in the long run what he thinks and does and how he lives, and how the rest of us live.
Consider the position of the capitalist and his factory. Into the factory go raw materials and workers and out of it come products that are sold in the market places to bring him a profit. The profit does not originate in the market places. People who manipulate wealth in market places do not in that way create profit; they simply shuffle it around in such a way that some capitalists benefit at the expense of others. The profit is created by the workers in the factory. It exists in that portion of the wealth which the workers produce in excess of their own wages.
Not all of it is profit but there is no profit to be found elsewhere. To increase the amount of his profit the capitalist must improve the methods of production, or he must induce the workers to work longer hours or at greater speed, or to accept lower wages. And unless he is prepared to sweat in the factory beside the workers, a thought that is usually repellent to him, there is not much else he can personally do about the profit except spend it. This he does with all the assurance of one who is entitled to it.
The capitalist is a parasite. He lives without working. He lives on the results of other men's toil and he is able to do this because he owns the means of production and distribution, a condition that is neither necessary nor desirable but is allowed to continue because people have not yet seen in it the source of most of the harm in modem society. For even those who rise indignantly to condemn the capitalists, in most cases condemn only the 'wicked' ones.
To replace wicked capitalists with worthy ones will not end the exploitation of labour. The workers will continue to live in need, in insecurity, in fear of the future, no matter what may be the quality of those who occupy the high places.
What is wrong in society is not the wickedness of the capitalists but the wickedness of the capitalist system; and until this system is replaced by one in which there are no capitalists, society can have no hope for a better life. It is not proposed here to imprison or exterminate the capitalist; it is proposed simply to put him in overalls and make him a useful member of the community.
(Adapted from the pamphlet
Monday, July 08, 2013
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 the capitalists which is appropriated and used for their own ends. Nothing to do with low wages or being harshly treated. Exploitation is something which is built into the very nature of the employment relation itself which implies the division of society into employers/owners and employees/non-owners .
In fact, capitalism is not interested in producing things as such. It is only interested in profit expressed in money terms. Investing in the production of goods and services is an inconvenience which it has to go through in order to achieve its aim of ending up with a greater financial worth than it started with. Thus the purest form of capital is finance capital and, from the capitalist point of view, the most convenient way to make more money is to do so by financial dealings of one sort or another. It’s an illusion of course. It’s production, not finance, that makes the world go round. The financial world cannot go on feeding off rising paper asset values for ever. Reality must intrude at some point. But capitalism without finance capital is inconceivable; so too, therefore, is capitalism without financial crashes.
Capitalism is not a place (‘financial centres’) or a thing (‘multinational corporations’ ), it is a social relationship dependent upon wage labour and commodity exchange where profit is derived from capital’s theft of unpaid labour. Concentrating on “nasty” financiers and multinationals and defining “capitalism” in those terms can only end up as a massive diversion from the goal of abolishing the capitalist system.
This idea that bankers are any worse than other types of capitalists is not convincing. To repeat ad nauseum. The capitalist class as a whole, and all of the individual capitalists, enrich themselves thanks to workers adding more new value to the commodities they produce than the value of the wages received as payment for their labour-power. Any party to this exploitation of labour – whether the capitalist who lends the investment funds, the capitalist who supervises the commodity production process, or the capitalist who is tasked with selling the commodities – is entitled to a piece of the action and therefore share equally in the blame. It is nonsense to argue that one type of capitalist is more or less culpable than the others. The relations between capitalists is very much like those between a gang of thieves, who cooperate to pull off a heist and then divide the loot among themselves. Conflicts easily arise from such an arrangement: as a bigger share for one means a smaller share for the others. “Wall Street vs. Main Street”. It is more a re-distribution of booty among the robbers. Such squabbles are of little concern to the person who has been robbed. In the end it is just the old “divide and conquer” approach with a subtle new twist – instead of dividing the working class, the internal divisions of the capitalist class are emphasised to deflect attention from the actual real class divide that exists.
The task for socialists is not to drive out speculators from capitalism to perfect the system but to move beyond production as merely a means of capital accumulation.
Who are the people who find a difficulty in paying for the money they use? Not the working class in any sense of the word. Not the large capitalists, for they control the powers of government and have a currency suitable to their interests. There is left the small capitalist and shopkeeping section, who, fond of calling themselves the “middle” class, find themselves unable to hold their own positions against the giant production and “chain store” system of distribution that is crushing them out in all directions. Hence this howl for an extension of “credits” and the introduction of “cheap” money for the purpose of paying their debts. There is no chronic shortage of purchasing power. Sufficient to buy the product is generated as wages and profits in the course of production. Slumps are not caused by an absolute shortage of purchasing power but arise when, because of falling profit prospects, capitalist firms choose not to spend all their profits on fully renewing or on expanding production.
As Marx identified “So long as things go well, competition effects an operating fraternity of the capitalist class…so that each shares in the common loot in proportion to the size of his respective investment. But as soon as it is no longer a question of sharing profits, but of sharing losses, everyone tries to reduce his own share to a minimum and to shove it off upon another. The class, as such, must inevitably lose. How much the individual capitalist must bear of the loss, ie, to what extent he must share in it at all, is decided by strength and cunning, and competition then becomes a fight among hostile brothers. The antagonism between each individual capitalist’s interests and those of the capitalist class as a whole, then comes to the surface…”
Marx also pointed out that “the moneyed interest enriches itself at the cost of the industrial interest in the course of a crisis” Bankers are enriching themselves at the expense of industrial capitalists in other words.
The present banking crisis is not all that complicated. When borrowing became less available and more expensive banks came unstuck. They found that, when their loans came up for renewal they had to pay more interest on them than they were getting from those they were lending money too. Since banks make a profit by paying depositors and creditors a lower rate of interest than they charge those they lent money to, this meant they were making a loss. That’s what can go wrong when banks can’t get hold of other people’s money on the right terms. What can also go wrong is that they make unsound loans - the sub-prime situation. If they buy a house and the lend someone the money to buy it, if that person defaults they are left with the house. In normal times they can resell it but because there has been overproduction in the housing market they are finding that they can’t get the same price for it as they paid for it. In other words, they lost money.
In fact this effective overproduction in the housing sector could be said to be what has provoked the present financial crisis.
What socialists say about the banks is not regulate them, nor nationalise them, but make them redundant. Abolish them, along with all the rest of the complicated, financial superstructure of the capitalist production-for-profit economy. The mythology surrounding the power of banking helps those who take the view that this vast institution is so necessary that the prospect of a world without money would be unthinkable. Let’s abolish capitalism and live in a moneyless, propertyless world without banks. That means moving from a demand for ‘regulation change’ to one for ‘system change’. Perceived wisdom is that it should be easier to make socialists in a recession when the shortcomings of capitalism are more evident. This capitalist recession will eventually end and the economy at some time in the future will inevitably return to growth. If there are more socialists at that future time, then at least one positive outcome will have resulted from this sorry and preventable mess.
“…no kind of bank legislation can eliminate a crisis” – Marx
The only way to solve the worlds problems is to escalate and intensify the class struggle. Capitalism is subject to periodic slumps and is a global system, global economic crises are inevitable from time to time. I’d like to think that this would trigger off a world-wide movement for global socialism but experience has unfortunately shown that there is not necessarily a fixed one-to-one relationship between economic crises and the growth of socialist ideas. Other factors too are involved and only time will tell how the socialist movement will fare.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
"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, encourage private enterprise, etc. The libertarian/propertarian desire to eliminate merely the big capitalist is a dead-end, for the small capitalist is continually growing and expanding into the large capitalist.
The guiding principle of capitalism is competition, to make profit out of one’s fellows, and to grow richer than one’s fellows, at the expense of one’s fellows.
Only by buying the worker’s labor power can the capitalist make profits. Workers produce more than what the capitalist pays them in wages and benefits. This is the basis of exploitation of the workers. What the workers produce over and beyond the socially necessary labor for keeping themselves and their families alive and working is surplus value. Surplus value is the only source of profits and is ripped off by the capitalists.
Within the work-place rules a rigid dictatorship where the men and women are transformed into a cogs of the machine, where labour becomes wage-slavery. Outside the workplace economic chaos prevails and people are ruled by prices which they cannot control and by the wild forces of the market of which they can be only victims. It is only through the anarchic fluctuations of supply and demand, booms and bankruptcies, that society “decides” and “plans” its production .
Capitalism is tremendously wasteful and destructive of men, goods, energy, land. The ultimate destiny of all useful goods is to be consumed. Yet under capitalism goods are not produced to be consumed, but for profit, and if a greater profit can be made by destroying the goods, the destruction takes place.
As capitalism develops, larger and larger factories are built, thousands of labourers co-operate in the production of a single article, yet the article does not belong to them but to the owner of the means of production. The laborers are merely paid wages for the use of their labour power, wages which constantly grow less and less in proportion to the total product. Simultaneously the owner of the industries becomes progressively more divorced from the productive process. As small partnerships become big corporations or are driven out of business by the trusts and monopolies, the original entrepreneurs and organisers become mere dividend-takers. The corporation also develops, becomes more and more a public utility. The state begins to take a hand, and to run the industry. The former individual owner has now become a purely parasitic hanger-on.
The greater the productivity of labour, and the greater the amount of production, the greater becomes the surplus product in the hands of the owners, the greater the need for markets, the greater, therefore, the competition among the capitalists, the greater the relative lowering of the wages of the workers, the larger the army of unemployed and paupers, the more vigourous the drive for foreign markets and colonies for exploitation, and the more violent the military struggles to control the world. The greater the internationalisation of markets, the greater the need to have a military machine to defend the market interests, the greater grow the oppressive burdens of the state apparatus, the greater grows the necessity to transform the whole nation into an armed, ruthless, chauvinistic state,
Capitalism sucks the blood of workers and feeds off humanity like a leech.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
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-intensive industries out-source low-skill jobs to small-scale providers using non-union labor and advocate privatising public utilities largely aimed at breaking trade union power.
Why are capitalists uninterested in the jobs crisis? The indifference to the jobs crisis isn’t simply a matter of being out-of-touch. Businesses oppose employment creation policies in order to keep wages low, even though this may limit the market for their own output. After all, without a mass reserve army of labour to decrease the demand for labor and bully the workforce into a more pliant state of submission, profitability becomes imperiled by the threat of enhanced worker power and the ensuing demand for higher wages. This is a process one can clearly see in the wake of the present crisis. Rising financial profits have reduced workers' wages and squeezed profits across the rest of the economy, according to a new TUC report. Worker wages have fallen to historic lows. Such are the true splendors of the “market"
Of course, the role of mass unemployment in suppressing wages and ensuring continued profitability necessarily extends to the global capitalist system as a whole. In 2011 the global reserve army of labour stood at some 2.4 billion people, as opposed to the 1.4 billion found in the active labour market. That is, the global reserve army of labor stood 70 percent larger than the active world labour market. “The existence of an enormous global reserve army of labour forces income deflation on the world’s workers,” Foster and McChesney explained in their book The Endless Crisis. Where labour is on the defensive, capital is on the offensive. Hence, amid rising corporate profits we see a varied global attack on labour—stretching from Brooklyn to Broxburn to Bangladesh and beyond. The class struggle must be international. The international dimension of economic power is the IMF, the World Bank and the ECB through which the U.S. and E.U. imposes imposes austerity on Greece, Spain and the rest of the world, targeting families, the elderly, the sick and the poor, as governments slash benefits. People are being pushed into poverty and no longer can afford the basics such as food, heating and education. The "invisible hand" of the market is unable, or unwilling, to satisfy the needs of society.
Some political activists call for mobilisation against the bankers and the billionaires but socialists say don’t hate the players, hate the game.
Based on this article
Thursday, June 14, 2012
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 (Protection of Employment) legislation, known as Tupe, compelled the players to move from the old company to the new. But Mark Hamilton, a Tupe expert with law firm Maclay Murray & Spens, said the legislation made a specific exception in the event of insolvent liquidation. “The current Tupe Regulations, which became law in 2006, do say that, in general, employees’ contracts are automatically transferred when a company’s business is sold from administration. But the rules are different for liquidation. In that case, the key point is that employees do not transfer under the Regulations, though they are free to agree new contracts with the buyer of the business...Players and other employees can choose to move to the newco. But, if people do not want to go, they cannot be compelled...they are under no obligation to work for the liquidated company or any newco unless that is agreed.”
Fraser Wishart said “The purpose of Tupe is to protect employees’ terms and conditions of employment in exactly this type of situation...The players are being asked to decide upon their future with so many uncertainties involved. Unanswered questions such as which division the new club will actually play in, whether there be any sporting sanctions against the club, whether the club be eligible to play in the Scottish Cup and whether there will be a registration embargo. One or more of these factors may have an influence on a professional footballer’s career – particularly since it a career that is relatively short lived."
This is the face of 21st century football – clubs bought and sold speculatively and loaded with debt whilst communities get little benefit. Only TV companies, who stage matches at times to suit themselves are considered important. European football is where the strong thrive and become ever-more powerful and the weak get left behind.
Back in season 2009/10, Christian Aid released the report Blowing the Whistle, which includes a league table of financial secrecy in UK and Irish football. Rangers came in at number 6. Ample warning of things to come. Channel 4 reporter, Alex Thompson, explained how“Because – like the bankers – everyone was having too much fun living the dream? Partly yes, but partly a crucial check and balance to all the Ibrox hype had all but gone. For years too much football ‘journalism’ in Glasgow had been too lazy, sycophantic and incapable of asking awkward questions...Something about asking questions about RFC clearly angers some in the Glasgow media in a way I’ve never seen in 25 years of global reporting...So it went on – year after year. On one side the directors at Scotland’s football ‘governing’ bodies didn’t ask much. On the other, large sections of Glasgow football journalism declined to delve...Legions of fans sold out again,”
Football clubs are social entities and should not be corporate assets. The story of these clubs is the story of communities and the stories of the generations of families who have supported them through thick and thin. Club owners and their sponsors make millions from fans. There should be righteous anger from supporters - at capitalism.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
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.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
"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, a mental health and suicide prevention specialist in Hong Kong, has seen a jump in the number of patients coming to his clinic for help to cope with the downturn.
"Work is very important to the Asian because we don't have very good social security and losing one's job is associated with the loss of 'face'. So the trauma can be great,"
Hong Kong started special hotlines in October for people suffering from the financial crisis and it opened "depression clinics" in some public hospitals this month.
"The clinics were opened in expectation of more people suffering depression because of the crisis. The government has also ordered more anti-depression drugs," said William Chui, education director at the Society of Hospital Pharmacists.
In Japan, some half a million contract workers are expected to be laid off in the six months until April. The industrial center of Aichi in central Japan, home to Toyota car factories and other manufacturers, has been particularly hard hit.An official in Aichi said the number of people bringing their problems to mental health centers rose by nearly 15 percent in December, compared with the same period in 2007. Japan's suicide rate rose sharply during a severe recession in the late 1990s when guarantees of lifetime employment collapsed, there were mass retrenchments and university graduates struggled to find jobs.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
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 the poorest is too expensive?"
Unfortunately , these two theologians are incapable of taking their arguments to its full conclusion i.e. calling for the abolition of the capitalist system as a whole and not simply eliminating what they consider the unpalatable parts . Both men place their faith in an unachievable ethical fair capitalism .
Sunday, September 21, 2008
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 for statutory crime. In socialist society, common ownership and production solely for use would prevail. Almost all statutory crime would fade away. Theft would not exist. What would there be to steal? Your own property? If you really want to be “Tough on crime; tough on the causes of crime”, the solution is very simple – abolish capitalism and establish socialism.
Predictions by the government that deteriorating economic conditions will send crime rates spiralling are borne out by an Observer analysis of official police figures which reveals a significant increase in burglaries across England and Wales. In many cases, the percentage rise was in double digits and in most it was more than 5 per cent. The figures suggest that years of falling crime may be coming to an end. For more than a decade the number of recorded thefts from homes has been on the way down, partly because the plunging value of household goods such as DVD players and stereos has made burglary less lucrative.
Jacqui Smith, warned last month that crime levels will increase amid the economic downturn. A leaked draft of a letter to Downing Street from Smith suggested there will be 'significant upward pressure on acquisitive crime [theft, burglary, robbery] during a downturn'.
It said that if the economic slowdown was on a similar scale to the last recession, property crime would be likely to rise by 7 per cent this year and a further 2 per cent in 2009. Smith's letter warned that the economic climate could boost support for 'far-right extremism and racism'. It also suggested there would be an increase in public hostility to migrants as the job market tightens.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
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 and industry (£11.7bn)
The Duke of Westminster, property (£7bn)
Sri and Gopi Hinduja, Industry and finance (£6.2bn)
Alisher Usmanov, Steel and mines (£5.7bn)
Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli, pharmaceuticals (£5.6bn)
Hans Rausing and family, packaging (£5.4bn)
John Fredriksen, shipping (£4.6bn)
Sir Philip and Lady Green, retailing (£4.3bn)
David and Simon Reuben, property (£4.3bn
Sunday, April 20, 2008
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 your dire need . The Socialist Party understand this , as too does the working class , even if they so far have not understood or sought the solution - socialism - and it is not more abstract analysis from philosophers and politicians that is required , instead the point now is to change the way the world is organised for the benefit of the few against the interests of the many to a system where we all enjoy the fruits of our labour . That takes political action and a political movement to organise around and that requires members and commitment.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
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, the first fund investing in fine violins, with a target of €60m (£46m) in commitments. The fund has already attracted pledged investment of €25m and hopes to be running by the early summer. The violin fund can achieve a net return of from 12 to 15 per cent.
What about wine investment ?
In recent years there have been several vintage wine harvests, making it a good time for investors. The Wine Investment Fund, set up by Peter Lunzer, holds and sells for maximum returns, based on the principle that certain fine wines in limited supply increase in quick, short bursts over time.
Or perhps stamps ?
Leading dealer Stanley Gibbons offers an investment service, based on its 150 years experience of philately. Salomon Brothers rated stamps among the top four investments of the 20th century, giving an average annual return of 10 per cent. Autographs and rare coins also offer investment opportunities.
Maybe cars ?
Cars are not usually a good investment but vintage cars can make money, particularly if they are rare and have low mileage.
But , of course , in the end , the real source of wealth is always the workers labour and the surplus value they produce .
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
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 disappointing. If society looked down on these funds then perhaps it would make a difference.”
Can't pay - Can't have - So starve .
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
In a speech he will argue that "more millionaires" are needed, calling freedom to get rich "a good thing".
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
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 you're invited to join a second board and then another and another."
James Ferguson, a former director of Stewart Ivory, holds the record for purely Scottish trusts, sitting on five boards, while Douglas McDougall, the former senior partner of Baillie Gifford, currently holds seven appointments including English trusts. [ This seems to reflect a general trend within capitalism as an American blog reports "Several studies show that those 15-20% of corporate directors who sit on two or more boards, who are called the "inner circle" of the corporate directorate, unite 80-90% of the largest corporations in the United States into a well-connected "corporate community" and that the upper class has it's own exclusive social institutions which include private schools, summer resorts and retreats, and social clubs and gatherings.]
Turnover on the boards is not as high as the industry's trade body, the Association of Investment Companies (AIC), suggests it should be.The AIC recommendation is that directors serve no more than nine years unless they show a good reason, but in practice many serve much longer. The average length of tenure of chairmen in Scotland is 10 years, and Sir William Thomson, now 67, has been on the board of British Assets Trust for 23 years. Sir Angus Grossart gave up the chairmanship of Scottish Investment Trust after 27 years, under pressure from shareholders in 2003, while Sir George Mathewson, 24 years a director of the same trust, recently stood down from two of its key committees but not from the board.
The report says: "The non-execs are paid on average between £10,000 and £20,000 a year and while the highest-paid Scottish chairman earns £63,000, most earn less than £30,000, which is not a fortune - but not bad when one considers the hours required: most boards meet formally no more than six times a year."
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 to as many as 5,000 more fatal heart attacks. The elderly, who would be more likely to be at risk of heart problems in the first place, would be the most likely to feel threatened by risks to their life-long accumulated savings.
Capitalism should come with a health warning .
And if that news depresses you , it is also revealed that the new generation anti-depressants have little clinical benefit for most patients and in most cases had no more effect than taking a dummy pill.
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." [ The capitalist press certainly aren't making this remark by the Archbishop front page headline news as they did with his Sharia law comment , are they ?]
One member of the childhood inquiry panel has warned that the commercial pressures on youngsters may have damaging psychological effects. Professor Philip Graham, Emeritus Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Institute of Child Health in London, said:
"One factor that may be leading to rising mental health problems is the increasing degree to which children and young people are preoccupied with possessions; the latest in fashionable clothes and electronic equipment. Evidence both from from the United States and from the UK suggests that those most influenced by commercial pressures also show higher rates of mental health problems," .
The Good Childhood report found:
"Advertising to children was ruthless and exploitative and they should not be viewed as small consumers, particularly for younger children with impressionable minds."
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