Friday, September 29, 2006
"They want a seaside holiday for free, and bad luck to anyone who disagrees with them. They don't want to move on, and they know the law and how far they can push it. They can be quite confrontational. They are absolutely brazen, and they won't be intimidated."
They are the Grey Nomads .
Move aside , you Hells Angels . Out of the way, you New Age Travellers .
"What is more important, Afghanistan or Iraq?" a senior defence source asked yesterday. "There is a group within the Ministry of Defence pushing hard to get troops out of Iraq to get more into Afghanistan."
From an internal memo written by a staff officer at the Defence Academy, an MoD thinktank :-
"...we are now fighting (and arguably losing or potentially losing) on two fronts."
Shades of Hitler's invasion of Russia .
Monday, September 25, 2006
After stating quite accurately and succinctly:-
"...Anti-imperialist nationalism is the ideology of an actual or aspirant capitalist class that seeks the way to its own independent state blocked by imperialism and therefore must mobilize the masses to help break down this obstacle..... the logic of such movements is to subordinate the interests of workers and other exploited classes to those of the bourgeois leadership..." and that such movements can tie "...their movement to presently supportive states ...that may well be prepared to use it as a bargaining chip in their pursuit of their own geopolitical interests."
No argument here from me about what he said there .
Nor do i disagree when he says that :-
"...different Islamist tendencies and regimes that may now present themselves as anti-imperialist have a history of collaborating with imperialism ..."
Or when he says :-
"... It is of the essence of bourgeois nationalists that, when imperialism prevents them for building their own independent capitalist state, they may lead struggles against it, but they are striving to carve out a place for themselves within the existing system, not to overthrow it. This means that, sooner or later, they will come to terms with imperialism..."
Callinicos and i would seem be in tune with one another....UNTIL :-
"...If Bush attacks Iran tomorrow, which side are you on? I would be on Iran’s ... I would be for an Iranian victory despite his anti-Semitic rantings, despite the regime’s capitalist class base, despite the repression it perpetrates. This is the politics of permanent revolution, which seeks the overthrow of imperialism and of the local bourgeois regimes..."
I'm left bemused . Just how does all this raise the class consciousness , much less the socialist consciousness , of the workers to a point where we desire to free ourselves from the yoke of capitalism and begin the socialist transformation of society .
Where from history can Callincios offer examples of this of ever having happening .
I remember Vietnam , where America at the cost of 3 million Vietnamese deaths was supposed to have suffered a defeat by the anti-imperialists ....only to have Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City become the cheaper sweat-shop alternative to China , another country that apparently freed itself from European and American domination but to simply to become a major player in the acquisition of raw materials from the impoverished Third World . I remember the chants of Victory to the Vietcong on the streets in my younger years and only a few opposed the slogan .
Where was the consequent shift in working class ideas , though , that should have manifested itself when American helicopters were being ditched at sea as they scuttled from Saigon ?
I can remember the defeats of France and Britain over the years . The Sun setting upon the Empires ...yes , political control gone but yet the multinationtionals still maintaining its economic stranglehold on the newly-independent nations and the wasted deaths to replace the sahibs by local elites .
But , once again , where is the link to the victory or defeat of imperialism to a socialist understanding of the workers , that should have taken place ?
In fact , even a cursory reading of history shows that the powerful Capitalist powers have not been weakened .The USA still stands militarily and economically above all , with the European Union behind it . And when an imperialist country vacates its sphere of influence for whatever reason , does not another step in to take its place and continue the exploitation . Having freed itself from America , did not Cuba chain itself to Russia ?
Has anti-imperialism advanced the cause of the proletariat one inch over the decades ? Or led it down many a tearful false trail ?
Alex Callinicos fully understands :-
"...a key feature of global capitalism is that the world is organized into a system of states in which a few – the imperialist powers – dominate the rest economically, politically, and militarily." and he poses a question that all socialists have done "...what stance Marxists should take when states fight each other."....
"... since the conflicting parties are all capitalist states the left should, as a matter of principle, take no interest in who wins. This is the line anarchists generally take "
Better to follow Marx , Engels , Lenin and Trotsky and support wars that are judged to advance the interests of the international working class and support the country whose victory would be the least harmful to the interests of the international working class .
Rather disingenious of Callinicos to ascribe such a policy to Marx and Engels .
Yes they did support certain nationalist movements and some wars ...TO BRING CAPITALISM TO FEUDAL STATES or to give the CAPITALIST CLASS political power so they could create the prerequisites of Socialism , an actual working class within an industrialised society . Prussia against the Slavs . Britain and France against Tsarist Russia . Even Prussia against France so as to strengthen unification of Germany .
But is Callinicos seriously thinking that such a policy is required in to-days world where capitalism is now the predominant system and its the working class thats the decisive class not the capitalists .
What may have been right in the 19thCentury for Marx and Engels , may not now be the right choice in the 20th Century under changed circumstances . What was perhaps provident for backward Russia in the eyes of Lenin or Trotsky need not be applicable or advisable for the rest of us .
Rosa Luxemburg , one of the great Marxists Callinicos fails to mention , did not accept the need for self-determination of nations , and although being Polish herself she chose to participate in the class struggle in Germany instead of advocating a "free" Poland and allying herself with the national bourgeoisie .
The SWP had its roots in the declaration of what was a heresy for Trotskyists "Neither Washington Nor Moscow" . Now it's simply "Anybody But Washington " .
Callinicos in this interview is quite happy to declare his support for reactionary totalitarian countries with the justification that my enemy's enemy is my friend , under the guise of Permanent Revolution . I'm lost by the connection , however . But that's my lack of theoretical knowledge again , probably . How does it take us closer to revolutionary consciousness and Socialism by strengthening one capitalist against another capitalist ?
Callinicos will march us up to the top of the hill and he'll march us all down again to protest against American-Anglo wars of expansion , while at the same time urging us to spill our blood and guts in defence of some home-grown native capitalist .
Alex , i don't care if if my posties cap has the crown on it , or the red star , or the stars and stripes or the star and crescent .
It is the fact that I AM BEING EXPLOITED which matters to me , not the geographic location of the person who is doing it .
And to escape that exploitation , class solidarity needs to take precedence over any national allegiences . I'll stand alongside my fellow postal workers in London , Washington , Moscow , Tehran or Baghdad or anywhere before i stand beside the Boss Class of my country or any other state . One deluded worker killing another deluded worker won't bring us any closer towards Socialism .
The answer to war is for the workers to raise their arms straight up in the air and say "We surrender" ...and then to go on to fight in the class war with class struggle . ( Whatever did happen to that other Leninist tactic Revolutionary Defeatism . At least , it had the beneficial effect of stopping the slaughter , not encouraging it )
More on imperialism here and here and here
As i said , i'm no theorist . Just a worker .
Saturday, September 23, 2006
To-day on the eve of the Labour Party conference tens of thousands marched in Manchester to bring the war in Iraq to an end .
If all the people who think that by appealing to their political leaders is the best way to keep the world safe for them and their children , they should be prepared to invest in a mighty banner and plan to turn up at anti-war demos for the rest of their lives . - Christ The Band
No War Between Peoples
No Peace Between Classes
Friday, September 22, 2006
Is Protest Really Enough?
Demand the Impossible
People from across the country are protesting at the massive "Time To Go" protest , which is set to coincide with the Labour Party Conference in Manchester , to voice their anger at the misery Western foreign policy is creating in the Middle East .
No doubt many will be veterans of the mass protest in London over 3 years ago which attracted almost 2 million people - people fully aware at the time that the events of 9/11 had no link to Saddam Hussein and that he posed no military threat to the West. Likewise, the many who marched to Hyde Park that day were right in believing that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction - a fact that has now been proved - and that any war in Iraq would fully destabilise the country. And you would have been in a minority had you not realised the link between the intended war and the fact that beneath the sands of Iraq lay huge oil resources.
Undoubtedly, after over three years of campaigning you will be revolted by the incessant lies of the Blair government as it has tried to justify the occupation of Iraq and its further plunge into chaos. Week in, week out, the government has distorted the truth and sunk to all manner of low tactics to justify its position. And now, after all of your campaigning efforts, the meetings and demos you have attended, the petitions you have signed, the umpteen arguments with your friends and neighbours, you are here protesting again, having been proved right, marching today, demanding a withdrawal of US and British forces from Iraq, hoping to halt a looming attack upon Iran, demanding Lebanon be left alone and calling for no replacement for Trident.
Three years of solid protest and your cause is not one inch further forward! Whoa, hold on! Do you not think you might just be wasting your time here today? Granted, the Iraq War has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands and innocent Iraqis are still being killed every day. And yes, Blair has increased the British troop presence in Afghanistan and even kept schtum during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. But do you not think you're asking the wrong questions, making the wrong demands? Repeating the mistakes of the past? We're not saying you are wrong for asking questions, only that you do not ask enough. Indeed, question everything! We're not suggesting you are demanding too much today - in truth, you are not demanding enough.
Whilst this march demands the withdrawal of western forces from Iraq and pleads that Iran is not attacked, it supports the very system that creates war by not questioning the premise of war. War is a bedfellow of the system we know as capitalism, being waged over trade routes, areas of influence, foreign markets, natural resources and the profits that can be had via the same. By not taking issue with the nature of capitalism, and the root of war, this gathering is making the mistake of every previous anti-war demo and meeting and paving the way for more in the future. Wars will continue as long as capitalism exists. By demanding the British and American governments act we further give them legitimacy by acknowledging their right to make war and indeed end it.
Now we're not being churlish here. It is heartening to see so many here today, united in common voice - it reveals the workers can be mobilised around issues they feel are important. But from our experience - and we've had 100 years' experience of observing campaigns and demonstrations and protests around every kind of reform and demand imaginable (we're the oldest existing socialist organisation in Britain, having been formed in 1904) - we can confidently say that this demonstration is just one of hundreds over the years that address the symptoms, not the cause of the problem, and will make no significant difference to the established order, either here or in Iraq, or to the way politicians think. Three years ago, two million marched all over Britain; there were demos and vigils every night in opposition to the war. Over one-hundred Labour MPs voted against Blair's war, and to top it all the push for war received no UN sanction, but still the troops were sent. So much for one of the biggest protest movements in labour history!
Consider this. Across the globe there are literally hundreds of thousands of campaigns and protest groups and many more charities, some small, some enormous, all pursuing tens of thousands of issues, and their work involves many millions of sincere workers who care passionately about their individual causes and give their free time to support them unquestioningly. Many will have campaigned on some single issue for years on end with no visible result; others will have celebrated minor victories and then joined another campaign groups, spurred on by that initial success.
And, considering the above, two things stand out: firstly, that many of the problems around us are rooted in the way our society is organised for production, and are problems we have been capable of solving for quite some time, though never within the confines of a profit-driven market system; secondly, that if all of these well meaning people had have directed all their energy - all those tens of billions of human labour hours expended on their myriad single issues - to the task of overthrowing the system that creates a great deal of the problems around us, then none of us would be here today. Instead we would have established a world without borders, without waste or want or war, in which we would all have free access to the benefits of civilisation with problem solving devoid of the artificial constraints of the profit system.
If you are now confused, forgive us if we come across blunt, but which part of "to end war we must end capitalism" do you not understand? It's simple! Every aspect of our lives is subordinated to the requirements of profit - from the moment you brush your teeth in the morning with the toothpaste you saw advertised on TV until you crawl into your bed at night. Pick up a newspaper and try locating any problem reported there outside of our "can't pay - can't have" system. Crime, the health service, poverty, drug abuse, hunger, disease, homelessness, unemployment, war, insecurity - the list is endless. All attract their campaign groups, all struggling to address these problems, and all of these problems arising because of the inefficient and archaic way we organise our world for production. You've got it! We're unlike any other group here today out to reform capitalism, who beg governments to be just a little less horrid, who ask our masters to throw us a few more crumbs from the bread we bake. We are not into the politics of compromise and we certainly are not prepared to be satisfied with crumbs. We demand the whole bakery!
We are here today to urge you to stop belittling yourself and your class by making the same age-old demands of the master class. Demand what until now has been considered "the impossible"! Join us in campaigning for a system of society where there are no leaders, no classes, no states or governments, no borders, no force or coercion; a world where the earth's natural and industrial resources are commonly owned and democratically controlled and where production is freed from the artificial constraints of profit and used to the benefit of all; a world of free access to the necessaries of life. Wouldn't such a campaign movement not only address the real root of every campaign and protest currently being waged?
The choice is yours - the struggle for world socialism and an end to our real problems or a lifetime attached to the 'pick-your-cause' brigade and the certainty you will be retracing your footsteps here today in years to come.
Please use the contact details below for more information.
The Socialist Party
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
A judge has given legal title to Perth , the 4 th largest city in Australia back to the Nyoongar Aboriginal peoples much to the consternation of the government .
The judge found that the Nyoongar had proven native title over more than 6,000 square km covering Perth and its surroundings by continuing to observe traditional customs despite being largely dispossessed by white settlement in 1829.
Melbourne's traditional owners, the Wurundjeri, said they were encouraged by a Federal Court decision granting native title over the city of Perth and they may lay claim to Australia's 2nd largest city .
It would be nice ( against all my anti-nationalistic instincts ) to see the indigenous peoples of the world regain some of what has been stolen from them . Not just only the worthless deserts and barren lands but also the real estate of real value .
Monday, September 18, 2006
Was in a pub last night and on the big screen was a Barcelona game and i noticed that their shirt didn't have the usual multi-national corporation logo emblazoned all over it but had the United Nations emblem . That aroused my curiousity so got the story of it here .
Shall we be seeing more of this by other football clubs ? Hearts with the Red Cross ? Celtic promoting War on Want or Oxfam ? Rangers , Greenpeace ? Hibs sporting the motif of Amnesty International ?
Who knows where it can all lead ?
( My first and most likely last football blog)
Gyurcsány said at a faction meeting of the "Socialist" Party .
“What we could do in the past month, we did it. What we could do in the preceding months covertly so that no documents would appear in the last weeks of the election campaign that would have showed what we were up to, we did. We were hiding this secret knowing that if we won, we would have to get it going, (because) we never had such a problem."
“We have not much choice. Because we have screwed it up. Not just a bit, (but) big time. No country in Europe has ever done anything so impudent that we did. [...] We have obviously lied over the past one and a half, two years. It was absolutely clear that what we were saying was not true,"
“And all this time we haven't done anything for four years. Nothing. You cannot mention a single major government measure that we could be proud of, apart from pulling the government out of this shit by the end. [...] If we have to square up with the country on what we have done for four years, what will we say?"
“For the immediate term we have no choice. (Finance Minister) Veres is right. You can play around for a bit longer, but not for too long. The moment of truth will come swiftly. It was divine providence, the abundance of cash in the world economy and hundreds of tricks; you obviously don't need to know about, which helped us survive so far. This is it. We could obviously ponder for very long and make a fucking lot of analyses [...] but we don't have weeks for analysing some more, we don't. We need to tell on the first day what we need to do in order to have adjustment already this year (and to) have certain laws entered into force on 1 September."
“Let's levy property tax on everyone. [...] Do you know how much we would collect from property tax if we tax every single property that is worth more than 5 million forints? The balance of the whole thing is less than 20 billion forints. [...]"
“[...] Reform or fall. There is no other choice. And when I say fall, I mean Hungary, I mean the Left side and I tell you frankly I also mean myself."
“It is a fantastic thing, doing politics. It's amazing. It is sensational to lead a country. I managed to go through with the past one and a half years because I was driven by one thing: to give back The Left the faith that it can do it, it can win. That it doesn't have to bow its head in this fucking country. That it doesn't have to shit itself from Viktor Orbán and the right and that it should at last learn that it should compare itself not to them but to the world."
“This gave me the faith why it's worth doing this. It was grand. I loved it. It was the best part of my life. The one (driving me) now is that I'm making history. And not for the history books, I don't give a shit about them. I couldn't care less if we're going to be in them, or if I'm going to be in them. (The question is) whether we will do something big. [...] it's worth being a politician here in the early 21st century so that we create another world."
“I almost died when I had to pretend for one and a half years as if we were governing. Instead we lied in the morning, we lied in the evening. I am through with this. We either do it and then you've got your man, or you pick someone else."
“It is no reform that I tell the others to change. It is no reform how we stand out in front the people and keep telling them a mantra. The reform is that we are also willing to rethink what we have thought and done so far. Compared to this, the task of the first months, the task of the adjustment is a pure must, I confess. But you're wrong to think you have a choice. You don't and I don't either. The only choice today is whether we try to influence what is happening or it will all come down on us."
“I believe it can be done. I think there will be conflicts, yes. There will be rallies, yes. They can go ahead and rally in front of the Parliament. Sooner or later they'll get bored with it and go home. The only way to see this through is if you believe in the essence and there is agreement on the essence. If you sidestep conflicts within (the party), if you get scared of hurting interests, we must not start (the reforms)."
“Of course, healthcare is complicated. But if you go to a healthcare institution you see it is built on heaps of lies. [...] Since they know my mother's name (Katus Gyurcsány) in Pápa, she receives better service, damn it! She did not understand what was happening. Has the healthcare system been mended, my son? I tell her: Bullshit, Mom! The truth is that now your family name rings a bell. That's scandalous. In comparison, the visitation fee is nothing in social sense. That is no scandal, only cumbersome politically and uncomfortable to pay...because it can have grave implications politically."
“We must be clear about what we're about to start. The first few years, of course, will be terrible. It is of absolutely no interest that (only) 20 percent of the population will vote for us. Last summer Szonda said only 18 out of 100 people supported us. And it was last summer, people! A year later we won. What if our popularity would be lost because we touch some heavy social issues and not because we dick around in the party? And it's no big deal if for some time we lose support. We'll get it back. Because (eventually) they will comprehend."
“I can only tell you that I won't be playing games this way or that. We do our job. Until we can go forward at a fast pace, we go at a fast pace. If we cannot and you explain me that “Yes, but..." I don't think I'm needed for that. You need someone else for that. And then I'll write some fucking great books about the modern Left."
Gyurcsány on his personal blog , explaining his remarks:-
"For years ... we made people believe that they have nothing to do, that we will give them happiness as a gift," he said. "We have to stop the deluge of lies which have covered the country for many years...the real question in Hungarian politics is not anymore who lied and when, but who is the one that can put a stop to this," the PM said in the foreword of his blog note. “Who is that dares to face - honestly, sometimes passionately and with a loose tongue - the lies and half truths of the past 16 years? We did it," he added ---- Uh-Huh
Sunday, September 17, 2006
"I want the Taliban to start dancing to my tune. And as the reconstruction development kicks in on the back of these well-conceived and necessary military operations, I think that's going to really frighten them." - British commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan Lieutenant -General David Richards
And then to this one
"Mountain Fury will continue until the conditions of bringing security, construction and growth are met," Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, the top U.S. operational commander, said in the statement. "The Afghan people are tired of war. They want what their government is capable of providing: security, employment, education and a better way of life"
Very upbeat , indeed , about bringing aid and welfare to the Afghans .
Yet from the international think-tank Senlis Council report on Afghanistan , i came across these quotes :-
“When you first came here we were so glad to see you. Now we have lived with you in our country for five years and we see you tell a lot of lies and make a lot of false promises,” says a former Mujaheedin commander from Kandahar "... The foreigners came here and said they would help the poor people and improve the economic situation, and they only spend money on their military operations. The poor people are poorer now than when the Taliban were the government. We don’t trust them anymore. We would be fools to continue to believe their lies.”
" The US-led nation-building efforts have failed because of ineffective and inflammatory military and counter narcotics policies. At the same time there has been a dramatic under-funding of aid and development programs...Afghanistan is still one of the poorest countries in the world and there is a hunger crisis in the fragile Southern part of the country,” said Reinert. “Remarkably this vital fact seems to have been overlooked in funding and prioritisation of the foreign policy, military, counter narcotics and reconstruction plans. "
From The Hindu
The U.S. and its allies have spent ten times as much on their military efforts in Afghanistan as on aid and development - 82.5 billion USD has been spent on military operations in Afghanistan since 2002 compared to just 7.3 billion USD on development.
"... Afghanistan remains one of the poorest societies on earth. More than seven million people are chronically hungry, according to the U.N., and 53 per cent live on less than a dollar a day. One in four children do not survive beyond the age of five. The life expectancy of 45 is 20 years lower than in neighbouring countries. In some provinces, the maternal mortality rates are the worst ever recorded, anywhere.
Seventy per cent of the population suffers severe malnutrition. Less than a quarter has access to safe drinking water, only 12 per cent to adequate sanitation and 10 per cent to electricity. According to Christian Aid, millions face starvation in the coming months — the result of drought, war, corruption and profoundly mistaken Western priorities. "
One doctor for every 7,066 Afghans
One foreign soldier per 742 Afghans
“We have a saying about you now: Your blood is blood, our blood is just water to you” the Report notes a former Mujaheedin commander from Kandahar as saying.
A more insightful article than the usual found in our national papers about the Afghan War is by Eric Margolis in his article at Gulf Times
"...Dominating the main oil export route from Central Asia was a primary objective of the US invasion of Afghanistan. Ironically, instead of an anticipated oil bonanza, the US now finds itself mired deep in the Afghan drug trade..."
Now , what was that Rabbie Burns once said about the best laid schemes o' mice an' men.... ???
Friday, September 15, 2006
With the resources that the Conservative Party have at their disposal , i would have thought that even they would have baulked at paying London designers Perfect Day £40,000 for their new party logo which is to replace the old hand and torch emblem . A matter of more money than sense . The logo is supposed to be an oak tree to convey strength and patriotism and emphasise the Tory ' green' credentials .
Comments from Tories have been:-
"It looks like a three-year-old has been let loose with a crayon."
"Really incompetent. Really ugly. Really disappointing."
it resembled "the coin scratch on a Lottery card"
'Did David Cameron give his baby a pen?'
The SPGB still has the challenge to seek out an appropriate party logo for itself , the nearest having been what was described as the London Underground badge .
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Not really well publicised has been the criminal toxic waste dumping disaster in the Ivory Coast , an example of the increasing trend to use poverty- stricken and corrupt- ridden Third World countries as refuse tips for the dangerous pollutants which would be otherwise too expensive to safely process and dispose of in the affluent ( effluent ? ) West .
The poisonous waste came from the ship, the Probo Koala, and has been found in at least 11 open-air sites which were dumped by a local company in leaking drums on open-air sites.
Early report had only 1500 people requiring treatment and 3 deaths but this has now risen to 16000 seeking treatment , 6 deaths and 23 hospitalised cases .
"It is a crime against humanity. They sold away the lives of the people of this country, for crumbs," referring to the belief that people employed by the state knew the products were toxic but were paid off to turn a blind eye.
"They sold off our health"
"They are killing us for money"
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Over 1,000 body parts were plundered in New York and then sold for transplants, it has been claimed . The body parts were all pieces of bone which were grafted on to patients needing hip or jaw operations. New York investigators say death certificates were doctored to make the dead out to have been younger and healthier than they actually were. The body of veteran BBC broadcaster Alistair Cooke, who died of cancer aged 95 in March 2004, was reported to have been caught up in the case.
According to this report , the bodies came from funeral homes in New York City, Rochester, Philadelphia and New Jersey that contracted with the Brooklyn funeral parlor for embalming.
Michael Mastromarino, owner of Biomedical Tissue Services of Fort Lee, N.J., was charged along with Brooklyn funeral home owner Joseph Nicelli.
Nicelli was paid up to $1,000 per body to deliver corpses to a secret operating room at his funeral parlor, where Mastromarino would remove body parts. Mastromarino made up to $7,000 a body by selling the tissue, authorities said, and the corpses were then returned to unsuspecting funeral directors for burial.
Asian-Americans, average per capita income of $21,566, have a life expectancy of 84.9 years , completing high-school - 80%
Northland low-income rural whites, $17,758, - 79 years - 83%
Middle America (mostly white), $24,640, - 77.9 years - 84%
Low income whites in Appalachia, Mississippi Valley, $16,390, - 75 years - 72%
Western American Indians, $10,029, - 72.7 years - 69%
Black Middle America, $15,412,- 72.9 years - 75%
Southern low-income rural blacks, $10,463, - 71.2 years - 61%
High-risk urban blacks, $14,800, - 71.1 years - 72%
Asian-American women living in Bergen County, N.J., lead the nation in longevity, typically reaching their 91st birthdays.
Worst off are American Indian men in swaths of South Dakota, who die around age 58 - three decades sooner.
Asian-American women can expect to live 13 years longer than low-income black women in the rural South, for example. That's like comparing women in wealthy Japan to those in poverty-ridden Nicaragua.
Low-income whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley die four years sooner than their Northern neighbors.
American Indians who don't live on or near reservations in the West have life expectancies similar to whites'.
A 15-year-old urban black man was 3.8 times as likely to die before the age of 60 as an Asian-American
Baltimoreans face the lowest life expectancy of almost any jurisdiction in America . City residents can expect to live 68.6 years on average
Life expectancies for blacks in high-risk urban environments are comparable to those in Russia and sub-Saharan Africa.
"In any given place, higher income groups have better health," Christopher J.L. Murray of the Harvard School of Public Health said.
"A system that allocates both health care and health as inequitably as ours cannot be considered anything but a failure." said Dr. David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health and director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
However , it is interesting to see how these future providers of labour power and source of profit are to be treated , compared to the treatment given to those who have lived beyond their usefulness to Capitalism and have now grown to be a supposed burden on the system .
From the same news-paper , a different page
" Hundreds of elderly people in Scotland are living in nursing homes which are failing to meet basic standards of care. A Sunday Herald investigation has revealed dozens of homes have been warned by the Care Commission over disturbing faults in the past 18 months, including restraint of residents and failure to meet nutritional needs and provide adequate fluids to drink ."
A spokesman for Age Concern Scotland said that "...Malnourishment, under-hydration and inappropriate use of restraint are infringements of basic human rights and in some cases may be viewed as abuse.”
From the same newspaper , in the magasine
"...A recent report by charity Age Concern shows that six out of 10 older patients in England are at risk of malnutrition simply by being in hospital...Despite the constant scares about MRSA and hospital cleaning , malnutrition is the biggest danger for elderly patients. Age Concern reckons that UK-wide, £7.3 billion is lost because of it, a far greater problem than the much-publicised one of obesity. Over the age of 80, an individual’s chance of malnutrition is five times higher than in their 50s..."
Annette’s muted croak. “This food is disgusting. I’m not eating it.”...
...Betty, her 78-year-old neighbour , has a sardonic look on her worn, pale face. “I’m sorry to have to tell you, darling,” she says, “but they’re killing us in here – for fun.”
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The paper that Tommy Sheridan , now of Solidarity , happily sold his story to , was in the forefront with its hyperbolic headline of immigrants swamping the resources of the NHS in Scotland .
The original story stemmed from the BMA negotiations with the Scottish Executive over the allocation of doctors budgets and a request for more funding due to the influx of new workers into the country registering with doctor surgeries .
But in the Evening Telegraph a more realistic appraisal is made of the so-called problem ....
" Dr Andrew Cowie, secretary of the Tayside Local Medical Committee, said the new workers, far from flooding medical practices, added only two or three extra appointments each week to a doctor’s workload.
His own Hawkhill Medical Centre had taken on just over 20 eastern Europeans out of 104 new patients over the last 6 to 8 weeks, but this represented less than a fifth of one percent of his practice’s 11,000 patients. He added, “...most of the EU immigrants are young and fit and are not that much extra trouble..."
“...The two or three extra appointments each GP might have each week is a pain but it won’t cripple the system and it is not the case that it is breaking down. "
And there you have it . So much for the swamping of the health service from a flood of immigrants .
The one-time payments include a hiring bonus of $7.5 million and $11 million to offset the compensation Mulally gave up for ending his tenure as head of Boeing Co.
Mulally was also granted stock options worth about $10.5 million and $5.26 million in restricted stock grants .
( 600,000 restricted stock units in 2006 that vest in equal installments over three years. Based on Friday's $8.77 per share closing stock price, that grant was worth an additional $5.26 million.
Options on 3 million Ford shares vesting over three years. The options are priced at $8.28 cents per share, Ford said.
In addition, Mulally will also receive an option on 1 million shares based on the performance of Ford's common stock. Mulally would be entitled to the full option grant if Ford stock recovers to at least $30 per share and stays there for 30 trading days .The total value of those grants is about $10.5 million )
For 2007, Ford agreed to give Mulally a restricted stock grant worth at least $6 million if he meets all of his targets as determined by the company's board. He will also receive a stock option grant worth at least $5 million.
A clause in Mulally's contract also entitles him to a payment of $11 million if Ford undergoes a change in control or he is let go for any reason other than "cause" before 2011 ( The SEC filing did not specify what would constitute a "cause" for termination under the contract. )
As part of his package, Mulally has the option to live in temporary housing in the Detroit area for the first two years of his employment at company expense. Mulally would be required to use the company's aircraft for personal travel because of security concerns. He would be able to bring his family and friends on any trips he took at company expense.
Nice to know the next time your wages don't pay the bills and your Ford car fails its MOT .
Friday, September 08, 2006
I have no intention of indulging in any polemics with this person since from his own words , anyone with a less jaundiced eye than he , would note that his letter confirms what i wished to say - that we in the SPGB hold dear our democratic principles :-
...that we do permit open debate on our forum without censorship or witch-hunts to seek out party-line heresies
...that we do permit " albeit antagonistic " figures to remain within the same party and don't expel the one or the other in any sort of power struggle , as long as all sides bide by the commonly agreed rules and procedures
...and that , yes , i am quite happy for the politics of the Party to be played out in public , rather than behind closed doors by cliques or inner circles
Decisions on 'correct' political positions are settled by conference and membership referenda , not by the egos of the personalities involved in the arguments .
Jimmy shared nearly the same view as Germaine Greer had about Irwin's departure from the world and his cavalier attitude towards the animals he was supposed to be studying and respecting .Now , Jimmy with his latest posting has gallantly come to Germaine's defence .
I doubt very much whether either will be offered a state funeral by the Australian government.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Of course , for some members of the capitalist class , it is a matter of do as i say and not do as i do , when it comes to the claw-backs and attacks on workers pensions and their own pension schemes
Directors at the UK's top 100 companies have built up a pensions pot worth almost £1bn , a report has found
The average director can retire at 60 with a pension worth almost £3m , or paying out £168,000 a year
The proportion of executives in final salary schemes remained above 80% , while many firms had closed such schemes for its staff
It takes staff an average of 40 years to reach full pension compared to 20 years for directors
Three quarters of the companies surveyed said they allowed executives to retire on a full pension at the age of 60
Companies paid in up to 35% of salaries into directors' pensions , compared with the average for all employees of 6.6%
Bosses at the UK's top firms retire on a pension worth at least 71 times that of the basic state pension for a married couple
112 directors currently entitled to a pension worth at least £200,000
Not quite on par with John Lennon and Imagine , methinks . Imagine also being the title of the book Tommy Sheridan co -wrote with the man he has now called a scab , Alan McCombes .
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Here is a rather interesting download . An hour of Radio KLIF at the time of the Kennedy assassination , from when the Chiffons record is interrupted with the news-flash of shots being fired at Dealey Plaza , through all the speculation until the eventual announcement from Parklands hospital of Kennedy's death . Its just like being there at the time .
As one of those who say " Credit Where Credit is Due - Lee Harvey Oswald Did It and Kennedy Deserved It ." i find this google site rather rivetting with the all the debates still going on between the Lone Nutters and the Conspiracy Theorists .
Lee Harvey Oswald , a self - styled Marxist , reminds me of Marinius Van Der Lubbe in some ways .
The council communist who burned down the Reichstag in 1933 . Paul Mattick dedicates his final book "Marxism, The Last Refuge of the Bourgeoisie " to Van Der Lubbe . Anton Pannekoek wrote an article , upon whether such deeds as carried out by Van Der Lubbe possess any revolutionary merit . Lib-Com also carry an worthwhile read of the Reichstag Fire , and its interpretation within the council communist movement .
I think that what they had in common and what motivated both was that they shared the same helplessness and despair , and believed by their individual actions that they could make their mark on history and achieve some sort of recognition .
But in the end , both have had their glory stolen from them . Van Der Lubben by the Nazi frame-up of the Stalinist Communist Party . Oswald by the Heinz 57 variety of conspiracy theories declaring he was not the real assassin but the patsy . Jack Ruby cruelly denied Oswald the world centre-stage of a trial .
The war goes on and on and there is little hope or optimism that the men and women and children of Iraq will see an end to the death and destruction being wreaked upon them by all those forces that all claim to be Liberators ...We liberated you from Saddam ...We will liberate you from the invaders and the Crusaders ... Yet it is always our blood that is spilled , our flesh that's torn , our bones that is shattered , either as innocent victims and by-standers or as the deluded cannon-fodder of the military and militias .
I offer this song as a little bit of light relief , but the message remains .
Monday, September 04, 2006
As surely as it pulled the trigger itself , Capitalism is killing the poor by driving debt-ridden Indian farmers to suicide . August alone saw 110 despairing famers in India's cotton belt take their lives - the highest monthly figure since the debt crisis began nine years ago . It's a vicious cycle. Farmers borrow money to buy seeds in the hopes of a good monsoon. But erratic rains, and lack of information about when the rains are coming, make for a poor harvest. They cannot pay back their debts and are forced into more debt for the following year. Suicide seems like the only alternative.
The cotton-growing region of Vidarbha is home to 3.2 million farmers, more than 90% of whom are heavily in debt.
They owe money to government banks as well as to local money lenders. On average, one Vidarbha farmer commits suicide every eight hours , creating three new widows every day .
4000 in the last nine years .
With few irrigation facilities, Indian farmers have little choice but to depend on rains for their livelihoods. Sixty percent of India's land is not irrigated. A bad monsoon means a bad harvest - and more debt for these farmers. Farming makes up just a fifth of India's $665bn economy, but it feeds two-thirds of the population. A bad monsoon can spell life or death for millions of India's forgotten farmers.
"But we have no water. We are at the mercy of nature. We don't get good harvests - we have nothing to eat here. Tell me, what are we to do? How are we to feed our families - pay back our debts? "
The BBC carried this story " The End of the American Dream " which supports the previous two Labor Day blogs of how the American worker is increasing productivity but is receiving less and less reward This time it is according to some think-tank called the Economic Policy Institute .
"...For real household incomes, the median point - the level at which half of households earn more and half less - has actually fallen over the past five years..."
During the five years from 2000 to 2005, the US economy grew in size from $9.8 trillion to $11.2 trillion, an increase in real terms of 14%.
Productivity - the measure of the output of the economy per worker employed - grew even more strongly, by 16.6%.
But over the same period, the median family's income slid by 2.9%...The wages of households of African or Hispanic origin fell even faster. Average hourly real wages for both college and high school graduates actually fell between 2000 and 2005, and fewer of the jobs they found carried benefits such as health care or company pensions.
One way to comprehend what is happening is to look at the split between how much of the economy is won by profits and how much by wages. The share allotted to corporate profits increased sharply, from 17.7% in 2000 to 20.9% in 2005, while the share going to wages has reached a record low.
The incomes of the top 20% have grown much faster than earnings of those at the middle or bottom of the income distribution. The income of the top 1% and top 0.1% have grown particularly rapidly.
From 1992 to 2005, the pay of chief executive officers of major companies rose by 186%.
The equivalent figure for median hourly wages was 7.2%, leaving the ratio of CEOs' pay to that of the average worker at 262.
In the 1960s, the comparable figure was 24.
Sorry to have put some into a vegative , comatose state with figure after figure , statistic after statistic in these last few blogs but the message should be rammed home . Capitalism is for The Rich .
A short video of a contribution by SPGB Comrade Piers of Border Fever , made at an anti-BNP meeting which had been called to oppose the formation of British National Party branch near to his home-town .
The usual No Platform for Nazis and Smash the Fash sloganeering is happily absent , Piers preferring to present rational counter - arguments rather than offer fists and boots , which only has the effect of allowing the BNP to present themselves as victims and to reinforce their authoritarian mentality .
The Socialist Party since the British Union of Fascist days of the 30s has engaged in debate with its opponents from the Right, rather than practice the anti-democratic tactic of political violence .
A few more facts for theLabor Day holiday from Greg Palast's article "Todays Pig is Tomorrows Bacon" .
This week, Dupont, the chemical giant, slashed employee pension benefits by two-thirds. Furthermore, new Dupont workers won’t get a guaranteed pension at all — and no health care after retirement. Dupont is not in financial straits. Rather, the slash attack on its workers’ pensions was aimed at adding a crucial three cents a share to company earnings, from $3.11 per share to $3.14. It will more than cover the cost of the company directors’ decision to hike the pension set aside for CEO Charles Holliday to $2.1 million a year.
So Happy Labor Day
And this week, the government made it official: For the first time since the Labor Department began measuring how the American pie is sliced, those in the top fifth of the wealth scale are now gobbling up over half (50.4%) of annual income.
So Happy Labor Day.
While 15.9% of us don’t have health insurance (a record, Mr. President!), even those of us who have it, don’t have it: we’re spending 36% more per family out of pocket on medical costs since the new regime took power in Washington
So Happy Labor Day
USA now has more millionaires than ever — 7.4 million! And over the past decade, the number of billionaires has more than tripled, 341 of them!
So Happy Labor Day
You, Mr. Median, are earning, after inflation, a little less than you earned when Richard Nixon reigned. Median household income — and most of us are “median” — is down. Way down.
Since the Bush Putsch in 2000, median income has fallen 5.9%.
So Happy Labor Day
The richest fifth of America owns 83% of all shares in the stock market. But that’s a bit misleading because most of that, 53% of all the stock, is owned by just one percent of American households
Americans in the bottom fifth have seen their incomes sliced by 20%. Yet , CEO pay at the Fortune 500 has bloated by 51% during the first four years of the Bush regime to an average of $8.1 million per annum
So Happy Labor Day
When Reagan took power in 1980, the One Percent possessed 33% of America’s wealth as measured by capital income. By 2006, the One Percent has swallowed over half of all America’s assets, from sea to shining sea. One hundred fifty million Americans altogether own less than 3% of all private assets.
Happy Labor Day
Edward Wolff, the New York University expert on income, “The middle class is mortgaging itself to death.” As a result of mortgaging our new equity, 60% of all households have seen a decline in net worth.
Output per worker in BushAmerica zoomed by 15% over four years through 2004. Problem is, although worker productivity keeps rising, the producers are getting less and less of it.
SO HAPPY LABOR DAY TO YOU ALL
( Greg Palast also has a quite interesting excerpt from Thom Hartmann’s new book, : Screwed :The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class — and What We Can Do About It.” )
Apologies to any Canadian readers for overlooking that they too celebrate their Labor Day in September and its origins can be traced back to a 1872 printers strike in Toronto .
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Unable to provide the proper link because of those internet access restrictions but there is an interesting article on the origins of Labor Day public holiday in America by Rupert Cornwell in his column Out of America in todays Independent on Sunday .
President Grover Cleveland fearing that the May 1st holiday may encourage the anarchists and radicals after the Haymarket Massacre decided to choose , September , the original workers day of the Knights of Labor as the official holiday .
However , Cornwell also mentions in his piece a New York Times report that productivity in the USA has risen 2% since 2003 but that the median hourly wage adjusted for inflation has fallen by 2% . Wages now account for a smaller share of the US economy than at any time since the war , while corporate profits are at a near record high . People are working harder and more efficiently for less .
Include the cuts in benefits and healthcare ( 16% of US population has no medical insurance ) means that the economic upswing that began in 2001 according to the Bush-ites , is the first since the war to produce no significant increase in wages for the workers .
1 in 3 in 1945 was a union member
1 in 4 in 1979 was a union member
1 in 8 in 2006 is a union member
Draw your own conclusions
Happy Labor Day , folks
The Independent on Sunday carried yet another doom and gloom article about the impending catastophe of failing harvests which will mean more people around the world facing hunger and famine in the future .
Food supply is shrinking according to the latest forecasts by the UN and the USA .
Yet , as the article says -
"...enough is produced worldwide to feed everyone well, if it is evenly distributed..."
Hunger and starvation exists because :
"...poor people become increasingly unable to afford expensive food ..."
Cows and pigs come before people . A third of all grain is used to fatten up animals for the more profitable meat market .
And with the recent introduction of the bio-fuel , ethanol , instead of feeding people , corn is now increasingly being fed to the motor car.
During the crisis, Niger was still exporting food and staple cereals were available in the markets. The problem, however, was the poorest and most vulnerable people hadn't produced enough grain to survive and couldn't afford to buy it in the markets.
Once people run out of money they turn to "coping strategies", for instance getting into debt or selling off their assets including their valuable animals...For the poorest people who are vulnerable to food crisis, the main problem is access to food, not availability of food - food is usually available but they can't get it..."
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The September Socialist Standard and the article that most caught my interest this month was:-
Desperate Lies - The man who faced a choice of dropping dead while waiting on the NHS list or bluffing.
Early in August, a story broke about retired painter and decorator, Roy Thayers, having to lie in order to be free of terrible pain he'd been suffering for years, because of heart trouble.A cardiac specialist warned the 77-year-old that he needed a lifesaving operation as soon as possible, because he was in danger of having a fatal heart attack at any time. He was told the coronary angioplasty treatment he required would not be available from the NHS for nine months because of a waiting list, but added that by going private, Roy could have the operation within a week. Being penniless, Roy had the option of dropping dead while waiting on the NHS list or bluffing. He chose the latter, and said he'd pay, when he knew he couldn't.
He managed to stall requests for payment by hospital administrators,claiming he mislaid his chequebook. His operation took place quickly, he wrote out a "Mickey Mouse cheque" for the £8,500 cost the very next day, knowing he'd have to face the consequences later.
Speaking of his ploy, Roy said: "I love life, I love my dogs, I love fishing - why should I die for the sake of money?" Indeed, why should bits of paper decide who lives and who dies, or who eats and who starves, or who has a comfortable home and who has a stinking hovel, and so on?
It's sick and idiotic. But seeing how, under capitalism, goods and services are provided to make profit - not meet needs - this system has created a universal comparison commodity (a.k.a. money) against which other commodities can be measured. Comprising papernotes, metal discs or mere digital data, this comparison commodity exists in order that those with something others need can make its supply dependent upon receiving a specified amount of this measuring tool. No money, no provision.
When Tony Blair developed a dicky ticker, naturally, he got treated very quickly. No long delay for the likes of him. Not forgetting that the Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust, having provided the PM with his cardiac catheter ablation operation, shortly afterwards decided to deny this treatment to others in order to cut costs and meet the government's six-month waiting-list targets.
Of course, Roy hasn't managed to defeat capitalism by writing his rubber cheque. For a start, as he said himself, "I paid into the NHS for years to look after me, but the doctors were telling me they wouldn't, so who's robbing who?" Furthermore, the Primary Care Trust (PCT) in charge of the hospital that treated him was soon threatening to send in the bailiffs, and he eventually settled on repaying his debt at £25 a week from his meagre pension.
No doubt, private health care enterprises will now do their utmost to ensure people have sufficient funds before they get treated in future. So although the money-loving Sun tabloid praised Roy for being "canny", and the profit-hungry Mirror said "well done", don't count on acquiring desperately needed medical care by the same method.
The fact is, no one should have to come up with devious methods to obtain critical health care or any other essential services and goods. In a decent and rational world these would be available according to need - not how much money people have depending on how much, or little, capitalism has allowed them to have in return for their exploitation and control by a minority ruling class.
The only reason this appalling and damaging situation continues is because we allow it. If all those unhappy and irate with the way they're made to live, work and struggle on pitiful pensions came together with the aim of getting rid of the system which allows a super rich minority and their money mechanism to control, deprive and manipulate this majority, then capitalism would be in serious trouble.
Roy Thayers is also quoted as saying: "The real working classes of this country - the ones who have very little money - have been abandoned by their own government." From his own experience, Roy might well now accept that this government (and those before it) has never had the needs of the electorate as its priority. The main concern has always been looking after British capitalists, not the working class majority.
The answer isn't more money for the NHS - since in a competitive world, there'll always be pressure on all governments to keep cutting back on state funding, and increasingly make people pay directly for what they need. No. The answer is a society with no money at all.
That's the only way to end the idiocy where, these days, NHS hospital employees are being told by PCTs to stop "overperforming" by providing treatment too quickly, because the government then financially penalises the Trusts for not adhering to minimum waiting times (as a result, one gynaecologist said he now spent more time doing sudoku puzzles than treating patients). And a moneyless society is also the only way to end the obscenity of driving people to desperate lies and deceit to obtain vital life-saving treatment that should be available to all - not just those sufficiently well off or powerful.