Thursday, December 28, 2017

Three faces of a labour fakir

The Three Different Faces of Ben Tillet. Labour “Leader” and Friend of the Poor.

1st Face.Writing in “Justice,” June 15th, 1912:
    “The governing classes . . . have the habit of thinking of the worker as a slave and are prepared to kill him with bludgeon and soldiery if he dares to struggle with his chains . . . 300,000 children are wanting food and protection; 100,000 women are wanting support; 100,000 men are fighting for dear life and principle. Our fight is against the capitalists, who not only want to destroy our liberties, making slaves of us, but they would destroy our home and home life as they have done and are doing to the vicious beat of their malignant hate.”

2nd Face — Writing in “Daily Herald,” Sept. 5th, 1914:
  “Every able-bodied man must either fight or be ready to defend his country . . . The objection taken by very many intelligent workers is that . . . there are at least 5 to 10 millions of working-class folk in slum and starvation who could not be worse off by a German invasion or the Government of the most brutal savages  . . . These contentions are true, but nevertheless there is need now to protect the United Kingdom against invasion."

3rd Face — Writing in "John Bull," October 10th, 1914:
   “We must fight because the British worker has more of constitutional and democratic freedom together with social opportunity to guard than the enemies enjoy.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pharma's Price Hikes

US drug manufacturer has increased the price of a bottle of vitamins - a generic version of which can be bought for around $5 - by more than 800 per cent.
In the latest example of eye-dropping price-gouging in the US’s lightly regulated pharmaceutical industry, records show Avondale Pharmaceuticals, a mysterious company registered in Alabama, raised the price of Niacor from $32.46 to $295.
Niacor is a prescription version of niacin, a type of vitamin B3 that is frequently used to treat high blood cholesterol. A wide range of generic versions of the vitamin are available; Walmart sells a jar of 100 tablets for $14.99 while other brands are available online for even less.
Avondale Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to Niacor from Upsher Smith, a division of Japan’s Sawai Pharmaceutical, earlier this year. The company also bought the rights to a drug used to treat respiratory ailments, known as SSKI, and increased the price by 2,469 per cent, raising the cost of a 30ml bottle from $11.48 to $295.
 Doctors will be unaware the price of Niacor, for which 19,000 prescriptions were written last year, has so drastically increased because such announcements are not always made public or announced to the medical profession. This is the latest example of an inefficient US market where the consumer, payer and doctor don’t have all of the information available to make a financially sound choice. They are caught in a web of inefficiency and are being taken advantage of.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Helping poor farmers

Globally, there are about 460 to 500 million smallholder farmers, with limited resources in terms of labour, education, training and finance. Many are reliant on rain-fed agriculture, the study said.
They cultivate plots from less than one hectare to 10 hectares, producing up to 80 percent of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, according to the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization.
Cash handouts are the best way to support smallholder farmers struggling due to drought. Cash is critical in the short-term for farmers suffering from dry weather because "if your farm is lacking rainfall, it doesn't matter if you have a variety of agricultural inputs or practices," said Meredith Niles of the University of Vermont, a lead author of the study.  "For instance, when drought strikes in the Horn of Africa, many poor families have a very limited period before they lose all their assets and are plunged into destitution," so cash support could buy them vital time, he said.
 For farmers experiencing wetter weather, agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides help most. When rainfall is abundant, however, providing pesticides, fertiliser, veterinary medicines and livestock are the best ways to ensure farmers can salvage their harvests.