Thursday, April 02, 2015

DOG BITES MAN: BIG BUSINESS BACKS THE TORIES

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A hundred business chiefs have signed a circular letter to the Daily Torygraph supporting the Conservative Party. What's new? We always knew that the Tories were the party of the bosses and the rich. This merely confirms it.

They are concerned, apparently, that a Labour government might increase corporation tax (which used to be called profits tax) back from 20 percent to 21 percent. You would think that they haven't got clever lawyers and accountants to reduce the amount of their profits that they actually pay tax on.

What is surprising is that, after the experience of so many Labour governments, they should think that a future one might be anti-business. Labour has long since recognised that, as profits are what drives the capitalist economy, profit-seeking businesses have to be pandered to and encouraged nor demonised or overtaxed. Which, if you accept capitalism as they do, is a logical position.

Ironically, the very same day Labour was grovelling before big business, arguing that a Labour government would be better for business than a Tory one on the grounds that it wouldn't toy around with the risk of Britain withdrawing from the EU and making access to the vast European market
more difficult for them.

Labour, Tory. Same Old Story. They are Tweedledum to the Tories' Tweedledee. Most people know that now.


Profits Are Stolen Wages

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Why can’t we have a society that works? Why can’t everyone have good food to eat, have free access to health and medical services. Why can’t all youngsters get the education they desire, and all seniors receive the dignity they deserve.  The answer is that we live under CAPITALISM – a global system based on the exploitation of the majority by the minority. And the solution to all these problems is SOCIALISM – a global system based on mass democracy. We firmly believe that a socialist world is not only possible but, most importantly, it is necessary and achievable. The fight for socialism is more urgent today than ever.

There is a belief that the poor have a notion that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.” In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The ranks of the working poor are growing because wages at the bottom have dropped, adjusted for inflation. With increasing numbers of Americans taking low-paying jobs in retail sales, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, childcare, elder care, and other personal services, the pay of the bottom fifth is falling closer to the minimum wage. At the same time, the real value of the federal minimum wage is lower today than it was a quarter century ago. In addition, most recipients of public assistance must now work in order to qualify. Is education the solution to inequality that it’s often presented as? A paper from the Hamilton Project, co-authored by former Treasury Secretary and former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers, argues that the answer is no. So much income is concentrated among America’s richest citizens that a modest increase in earnings at the bottom end of the income distribution will barely make a dent in overall inequality. In a simulation in which one out of every ten American men between the ages of 25 and 64 without a bachelor’s degree suddenly graduated from college the results show a surge in the earnings but inequality barely budged.

Increased educational attainment across lower-income brackets would indeed result in higher income and more economic security for vulnerable groups, the paper finds. But so much income is concentrated among America’s richest citizens that a modest increase in earnings at the bottom end of the income distribution will barely make a dent in overall inequality.

It’s also commonly believed that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others. For the very rich, the majority of their income is not from wages they work for, but rather capital gains and other investment income. Much of the CEO’s pay comes in the form of share-options. In reality, a large and growing portion of the super-rich have never broken a sweat. Their wealth has been handed to them. Six of today’s ten wealthiest Americans are heirs to prominent fortunes. It's so horrible and we've already been down this road before with Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, Ford, Astor, and all the others that brought despair to the people. The wealthy are busily transferring that wealth to their children and grand-children. A study from the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy projects a total of $59 trillion passed down to heirs between 2007 and 2061 in America alone. Leona Helmsley left $13 million to her dog!

It is not just inherited wealth. People like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, who many people consider actual "captains of industry" are just the same worthless thieves also who contributed basically nothing to what really made them successful. In the very best case, like with Jobs, they added a sprinkle of design or marketing or some other superficial gimmick. And that is actually a worthwhile contribution compared to the rest of them!

The average American believes that the richest fifth own 59% of the wealth and that the bottom 40% own 9%. The reality is strikingly different. The top 20% of US households own more than 84% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% combine for a paltry 0.3%. The Walton family, for example, has more wealth than 42% of American families combined. In another study published last year, Norton and Sorapop Kiatpongsan used a similar approach to assess perceptions of income inequality. The average American estimated that the CEO-to-worker pay-ratio was 30-to-1. The reality? 354-to-1. Researchers found Americans overestimate the amount of upward social mobility that exists in society. They asked people to guess the chance that someone born to a family in the poorest 20% ends up as an adult in the richer quintiles. Sure enough, people think that moving up is significantly more likely than it is in reality. 60% believe that most people can make it if they’re willing to work hard. The United States is now the most unequal of all Western nations. To make matters worse, America has considerably less social mobility than Canada and Europe.

Just five percent of Americans think that inequality is a major problem in need of attention. Americans widely believe that success is due to individual talent and effort. Unions provided much of the organizational and financial support that helped deliver victories to millions of working Americans. Yet none of these wins translate directly into new dues-paying members. Ongoing attacks by anti-union forces have crippled unions’ organizational models in what were labor strongholds, including Wisconsin and Michigan. Many of these attacks have taken dead aim at what remains of labor’s real strength: its public sector membership base. Abetted by recent court decisions, efforts to defund and defang public sector unions are growing in size and sophistication by right wing policymakers and lobbying groups. Curiously, despite serving as a primary source of votes and finances for the Democratic Party for much of the 20th Century, labour finds itself with few political allies.

Working people need to realise that the system was never meant to work for them. If people want a chance, simply just a chance for a just and equitable society they'll need to revolt against the plutocrats. So we need to start getting people to accept socialism. That's an important step to fixing this problem. Capitalism was built on the institutionalised theft of surplus value of labour and savage inequality for the profits of a ruling class of the few. And this is not new. It is the normal workings of capitalism in all its glory. Inequality is a result of capitalism, which is by its very nature exploitative through wage labour…thus driving class and wealth inequality

The rich are parasites on the working class--and we define "working class" in the broadest sense: those that go to work to produce goods and services that people need and want. Our definition includes engineers, designers, teachers, doctors, lawyers--as well as factory hands. The wealthy extract money through their ownership of capital which they use primarily to speculate on the stock market, the commodities market, real estate, the currency market, and god knows what else. We are bombarded with the propaganda that makes exploitation entirely acceptable. A part of the solution we need to build a one unified socialist movement across the diverse movements. A world socialist project is by no means impossible but we need to give people hope that there is a purpose to the mobilization.


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Why are we standing in Brighton?

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Email received from a Green Party supporter in Brighton Pavilion
“Hello, I was wondering why your party is standing in Brighton when there is already a socalist (green) MP there, Caroline Lucas. She has campaigned for the NHS in parliament when she tried to introduce the NHS resentment bill which would would stop privatisation and campaigned for the renationalisation of the rail. Also got arrested for being in a anti fracking protest, Caroline has promised to oppose all cuts and reverse them. Please support Caroline'scampaign to return the UK's most anti austerity MP back to Westminster."

Our candidate's reply:

“Thanks for this email. I think I need to clarify a few misapprehensions.

Firstly, despite what you take to be Ms Lucas' position, the party which she represents is definitely not a socialist party. In my discussions with the local party their ideology is apparently 'sustainability', an exposition of which I have yet to see. Nowhere does any of the party literature talk of the abolition of capitalism, speaking in terms rather of the means by which they would aim to regulate the market system. We in the Socialist Party of Great Britain hold that the market system cannot be regulated or reformed in the interests of the majority of the population - it will always work in the interests of the wealthy: if regulation worked, why is it that major corporations don't pay tax but you and I have to?

Secondly, the Green Party has no monopoly of environmental concern: my major driver in politics has always been in this area (and I speak as an ex-Green Party member). I sincerely believe that the only way of controlling the degradation of our environment is to completely change our political system: it is about power and the Green Party lacks an adequate disposition towards real power. Capitalism will always act with contempt towards the environment, and big money will always find ways around regulation. Moreover the current trajectory is to make it harder to control big capital: look at GATT, WTO, TTIP, etc. and the policies of the IMF or World Bank. I'm not alone in this view: read Naomi Klein's latest work This Changes Everything. 

Don't get me wrong - I like and admire Caroline but sadly she's in the wrong party (as I have told her myself).

Howard Pilott
Socialist Party candidate 
Brighton Pavilion

We are also standing in Brighton Kemptown where our candidate is Jacqueline Shodeke

Afghanistan - What Future For The Majority?

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First the centre of the silk route, then the epicenter of bloody conflicts, Afghanistan's history can be charted through many diverse chapters, the most recent of which opened with the election of President Ashraf Ghani in September 2014.
Having inherited a country pockmarked with the scars of over a decade of occupation by U.S. troops – including one million unemployed youth and a flourishing opium trade – the former finance minister has entered the ring at a low point for his country.
Afghanistan ranks near the bottom of Transparency International's most recent Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), tailed only by North Korea, Somalia and Sudan.
A full 36 percent of its population of 30.5 million people lives in poverty, while spillover pressures from war-torn neighbours like Pakistan threaten to plunge this land-locked nation back into the throes of religious extremism.

But under this sheen of distress, the seeds of Afghanistan's future are slumbering: vast metal and mineral deposits, ample water resources and huge tracts of farmland have investors casting keen eyes from all directions.
Citing an internal Pentagon memo in 2010, the New York Times referred to Afghanistan as the "Saudi Arabia of Lithium", an essential ingredient in the production of batteries and related goods.
The country is poised to become the world's largest producer of copper and iron in the next decade. According to some estimates, untapped mineral reserves could amount to about a trillion dollars.
Perhaps more importantly Afghanistan's landmass represents prime geopolitical real estate, acting as the gateway between Asia and Europe. As the government begins the slow process of re-building a nation from the scraps of war, it is looking first and foremost to its immediate neighbours, for the hand of friendship and mutual economic benefit.


Speaking of his development plans at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Thursday, Ghani emphasised the role that the Caucasus, as well as Pakistan and China, can play in the country's transformation.
"In the next 25 years, Asia is going to become the world's largest continental economy," Ghani stressed. "What happened in the U.S. in 1869 when the continental railroad was integrated is very likely to happen in Asia in the next 25 years. Without Afghanistan, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and West Asia will not be connected.
"Our goal is to become a transit country, for transport, power transmissions, gas pipelines and fiber optics."
Ghani added that the bulk of what Afghanistan hopes to produce in the coming decade would be heavy stuff, requiring a robust rail network in order to create economies of scale.
"In three years, we hope to be reaching Europe within five days. So the Caspian is really becoming central to our economy […] In three years, we could have 70 percent of our imports and exports via the Caspian," he claimed.

Roads, too, will be vital to the country's revival, and here the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has already begun laying the groundwork. Just last month the financial institution and the Afghan government signed grant agreements worth 130 million dollars, "[To] finance a new road link that will open up an east-west trade corridor with Tajikistan and beyond."

Thomas Panella, ADB's country director for Afghanistan, told IPS, "ADB-funded projects in transport and energy infrastructure promote regional economic cooperation through increased connectivity. To date under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) programme, 2.6 billion dollars have been invested in transport, trade, and energy projects, of which 15 are ongoing and 10 have been completed. In the transport sector six projects are ongoing and eight projects have been completed, including the 75-km railway project connecting Hairatan bordering Uzbekistan and Mazar-e-Sharif of Afghanistan."

Afghanistan's transport sector accounted for 22 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) during the U.S. occupation, a contribution driven primarily by the presence of foreign troops.
Now the sector has slumped, but financial assistance from the likes of the ADB is likely to set it back on track. At last count, on Dec. 31, 2013, the development bank had sunk 1.9 billion dollars into efforts to construct or upgrade some 1,500 km of regional and national roads, and a further 31 million to revamp four regional airports in Afghanistan, which have since seen a two-fold increase in usage.
In total, the ADB has approved 3.9 billion dollars in loans, grants, and technical assistance for Afghanistan since 2002. Panella also said the bank allocated 335.18 million dollars in Asian Development Fund (ADF) resources to Afghanistan for 2014, and 167.59 million dollars annually for 2015 and 2016.
China too has stepped up to the plate – having already acquired a stake in one of the country's most critical copper mines and invested in the oil sector – promising 330 million dollars in aid and grants, which Ghani said he intends to use exclusively to beef up infrastructure and "improve feasibility."
Both India and China, the former through private companies and the latter through state-owned corporations, have made "significant" contributions to the fledgling economy, Ghani said, adding that the Gulf states and Azerbaijan also form part of the 'consortium approach' that he has adopted as Afghanistan's roadmap out of the doldrums.

"A Very Neoliberal Idea"

But in an environment that until very recently could only be described as a war economy, with a poor track record of sharing wealth equally – be it aid, or private contracts – the road through the forest of extractive initiatives and mega-infrastructure projects promises to be a bumpy one.
According to Anand Gopal, an expert on Afghan politics and award-winning author of 'No Good Men Among the Living', "There is a widespread notion that only a very powerful fraction of the local elite and international community benefitted from the [flow] of foreign aid. If you go to look at schools," he told IPS, "or into clinics that were funded by the international community, you can see these institutions are in a state of disrepair, you can see that local warlords have taken a cut, have even been empowered by this aid, which helped them build a base of support."

Although the aid flow has now dried up, the system that allowed it to be siphoned off to line the pockets of strongmen and political elites will not be easily dismantled.
"The mindset here is not oriented towards communities, it's oriented towards development of private industries and private contractors," Gopal stated.
"When you have a state that is unable to raise its own revenue and is utterly reliant on foreign aid to make these projects viable […] the straightforward thing to do would be to nationalise natural resources and use them as a base of revenue to develop the economy, the expertise of local communities and the endogenous ability of the Afghan state to survive."

Instead what happens is that this tremendous potential falls off into hands of contracts to the Chinese and others. "It's a very neoliberal idea," he added, "to privatise everything and hope that the benefits will trickle down.
"But as we've seen all over the world, it doesn't trickle down. In fact, the people who are supposed to be helped aren't the ones to get help and a lot of other people get enriched in the process."

Indeed, attempts to stimulate growth and close the wealth gap by pouring money into the extractives sector or large-scale development – particularly in formerly conflict-ridden countries – has had disastrous consequences worldwide, from Papua New Guinea, to Colombia, to Chad.
Rather than reducing poverty and empowering local communities, mining and infrastructure projects have impoverished indigenous people, fueled gender-based violence, and paved the way for the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

A far more meaningful approach, Gopal suggested, would be to directly fund local communities in ways that don't immediately give rise to an army of middlemen.
It remains to be seen how the country's plans to shake off the cloak of foreign occupation and decades of instability will unfold. But it is clear that Afghanistan is fast becoming the new playground – and possibly the next battleground – of emerging players in the global economy.

by Kanya D'Almeida from here

More evidence, if it's needed, for the necessity of the socialist position of ridding the world of the exploitative system that is capitalism in favour of organising for the benefit of the vast majority and using global resources for need not profit. Leaders of all colours and stripes of the world, in thrall to the principles of capitalism would rather enrich the few at whatever cost to the rest of us wherever we live. The only way to change the balance of power is to disenfranchise the capitalist class by placing all wealth into common ownership in a global socialist system.

 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Election Video

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FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY’S INN? (our weekly poem)

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FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY’S INN?

Three British judges have been sacked for
viewing pornography on their court computers

If you appear in court today,
Charged with a beastly crime;
You may well recognise the Judge,
With whom you‘ll do your time!
He could this time be sat upon,
The dock side of the bench;
As viewing porn’s caused quite a stir,
And a judicial stench.

We used to think someone who wore,
A judge’s powdered wig;
Was a self-righteous citizen,
And something of a prig.
But now we know the truth of things,
That a small group of them;
Are into gross depravity,
Including S.& M.!

So if there’s a large ball and chain,
Installed inside your cell;
You’ll know they’ve bondage on their mind,
And you’re in for real hell.
As a guest of Her Majesty,
It’s bad enough in jail;
But being spanked whilst slopping-out,
Is quite beyond the pail!

© Richard Layton


We Said It Then - We Say It Now (5)

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Following the election of a hung Parliament in February’s election, Harold Wilson sought another mandate in October and won an overall majority with less than 40% of the vote.
  
THE SOCIALIST MANIFESTO

THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN do not have a candidate in this area but read on. Your understanding of, and agreement with the Socialist case, could ensure you an opportunity of registering a vote for Socialism.

The Labour, Tory and Liberal parties are agreed that we are in a serious situation; all politicians are talking of the dangers of another slump, similar to that of the 'thirties; some of them talk of the collapse of parliamentary democracy. In contrast THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN gives hope of a better world if you are prepared to take it.

You will be going to vote in the belief that your cross on the ballot paper will have some influence in improving our lives, or at least in protecting our living standards. This is understandable but on what do you base your belief?

EMPTY PROMISES

The other parties are bidding for your vote with programmes which may seem to offer some hope of easing, or even abolishing, many of the problems of this country and of the world. Millions of people find these programmes attractive enough to vote for one or other of them. THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN argues that none of them stands up to examination.

For example, recent elections have been dominated by promises to deal with economic crises balance of payment problems, inflation, unemployment and so on. Yet these crises keep bursting upon the scene and as fast as the promises are made they are discredited by events.

Yet again; every government comes into power pledged to abolish slums and to eliminate the housing problem. They seem to have it all worked out, with their declarations of intent and their statistics. The result, according to Shelter, is that "today's housing crisis is a disgrace to any civilised society."

All the other parties offer plans designed to make war a thing of the past. They ring the changes on appeasement, resistance, diplomatic initiatives. In spite of all these plans the world scrapes through a succession of wars Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, the Middle East, Cyprus with the threat of nuclear conflagration hanging over our heads.

It is true that at times some problems are alleviated or even suppressed, but this is only for others to take their place. For example; we are told that our lives have been improved by the development of productive techniques, but we are also faced with the fact that these very developments pollute our environment to such an extent that they may present a threat almost as great as a nuclear war.

THEY FAIL

Why do other political parties fail? Why are their promises so ineffective? What causes the problems of the world? THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN urge you to examine the social system we live under — capitalism.

This is a society based on the private ownership of the means of wealth production and distribution. Private ownership at once divides society into two classes the owning, or capitalist class and the deprived, or working class. It is the working class who suffer poverty and all it means in terms of bad housing, inadequate medical services, sub-standard food and so on. Capitalism is a society of competition which splits the world into rival nations and power blocs and is the direct cause of modern war.

WHAT MUST BE DONE?


THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN puts forward the alternative society. Socialism will be a society in which the whole of humanity, without distinction of race or sex, will own in common all we use to make and distribute wealth. Common ownership means a society without classes, without privileges, without different standards of consumption. In Socialist society everyone will have free access to the world's wealth and will stand equally in that respect.

Socialism will produce its wealth for human use instead of for sale. This will make it a society of co-operation instead of competition. There will be no frontiers to divide the world's people. Socialism will be one world, with one people working together for the common wealth.

Socialism will be an efficient world, in contrast to capitalism, where waste and shoddiness are profitable. For the first time, men and women in Socialism will realise their capabilities to the full. Socialism will produce an abundance and at only one standard the best we are capable of.

IS IT ALL A DREAM?
HOW DO WE GET SOCIALISM?

THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN is not another collection of leaders telling you to trust us and promising you almost anything. No leader can give you Socialism, no clever politician can pull you by the nose into the new society. Neither will it happen by accident.

Socialism must be your work; it needs a conscious political act by the mass of the people, opting for the new society in full knowledge of what it is. Your endeavours alone in building a strong Socialist movement in this area will serve notice on the politicians that their time is up, and that what you want is a revolutionary change.

We are a political party, hostile to all others, including those phoney revolutionaries of the Left the Communist Party, International Marxist Group, International Socialists, Workers Revolutionary Party, etc. THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN is different we are the political instrument to be used by the working class to transform the world from a chaos of deprivation and strife into an order of abundance and harmony.

10th October, 1974


The poor will always be with us...

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If you follow the news you will have seen the headlines proclaiming that global poverty has been cut by half over the past couple of decades. Its sounds like brilliant, but it’s just not true. The statistics have been manipulated to make it seem as though our economic system is working for the majority of humanity when in fact it is not.

 Economist David Woodward in an article published in the World Economic Review shows that, given our existing economic model, poverty eradication can’t happen. Not that it probably won’t happen, but that it physically can’t. It’s a structural impossibility. If we assume that we can maintain the fastest rate of income growth that the poorest 10% of the world’s population have ever enjoyed over the past few decades. That was between 1993 and 2008 – after the debt crisis of the 1980s that crippled much of the developing world and before the banking collapse of 2008. During that period, their incomes increased at a rate of 1.29% each year. So how long will it take to eradicate poverty if we extrapolate this trend? 100 years. That’s what it will require to bring the world’s poorest above the standard poverty line of $1.25/day.

And keep in mind that Woodward’s methodology is not able to capture the poorest 1% of the world’s population, who will still remain in poverty even at the end of this period. That’s 90 million people, more than the entire population of Germany today, who will remain in poverty forever. Whatever the SDGs will achieve, poverty “eradication” won’t be one of those things.

If the 100-year timeline isn’t disappointing enough, it gets worse. A growing number of scholars are beginning to point out that $1.25/day – which is the official poverty line of the SDGs – is actually not adequate for people to survive on. In reality, if people are to meet their most basic needs and achieve normal human life expectancy, they need closer to $5/day. How long would it take to eradicate poverty at this more accurate line? 207 years.

Progress is woefully slow because to date the only strategy for reducing poverty is to increase global GDP growth. Politicians, economists and the development industry all have no other ideas. But GDP growth doesn’t really benefit the poor – or the majority of humanity, for that matter. Of all the income generated by global GDP growth between 1999 and 2008, the poorest 60% of humanity received only 5% of it. The richest 40%, by contrast, received the rest – a whopping 95%. So much for the trickle-down effect. To eradicate poverty global GDP would have to increase to 175 times its present size if we go with $5/day. In other words, if we want to eradicate poverty with our current model of economic development, we need to extract, produce, and consume 175 times more commodities than we presently do. This is horrifying to contemplate. And even if such outlandish growth were possible, it would drive climate change to unimaginable levels and wipe out any gains in poverty reduction.

To add insult to injury, to achieve this level of GDP growth, global per capita income would have to be no less than $1.3 million. In other words, the average income would have to be $1.3 million per year simply so that the poorest two-thirds of humanity could earn $5 per day. It’s completely absurd, but shows just how deeply inequality is hardwired into our economic system.

The entire capitalist system is based on poor people working for little to allow wealthy poeple to live lives of comfort and ease. All capitalism is exploitation even a "less aggressive" form still relies on exploitation somewhere We already have the material conditions ready for socialism, but whether we have the revolution or drive ourselves into extinction, well,  that's another story.

And let us not over-look the consequences of this poverty. Brain scans of children and young adults have revealed that specific brain regions tend to be smaller in those from poorer backgrounds than those born into wealthier families. The brain regions involved are crucial for the development of language, memory and reasoning skills, making them central to a child’s potential to thrive at school and gain a good education.

“The brain is the product of both genetics and experience, and experience is particularly powerful in molding brain development in childhood,” said Kim Noble, first author on the study at Columbia University in New York. 

We know that living in a poor community makes you less likely to live a long life. New evidence suggests that living in a community with high income inequality also seems to be bad for your health. A study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute examined a series of risk factors that help explain the health (or sickness) of counties in the United States. In addition to the suspects you might expect — a high smoking rate, a lot of violent crime — the researchers found that people in unequal communities were more likely to die before the age of 75 than people in more equal communities, even if the average incomes were the same.
“It’s not just the level of income in a community that matters — it’s also how income is distributed,” said Bridget Catlin, the co-director of the project, called the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

A World to Build

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As the general election approaches the whole of the mainstream media machine is in over-drive to convince people that they will be really shaping their own destinies by using their vote. This election campaign is largely a television advertising war. Unlike the anarchists, the Socialist Party does not put forward mass abstentions as a principle. We point out that the capitalist state machine will continue to function whether people vote or not. The failure of Parliament to promote the interests of the people effectively must be explained in a class way, that is to say, we must combat the belief that it is all just a matter of the weakness of human nature that power corrupts the politicians. We do not say that all is needed is the correct leader in order to exercise control over us lesser mortals - for our own good, of course. Instead we try to help people to draw the conclusion from their own experience that all governments in capitalist society are for the express purpose of maintaining the privileged position of all those who own the wealth. What is very clear is that whichever party forms the government they serve the interests of the capitalist ruling class. Capitalism is a system that offers no future for any worker.

For many years people have been told to vote for a “lesser evil” yet how many great evils of today were spawned by the “lesser evils” of yesterday. As socialists, we support no capitalist side in this election. Voting for Labour or Tory means supporting both parties’ attacks against the working class.

The socialists are conducting their election campaign for the purpose of rallying our fellow workers to the idea of socialism. The purpose in their standing is not to make the system work but to carry on agitation and education around the issues of the day. The other parties, however, are not bothering about anything but seats in the Parliament, and do not care whether the voters have any clear principles. Socialist ideas take root and grow in circumstances where people decide to organise and do something to change their circumstances. Voting for the Socialist Party is an opportunity to make use of your democratic rights and will put new heart and spirit into those who desire a new society. Our candidates are standing not to further their own careers. In these elections the seeds of socialism will have been sown and hopefully germinate, sprout shoots and grow.

Socialists often hear the comment that "Socialism is a good idea but it’s not practical." But today it’s becoming more apparent than ever that it is the present system — capitalism — that is impractical and unworkable. Capitalism must be abolished. Working people need to throw the capitalist parties out of office and the entire apparatus of government must be replaced. The needs of working people can only be met by creating a socialist economy, where ownership and control are taken from the tiny minority of capitalists and placed in the hands of the working people, to be run democratically. Reorganised on a socialist basis, our world can be free of racism, sexism, poverty, economic insecurity and exploitation. When the vast resources available to us are used to serve the needs of all instead of the profits of the few, and with a world socialist commonwealth, then the way will be opened for unparalleled growth in culture, freedom and the development of every individual. Such a society is worth fighting for. The only way we can get a rational society, based on the needs of the majority, is by organising and fighting for it. In this general election campaign we will be advocating for social change. We will be passing out our leaflets, answering questions and just generally "talking” socialism. We take every opportunity to convince people of the need to do away with the repressive, unjust capitalist system, and replace it with socialism. Nor will we be closing up shop after polling day. We know that a better world is not only possible, but absolutely necessary. The capitalist system is run for the profits of the few, not the needs of the majority. Workers are thus continually forced to fight to defend their interests.

The Socialist Party participate in these elections to spread our case for socialism. Our intention is to prove to workers that their problems cannot be solved without the overthrow of the capitalist system.

The Socialist Party Candidates
Islington North - Bill Martin; Vauxhall -  Danny Lambert; Swansea West - Brian Johnson; Easington - Steve Colborn ; Oxford East - Kevin Parkin; Oxford West and Abingdon - Mike Foster ; Canterbury - Robert Cox; Folkestone and Hythe - Andy Thomas; Brighton Pavilion - Howard Pilott; Brighton Kemptown - Jacqueline Shodeke.

Capitalism's Wars For Profit

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War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it. – George Orwell

The late United States Marine Corps Major General Smedley D. Butler is perhaps most famous for his post-retirement speech titled “War is a Racket”. In the early 1930s, Butler presented the speech on a nationwide tour. It was so popular that he wrote a longer version as a small book that was published in 1935.
Butler points to a variety of examples, mostly from World War I, where industrialists whose operations were subsidised by public funding were able to generate substantial profits essentially from mass human suffering.
It contains this summary:
“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”
Butler went on to say…
“In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.”

Despite warnings of its existence and imminent expansion, the military-industrial complex (or military-industrial-congressional complex) remains in operation today. It is an iron triangle that comprises the policy and monetary relationships which exist between legislators, national armed forces, and the arms industry that supports them. These relationships include political contributions, political approval for military spending, lobbying to support bureaucracies, and oversight of the industry.
It is a major reason we are stuck in a perpetual war.

In their article titled Companies Profiting the Most From War, Thomas C. Frohlich and Mark Lieberman listed the 10 companies profiting the most from war. To identify them, they examined the companies with the most arms sales based on information from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Arms sales, including advisory, planes, vehicles, and weapons, were defined by sales to military customers as well as contracts to government militaries. Also considered were each company’s 2013 total sales and profits, the total number of employees at the company, as well as nation-level military spending, all provided by SIPRI.

From the article:
U.S. companies still dominate the arms market by a large margin, with six among the top 10 arms sellers. In the top 100 arms-producing companies, 39 are based in the United States, and U.S. companies accounted for more than 58% of total arms sales among the top 100. U.S. company arms sales in the top 10 alone made up 35% of total arms sales among the top 100. By contrast, Western European companies, which make up the rest of the top 10 arms producers, accounted for just 28% of the total top 100 arms sales.
The full list of ten, with all details, can be viewed at the link below but here is just one taken as an example: 
 
6. General Dynamics (U.S.)
Arm sales 2013: $18.7 billion, profit $2.4 billion
Open Secrets labeled this company a “heavy hitter”, which means it is “one of the 140 biggest overall donors to federal elections since the 1990 election cycle, as compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.”
General Dynamics is one of the nation’s top defense contractors, assembling virtually every type of military machinery engaged in modern combat. The company builds warships, nuclear submarines, tanks and combat jets, not to mention the command and control systems that link all of these technologies together. The company has lobbied hard to encourage lawmakers to step up appropriations for the Navy, one of the company’s biggest clients.
It has fought attempts to shrink the nation’s fleet of submarines and warships, thereby helping block Defense Department attempts to shift that money to other facets of the nation’s land and air defenses.
Details:
Profile for 2014 Election Cycle
CONTRIBUTIONS: $1,974,599 (ranks 140 of 16,793)
LOBBYING: $10,720,923 (2014), $11,066,974 (2013) (ranks 27 of 4,065 in 2014)
Contributions to candidates: $1,405,525 (for a list of recipients, click here)
Contributions to Leadership PACs: $401,300
Contributions to parties: $162,974
Contributions to 527 committees: $4,350
Contributions to outside spending groups: $5,450
For a list of bills this company has lobbied, click here.

The total of contributions to candidates from General Dynamics PACs is 6 times larger than contributions from individuals.
6 Congressional members own shares in this company (click here for the list).
REVOLVING DOOR: 96 out of 133 General Dynamics lobbyists in 2013-2014 have previously held government jobs.
CEO Phebe Novakovic earned nearly $19 million in total compensation in fiscal 2014.


In the George Orwell classic 1984, there is a state of perpetual war between the nations of Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. The enemy in the conflict is ambiguous, and the battlefield exists in an elusive and distant land. The enemy could be Eurasia one day, and Eastasia the next, but that location is really insignificant. The mission of perpetual war for these superpowers is to justify psychological and physical control over their populations, to keep their people busy, fearful and hateful towards the enemy. The perpetual war also serves as an excuse for a nation’s failings and shortcomings. The economy, the labor force and industry are all centered around war rather than consumer goods. People live a miserable existence with poverty and no hope of improving their standard of living.

The authorities would like us to believe that “fighting for our freedoms” in lands thousands of miles away is a necessary evil.
In War is a Racket, Butler suggested the following three steps to smash the war racket:
  1. We must take the profit out of war.
  2. We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.
  3. We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.
Butler concluded his speech with the following exclamation:
TO HELL WITH WAR!
Maybe 80 years on General Smedley Butler would see good reason to add:

'AND TO HELL WITH THE PROFIT SYSTEM!'




Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why your vote for socialism is vital

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On Saturday four members set up an election stall in Folkestone, including the local SPGB candidate Andy Thomas and Max Hess who will be running in the local council election, which is held on the same day as the general election.

The town was very busy, and the comrades were assisted by a nearby street trader who, unprompted, announced their presence over his public address system. About 400 election leaflets were distributed around the town centre and several items of literature sold.  The party got a good reception, in some instances quite enthusiastic. The weather was problematic, being very windy. Later it rained and the stall was packed up about 3pm.

We were also out in Oxford, basically testing spots for a regular stall for the rest of the campaign but, as in Folkestone, the weather wasn't on our side. All the same, four of us gave away leaflets at two different places, one in Oxford East in the morning, the other in Oxford West in the afternoon as well as investigating the pitch at Cowley Centre where TUSC hold a regular weekly stall. They seem to want to live off Bob Crow's reputation as both of the leaflets they were handing out carried his photo.

Passing through the main street in the centre (Cornmarket) from our first pitch to the other we were surprised to come across some members of the EDL handing out leaflets for their planned protest next Saturday against "Muslim grooming gangs in Oxford" proclaiming "Control immigration from Islamic countries for a start". Nobody was objecting, though there was a discreet police presence not too far away presumably in case they did. Instead of trying to kick their heads in we gave them a socialist leaflet. The only political discussion we had in Oxford West was with someone who said they were going to vote tactically LibDem to keep the Tories out. Work that one out if you can.
Next stall is planned for Thursday 9 April at 5pm in the city centre

“The issue is Socialism versus Capitalism. I am for Socialism because I am for humanity.” -Eugene Debs

Working people must vote together as a united class in support of the Socialist Party, the party that represents them as a class, and when they do, the state will pass into their hands and capitalism will fall; private ownership will give way to social ownership, and production for profit to production for use; the wage system will disappear, and with it the ignorance and poverty, misery and crime that wage-slavery breeds.

The Socialist Party has declared class war upon the capitalists and their system. We say: Arise, you workers! It is in your power to put an end to this system. Wipe out the wage system, so that you can walk this earth free men and women! We only know that the principles of socialism are necessary to the emancipation of the working class. The attitude of the Socialist Party toward the trade union movement broadly endorsing and commending it, but stopping there, and allowing it to manage its own internal affairs is, without doubt, the correct one, as any interference or meddling must result in harm with no possible hope of good. The Socialist Party beseech you to get in touch with your fellow workers and to become conscious of your interests, your powers and your possibilities as a class. You need to know that as long as you are indifferent, as long as you are apathetic and unorganised, you will remain exactly where you are. You will be exploited; you will be degraded, and you will have to beg for a job. You will get just enough for your slavish toil to keep you in working order, and you will be looked down upon with scorn and contempt by the very parasites that lives off your sweat and unpaid labour.

If you are to receive respect you have got to begin by respecting yourself. Rise up from your knees. Turn your back on the corrupt Labour Party and the still more corrupt Tory Party— both lackeys of the ruling class. We say a party is either a capitalist party or it is a workers’ party. If a party serves the capitalist exploiter it is at the expense of his exploited victim, and if a party serves the exploited worker it is at the cost of his or her economic master. As long as you permit the 1% to own the sources and means of wealth, the tools of production, they will be in power. You will be in servitude. You will produce the wealth and they will have it under whatever government you may have. They will do nothing and you will have that – nothing. The plutocrats now in power cannot rule honestly. They must rule corruptly. They are in the minority. They have not the votes of their own to put them in power, but they have the money with which to control the electorate. They have the money with which to corrupt the politicians and to buy the media. They have the power to do this because they have the money, and they have the money because they own the means of production and distribution. In the competitive system the politician sells himself to the highest bidder, the same as the worker does. Who is the highest bidder? The corporations, of course.

The working class have not yet learned how to unite and act together. The capitalists are perfectly willing that you shall organise, as long as you don’t do a thing against them; as long as you don’t do a thing for yourselves. You cannot do a thing for yourselves without antagonising them. If you continue to support a system in which you are degraded, then you have no right to complain. You must submit to what comes, for you yourself are responsible. As individuals you are helpless, but united you represent an irresistible power.

And those on the vanguard Left would have us believe that because we have no “intellectual” leaders we would have no movement. They seek to be our shepherds and we are their flock of sheep, fit only to follow these self-appointed saviours into the land of milk and honey. They do the thinking and you do the voting. The average person imagines that he or she must have a leader to look to; a guide to follow, right or wrong; that without a leader we are lost and we therefore instinctively look to a leader.  You have depended too much on that leader and not enough on yourself. The Socialist Party don’t want you to follow us. We want you to cultivate self-reliance and independence so that you rely only upon yourselves. As long as you can be led by an individual you will be betrayed by an individual. That does not mean that all leaders are dishonest or corrupt. Some are sincere but still ignorant of capitalism themselves.  The blind leading the blind. Perhaps, the most dangerous leader is not the corrupt leader, but the honest, ignorant leader who is just as fatal to your interests as the one who deliberately sells you out for a paltry bribe.

The Socialist Party propose that society in its collective capacity shall produce, not for profit, but in abundance to satisfy all human wants. We are not going to destroy personal possessions. We are going to so establish a society where person will have all the possessions necessary keep him or her in comfort. Most people have little or no property of any kind today. The 1% have got it all. They have dispossessed the people and it is our position that when we get into power we will dispossess them in turn. On the 7th of May, on polling day, the time has come for you to use your brains in your own interest. Your vote is your voice. Make it heard.

Your Candidates in May 2015
Bill Martin - Islington North;
Danny Lambert – Vauxhall;
Brian Johnson - Swansea West;
Steve Colborn – Easington;
Kevin Parkin - Oxford East;
Mike Foster - Oxford West and Abingdon;
Robert Cox – Canterbury;
Andy Thomas - Folkestone and Hythe;
Howard Pilott - Brighton Pavilion;
Jacqueline Shodeke - Brighton Kemptown.



Maid To Order

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The following is an abridged and adaptation of an insightful article at the TruthOut website on migrant domestic workers by Arianne Shahvisi, a professor of philosophy at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Sociologist Arlie Hochschild describes the migration of domestic labor from poorer countries to wealthier countries as a global heart transplant. Women workers from a few pockets of the global South prop up caring services in the rest of the world as full-time employment, coupled with increasing levels of privatization, turns care work into a tradeable commodity. This is evident in hospitals, nurseries and care homes the world over, but takes on a particularly strange dynamic when migrant domestic workers - many of whom have their own children - are raising the children of other nations, so that the women of those communities may be liberated from one of the burdens of womanhood. Migrant domestic workers resist definition. Their work is unique in that it is a complex yet direct mock-up of global society: It is symbolic of binary power relations between genders, races, nations and classes.

A quarter of a million migrant domestic workers serve the ‘middle classes’ of Lebanon, whose population is just 4 million. They have no recourse to domestic labor laws and no right to remain in the country in the event of terminated employment. Instead, as in many other countries across the region, migrant workers enter Lebanon through a "kafala" system of sponsorship, in which the state leaves it to the host household to manage the visa and legal status of their sponsored domestic worker and grants a residence permit on the strict condition that the worker remains in the custody of the household throughout the term of her employment.
CLICK READ MORE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

Saturday, March 28, 2015

We Said it Then, We Say it Now (4)

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Another in our series of past election manifestoes. This one is from February 1974, a year that had two general elections.

A SIMPLE BASIC PROPOSITION

From The Socialist Party of Great Britain

General Election Statement

THIS snap election does not enable us to put up any candidates and run a worthwhile campaign. But we have important things to say. In all reason, by now you must be nearly submerged under the deluge of election propaganda.'Honourable settlement'; 'Fair shares'; 'One nation'. Cynical phrases that reek of unreality. Do you really think that whichever Government is elected, it will mean any major change or solve the fundamental problems that confront us. In a lifetime you have seen successive Governments making bold promises, trying to grapple with situations, going out of office, their promises unfulfilled.

YOU and millions like you are now asking Cannot something be done? Must we always live with unemployment, war, price rises, industrial conflict, poverty and insecurity? The answer is an emphatic YES if you continue to support those out-moded political ideas that you have held in the past. This challenge is not only to the Tory supporter with his idea of 'a national identity'; to the Labour man with his 'radical' proposals for more nationalisation; to the thousands of young people on the ' Left fringe' who still talk of 'Revolutionary situations'; 'Smash the State', etc.ideas as phoney as they are harmful to the workers. Our challenge is to everyone. The time has come for you to take an honest look at your position, and urgently. To take a stand in the class struggle. Not to try and patch up by social reform, a wreck of a system, but to take part in a world-wide movement to build a new way of lifea Socialist society.

SOCIAL problems arise from the inexorable workings of the capitalist system. These are not British problems but world problems, linked with world capitalism, whether in Russia, America, China, or the rest of the world. A crazy set-up, where the world and its riches are owned by a few. Where you, the worker, sell your ability to an employer, the capitalist, in order to live. Where profit is the lynch pin in production. Profitable buying and sellinghuman needs an afterthought. This is the system which Heath and the Tories have been unable to control. Like the previous Labour Government, they have been blown off course. They might get returned to have another crack. Or will the Labour Party breakdown gang be given another chance to fumble with running repairs; they were hardly successful last time. Frankly, the outcome is no concern of ours.

THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN is a revolutionary organisation. Our one object is the establishment of Socialism. A Social system in which the means of production and distribution are owned by the whole of mankind, regardless of race or sex. COMMON OWNERSHIP. A WAY with buying and selling IN with production for use. AWAY with money IN with distribution according to need. AWAY with the wages system IN with contribution according to ability. IN with co-operation for the common good. Socialism will alone solve the basic conflicts that confront society. It cannot be established by waving a magic wand, by a new political leader or a bunch of so-called intellectuals. It is YOU and YOU alone who hold the key. Socialism will be democratically brought about by political action, when you in a majority understand and desire it. Not a moment before.

SOCIALISM is not just a bread and butter effort. It can release and utilise our potential, so long strangled by the un-natural atmosphere of capitalism. The new society will mean fulfilment to us as human beings.

LET your imagination run riot. The possibilities for achieving a full and enjoyable life are legion. It's up to you. 1974 could be a momentous year in your life. Find out more about THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN. Help our movement for Social Revolution.

February 1974