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Archive for the category “Capitalism”

Bosses Back Tories – Now There’s a Surprise!

The bosses, all of them on over a £1million salaries, of some of the UK’s big businesses back the Tory plan to cut the increase in National Insurance contributions, calling it a ‘Tax on jobs’.

Well it is a tax on jobs or rather, a tax on each person employed but let us put it in perspective for goodness sake. It amounts in most cases to less than a fiver per week per employee and if a company paying out over £20,000 per worker can’t afford an extra fiver then either that company is in deep doo doo and unlikely to survive anyway or they fear having to cut down on executives bonuses or a tiny reduction in shareholders dividends. Either way it’s no reason to cut this small increase in order to help pay off our national debt and help to maintain our public services.

By the way, these business leaders are probably made up of the same leaders who squealed in 1997 at the very mention of a National Minimum Wage, crying that it was a ‘tax on jobs’ and would bring about the downfall of the whole economy. It didn’t though, did it?

Poverty… Why?

A report out recently shows that the gap between the richest in Britain and the poorest has widened. I can’t say that it surprised me. In the usual and expected politician double speak Gordon Brown said “The report illustrates starkly that despite a levelling-off of inequality in the last decade we still have much further to go.” No Gordon, it didn’t say a ‘levelling off’ it said ‘widened’. We have indeed got further to go, in fact we actually need to make a start.

Those that know me often say that I lay the blame for almost all of the ills in this country at the feet of Margaret Thatcher, including this severe winter. Well, she did waste the windfall of North Sea oil and closed down 300 years supply of coal but that’s another story. What Thatcher did, very cleverly, was to break the strength of the Trade Unions and at the same time make the working population believe that this was a good thing. She then set about selling off most of our publicly owned assets such as our gas (remember ‘Tell Sid?), electricity, water and railways. She knew perfectly well that shares would largely end up with the financial institutions but fooled many into believing that they were ‘part of a share holding democracy’. Above all she put the notion of individualism, get what you can for yourself and the devil take the hindmost into the national psyche.  In 1997 the nation with a collective sigh of relief elected New Labour with most not realising that Tony Blair was but a toned down Thatcher with a smiling face. The result being that the inequality gap has widened still further.

The Labour Party was originally brought into being by the Trade Unions to fight for the rights of it’s members and to bring about a more equal and fair society and forced through enormous benefits, the National Health Service being just one example. The (New) Labour Party of today has morphed into just another wing of the capitalist system that lies at the root of all our ills. The budget of yesterday, despite the crying need to balance the books, made it easier to buy a house and saddle the working population with a life long mortgage around their necks and thus restricting their ability to dissent.  In addition this reliance on house prices ever increasing, played a large part in the recent economic crash and yet the Chancellor encourages more of the same.

So is it ‘Time for Change’ and bring back the Tories? Definitely not, New Labour is still the lessor of the evils but an evil non-the-less and although it’s perhaps worth voting for Lib Dems where they have a chance, real change will only come about when the people accept the hardest thing of all and realise that they have been duped for several generations and rise up with one voice and demand a new way.

Robin Hood Tax

So simple, together we could make it happen. Oh and ignore the 6,000 odd votes against as most were generated automatically by Goldman Sachs the greedy bankers. Robin Hood Tax.

A Nation of Sheep

The energy Regulator Ofgem has called on the suppliers to reduce their charges to customers following recent lower costs. Unsurprisingly they have refused. All of them are using similar arguments about uncertainty and ‘other costs’ in an attempt to justify making an average extra profit this year from each customer of £60 per year, compared with the last three years. It sounds very much to me like an energy cartel.

This is what happens when government privatises what is a natural public resource. The companies obviously work together (if proven it would be illegal) to keep profits for shareholders up and customers become a poor second and with competition a myth. The old Water Boards were also sold off, water for Christ’s sake, the essential for life, sold off for profit. British Rail which wasn’t a bad service at all, sold off for profit. If BR had the same public funds put into it as the private companies receive now from the State, it would be better and more importantly perhaps, cheaper to use.

The gullible people just sat back and let it all happen, some tempted by the carrot of cheap share offers that soon ended up in the hands of the big investors. Still they sit on their hands while chunks of our health and education are handed over for profit.

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Here We Go Again!

The housing market is on the move again of that there is little doubt and of course along with it the cost of buying a home is rising albeit slowly at the present time. The highest level of unemployment in my region stands at 6% which of course is not much fun for those without work but it does mean that 94% have jobs. Car production is rising once more and bankers bonus payouts are still obscene.

All this does not mean that the recession is over but points to it at least bottoming out. The massive bill to stave off the worst of the global economy crash will still have to be paid over the next couple of decades and will have some negative impact on most of us. Most of us being the ones who played no part in the disgraceful financial gambling of the past ten to twenty years although most of us were a part of the rampant consumerism that gripped the developed world.

A few minor inconveniences have been put in place to curb some of the excesses of the financial traders but by and large as the recovery gets under way it will be business as usual and so setting us up for a repeat performance in another decade or so down the line. Bankers will be making fortunes out of the future labour of ordinary people not even born yet, houses will be purchased as investments and not as homes to live in, industry will again expand and add to the climatic pollution that is already out of control.

This global catastrophe presented the World and I suggest, the UK in particular, with a golden opportunity for change. That chance has already been squandered and we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past and the next time may not contain within it opportunity for change.

Wootton Bassett Circus

I often feel as though I’m like that little boy in the story who could see through the lie of the  ‘King’s new suit of clothes’ and that he was in fact, naked.

As the number of coffins passing through the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett became a regular occurrence a few shopkeepers and others stood in silence as they passed by and fair enough. As this became a news item the numbers of people have increased into the thousands with most coming from miles away. Media cameras can be seen poised on high points and helicopters relaying back the spectacle. Teenaged girls wailing and hugging their boyfriends, conveniantly near to microphones and cameras and couldn’t even shut up for the 1 minute silence. BBC24 managed to cover the event for several hours non stop. Glowing tributes are read out by commanding officers for each and every soldier who gets killed and it seems to me that if you want to survive it’s best to be a complete arsehole that nobody likes because they never seem to die. The hype goes on.

It all seems to me to link in with the final paragraph that I wrote concerning Michael Jackson and the sense of powerlessness that people have. Most don’t think for themselves but swallow the lie about our military dying to prevent the Taliban coming down a high street nearby. Young men mostly join the Army because they can’t get a job, think themselves immortal and believe they will have a life of adventure. They don’t expect to come back in a box driven through Wooton Bassett.

The people of this nation are not powerless unless they allow themselves to be. If we stuck together and demanded change, demanded better education for all our children, demanded useful employment and demanded an end to us fighting wars in some part of the World for centuaries, then we would get it. The establishment stick together, the capitalists, the monarchy, the arms manufacturers and dealers, the agro-chemical companies and so on, they all stick together and they get what they want. It’s the majority who suffer because we forget that we are indeed the majority and if we choose to have the power then it is ours. Will it happen though? I doubt it and our dead young men will continue to pass through Wootton Bassett.

The Budget

There can be little doubt that the Government should have seen the crash in the banking system and the housing market along with the approaching recession long ago. That though is now history and yesterdays budget was probably about the best that could be done in the circumstances.

There does seem to be however, a failure of government to recognise fully the seriousness of the situation and therefore a failure to make savings where they could easily be made and a failure to look at the bigger picture. For example, they could have cancelled the ridiculous I.D. Card scheme which is estimated to have a price tag of £15billion. This nation does not need two gigantic aircraft carriers at a current estimate of £6billion and defence estimates usually double by their completion. Equally we do not need to replace Trident nuclear submarines at even more billions of Pounds. We do not need either, to be fighting a futile war in Afghanistan at vast cost in cash and lives.

Virtually every household in the UK will be looking at where savings can be made and Government should do nothing less.

Tesco Pension Chicken Shit

The following from the Guardian/Observer

“Tesco has lobbied the government to push through reforms to the UK’s retirement rules that would allow the supermarket to cut its final salary pension payouts if employees live longer than expected. Documents obtained under freedom of information rules reveal that the company told ministers that employers should be allowed more flexibility in administering their schemes in the light of rising retirement costs. The documents show for the first time that one of Britain’s major employers is concerned that the rising costs of defined-benefit pensions will become an increasing burden under current rules. The revelation is expected to dismay unions at the supermarket, which is one of a dwindling band of employers offering guaranteed retirement benefits. Tesco emphasised that it remained committed to its scheme, and was asking government for more flexibility to help keep costs under control.”

It seems then that Tesco care as much for their loyal employees as they do for their chickens. £2.85 billion profit for April 2008!

Opportunity to be Lost?

The Government is doing all that it can to re-finance the banks in order to get them lending more and to help this along the Bank of England is steadily lowering interest rates which are heading towards zero. Other governments around the world are taking similar actions and Obama expected to announce a massive cash injection into the US economy.

In order for the banks to lend, someone must borrow which is pretty self evident. People and business borrow in order buy something, again pretty self evident. The more people buy and the more that they borrow in order to buy more then the faster industry works and the economy, national and global, expands . Again, it is self evident that this cannot go on indefinitely. Economic growth must hit the buffers sometime. OK I know this is Marxist theory but it is also commonsense. The global economy has hit the buffers and the political engineers are now doing all that they can to move the buffers further down the track, build up a credit based head of steam once more in order to hurtle down the same track heading for the same result at an indeterminate date in the future.

The housing market is used by many as a yardstick for the health of the economy but it’s the same story here. House prices cannot increase above inflation ad infinitum but while they do rise to dizzying heights their buyers are saddling themselves with huge debt, meaning that they have to work longer and harder and often put off having children just so they can pay the mortgage. Is this the life that we want for ourselves and for our children, if we manage to have some? Some mortgages are already crossing over to the next generation.

We have an opportunity with the current crisis to pause and take stock of what is best for our health, mental, physical and spiritual. Houses are losing their value and easing to a more sane level but have a way to go yet. Good! If government could but grasp the nettle and decree a return to mortgages being granted on the basis of 2.5 times the annual earnings of the highest earner in a partnership, life would be far more pleasant for those making the purchase. State investment in social housing would keep the building industry active and aid recovery too.

The fat cats would squeal in anguish of course but I don’t think I would lose any sleep.

Working for Nothing

A report out today by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows that more and more employees are working more and more hours for nothing. Some workers are giving over £5000 a year in lost overtime payments to their employers.

It is understandable that during the current financial crisis some may wish to do a little extra to perhaps help keep their company going and so secure their jobs but working long hours be it paid or unpaid is not good for health in the long run. In addition long hours inevitably reduces the productivity capability and so is counter productive.

Union members fought for over a hundred years to achieve employment rights and better conditions so it is sad to see so many employees throwing away these hard won benefits. Many workers of course don’t even join a Union having swallowed the ‘Thatcher’ line of divide and rule, got a mortgage around their necks and too scared to protest as they work longer hours for less remuneration.

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