Thank heavens for the private sector!

September 16, 2011

Now that the awful public sector has rid itself of thousands of jobs, isn’t it great to see such a thriving private sector?

Well. No.

There are now more unemployed women, than in 1988. Overall unemployment is at its highest since 2009 – the middle of a recession. One in five people between 19 and 24 is unemployed. Average wages rose 2.8% since 2010, whilst RPI (inflation) rose 5.2%, which means wages actually fell by 2.4%.

So we were told that the private sector would take up the jobs lost in the public sector. George Osborne, back in November 2010, told the House of Commons in November that jobs created in the Private Sector, would:

Far outweigh

– the loss of jobs in the Public Sector.

Remember those “35 leading businessmen” that the Chancellor quoted, as some sort of economic demi-gods (I have always wondered why businessmen are considered economic experts. They are not economists. They have an agenda). They sent a letter to the Telegraph, in support of Osborne’s claim. They wrote:

“The private sector should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector.”

Here’s the letter in full. Tories loved to point to it, last year. I’m guessing they will be less forward in pointing to it, this year.

At its most optimistic, we we under the impression that someone who had spent their life in the public sector employed in a job they love, would now get a nice new job working the tills at McDonalds. Even that, failed to materialise. From April to June public sector job losses reached 111,000. The private sector jobs grew by 41,000. The problem is, the Government insisted in March, that only 20,000 (I say only, because it appears I have caught the bug of treating people and their jobs, as mere statistics – Am I becoming Tory? Dear God, I hope not) would lose their jobs. Unemployment rose by 80,000 in June.

Apparently, when you make people unemployed, and you devalue wages, it becomes impossible to kick start the demand needed for the private sector to thrive. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT!

EDF have just announced energy prices are to raise by 15%, despite profits of Euro1.2bn last year. Last month HSBC announced 30,000 jobs would be cut. They must be struggling right? Again….well. No. The first six months of the year saw their profits raise 3% on the previous six months, to $11.5bn. Seriously. We are now only concerned, as a World, with profit. This is emphasised in the fact that the moment HSBC announced it was kicking 30,000 people out of their livelihoods, their shares rose 3.4%. Rich people absolutely love to hear that they can make even more money now that there isn’t the annoying factor of having to pay 30,000 people.

It is clear that demand creates jobs. Not wealthy businessmen. Referring to them as “job creators” is a falsity of epic proportions. When you take money out of peoples pockets with a VAT rise, with the removal of universal services, with housing benefit cuts; you cut demand in the process. Giving the wealthiest few a tax break isn’t going to change that.

When growth is downgraded, almost on a daily basis, they insist it is Labour’s fault, Europe’s fault, the snow’s fault. No, it is the fault of holding dear to the heart a dangerous Freidman-ite economic philosophy. As with HSBC mentioned above; the epitome of the thought process that leads to this kind of system, is that the abstract concept of the “market” is deemed to be improving, regardless of how many jobs are lost. Shares in HSBC increase, as 30,000 jobs are cut. There is a dramatic evil in that process.

Labour MPs and Shadow Ministers on Twitter insist on questioning whether Strike action is necessary. They should be ashamed to refer to themselves as ‘Labour’. A Labour party, who have seemingly made absolutely no impact on the political landscape since 2010, are quietly licking their wounds as a Tory party who have no legitimate mandate to carry out the ideological attacks they are inflicting, get away with it. If we don’t have the support of a half arsed Labour Party unsure of where its allegiances lie, given it’s past thirteen years of total capitulation to the financial sector, nor do we have the support of a weak Lib Dem party who cowardly abstain when they disagree with Tory policy, then Unions are the only other way to go. There is no other option. A very radical government, requires a very radical opposition. Instead, Labour seem to be constantly worried about their ties to the Union movement, rather than pro-actively and jointly making the case against deep and vicious austerity. The Tories have cleverly managed to set the political discourse in favour of a mythical, broken public sector, and away from the real broken sector; the financial sector.

Yesterday we saw that same Financial Sector produce a rogue trader responsible for UBS losing $2bn on unauthorised dodgy dealings. Have they learnt nothing? UBS was also responsible in 2009, for helping wealthy Americans set up offshore accounts to avoid tax. Growth for the sake of the wealthy, is not real growth. The banks have been let off the hook, by having the support of government like ours, who shift the blame from them, to the constantly demonised public sector.

If anything, we are finding out, for the second time in thirty years, that harsh and forced Neoliberalism is a dangerous dogma. Monetary policy does not pull Nations out of sovereign debt crises. It never has.

Unemployment – Done.
Dismantled NHS – Done.
Bend over to be fucked by the banks – Done.
Stagnating wages – Done.
Provoke riots – Done.
VAT rise – Done.
Pull any support for poorer children (EMA) – Done.
Close as many youth centres as possible – Done.
Close libraries – Done.
Make people work until they’re basically dead, before giving them a pension – Done.
Demonise disabled people – Done.
Rising inflation – Done.
Threaten Unions – Done.
Burden of debt created by wealthy, slammed onto the shoulders of Nation’s 18 year olds – Done.
Tax cuts for the wealthy – Done.
All within 15 months.

It makes Thatcher look like a Socialist in comparison.


A Neoliberal Attack…

July 13, 2011

Religious people are far more likely to engage in conversation about religion with me, after I mention that I have studied Philosophy and take an interest in Theology. I think they presume I will agree with their thoughts and perhaps provide reasoning to their illogical beliefs. I think they imagine that one can only speak with conviction on matters of religion, if one is religious in an academic sense. The same is true of many walks of life, not least the public sector in England. Because Tory MPs are essentially a part of the public sector, they seem to believe they have the right to talk of all public sector workers, as if they’re the official spokespeople for the public sector.

On Question Time last week, John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham appeared delighted as he informed the audience that as a public sector worker, he would be working longer and putting more money into his pension pot as a result of his Government’s reforms, and he was proud of it. The reason John Redwood can seem so pleased with himself that he is accepting the changes to his pension and retirement age, is because on top of the £65,000 a year he earns as an MP, he also claimed a hell of a lot of money, that regular public sector workers could only dream of. Yet, Mr Redwood seems to think his claims were perfectly reasonable, as suggested on his own personal blog:

In 2007-8 I claimed a total of £105,917. This made me the 19th cheapest MP, claiming around £40,000 less than the average. One fifth of that claim was the mortgage interest costs, the Council Tax and service charge and maintenance on a bedsit flat in Pimlico. It is entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business. During my ownership it has only been slept in by myself. I do not need it for any other purpose. The deposit and repayments of capital are of course paid for out of my taxed income.

– We should be thanking him, for claiming in one year, more than a teacher is likely to earn in five years. We should be happy that tax payers money is going to fund the “maintenance” on his Pimlico flat. We should be grateful that the money spent on his mortgage interest (tax payers money) will go to buying a flat he can then sell when he retires, making a handsome profit, and giving nothing back to the public, whilst his party continue to force harsh austerity. One does wonder what the purpose of his 2004/5 claim of £13,305 for his luxurious house in Berkshire (a £1,000,000 estate which he fully owns), including £168 and £112 for his lawn to be reseeded, and how that is “entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business” was needed for, but nevertheless, i’m sure it’s just as noble as the necessity of “maintenance” claims on the MILLIONAIRE’S flat in London. Thank you John “Jesus Christ” Redwood. You are a hero.

A man in the audience pointed out that the Private Sector has forced through harsh pension reforms, and so the Public Sector should do the same and “modernise”. The audience were alive with cheer! But it got me thinking; why is it always the public sector that is made to look as though it is in the wrong, like a Soviet leftover, trailing behind the private sector. People seem happy to accept the notion that if the private sector is screwing people over, then so should the public sector! Why is no one arguing that the private sector should be actively forced to lift itself up to the level of the public sector? As far as I can discern, over the past twenty five years it has been an out of control short-term wealth obsessed private sector that has been so majestically out of control, that when the bubble finally cracked, the public sector had to take the hit.

Let’s look at examples of the private sector providing a “modernising” model that the public sector ought to apparently follow:

Lloyds TSB is currently 43.4% owned by the taxpayer. Yet, its new Chief Executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio received a signing on fee of £4.1mn in shares, £516,000 in money, and an annual salary of £1.6mn with a yearly bonus of £2.5mn.

A wonderful company named Trafigura, in 2010 leased a ship called the Probo Koala to a company called Compagnie Tommy, with the intent to dump toxic waste at a waste disposal sight in Amsterdam. The site raised their prices by 20 times that quoted, because the toxic waste was deemed to be far more dangerous that Compagnie Tommy and Trafigura first suggested. So, a new company set up on the Ivory Coast agreed to take the waste, for a very cheap sum. Trafigura did not investigate just why this new company was offering to take the waste for such a cheap price. After the waste was dumped, ten people died from poisoning, and over 100,000 became ill. Trafigura said they’d tested the waste, and it wasn’t toxic, and that they had no idea why so many people became ill. The Dutch tested the waste and found it contained two tonnes of Hydrogen Sulfide. A killer gas. Trafigura spent three years publicly denying the waste they dumped in a poverty stricken area of Africa, was not enough to kill people. Suddenly, Trafigura offered to pay a massive amount of compensation of Euro152,000,000 to the Ivory Coast (which didn’t go to the victims) with the instruction that on acceptance of the compensation, they couldn’t be prosecuted or causing death in the courts. The reason they did this, is because The Guardian obtained – through Wikileaks – private company emails from Trafigura in which they quite plainly accept, as early as 2006 before they’d even chosen the Ivory Coast to dump the waste, that the waste was indeed dangerous.

According to the Guardian, Diageo PLC, the company that makes Guiness, in 2009 paid as little as 2% tax on its profits, despite racking in £2bn in profits. Diageo pays its Chief Executive £3.6mn salary. To fill this gap, it takes 20,000 ordinary British households per year.

The term “Modernising” has come to mean subtle privatising of key services in recent years. An economic laissez faire that apparently promised to solve all of our problems. The outsourcing of cleaning from NHS to private companies with £94mn worth of contacts, led to such declining standards between ’83-’00, that an extra emergency £31mn was injected into cleaning in the NHS, with the a Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT), set up to visit hospitals to ensure standards were being met; the Private sector had failed. By 2000, only 20% of NHS Trusts had achieved an acceptable level of cleanliness.

The banks aren’t the only sector that have required government bail outs in recent history. In 2002, British Energy (privatised under the Tories) had to approach the government for a £410mn bail out to finance its debts.

News of the World. I believe this doesn’t need elaborating on.

Private sector bonuses and high CEO pay, is more harmful to you and I, than highly paid private sector bosses. When money accumulates in the hands of very few people within the private sector (we spend more in the private sector, than on taxes), the cost gets passed on to us. The Bush tax cuts, along with the deregulation of the financial sector didn’t go toward greater investment, it went to increasing the pay and bonuses of those at the top, and the cost was passed on to us, through the creation of a very easy credit system. We all know how that turned out.

British Airways, under the incompetent management of Willie Walsh faced massive fines (record breaking fine actually) for price fixing, long drawn out industrial disputes with the cabin crew which the media helped by describing the cabin crew as greedy, despite 2000 of their workmates being laid off, the company making huge losses, and Willie Walsh taking in a 6% inflation busting pay rise, taking it to £743,000 and £1.1mn in deferred share bonuses. Enough to keep at least ten people on at BA, who otherwise lost their job. The media will never paint the boss as the greedy incompetent bastard in this kind of dispute. It will always find a child at Heathrow, crying, because the cabin crew strike means he wont see his mummy this Christmas. The media do not tend to side with the unions, they never will, and so neither will the ill-informed public.

Do we need to even mention the banking system? A particularly ironic take on this whole new “private good public bad” era of austerity we are living in.

Thankfully we have the Government’s new corporate team, who will help him “stand up to business”. On the panel, inevitably, is Philip Green, Topshop mogul who owns Taveta Investments, which he put in his wife’s name, who happens to live in Monaco, thus avoiding £285mn in tax. He also paid his family £1.2bn, taken from a loan in the name of his company, thus cutting Corporation tax because the loan’s interest charges were offset against profit. Oh and he also uses sweatshops in Mauritius, whilst claiming his obscene bonuses are justified because he “takes risks”. Another on the panel, is Justin King, Chairman of Sainsbury’s. In his first year, he received free shares worth over £500,000, whilst axing the £120 christmas bonus for his staff. After his staff didn’t receive their christmas bonus, King awarded his wealthy finance director £357,000 worth of shares. King was also offered 1,000,000 free shares, if he met specific targets the year before. He didn’t meet the targets, the company’s profits fell 2.9% and yet he still took home 86% of the promised shares. He will be given the same year on year, on top of his £500,000+ a year salary.

We all know that the private sector has the potential to deliver fantastic opportunities, despite the fact that its raison d’etre is unjustifiable power and wealth in the hands of people who simply injected the first dose of capital required to kick start the specific business, as if that initial injection of capital somehow creates a universal, unbreakable law, like gravity, that requires the majority of the subsequent profit and the decisions required to move the business forward, be placed in the hands of the person who injected that capital. It’s a bit of a flawed and odd concept that people just tend to accept. But, it does create opportunity (though it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only way of creating opportunity). The downside, is unregulated greed. The public sector is a constant target of abuse from the source of that greed, and the politicians that the greed of the private sector can buy. Corportocracy at its finest and most dangerous.

Isn’t it about time a Politician had the balls to stand up and say the Private Sector over the past thirty years has spiraled disastrously out of control, and perhaps needs to be able to pay people a decent living wage, as opposed to bringing the public sector down to the unacceptable level of the private sector?


Cameronism

February 21, 2011

Neoliberalism: The tyranny of Big Business, under the mask of “Freedom“.

I have always wondered how the very fortunate manage to convince the very unfortunate that perpetuating that system is to everyone’s benefit. Thatcher managed to convince a mass of people that the Unions were evil, and were strangling the Country. She killed off the Unions, and bosses began the biggest exploitation effort since the 19th Century. Jobs shipped abroad daily, wages kept lower than ever before, and homes repossessed with the homeless rate doubling. How were people convinced that that was a good thing for the Country? Northern England still hasn’t recovered from what she did. It would seem that if you add the words “freedom” and “giving power to the people” to the end of a speech that is essentially going to destroy those people, you will have convinced them.

One has to wonder, if this was a people power thing, why not mention it during the run up to the election. Such a social and class engineering project doesn’t come into being over night, it takes years of planning. They knew this would be the case. So why not mention it, if it’s so great? I’d suggest because if a political party was to suggest privatisation of the NHS and the public services, before an election, they would be so massively unelectable, they would have no MPs left. So, the answer is to manipulate a population into voting for you, and then systematically destroy their life.

The fact remains, no one has given the Tories a mandate to do this. They did not win the election. More people voted for a slower reduction of the deficit, and less cuts. More people voted centre and centre-left political parties, than who voted for the Tories. Economically, if not socially, the Tories have no democratic right to be doing what they are proposing to do.

Any time mass privatisation is suggested, the phrases “more power to the people” and “freedom” are banded about. I am always very suspicious of this, because it never quite turns out that way. It was “freedom” that drove Thatcher to privatise British Gas and the railways. British Gas is now run by one CEO who rises prices in line with an increase in oil prices, but then when the oil price lowers, he keeps British Gas prices high, raking in massive profits. For charging customers obscene amounts of money for no legitimate reason, boss of Centrica (which runs British Gas) was Knighted for “services to business“. The Chief Exec, Sam Laidlaw (who went to Eton, unsurprisingly) increased the cost of gas for consumers by 35% in 2006, for no reason whatsoever, and made record profits, when asked about it, he answered “Well, I am not about to apologise for making a healthy profit“. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

One wonders how long they can keep blaming Labour, given that unemployment and the deficit were shrinking in May 2010. They’re now both on the rise.

David Cameron does not have the mandate to be privatising the entire public sector. And yet, in the Telegraph today, he shamefully used his dead son as justification for the most worrying of plans I’ve yet to hear him say:

And though I was always so grateful for the tremendous care my eldest son received, I never understood why local authorities had more control over the budget for his care than Samantha and I did.

I never understand why my boss, where ever I choose to work, has the right to be as rude and obnoxious and speak down to us as he so wishes. But apparently that’s “freedom“. What a wretched freedom it is. Allowing business the freedom to dictate terms and conditions for its workers, with absolutely no balance, is not freedom. Replacing democratic oversight with a dictatorial boss whose only objective is to make more money, is not freedom.

I would never use a dead relative to promote a political agenda. He should say it like it is; Cameron and Osborne are Libertarians. It is why there is a mass of tax cuts for the very wealthy whilst the public sector is being gutted. It is why the banks are not being hit. It is why he is demolishing the NHS and the public sector as a whole. It is something beyond scary.

“Instead of having to justify why it makes sense to introduce competition in individual public services – as we are now doing with schools and in the NHS – the state will have to justify why it should ever operate a monopoly.”

What the hell? Damn right you should have to justify privatisation, logically because you are changing the system. You have to justify why you are changing the system. But mainly, because it has never fucking worked as promised in the past. The Tories privatised the railways, and now no one can afford to go anywhere. The Tories sold off the Council Houses, effectively entirely privatising the housing system, and now no one can afford homes. The Tories privatised electricity, and now old people die because they cannot afford to heat their homes in winter. So damn right you have to justify why you are handing even power to big business. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

One of the most worrying aspects of these proposals, is that the White Paper will lay out plans to make the proposals irreversible. Cameron said the Government would:

“make it impossible for Government to return to the bad old days of the standard state monopoly”

It is an ideological attack. It is Social engineering on a grand scale. Because those of us on the Left would argue that the bad days, especially where British Gas and the railways are concerned, and looking at the private health service in America; revolves around the private sector. It has to be resisted. By making this right wing plan irreversible, he is ironically presiding over the biggest Government in decades, because he is forcing Right Winged tyranny on those of us who oppose it completely. He is effectively banning the Left Wing. What if the Labour government had given more power to the Unions, and made it irreversible? Surely we’d be hearing how Orwellian that actually is?

What if recession hits again. Which it will. It means that the only legal response, would be to do nothing. Keynesian economics would be entirely banned. What basis do they have to ban it?

The difference is, the power. The Unions represent hundreds of thousands if not millions of ordinary people. Their power is legitimate, if we are talking about giving power to ordinary people. Syndicalism, is not a bad idea. Giving power to a very narrow set of businessmen is not, and could never be considered the height of human freedom.

It amazes me that we have got to a position where we are being convinced en masse, that privatisation is “handing power back to the people“. It is such a falsity that it is almost funny. When we elect a politician, we know their face, we know their name, and if we don’t like them, we vote them out. By privatising the public sector, they are practically selling democracy to the man with the most money and calling it “power to the people“. We are getting to the stage where local representatives cannot do a thing, because their power is being handed to faceless businessmen, who we do not see, ever, never mind elect. Corporations act as little Stalinist States, where money is forced upwards, from the bottom. Those at the very top are always going to want more. Those at the bottom are always going to be squeezed for as much productivity and as little money as possible. We are therefore ruled by a Stock Market system, that relies on very very dodgy deals that have no social benefit whatsoever. Has it enriched our lives thus far? Longer working hours, ever more slimy bosses with a deluded sense of superiority? Stagnating wages with no real chance of an increase? Unions unable to exercise any power? An out of control financial sector? No housing? Gas and electricity more expensive than ever before? Less job security and more worry than ever before? I have argued previously that Democracy and Capitalism are entirely incompatible. This proves it. We are not a Democracy. We are wholly run and controlled by the power of big business. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

Orwell’s worry about an overbearing Government should not come to symbolise just the abstract concept of a State. Corporations are just as dangerous.

There is a reason why the Public and Private sectors are separate. They have different values. Profit seeking should never place itself in the public sector.

It took a Labour backbencher, Labour MP Chuka Umunna, to force Barclays to admit that it had only paid 1% Corporation Tax in 2009, even though it made profits of £11.9bn. That is absolutely obscene and completely unjustifiable. Unless you’re a Tory, obviously. Bob Diamond, the CEO of Barclays told the Treasury Select Committee that Barclays paid £2bn in taxes in 2009. It turns out he was very misleading, because those taxes are payroll taxes and its employees National Insurance. It paid just 1% Corporation Tax. It is paying bonuses worth £3bn. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

If that wasn’t enough, Barclays (remember, the tax it saves, is obviously for our benefit, for the people!) helps to fund Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe. It lent £750mn to Zimbabwean officials who had siezed land from White farmers, in 2007 alone, in order to “boost farm production“. Didymus Mutasa, the National Security Minister of Zimbabwe got a large chunk of Barclays money, even though he masterminded the ousting of white farmers….. who were left homeless. Mugabe has three farms, that he was able to take over, thanks to the funds from Barclays. FOR THE PEOPLE!!

If you’re disabled, tough. If you’re a child in a low socio-economic area, tough. If you want a borrow a book from a library, tough, it’s closed, fuck off. If you’re the CEO of a tax avoiding, corrupt regime propping up Bank…. great, have a bonus! FOR THE PEOPLE!!

So that begs the question, why is David Cameron focusing purely on the public sector? The public sector did not fail to the extent that he is suggesting. The public sector didn’t cause the biggest financial crises we’ve ever seen. The private sector has failed miserably, far far worse than the public sector could ever imagine. The private sector created a culture of short term gain at the expense of long term stability. It gave everyone credit cards to artificially inflate demand, to keep wages at the very top getting higher and higher whilst (unsurprisingly) wages for the rest of us stagnated. It is the reason that my boss can keep us on minimum wage, and squeeze extra work out of us, without ever offering a pay rise, and talking to us as if we are socially inferior. It is a class system. The neoliberal system. And it doesn’t work. It is a hopeless, dire, miserable little system.

David Cameron is focusing purely on the public sector, because like all Tories, he is unable to recognise the absolute failure of the Private Sector, and instead focuses all his energy on attacking the public sector. He constantly mentions benefit fraud, as do most Tory supporters. People cheating benefits is their big gripe. Yet it costs just £900mn a year. Corporate Tax avoidance (like Barclays) cost us £25bn. Get your fucking priorities in order.

I am unsure how the Liberal Democrats can continue to let this happen. They have no shame. If they keep referring to themselves as Progressives, it is going to be the main source of ridicule politically for years. Freedom, for a left of centre party, should never mean the freedom for big business and a class of business elites, to control every inch of our lives.

I hope to God that one day humanity opens its collective eyes to the absolute abuses of this horrendous right winged economic system we are force fed. It is not here to work for you and I. It is here to work for a very narrow wealthy elite.

I smell Class War.

The Unions, the Student movement, UK Uncut, and anyone who relies on public services, and anyone who hasn’t got an essential part of their soul missing, should fight back. The last thing this Country needs, is Cameronism. I give it a month before England has its name changed to McEngland, or Nike Air England.

Thatcherism and its supporters like to boast that they beat the dragon of Socialism. The Country and the World will never be truly free until it has immunised itself from the disease of Neoliberalism.

Neoliberal Democracy: Of the rich, for the rich, by the rich.
FOR THE PEOPLE!!


Why the Big Society is a load of bollocks

February 14, 2011

I have taken it upon myself to write a bullet point list of why the Big Society is a load of bollocks.

  • It’s a Tory plan.

    In principle, is sounds lovely, and cuddly; a Country where everyone helps the little old lady cross the street, and the struggling girl trying to lift her suitcase up a flight of stairs, or a disabled man trying to reach food on the top shelf, or inviting a homeless drug addict round to Christmas dinner and letting him touch your wife’s breast. It all sounds lovely. But it’s a Tory plan. So obviously it isn’t all that it seems. Putting two and two together is not difficult, because this breed of Tory isn’t much better than the last breed at hiding their sinister motives.

    Tories and their supporters are notoriously unable to critique their dogmatically held economic principles, no matter how flawed or dangerous it is. They simply put a new mask on it, every couple of years. A rebranding. Putting sparkly bits on dog turd.

    Compact Voice, an agreement between the Voluntary sector and the Government, took London Council to court over plans to cut £10mn worth of funding. They won the right to a judicial review, after the court found that the plans to cut funding to 200 projects for lower socio-economic areas of London failed to meet statutory equality duties. So given that it takes a court order to promote a Big Society that the Government is apparently massively in favour of…. what is going wrong?

    First you must look at the current Tory leader. Margaret Thatcher. Actually, it’s a posher looking shinier version of the mad old witch, but it nevertheless, is Thatcher. Dogmatically gelling himself to out of date, unfounded economic principles that didn’t work last time, and wont work again. Economic principles that cause more misery than joy, and only work to enrich a few people; the same people who happen to be socially retarded bastards of the highest calibre.

    Thatcher famously said “there’s no such thing as society“. This is exactly what David Cameron is saying when he tries to promote his “Big Society”. The mask behind the motive, is that people will volunteer in their communities, rescue libraries, save post offices. The problem is that local communities are being drained of all resources.

    When you take the mask off, the choice is “run your library yourself, of we’re closing it down“. And that’s horrendous. It is no different to what Tories always attempt to do, it just has a new mask. It would seem that the “Big Society” is a clever PR stunt, to cover up the fact that the Government is taking money away from the public sector, washing its hands of all social responsibility, in order to fund a mass of tax cuts for the very wealthy. The evidence for this can be seen with the recent offshore Corporate tax rule change; the biggest change in its history. Public money is being taken away from your library, and given back to people who run a business in England, but store their profits elsewhere, and pay no tax on it. Not only has the offshore tax system been scraped, the Corporate tax rate will be dropped by 4% by 2014. Public money is being taken away from your child’s school, for purely ideological reasons, and given to the very rich in the form of tax cuts; the very same very rich people who happen to fund the Tory Party.

    Last year, George Osborne stood up in Parliament and told us all he was instantly getting rid of 490,000 jobs. Half a million people unemployed, in less than ten seconds. The Tory backbenchers cheered in joy. The Big Society is the tedious and futile hope that the voluntary sector will suck up the jobs that have been, and will continue to be destroyed by the Government. When millions are unemployed and in desperate need, the Government is washing its hands of them, and telling the rest of us to deal with it. We didn’t create this mess. The Financial Sector; many of whom donate to the Tory party, and all of whom are taking home a mass of money in bonuses this year created the problems.

    The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations said:

    “In Scotland we’re already delivering the big society. David Cameron’s big idea simply describes a lot of what already happens throughout Scotland’s third sector, from active volunteers in communities across the country to excellent public services run by charities.

    “But government cuts are dangerously undermining our capacity to even continue the valuable work we were doing before the crash, never mind becoming the thriving third sector that Scotland so badly needs.

    “Right now we’re on a knife- edge. The local lifelines that so many people rely on face vicious cuts, leaving the most vulnerable without the support they need. It’s going to take more than rhetoric to save our services.”

    It is impossible to engage the Voluntary sector, when you are taking billions our of it, and giving a couple of million back whilst telling everyone you’re definitely funding it adequately. It is a joke. Most charity leaders don’t buy into it. They recognise that whilst Charity organisations face cuts of close to £5bn, plus the added issue of receiving less due to the scrapping of tax relief on donations, the promise of a couple of extra hundred million pounds, is minuscule. A £100mn “transition fund” is the equivalent of taking a loaf of bread away from you, handing you a slice of bread, and telling you to feed your family.

    In fact, the Office for Civil Society’s promise of an extra £470mn for Voluntary organisations over the next four years, during a Parliament of intense Council cuts, is nothing in comparison to £500mn over the past three years. The Charity Commission will also be required to cut its funding by 27%.

    Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the Executive Director of the UKs leading voluntary and training service; “Community Service Volunteers” said:

    “So there are a lot of very worthwhile programmes – for example volunteers working in child protection as promoted by the minister for children – which are now under threat of closure.”

    Do not buy into the Big Society hype.
    It is not just a cover for public sector cuts, it is a cover to transfer wealth to a very narrow wealthy elite, through a mass of Corporate tax breaks.
    In plain, it is Tories being Tories.


  • Welcome to Corporate England…

    February 9, 2011

    It was an exceptionally busy day in British politics yesterday.
    First, the dirtiest and most destructive years of the past half a century in Britain is being made into a film, staring Meryl Streep as Satan Baroness Thatcher……..

    How scary is that?
    To research the role, Meryl will be spitting on a few homeless people, and giving your money to her friends in the City.
    I hope it explains the situation of the Thatcher years accurately. I hope they don’t presume to tell the World she created a wondrous property and share owning society. I hope they explain that her deregulation of the banking sector lead to the biggest financial mess we’ve ever had; that her selling off the council houses lead to numerous housing market crises and a lack of affordable homes for the next generation; that selling a few shares in British Gas (which hasn’t improved British Gas as a service) is not an adequate substitute for stagnating wages and the destruction of pensions; that passing power from the unions to finance capital has not been a great achievement leading to wondrous trickle down economics like her dirty ideology promised.
    That would be nice.

    Secondly, the BBC announced that the Banking sector was FURIOUS at the Treasury for the increase on the bank levy. They are apparently “livid”. It reminds me of the first episode of The Royle Family where Nana rings Barbara just to tell her that the post office wont accept her voucher because it’s a couple of days out of date. Barbara tells Jim. Jim doesn’t care. Barbara says “I’ve told Jim……… oooo he’s livid“. It is a similar situation. The increase on the bank levy of an extra £800mn more is minuscule. The bankers are not “livid”, they are simply saying so, to make it seem as if the Government is being tough of banks. It is a joint effort, and it probably wont work, because people aren’t stupid. The banks will then announce that they have come to an agreement to start lending again (even though that’s what they’re supposed to do anyway), they will presume we will all be grateful to them for doing what they’re supposed to do as opposed to just extravagantly rewarding themselves for breaking things, and the Chancellor will seem like a hero who tamed the banks. The reality, is quite the opposite.

    The bank levy is still less, even with this extra £800mn, than it was under Labour. The banks are being asked to pay less than is required of them for destroying the entire system in the first place. Barclays Chief Bob Diamond will take home a bonus (not salary) of £8mn this year. Correct me if i’m wrong, but this is the exact same situation we were in before the crises. It will happen again and again. It is inherent to the excessive power of finance capital. The unions may have had too much power in the 1970s, but finance capital, backed by the forces of Conservatism has an even greater hold on power now.

    Thirdly, as the bank levy was made public yesterday, the Tories knew it would take up much of the coverage in the Press. So this gave them a chance to spill the beans on a horrid little change to the Corporate tax laws. When I say “little change“, I mean, the biggest change to Corporate tax laws in decades. It is the greatest transfer of wealth from a gutted public sector, from services to children, to the elderly and to the disabled – to big business, I think I’ve ever known and it is massively unjustifiable.

    The change is this;
    The corporate tax rules used to say that if you paid 10% on your overseas profits, and the rate here is 28%, you’d have to pay 18% when you shift your profits back here, to make up the difference. Which is sane.
    Now, under the new Tory rules; companies pay nothing on money made by their overseas branches.
    When the money gets here, through tax havens, they will have paid nothing on it. But, this rule change only applies to “large and medium firms“. Small businesses still have to pay.
    And here’s the icing on the feces cake…. the “large company” that now have even higher profits because it doesn’t have to pay tax on it, can still claim expenses for funding its overseas branches, against the tax it pays here. They don’t pay the tax on that overseas branch, but they can still claim expenses to run it.
    Oh and by 2014, the 28% rate will be dropped to 24%.

    The point of doing this, is obviously ideological. It is an ideology that says a lower corporate tax rate is better for us all, the extra money will trickle down to us from those philanthropists of the business World, and whilst the rest of us have to deal with mass unemployment, no police, cuts to any form of social service, privatised health care, child care cuts, fear of job and house loss, extra funding for school sports being abolished, the selling off of forests and our libraries closing; we should be thanking the Government for allowing our richest companies to get even richer. Because they will provide the jobs that will kick start the economy apparently. Like they definitely fucking didn’t did in Ireland.

    Welcome to Corporate England. Welcome to Wednesday afternoon, brought to you by Starbucks. Enjoy the air you’re breathing, sponsored by Nike. Indulge in some conversation, promoted by Walmart (Disclaimer: At the end of every sentence, you must use the phrase: this sentence was brought to you by Walmart).

    It is of course no surprise that the Tories are bending over the kitchen table and winking provocatively at the City. It was revealed in the Guardian yesterday, that over 50% of Tory funds come from the City. One of my favourites is Peter Hall, an Australian Fund Manager, who in 2008 told the Sydney Morning Herald that the oceans should be sold off as property. If privatising the sea wasn’t enough, David Rowland, the multimillionaire worth an estimate £700mn donated over £4mn to the Tory Party. Hedge Fund manager Stanley Fink donated £1.9mn. He was then made Tory Treasurer. The money is astounding. For all the talk of Labour being in the pockets of Unions, it is no better that that Tories are in the pockets of the richest and most powerful men on the planet. Actually, that’s a lie. It is worse than being in the pockets of Unions. Unions represented average men and women, thousands upon thousands of people. The City represents the most narrow of elites, whose main concern is increasing their own power and wealth.

    It is no wonder that Corporate Tax cuts and a banking tax cut is being masked as a great coup against a greedy banking sector. Who do our public servants work for? What a funny, blinded little World we live in, when we claim we’re a liberal and free democracy. We are too cowardly to fight back. The Egyptians are showing us how it should be done. The public face of Finance Capital, is the Tory Party, and that is not a good thing.

    I seem to remember there were Liberal Democrats in this Coalition at some point? Are they still calling themselves Progressives? Is that still what they insist on going with? Can a massive delusion really last this long?


    The guinea-pig Nation

    May 5, 2010

    According to the Australian reporter Prue Clarke, growing poverty in Ghana has tripled the number of children who work the streets as prostitutes, over the past decade. There are now over 20,000 children living on the streets of Ghana.

    The IMF likes to claim that it has given well over $160,000,000 to Ghana to help rebuild the economy of Ghana, plus an extra $1.1bn from the World Bank, and how wondrous this is. Now, whilst it is true that a minority of citizens of Ghana have benefited from the IMF liberalisation of the markets of Ghana, most have been displaced by cheap imports that have destroyed their local industry, made them jobless, and then thanks to massive cuts in social spending, they’re simply left to rot. The IMF says it’s wonderful, because growth for the sake of growth is the neoliberal way.

    The IMF are a group that are rather dictatorial in their running of an economy. To them, the idea of Nation States, and their sovereignty is meaningless. To the IMF, the IMF control your country. They in affect, make sure the richer countries remain rich, and the poorer countries open up their markets for the richer countries to exploit at will.

    The IMF is essentially a bank. They give loans and aid to countries that need it, but they only give that aid, if the countries in question implement right winged economic principles. The idea is “you do it our way, or fuck you“. This ideological vehicle, of course has it’s problems. Not least for Ghana, who the IMF insist they have done an excellent job with.

    What they fail to point out, are the findings by Christianaid:

    “In the year 2000 alone, sub-Saharan Africa lost nearly US$45 dollars per person thanks to trade liberalisation. Most trade liberalisation in Africa has been part of the conditions attached to foreign aid, loans and debt relief. This looks like a bad deal: in 2000, aid per person in sub-Saharan Africa was less than half the loss from liberalisation – only US$20. Africa is losing much more than it gains if aid comes with policy strings attached. The staggering truth is that the US$272 billion liberalisation has cost sub-Saharan Africa would have wiped clean the debt of every country in the region (estimated at US$204 billion) and still left more than enough money to pay for every child to be vaccinated and go to school.”

    The government of Ghana no longer has any control over Ghana. Social policies are tied to economic policies, and the government of Ghana can only implement a social policy, if the IMF agree to it. If a Sub-Saharan African nation needs help, it has to sell it’s soul to the economic devil, for eternity. Who gave the IMF that sort of power over so many lives? I certainly didn’t vote for them? Why is this form of totalitarianism considered legitimate?

    According to Waldon Bello, a senior analyst at “Focus on the Global South”, a program of Chulalongkorn University’s Social Research Institute:

    “At the time of decolonization in the 1960s, Africa was not just self-sufficient in food but was actually a net food exporter, its exports averaging 1.3 million tons a year between 1966-70. Today, the continent imports 25% of its food, with almost every country being a net food importer. Hunger and famine have become recurrent phenomena, with the last three years alone seeing food emergencies break out in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Southern Africa, and Central Africa.

    It would seem that the huge problem caused by neoliberalism on economies that just aren’t ready for it at all, is the huge increase in imports and the meagre growth or even decline of exports, which in turn leads to huge rates of unemployment, awful exploitation at the hands of Western business and the bare minimum social protection for the those affected the worst. Markets are incomplete and so the social programs that gave access to land to local farmers, and offered them a degree of protection, were suddenly taken away. People who had no idea how to work in a highly competitive global marketplace, had absolutely no chance of survival. What happens, in areas like chicken farming, which is one of Ghana’s biggest industries, is that with market liberalisation, UK and US excess chicken produce, is imported and sold ridiculously cheap in Ghana, thereby pricing the local farmers out of the markets. It is not “competition”, it is economic imperialism. Ghana is thankfully fighting against it. Unfortunately, they have been in this position once before. In 2003, the Ghanaian government passed legislation that increased import duty on poultry in an attempt to help local poultry farmers keep their livelihoods. The IMF forced them to repeal the legislation a few months later. How very undemocratic of the IMF, given that the Ghanaian government is a fairly elected government of the people. The IMF apparently consider themselves far more important than the Ghanaian people.

    With this, came the liberalisation of health in Ghana. Which meant paying for healthcare. The most vulnerable people in Ghana were thus unable to gain access to healthcare. Healthcare from a specialist in Ghana after IMF liberalisation, cost people ten times the average wage of Ghanaians. Primary education, costs Ghanaians money too.

    Ghana is not making anything. It’s industrial base is non-existent. According to Christianaid, Ghana’s employment in manufacturing actually fell quite horrendously after liberalisation occured. Which is why its exports are so weak. It’s farmers are forced out of the market by multinational competitors, which works only to benefit the richer nations. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development:

    “The more recent evidence from liberalisation episodes in sub-Saharan Africa as well as Latin America suggest that they have often been accompanied by an increase in unemployment. ”

    The IMF’s fundamental grasp on markets is interestingly weak. They forced Vietnam to liberalise it’s coffee industry in the 1980s. And it worked. Pretty well too. (In stark contrast to Senegal’s tomato production, which after IMF liberalisation, fell from 74,000 tons to just under 20,000 tons and pretty much killed off the entire trade in Senegal) Vietnam went from producing 50,000 tons, to 400,000 tons of coffee. Which, is a success. The IMF then decided that which works in one Nation, must be true for all. Neoliberalism at it’s oddest. And so it urged Uganda and Kenya to do the same in 1993. Suddenly, with increased coffee exports, the market was over supplied, and a huge economic crises occurred in the major coffee producing nations, causing the World Bank to report:

    “coffee prices have declined sharply in recent years because of large increases in coffee production and exports from traditional exporters such as Brazil and new entrants such as Vietnam, Between July 1998 and June 2001, coffee export prices declined by almost 50%.”

    In 2008, the World Bank, released a report, beautifully hidden away, and ignored by pretty much all major news institutions, which seems to be a subtle hint, that perhaps neoliberalism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be:

    “Structural adjustment in the 1980’s dismantled the elaborate system of public agencies that provided farmers with access to land, credit, insurance inputs, and cooperative organization. The expectation was that removing the state would free the market for private actors to take over these functions—reducing their costs, improving their quality, and eliminating their regressive bias. Too often, that didn’t happen. ”

    IMF demand absolutely no trade restrictions from poorer Countries, whilst richer Countries like the US ensure that entry into their markets are as difficult as possible. The US high tech industry would have died horribly, many many years ago, had the Pentagon not kept it going.

    Trade liberalisation in a global economy, does work. But only when it is appropriate. Countries like Malaysia explicitly ignored the IMF’s recommendations to liberalise their markets, and Malaysia succeeded. Such strong neoliberal recommendations do not work in the most developed of Nations, so attempting to implement them in the poorest, is always destined to fail. Especially given that a huge cut in import tariffs means a far smaller tax revenue for Nations like Ghana, who then cannot afford to pay their debts back. Even the US and the UK retain protectionist policies, that the IMF have strictly forbidden from the poorer Nations. It seems like the IMF is simply a vehicle for the economic imperialist ideologues who adhere to the theories of neoliberalism, to experiment on poor and struggling Nations. It has created a tyranny of an economic system. Ghana has no choice but to do what the IMF says. Ghana, is a guinea-pig.


    The Reagan Legacy

    March 2, 2010

    Ronald Reagan, in my estimation, was a nightmare. He is adored as a grandfather like figure who transformed America, whilst his equally as evil minion, Thatcher “transformed” Britain. A Corporate bitch at best, a war criminal for what he did with Guatemala at worst. Reagan once commented on Guatemala:
    “President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. … I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”
    President Rios Montt, staunch anticommunist, and funded almost entirely by the Reagan administration, was according to a Roman Catholic investigation, guilty of commanding widespread torture, rape, political murders and genocide against the indigenous population if they happened to show left wing sympathies.
    Greg Grandin, a reputable historian found that:
    “In Nicaragua, the U.S.-backed Contras decapitated, castrated, and otherwise mutilated civilians and foreign aid workers. Some earned a reputation for using spoons to gorge their victims eye’s out. In one raid, Contras cut the breasts of a civilian defender to pieces and ripped the flesh off the bones of another.”
    Quite ironically, one of America’s most wanted terrorists, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was funded almost exclusively by the Reagan administration, whilst also given full immunity for cocaine trafficking, people trafficking and other horrific offences, purely because he didn’t really like the Soviets either.

    Whilst Reagan was quite happily knowingly funding rape, death, and genocide over in Latin America; back in America he was launching an all out assault on organised labour. His Chief of Staff (ex-chairman of Merrill Lynch, and vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange) Donald Regan helped build policy around this new Neoliberalist ideal. In 1981, air traffic controllers went on strike to demand better working conditions. 12,000 in all. When 12,000 people go on strike, ones instant reaction is that perhaps management isn’t all that great. 12,000 people are not holding the industry to ransom; the management is holding the people to ransom. Reagan didn’t see it that way. He had them all fired. As a result, management could now just replace striking workers, meaning workers didn’t dare speak out against poor working conditions. Which meant that management could do whatever the fuck they wanted. The median real wage did not grow, during the entire 1980s. But, the gap between rich and poor more than doubled, and the homeless rate was at the highest in decades. As a result of his tax cuts for the rich, the deficit reached record highs. After forcing a recession on the American public, he then managed to cut Federal low income household funds, by 84%.

    What about the middle class? According to research undertaken by Wallace Peterson, author of “The Macroeconomic legacy of Reaganomics“, The middle class share of the economy in 1980 was 61.7%. In 1985, that had shrunk to 58.2%. Similarly, the poverty rate under President Carter reached a peak of 12.1% before falling to 11.9% by the end of his term in Office. Under Reagan, between 1981-1986, the poverty rate shot up to 14.7%. Unemployment under Carter started falling and finished at 7.5% by the end of his term. Between 1981-1986, under Reagan, unemployment shot up to 8.1%.
    Under Obama, the unemployment rate has dropped from 10% to 9.7%, whilst U.S. Department of Commerce states that 4th quarter GDP growth went from 5.7% to 5.9%, the best rate of growth in seven years. Obama doesn’t have Fox News on his side, Reagan still does. That’s the difference.

    What Reagan essentially did, with his ideal of cutting the size of government and slashing aid to those who needed it most, was to bankroll the rich, spit on the poor, create a new class of homeless people, and use this new smaller government (which in fact, had more federal employees than any government before it) to undertake the task of destroying any left wing opposition in Latin America. That was the American Government’s new mission. Constitutional? Apparently so, if you ask Republican America.

    Economist Mark Weisbrot is quoted as stating that Reagan’s economic policies were “mostly a failure”. Free-market-failure-denial-sufferers, will never accept that Reagan was an utter failure. Weisbrot goes on to point out that: “The median wage was flat, and there was a massive redistribution of income, with wealth going to the top one or two percent of the population

    Was he the most popular President of the past century as some conservatives would have us believe? No. He never reached the 90% approval rating that even George W Bush and his father achieved, and Bill Clinton managed roughly the same rating during his two terms, surpassing Reagan in the second half of each of their terms.

    The hysteria about the debt and stimulus across the U.S, is crippling the recovery. America needs more stimulus. As does Britain. It didn’t go far enough. What the World doesn’t need, is another Reagan or Thatcher propagating the rumour that neoliberalism is the only way out of recession, because for millions upon millions of people, it certainly isn’t. During a recession of such huge proportions, a lack of easily affordable healthcare (a universal system), lack of a safety net, and lack of foreclosure federal help, means the majority is far more at risk from financial ruin and psychological depression. One of the many reasons i’ll never vote Conservative.

    Reagan’s legacy was one of homelessness, selfishness, arrogance, lack of compassion or empathy, hate, Corporate greed, death, and misery. All in the name of an economic policy disastrously known as “trickle down”. History will remember both him and Thatcher as little beacons of horror and misery. That’s all.

    Obama now needs to man up, recognise that he’s President, recognise that the Democrats control Congress, and make sure the Republicans – as well as being a laughing stock for the entire World – know that they are largely irrelevant now.