Thursday, June 7, 2007

Voice From The Back - They Call It Democracy?

From the June 2007 issue of the Socialist Standard

THEY CALL IT DEMOCRACY?
One of the greatest cons of all time is to call the USA a perfect example of democracy. Very rich people make all the decisions and American workers are told to wave flags and sing hymns. "America is on course to stage the world's first billion dollar election with candidates already raising in excess of $100 million, fully 19 months before voters choose which one will be the next US President." (Times, 3 April) Lets face it who is donating $26 million to Clinton, $20 million to Obama or $17 million to Giuliani? Giant corporations or individual millionaires are the only ones with that kind of bread. The rich not only dictate how you live, but they are trying to dictate how you think.

PRISONERS OF WANT
"Murderer and kidnapper Michael Sams has said he is better off in prison than he would be living as a free pensioner. Sams, 66, was jailed for life in 1993 ... Sams, from Nottinghamshire, wrote to prisoners' magazine Inside Time to oppose a call for convicts' pensions. He said he had better living conditions inside Whitemoor jail, Cambridgeshire, than many people on the basic pension. In his letter, Sams wrote: .. "Materially, we OAPs in prison are far better off than those in the community. .. "Most struggle to keep warm in winter, afraid to put the heating on, barely eating, let alone getting three square, ready-made, meals per day." (BBC News, 18 April) What a society capitalism is! It treats murderers better than old workers.

THEY CALL IT TRUTH?
In 1917 Hiram Johnson in a speech to the US Senate said "The first casualty when war comes is truth." This perceptive view was recently re-inforced when Private Jessica Lynch of the US army exposed the lies of the Pentagon in her testimony to Congress. "The Pentagon said initially that she was shot after emerging from her vehicle, guns blazing, before being abducted. It later emerged that she was injured in the ambush and was incapable of fighting. She was taken to an Iraqi hospital by Iraqi troops and owes her life to Iraqi doctors, who even tried to return her to American troops. Speaking to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Ms Lynch told of waking up in hospital with terrible injuries, unaware that the Pentagon was circulating "the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who went down fighting". "It was not true", she said yesterday. (Times, 25 April)

TOUGH AT THE TOP?
"What has the world come to when £1m isn't enough to make you a millionaire? These days you need nearly £6m to live a millionaire's lifestyle, according to the results of research by luxury life-style co-ordinator Carbon Black, which interviewed 200 millionaires in the UK to study their spending habits. ... David Bonderman, a Texan millionaire, celebrated his 60th birthday by paying the Rolling Stones a reported £4m to play for him and 2,000 guests, but Sir Phillip Green, billionaire retailer, beat him in the show-off stakes by spending a reported £5m for a toga party on his 50th birthday party." (Observer, 29 April) Although it is so tough for the extremely rich to survive amidst soaring costs of Rollers, jet planes and hiring pop bands for your knees-up, there is some consolation to be found in the following figures. "The combined wealth of the UK's richest 1,000 people has risen by 20% - or £59bn - in the last 12 months. According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2007, the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal again tops the table with £19.25bn, up more than £4bn on last year after acquiring Arcelor, the world's second-largest steelmaker behind Mittal Steel." (Guardian, 30 April)

DOWN AND OUT DOWN UNDER
"Health standards among Australia's Aborigines are as poor as those among the white population before the advent of penicillin nearly a century ago, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). A WHO report found that Aborigines still suffered from leprosy, tuberculosis and rheumatic heart disease, all of which were eradicated decades ago in other developed nations. In some parts of New South Wales the average life expectancy for Aboriginal men was 33." (Independent, 2 May) Whenever capitalism invades the territory of indigenous people living in a pre-capitalist society the consequences are disastrous. The plains Indians of USA, the forest-dwellers of the Amazon and the Australian aborigines all of them slaughtered and impoverished by the advance of capitalism.

SO WHATS NEW?
"British doctors will take the historic step of admitting for the first time that many health treatments will be rationed in the future because the NHS cannot cope with spiralling demand from patients." (Observer, 5 May) What is historic about that? Everything that is produced inside capitalism whether it be food, clothing, shelter, education or health care is always available to the rich, and they make sure they get the absolute best. How often at your local doctor's surgery or emergency ward in a hospital have you found yourself rubbing shoulders with millionaires?