From the October 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard
As various pieces of legislation pass through the US governmental machine it is often observed that the process is torturously slow. An example of this tardy procedure has recently been revealed in the proposed Health Bill. No such delay is evidenced when it comes to military budgets. "With hardly any debate, a powerful Senate committee Thursday approved President Barack Obama's $128 billion request for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the budget year beginning in October. The move came as anxiety is increasing on Capitol Hill over the chances for success in Afghanistan and as Obama weighs whether to send more forces to the country. The war funding was approved as the Appropriations Committee voted unanimously for a $636 billion spending measure funding next year's Pentagon budget." (Huffington Post, 10 September) The health of the American working class is obviously of less importance than the military needs of the owning class.
POISONED BY CAPITALISM
Capitalism is a poisonous society. Thousands of coal miners have suffered lung diseases, thousands more in shipyards and factories have been maimed by asbestos. In the mad scramble for more and more profits the owning class have endangered the health and even the life of the working class. From China comes this latest example of the profit system's murderous nature. "More than 2,000 children have been found to have lead poisoning because Chinese factories greedy for profit have spewed out pollutants without carrying out even the most minor environmental monitoring. Officials announced yesterday that 1,354 children under 14, who had been living and going to school for more than two years within a few hundred metres of a manganese smelter, had excess lead in their blood. Local officials said that the numbers could rise when further tests were carried out." (London Times, 21 August)
In the past when Southern Californian fruit growers were faced with a glut and falling prices they let the fruit rot on the trees. When castigated for this apparent madness they pointed out the quite logical capitalist argument that they would have to pay pickers wages for fruit they couldn't sell. When again they were taken to task for this argument they were offered by some charitable organisations the prospect of them supplying free labour and they would distribute to the needy. Again the fruit growers had an answer to that. "Every year charitable organisations buy at cut-rate prices our unsold surplus. Giving it away would even spoil that source of income for us." The fruitgrowers may have appeared heartless but from an economic standpoint letting the fruit rot seemed the logical action. A similar solution is being followed today by French wine producers. “Hopes of a glut of cheap champagne are set to be dashed when vineyards meet next week to agree on a big cut in production to prop up prices. With sales falling, producers may be ordered to leave up to half their grapes to wither on the vine in an attempt to squeeze the market." (London Times, 29 August) Capitalism is a crazy system, obviously inside socialism we would deal with the problem by drinking more champagne.
A TEN MILLION POUND VIEW
The newspapers are full of stories of unemployed workers suffering the indignity of their homes being re-possessed. Every day we hear of the crashing property market and the resultant misery suffered by hard working families. The story is completely different for members of the capitalist class of course. "At £10m it must be the most expensive sea view in Britain. A Russian multi-millionaire liked a plot of land on the coast at Sandbanks in Dorset so much that he was happy to pay £5m for it. The plot was already occupied by a substantial house, but he did not much like it so is paying the same again to have it knocked down and replaced with something better. The purchase last September by Maxim Demin, 39, a petrochemicals trader, shows that at the top end of the property market lavish spending has survived the slowdown." (Sunday Times, 13 September) There is nothing unique about the property market. In every market – housing, education, medical treatment, holidays and entertainment – "lavish spending has survived the slowdown".
A MODEST SORT
Away back in the bad old days we had ruthless dictators with over-bearing ideas of their own importance but today's leaders are much more modest fellows. In the past we had people like the despot Stalin who regularly polled over 100 percent at "elections", nowadays in "democratic" Belorussia we have more self-effacing creatures at the helm of state. "The Belorussian strongman, Alexander Lukashenko, admitted that he rigged the 2006 election because, he said, his popularity was so vast that the true margin of victory was unbelievable and had to be cut from 93 to 80 per cent." (London Times, 28 August)