Tuesday, February 9, 2016

These Foolish Things . . . (1997)

The Scavenger column from the July 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard

American bad dream
In 1994 every US resident between 18 and 65—that is 150 million people— received at least 17 offers of credit cards  . . .  A survey by the Federal Reserve, America’s central bank, reveals that over the past three years the number of families running up credit card debts on annual incomes of less than $10,000 (£6,250) has more than doubled from 11 percent to 24 percent. And the number of personal bankruptcies has reached a record 1.1 million. The average bankrupt is aged 30 to 40 with an annual income of $25,000 to $35,000 and up to $40,000 in credit card debt. Typically, this person will have between 10 and 12 cards with a credit limit per card of $3,900. (Financial Mail on Sunday, 23 March.)


Out of sight . . .
Government scientists have decided against further research in to a cluster of leukaemia cases around one of Britain’s most powerful FM radio transmitters. The decision comes five years after the Guardian first revealed an unusual number of cases near the BBC’s TV and radio transmitter at Sutton Coldfield north of Birmingham. The existence of the cluster was confirmed by a subsequent government funded study published, after a long delay, in a US journal this year . . .  the effect was to ensure that the UK press did not cover the story of the Sutton Coldfield cluster. (Guardian, 29 May.)


Wage slavery
About 200,000 employees in the West Midlands—12 percent of the region's working population—receive no paid holiday . . .  One in five get only 15 days annual holiday entitlement and 25 percent work more than 48 hours a week. (Evening Mail, 28 February.)


A class act
Lloyd’s insurance market is bracing itself for the biggest wave of City job losses since Big Bang in 1986. More than 200,000 workers face the sack as some of the worlds largest insurance brokers merge with former rivals. The massive cost-cutting drive has been triggered by the Aon corporation, a US insurance broking group already embarking on extensive takeovers in London and the US in a bid to become the world number one. (Financial Mail on Sunday, 6 April.)


Penury
Elderly people in state-funded care homes are left with barely a third of what they need to pay for personal needs such as clothes and toiletries . . .  The personal expenses allowance of £14.10 a week compares with £38.78 needed to meet the ‘‘modest but adequate” outgoings of someone living in a residential home, according to the research for the charity Age Concern. (Guardian, 24 April.)


As we say . . .
Differences between the three main parties are wafer-thin—a matter of nuance rather than fundamental approach. That may be because we really have little choice about where we go from here. Politicians are merely trying to fool us when they claim they can change our lives for the better at little cost, fearful that if they tell the truth we shall turn against them. (Financial Mail on Sunday, 27 April.)
                                                                                                                         The Scavenger
                                                                                                                                       

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