Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sting in the Tail: Food for thought (1993)

The Sting in the Tail column from the January 1993 issue of the Socialist Standard


Food for thought
Fancy a nice juicy steak? The Meat and Livestock Commission want to make sure that you do and have issued a booklet to assure us that eating meat is both physically safe and morally sound.

The booklet (available in supermarkets) dismisses most vegetarians as either bogus or having "a misconception about a healthy diet”. This doesn’t help veg sales but supermarkets know that people spend a lot more on meat than they do on veg.

We are then told that meat is good for just about every part of us, and be warned -
Britain has the highest rate of heart disease among EC countries, but the second lowest meat consumption per head.
No mention is made of the 74,000 cattle which have died in Britain of mad cow disease since 1985.

All this we can expect from any organisation trying to boost sales but just look at what follows under the heading "Does eating meat deprive the third world of grain?" - 
There is already a world surplus of grain and so if it was simply a matter of availability of grain supplies then there would not be a problem. THE PROBLEM OF HUNGER LIES IN POVERTY AND NOT AVAILABILITY (their emphasis).
THAT we don't expect, but we welcome having the socialist case against capitalism backed-up and especially from such an unlikely source.


False prophets
After the Tory election victory the British holiday industry's market forecasters were convinced that the foreign holiday market would grow again because of the expected boom, so more hotel rooms and aircraft were booked.

Sadly, the boom went bust and Thomson, the biggest package holiday operator, estimated in June that there were 500,000 too many holidays on sale.

Yet only five months later the industry reported a 5% increase in demand in 1992 (Ceefax 15 November). Having- been let down by the boom that- wasn't they had been saved by . . . the recession!

Apparently, many redundant workers are spending their redundancy money on a foreign holiday in the belief that it may be their last for a long time.

Can readers think of a more futile job in capitalism than market forecasting? Answers on a postcard please to Scorpion, address at the bottom of this page.


Raving Mad
The news that 5 young people have died in Greater Manchester since 1989 from dance floor dehydration and heatstroke accentuated by drugs such as Ecstasy, has alarmed the local city council.

Their concern is understandable when it is realised that one of the contributory factors has been the dance hall owners trick of charging £2 for a drink of water.

The money conscious entrepreneurs turn up the heating, cut off the water supply in the toilets and wait for the dehydrated drugged dancers to stump up the two quid for a glass of water.

If the dehydrated youngsters can't afford the two quid and drop dead - well, that's just market forces at work, isn't it?


Useless Money
Currency speculators have been on the rampage recently with "runs" on the pound, the French franc and several other European currencies.

Nowadays the world's money markets have immense sums of money at their disposal. Ex-Labour chancellor Dennis Healy estimated that only one fiftieth of this money is required for world trade settlement ("Greed" Channel 4, 8 November) so the rest is available for speculation.

So any "weak" currency is singled out for attention and the speculators know they will win. Sweden lost almost all of its foreign reserves trying to defend the Krona while the Bank of England lost £11 billion of "our” foreign reserves in a bid to defend sterling. The attack on sterling was led by the City of London and there wasn't a patriotic scruple in sight.

And after all the frenzied activity in which millions had been won and lost, society had not one whit more food, clothing, shelter or health care to show for it.


A Star Is Born
And now for our showbiz update! The word is that professor J.K.Galbraith, Keynesian economist and new comic genius, was a smash in his London one-man show.

The Guardian (25 November) reports him joking that in future "the social left" must give up "socialist principles” and is "no longer in search of an alternative economic system" to capitalism! His deadpan irony would have any audience in stitches.

The prof, surely had them rolling in the aisles when he hit them with such show-stopping vote catchers as "reasonably full employment", "more equitable distribution of income" and "needs of the underclass". Only proves once again that the old jokes are the best jokes!

Ben Elton, Rowan Atkinson, Paul Merton and co., have one hell of an act to follow!


A Royal Mess
The Queen has had a pretty shitty 1992. Well, we’re sorry to hear it, but then it was hardly a wonderful year for the rest of us either.

Commenting on the Joseph Rowntree Trustee report on what a family needed to live on, The Independent (15 November) noted that a single parent bringing up two children under 11 on income support received £25.12 less than the Low Cost Budget of £110.72. This Low Cost Budget was reckoned to be the basic minimum necessary to live in 1992.

The newspaper reported the position of Kathleen Elliot who receives £85.60 to bring up Kirsty eight and Stacy three in a working class estate in Gateshead.
"Some nights I just cry myself to sleep. We live in a three bedroomed house, but at this time of year we all sleep in the same double bed and throw Kirsty's duvet on top as well. It's warmer that way. I can't afford the heating. . . .  I just buy essentials like bread, tatties, beans. Can’t afford meat, though sometimes I get sausages."
Not only are Kathleen, Kirsty and Stacy living in abject poverty and misery, but even the Queen is pissed off. Let's get rid of capitalism for all their sakes!

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