Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Sting in the Tail: Time to think (1994)

The Sting in the Tail column from the August 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard

Time to think
At the last count there were 171,434 registered charities in this country. Most of these charities are engaged in trying to alleviate the plight of the poor.

One of these charities recently sent out a leaflet appealing for funds. It is called Actionaid. Like all of the other charities, it is a futile organisation. It believes World Hunger can can be solved by workers sending a pittance to save a child in "the developing world".

The facts it quotes are heartbreaking. "Tomorrow 40,000 children will die in the developing world." There is a photograph of a beautiful little kid called Sanu and the chilling information that "every two seconds a child like Sanu dies in the developing world."

What a heartless brutal system. All of these children dying of malnutrition and poverty-related diseases could lead useful worthwhile lives if we got rid of capitalism and brought about socialism.

Think about it. It will take you about 80 seconds to read this article. In the same time another 40 children will have died needlessly.


Come and join us
The Bishop of Birmingham, Mark Tranter, complains that market reforms have made the NHS a "system in distress":
   "The patient is reduced to the status of a unit of consumption and exchange. That, in the Christian view, must be wrong" (Independent, 4 July).
Has he not noticed that capitalism reduces just about everything we need to this same status? And does he think it equally wrong that food, clothing and shelter should be subject to the market? After all, they are as essential to our wellbeing as is health care.

To be consistent the Bish should be coming out against the market in its entirety and not just its application to one of the necessities of life.


Loadsamoney (1)
"Art for Art’s sake", was a cry of the aesthete in the last century. It wasn’t true then, but it is even less valid in the crass, commercial world of today.

Commenting on the career of the film actor Jack Nicholson, the Observer (10 July) recalled the words of the head of Columbia Studios in Hollywood on learning of the financial success of the film Easy Rider:
 "I don’t know what the fuck it’s about, but it’s going to make us a fuck of a lot of money."
Films, like novels and other "artistic" creations are mere commodities in the mad market system that is capitalism. Like everything else they are produced for profit, not for their own sake.


Loadsamoney (2)
While workers of Railtrack engage in a bitter struggle for a few pounds a week, it is worth nothing the values put on human efforts by the market place.

Reporting on the financial bonanza of one speculator in the Anglia TV takeover, the Observer (10 July) gave an indication of the loot enjoyed by the owning class:
   "The shares were bought by Lord Archer’s friend shortly before the £292 million takeover bid from MAI last January. The deal netted a profit of £80,000 when the shares were sold a few days after the bid was announced on 18 January. The buyer did not even need to pay for the shares - just collected the profit."
Toiling on their rest days, working overtime and taking home about £200 a week to keep a family, signalworkers may reflect that a system that allows some parasite, with influential friends, to pocket £80,000 with just one phone call makes a mockery of the capitalist apologists’ claim that this system rewards hard work.


The sad warriors
When it suits them the Labour Party like to project the image of being the Party of Peace. At election times they con voters into the belief that they are less militaristic than their Tory counterparts.

The recent threat of closure of the Rosyth Naval Dockyards revealed them in a different light. They spoke patriotically about the Tories threatening the defence of Britain. The threat of less battleships filled them with nationalistic dread.

How vigorously they have pursued this cynical vote-catching stance (there were thousands of jobs - and votes - at stake) can be seen by the letter in the Guardian (19 July) written by Dr David Clark MP, Shadow Defence Secretary.

Replying to the accusation that he had been absent from the House of Commons when defence cuts were announced, he defended himself on the grounds he was attending his daughter’s graduation ceremony and stated:
   "After all my daughter’s graduation ceremony cannot be repeated - but sadly, there will be many more commons statements on defence cuts."
Horror of horrors - there may be more defence cuts by those wicked Tories, hence the sabre-rattling lickspittle’s use of the term "sadly"!


Different class
The TV programme recalling the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo in 1914 was an interesting account of the eve of World War One, but even better was Diary of a Debutante, shown the same evening, in which an upper-crust young woman described her social whirl during that same June.

And what a whirl! Ascot, Henley, the Royal Horse Show, lunch with daddy at the Cavalry Club, afternoon teas by the river and grand balls in the evenings.

There were problems, though. She constantly fretted about what to wear, and on one occasion simply couldn’t find a new dress to match her hat, but whatever the problems, money certainly wasn’t one of them.

Such was the life of some people during June 1914. The Socialist Standard that month reported how some other were faring. Old-age pensioners received five shillings (25p) a week and a 72-year-old Pimlico woman cut her throat. Her husband told the coroner that their joint weekly income was twelve shillings (60p).

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