Monday, June 29, 2020

Sting in the Tail: Born in the USA (1990)

The Sting in the Tail column from the June 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Born in the USA

American politicians are fond of boasting that the USA is a classless society. But the truth of the matter is revealed In a Michigan newspaper The Grand Rapids Press (26 April 1990) under the headline "One Child In Five Now Lives In Poverty".

Reporting the National Commission on Children, a group established by Congress and its members appointed by the President and House and Senate leaders, It showed the real position of the working class in the USA.
Malnutrition affects nearly a half-million children, and every night an estimated 100,000 go to sleep homeless —
The poverty rate in 1987, the year the report cited, was 15% for white children but 45% for black children and 39% for Hispanic children.
In the same issue the newspaper reports:
The heirs of Edward Steichen, a pillar of New York's Museum of Modern Art, are battling the museum over an $800,000 painting by Matisse that was bequeathed to the photographer's 6 year old great- grand-daughter.
One kid stands to inherit $800,000 while 20% of US kids suffer official poverty. No class differences In the USA?

Nothing Sacred

The Anglican Church has lost 600,000 members and demolished 289 churches in the last 20 years.

But the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market 'Think Tank", has come up with a solution. They propose according to The Guardian (16 April 1990) that the clergy be:
. . . paid on a performance basis and regarded as a 10,000 strong sales force established on prime sites throughout Britain.
What the priests would earn would depend on how successfully they could:
. . . go into the highways and byways and compel them (customers) to come in.
In other words, get bums on seats or else. 

Marx and Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto that the bourgeoisie had converted, among others, the priests into paid wage-labourers, but even they could hardly have dreamt that one day the priestly wages might be based on piece-work!

Dancing in the Street?

"If Labour Wins" was the title of John Molyneux's article in Socialist Worker for April 17,1990.

He predicts that a Tory defeat at the next general election will see "mass dancing in the streets". So much for the night before but what about the morning after when the new Labour government is faced with "economic crisis"?

Molyneux's prediction is that Labour will "turn on" and "squeeze the working class" because that is "what every Labour government has done when faced with economic crisis" and he provides chapter and verse to prove this.

We can agree with Molyneux's predictions about a future Labour government, but we can do a little predicting of our own: it is that, despite all their denunciations of Labour, Molyneux and the rest of the Socialist Workers Party will be urging workers to put their heads in the noose by voting Labour at the next general election. Any bets?

US Speak

George Orwell in his book, "1984" invented "Newspeak" a language that allowed the ruling elite to describe the Ministry of War as the Ministry of Peace.

According to the report of Time (30 April 1990) Orwell's Newspeak is in full bloom In 1990.
 The Strategic Air Command has decided to change its longtime motto 'Peace Is our Profession", to "War is our Profession - Peace Is our Product".

Boom and Bust

John Ashcroft, ex-chairman of Coloroll, was a stock market darling of the 80's.

And no wonder. Coloroll started the decade as a small wallpaper manufacturer but under Ashcroft's guidance it borrowed heavily to buy companies making glassware, ceramics, textiles, furniture and carpets.

This mad dash for expansion was fine when the economy was booming and interest rates were low, but when they shot skyward then High Street spending plunged and so did Coloroll's profits. Its shares have fallen from a peak of 383p to only 15p.

Now Coloroll's very future is in doubt and Ashcroft joins the long list of financial whlzz-kids who, despite all the evidence, believed that capitalism's booms will last forever.

The Sick Society

The Socialist view that Health, like everything else in a capitalist society, is largely decided by economic factors, has recently been vindicated by the World Health Organisation.
 If current global trends continue, an estimated 200 million persons world-wide could die prematurely from preventable Illnesses in the 1990s, according to a report on the state of world health released yesterday by the World Health Organisation.
"Disease is the most destructive force In the world", Dr. Hiroshi Najakajina, director general of WHO said in a statement . . .
"many of the world's illnesses are preventable or treatable with inexpensive vaccines, anti-blotics or oral rehydration therapy", Nakajina said. "What Is needed Is to mobilise the political will to make this a healthier world."
The Boston Globe (30 April 1990)
Dr. Nakajina's "political will" cannot solve the problem while capitalism, with its production for profit motive, remains. People are dying today simply because they cannot afford to buy the treatments that would cure them.

What could be a more powerful argument for a new society, based on production solely for use, than the next piece of Information in the WHO report?
 . . . more than 8,000 children die every day from diseases that could have been prevented by immunization, and almost 11.000 die daily of dehydration caused by diarrhoea, the report said. Further, an additional 8,000 die every day of pneumonia, WHO said. Much of the suffering can be alleviated, the report said.

Holiday Competition

The news that Thomson and Intasun, the two biggest package holiday operators, have increased their 1990 prices by around 12% and scrapped over a million holidays from their 1990 plans should surprise no one.

For years they have conducted a fierce price-war which was hailed by the free marketeers as a glorious example of the benefits which competition brings to consumers.

True, prices dropped ever lower in real terms until a holiday in Spain could be bought for a ridiculous £29. But this meant that profits in the industry almost vanished. The average profit on a holiday is now around only £1.20 and many operators have gone bust or been swallowed up.

These tiny profits have meant tiny re-investment, and the resulting decline in standards of holiday hotels and apartments has produced massive customer dissatisfaction and fewer bookings.

So besides providing rising prices and less choice for consumers, the package holiday industry has fallen into fewer and fewer hands until Thomson and Intasun have more than 60% of the market between them. Ah, the benefits of cut-throat competition!

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

That's June 1990 done and dusted.