The Voice From The Back Column from the January 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard
A Sick Society
The owning class are always seeking ways of increasing their profit margins and one way of doing that is by decreasing their expenditure on welfare and health. “People should be signed off for long-term sickness by an independent assessment service not GPs, a government-backed review says. The review also suggests tax breaks for firms which employ people who suffer from long-term conditions. It is estimated the changes would send 20% of those off sick back to work.” (BBC News, 19 November) In sickness and health the working class must be kept toiling to keep those profits rolling in.
Figures Don’t Lie
Politicians like to claim that under their benign guidance we are all better off but what do their own statisticians find? “New figures from the Office of National Statistics show that average salaries in the UK have fallen by 3.5% in real terms as pay rises fail to keep pace with inflation. An average full-time employee earned £26,200 in the year to April, up 1.4% on the previous 12 months. However, with inflation running at 5%, that amounts to a pay cut” (The Week, 23 November). It is true that statistics don’t lie – unlike some politicians.
Optimism And Reality
With the discovery of oil and gas in the North Sea many optimists predicted that gas for home heating would cost next to nothing. Another piece of optimistic prediction about the future that was once made was that with the great technological advances we would soon enjoy a much shorter working week and we would all be retiring a lot sooner. A glance at your last gas bill shows the hollowness of the first prediction, but even wider of the mark was the second one. “More than 6 million (28%) of today’s over-50s expect to work past the state retirement age, according to the working late index compiled by LV. They expect to work an extra six years, the retirement specialists said” (Sunday Times, 27 November). The realities of capitalism often leave the optimists looking foolish
A Family Man?
The Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is fond of the role of “the family man” and is often reported as praising “family values”, but the realities of capitalism show just how hollow such claims are. “British families are suffering the worst squeeze in living standards for more than half a century, and will be no better off in 2016 than they were in 2002. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed yesterday that the average family on middle income will have £2,496 less to spend next year than three years ago” (Times, 1 December). Mr Cameron’s family will probably survive though, don’t know about yours!
Everyone is aware that we are living in hard times, the media tells us this everyday, but it is not too tough for some people. “This huge superyacht is so sleek you’d almost be forgiven for mistaking it for a floating limousine. This is no coincidence – the ‘Sovereign’ yacht is based on the design of a limo, and even comes with its own matching car. And the vessel fit for a king could be yours, if you’re willing to shell out a mere $132million – that’s £85million” (Daily Mail, 3 December). They are not making such things unless they know that some extremely rich people are potential customers.
Bighead Blows It
Up to two million workers went on strike on 30 November and on the BBC programme, The One Show, Jeremy Clarkson the BBC motoring correspondent had this to say about the strikers: “Frankly, I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean, how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?” (BBC News, 1 December) Let us just hope for Jeremy’s sake he doesn’t have a road accident on one of those overpriced super-charged motor cars of his and has to rely on the attention of an ambulance driver or a nurse who can remember that particular piece of arrogant bombast.