The Voice From The Back column from the July 2013 issue of the Socialist Standard
Politicians always emphasise the importance of new legislation and of course their own importance. 'The Child Poverty Act of 2010 holds the government accountable for reducing child poverty. On Wednesday, new figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that not only are they failing to do so, the numbers of children living in poverty will actually rise, from 2.4 million to 3.4 million by 2020 – the date that was set for the elimination of child poverty in the UK' (Guardian, 8 May). So after all that pompous talk and so-called erudition what is the result? More kids are living in poverty than before the brilliant legislation.
It's A Mad, Mad World
Many opponents of the world socialist movement think we are a little mad. A world based on production for use? No profits? No Money? Crazy! But what of present day society? 'A racing pigeon named Bolt officially became the most expensive pigeon in the world earlier this week when a Chinese businessman bought him at auction for $400,000' (Business Insider, 22 May). We live in a society wherein millions of people try to exist on less than $2 a day and yet a member of the capitalist class can spend $400,000 on a pigeon. Who are the mad people?
A Greek Tragedy
David Smith in an otherwise critical review of the book The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills praises the authors for this piece of information. 'Take Greece, the worst-hit of Europe's crisis economies, which is now in its sixth year of recession. With unemployment at 27 per cent, the suicide rate has soared. Deep cuts in health spending have led to not only to a severe rationing of basic treatments and medicines, but also to an increase in suicides, malaria and HIV' (Sunday Times, 26 May). An increase in suicides, malaria and HIV – isn't capitalism wonderful.
The Killer Society
There are many reasons to abolish capitalism. War, poverty, racialism and nationalism, to mention but a few, but here’s another powerful reason. 'Malnutrition is responsible for 45 per cent of the global deaths of children under the age of five, research published in the Lancet medical journal suggests. Poor nutrition leads to the death of about 3.1 million under-fives, annually, it says' (BBC News, 6 June). Capitalism is a baby killer – we must get rid of it.
Cause for Celebration?
We can understand workers celebrating joyous occasions like a birthday or a wedding but this commemoration astounds us. 'Britain is to mark the centenary of the First World War with cultural events and an act of reconciliation with Germany on the battlefield. Maria Miller, the culture secretary, will announce the appointment of one of the leaders of the £20m programme tomorrow' (Sunday Times, 9 June). They are spending £20 million to commemorate a war that annihilated 16 million lives. Truly capitalism is a sick society.
The illusion nurtured by supporters of capitalism that workers are constantly improving their financial position is shattered by another study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Wages have fallen more in real terms in the current economic downturn than ever before, according to their recent report. 'On top of rising cost of living, one third of workers who stayed in the same job saw a wage cut or freeze between 2010 and 2011, said the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). ……. In 2009, the average public sector worker earned about £16.60 per hour, which dropped to about £15.80 in 2011, the IFS said. Meanwhile, hourly pay for private sector workers in 2009 was just over £15.10 and dropped to £13.60 in 2011' (BBC News, 12 June). Even the capitalist class institutions like the IFS know that the worker’s position is getting worse off.
A Prince And A Pauper
Prince Charles as a future king of England is forced to attend all sorts of press shows and say all sorts of nonsense to all sorts of cringing, sycophantic journalists but even he must have felt a little sick at this utterance. 'The Prince, known in Scotland as the Duke of Rothesay, met recovering servicemen and women at the Edinburgh House personnel recovery centre. …. Among those he met was Paul Lambert, 32, who lost both legs in Afghanistan in 2009. The Prince praised him as a "great example"' (Times, 14 June). You own absolutely nothing. You go into a conflict that has nothing to do with you. You have both your legs blown off. Your life is ruined. A ‘great example’ of working class stupidity is what we would call it.