The Voice From The Back Column from the February 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard
All Right For Some . . .
We are told every day by the mass media that we are living through an economic downturn, but some seem to be surviving it rather well. “Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has reported record sales for 2011, having sold 3,538 cars. Sales at the BMW-owned luxury marque grew by 31% from the previous year, although the growth rate was weaker than in 2010 when sales jumped by 150%. Rolls-Royce’s £165,000 Ghost model, which is smaller and less ostentatious than the £235,000 Phantom models, has been the main driving force for sales” (BBC News, 9 January). Bentleys have been selling well too. “The luxury carmaker Bentley has defied the economic gloom with a 37% surge in global sales” (Guardian, 3 January). So while members of the working class are told to tighten their belts the owning class are still buying their Bentleys and Rollers in increasing numbers.
… But Not For Others
Politicians are fond of speaking about ‘family values’ and love photo opportunities that depict them as happily married decent individuals. In practice, though, when defending the profit margins of the owning class they ruthlessly attack the living standards of working class families. “Families with children will be hardest hit by tax and benefit changes aimed at cutting the deficit, a charity argues. The Family and Parenting Institute (FPI) says the average income of households with children will drop by 4.2% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the equivalent of £1,250 a year. Average household income however will fall 0.9%, or £215 a year, say the FPI” (BBC News, 4 January).
Another Empty Promise
An ex-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, once boasted that we lived in a property-owning democracy, but that boast seems somewhat laughable today. “Almost a million people have turned to a high cost payday loan to cover their mortgage or rent in the past year, the homelessness charity Shelter has claimed. A further 6 million have used other types of credit, including unauthorised overdrafts, other loans or credit cards, to help pay their housing costs, it said (Guardian, 4 January). It seems we now live in a pawn ticket owning society.
An Inhuman Society
Capitalism is a society that constantly attempts to cheapen production so that it can boost profits. This drive is not confined to the factory; it also applies to the hospital. “Hospitals have been accused by ministers of treating patients ‘like parts on a production line’ after official figures suggested that hundreds of thousands of people every year are being sent home before they are well enough. More than 660,000 people were brought back to hospital last year within 28 days of leaving, statistics show, sparking allegations that patients are being hurried through the system so the NHS can meet waiting-list targets” (Daily Telegraph, 29 December). Needless to say, this heartless treatment only applies to members of the working class. The owning class enjoy the best possible medical treatment just as they enjoy the best of everything that society can provide.
The Season Of Goodwill?
During the big sales drive of the Christmas period advertisers put great emphasis on phrases like ‘goodwill to all men’ and ‘peace on earth’ but there is one group of salesmen who don’t rely on such nonsense. The gun manufacturer and arms dealers know that Christmas time is a boom period for gun sales. “According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in December. Nearly 500,000 of those were in the six days before Christmas. It was the highest number ever in a single month, surpassing the previous record set in November. On December 23 alone there were 102,222 background checks, making it the second busiest single day for buying guns in history” (Daily Telegraph, 1 January).