Monday, November 20, 2023

Voice From The Back: Kids and Capitalism (2008)

The Voice From The Back Column from the November 2008 issue of the Socialist Standard

Kids and Capitalism

The author of the Harry Potter books JK Rowling recently donated £1 million to the Labour Party because she thought they were doing more to solve the problem of child poverty than the Tories would. She obviously could have not seen the following news item. “Millions of children in the UK are living in, or on the brink of, poverty, a report claims. The Campaign to End Child Poverty says 5.5 million children are in families that are classed as ‘struggling’ – 98% of children in some areas. The campaign classes households as being in poverty if they are living on under £10 per person per day. … The Campaign to End Child Poverty is a coalition of more than 130 organisations including Barnardo’s, Unicef and the NSPCC. According to its research, there are 4,634,000 children in England living in low income families, 297,000 in Wales, 428,000 in Scotland and 198,000 in Northern Ireland. It says 174 of the 646 parliamentary constituencies in Britain have 50% or more of their child population in, or close to, the poverty line.” (BBC News, 30 September) JK Rowling may be a very good writer, but obviously she is not a great thinker.

Capitalist priorities

We live in a society where millions try to survive on a $1.25 a day, where children die for the lack of clean water and yet this society spends billions of dollars trying to find more efficient ways to kill people. The priorities of socialism would be to feed, clothe and shelter its citizens but capitalism has other priorities. “Top U.S. Army officials on Monday said a $160 billion Future Combat Systems modernization program managed by Boeing Co and SAIC Inc was ‘on budget, on track,’ but could see changes over time. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said the Army was going through a detailed review of 14 separate weapon systems included in the program to ensure that the technologies involved were on schedule. ‘We’re committed to Future Combat Systems. It’s just a question of adjusting as the world changes, and as the need changes,’ Army Secretary Pete Geren told reporters at the annual Association of the U.S. Army meeting. …The Army’s FCS program is a family of 14 manned and unmanned aerial and ground systems, tied together by communications and information links.” (Yahoo News, 6 October) Lots and lots of money to kill, bugger all for starving kids. That is how capitalism operates.

A Much Better Idea

Robert Reich, former US secretary of labour, commenting on the recent economic crisis showed that he understood that China was a capitalist country when he said “There are still only two kinds of capitalism. There’s authoritarian capitalism as in China and Singapore, and there’s democratic capitalism as in US and Europe. If there’s anyone out there who has a better idea, I’m sure the world would love to hear it.” (Newsweek, 13 October) If someone can get us Mr Reich’s address we will send him a subscription to the Socialist Standard so he can learn about the socialist alternative. Although we don’t think he would be too impressed, because we want to get rid of the exploitative system that gives him a privileged existence.

Putting his foot in it

Last year when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown outlined his annual budget speech with these words – “Britain’s growth will continue into its 60th and 61st quarter and beyond . . . Inflation has fallen from 3% to 2.8%, and will fall further this year to 2% . . . Looking ahead to 2008 and 2009 inflation will also be on target. And we will never return to the old boom and burst.” (quoted in Time, 13 October) He was warmly applauded by the Labour benches and praised by the press for his sagacity and prudence. What a difference a year makes. Inflation stands at about 4.7 percent, banks mortgage lenders have been taken over on the verge of bankruptcy and a deep economic recession looks likely. Capitalism is an anarchic, uncontrollable system. Boom and burst are the very foundation of capitalism. No doubt a future Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer will in turn pretend that he can control this mad profit system. Capitalism makes fools of the politicians who claim to be able to control it.

Another Reform of Capitalism?

When socialists see workers cram into buses and underground trains on their way to work, we often remark that if cattle were crammed into transport like that on their way to the slaughterhouse there would be a public outcry by Animal Rights groups. Workers are often treated worse than animals but this latest outburst against the working class takes a bit of beating. “An Australian politician has used his first speech to parliament to call for unemployed idlers to be stung with a cattle prod to get them to work. John Williams, a former truck driver, shearer, farmer and small business owner who only took his place in the Senate on July 1, said he had seen many people living on employment benefits who were ‘determined not to work’. ‘They are simply getting a free ride on behalf of tax payers of Australia and it is about time they received a touch on the backside with a cattle prodder to get them off their butts and actually do some work,’ he said.” (Yahoo News, 16 September) To use his fellow Australians use of the language – what a bahstard!

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

That's the November 2008 issue of the Socialist Standard done and dusted.