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Voice from the Back

Not too blessed
From the pulpits a the Church of England, the passionate clergyman thunders on about the Sermon on the Mount. The hushed congregation hear the famous words “Blessed are the poor...; but not too blessed, apparenty. "More than half of the Church of England clergy feel that they are not being paid enough, with one in ten demanding an increase in their stipend of up to 50 per cent according to an independent surve... A spokesman fbr the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union, which represents 1,500 clergy said: “We have never said that the majority of vicars are on the breadline or are having to sell the Big issue. But they are not being renumerated according to their professional status...", Times, 16 May. How far from selling the Big Issue can be gathered when the same report informs us that the Archbishop of Canterbury has a salary of £57,000 per annum.

Hit for six
In our youth we used to thrill to boys stories of “sizzling sixes over the tuckshop roof”. The game of cricket, we were led to believe, was the embodiment of sportsmanship and decency. Alas, like everything capitalism touches, cricket is prey to corruption and deceit “Lord Condon's findings on corruption in cricket, published yesterday may come as a nasty shock to lovers of the game, but hardly a surprise. Ever since Hansie Cronje, the former South African captain, admitted taking money to fix matches, there has been a cloud over the game. Australia, Pakistan and India have had to deal with allegations touching some of their leading players. In asking a former Metropolitan Police Commisioner to look into this, the International Cricket Council took an unprecedented step, but it plainly had no choice. The findings, bluntly, are worse than most people expected. According to Lord Condon, allegations already in the public domain represent only “the tip of the iceberg”. He declares that some players are still acting dishonestly and to the orders of the bookmakers. He links a murder and a kidnapping to cricket corruption, and reports that some witnesses were evidently afraid to speak out. Daily Telegraph 24 May.

Filthy lucre
Socialists are always arguing that capitalism with its wars, poverty and insecurity has outlived its usefulness; but we've just found another reason to get rid of it. “US dollar bills are home to dozens of potentially dangerous pathogens. Most US dollar bills are bacteria farms, cultivating dozens of potentiaflv dangerous pathogens, a study in Ohio has revealed. The findings raises the possibility that paper money could be transporting antibiotic resistant bacteria from one area to another, say the researchers.” New Scientist, 24 May.

What is socialism?
We thought our readers might be interested in our socialist email discussion forum, so here we give you a litle taster It is from a comrade in New Zealand referring to a comrade's ideas in the USA in reply to an enquirer in the UK. The American Harry Morrison, writing for the Western Socialist, explained some years ago what socialism is not. “If workers work for wages, it is not socialism. Ii goods are bought and sold in a market, it is not socialism. If the world is divided into countries, it's not socialism. Unless every man, women and child has free access to the means of living, it is not socialism.” The comrade in New Zealand, Bob Malone, makes a good point, when he says, “Socialism will only be realised whcn the majority of people rcalise that our quality of life is not improved by just how much wealth can he consumed, and that collectively we can build a much better society based on co-operation within and between communities.” (See page two of this issue to get involved).

Soliciting solicitors
The heartfelt cry of the butcher in Shakespeare's Henry VI — “First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers” — would seem somewhat severe, but maybe Old Will had a point when we read about the goings-on in modern israel. “Israel brothel keepers have the right to box and sell prostitutes in the same way that football clubs transfer players, a lawyer claimed last week. 'There is no difference between trading football players, hi-tech programmers, or surgeons, and selling women for purposes of prostitution', Yaacov Shklar, who specialises in defending pimps, told a Knesset committee.” Observer 10 June.

Intensive mortality
“Thousands of people are dying because they are being moved out of intensive care too quickly, according to a study by two London hospitals. Just two more days in intensive care would be enough to save many seriously ill patients, researchers from St. Thomas's and St. George's found after analysing the cases of almost 14,000 patients from across Britain. Times 25 May. So, next time that you hear that a friend or a relative is being moved from intensive care into the general ward, don't heave a sigh of relict, be worded — very, very worried Unless of course your friend or relative happens to be a millionaire recieving the best medical care that money can buy; in that case the move has been dictated by best medical practice and not, as the report says, for purely economic reasons. “One in four of the patients identified as being at greatest risk died on the ward after being released from intensive care. Using a computer, the research team concluded that 39 pcr cent of these would have survived had they been given two more days special care. But that would require a 16 per cent increase in intensive care beds, which would cost more than £100 million a year