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Voice From the Back

The US Is Staying Indefinitely

"The Air Force's top general said Monday that American warplanes would have to support Iraq's fledgling security forces well after American ground troops eventually withdraw from the country.... In an interview earlier this month, General Jumper was even more explicit when asked about the Air Force's future in Iraq. "We will continue with a rotational presence of some type in that area more or less indefinitely", he said. "We have interests in that part of the world and an interest in staying in touch with the militaries over there” (New York Times, 30 August). The "interest" they have, is of course, Iraq's oil.

Blessed Are The Warmakers

When the priests and ministers in the USA prattle on about "blessed are the peacemakers" they obviously don't know much about how capitalism operates. "The United States is the largest supplier of weapons to developing nations, a US congressional study says. It delivered more than $US 9.6 billion in arms to countries including those in the Near East and Asia in 2004, and boosted worldwide sales to the highest amount since 2000. The total worldwide value of all agreements to sell arms last year was close to $US 37 billion, and nearly 59 per cent of the agreements were with developing nations, according to the Congressional Research Service report" (Sydney Morning Herald ,31 August).

Blessed are the Poor?

Another piece of nonsense much favoured by the bible bashers is "blessed are the poor". Good news then for the pious in the USA according to the latest figures. "The number of Americans living below the poverty line rose for the fourth successive year during 2004, extending the gap between rich and poor in the world's wealthiest nation. .... At the other end of the scale, a survey of the biggest US companies by compensation consultancy Pearl Meyers found the average payout for chief executives rose 13% in 2004 to $10.5 million." (Guardian, 31 August). You are living in New York on minimum wage? Oh, blessed one! Consult the US Bureau of Statistics.

The Doom Machine

We often hear scares about the likely effects of global warning, but this report seems to come from a reliable source and should scare us all. "Only extraordinary changes in the output of warming gases now and until 2050 would make any difference, Martin Parry told the British Association science festival. ... The estimates came from a government-funded study by Professor Parry's team at the Hadley Centre, the Met Office's climates forecasting centre" (Times, 6 September). The report was carried under the headline "Ozone rise will doom millions to starvation" and calculated that about 500 million are at risk but by 2050 this would rise to 550 million. Truly, modern capitalism has become a doom machine!

Priorities

"The world's poorest people are being denied access to drugs because pharmaceutical companies are focusing their resources on diseases suffered by wealthy, middle-aged Americans, such as obesity and heart disease, a leading expert will say tomorrow. Dr David Rhodes, the Health Protection Agency's (HPA) head of business development will claim that spiralling costs are driving firms to invest primarily in drugs that tackle diseases of older Americans" (Observer,11 September). This is good business practice according to the ethics of capitalism, a bit tough on those suffering from tuberculosis, malaria and water-borne diseases in the less developed countries, though.

A World In Crisis

The columnist Lee Randall certainly summed up the nightmare of capitalism well when she wrote: "Twirl the globe and stab your finger anywhere. I could spend whole days writing cheques for innocent victims of war, natural disasters, terrorism, disease or poverty, and it wouldn't be enough. Every tomorrow brings new woes. ... I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling overwhelmed, uncertain about what can and should be done. But I'm open to ideas" (Scotsman, 10 September). How about world socialism, Lee?