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Voice from the Back

The Sick Society

These two items appeared in the same newspaper on the same day. "Patients are being denied basic operations, including treatments for varicose veins, wisdom teeth and bad backs, as hospitals try frantically to balance the books by the end of the financial year. ... NHS trusts throughout the country are making sweeping cuts to services and delaying appointments in an attempt to address their debts before the end of March." and "Thousands of doctors qualified to become consultants could face unemployment instead, the NHS says. A leaked copy of the Government's pay and workforce strategy reveals that by 2011 there will be 3,200 more consultants than there are jobs." (Times, 4 January) What a crazy society - people left to suffer health problems while health workers are out of a job.

A Brave New World?

The WorldWatch Institute in Washington paints a gloomy picture of the future in its recent report. "The population of the world's slums is set to soar by more than 500 million within 25 years experts said yesterday .. And half the extra people will be crammed into ghettoes and shanty towns, unless plans for urban renewal are speeded up, forecasters warned. ...David Satterthwaite, of the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development, said a shake-up of urban government would be the most pressing issue over the next 20 years. "Without this, cities become among the most polluted and dangerous places, where one in four children dies before the age of five." he added." (Metro, 10 January) Even Aldous Huxley and George Orwell could not have imagined such a future, but then they were only novelists and not scientific socialists.

The Distortion Of Science (1)

The motive behind capitalism is to make a profit and to hell with all other consideration. A perfect example of this is the following news item. "Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world’s largest oil companies to undermine a major climate report due to be published today. Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an Exxon-Mobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." (Guardian, 2 February) Could anything be more obvious? Here is a couple of bucks just do as you are told.

The Distortion Of Science (2)

It is not only oil companies that seek to distort scientific research in the interests of profits, here is a recent example of the pharmaceutical industry at the same game. "According to a study published last week by accountancy group PwC, the public, doctors and health insurers believe the industry has put profits before patients, abandoning its original vision of improving health and alleviating pain. ...All over the world, drugs companies are in an expensive race with each other to come up with new treatments and market them, sometimes aggressively, to health specialists. The public backlash comes after a number of high-profile drugs were withdrawn following allegations of dangerous side-effects." (Observer, 4 February) For a couple of bucks these companies will do anything.

The Distortion Of Art

Artists like Van Gough and Modogliani may have died in poverty and their modern equivalents may share a similar fate, but that was not a considerations at the latest Sotheby's auction. "Up to £140 million is expected to exchange hands this week in a series of sales of Impressionists, modern and contemporary works, well in excess of the £89.45 million achieved last February and the £109.3 million in June. ... Although the weak dollar may in turn have deterred some American collectors from buying last night, few expect it to dent the enthusiasm of the richest regulars such as Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, Steve Winn, a Las Vegas casino owner, and Steve Cohen, the Wall Street hedge-fund billionaire who is believed to have spent about $500 million (£250 million) on art in recent years." (Times, 6 February) Artists may die in a garret, so what? It helps the rich to increase their portofolio of wealth. As someone once said -"They know the price of everything but the value of nothing."

The Distortion Of Honesty

All workers are taught at school the importance of honesty and integrity, but it is obviously a lesson that is not on the curriculum of the schools that capitalists attend, to judge from this news item about events in South Korea. "The chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, the sixth largest carmaker in the world, was sentenced yesterday to three years in jail after being convicted of embezzlement and breach of trust. ... Chung was accused of embezzling 103.4 billion won (£56 million) from company affiliates." (Times, 6 February) The report went on to mention other chairmen that had been caught with their hands in the till. Chung Tae So, of Hanoi, sentenced to 15 years' jail for bribery. Chung Ming Hun, of Hyundai Asian, kills himself awaiting trial. Lee Kun He, of Samsung, apologises for corporate misgoverned and alleged bribery by making big charity donation. Kim Woo Choom, founder of Daewoo, receives ten-year jail term for fraud. Fellow workers, perhaps as we contemplate this week's pay packet or giro cheque we may ponder the wisdom of our old school teacher. We could ask ourselves, how many were not caught in this country and how many of them get away with it?

And Now For The Good News

Every day in the newspapers and television we are bombarded with stories of war, crime and world hunger. So after extensive research we have come across a news item that will hearten workers instead of depressing them. In 1961 there were nearly 55,000 christian churches in England and Wales. "By 2005 the number of churches had fallen to 47,600. According to the organisation Christian Research, another 4,000 are likely to go in the next 15 years. In the Church of England alone, which still has 16.000 churches, 1,700 have been made redundant since 1969." (Times, 10 February)