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Voice from the Back

HORROR STORY (1)

"Some 18,000 children die every day because of hunger and malnutrition and 850 million go to bed every night with empty stomachs, a ‘terrible indictment of the world in 2007,’ the head of the UN food agency said ... He said that while the percentage of people who are hungry and malnourished has decreased from a fifth of the world's population to a sixth of the population, the actual number of hungry people is growing by about 5 million a year because of the rising population. ‘Today 650 million people are hungry and malnourished. Over half of them are children, 18,000 die every single day because of hunger and malnutrition,’ Morris said. ‘This is a shameful fact - a terrible indictment of the world in 2007, and it's an issue that needs to be solved.’ ” (Associated Press, 17 February) James Morris is stepping down as director-general of the Rome-based World Food Programme in April after five years. Despite the good intentions of people like Morris their efforts are futile while we have capitalism, the cause of this nightmare. 18,000 kids die every day? We must get rid of this awful society.

FREE PEOPLE?

"The number of people entitled to call themselves billionaires has skyrocketed over the past year, concentrating a staggering $3.5 trillion (£1.8 trillion) of wealth into the hands of 946 men and (occasionally) women. According to Forbes magazine, for years the official arbiter of the fortunes of the super-rich, a heady cocktail of global economic growth and soaring asset prices has created 178 new billionaires in just 12 months.” This is the richest year in human history," declared the magazine's founder, Steve Forbes. "The best way to create wealth is to have free markets and free people, and more and more of the world is realising it." (Independent, 9 March) Presumably millionaire Forbes includes in the free people category the 18,000 kids that die every day. They were free to starve, we suppose

HORROR STORY (2)

Socialists often point out that the working class are exploited by the capitalist class but here is an example where they not only live off the poor they actually use their body organs to live! In the village of Emavoor alongside the Bay of Bengal, live desperately poor workers. "Here in this ravaged community of 2,500 people , The Observer found 51 women who have sold kidneys in the past six months to escape the pressure of loan sharks who preyed on them after the tsunami. The majority of donors are women in their twenties. The recipients are both Western and Indian, and rich ... a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association where researchers surveyed 305 Indians who had sold their kidneys, and found out that 96 per cent had done so to pay off debts, but three-quarters remained in debt and 86 per cent said their health had seriously declined since the operation." (Observer, 18 February)

A WHALE OF A TIME

The madly self-indulgent life style of the owning class is well illustrated by the exploits of this millionaire. "Casinos call them whales - high rollers rich enough to lose a million dollars on the turn of a card or the spin of a roulette wheel. They range from Arab princes to international arms dealers. In London's exclusive gaming circles, the whale known as the `Fat Man` is legendary. His name is Fouad al-Zayat and last week this Syrian-born businessman, who has homes in London and Cyprus, was ordered by the courts to settle a £2m gambling debt. The Fat Man's huge loss came in a single night playing blackjack at Aspinalls casino in Mayfair." (Observer, 4 March) Don't grieve too much for the Fat Man, besides his 2 luxury homes he also owns a £158,000 Rolls Royce and a Boeing 747.

A SPRAT OF A TIME

One group of the populace who wouldn't get past the doorman at Aspinalls have recently had news from the government that must cheer them up no end. "The minimum wage will increase by 17p an hour to £5.52, the government announced today. The rate will come into force in October and will mean an increase in pay for more than one million workers, of which two-thirds are low-paid women. Separate rates for young employees will continue, but hourly pay for 18 to 21-year-olds will rise 15p to £4.60, while 16 and 17-year-olds will receive 10p more per hour at £3.40." (Guardian, 7 March) No chance of Rolls Royces or Boeing 747s from that windfall we imagine.