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Voice From the Back

The Charity Fallacy

There are many examples of the madness of capitalism but surely this short, stark statement by Oxfam pinpoints the brutal inequality of this insanity: 'The world's 85 richest people own the same wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest. The wealth of the super-rich grows greater whilst world poverty bites deeper’ (Times, 8 November). Oxfam herein concisely expose the madness of the production for profit system but their proposed solution is completely useless. They believe that charity is a solution and claim that if they get enough donations they can solve the problem. It is not charity that is the answer but the complete revolutionary transformation to a society based on common ownership and production solely for use.

Poppies And Poppycock

Under the headline 'Joy and song bloom with poppies at the Tower', the following piece of news appears: 'As the last of the poppies was planted in the Tower's moat ... most of the attention has concentrated on the extraordinary crowds that have queued patiently every day to see the display of 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for every British and colonial life lost in the First World War’ (Times, 8 November). One spectator is reported as saying it was fantastic and when the crowd burst into song the crowd absolutely loved it. It is understandable that newspapers are ‘celebrating’ the event, after all it is their job to promote mindless patriotism, but why are workers doing the same? They must lead particularly strange lives if the deaths of 888,246 workers in their masters’ quarrels lead them to this outlandish behaviour.

Mamma It’s Cold Inside

The headline announced the chilling fact that an elderly person dies every seven minutes due to fuel poverty. The article goes on to explain that millions of pensioners are worried that they will not be able to keep warm this winter. 'Every winter 25,000 old people in England and Wales do not survive the bitter weather - 206 deaths a day. Those living in the coldest houses figure most in the excess winter death rates and illness statistics according to Age UK’ (Daily Express, 11 November). Needless to say this problem does not affect the owning class.

Hollywood Fantasy

Everybody is aware of all the old repeated military movies that the TV churns out. John Wayne or some such hero performs wonderful acts of bravery against the enemy. It is a complete fantasy of course. This is nearer the truth. 'Jeremy Sears, a Marine who had served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, walked onto a shooting range outside San Diego on Oct. 6, placed a handgun to his head and calmly pulled the trigger. It was a local news story but didn't attract attention outside San Diego for the most tragic of reasons. Military suicides have become so common - since 2001, more active-duty U.S. troops have killed themselves than have been killed in Afghanistan’ (Washington Post, 11 November). War, far from being an ennobling experience is degrading to human beings and leads to these tragedies.

Homeless For Christmas

The number of tenants homeless in England and Wales evicted from their houses has hit record levels, with cuts to social security among the factors leading to more than 100 evictions a day. 'Number of tenants evicted hits record bid as benefit cuts slide. Figures show that more than 30,000 tenants thrown out by the end of September which social landlords say is due to bedroom tax’ (Guardian, 13 November). Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that 11,000 were repossessed by bailiffs between July and September, the highest quarterly figure since records began in 2000. Shelter forecast that 90,000 kids will be homeless this Christmas.

Another Winter Of Discontent

With the advent of winter the government has had to allocate an extra £700m extra for A&E, but the rest of the NHS system is under pressure as these recent figures show: '90,000 more patients waiting for an operation than a year ago. 62 percent day target for cancer treatment missed for last 6 months. 24 per cent of patients say it's ‘not easy’ to get through to GP by phone’ (Guardian, 14 November). Ever helpful, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that there will be pressure to deal with an ageing population and suggested that a visit to the pharmacy rather than a hospital may be advisable!