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Voice From the Back

A Wasteful Society

The mad wastefulness of capitalism is staggering. Take the expenditure of the USA in their recent military efforts. 'President Barrack Obama will ask lawmakers on Friday for an additional $3.2 billion to pay for the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq officials said Thursday .... The air war in Syria and Iraq - which commanders say could last years -  has involved thousands of sorties and hundreds of bombing raids, at a daily cost of $8.3 million, according to the Pentagon’ (Hindustan Times, 2 December). This immense expenditure represents a lot of human effort and energy. Think what that could mean inside a socialist society producing food, clothing and shelter for all. 

Troubles Ahead

Despite the picture the government is trying to draw about how they are coping with the economic crisis, some economic institutions are drawing  vastly different conclusions. 'The plans set out by George Osborne in the Autumn Statement on Wednesday will require government spending cuts "on a colossal scale" after the election, an independent forecaster has warned. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said just £35bn of cuts had already happened, with £55bn yet to come. The detail of reductions had not yet been spelled out, IFS director Paul Johnson said’ (BBC News, 4 December). The reason for the vagueness about future welfare cuts is of course the approaching election.

Capitalism And Cuts

The increasing rationing of state-funded care, as councils attempted to slash costs, has left growing numbers of elderly people without access to the care system. In turn it has forced millions of family members to step in, many of them giving up their own jobs. 'The acute shortage of care for older people in Britain is exposed in official figures showing how the population of care homes was left virtually unchanged during a decade which saw the biggest expansion in the overall elderly population ever. According to a study published by the Office for National Statistics the number of people in care homes in England and Wales rose by only 0.3 per cent in the decade between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, standing at just short of 291,000. But the overall number of over 65s jumped by 11 per cent in the same period - 37 times faster’ (Daily Telegraph, 6 December). Having suffered a life of exploitation and poverty old workers' misery continues.

God And Mammon

The Christian churches are adamant that they care nothing for the material aspects of this world and concentrate on spiritual values. The Roman Catholic Church, with its new Pope is particularly concerned about its recent past history. 'The Vatican's bank - which he threatened to shut down - is now closing hundreds of suspect accounts as it tries to shrug off its scandalous reputation after decades in which it was a by-word for money laundering and tax evasion’ (Times, 5 December).

A Torturing Society (1)

Torture according to the press is something carried out by unscrupulous foreigners but just isn't British. So how come a letter discovered in Downing Street at the National Archives has placed Britain in the dock at European Court of Human Rights accused of torturing detainees in Northern Ireland in the 1970s? 'The confidential memo written in March 1977 by Merlyn Rees, then Labour Home Secretary, states that, six years earlier, Tory ministers had authorised the use of torture in Ulster. Mr Rees told Prime Minister James Callaghan that he thought individuals or soldiers should not be prosecuted because "a political decision was taken" to use the so-called deep interrogation techniques’ (Times, 6 December). These techniques included wall standing in stress positions, white noise, hooding, sleep deprivation and withholding of food and water.                                

A Torturing Society (2)

It is not only Britain of the so-called free nations that carries out torture as the  US has recently confessed. 'The CIA carried out "brutal" interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the US, a US senate report has said. The summary of the report compiled by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee said that the CIA misled Americans about what it said it was doing’ (BBC News, 9 December).