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Overproduction

The Coming Slump: Does the Gold Standard Matter?

The correct answer to the question, "Why are the workers poor?" is: "They are poor because the means of production and distribution are owned and controlled by the capitalist class instead of by the whole community, and consequently so is the wealth produced by the workers." This is the starting point from which the working class should view all schemes for improving capitalist trade, currency systems, etc. It is naturally not the starting point for the defenders of capitalism. They take private ownership for granted and leave out of their enquiries any possibility of ending it. As a result, their attempts to find out why poverty, trade depression, unemployment and crises exist, and how to end them, are sterile and fruitless.

Cooking the Books: When Supply Exceeds Demand ….

The capitalist class is not a monolithic block with a single interest. They are united of course in wanting capitalism to continue and a government to enforce their ownership, but beyond that it’s a mass of often conflicting sectional interests of particular groups, industries and firms. An important role of governments is to arbitrate between these conflicting interests.

The current crisis in the British steel industry is a case in point. Tata, the India-based capitalist conglomerate which owned the Port Talbot steelworks (which shows that capitalism is international and that the Leninist theory that imperialist Britain exploits capitalist India is nonsense – they’re all in it together), wanted to dispose of it as it wasn’t making a profit. In fact it was said to have been making a loss of £1 million a day. No capitalist firm is going to put up with that for long.

Ruined By Riches

"The extraordinary wrongness of our present industrial system is shown once more by the outcry at the bumper crop of American raw cotton. One would think that a record crop of this kind would be greeted with delight by the user as well as by the ultimate consumer as a guarantee of abundant raw material, low prices and correspondingly brisk expanding trade. But it appears that in the world constituted as it now is, abundance of raw cotton is a positive calamity. Stated coldly like that, the only possible inference from the assertion is that the world is quite mad. The facts are, we believe, that in value the export of British cotton to India, for instance, is now greater than in 1913, but the volume is from various causes very greatly less the volume exported in 1913. This state of things is al very well for the banker and the financier; it is ruin to the unfortunate operative who is on permanent short time; because to him, the volume manufactured is everything.

"Too Many" Bricks

The notion that the price mechanism is the most efficient allocator of resources took a further blow recently with the confirmation that Britain has a massive "oversupply" of bricks, concrete blocks and other building materials and a deepening housing crisis.

Despite increased homelessness, record levels of house repossession and rising council house waiting lists throughout the country, figures released by the Department of the Environment and leading construction companies show the house-building industry to be still in severe slump.

The output of the construction industry is now five percent lower that it was in the second quarter of last year, itself a period of sharp downturn. Redundancies have escalated and the industry's workforce has fallen by a further 13 percent over the last year.

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