1990s >> 1991 >> no-1047-november-1991

Sting in the Tail: Same Old Story

Same Old Story

Ever since Eastern Europe ditched state capitalism those western “think-tanks”, such as the Adam Smith Institute, have rushed to advise the politicians and the emerging capitalist class of each country on how to set up free-market economies.

But the emerging trade unions in these countries need advice too, and officials of one of Estonia’s unions have been in Scotland to learn from the TGWU how to negotiate with the employers.

This is very necessary because Estonia’s workers never had any negotiating rights with the old “communist” bosses, and according to the union’s chairman there is still no legislation in Estonia for collective bargaining:

   Problems were solved often as a form of gentleman’s agreement with the managers of the various Industries.

Glasgow Herald (8 October)

Of course these “problems” are capitalism’s inevitable disputes over wages and conditions, and once Estonia’s employers get themselves organised and western businesses move in then the workers will learn that although a “gentleman’s agreement” is very nice their own unity and resolve is much more reliable.

A Bargain is Struck

David Murray is boss of Murray International Metals and chairman of Glasgow Rangers Football Club.

As well as owning homes in Edinburgh and Jersey and a 143 acre “weekend” estate in the Borders, he has bought a mansion in an exclusive part of Auckland, New Zealand, for “a bargain £1.5 million” (Scottish Sunday Mail 8 September)

Alas, Murray’s plan to use the place as a conference centre has been rejected because of opposition from his well-heeled neighbours. Murray’s response to this Is “Some people don’t seem to want job creation”.

This view is typical of all capitalists. Their profit-making schemes, no matter how anti-social, are always justified on the grounds that some workers get a job.

And Murray’s view is shared by most workers. When they hear of plans to build a military base, nuclear power station or airport on their doorstep, instead of condemning these as health hazards or eyesores which will lessen their quality of life, they welcome them because “they bring jobs”.

So capitalists and most workers are agreed that the former should get the wealth and the latter the chance to produce it.

There is a Santa

Remember when we were kids how we would tell Santa what we wanted him to bring us for Xmas? And remember how seldom Santa delivered?

Kids’ stuff, yes, but millions of “grown-ups” still have the childish belief that another Santa in the form of a political party will, once elected, bring them security, well-paid jobs and better housing with good health and education thrown in.

Fellow workers, It should be obvious by now that it is not in the power of political parties to gift you these things. Belief in Santa Is for kids — or even for our masters since you generously make them a present of everything they have.

Pop Shop (1)

Many young workers imagine that pop music is about having fun. They can identify with a pop idol who seems to represent the opposite of their dull work-a-day life.

Alas, it is just another illusion of capitalism. In the Education Guardian (22 October) Robert Leedham quotes one expert on how a pop idol is manufactured.

“I’d go for a solo girl singer”, says Adele Nazedar of Rhythm King records. “They’re the easiest to promote. All the pop comics like to have girls on the cover because they sell more copies. You’ve got to understand that pop is a commodity; people want a decent return on their Investment”.

Ashes to Ashes

California’s Forest Lawn Cemetery is a very famous bone yard indeed. A million tourists a year tramp round the grounds to rubber neck at the graves of film stars like Clark Gable and Bette Davis. It was the subject of Evelyn Waugh’s novel “The Loved One.” It is very famous but It seems it may also be very crooked.

A former employee’s charges about the business procedures of the cemetery are being investigated by state officials. These charges include — human remains routinely discarded in garbage bags and unburned remains flushed down drains. That there well may be substance to these charges is given credence with the recent discovery of one corpse’s ashes being found in a battered cardboard box on a Los Angeles freeway.

In order to make a profit capitalist concerns are always cutting corners and cheapening production, so is it really so surprising that Forest Lawn Cemetery is cutting the cost of destruction to make a few more bucks?

It’s Not Decent

“Decency” is what any politician must have today and John Major has got it.

The Guardian recently told us:

Mr Major’s greatest asset is his visible decency . . . he is a genuine human being.

Why? Because Major intends “restoring the public services” when that awful Thatcher woman had “ran them into the ground”.

Possibly The Guardian has forgotten how during the Thatcher years Major’s “decency” always allowed him to support legislation which heaped misery on many people — the “social fund”, for example.

Then there’s Major’s 100% backing for the mass murder committed by the American and British armed forces in Iraq. Where was “decency” there?

Yes, John Mayor is a softly-spoken man who loves cricket and who may well restore public services (especially if there are votes in doing It), but he is also a man who totally supports capitalism with all its inhuman consequences and is happy to preside over it. That’s not our idea of “decency”. Is it yours?

Forgive Them, Mother

In these days of civil war in Yugoslavia, world hunger, homelessness and all those other unimportant issues it is heartening to see that Tory MPs can identify the burning issues of the day.

In the House of Commons, Ian Taylor (Esher) protested about the use of certain phrases by Church of England parsons.

He added: “These prayers refer to God as ‘Our Mother and Father’. Curates who are themselves confused about bi-sexuallty should not try to confuse the congregations as to whether Jesus was a hermaphrodite.”

The Guardian (22 October)

He urged that offending vicars should be fined £1 each time they used such a phrase. His colleague Michael Allan (Selby) thinks this isn’t going far enough. He wants to bring criminal charges!

  “The liturgy of the Church of England is approved by parliament. It would be unlawful to make any unauthorised liturgical change of gender.
In this respect, I think the restraint of the law Is even more potent than pay restraint”

Pop Shop (2)

In a recent case in the High Court David Levine, who is suing the Daily Mirror for syndication money due him for a story he provided about Boy George and alleged heroin use, claimed that the pop star “threatened to kill him”

Mr Levine’s lawyer claimed that his client had given the story to the Dally Mirror because “he had seen what heroin had done to some of his friends and hoped Boy George, whom he knew, would be pulled up sharply if his alleged heroin abuse was exposed In the popular press.”

This selfless social behaviour would be a little easier to credit if It had not been revealed that he had Initially asked for £40,000 but claimed he agreed on £15,00 plus £6,000 syndication fees.