1990s >> 1992 >> no-1059-november-1992

Sting in the Tail: What’s Up Doc?

What’s Up Doc?
In the Observer Magazine (27 Sept.) under the headline Poverty Makes You Sick, a doctor John Collie wrote:

  There is one piece of health advice which is more effective than all the others. One guaranteed way to live longer, grow taller, avoid chronic illness, have healthier children, increase your quality of life and minimise your risk of premature death. The secret is: be rich — because all the major health indicators are directly related to income. People living in poverty are not simply ‘less comfortable’ than everyone else — they have shorter lives, sicker children and babies which are more likely to die in infancy.

So there you have it, fellow workers; stop whingeing, just get rich.

Dying For A Job
Here is some heartening news for those workers who are still managing to hold on to a job.

  Losing your job increases your chances of dying, according to new evidence. Data from the British Regional Heart Study, which has spent 10 years studying people from 253 British towns, shows that unemployment kills.
“We have found that men we were screening who were unemployed at any time over a five-year period were more than one-and-a-half times as likely to die in the next five years as men in continuous employment” said Dr Joan Morris, lecturer in medical statistics at St Thomas’s Hospital, London.

The Observer (27 September)

For those of us still with a job it is not all sunshine however.

  Stress at work is an important reason why people take time off sick, according to Dr Paul Oldershaw, head of health sciences at the Health and Safety Executive. “A 1990 Labour Force Survey suggests a national picture of around 110,000 people who regard themselves as victims of stress and depression caused by work, and 200,000 who regard themselves as having a problem made worse by their work.”

Got the picture then? Out of work and facing hellish poverty problems you are more likely to snuff it; in work and you are driven nutty by the stress of it all. Aint it time we got shot of this crazy society?

Dead-End Path
The capture of Abimael Guzman, the leader of the Maoist Sendero Luminosa guerillas by Peru’s security forces hit the headlines recently.

Sendero Luminosa (Shining Path) aim to do in Peru what Mao did in China — to sweep away the ruling class by armed force, and they have for years waged a ruthless and bloody war against the police, military, judiciary, politicians of both left and right and even villagers who do not toe the Maoist line.

So the old Maoist illusions live on in Peru. Sendero Luminoso imagine that the poverty of the peasants and workers can be ended by toppling Peru’s rulers, but should they win power they will find, as Mao’s successors in China have found, that capitalism is a worldwide system and they must become part of it even against their own wishes.

Mixed-Up Mike
Film star Michael Caine’s comments on political and social matters are a strange mixture of sense and nonsense.

A dyed-in-the-wool Tory, Caine is forever on about his working class roots but could still complain in a TV interview about council tenants having cars and, even worse, lockups to put them in when he couldn’t find a parking place where he lived in Mayfair for his Rolls Royce!

That’s only some of the nonsense but he can make sense too. For example, he recognises that the Labour Party isn’t socialist and just look at this comment on religion:

  I’m born of a Catholic father and a Protestant mother. I was educated in a Jewish school and I’m married to a Moslem. None of these religions has made a mark on me because I see the cant and hypocrisy In them. Each one teaches prejudice.

Dally Express (23 September)

The Dirty Work
Anyone who wants to know who will do the dirty work in socialism such as farming, should have seen a recent TV programme on the government’s “Set Aside” policy. This amounts to farmers being given money to set aside some of their land, that is grow nothing on it because of glutted food markets.

We have dealt many times in this journal with the madness of a social system where this can happen while millions starve, but there were for us some very encouraging views expressed by some of the farmers on Set Aside. They “hated” it: they didn’t want the money but wanted to use the land usefully and saw their role as being primarily one of growing things. Above all they wanted to stay on the land because they loved the life.

In socialism farming, like any other job, will be done by people who wish to do it and there looks like being no shortage of those.

A Useless Unity
Following their humiliation at the general election the Scottish National Party met in sombre mood at their conference in Perth last month.

Like any other reformist party the SNP is a loose coalition with the various strands of opinion all pulling in different directions.

There were “social democrats” ranged against pure-and-simple nationalists, supporters of the multiparty “Scotland United” movement versus go-it-alone hardliners, nationalises clashing with “regulators” CNDers opposed by “defence realists”, and so on.

There were, however, two things on which unity was total; the complete acceptance of capitalism and a blind belief, despite all the evidence, in their ability to tame It.