A dog’s life
Points of View (BBC1, 26 March) dealt with a TV story about an unemployed man and his family in Barrow who were struggling to survive on state benefits. After paying the bills they were left with about £20 to feed themselves.
The man had said that they couldn’t afford to feed their pet dog so it might have to be put down. The viewer reaction to this was amazing. The BBC was inundated with letters from people who offered to send food for the mutt or even provide an allowance to feed it!
“Tragically”, said Anne Robinson the presenter, no one offered the man a job. Of course the real tragedy is that people are prepared to accept a society which, even though it can provide an abundance of food, still condemns other people to feed themselves on the princely sum of £20 a week.
After the fiasco of last October’s Black Wednesday, chancellor Norman Lamont appointed seven of Britain’s most notable economists, ranging from monetarist diehard to Keynesian blowhard, to give the government the benefit of their collective wisdom on the economy.
The press quickly dubbed them “the seven wise men” and they had their first get-together in February. Now one of them, Professor Tim Congdon, has given his verdict on the other six:
It turned out that none of the other members of the panel had any clear notion of how the quantity of money affects economic activity and the price level (Guardian, 9 March).
The Prof waded into his fellow panellists and, according to the Guardian, concluded that “they did not have a clue about how the economy really worked”.
Socialists are forever pointing out how little the bourgeois economists know about the capitalist system they so admire, but could we have put it more brutally than has one of their own number?
The money go-round
The budget’s reduction of tax credit on company dividends could mean that 70 percent of shareholders can look forward to smaller dividends. This immediately caused share prices to fall by £5 billion while government fixed-interest bonds suddenly became more popular with investors.
Switching funds around to get that little bit extra is something investors, especially the big institutions such as pension funds, must constantly do. During the Gulf War vast numbers of shares were sold to buy gold, the old stand-by in troubled times, but when the war ended investors “sold huge quantities of gold yesterday to raise the cash needed to buy into the booming stock market” (Guardian, 18 January 1992).
When interest rates were sky-high in the early 1990s investors moved funds into bank deposits which were bringing them 15 percent, but once rates fell then those deposits were switched back into shares and this has helped raise share prices to record levels.
And so it goes on, with capital moving endlessly between shares, gold, banks, bonds, etc, and back again in the restless search for the highest possible return.
Charles Dickens was forced by public opinion to change the ending of Great Expectations. Many years later Hollywood film makers learned the same lesson. Never mind the plot’s progression, give ’em a happy ending. People like happy endings? How about this scenario then?
For almost 400 years the working class have been exploited. Our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and even worse our daughters and sons have lived in chains. Frightened and poor we have done as we were bid.
But change comes. The working class grows up. It learns of its great potential power. It organises and it abolishes the wages system. It brings about a new system of society based on common ownership.
Hey, Steven Spielberg, we’ll give you the film rights for nothing!
Just in case
ICI has won the contract to re-cycle or destroy US Army surplus explosives held in one of the world’s biggest munition dumps.
This is a real big deal. This INAAP—Indiana Army Ammunition Plant—is an 11,000 acre site containing 1,400 buildings. 1S5 miles of roads and 80 miles of railroad track.
It is always good to see the end of arms build-ups, but alas the story is not one of undiminished joy. According to the Independent on Sunday (21 March):
The company gets to use a state-of-the-art. well maintained factory. In return, it will employ local people and keep the production lines warm—just in case the previous occupant needs to make a sudden return.
With memories of Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf, the US Army are merely putting INAAP in the back burner for future use.
Mrs Thatcher’s famous Downing Street remark at the end of the Falkland Islands conflict of “rejoice” seems even more inappropriate with the news that Scotland Yard are to investigate the claim that British soldiers shot Argentine prisoners.
Commenting on this, the Independent (27 March) reported:
Investigations of war crimes perpetrated by the victors in a conflict are rare. “The victors can usually shut this kind of thing up”, said a Ministry of Defence official. It was the publication in 1991 of Lance-Corporal Vincent Bromley’s book, Excursion In Hell, with its account of the shooting of Argentine prisoners by British soldiers, that made these alleged crimes an exception.
Socialists are opposed to all capitalism’s wars. To us they are all crimes. We will do our rejoicing when we get rid of capitalism.