2000s >> 2001 >> no-1162-may-2001

Voice from the Back

Ain’t Science Wonderful?
Good news for police forces and repressive regimes throughout the world, those wide-eyed men in the flapping white coats have come up with a new anti-demonstration weapon, that must delight “all of us right thinking people”:
“Riot shields and water cannon may soon be made obsolete by a revolutionary weapon that can stun a hostile crowd with invisible microwaves. The US Vehicle Mounted Denial System (VMADS), a radar dish mounted on the back of a tank or jeep, is interesting British police forces. The VMADS, or ‘people zapper’, uses a ‘directed energy beam’ according to a Pentagon spokesperson, ‘When it comes into contact with skin it causes a sensation of heat to an uncomfortable level.'” Observer, 25 March.

Good Riddance
There probably wasn’t a dry eye in the House of Commons when Tony Benn, 75, MP for Chesterfield gave what was probably his valedictory address to the House. He recalled that members of his family had sat in the Commons since 1892 and that he “loved the place”. It was obviously an emotion-packed occasion, because one Tory talked the most arrant nonsense about Benn:
“John Bercow (Conservative, Buckingham) called him the country’s greatest living socialist and reatest living parliamentarian.” Times, 23 March.
Of course, Benn never was a socialist. He is a life-long supporter of the Labour Party whose anti-socialist, indeed anti-working class record has been well documented in this journal. But, don’t take our word for it; Benn once wrote in a rare moment of lucidity-“We must add . . . a clear recognition that the Labour Party is not-and probably never was-a socialist party” (Independent, 17 May 1989).

Child’s Play
Mrs. Thatcher, wrong as usual, called them “the real wealth creators of this country” -she was referring to a small section of the population who were wheeling and dealing in the City of London. We have often pointed out that the actions of stockbrokers and investors produce no wealth whatsoever. But defenders of the financial sector have argued, that even if that was true, it is still true that these men and women are highly skilled. Now, even that claim looks indefensible:
“A four-year-old girl proved the stock-market was child’s play yesterday by winning a share prediction contest against an investor and an astrologer . . . Tia picked her shares at random, financial astrologer Christeen Skinner studied the heavens and Mark Goodson used his experience as a private investor. Ms Skinner lost 10 percent of her £5,000 shares while Mr. Goodson lost 7 percent and Tia lost 4.5 percent.” Guardian, 27 March.

Carefree Days?
Those happy TV ads that feature carefree school kids enjoying their teenage years in security and comfort have always looked a bit phoney, but a recent report by the TUC has revealed just how phoney they are for a large section of working class children:
“At least 500,000 schoolchildren are working illegally with many playing truant to do so, according to a report . . .The report by the TUC revealed that a quarter of those under 13-289,000-worked, even though it is against the law for them to do any kind of paid job . . . The report, Class Struggle, revealed that one in ten children played truant to do paid work. Almost one in five received less than £2 per hour and around a third were on £2.50 or less an hour. It also found that almost half of children under 16 worked after 8pm and 23 per cent worked before 6am, despite the law stipulating that they are not allowed to work before 7am or after 7pm .” Daily Telegraph, March.

Major surgery needed
“British GPs are offering kidneys for sale from living donors in the Third World to wealthy patients who want to jump the queue for a transplant. The illegal kidneys-for-cash trade involves dozens of British patients who travel to India to receive kidneys from impoverished donors, who are paid up to £3,000.One doctor claimed last week he could arrange for a kidney to be bought and transplanted in London . . . Dr.Jammail Singh, who works at Hellfields health centre in Coventry, told an undercover reporter that £2,000 was the ‘general’ price for a kidney. ‘Although it is a lot of money for them, they’re doing an extraordinary thing,’ he said. ‘They are generally manual workers. Just imagine if something goes wrong with the remaining kidney-they will be crippled for life.'” Sunday Times, 1 April.
Try and imagine the desperation of a £15 a month labourer in India who has to sell a kidney in order to feed his family. The whole system is an abomination, and the sooner the working class surgically remove the cancer of the profit motive from society the better.

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