2000s >> 2009 >> no-1255-march-2009

Voice from the Back

A Wastful Society

Capitalism is a very wasteful society that spends millions of potentially useful labour time and ingenuity in protecting private property. All over the world men and women spent their time in organisations like armies and police forces. Here is a small example of the stupidity of a private property society, in this case the border between Mexico and the USA. “18,000 – the number of Border Patrol agents assigned to it in 2008 (up from 4,000 in 1993) 705,000 – the number of people caught trying to cross it illegally in 2007/2008, down from 1.6 million in 2000. That’s the equivalent to 2,000 people a day. 1,954 – the number of people who died crossing it between 1998 and 2004, mainly of exposure, drowning or car crashes.” (Times, 16 January) Inside world socialism there will be no countries and no national borders. Everyone on Earth will be free to roam the whole world without passports or visas. There will be no border patrols, people will be free to engage in useful work.


Alternative Life Styles

Two pieces of literature came through many workers letter boxes recently. Here is one from the Observer, 8 February – “Prince Edward spent last week on an official visit involving lots of good works to Barbados, including lunch yesterday at the Sandy Lane hotel (favoured by Michael Winner and Simon Cowell, with rooms costing around £3,000 per person per night) and an afternoon at the resort’s golf course.” Here is another from the charity WaterAid “Every 17 seconds, a child in the developing world dies from water-related diseases, in around the time it takes you to read this paragraph, someone, somewhere, will die. Everyday, people in the world’s poorest countries face the dilemma of having to trust their health and that of their children to the consequence of drinking water that could kill them. It’s a gamble that often carries a high price – seeing children needlessly dying is simply heartbreaking.” WaterAid suggest that the answer is to send them £2 a month. Socialists suggest that we get rid of this insane society even though it might interfere with Prince Edward’s £3,000 a day golfing trip.

Capitalist Priorities

As unemployment soars and re-possessions increase it speaks volumes for the priorities of capitalism that military expenditure keeps on rising. “The cost of Britain’s military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq this financial year has soared to more than £4.5bn, an annual increase of more than 50%, figures released yesterday reveal. Operations in southern Afghanistan accounted for a little over half, nearly £2.6bn, compared with £1.5bn last year. Most of the money was spent on providing tougher armoured vehicles for soldiers who face a growing threat of roadside bombs. Surprisingly, as the government prepares to withdraw from Basra, the cost of Britain’s military presence in southern Iraq this year increased to nearly £2bn, compared with less than £1.5bn last year, according to the figures released by the Ministry of Defence. …The defence budget will be increased by more than £500m to reach a total of just over £38bn this year, the MoD said yesterday.” (Guardian, 13 February)


On Monday 2 February heavy snow fell in many places in Britain, and some workers failed to get to work.   The British “Federation of Small Businesses estimated that continuing bad weather on Tuesday could cost the British economy more than one billion pounds”, said Reuters (2 February). This is the usual news item which appears on those rare days when the weather stops industry operating normally. It just makes you wonder why, on all those ordinary, typical days throughout the year when industry is operating normally, there is nothing in the papers about the tremendous contributions to “the British economy” the workers have obviously made.

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