Voice From the Back
Mind the gap
Richard Lambert, former editor of the Financial Times , writing in the Times (20 September) paints an astonishing picture of the gap between incomes in the USA. It must make even the craziest supporter of capitalism think again. “According to one measure, the average boss of a publicly traded company made 42 times more than the average production worker 20 years ago. Today, the multiple is more than 400 times.”
The journalist Nicholas Wapshot hardly caused a sensation when he reported what the popular music business is all about in The Times (27 September). “I bumped into Peter Blake, whose montage of the Beatles’ heroes on the front of the Sergeant Pepper album became a design classic. Having watched Yoko defend her copyright that morning, I asked Blake whether he retained the rights to his Sergeant Pepper cover. `No,` he said. `I was paid a flat £200 for my work, and that was it. A barrister has sat me down and explained in great detail why I haven’t a leg to stand on. What is more, Apple won’t even allow me to use the image in my own artwork`. As one of the attorneys said in court this week. `It’s a far cry from the idealised lyrics of a song like Imagine, where you imagine a world without property. In the music business, everything is property`.”
The UN concern about “weapons of mass destruction” seems a little strange when both the US and Russia are still producing anthrax despite signing in 1972 the Biological Weapons Convention that prohibited the development, production and stockpiling of such weapons. The escape clause that made nonsense of the Convention was that it was permitted to do “defensive” research on them. “Far from ceasing the production of anthrax, the US no more honoured its commitment to the 1972 treaty than the Soviet Union, and may even have allowed its own germ samples to be exported overseas. Last year the Bush administration refused to sign a protocol on the Biological Weapons Convention that would have made it easier to monitor countries that were cheating. What possible reason might exist for the US to veto the opportunity for greater transparency on biological weapons? An answer materialised last September, just a week before the terrorist attack, when Pentagon officials admitted they were engineering a potent strain of anthrax, ostensibly to assess whether a vaccine administered to US troops would be effective against a Russian-engineered superbug” The Herald Magazine (5 October).
Behind all the fine words about democracy, freedom and protecting world peace lies the USA’s naked policy to ensure its oil supply. It is a policy that is recognised by the representatives of the French and Russian capitalist class. “The Bush administration, intimately entwined with the global oil industry, is keen to pounce on Iraq’s massive untapped reserves, the second biggest in the world after Saudi Arabia’s. But France and Russia, who hold a power of veto on the UN Security Council, have billion dollar contracts with Baghdad, which they fear will disappear in “an oil grab by Washington”, if America installs a successor to Saddam” Observer (6 October).
The Church of England’s bishops are keen to show that they are right up there with current affairs so they have published a thesis on the prospects of a war with Iraq. They have sent it to the government, where it will now be placed in the “ignore” file. This might seem a pity to some, as it cites some real up-to-date authorities on the subject. “It was published last night as a submission to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the War on Terror. In the document they argued that a war would fail to meet the criteria of a just war as outlined by St Augustine in the 5th century and then by St Thomas Aquinas in the 13th” Times (10 October).
During last month the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a massive campaign to raise funds. You probably will recieve a leaflet through you letter box or in your daily newspaper The facts are a massive condemnation of capitalism. “13 million children are facing a winter of sub-zero temperatures. In places such as Croatia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir, many children have little but each other to keep them warm. Some may not survive the night. Elsewhere in the world, other children are struggling to survive too. In the 162 countries where UNICEF works, we help children who are increasingly at risk from malnutrition, killer childhood diseases and a lack of access to clean water.” UNICEF’s “solution” to the problem is for you to send £2 a month. Being “practical” people they reject the socialist alternative where all wealth is produced solely for use. They will carry on pursuing policies that have failed dismally in the past.
Nice for some
“`I used to look up at the Imperial Hotel, now I stay at the Imperial Hotel. It’s nice to see the working class doing well isn’t it?` John Reid, Britain’s Northern Ireland Secretary, on the success of the Labour government’s policies” Times (14 October).