Voice from the Back
A Thrifty Life
“Even by Philip Green’s extraordinary standards, it is a handsome pay day – the retail tycoon has awarded himself Britain’s biggest bonus of £1.2 billion.” (Times, 21 October)
Mr Green denies that this big
cash pay-out is likely to fund more takeover bids. “I’m saving up,” he says. This is unlikely as he is not known for his frugality; in fact he spent £4 million earlier in the year on his son’s bar mitzvah. He also owns a 12 seater Gulfstream G550 jet and a 200ft yacht, each worth around £20 million. The salesgirls in Top Shop and Miss Selfridge, which Mr Green owns and who help produce the £1.2 billion that he wallows in, can only dream of such frugality.
For political reasons the US government pretend that Iraq is now a democratic and independent country, but the facts are somewhat different. “Iraqi President Jalai Talabani said he opposed military action against neighbouring Syria but lacked the power to prevent US troops using his country as a launchpad if it chose to do so. ‘I categorically refuse the use of Iraqi soil to launch a military strike against Syria or any other Arab country,’ Talabani told the London based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview on Tuesday. “But at the end of the day my ability to confront the US military is limited and I cannot impose on them my will.”
(Middle East Online, 1 November)
When Michael Bloomberg won the
election to be Mayor of New York in 2001 we commented that it was a strange sort of democracy that allowed a multi- millionaire to become mayor just because he spent $60 million on his campaign.
He looks set to be re-elected because of his vast wealth. “Mr Bloomberg is expected to spend $85 million on his campaign, about eight times as much as his rivals.” (Times,8 November)
As they say in US politics: “he bought it fair and square”.
A Grateful Nation?
The British Legion has produced a report that shows that the owning class might pay lip service to the dead and maimed of their wars but that behind the fine words is the cynical reality of running the profit system. “As the nation prepares to remember the sacrifices of millions, exhaustive research by the Legion suggests that almost half of veterans and their dependants – 3.88 million – are living on less than £10,000 a year.
Almost one million have to exist on less than half that amount.”
(Independent, 11 November)
Died for “your” country? Well done, wage slave, your widow and orphans can cop £96 a week to survive on. We shall also give you a poem about “lest we forget”. Poems are much cheaper than pensions.
The Lazy Man Objection
“About 73% of workers north of the border who replied to an insurance company study said they regularly failed to take all of their holidays. Workers in London fared worst, with 77% not using up their annual leave.”
(BBC News, 15 November)
So what about the objection to socialism that it would not work because people are too lazy?
The Deadly Dust
An estimated 100,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed as having pleural
plaques – internal scarring on the lining of the lung that indicates exposure to asbestos. “A landmark test case will appear in the Court of Appeal tomorrow in which the insurance industry on behalf of
employers will argue that a potentially fatal condition caused by exposure to
asbestos should not be compensated.”
(Observer, 13 November) Earlier this year the insurers with the Department of Trade
and Industry on behalf of British shipbuilders managed to slash the compensation from between £12,500 and
£20,000 to £5,000 and £7,000. Whether on the battlefront or the shipyard the
capitalist class will always put profits before human life.
The US government is opposed to torture, isn’t it? Well, sort of. The US Congress recently passed an amendment to ban American soldiers and spies from torturing prisoners but the White House came out against such legislation. “This week saw the sad spectacle of an American president lamely trying to explain to the citizens of Panama that, yes he would veto any such bill but, no, ‘We do not torture.’ Meanwhile, Mr Bush’s increasingly error-prone vice-president,Dick Cheney, has been on Capitol Hill trying to bully senators to exclude America’s spies from any torture ban. To add a note of farce to the tragedy, the administration has had to explain that the CIA is not torturing prisoners in Asia and Eastern Europe – though of course it cannot confirm that such prisons exist.”
(Economist, 12 November) Everything quite clear now?