Voice From the Back
Never Steal Anything
The owning class through their schoolrooms and churches are forever telling young workers never to steal, but in reality the capitalists turn out to be the biggest thieves of all. “Fraud is costing British business £72 billion a year, according to a report out this week. Despite the warning of recent corporate scandals involving Enron, WorldCom, Parmalat and Refco, UK companies are still estimated to be losing 6 per cent of their annual revenue to fraud and corruption, says a study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and international lawyers Mishcon de Reya.” Observer (20 November) £72 billion a year! It seems to be a case of never steal anything .. small.
Room At The Top
Good news for the homeless in France, according to a recent report on hotels that have some vacancies. “The least expensive room at the George V, is about £390 per night including bedroom, bathroom and breakfast. The most expensive suite at the Plaza Athenee costs almost £10,000 per night and includes four rooms and breakfast.” Times (30 November)
Old, Cold And Hungry
Malnutrition amongst elderly Scots has soared in the past ten years and pressure groups blame the Scottish Executive for allowing pensioners to live below the poverty line. In 1995, 40 Scots died from malnutrition, but last year that figure had soared to 99.” Times (21 November) Even more alarming figures have been released for the UK by the charity Age Concern. “150,000 people over 65 have died as a result of the cold in the past five years.” Times (25 November)
The Slaughter Of The Innocents
Capitalism’s record of murder is even more horrific when looked at from a world perspective. “Nearly six million children die from hunger or malnutrition every year, The Food and Agriculture Organisation says. Many deaths result from treatable diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and measles, the agency said. They would survive if they had proper nourishment, the agency says in a new report on world hunger.” BBC News (22 November)
Our Masters’ Voice
The Confederation of British Industry expresses the views of the British capitalist class. Here for instance is Sir Digby Jones, the chairman of the CBI, on trade unions and international competition: “Trade unions in the private sector in the 21st century will become largely irrelevant…. There are 1.3 billion Chinese out there who want your lunch and a billion Indians who want your dinner.” Times (22 November). Sir Digby is of course indulging in wishful thinking, he knows that the British working class’s greatest protection against the profit-mad owners on the industrial front is the union. A greater threat to all the capitalists of the world would be the world’s working class uniting politically. (See Rigg’s view below).
The rapid growth of capitalism in China and India has been greeted with acclaim by all its supporters. There is another side to the story though, illustrated by two recent developments as reported in the Observer (27 November) The Chinese city Harbin, population 3.5 million, has had no water supply for four days because of the pollution caused by 100 tonnes of benzene – a colourless, odourless carcinogenic chemical – spilling into the river upstream after an explosion at the local chemical factory. “The poisoning of the Songhua river has exposed the murkier side of China’s spectacular economic growth; the emphasis on business rather than environment, the tendency to cover up health risks and splits within the government.” From India comes news of the exploitation of children to feed the rapacious growth of capitalism. 400 children were found working in factories in Delhi. “Housed in a night shelter for beggars, the embroidery workers, aged 5 to 14, were waiting yesterday to hear their fate.”