2000s >> 2006 >> no-1226-october-2006

Voice From the Back

The Inequalities Of Capitalism
A good example of the class division in modern society can be seen when we look at the wealth of the top 0.1 percent of the population in the USA. “An analysis by David Cay Johnston in the New York Times found that the average annual inflation-adjusted income of this group increased by 2.5 times, to $3 million (£1.6 million), from 1980 to 2002. The average net worth of those on the Forbes 400 list has mushroomed in the past 20 years, rising from $390 million (£206 million) to $2.8 billion (£1.48 billion)” (Times, 17 August).  As for you and your family, “inflation adjusted” how are you doing? A little less than $3 million this year I would imagine.

Pardon Our French
Nothing sums up capitalism better than the article that appeared in the Observer Magazine (27 August) when dealing with the former member of the Workers Revolutionary Party John Bird, who it describes as an entrepreneur. We think this might mean con man but we never went to French classes. This enterprising person may be more familiar to you as the owner of the magazine The Big Issue – yes the one you bought because you felt sorry for the lady outside the bus station.
Here is the owner of that magazine on the homeless and how he feels about it. “Fifty years ago a homeless person wasn’t allowed to sleep rough or beg. They’d get a menial job but they were part of society. Nowadays they pay nothing. They are infantilised. And it costs us £60,000 to keep each one of them in that state.” We must go to French classes. Perhaps entrepreneur really means “arrogant owning class bastard.”

It is a basic premise of socialists that all wealth that is produced inside modern capitalism is the product of the working class and that the capitalist class live off the surplus value that the working class produce. Now we have such pillars of capitalist society as the Observer and Reuters agreeing with us. “The 20 largest quoted companies in the UK make an average of over £96,000 pre-tax profit per employee, according to research carried out by the Observer. … BG, formerly British Gas, made by far the most – approximately £445,000 ..” (Observer, 27 August). Are you understanding these figures? On average your employer cons you out of more than £1,800 a week and in the case of BG over £8,000 a week. Why aren’t you a socialist? Are you a shareholder in BG?

The American Dream
There is a popular misconception about that as the USA is the world’s most developed capitalist country and the most productive the American workers must be well off. A recent report from the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute shows that this is not true.
“Adjusted for inflation, average wages in the US are now lower than they were in 2000 – so the benefits of the rapid increases in productivity … are not being passed to the workers. In fact, as the New York Times reported last week, official figures show that wages and salaries now make up the smallest part of GDP since records began in 1947…. In 1965, CEOs earned 24 times more than the average worker; by 2005 it was 262 times. …The top 20 per cent of asset-holders now control 85 per cent of all America’s wealth.” (Observer, 3 September)

Bones of Contention
The National Museum of Kenya is to reopen next year after extensive renovations. It will feature a special exhibit The Origins Of Man which will display the key fossil finds of Africa’s Great Rift Valley – considered by many to be the cradle of humanity. All round celebrations locally, you may imagine. Not a bit of it. “It’s creating a big weapon against Christians that’s killing our faith,” said Bishop Boniface Adoyo, who is leading the hide the- bones-campaign.” (Observer, 10 September). This individual is chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, which claims to represent churches of 35 denominations with 9 million members. No surprise there, he is carrying on the long tradition of Christian suppression of scientific enquiry.
Big Brother Is Watching You
George Orwell’s 1984 was a dystopia where every move of the worker was monitored, but Orwell’s nightmare has arrived. “Learn that truth, and learn it well; what you do at work is the boss’s business. Xora and SurfControl are just some of the new technologies that have sprung up in the past two years peddling products and services – software, GPS video and phone surveillance, even investigators – that let managers get to know you really well. The worst mole sits right on your desk. Your computer can be rigged to lock down work files, restrict Web searches and flag e-mailed jokes about the CEO’s wife. ‘Virtually nothing you do at work on your computer can’t be monitored’, says Jeremy Gruber, legal director of the US National Workrights Institute, which advocates work place privacy” (Time, 11 September). The article goes on to quantify how widespread this snooping is. 76 percent of employers watch your use of the Web, 36 percent track the content and time spent on the
keyboard. 38 percent hire staff to sift through your e-mail and 38 percent have fired workers over the last 12 months for misuse of the email.

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