Voice from the Back


You have seen advertisements by oil companies that express concern for the environment and claim they fight global warming. It is of course a fraud. “Britain’s leading scientists have challenged the US oil company Exxon-Mobil to stop funding groups that attempt to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change. In an unprecedented step, the Royal Society, Britain premier scientific academy, has written to the oil giant to demand that the company withdraws support for dozens of groups that have “misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence.” (Guardian, 20 September) Capitalists are only interested in profits, they don’t give a damn about your children or their children’s future. That is capitalism.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate at least 90,000 people die every year of asbestos related diseases but that didn’t stop the manufacture of the obnoxious material. “Chrysotile asbestos, a known human carcinogen, will remain off a global “watch list” of toxic substances for at least two more years after countries led by Canada blocked consenus in United Nations talks on Friday. … Canada, whose French-speaking Quebec province is a major asbestos producer and exporter, led opposition to its addition to the list, according to environmentalists tracking the talks. Canadian officials say puting chrysotile asbestos on the list would be tantamount to banning international trade in it and threaten jobs.” (Yahoo! News, 13 October) 90,000 deaths a year is a mere inconvenience compared to a couple of bucks for the owning class who make their money from death and disease. That is why we are socialists, also some of us once worked in shipyards, where they used asbestos, and we have difficulty breathing.


“BP, the British oil group, had a “checkbook mentality” towards safety and was aware of maintenance backlogs and unsafe equipment at its Texas City refinery years before the fire there in 2005 in which 15 workers died, according to findings from US safety officials. .. Safety was compromised by a succession of budget cuts … The company implemented a 25 per cut on fixed costs between 1998 and 2000 which adversely affected maintenance expenditure at the refinery.” (Times, 31 October) In order to compete inside capitalism firms are constantly trying to cut overheads. In this case leading to the death and injury of many workers. That is how capitalism operates. Nasty aint it?


The recent electoral losses of the Republican Party in the USA have led to the Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quitting his post. His political demise led to newspapers running articles on him. Here are a couple of his past statements that were quoted. “Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war” and “You get a lot more with a kind word and a gun than you do with a kind word alone.” (Times, 9 November) It is significant that this last statement of Runsfeld was a quote from the gangster Al Capone. We can understand why a US Defence Secretary would have admired a murderous gangster chief, after all they both lived in a capitalist society based on violence.


The media mogul Rupert Murdoch has been making strenous efforts to break in to the Chinese market, but in 1993 he made a mess of it by stating, “Advances in the technology of telecommunications are an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere.” The Chinese took this threat seriously and imposed strict rules on satellite dishes thus depriving Murdoch’s Star TV of the huge chineses potential audience. “The following year Star removed BBC World Television from its Chinese service, in a move that was regarded by many as a sop to the Chinese government.” (Observer, 12 November) Last month Murdoch was in China trying to sweet talk his way in with government officials. When it comes to making money democratic views take a back seat with capitalists like Murdoch. What is supression of political ideas, imprisonment, torture and death compared with more money to a billionaire? Very little it seems.


Supporters of the profit system often site the USA as a good example of how democratic capitalism really is. They give us the old homily about “log cabin to White House” although today it should probably be “trailer park to White House”. It is of course a complete fallacy as the following item about the recent mid-term election illustrates. “This election proved that it pays to spend big(ger). The average House winner burned through about $1 million on the stump – and the candidate who spent the most won in 93% of House races. The most expensive victory was, oddly, one of the Dems’ safe bets: New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who won a second term with 67% of the vote – and $35.9 million.” (Time, 20 November) Forget the myths, for a lot of Americans it is “trailer park to trailer park”.

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