Voice From The Back
The Gap Widens
Much is made of the progressive nature of capitalism by journalists eager to prove that it is a society that is gradually making us all better off. A dissident view has recently been aired by the journalist Phillip Blond. “The New Economics Foundation has shown that global growth has not aided the poor. In the 1980s, for every $100 of world growth, the poorest 20 per cent received $2.20; by 2001, they received only 60 cents. Clearly neo-liberal growth disproportionately benefits the rich and further impoverishes the poor. Real wage increases in the top 13 countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have been below the rate of inflation since about 1970 – a situation compounded in Britain as the measure of inflation massively underestimates the real cost of living. Thus wage earners – rather than asset owners – have faced a 35-year downward pressure on their standard of living.” (Independent, 23 March)
“Too much public money is spent on prolonging the lives of the elderly when it could be diverted to helping young offenders, according to a senior Church of Scotland minister. The Reverend Maxwell Craig, who is now retired but retains the honorary position of Extra Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland made the comments yesterday in a newspaper column.” (Times, 27 March) We are fairly certain that the reverend gentleman is complaining about the expense of keeping old workers healthy and not the Royal Family whom he serves and who have a fairly good record of longevity. In the east end of Glasgow, in an area known as Calton the average life expectancy of males is 57. Make your own mind up.
During the primary elections in the US much has been made of Hilary Clinton’s care for the under-privileged against the super-rich, but what is the reality? “Democrat Hilary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have made $109 million since leaving the White House, including $51 million in speech income for Bill Clinton, according to eight years of tax records released on Friday.” (Yahoo News, 4 April) We don’t take sides in this political ‘beauty contest’, but we can recognise that all of the candidates are hypocritical self-serving people who wish to administrate the awful system of capitalism. We hate their system and we detest all of them who try to con us into supporting it.
This is Progress?
Apologists for capitalism like to paint a picture of a system that is gradually improving the lot of the world’s poor, but recent developments show that this is a fallacy. The development of the markets in China and India and the process of arable land being used to produce bio-fuels instead of less profitable foodstuff have led to chaos throughout the world. “Rising food prices could spread social unrest across Africa after triggering riots in Niger, Senegal, Cameroon and Burkina Faso, African ministers and senior agriculture diplomats have warned. Kanayo Nwanze, the vice-president of the United Nations’ International Fund for Agriculture, told a conference in Ethiopia that food riots could become a common feature, particularly after the price of rice has doubled in three months.” (Financial Times, 4 April)
A Grim Future
Recent droughts in places like Australia and Africa combined with the explosive competition inside modern capitalism have led to many experts forecasting future disasters. “In recent months the commodity prices of rice, wheat and corn has jumped 50 percent or more, pushing retail prices to levels unseen in a generation and prompting grain-exporting countries to curtail trade to suppress domestic inflation. On March 20, the World Food Program issued an emergency appeal for more funding to keep aid moving to the world’s poorest countries. Last week World Bank president Robert Zoellick called for urgent global action on the part of rich nations ‘or many more people will suffer or starve’”. (Newsweek, 14 April)