Voice From The Back


From old Frank Sinatra songs to Hollywood movies about Rio beaches, with beautiful young men and women the image is projected about the wonders of Brazil. The reality is less gorgeous. “A study by the government’s Institute for Applied Economic Research showed that the richest 10 percent of Brazilians hold 75.4 percent of the wealth. Thanks to a regressive tax system, they only lose 22.7 percent of their incomes to tax, compared with 32.8 percent for the poorest 10 percent of Brazilians. In Rio, only a handful of slums out of more than 600 in the city are in line for improvements under the federal program, leaving many feeling left out.” (Yahoo News, 8 July)


We often hear of the plight of workers in various parts of the world who try to survive on less than $1 a day but it is hardly of any consequence to most of the following group of rich parasites. “The combined wealth of the globe’s millionaires grew to nearly $41 trillion last year, an increase of 9 percent from a year before, Merrill Lynch & Co. and consulting firm Capgemini Group said Tuesday. That means their average wealth was more than $4 million, the highest it’s ever been. Home values were not included in asset totals.” (Yahoo News, 24 June)


Every child that is born has to be taught about the crazy system of ownership and poverty that is capitalism in order to survive in this dog eat dog society, but even supporters of this system with its insatiable greed for profits would surely draw the line at the following piece of “shrewd” business strategy. ” Thousands of children as young as 11 have been sent debit cards by Lloyds TSB without their parents’ consent. One 15-year-old reportedly used the card to buy cheap cigarettes, Viagra and fake adult identification on the internet.” (Times, 5 July)


He is reputed to be the richest man in the world so the recent downturn on the world’s stock exchanges has led to speculation that Warren Buffett may be ready to plunge into an increasingly bearish market. “During the great bear market of 1974, Warren Buffett was asked by a rather staid fellow how he felt. “Like an over-sexed guy in a whorehouse”, he replied. “Now is the time to invest and get rich.” (Observer, 6 July) Whether he in fact invests or not the richest man in the world, said to be worth $35 billion, certainly has a rich use of the vernacular. As Bob Dylan once sang “Money doesn’t talk – It swears!”


We are constantly amazed at the current ignorance about how capitalism operates. Chancellors that claim they can get rid of slumps and booms, prime ministers who believe that a series of reforms will solve social problems, but this piece of nonsense takes a bit of beating. “Adam Sampson, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘Mortgage lenders have made billions from first time home buyers and Shelter believes it’s now the turn of those lenders to help them.’” (Metro, 10 July) What Mr Sampson does not seem to realise is that capitalists makes their fortunes from rent, interest and profit not from some benign urge to “help” borrowers! Perhaps it’s “now the turn” of Mr Sampson to learn a little bit about the basics of capitalist society.


Away back on the 7th April 1775 when Samuel Johnson wrote “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”, he couldn’t have imagined how much modern capitalism would use patriotism to enslave the working class. “On the field before the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball plans to assemble the largest gathering of Hall of Fame players in baseball history. And as fans salute their heroes, the former players will join the crowd in saluting the American flag — one that is roughly 75 feet by 150 feet, as long as a 15-story building is tall, spread horizontally over the Yankee Stadium turf. That is a relatively small flag by big-event standards in American sports these days. But it will signal the latest can’t-miss blend of sports and patriotism, a combination increasingly presenting itself through gigantic American flags, unfurled by dozens or hundreds of people in an attempt to elicit a sense of awe and nationalism in the surrounding crowd.” (New York Times, 4 July)

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