Voice From The Back


“European and US defence companies will this week kick off talks on a joint code of ethics to cover arms sales. Representatives from the industry’s leading trade bodies will meet at the Farnborough Air Show  in the UK on Tuesday. European companies have recently developed an anti-corruption code in a bid to improve the industry’s reputation, which has suffered in the wake of allegations of bribery and corruption in connection with some of its biggest players.” (Financial Times,13 July) As these guardians of morality meet to discuss whether it is more ethical to kill a child with poisonous gas, napalm bombs or good old fashioned high explosives we ask ourselves what do sellers of death know of ethics. They are money grubbing killers. 


Now and then a wonderful product comes along that the owning class just love. This may be one of them. “The maker of a new product that combines a treadmill and computer workstation is banking on the notion that companies will invest in products like the “Walkstation” as a way of keeping health care costs down and improving overall fitness levels. The device allows people to work on their computers while walking on a treadmill at a slow speed of up to three kilometers (two miles) per hour, enabling small amounts of movement that supporters say have the potential to reap big health benefits.” (Yahoo News, 13 July) Now all we need is a “Feedstation” that shovels food into your mouth while you work. Oh, Charlie Chaplin already envisaged that in Modern Times didn’t he? How about the “Bedpanstation”? Too much perhaps?


“Doing business in China is beginning to cost real money. Not that Chinese workers are buying second homes or anything like that: Their average wage is still a little short of a dollar an hour. But so many Chinese have now left their villages for the factories that the once bottomless pool of new young workers is beginning to run dry, and the wages of assembly-line employees are rising 10 percent a year.” (Yahoo News, 15 July) We should echo the sentiments of an old song, probably banned in China now. They occur in The Red Flag – “Arise like starvelings from your slumber” Let’s hope so!


“A Ugandan official has suggested to MPs that funerals should be limited to Saturday afternoons to stop people taking time off work to attend them. Speciosa Kazibwe, a former vice-president who now heads a state development agency, noted that Uganda’s death rate was very high. (BBC News, 25 July) Socialists used to say that the capitalist’s idea of the perfect worker was one who left school at 15, worked 50 weeks a year for 50 years and dropped down dead the first day he went to collect his pension at the post office. We will have to amend this ideal blueprint in view of the Ugandan official’s view. Ideally he would die on the Thursday so that his family could attend his Saturday funeral without missing out on a day producing surplus value for the owning class.


The following announcement caused a storm of controversy in the media. “Patients cannot rely on the NHS to save their lives if the cost of doing so is too great, the Government’s medicines watchdog has ruled for the first time. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) has said the natural impulse to go to the aid of individuals in trouble – as when vast resources are used to save a sailor lost at sea – should not apply to the NHS. The disclosure follows last week’s controversial decision by Nice to reject four new drugs for kidney cancer even though they have been shown to extend life by five to six months.” (Independent, 13 August) To socialists the announcement is far from shocking. That is how capitalism operates – if you are rich you have access to the best food, clothing, shelter, education and recreation. Why should it be so shocking to learn that if you are poor you cannot afford the best of medicine either.

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