Voice From The Back

In the big budget movies of some years ago Arnold Schwazenegger often played the all-action hero. Today he is the governor of California and is finding that in an economic downturn capitalism isn’t so easy to manage. One of the causes of that state’s economic deficit is the growing number of prisoners and the consequent growth of economic deficit in the state’s budget. “The fact that 9.5% of spending now goes to prisoners while only 5.7% goes to universities – 25 years ago, prisons got 4% and universities 11% – is indeed a harsh indication of California’s fall from grace.” (Time, 13 February) Schwazenegger has proposed three different ideas lately to deal with the problem. One is to pay Mexico to build prisons and have US prisoners in them, another is to spend more of the state’s budget on prisons and finally he proposes to privatise prisons as a cheaper way of running things. Twist and turn as they may capitalism’s politicians are finding that capitalism throws up problems that are incapable of easy Hollywood solutions. Here is one though – Capitalism? Exterminate!

Barrack Obama’s election to the US presidency was supported by many American trade unionists, but as unemployment rises much of that support is evaporating. “Richard Trumka does not mince his words. The former miner now leads America’s largest union body, the AFL -CIO, describes George Bush’s language as: ‘stolen elections, ruinous tax cuts for the rich, dishonest wars, financial scandal, government sponsored torture, flooded cities and finally economic collapse.” Barrack Obama is a huge improvement, of course, but unemployment is close to 10% and the government must do something, reckons Mr Trumka.” (Time, 13 February)  Trumka like many supporters of capitalism thinks by government intervention of $400 billion of what he calls “immediate job-creating investment” the problem of rising unemployment can be solved. He is living in cloud cuckoo land. Capitalism has periodic slumps and booms and governments know that getting the capitalist class to invest during a slump is near impossible.

We live in society full of inequalities. We see people starving and kids dying from lack of clean water, but surely the most hardhearted of us must scream at this news item when we realise that many members of the human race must survive on less than a £1 a day. “This is a bauble that even a banker with an intact bonus would struggle to buy – the 507.5 carat, flawless white-coloured Cullinan Heritage Diamond which was sold to a Chinese buyer yesterday for $35.3 million (£23 million)… The sale to Chow Tai Fok Jewellery in Hong Kong highlights the growing importance of China in the global diamond market.” (Times, 27 February) It also highlights the madness of a society that allows some useless bastard in China to consume the equivalent in wealth of millions of kids staying alive. Capitalism sucks.

In order to keep those collection plates full religious groups have to appear modern and “with it”. The Roman Catholic Church is no exception to this rule and compared with some American fundamentalist Protestant churches with their opposition to evolution they may appear almost scientific. It is doubtful though if even those American bastions of superstitious nonsense could outdo the Vatican’s chief exorcist. “The growing clerical sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church are proof that the Devil is at work inside the Vatican according to the Holy See’s chief exorcist. Father Gabriele Amorth said that the Pope “fully believes in liberation from evil, because the Devil lodges in the Vatican.” (Times, 11 March) In case you imagine that this is just some crazy old priest who has been indulging in too much communion wine it should be pointed out that he has been the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years. One of his claims is that he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession. Like all supporters of private property society the religious zealots will go to any lengths to support the status quo even calling up demonic myths to explain social problems.

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