Voice From The Back

The arrogance of the capitalist class
In a society wherein children are trying to survive on a dollar a day the obscene wealth of the owning class and their flaunting of their riches has recently shown a particularly obnoxious example. “A bidder has agreed to pay $2.63 million for a steak lunch with the billionaire investor Warren Buffett in a charity auction held on eBay Inc’s website. The highest bid in the 11th annual auction topped the previous record $2.11 million paid in 2008 by Zhao Danyang, a Hong Kong investor. Wealth manager Salida Capital Corp of Toronto won with a $1.68 million bid in 2009.” (Reuters, 11 June) Millions of dollars spent on lunching with a billionaire while millions of children starve, do you need any other reason to get rid of capitalism?

What recession?
As the British government announces massive cuts to deal with the economic recession it is interesting to note that recession or not the owning class still manage to spare a few coppers for their art collections. “Last week was one of the biggest ever in the world of London’s art auctions, with the recession failing to stop records being broken at the Impressionist/Modern evening sales at both Sotheby’s (22 June)and Christie’s (23 June)” (Observer, 27 June)  A Picasso went for over £34 million, a Manet for over £22 million and a Klimt for just under £19 million. It is nice to see that our betters are not letting an economic downturn affect their appreciation of artistic merit.

Let ‘em fly copters
The arrogance of the Russian ruling elite is prodigious but even by their standards this takes a bit of beating. “As Moscow residents sweltered in an unprecedented traffic snarl-up, the governor of the region around Moscow offered an unusual solution on Friday: buy a helicopter. ‘I fly in a helicopter. (You) should also buy helicopters instead of cars – then you do not need roads,’ Moscow Region governor Boris Gromov told journalists, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.” (Yahoo News, 2 July) This crass statement brings to mind Marie Antoinette’s reputed statement on hearing that the lower orders were rioting because of the lack of bread “Let them eat cake”. In Marie’s defence she probably never said such a thing, but Boris did and he should remember Marie’s fate.

The silent spillage
The Press and TV have given great prominence to the oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico but very little has been reported about the oil disasters that continue to plague Nigeria.” A series of spills, some of them the responsibility of the American multinational ExxonMobil, have been polluting the Niger delta for five decades. One estimate says the amount spilled in the region over nearly 50 years totals 10.5 million barrels. That is more than five times the worst estimate of the spillage so far from the Deepwater Horizon leak in the Gulf. Yet despite the pollution, illness and poverty caused by the ongoing leaks in Nigeria, they rarely make the international headlines. And there has been no high-profile effort to correct the situation.” (First Post, 17 June) The spillage on the USA’s shores may be more news-worthy but the pollution in Nigeria is just as deadly. It is just another example of how in its quest for more and more profits the capitalist system pays little regard to human health or happiness.

Stop Moaning. Work Harder
Next time you complain to your boss about being exploited let us hope he doesn’t read this piece of nonsense. “People who make their colleagues miserable by constantly moaning at work may actually be suffering from a mental illness, a study suggests. According to researchers in Germany, they are suffering from a new condition called post-traumatic embitterment disorder. …The findings are based on a two-year study of 21 people by researchers at the University of Berlin.” (BBC News, 20 June) Presumably the “researchers” didn’t moan or complain and no one mentioned to them that research that only used 21 people is hardly convincing. Here’s to the day when more and more of us “suffer” from post traumatic embitterment disorder. The researchers may call it a mental disorder – we call it good sense.

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