2010s >> 2019 >> no-1383-november-2019

Rear View

Can’t pay, can’t have

 ‘The [US] “Ending Homelessness Act”… would give an additional $13.27 billion over five years to create an estimated 400,000 affordable housing units. The funds would go to supportive housing, including homeless shelters and transitional housing, as well as housing vouchers for low-income families and local outreach services to homeless residents’ (huffpost.com, 3 October). Socialists have been saying for the past 115 years that there will never be a solution to the ‘problem’ of homelessness under capitalism. The mountain of evidence supporting our position is ever-growing. ‘Almost all two-bedroom homes available for rent across England, Scotland and Wales are too expensive for families on housing benefit… We contacted almost 200 landlords across the country. Half of them told us flat out that they would not let to anyone on benefits. Of the rest, most of them wanted further conditions fulfilled, including six months’ rent in advance, or a guarantor – conditions many of those facing homelessness would find it impossible to meet’ (huffingtonpost, 4 October). There is no legislative solution, brutal or otherwise: ‘Officials in Bakersfield just announced that they will be solving their homeless problem by throwing people in jail. Under the plan, homeless people would be rounded up under the ostensible charges of misdemeanor drug offenses or potential trespassing and thrown in a cage’ (activistpost, 4 October).

War & want

Warren Buffet

‘The official poverty measure is a very poor indicator of economic hardship in this country. In 2018, the Federal Poverty Level for a family of four in the mainland United States was $25,100 – – abysmally low standard of living. The problem of people living with poverty and struggling to make ends meet is far more widespread than the official poverty rate – measured with a 50-year old yardstick – would indicate… The truth is, millions more low-income people – defined in many official programs as those living at between one and two times the official poverty level — still hover at the edges of poverty, just one illness or divorce or job loss away from disaster’ (thehill.com, 19 September). The article in question is titled Millions of us are living in poverty – we need investments to raise the standard of living, but one endemic feature of capitalism will not be ended by diverting some funds, as the author suggests, from another – the mighty US war machine. Capitalism cannot be reformed so as to work in the interests of the class of wage and salary earners. It is a class system that can only work for those who own the means of production. As Warren Buffett said: ‘there’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.’ He is correct: the top 0.1 percent of American households hold the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90 percent and every 38 seconds a U.S. citizen dies of poverty and poverty-related social conditions.

Making a killing

‘This summer, a pair of Syrian brothers journeyed across Europe. Their story did not begin with a rubber dinghy afloat on the Aegean and a scramble for safety on to a Greek island: a well-worn route for many Syrian refugees fleeing a conflict that has lasted eight years and taken an estimated half a million lives. Instead, these brothers landed in Cannes; their transportation, a plane, then a pair of Ferraris;… Mohammad and Ali are the sons of Syria’s richest man, Rami Makhlouf, who also happens to be the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s cousin and childhood playmate. “There is a new class of wealthy war traders,” said Mazen, an Aleppo businessman from an old industrial family… These individuals have made fortunes picking clean the carcass of the country’s economy… Their dramatic rise to fortune has also helped the regime to survive by keeping trade going, oil flowing and helping to fund pro-regime militias, even as the country lies in ruins around them’ (ft.com, 3 October). We have to take from the capitalist class the means of producing wealth in the use of which they no longer take part, and use it as common property for the satisfaction of the needs of society. Until we do that, all our struggles will be in vain. If in the meantime one section of the capitalist class, the section which is primarily interested in exploiting us, asks us to defend its wealth against another section, act in accordance with the interests of our class, and let them fight their own battles. Join the struggle for socialism against them and their apologists and defenders.