Voice from the Back

THE CLASS DIVIDE                                             
In a recent issue of the Guardian newspaper there was an inserted leaflet from the charity WaterAid. It was appealing for £52 million in a campaign to change the lives of 884 million people who still lack clean water and the 2.6 billion who have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. According to the leaflet “It’s a fact that around 4,000 children die every day from diarrhoea because they lack clean water and sanitation.” If  £52 million seems like a lot of money it should be noted in that same newspaper there was an  article that reported the sale of super luxurious flats in London. “The property tycoons behind London’s most lavish residential development are £62 million better off after fresh details emerged of sales at One Hyde Park. The Candy brothers, Nick and Christian, and their backers have pocketed the sum after selling one sixth floor property for £22m, and one on the second floor for £21.6m …. A penthouse flat in the development is understood to have been sold for £135m, but Land Registry documents have yet to be filed.” (Guardian, 16 March) WaterAid’s appeal for £52 million seems modest compared with these sums, but that is how capitalism works. The poor die young and the rich live in luxury based on the misery of the poor. 4,000 kids are dying every day, are you going to do anything about it?

COMIC BOOK CAPITALISM                                     
Capitalism is an insane society that values things much more than human beings. The following news item should be read with the knowledge that millions of people are trying to exist on the equivalent of $1.25 a day. “A comic collector has been caught in Spider-Man’s web, paying $1.1 million for a near-mint copy of “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15 that features the wall-crawler’s debut. The issue, first published in 1962, was sold Monday by a private seller to a private buyer, ComicConnect.com chief executive Stephen Fishler told The Associated Press on Tuesday. It’s not the highest price ever paid for a comic book, an honor that goes to “Action Comics” No. 1 with Superman on the cover, which went for $1.5 million.” (Yahoo News, 9 March) Millions of dollars spent on nonsense while real human beings die of hunger. It is not funny, it is not comic. It is disgraceful.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DISASTER                         
Newspapers are quick to cover a story like the miners rescued from the cave-in in Chile, but mining disasters are so common that they hardly register in the media compared to important events like a Royal wedding. So it should come as no surprise to learn of the following event only being covered by a few lines in the national press. “At least six workers were killed and 46 trapped by a methane explosion in a coal mine in southwestern Pakistan. An official said that the mine was declared dangerous two weeks ago, but the warning was ignored.” (Times, 21 March) The reality inside a capitalist society is that coal and the profits that can accrue from it is much more important that human lives.

RICH AND POOR IN THE USA                                    
In a recent newspaper debate about the growing inequalities of wealth in the USA  entitled “Rising Wealth Inequality: Should We Care? Why do Americans seem unperturbed about the growing gap between the rich and the poor?”, Michael I. Norton an associate professor at the Harvard Business School, who is  currently co-writing a book on money and happiness, made some interesting observations. “In a recent survey of Americans, my colleague Dan Ariely and I found that Americans drastically underestimated the level of wealth inequality in the United States. While recent data indicates that the richest 20 percent of Americans own 84 percent of all wealth, people estimated that this group owned just 59 percent believing that total wealth in this country is far more evenly divided among poorer Americans.” (New York Times, 22 March) It may have escaped the professors’ notice, but all the media is owned by the rich and it is in their interest to spread the false notion that capitalism is a fair and equitable society.  

THOSE LAZY WORKERS AGAIN                                   
“Almost every NHS nurse works more than their contracted hours and one in five does so every shift, a new poll shows. Some 95% of nurses say they work longer hours than they are paid for, according to ICM research for the Royal  College of Nursing. ..Many nurses say they have to skip meals and rarely or never get the breaks at work to which they are entitled…” (Observer, 10 April)

FAMILY VALUES                                            
“British families are facing the biggest peacetime squeeze on their finances since 1921, according to a leading economic consultancy. Soaring inflation and weak earning growth will leave the average family £910 worse off than two years ago, according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).” (Sunday Times, 10 April).

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