Voice From the Back
Pollution And Capitalism
In their mad demand for profit the capitalist class are polluting our world more and more. “Ozone loss over the Arctic this year was so severe that for the first time it could be called an ‘ozone hole’ like the Antarctic one, scientists report. …Ozone-destroying chemicals originate in substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that came into use late last century in appliances including refrigerators and fire extinguishers. … The ozone layer blocks ultraviolet-B rays from the Sun, which can cause skin cancer and other medical conditions.” (BBC News, 3 October) On the face of it a scientific report on the BBC may not appear to mean that much to you, until your child develops skin cancer or some other awful medical condition. It will mean a lot then.
The Sick Society
Inside capitalism everything has a price. If you can afford it you can get the best food, clothing, housing and entertainment. Conversely if you don’t have the money you have to do with the cheap, the shoddy and the second-rate. Regretfully this applies to health-care too. “Half of hospitals ‘failing to feed elderly patients properly’. Staff forgetting to give food and water, while dignified care is lacking at 40% of hospitals, Care Quality Commission says. … The figures for England, compiled from reports published over the summer, will be officially released next week by the CQC. At Sandwell general hospital inspectors found serious issues with nutrition, especially for people who needed help with eating. Staff did not check whether patients had eaten and did not keep track of their fluid intake. One nurse said: ‘Sometimes I am the only staff member to feed on the ward. How can I feed all these people? Sometimes by the time I get to the last bay, either the food is cold or it has been taken away.’” (Guardian, 8 October) They call it the National Health Service: the national ill-health service would be more accurate.
From Dream To Nightmare
As they near retirement age many workers console themselves with the notion that they will at last be free from money worries, but recent research may lead them to reconsider their dreams of rocking-chair contentment. “Research published today suggests that many people with private pensions will be as much as 30 per cent worse off compared with those with similar savings who finished work in 2008, because of a combination of tumbling stock markets and interest rates at a record low. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountants, said those facing retirement this year would be left ‘between a rock and a hard place’, forced to consider putting off claiming a pension until market conditions improve.” (Daily Telegraph, 8 October) Even after a lifetime of work and money anxiety capitalism still holds no respite for many workers.
Politicians vie with each other in claiming that they can solve capitalism’s boom and burst cycle of trade. Beyond their empty boasts there is a reality that they dare not recognise in their bombastic promises. It is that booms and bursts are the way capitalism operates and politicians are powerless to do anything about it. A recent survey by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows what the future is likely to be. “Falling incomes will mean the biggest drop for middle-income families since the 1970s, says a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The IFS forecasts two years ‘dominated by a large decline’ in incomes, pushing 600,000 more children into poverty. By 2013 there will be 3.1 million children in poverty in the UK, according to the IFS projections.” (BBC News, 11 October) All the politicians can do is make empty promises while we suffer empty pockets.
Skint But Not Poor
For centuries politicians, philanthropists and social observers have tried to solve the problem of the poor, but poverty has remained despite their best efforts. Now, however, a so-called think-tank has ridden to the rescue. “One of Britain’s foremost think-tanks wants to ban the phrases ‘poor people’ and ‘the poor’ to describe those in poverty, claiming they amount to discrimination akin to racism and sexism. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) says politicians and members of the public are guilty of ‘povertyism’, an unacknowledged form of prejudice which stigmatises deprived people.” (Sunday Times, 9 October) The findings of this think-tank must be a great consolation to those workers who find themselves unemployed, homeless and desperate. They may be skint but they are not poor. Thanks very much JRF!