Voice From the Back

A Grim Forecast                     

Politicians and media ‘experts’ are always telling us that although times may prove economically fraught at the moment the future will prove much better. Occasionally however the truth leaks out. 'Recession in the eurozone will be deeper than expected this year, the European Commission said yesterday in spring forecasts that predicted continuing record unemployment and a sluggish economic rebound next year' (Times, 4 May). Capitalism by its very nature is based on booms and slumps and no ‘expert’ has ever managed to solve that basic flaw of the system.

Colonial Hypocrisy                    

The British ruling class have always pretended that they behave in a moral fashion. This fallacy has now been exposed as nonsense. The British government is negotiating payments to thousands of Kenyans who were detained and severely mistreated during the 1950s Mau Mau insurgency. 'In a development that could pave the way for many other claims from around the world, government lawyers embarked upon the historic talks after suffering a series of defeats in their attempts to prevent elderly survivors of the prison camps from seeking redress through the British courts. Those defeats followed the discovery of a vast archive of colonial-era documents which the Foreign Office (FCO) had kept hidden for decades, and which shed new and stark light on the dying days of British rule, not only in Kenya but around the empire' (Guardian, 5 May). In the case of the Mau Mau conflict, the secret papers showed that senior colonial officials authorised appalling abuses of inmates held at the prison camps established during the bloody conflict, and that ministers and officials in London were aware of a brutal detention regime in which men and women were tortured and killed.

Another Promise Bites The Dust            

When the government closed Remploy factories that employed disabled workers their boast was that the closures would lead to more of them getting jobs in mainstream employment. Like most government promises this turned out to be untrue. 'Up to two thirds of the disabled workers who lost their jobs when the nationwide network of Remploy factories began to be shut down last autumn are still out of work' (Sunday Express, 5 May). Being unemployed is tough but being unemployed and disabled must be hellish.

Lots To Smile About               

Accompanying a photograph of the two billionaires smiling broadly at a Berkshire Hathaway's shareholders meeting in the USA was the following piece of information. 'Super-rich Bill Gates and Warren Buffett obviously know how to take it easy. It can't be too hard when Microsoft chairman Gates, 57, is worth $67 billion and Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Buffett, 82, has been valued at $53.5 billion' (Sunday Express, 5 May).

Growing Old Disgracefully                 

Readers of the popular press are aware of world hunger as a pressing problem, but they are probably unaware that this is not just a problem that affects people abroad. 'Most people think of the condition as a ‘third world problem’, but one in ten older people in the UK are malnourished, the British Dietetic Association and the Malnutrition Task Force said. ’For far too long, malnutrition and dehydration has been thought of as a third world problem,’ said Helen Davidson, honorary chair of the British Dietetic Association – the professional body for UK dieticians. ‘The reality is, malnutrition and dehydration is a very big problem here in the UK’ (Daily Express, 9 May). Malnutrition Task Force task force chair Dianne Jeffrey claimed that one in ten older people are malnourished and estimates put the figure at about three million. That is capitalism for you. Even in an advanced country like the UK old folk are malnourished.

Artful Dodgers                       

Workers are constantly being reprimanded by politicians and journalists for being ‘benefit fraudsters’ but in fact whatever dodges they may get up to it’s as nothing compared to the tax evasion of the owning class. 'More than 100 of Britain's richest people have been caught hiding billions of pounds in secretive offshore havens, sparking an unprecedented global tax evasion investigation. George Osborne, the chancellor, warned the alleged tax evaders, and a further 200 accountants and advisers accused of helping them cheat the taxman: ‘The message is simple: if you evade tax, we're coming after you’ (Guardian, 9 May). Despite Osborne's threat this is a constant running battle between the government and the owning class's armies of accountants and financial advisers devising new and better methods of evasion.

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