2010s >> 2014 >> no-1322-october-2014

Voice From the Back

Chinese Hypocrisy                                                             

Wealthy Chinese tourists are splashing out up to £100,000 on hunting trips to Scotland, so they can feel like Downton Abbey’s Earl of Grantham. Inspired by the ITV series, hunting parties from China are hiring out castles with butlers and staff included so they can try their hand at bagging some of the biggest game roaming the countryside. ‘Among those visiting is Jack Ma, one of China’s richest men. He recently hired out Aldourie Castle near Loch Ness for £36,000. Mr Ma spent a week with 11 friends on the 500 acre estate, also hiring staff including a butler and cook’ (Daily Mail, 11 August). Mr Ma is reckoned to have a fortune of over £6 billion. Oh, by the way the Chinese government claims they have communism in China!

Class Contempt                                                 

It is always interesting to know what the owning class think about the working class and Michael O’Leary the outspoken CEO of Ryanair makes no secret of his contempt. ‘MBA students come out with “My staff is my most important asset”. Bullshit. Staff is usually your biggest cost. We all employ some lazy bastards who need a kick up the backside’ (Times, 16 August). This contempt is staggering when all the owning class’s profits including Mr O’Leary’s are the result of the exploitation of the working class.

Getting Away With It                                           

Britain’s top executives are now paid 143 times the wages of an average employee, according to a study. Executive salaries have increased dramatically in relation to most workers, said the High Pay Centre. ‘The think tank has called on the Government to act after it found that in 1998 the average chief executive of a FTSE 100 was paid 47 times the pay of their average employee. The Centre’s director Deborah Hargreaves said: ’Britain’s executives have not got so much better over the past two decades. The only reason why their pay has increased so rapidly compared to their employees is that they are able to get away with it’ (Daily Express, 18 August). So much for the notion that there is some sort of morality behind the jungle warfare of the wages and profit system.

Recovery For Whom?                                        

The press and TV are lauding the government for what they are describing as an economic recovery, but what has been a period of boom for the capitalist class has seen a worsening of conditions for many wage earners. ‘The cost of borrowing will increase before workers benefit from a real rise in their wages, the governor of the Bank of England said yesterday. Mark Carney said that interest rates were likely to rise from their record low of 0.5 per cent in the  spring of next year, possibly before the general election in May’ (Times, 10 September). He went on to say to the TUC in Liverpool that inflation-proof wage increases would not arrive until the following summer, indicating a financial squeeze on homeowners with mortgages.

The Drive For Profits                                          

All sorts of well-meaning organisations exist in efforts to stop the deforestation of the Amazon basis, the melting of the Arctic region and other examples of how capitalism worsens the environment. Alas they are doomed to failure. ‘The rate of destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has increased for a second year running. Brazilian government figures show deforestation was up by 29% in the 12 months up to the end of July 2013. Satellite data showed that almost 6,000 sq km (2,315 sq miles) of forest were cleared during that period’ (BBC News, 11 September). In its ruthless drive for profit capitalism cares little about the environment.

A Crazy System                                                 

It was just a short article in the daily press but it sums up what a crazy system capitalism really is. ‘A treasure trove of art, jewellery and other valuables from the estate of the reclusive heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon will go on sale at auction following  her death earlier this year at the age of 103.  Experts invited to assess her collection at her country home of Oak Spring Farms, in Upperville, Virginia, were stunned at the scale of the riches she had amassed, including little-seen Picassos and Van Goghs, personalised Chanel handbags and even a vintage 1950s fire engine’ (Sunday Telegraph, 14 September). Mellon never worked for this fortune, she inherited her vast wealth from her grandfather. It is estimated that her fortune is probably worth about $100 million although countless hard-working people are trying to survive on less than $2 a day.

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