The writing on the wall

Submitted by Anon on 18 June, 2003 - 1:00

Inside:

  • Give them the money!
  • Poorer
  • Richer
  • Poorer
  • On the streets
  • And then you die

Give them the money!

The London Evening Standard placarded it all over town: "Mayor Ken's £100,000 crones", implying there is something wrong in Livingstone's six ex-socialist advisers and lieutenants getting a decent wage. The Standard is always against wage rises. Think of the fire fighters; of the Standard's opposition to Blair's very minimal, minimum wage. Whipping up hostility to six of the Mayor's 'advisers' getting new titles and £111,000 a year - a mere pittance in Blair's Britain: two grand a week, or £300 a day - is par for the Standard's reactionary course.
They think the six should work, for say, the average wage of skilled workers?

These highly qualified socialists - such as ex-International Marxist Group leader and Ken Clarke lookalike, John Ross, and his close comrade in arms and present Socialist Action supremo, the redoubtable Redmond ('Red') O'Neill - have spent their lives preparing for their present role.

For years they sucked up to people like Ken Livingstone himself and to Stalinist leaders and Third World dictators; they still think Fidel Castro is the Lenin of our epoch; when the Berlin Wall came down and the USSR collapsed they said it was the greatest defeat for the working class since the Second World War. Thus they developed and refined their impressive aptitude for bag carrying and brown nosing.

After a political lifetime of doing that sort of thing gratis, in print, they now find lucrative work doing it as Livingstone's go-fors.

Solidarity says: pay the little scumbags the rate for the job!

Poorer

The Bush administration has made some huge tax cuts (for the wealthy). Their argument has been that tax cuts stimulate the economy, which in turn raises tax revenues, and that will help pay off the country's huge and rising federal deficits.

So far no gains for the govenment, but lots of pain... for the poor.

According to the Washington Post the government budget for 2006 will include cuts across all domestic spending programmes including a $1.5 billion reduction for the education department, a $910 million cut from the department of veteran affairs, a $122 million cut from the women, infants and children nutrition programme, and a $177 million cut from an early childhood education programme for the poor.

Richer

The secret of getting richer is, apparently, to throw off your worries about the state of the world, take your money out of the bank and chuck it into stocks and shares. This happy-go lucky attitude of the rich - jacking up their investments in the last year or so - has meant an 8% increase in (dollar) millionaires in the UK.

Overall, the number of high net worth individuals around the world rose by 7.5 per cent to 7.7 million in 2003, out of the world's total population of six billion. Their wealth grew to $28,800 billion, (or £15.7 trillion) - slightly less than the gross domestic product of the entire world, of $31 billion.

Poorer

The think tank Catalyst has published a report which shows that most of the savings made by private companies when taking over public services come from cutting the terms and conditions of the staff who work in them.
The group focussed on the Prison Service, where Gordon Brown has argued that "the use of private contractors ... need not be at the expense of terms and conditions of employees".

Here the average basic pay is 30 per cent lower in private prisons than in the public sector; the contracted working hours are longer in the private sector, and holidays shorter; and the pension provision in the private sector is inferior, with no final salary scheme offered.

On the streets

First one Government sells off vast numbers of council homes. Then another Government tries to give what remains to a bunch of capitalists who pledge never to make a profit out those properties (yeah, right).
But not to worry, though the Government has ditched the concept - as well as the reality - of 'social housing' it has pledged to make available 'affordable' housing for rent.

But not yet.

So what happens when the level of 'affordable'/social housing is at a 50-year record low and the price of private housing at a record high? Housing becomes a very unaffordable commodity for very many people. In the south-west of England mortgage repayments now account, on average, for 21.9% of household earnings.

The number of homeless families forced into emergency accommodation has also reached a record high. In the first quarter of this year, councils dealt with 97,290 homeless families - a rise of around 8,000 since the same period last year.

Shelter says that the number of families forced into temporary homes had increased by 135% since Labour came to power in 1997.

And then you die

According to TUC research one in five people - and nearly one in three men - will die before they retire if the government pushes up the state pension age to 70. (Currently the figure is one in six).

There is an international trend to raise the retirement age which has nothing to do with the majority of workers wanting to work longer. It's all to do with cost cutting on state funded pensions. Dreamed up by people who live and work in comfort and don't have physically demanding or stressful jobs.

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