Monday, July 16, 2018

Public Meeting West London (21/7)

'Should we join the Labour Party to transform it?' 

Saturday, 21 July  
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Quaker Meeting House, 
20 Nigel Playfair Avenue, 
London W6 9JY

Public Meeting North London (19/7)

'Gender and Power' 

Open discussion 
Thursday, 19 July - 8:00pm
Venue: Torriano Meeting House
 99 Torriano Avenue, NW5 2RX

The robots are coming

Global workforces will be decimated as the next industrial revolution gets under way, the head of one of Germany’s biggest firms has warned.

Joe Kaeser, global chief executive of the engineering giant Siemens, said up to almost a third of jobs could be lost as the transition from combustion engines to electric cars takes place over the next decade, in what will be “one of the single most important transformations of all time”.

“It may cause quite a dip in employment, because if you have 20-30 less value chain, then … you have 20%-30% fewer jobs. That is how it has been in the first three industrial revolutions. There has always been a significant change in employment. And then by enabling growth, it actually turned out that more jobs were created. Higher growth was achieved and obviously more people moved out of poverty and had better lives. So the first three worked very well and now we’re on the verge of the fourth industrial revolution which will obviously affect manufacturing massively as it accounts for 70% of global GDP. The social and economic impact of digitalisation is going to be massive. The least efficient part of the value chain, the middle man, will be cut out. Unfortunately the least efficient part of the value chain is human beings so someone has to do something about the fall out,” he said.

We are a caring world

The number of people caring for a family member has reached 7.6 million, a sharp increase of one million compared with a decade ago.  The Social Market Foundation, an independent thinktank, shows that millions are now giving up their time to for free to look after elderly relatives, a partner or a sick or disabled child – with the number spending 20 hours or more caring for a relative up by 4% between 2005 and 2015.

The Social Market Foundation report also found that family carers provide 149m hours of care each week, equal to the work of 4 million full-time caregivers. More than half (59%) of those providing care for an elderly relative are women. Of those providing care to a sick or disabled child, 65% are women. The report highlighted how caring can affect earning, with women aged 40-64 who are non-carers making a median £1,500 a month, £50 a month more than carers, who earn a median £1,450.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/16/nearly-8-million-people-providing-care-for-family-members-without-pay

The Golden Visas

There has been a 46% increase in the number of the global super-rich prepared to invest £2m for the privilege of living and working in the UK despite Theresa May’s ordering a crackdown on a wealthy visa scheme to root out “illicit and corrupt” money flowing into the UK.
More than 400 very wealthy overseas investors applied for tier 1 investor visas in the year to 31 March, a 46% increase on the number of applicants in the previous 12 months. The tier 1 investor scheme, widely described as the “golden visa”, allows visitors to stay in the UK for 40 months if they invest more than £2m in the UK economy.
Research by Collyer Bristow, a law firm that advises the global super-rich, found that 405 people applied for tier 1 visas in the year to 31 March, up from 278 in the previous 12 months. The number of applicants from Russian citizens increased by 46% to 52, Chinese interest rose by 26% to 123. The biggest rise in applications was from Turkey, where the number rose 85% to 24 following the government making it harder for Turkish citizens to apply for permanent residency.
James Badcock, a partner at Collyer Bristow, said: “Despite Brexit uncertainty, the UK is attractive to many HNWIs [high net worth individuals] as a place to live and invest in. For many overseas investors, the UK offers an international platform from which to grow their investments or businesses on an international stage. In addition to the financial and investment opportunities, the strong cultural appeal of the UK and London, as well as its private education system, attracts many overseas HNWIs.
There are more than 8,500 Russians listed as directors of UK companies, according to research by the accountancy firm Moore Stephens.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Rip-Off Capitalism

When companies have too much power, they are able to charge consumers far more than it costs to make a product or deliver a service, generating huge profits. Companies facing fewer challengers also have less incentive to innovate or pay their employees well. 

Economists Jan De Loecker of Princteon and Jan Eeckhout of University College London are sounding the alarm particularly loudly. Last year, they reported that markups in the US, defined as the amount above cost at which a product is sold, had jumped from about 18% in 1980 to 70% in 2014

According to their analysis of the financial statements 70,000 companies across 134 countries, the rise in markups is a worldwide phenomenon. They find that while global average markups were less than 10% in 1980, they were at almost 60% in 2016. For most countries, the companies in the dataset represent more than two-thirds of that country’s economy. While the greatest increases in markups have come come in North America and Europe, every region but South America saw large rises—and that’s because markups in South America were already high.

The IMF has since weighed in, and come down on the side of De Loecker and Eeckhout. In a recent research paper, the IMF found that markups have indeed increased across the world; even when you account for marketing and management expenses, the rise has been dramatic.

https://qz.com/1325952/do-companies-have-too-much-power/

Japanese Class Divisions

Japan is basically divided into two economic groups: Those who can marry and afford to have children, and those who can’t.
In “Shin Nihon no Kaikyu Shakai” (The New Japanese Class Society), sociologist Kenji Hashimoto says that class divisions are widening. Traditionally, there were two classes, an owners’ class and a workers’ class. The rise of the white-collar employee following World War II created a middle class, but in principle even these salarymen belonged to the workers’ class.
Hashimoto breaks the current population down into five classes.
He defines the owners’ class as those who employ at least five people. They number, in his estimate, about 2.5 million, or 4.1 percent of the working population. Their average annual income is about ¥6 million, weighed down somewhat by the many small business owners who belong to this class.
The new middle class numbers 12.85 million or 20.6 percent of the working population, and includes people in administration, engineering and higher education. Their average annual income is a little less than ¥5 million. Then there’s the regular employee workers’ class, the largest group at about 22 million, or 35 percent of the working population.
The traditional middle class is made up of self-employed individuals, numbering some 8 million people.
Finally, there is the layer known as the underclass, which is made up of nonregular employees and numbers about 9.3 million or 15 percent of the working population. Regular full-time employees are protected to a certain extent by organizations like the Japanese Trade Union Confederations, usually referred to as Rengo, but nonregular employees have very little protection or representation to help them receive raises or gain benefits.
With the exception of women who work to supplement household incomes, almost all part-time workers belong to the underclass, which Hashimoto says has expanded in size in recent decades and become a fixed class.
The biggest problem is that once a person is hired as a nonregular employee they tend to be stuck in such a position for the rest of their lives, even if they change jobs. So even if the economy improves, the lives of the people in the underclass don’t.  As it stands, minimum wage earners barely get by. The underclass in Japan makes roughly 40 percent of the national median income, while in Europe, the underclass makes anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of the median income, depending on the country. 
University of Tokyo professor Yuji Genda edited a book which explores wage stagnation since the dawn of the Heisei Era. Most people blame the country’s lost decade of the 1990s, but since then the demand for labor has gone up, and with an increase in demand, there is almost always an increase in wages. That’s basic economics. But that hasn’t happened here, and Genda partly blames workers themselves for not demanding higher wages. Companies, uncertain about the future, are hoarding cash rather than sharing profits with employees, so it’s up to employees to use their leverage to gain access to that cash, but that would require a certain amount of organization.
Full story here

UK In Debt

Stoke-on-Trent has been identified as the debt capital of England and Wales, according to official figures.
The Midlands city had the highest rate of personal insolvencies in 2017, followed by Plymouth, Hull and Scarborough.
The former industrial centre famous for its potteries and pinpointed as a Brexit heartland, recorded an insolvency rate of 44.8 per 10,000 adults – more than double the national average.
Eight of the 10 places with the lowest numbers of people with debt problems were London boroughs, led by Westminster and Kingston upon Thames, with only nine people per 10,000. 
For the country as a whole, the insolvency rate – which counts personal bankruptcies, debt relief orders and individual voluntary arrangements per 10,000 adults – rose for the second year to reach 21.4. The number of people struggling with debt went into decline in the wake of the financial crisis but since 2016 numbers have been rising again. 
Britain’s personal debt mountain has ballooned in recent years, fuelled by low interest rates from the Bank of England, payday loans and increasing use of personal contract plans for buying cars. The total level of consumer debt excluding student loans surpassed £200bn in the middle of last year, returning to levels unseen since the financial crisis.

Top 10 highest insolvency rates (cases per 10,000 of population)

Stoke-on-Trent 44.8
Plymouth 40.4
Kingston upon Hull 39.5
Scarborough 38.5
Blackpool 38.1
Corby 37.4
Isle of Wight 37.4
Torbay 37.1
Gloucester 36.4
Harlow 34.3

Top 10 lowest insolvency rates

Westminster 9.0
Kingston upon Thames 9.0
Wandsworth 9.1
Harrow 9.4
Camden 9.7
Kensington and Chelsea 9.8
Wokingham 10.0
Barnet 10.4
Richmond upon Thames 10.4
Rushcliffe 11.1

America's invisible working class

 The average real weekly earnings of all production and nonsupervisory workers remained $312.18 in early 2018 compared to $315.44 in 1972, but have in fact been falling over the past year. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the real wages (a metric that takes inflation into account) for workers in production and nonsupervisory positions fell from $22.62 in May 2017 to $22.59 in May 2018.

According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey on the Economic Well-Beingof U.S. Households in 201740 percent of adults said they would be unable to handle an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something. 

The working class has always had it rough in the United States. It has had to struggle to the limit for every crumb it has ever gotten. Racial divisions have always been a detriment. Labor history here has been the most violent of any industrial nation. American mythology about the ‘land of opportunity’ is powerful even as economic mobility is in decline. The system is currently designed for low wage jobs and the almost impossibility of forming a union. 

Protests with a working class theme are largely nonexistent. This appears to be the case in the country as large. Intersectionality seems to about everything except the working class. Protesting the names of buildings on campus or the existence of statues bring history to light but ultimately are displays of radical attitudes not radical politics.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/07/13/the-invisible-class-workers-in-america/

Hungary's inhumane “keep them out” policy

Julia Ivan, the director of the Hungarian branch of Amnesty International, explained that “The atmosphere towards migrants and those trying to support them has become so toxic here.”
In 2018 Hungary has become the most anti-migrant country in Europe. Gallup recently devised a Migrant Acceptance Index to measure how accepting populations were on issues such as “an immigrant becoming your neighbour”. Hungary recorded the third-worst score in the entire world. 
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of the Fidesz party, was re-elected for a fourth term in April’s landslide election win, and relentlessly campaigned to a drumbeat of xenophobic rhetoric – laying the blame for the entirety of Hungary’s woes, from its collapsing education system to widespread political corruption, at the feet of the migranj. Orban, who enjoys near-messianic levels of popularity has referred to all refugees as “Muslim invaders” and migrants trying to reach Hungary as a “poison” that his country does not need.   
 Orbán’s government has submitted a new piece of anti-migrant legislation, informally called the “Stop Soros” bill. The proposition is named after the American/Hungarian billionaire and civil society donor, George Soros, who Mr Orbán claims is trying to “settle millions from Africa and the Middle East” to disrupt Hungary’s homogeneity. The bill declares that any NGOs that “sponsor, organise or support the entry or stay of third-country citizens on Hungarian territory” will be viewed as a “national security risk”. NGOs will have to obtain permission from Hungary’s interior minister to continue to operate and those breaking the rules to support migrants of any kind have been told they will be fined and shut down. Their employees could then also face jail time.
“The constant stoking of hatred by the current government for political gain has led to this latest shameful development, which is blatantly xenophobic and runs counter to European and international human rights standards and values,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights (Unhcr), has said.
According to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC), just 1,216 asylum seekers were granted protection in Hungary in 2017. In the same year, 325,400 asylum seekers were granted protection in Germany, followed by 40,600 in France, 35,100 in Italy, 34,000 in Austria and 31,200 in Sweden. A further 2,880 applications were rejected and recognition rates for those arriving from war zones such as Syria and Iraq even remain low. The country also refused to resettle even one refugee from the inundated Italy and Greece as part of the EU’s mandatory quota programme.
The “keep them out” policy was signposted by the triumphant construction, in June 2015, of a mammoth 175km long, 4m high razor wire fence on the Hungarian-Serbian border. This impenetrable barrier was later extended to the Hungarian-Croatian frontier. A “pushback law” was also introduced, whereby potential refugees caught in the country with no legal documentation could be removed by any means possible to Serbia. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which provides medical treatment to refugees on the Serbian side of the frontier, has recorded hundreds of cases of intentional injuries allegedly perpetrated by Hungarian border patrols during “pushbacks”. They include beating injuries, dog bites and irritation from tear gas and pepper sprays. Between January 2016 and February 2017, MSF also recorded that just over one in five of these alleged attacks were inflicted on children.
“This pushback law is completely arbitrary and massively contradicts EU law,” says Gabor Gyulai, director of the HHC. “Violence is a clear accompanying phenomenon of the pushback policy.”
To action asylum requests from those fleeing conflict, the government has set up two transit camps outside the Hungarian border towns of Tompa and Roeszke to house applicants. In 2016, 60 refugees were allowed to enter the transit zones per day but the HHC believes this has plunged to a mere one person a day, on average, at each site. This tactic is designed to split up entire families for an infinite time period. Refugees fortunate to be allowed to cross into Hungary then experience the second carefully calculated prong – “detain them all”. Living conditions are “absolutely inhumane”, according to the HHC. “We know what is going on there, it is like a military camp where you are guarded everywhere, minimal privacy,” Mr Gabor says. “Plus you live in a shipping container and we have a continental climate. In the summer, temperatures can easily reach 40 degrees inside. Many of the adults who arrive are already in poor mental health; they have been tortured or witnessed death. Then they are then stuck in a space a few metres squared in size." NGOs are offering psychological assistance to the asylum-seekers, they are denied the opportunity to take it. “We have an NGO here, the Cordelia Foundation, which can provide specialist psycho-therapeutic assistance to these individuals but they are not allowed to do so by the government. It is totally senseless and completely inadequate for the vulnerable.”
The third deterrent strategy deployed is the “withdrawal of integration support”, which occurs if a refugee is granted permanent residency in Hungary. Individuals are transferred to a reception centre near the remote Austrian border town of Vámosszabadi. They are given 30 days free board and food and then left to fend for themselves, provided with no language courses or labour integration – as occurs in many other European countries. 
Abdul, a young man from Afghanistan, currently resides in the run-down and very decrepit facility in Vámosszabadi. Granted asylum in Hungary after an arduous journey via Iran, Turkey and Serbia, Abdul received death threats from the Taliban for working as an English translator for American troops stationed in his home country.
“I want to scream, I am going crazy,” he says. Abdul claims that those staying at the centre have been the victim of beatings from both security personnel and local residents. “I have travelled through so many different places, I thought I would drown in the sea, but Hungary is the worst. The people here, they hate us and the conditions here and on the border are not fit for animals. I have seen my friends beaten, refused food, we are treated like inmates here, second class humans, not actual people with needs and hopes. There is no future here unless you are Hungarian,” Abdul adds. “Europe has forgotten us.”
The UNHCR has now taken the unprecedented step of urging EU states to stop returning asylum seekers to Hungary over fears about their security on arrival.
SOYMB blog takes the opportunity to remind the Hungarian workers how different attitude towards refugees was in 1956 when hundreds of thousands of Hungarians fled abroad from the Russian invasion and were welcomed with a safe haven. Memories are indeed short.

Friday, July 13, 2018

England beat and wife-beating rises

Domestic violence cases in Britain have surged during the World Cup and England's defeat in the semi-finals is likely to trigger another spike in beatings. The NPCC has recorded nearly 300 incidents of domestic abuse since the World Cup began on June 14
The number of victims referred by police in Britain to the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has risen by a fifth this month as England's football team enjoyed their best World Cup run in 28 years before losing to Croatia on Wednesday. The NCDV - which helps battered or threatened women obtain court orders to escape abusive partners - said it had received at least 3,500 reports of domestic violence so far in July - about 600 more complaints than it would expect on average.
Police and activists in Britain last month issued warnings over domestic violence ahead of England's first World Cup match, with evidence showing abuse levels spike when the team plays.
"After last night's defeat, I feel sure we are going to see an extra amount of people coming through in the next few days," the NCDV's head Mark Groves told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "For a significant increase like that in domestic violence referrals, there must be something significant happening and the only significant thing happening is losing in the football."
The most detailed research into the links between the World Cup and domestic abuse found that violent incidents in Lancashire in northeast England increased by 38 percent when the national team lost a match, and by 26 percent when they won.
England fans were captured starting mass public brawls and throwing bottles at people in the streets after the national team's defeat to Croatia.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said, "This is incredibly disappointing to see, and is in stark comparison to Russia, where the fans have conducted themselves brilliantly."

Quote of the Day

"Those who unleash controlled forces, also unleash uncontrolled forces." Engels

The Racial Wealth Gap

There is a large wealth gap between white families and nonwhite families.  Median wealth for white families is $171,000. Black and Latino families, meanwhile, have far less wealth: Black families have a median wealth of $17,600, while Latino families have $20,700. The most common explanation for what drives the racial wealth gap is lack of Black homeownership.

It would take decades to centuries for Black families to achieve the same amount of wealth that white families have. It would take Black families 228 years to reach the same amount of wealth that white families have today.

All Americans saw their wealth decline after the Great Recession in 2008, after the housing market collapse. However, Black and Latino Americans were hurt the most. In 2007, the median net worth of all households was $135,700. That dropped to $82,300 in 2010 and $81,400 in 2013. Nonwhite Americans already had less wealth than whites and saw what little wealth they had deplete even more. In 2007, the median net worth of white households was $192,500. White median net worth dropped to $141,900 in 2013. Meanwhile, what little wealth Black and Latino households had prior to the recession was further depleted. In 2007, Black median net worth was $19,200, while Latinos had $23,600 in wealth. Their wealth, in 2013, dropped to $11,000 for Black households and $13,700 for Latinos.

Obama’s homeowner relief measures did very little to provide relief. For example, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) helped homeowners refinance their mortgages, but only for those not in danger of foreclosure. As a result, it did not help the homeowners most in need, particularly subprime borrowers. This especially hurt Black and Latino borrowers since their refinance rates under HARP were lower.

The post-recession “recovery” has seen an obscene increase in housing prices across the nation. As of this month, median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,500 a month. But San Francisco isn’t the only expensive city. Median rent for a one-bedroom in New York City is $2,860 a month, in Seattle, $1,990, and in Miami, $1,800. The national average rent reached $1,405 last month.

Housing prices are also outpacing wages. The median wage for US workers is $30,533.31 a year. Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not enough to afford a two-bedroom rental home anywhere in the country. Not even $15 an hour is enough for most locations. One would have to make $22.10 an hour, on average, to afford a two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 an hour for a one-bedroom.

Because apartment rents and home prices are so high, it is incredibly difficult for young people of color to buy homes and accumulate wealth to pass down to their offspring. University of California, Berkeley, professor and housing expert Carolina Reid told Truthout that renters “are compelled to pay increasingly more of their income on rent, and there’s no wealth gains to be made from rent.” Reid also warned that if someone is struggling to pay rent and their rent continues to increase, they are more likely to take out a predatory loan. In fact, loosely regulated independent mortgage companies are creating half of new mortgages compared to nearly 20 percent in 2007, echoing signs of the previous collapse. Many of these loans are to low-income people. Even if another financial crisis does not happen, Reid says, “Your ability to save for a down payment to buy a house in the future is compromised.”

A 2017 Institute for Policy Studies report found that the median wealth of Black Americans will drop to zero by 2053 and Latino median wealth will drop to zero 20 years after that. Meanwhile, “median white household wealth would climb to $137,000 by 2053.”

For the full article go to
https://truthout.org/articles/black-americans-median-wealth-could-disappear-in-one-generation/

Why Anti-Vax?

Vaccination has been one of public health’s greatest success stories. It led to the eradication of smallpox and to the imminent elimination of polio. Eradication of a disease means that it has been permanently wiped out and that intervention efforts are no longer necessary; smallpox so far is the only disease that has been eradicated. Elimination means a reduction to zero incidences in a specific geographic area as a result of deliberate efforts. Vaccination has protected millions from the ravages of tetanus, whooping cough, measles and chicken pox. Yet, vaccine skepticism persists, extending into the political realm, with many politicians questioning the safety of vaccines.

The growing “anti-vax” movement has seen parents refuse to give their children mandatory school vaccinations and even pet owners refusing to vaccinate their dogs – forcing the British Veterinary Association to issue a statement in April that dogs cannot develop autism. Anti-vaccine attitudes have been fueled in large part by growing rates of autism diagnoses as well as a now debunked study that linked autism and the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine. Given the consistent message from the scientific community about the safety of vaccines, and evidence of vaccine success as seen through the eradication of diseases, why has the skepticism about vaccines continued?

Could the inability of anti-vaxxers to accurately appraise their own knowledge and skills compared to those of medical experts play a role in shaping their attitudes about vaccines? This inability to accurately appraise one’s own knowledge is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, first identified in social psychologyDunning-Kruger effects occur when individuals’ lack of knowledge about a particular subject leads them to inaccurately gauge their expertise on that subject. Ignorance of one’s own ignorance can lead people who lack knowledge on a subject think of themselves as more expert than those who are comparatively better informed. We refer to this as “overconfidence.”

 34 percent of U.S. adults in a sample feel that they know as much or more than scientists about the causes of autism. Slightly more, or 36 percent, feel the same way about their knowledge relative to that of medical doctors. 62 percent of those who performed worst on our autism knowledge test believe that they know as much or more than both doctors and scientists about the causes of autism, compared to only 15 percent of those scoring best on the knowledge test. Likewise, 71 percent of those who strongly endorse misinformation about the link between vaccines and autism feel that they know as much or more than medical doctors about the causes of autism, compared to only 28 percent of those who most strongly reject that misinformation.  30 percent, of people who think that they know more than medical experts about the causes of autism strongly support giving parents the latitude to not vaccinate their children. In contrast, 16 percent of those who do not think that they know more than medical professionals felt the same way.

 The study also found that people who think they know more than medical experts are more likely to trust information about vaccines from non-expert sources, such as celebrities. These individuals are also more likely to support a strong role for non-experts in the process of making policies that pertain to vaccines and vaccination. Even as the mountain of evidence on the safety and importance of vaccines from doctors and scientists continues to grow, many Americans think they know more than the experts trying to correct their misperceptions.

Taken from here
https://theconversation.com/why-vaccine-opponents-think-they-know-more-than-medical-experts-99278

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Stateless rescued boys

The coach and three stateless members of the Wild Boars football team who were rescued from the flooded Tham Luang cave complex after more than two weeks underground are technically stateless and not considered citizens under Thai law, leaving them without many of the rights their teammates enjoy.
The players Pornchai Kamluang, Adul Sam-on and Mongkhol Boonpiam, plus their coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, whose families come from northern Thailand’s porous and largely lawless border regions abutting Myanmar’s Shan state.
The three boys have Thai ID cards, which grant them some basic rights, but the coach has no legal status, making him vulnerable to deportation and technically ineligible to receive some public services. 
Puttanee Kangkun, a Thai human rights specialist for Fortify Rights, said a lack of citizenship meant the four had limited rights.
“Under Thai law, stateless persons are still able to obtain some basic rights such as the right to education and access to health service. This is why some of these boys who are stateless are able to go to school, despite their status. Their rights are, however, limited in other areas – mainly the right to work and freedom of movement, as they need to seek permission to travel outside of their province and will also face difficulties applying for a passport.”
The Bureau of Registration at the Thai interior ministry, confirmed his office was looking into granting citizenship to the four. “Right now, the officials in Mae Sai district office are looking into their birth evidence. We have to see whether they were born in Thailand, and whether they have either a Thai father or mother.”
Asked how long it would take, he told the Guardian: “I have no idea. It depends on whether we find the documents.”
Pim, a campaigner for the rights of stateless people in northern Thailand explained that many stateless people eligible for citizenship in Thailand failed to get it because they lacked legal knowledge and faced a system that she said was corrupt and discriminatory. “I read that some people called the coach Burmese, just because he doesn’t have a Thai ID,” she said.

Messages in the Media (1982)


From the June 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard
It is increasingly difficult to take in the flood of words which is poured out daily by the various media, and we offer a few definitions in the hope that they may help the reader to make sense of the world.
Aggression: use of force by a hostile state,
    cf Self-defence: use of force by one’s own state.

Anti-colonialism (Argentine): seizing by force a small group of islands 400 miles away, entirely inhabited, by foreigners.

Anti-colonialism (British): killing Argentine servicemen in order to re-establish the right of the Falkland Islands Company to exploit the people of the islands.

Bicycle ride: the means by which three million unemployed could find jobs immediately.
  cf Bicycle rider: Norman Tebbitt’s father.

Bicycles, shortage of: the only reason why three million unemployed stay out of work.

Capitalism: a system of society in which the great majority of people own no capital.

Catholic priest: a man who thinks all Catholics should have large families, who refuses to have any family at all himself, and who is known as Father,
  cf Monk: a man who has renounced his family, and is known as Brother,
  and Nun: a woman who has renounced her family, and is known as Sister.

Day off: a month at Windsor.
   cf Brief break: two months at Sandringham.
   and Short holiday: three months at Balmoral.

Defence: attack.
  cf Defence expenditure: money spent preparing to attack other states in the next war.
  and Ministry of Defence: government department in charge of attacks on other countries.

Democracy, definition of Theodore Parker 1810-60: government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people.
 cf British democracy. 1982: government of the people, by the politicians, for the capitalists,
 and Socialist democracy: system which will replace the government of people by the administration of things.

Education: A process of preparing the children of the rich to give orders, and the children of the poor to obey them.

Food: trace elements found in some supermarket groceries.

Freedom of the press. British version: The right of any very rich person to spread their views effortlessly to millions every day; right of groups of workers to spread their views with great difficulty to thousands every month.

God is on our side: The message from Christian British chaplains to British troops fighting in the Falklands conflict.

God is on our side (in Spanish): message from Christian Argentine Chaplains to Argentine troops fighting in the Falklands conflict.

God: one who seems to have difficulty making his meaning clear in two different languages; one who needs to brush up his Spanish (or his English, according to the view taken of the Falklands conflict).

God save the king/queen: request to someone who doesn’t exist to preserve someone who shouldn’t.

History lesson: recruiting drive (“we have a passionate attachment to the [Falkland] islands which has been imbued throughout our schooldays”-young Argentine, The Times 5 May 1982).

Human nature: unexplained compulsive urge to murder, rob, rape and pillage possessed by everyone except the speaker and friends.

Human nature theory: an invention of the ruling class for use as an alibi explaining away the excesses of their system.

Idle dreamer: anyone who believes that the producers of the world’s wealth could produce it for themselves instead of for the property owners,
  cf Practical politician: person who believes the exploitation of one class by another is part of the natural law.

Inflation: device (advocated c.g. by J. M. Keynes) consisting of printing more and more paper money, by which governments have tried to keep wages, and salaries, in check.

Inflation, advantage of: the government that creates inflation then alleges that it is caused by the workers who try to defend themselves against it.

Inflation, expert on: person who says workers trying to achieve the same real wages they agreed to work for a year ago are in fact causing inflation; one who believes that workers can force up indefinitely or in some way fix the level of their own pay; one who believes (theoretically) that all workers therefore must be millionaires.

Inhuman behaviour: human behaviour under the stresses and strains of capitalism

Murderer: person punished for killing one human being.
   cf Military leader, person rewarded for killing many.

National catastrophe: hundreds of workers not working for several days after disagreements on wages and conditions.
   cf Salutary economic re-adjustment: millions of workers not working for years.

News: what is left in a newspaper after discounting the advertisements, instant-wealth competitions, attacks on strikers, salacious details of entertainers' lives, agony columns, strip cartoons, astrology, pictures of sporting heroes, praise of rich men, photos of nude women, gossip about the royal family, denunciations of workers’ idleness, stock-market prospects, snapshots of kittens, proprietor’s opinions, letters from the converted, forecasts of women’s fashions, speculation on sporting events, and rude gestures at the Press Council.
   cf Dissatisfied reader: one who has discounted editorial bias as well, and finds nothing whatever is left.

Patriotism: blind obedience to the group of capitalists who live in the same country.

Patriot: worker who is exploited by capitalism, and who is prepared to die in defence of the right of capitalism to do so.

Peace: war (peace “means being prepared to fight for that peace”, Rhodes-Boyson, The Times, 4 May 1982).

Poor, the: a large group of self-denying people who produce the world’s wealth and hand it over to a small group of rich individuals.

Rewards of religion: pie in the sky; meals beyond wheels; in the great by-and-by we shall eat you and I.

Right to life campaigner: person who supports the right to life of a two-day- old fertilised egg, but not the right to life of a twenty-year-old worker in uniform.

Right to strike: an integral part of human liberty in all foreign countries,
   cf Right to strike in this country: slogan of a gang of malcontents and trouble-makers.

Schooling: indoctrination.
   cf Free schooling: compulsory indoctrination.

Tomorrow: point of time at which the workers will be prosperous under capitalism.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: propaganda title for the Russian state-capitalist empire.

Visionary: person who believes we should work for a sane social system in the world we live in.
    cf Realist: person who knows he will be rewarded after his death with a splendid time in Heaven, Valhalla, Nirvana, Elysium, Paradise, etc.

Youth Employment Scheme: project to keep the young unemployed off the streets and out of the unemployment statistics, paying them small sums of money.
   cf Life Peerages: project to keep a few of the old unemployed off the streets, paying them large sums of money.

Alwyn Edgar

Own Goal

Workers at a Fiat Chrysler plant in Italy are to strike after its main investor decided to pay €112m (£99.2m) to sign footballer Cristiano Ronaldo for Juventus.
Both the football club and the carmaker are controlled by the Agnelli family through their holding company.
The USB union said the firm needed to guarantee the future of thousands of people, "rather than enriching only one".
The union added that it was "unacceptable" that while Fiat Chrysler workers were making "huge economic sacrifices", millions of euros were being spent on the purchase of a player.
Although Juventus and Fiat Chrysler are run as entirely separate businesses, they are both controlled by Exor, the investment holding of the Agnelli family. The USB union has called for a strike at the Melfi plant in southern Italy, which makes cars including the Fiat Punto and the 500X. Its members will walk out at 22:00 local time on Sunday and remain on strike until 18:00 on the following Tuesday.

Wage stagnation

It's a mystery. The U.S. economy seems strong. Since the nadir of the Great Recession, employers have added about 19 million workers. The unemployment rate is 4%, near the lowest level since 2000. By standard economic theory, the strong demand for labor should be pushing up wages. But that isn't happening. Wage gains of 2.7% roughly match inflation.
And no one really knows why. The puzzle is not just American. It also applies to much of Europe and Japan. "Wage growth is still missing in action," declares a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Worse, the "unprecedented wage stagnation is not evenly distributed across workers." While wages of the top 1% are growing, they're stagnating for most others. Inequality and resentment worsen.
Economist Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute, explains, "People who entered the labor market during and after the Great Recession have lived through some rough times and don't have strong memories of better times," he writes. "I'm sure that many workers — both relatively new entrants and those with long experience — have had moments when they felt lucky to have a job at all. Even though the economy has been strengthening for years, are workers reluctant to go into the boss's office and ask for a raise? Likewise, are employers used to resisting increases in their payroll obligations." Strain admits that this is just a guess, and finding corroborating evidence is hard. He also usefully lists other theories. Here's a summary of his summary.
(1) There's more "slack" in labor markets than standard employment statistics indicate. People who had given up looking for work are re-entering the job market. More than 5 million people say they'd like a job but aren't counted in the labor market because they're not looking.
(2) Demographics — the aging of American society — distort reported wage changes. As well-paid baby-boom workers retire, they're being replaced by younger and not-so-well paid workers, even though their wages may be rising. But the effect is diluted by the loss of retirees' high wages.
(3) Employers are competing for workers "using levers other than wages" — better fringe benefits, signing bonuses, laxer overall standards in hiring. Although these have economic value, they don't boost wages.
(4) Some employers refrained from cutting wages during the worst of the recession and are now trying to offset these higher costs by delaying new wage increases.
(5) There is no problem — only a misinterpretation of economic data. Strain cites a study by Adam Ozimek of Moody's Analytics that examined the "employment rate" (the share of a population with a job), as opposed to the unemployment rate, and found that wages are "growing at a pace you would expect." Similarly, slow productivity growth implies slow wage growth.

Passing wealth on

 Some $30 trillion in the US will reportedly be passed from the baby-boom generation to their heirs over the next 30 years, and recent changes in the tax code make passing along inherited wealth all the more easy.

While family wealth tends to regress toward the mean in the long run—meaning that the descendants of the wealthy will eventually resemble the average citizen—Wahl wryly noted that “the evidence presented here suggested that the long run may be long indeed.”

How long? 

Wahl offered this hypothetical: Imagine that the wealthiest family at any given point in time has 100% more money than the average family. According to this sample, it would take 13 generations—approximately four centuries—for this hypothetical wealthy family to return to having a mere 10% more than the average household.

Of course, the nation’s wealthiest families have assets thousands of times larger than the average family’s. If these rates remained operative for the super-wealthy, too, it would take immeasurably longer for their descendants to fall back into the common herd of humanity.


Gregory Clark and Neil Cummins cleverly examined families with rare surnames, making it much easier to track descendants through the historical record.
Their results largely echoed Wahl’s findings: Families with the most wealth between the years 1858-1887 managed to hang on to most of their money, with a rate of erosion roughly comparable to what Wahl found. Moreover, as in Wahl’s study, this rate held steady over time, even in periods when tax policy—the estate tax, primarily—became much more punitive.
These more recent studies of long-run outcomes also offer evidence that mechanisms like the estate tax may not do much to frustrate the persistence of dynastic wealth, despite claims by the rich that such policies penalize their heirs. For reasons that remain murky, something else the wealthy possess—social connections, cultural capital—gets passed along from generation to generation many times over.