Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Make All New Zealand Common Property


An estimated 8.3 million hectares (20.5 million acres) of land in the North Island of New Zealand – nearly 73% of the landmass – as well as almost the entire South Island were taken from Māori through confiscation and inequitable purchases between 1840 and 1939.  Without land, Māori political authority was substantially neutered. 

Leading constitutional lawyer Dr Moana Jackson says this confiscation, and others like them, formed the beginnings of the New Zealand banking system and colonial economy.

“Ministers of the crown became mortgage brokers, if you like, and began offering cheap mortgages to colonisers, or giving them a reward for their part in the wars against our people.”

Beginning in the 1970s, widespread campaigns and occupations began pressuring the government to recognise the grievances of Māori who had been dispossessed. Occupations – although participants call themselves protectors rather than protesters or occupiers – have increasingly cropped up across New Zealand. The value of land to Māori is more than economic. According to Māori myth, the earth is Papatuanuku, the mother. The relationship to Papatuanuku is what makes Māori tangata whenua, or people of the land.

“The whole idea of that relationship with the Earth mother is not some exotic, spiritual thing – it’s actually a very practical thing,” says Jackson. “Without the land, the phrase tangata whenua becomes a poetic expression rather than a statement of belonging.”

In 1975 the Treaty of Waitangi Act established the Waitangi Tribunal. Its purpose was to hear claims of the crown’s violation of the treaty, signed in 1840 and considered New Zealand’s founding document. The treaty is one source of New Zealand’s constitutional system, however the document’s Māori translation has been contentious since its inception.

Most Māori believe that sovereignty was never ceded to the crown. The Māori translation, Te Tiriti, granted governorship to the crown, and promised Māori tino rangatiratanga – a term which can be interpreted as absolute sovereignty – over their land, as opposed to the “exclusive and undisturbed possession” granted in the English translation.

Since the tribunal’s establishment, there have been negotiated settlements worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But the settlement process is not without criticism.

“When the crown enters into negotiations over what they call settlements, I think it’s a misnomer,” says Jackson. “They set the terms of the negotiation, they set the parameters, they even have standard statements of apology that iwi are asked to choose from. That whole process flies in the face of what a treaty is meant to be. Treaties aren’t meant to be settled. They’re meant to be honoured.”

Because much of the land confiscated by the crown was subsequently privatised, many iwi [tribes or clans] are left with no recourse beyond a cash payment. The crown, it says, has no jurisdiction. Land like the plot at Ihumātao is not subject to the Tribunal’s authority and, were it developed, one deed would turn into hundreds, further alienating the traditional owners.

With no ability to reclaim the land through the channels of the tribunal, the owners at Ihumātao, a small pocket of land three kilometres from Auckland’s international airport became the most prominent site of a struggle by Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, to reclaim land confiscated by the crown more than 150 years ago.

Ihumātao contains evidence of New Zealand’s first commercial gardens, where thousands of hectares were planted with kumara, a tropical sweet potato which thrived in the warm and nutritious soil. The adjacent stonefields, today a category one Unesco heritage site, began an occupation in the tradition of those at Whaingaroa, on the west coast, and Bastion Point in Auckland. Pania Newton, a recent law graduate, moved into a caravan on the site in November 2016, determined to stop the planned development. In 2019, the situation escalated. The occupants were served with trespass notices and a large police presence moved in. Thousands gathered in solidarity.  The government bought the land from the property developers, Fletcher, using $30m from the Land for Housing program. New Zealand’s auditor-general found the deal to be unlawful until validated by an act of parliament. 

We await a time in the future that not only Maori land becomes the common legacy but all private property.

Unstoppable movement: how New Zealand’s Māori are reclaiming land with occupations | New Zealand | The Guardian

 World Socialist Party (New Zealand) P.O. Box 1929,Auckland, NI, New Zealand

E-mail: moggiegrayson@gmail.com
WebsiteWorld Socialist Party – History (worldsocialism.org)

Socialist Standard No. 1405 September 2021









 PDF here

US Inequality

 In a RAND Corporation paper, Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018 by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards from 1947 through 1974, real incomes grew close to the rate of per capita economic growth across all income levels. 

Since then, Americans whose wealth was already in the top 1 percent have received a much larger share of our nation’s economic growth. At every income level up to the 90th percentile, wage earners receive only a fraction of what they would have received if the inequality ratio had held constant from 1974.

 $50 trillion. That is how much the upward redistribution of income has cost American workers over the past several decades.

In real wages, this means that an employee today with a median individual income of $36,000 would receive an additional $28,000 using the CPI as a measurement of growth. That comes out to an additional $10.10 to $13.50 an hour on top of the current wage. an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.

 For example, are you a typical Black man earning $35,000 a year? You are being paid at least $26,000 a year less than you would have had income distributions held constant. Are you a college-educated, prime-aged, full-time worker earning $72,000? Depending on the inflation index used (PCE or CPI, respectively), rising inequality is costing you between $48,000 and $63,000 a year. 

The wealthiest Americans, particularly those in the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent, have managed to capture an ever-larger share of our nation’s economic growth—in fact, almost all of it—their real incomes skyrocketing as the vast majority of Americans saw little if any gains.

Justin Elliott and Robert Faturechi in Secret IRS Files Reveal How Much the Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping Trump’s “Big, Beautiful Tax Cut” uncovered confidential IRS records. They show billionaire business owners deploying lobbyists to make sure Trump’s 2017 tax bill was tailored to their benefit.

America's 1% Has Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90% | Time

Monday, August 30, 2021

Jailed in America for being an atheist

 In 2015, atheist Mark Janny was released from jail. (The reason he was there is irrelevant to this story.)

 His parole officer, John Gamez, told Janny that if he wanted to remain out of prison, he would have to live at the Denver Rescue Mission, a Christian homeless shelter.  That shelter’s rules required residents to participate in worship services, Bible studies, and faith-based counselling, none of which Janny had any desire to join. And he shouldn’t have had to.

Janny went to the shelter… but didn’t participate in the religious activities. Because of that, Gamez revoked his parole and sent Janny back to jail for five more months

Appeals Court: Atheist Parolee Jailed for Rejecting Bible Study Can Sue Over It | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Public Holidays

 Workers in England and Wales get eight public holidays a year, which is four fewer than the EU average and half the number in Japan. the TUC is calling for a new public holiday between September and Christmas. Even in Scotland, with nine bank holidays, and Northern Ireland which has 10 public holidays, the situation is slightly better.

It would be "a great way to thank working Britain for getting us through these tough times," TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said.

The TUC, is calling for a new public holiday between September and Christmas.

Several countries including Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Finland give 15 days off. The EU average is 12.8 days a year. Japan's workers enjoy 17 days off a year and New Zealanders get 11.

The TUC says all UK workers should get at least 12 public holidays.

Give UK workers four more bank holidays a year, says TUC - BBC News

Engels on Afghanistan

 Marx said that history perhaps repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. 

With the withdrawal of American and NATO armed forces, leaving behind to await their fate many of their Afghan allies, farce may be the wrong word. 

However, Engels did write about the British and how they exited their doomed occupation of Afghanistan back in the 19th century.

 It is indeed an echo of current events.

The British occupiers having imposed their puppet ruler upon the Afghan people led to the situation where  "...the Afghans were noways content to be ruled by the Feringhee Kaffirs (European infidels), and during the whole of 1840 and ’41, insurrection followed on insurrection in every part of the country..." Yet the British commander  "declared this to be the normal state of Afghan society, and wrote home that every thing went on well, and Shah Soojah’s power was taking root. In vain were the warnings of the military officers and the other political agents..." The clung deperately to power through a process where "...the Afghan chiefs were subsidized, or rather bribed...to keep them out of mischief..." but the administration "...was informed of the impossibility of going on at this rate of spending money..." The decision was made that "All Afghanistan was to be evacuated..."

Engels concludes his article

"Thus ended the attempt of the British to set up a prince of their own making in Afghanistan."

Afghanistan by Frederick Engels (marxists.org)

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Failing the World on Vaccines

 To loud fanfares, Biden vowed to make the U.S. the world's vaccine "arsenal," but of the more than $16 billion that Congress appropriated to strengthen the response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Biden administration has spent less than 0.01% of it to expand global vaccine manufacturing, according to Playing Fiddle While the World Burns, a new report released Thursday by PrEP4All, a global health justice organization dedicated to increasing access to lifesaving medications. 

The relief package signed by the president in March allocated $16.05 billion to boost the production of coronavirus tests, vaccines, treatments, and other tools to end the public health emergency, PrEP4All found that the Biden administration has so far spent just $145 million—only $12 million of it from the American Rescue Plan—to ramp up vaccine manufacturing.

Most of that money was used to retrofit production lines at Merck, the pharmaceutical company working with Johnson & Johnson to produce Covid-19 vaccines.

 If Biden spent the remaining billions of dollars earmarked for pandemic counter-measures—funding that PrEP4All says is "more than sufficient to build mRNA vaccine production capacity in six months"—the U.S. could make 16 billion doses and "vaccinate the entire world in a single year."

James Krellenstein, PrEP4All co-founder and managing director, said in a statement. "Unequal access to vaccines threatens lives everywhere. So long as Covid-19 spreads worldwide, even worse variants than Delta will emerge."

Krellenstein called the Biden administration's failure to adequately invest in producing a greater supply of doses "inexplicable given the current crisis in global vaccine access," and he emphasized that time is of the essence.

"It is imperative that the Biden administration immediately scale up vaccine production for the billions of people who don't have access," Krellenstein continued. "The health of our nation and the world depends on it."

Medicare for All advocate Ady Barkan, described the Biden administration's refusal to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to ramp up global vaccine manufacturing as "probably the most important issue in the world right now."

Biden's White House officials say that it is not possible for them to scale up production quickly, in part because of a scarcity of raw materials, and that doing so would take three to five years.

 Dr. Tom Frieden, who directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama-Biden administration, dismissed the claim as "nonsense."

"People say, 'Oh, it's going to take months,'" Frieden said. "Well, Covid is with us for years. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today."

Biden Has Spent Less Than 0.01% of Funds Earmarked to Defeat Covid on Vaccine Manufacturing: Report | Common Dreams News

Brazil - the water shortage

  The Brazilian scientists were sceptical. They ran different models to check calculations.

“When we got the first results, we wondered if there was a problem in the equations,” said Cassio Bernardino, a project manager for environmental group WWF-Brazil.

The figures checked out.

The country with the most freshwater resources on the planet steadily lost 15% of its surface water since 1991. Gradual retreat in the Brazilian share of the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, left water covering just one-quarter the area it did 30 years ago. And the data only went up to 2020 -- before this year’s drought that is Brazil’s worst in nine decades.

“The prospects are not good; we’re losing natural capital, we’re losing water that feeds industries, energy generation and agribusiness,” Bernardino said. Brazil’s “society as a whole is losing this very precious resource, and losing it at a frighteningly fast rate.”

The ongoing drought has already raised energy costs and food prices, withered crops, rendered vast swaths of forest more susceptible to wildfire and prompted specialists to warn of possible electricity shortages.

In Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, water that evaporates then travels on air currents to provide rainfall far afield. But some climate experts argue that the Amazon is headed for a “tipping point” in 10 to 15 years: if too much forest is destroyed, the Amazon would begin an irreversible process of degradation into tropical savannah.

There are more immediate sources of alarm, like possible power rationing this year. Hydroelectric reservoirs have been drained by a decade of lower-than-usual rainfall. Reservoirs in the Parana River basin, which powers the metropolis Sao Paulo and several states, have never before been so depleted, the grid operator said this month.

Brazil’s declining water resources also risk exacerbating fires that people often set during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter to clear pasture, which then rage out of control. Last year, more than one-quarter of Brazil’s Pantanal went up in flames. It was by far the worst annual devastation since authorities started keeping records in 2003.

“Once again, the specter of fires is back,” said Angelo Rabelo, president of a local environmental group that oversees a protected area of about 300,000 hectares. Last year, 90% of his land was damaged by blazes. “The scenario is even worse this year: drier, and with less water,” Rabelo said.

Brazil water survey heightens alarm over extreme drought (apnews.com)

Friday, August 27, 2021

The McDonalization of Mexico

 Starbucks has 670 retail outlets in Mexico, Subway has 900, and Walmart has 2,610 (the largest number in any country after the US), not to mention, 718 Dominos, 19558 Oxxo (a Coca Cola store),  and 400 KFCs, plus McDonald's, Pizza Huts, Baskin Robbins and Burger Kings, joined by Home Depot, Office Depot, Citigroup, JP Morgan Case, and thousands of factories, from Ford to General Electric.

More and more US transnationals have opened up in Mexico over the past few decades, taking advantage of unfair trade agreements, super-exploitative labor conditions, and cheap utilities. Local restaurants and traditional Mexican markets struggle to compete. The impact of this change in urban landscape and consumption on Mexicans' identity, lifestyle, and culture, shouldn't be underestimated.

"There isn't any equality of conditions, so it isn't really a competition," says Iktiuh Arenas, an expert in urban planning and human rights, and a specialist with Mexico's Secretariat of Agrarian, Land, and Urban Development (SEDATU). Arenas says shopping centers, department stores like Walmart, and transnational chain restaurants have advantages compared to local markets and craftspeople, because they have a big marketing budget. They encourage people to buy products that weren't produced locally, and they have the money to secure the best locations in squares and main streets  "This policy of urban development is based on copying the US model," he says.

Walmart in Mexico is the biggest retailer in the country, and it includes other brands, like the smaller Bodega Aurrerra supermarkets, the wholesale Sam's Club, MaxiPali, and Superama. In 1994, it had just 25 stores in Mexico, but the NAFTA agreement (1994-2020) meant it could easily sell hundreds of products imported from the US, without paying customs taxes. Department stores, shopping centers, and fast food joints from the US displaced local businesses , like the tlapalerias [Mexican stores selling paint and hardware goods.]

With NAFTA's removal of tariffs and trade barriers, these companies also benefit from some of the highest rates of exploitation in the world. While a Mexican worker in the US will earn US$1,870 per month on average, in Mexico the figure drops to US$291.

NAFTA also saw a mass displacement of rural workers in Mexico, and Arenas says public policy has abandoned rural areas in favor of cities. He argues that "classism and racism towards rural workers" have also been a factor. As more and more farmers moved to the cities, they became the new cheap labor.

People are abandoning the street markets and going to supermarkets because of their status. When a family goes to McDonald's, it's because they want to look like they are upper class. Working people are sold the idea of junk food as a way to feel modern. Many Mexicans feel the need to put on appearances. That involves pretending their living conditions are better than the poverty they face, as well as imitating the US or European ways, and buying products or brands from there. For hundreds of years, colonization has taught people that their culture and way of life were inferior.

 Consumers buy things they don't need as part of aspiring to be something better. "It strengthens those issues of classism and loss of identity," Arenas points out. Mexican people are rejecting their indigenous roots, and instead they imitate US culture. Being indigenous is stigmatized. 

Tianguis markets were a key part of people's culture and way of life, and they continue to exist in some form today in towns like Cuetzalan, Tianguistengo, Otumba, Tenejapa, Chilapa, Zacualpan, and more. In Walmarts, you exchange money with someone, but you don't exchange knowledge, you don't have real interactions. Instead of relying on interactions in the street and squares stores like Walmart have now increasingly adapted to selling online. Walmart's profits in Mexico and Central America increased to 162 billion pesos in 2020, from 148 billion in 2019.

"Mexico is dominated by the US … culturally, economically, and they even choose our presidents so that they can keep sending their companies here and enjoying cheap labor … and with that comes a policy of making people reject their culture, and that means rejecting themselves,"  Bertha Meléndez, a lifelong activist and well-known musician says.

This is nothing less than a cultural conquest.

Opinion | Walmartland: How US Stores Colonizing Mexico Are Displacing Local Culture | Tamara Pearson (commondreams.org)

Poverty Wages in the USA

 Rochester, New  York has a cost of living that’s closest to the national average across 509 U.S. metropolitan areas.

 A single adult living in Rochester needs at least US$30,000 a year to cover the cost of housing, food, transportation and other basic needs.

San Francisco is the U.S. city with the highest cost of living, affording just the basics costs $47,587, mainly due to significantly higher taxes and rents.

The city with the lowest cost of living is Beckley, West Virginia. Even there, a childless worker still needs to earn about $28,200 to make essential ends meet. 

Costs add up quickly for households with more than one person. Two adults in Rochester need over $48,000 a year, while a single parent with one child needs more than $63,000. In San Francisco, a single parent would need to earn $101,000 a year just to scrape by.

 At least 27 million U.S. workers don’t earn enough to hit that very low threshold of $30,000. This is a conservative estimate and that the number of people with jobs who earn less than what’s necessary to afford the necessities of life is likely much higher.

The majority of those 27 million workers are concentrated in two industries: retail trade and leisure and hospitality. These two industries are among America’s largest employers and pay the lowest average wages.

For example, the median salary for cashiers was $28,850 in early 2020, with 2.5 million of the nation’s 5 million cashiers earning less than that. Or take retail sales. There, 75% of workers – about 1.8 million – were earning less than $27,080 a year. Close to a million waiters and waitresses were earning less than the median income of $23,740.

The federal poverty line is unrealistically low – only $12,880 for an individual. The official poverty line was created to determine eligibility for Medicaid and other government benefits that support low-income people, not to indicate how much a person needs to actually get by.

Unless Congress and the Biden administration act quickly, 7.5 million people are set to entirely lose unemployment insurance (UI) aid on Labor Day, Sept. 6, the official nationwide expiration date of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The looming UI expiration is the largest cutoff of unemployment benefits in history.  Another 3 million unemployed workers will lose the $300-per-week federal boost provided through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. Twenty-six states — all of which are led by Republicans except Louisiana — ended federal pandemic benefits early, heightening the economic desperation of millions of people.

Millions of US Workers Can’t Afford Food & Rent as Supreme Court Strikes Down Eviction Moratorium – Consortiumnews

7.5 Million Americans to Lose Jobless Benefits on Labor Day – Consortiumnews

Germany is running out of workers

  Germany's ageing population and low birth rates mean Germany must attract at least 400,000 skilled immigrants annually to keep up with demand.

Germany faces massive labour shortages unless it begins recruiting skilled immigrants to replace those retiring from the country's ageing workforce, Federal Labor Agency Chairman Detlef Scheele, explained.

Scheele said demographic changes mean Germany will have roughly 150,000 fewer working-age residents this year alone, and warned, "It will be much more dramatic over the coming years. The fact is: Germany is running out of workers," he said. "From nursing care and climate technicians to logisticians and academics, there will be a shortage of skilled workers everywhere."

Scheele stated, "You can stand up and say, 'We don't want foreigners,' but that doesn't work."

Beyond training low-skilled workers, retraining those whose professions have disappeared, or forcing people to work longer, the only way to master the situation will be to significantly increase immigration.

The Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB) has also called on lawmakers to create faster and more reliable nationwide standards that will allow those immigrants with the legal status of "Dulding," or tolerated, as well as those in the country on humanitarian grounds, to enter the workforce and attain long-term employment perspectives.  

Germany′s workforce in desperate need of skilled immigrants, warns labor agency | News | DW | 24.08.2021

Our Poisonous Air


Air pollution is linked to the increased severity of mental illness, according to the most comprehensive study of its kind involving 13,000 people in London The findings were likely to apply to most cities in developed nations, and cutting air pollution could benefit millions of people.

 A relatively small increase in exposure to nitrogen dioxide led to a 32% increase in the risk of needing community-based treatment and an 18% increase in the risk of being admitted to hospital.

Prof Kevin McConway of the Open University, who was not part of the study team, said, "it’s not easy for people to avoid pollution. Reducing air pollution in cities needs communal action on a broad scale.”

A separate new study has shown that heart attacks rise as the level of air pollution rises. The research examined data from southern Lombardy in Italy, an area with 1.5 million inhabitants.

Air pollution linked to more severe mental illness – study | Air pollution | The Guardian

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Price-Fixing College Sport

 The National Collegiate Athletic Association has been the main governing body of US college sport. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has come to generate more annual revenue than the National Basketball. It generates a revenue of $8 billion.

From its inception, the NCAA and its member institutions have sidestepped government oversight, independent watchdogs and public outcry to maintain a price-fixing scheme, under the veil of amateurism, that has restricted athletes from receiving what the market will pay them. Essentially, players have only been permitted to receive compensation in the form of a tuition scholarship plus room and board. Effectively a cartel.

 In June, the US supreme court unanimously ruled that the education-related benefit caps the NCAA imposes on student athletes are in violation of US antitrust law. 

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, wrote “The NCAA is not above the law. The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels. But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America...Price-fixing labor is price-fixing labor.

Ten days later, the NCAA announced it will allow players to profit off their name, image and likeness, relaxing restrictions on things such as ad campaigns, autograph signings, paid appearances.

How US college sport became an $8bn inequity racket. And why it may fall | College sports | The Guardian

Shays Rebellion

 Shays' Rebellion is but one incident in a historic current. In the western regions of the coastal states, on the frontier, lived farmers who were in great debt and burdened by distant and unresponsive governments during the depressions preceding and following the War of the Revolution. Under British or American government there was little relief for those suffering under heavy taxes and excessive rents. There was a period of about fifty years of economic exploitation and discrimination by East Coast rulers. The farmers participated in many disorders and upheavals from the 1740's, when the Jerseyites refused to pay rents and Massachusetts men marched in Boston in support of a land bank law, until the 1790's, when the Fries Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion were fomented by Pennsylvania mountain men. In 1781 there was a mutiny of the Pennsylvania line of the Continental Army against exploiting "gentry" officers, some of whom were executed by their own men. These revolutionary soldiers elected officers from the ranks and continued to fight for the revolution. There were other mutinies at this time.

There were waves of revolts 'known by such names as The Wars of the Carolina Regulators in North and South Carolina, The Wars of the New Hampshire Grants in New York and Vermont, Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts, and the Fries and Whiskey Rebellions in Pennsylvania and neighboring states. In many states the western counties were in rebel hands for a number of years. No taxes could be collected and the courts were closed to prevent mortgage foreclosures. In reading the following account, we ask that you see it not as an isolated incident or an aberration, but as a small part of a continuous stream of action by people to wrest control of their lives from the state.


Shays' Rebellion

Mention of Shays' Rebellion brings to mind a vague memory of a textbook reference to irate farmers with pitchforks. Among the countless instances of suppressed history, Shays' Rebellion is one of importance, as it reveals much of the true nature of the American Revolution, or at least of the aims and ideals of the "Embattled Farmer," who provided the backbone of the resistance to England; as one of the people involved put it, "We have lately emerged from a bloody war in which liberty was the glorious prize aimed at. I earnestly stepped forth in defense of this country, and cheerfully fought to gain this prize, and liberty is still the object I have in view." The rebellion was a defense of the revolution by the people who had made and won the revolution in opposition to the counter-revolution of the merchants, which has gone down in the history books as the real revolution. As a result, suppression of knowledge about the rebellion is necessary in order to cover up the greater falsification of history regarding the revolution as a whole. Nor was the rebellion in any way a localized affair: resistance to the counter-revolution was widespread throughout the country; Massachusetts was merely the place where it was the strongest.

The first thing that must be realized is that the rebellion was not "Shays'." Shays was the leader only in a purely military sense; despite government attempts to label him a dictator (and English agent), he did not want and was not offered political leadership. His rank in the rebellion was the same as he had held in the Continental Army--Captain. Shays had become a Captain in the army over the objection of the more aristocratic officers only after his Company (consisting of his neighbors) refused to serve under anyone else; he was later forced to resign after committing an exceedingly practical but scandalously ungentlemanly act. At the time of the rebellion he was the poorest man in his town, living in a run-down shack on a tiny farm. **

In each town the rebels elected a Captain to handle their military problems (one Captain, Moses Sash, a private in the Continental Army, was Black); all political matters were handled by the people themselves. At the height of the rebellion, the three western counties were divided into 17 military districts, each under a Captain, whose job was to co-ordinate military activities in his area. The only person to rise to prominence as a political leader was Eli Parsons.

The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 required possession of greater wealth as a voting requirement than had the last Royal Charter. Greater amounts of wealth were required as qualifications for each public office of higher importance; some towns did not have a single inhabitant rich enough to be sent to the General Court (state legislature). The Constitution could not be amended for 15 years.

During the years after the revolution, the country was in a very bad economic depression. Large numbers of farmers had their property seized by creditors and were offered the choice between jail, where they would be billed for room and board, or working for their creditors at whatever wage they chose to pay. In a few years, the entire rural population would have been forced into serfdom. A delegate to one of the county conventions said, "I've labored hard all my days and fared hard. I have been greatly abused, have been obliged to do more than my part in the war; have been loaded with class rates, town rates, province rates, Continental rates and all rates ... been pulled and hauled by sheriffs, constables and collectors, and had my cattle sold for less than they were worth. I have been obliged to pay and nobody will pay me. I have lost a great deal by this man and that man and t'other man, and the great men are going to get all we have, and I think it is time for us to rise and put a stop to it, and have no more courts, nor sheriffs, nor collectors, nor lawyers, and I know that we are the biggest party, let them say what they will."

In western Massachusetts, the stronghold of the rebellion, the government in Boston was felt to be virtually an oppressive foreign government, no better than the one they had just gotten rid of. Half of the western towns did not send representatives to the General Court. Instead, they continued to operate in the same manner as during the revolution, when there was no real government. Local matters were decided at town meetings. When matters of common interest were involved, county conventions were called; in each town delegates would be chosen and given exact instructions as to what position to take on every possible issue; on their return they would be questioned at great length as to what took place. Among the resolutions passed by county conventions were ones calling for immediate re-organization of the state government, the issuance of paper money to be loaned to debtors (an extremely popular plan to end the economic crisis), an end to prosecution of debtors, and reduction in taxes and state spending.

On August 29, 1786, an act very common at the beginning of the revolution was repeated at Northampton, in Hampshire County. The Court of Common Pleas 'was scheduled to meet, with several debtors' cases before it. During the morning, 1500 people came into town from the surrounding countryside, more or less led by Luke Day. When the judges arrived at the court house, they were confronted by ranks of men in Continental uniform, armed with rifles and bayonets. The judges were presented with a petition that claimed the People's right to protest unconstitutional acts of the legislature and "entreated" the court to adjourn until the "minds of the people can be obtained and the resolves of the convention of this county can have an opportunity of having their grievances redressed." The Court adjourned "without delay."

On September 5, the Court was forced to adjourn in Worcester County. Several towns met together to create a court to settle debtors' cases in a manner more favorable to the debtors.

At Concord, in Middlesex, the court was closed on September 12 by armed men, now calling themselves Regulators, with some contingents coming from the western end of the state. Most sinister about this event was the arrival of Job Shattuck the day before at the head of a large number of wagons containing provisions for several days and material for a camp that was built on the Concord Green. The judges were given a statement: "The voice of the People of this county is that [the Court] shall not enter this courthouse until such time as the People shall have redress of the grievances they labor under at present."

Berkshire County, at the western edge of the state, had been the first to close its courts during the revolution and the last to re-open them; it had threatened to secede from the rest of the state when the state constitution was ratified. To the surprise of the officials, the militia actually appeared when called to defend the Court, numbering about 1,000 men in all. Upon arriving on the scene, however, a violent dispute broke out over which side to take. Judge Whiting, a rebel sympathizer who was later jailed for "inciting," suggested they divide into two groups; they did so, 800 opposing the Court, which then adjourned.

In Bristol County, in the southern part of the state, the Court was able to meet but adjourned as a gesture of good will.

In Exeter, New Hampshire, several hundred armed men surrounded the state capital on September 20, planning to keep the legislature inside until it lowered taxes and issued paper money loans. They fled, though, on hearing a rumor that a company of artillery was coming to attack them.

The Supreme Judicial Court indicted 11 people as "disorderly, riotous, and seditious persons." On September 26, it was to meet in Springfield, where a federal arsenal was located. Both were protected by General Sheppard with 900 militia. On the morning of the 26th, 700 men came, led by Shays, his first appearance in the rebellion. All day long, through the night, and into the next day groups arrived from all over the state. The court was unable to try any cases, as all its personnel, including the judges, were needed to protect the courthouse. Finally, as the rebels were preparing an attack, the Court adjourned. Soon thereafter, Congress authorized the stationing of troops in Springfield to protect against "Indians."

The General Court's reaction to all this was to suspend Habeas Corpus, revoke the right to vote and serve on juries for people involved in the rebellion, and pass a Riot Act giving the governor increased powers to put down disturbances. An "Indemnity Act" pardoned all those who took an oath of allegiance and did not commit acts of violence from the time the act was passed. A few vague reforms were passed: the governor's salary was cut, a few changes in the debtors' law, and taxes could be paid in goods. Sam Adams, for strange reasons, was going through an arch-reactionary phase at this time and led the forces of repression (later, after the outbreak of the French Revolution, he would become a revolutionary again).

On Nov. 21, the Worcester Court was again unable to meet. On the 28th, the Middlesex Court was able to meet in Cambridge, across the bay from Boston, with the help of 2000 militia. Job Shattuck tried, unsuccessfully, to organize an attempt to stop the court, was hunted down, wounded, locked up in Boston, and became the rebellion's first martyr.

Shays, hearing of Shattuck's capture, sent out a call for aid: "The seeds of war are now sown. I request ... you and every man to supply men and provisions to relieve us with a reinforcement ... we are determined here to carry our point. Our cause is yours. Don't give yourself a rest and let us die here, for we are all brethren." He put his men in old barracks left over from the revolution and began scouring the countryside for guns and ammunition.

On December 5, the Worcester Court was again stopped. That evening the rebels held an organizational meeting, at which the military districts were formed. The most prominent members of the Committee of 17, which consisted of the Captains of the 17 military districts, were Shays, Luke Day, and Joseph Hinds of Greenwich. A "petition" was sent to the governor, demanding the release of all prisoners, a new indemnity act, and the adjournment of all courts until after the May elections, and stating that they were not afraid of death, war, or "the injuries of hunger, cold, nakedness and the infamous name of rebel, as under all these disadvantages they once before engaged and ... came off-victorious."

In January, the governor began assembling an army of 5000 militia, to be commanded by General Benjamin Lincoln. In response the Committee of 17 sent out a call for men to assemble with 10 days provisions. The objective was the arsenal at Springfield, the only possible source of arms and ammunition to fight Lincoln.

On January 25, 1200 men, the majority veterans of the Continental Army, marched into Springfield, where General Sheppard had 900 men to oppose them. Due to bad weather, many contingents had not yet reached the assembly point, but the attack could not be delayed, as Lincoln's army was approaching,

The rebels stopped 250 yards from the arsenal, demanded Sheppard surrender, and then began to advance. At 100 yards, Sheppard fired his cannons over their heads, without stopping them, then directly into them, killing four men. After a few more were fired, the rebels fled. Until this time, each confrontation had resulted in one side backing down at the last second; as both the militia and rebels came from the same towns and were literally friends and relatives, neither side really wanted to kill anybody, at least at this time. Aside from the cannon, not a single shot was fired by either side.

The rebels retreated north to Pelham, Shays' home town, where they found a large quantity of provisions sent from Berkshire. Lincoln's army arrived a few days later and stopped about ten miles away--passing through Amherst, they found hardly a man in the place, as they were all with the rebels. Negotiations took place between the two armies, the rebels offering to surrender if given a complete pardon.

On February 3, Shays retreated 20 miles to Petersham. Lincoln followed that night and was caught in a blizzard; had the rebels been aware that he was following, they could have destroyed his entire army. Instead, they fled across the New Hampshire border at his arrival.

The rebels officially disbanded and Shays made his way with several hundred others to Vermont, where the government was expected to be more friendly. General Lincoln went west to clean out Berkshire, causing many to flee into New York and Connecticut.

Although the rebels were now broken up, small groups kept up a continuous guerrilla struggle, capturing weapons, freeing prisoners, and destroying the property of government supporters. Across the border in New Lebanon, New York, Eli Parsons began collecting men: "March all the men in your power to New Lebanon without loss of time. Bring arms, ammunition, four days provisions ... with snow-shoes, as many as you can get."

In both Vermont and New York, the rebels were welcomed by the people. The government of Vermont at first openly supported them, but later, afraid of alienating the other states (it was not yet accepted as a state and was claimed by New York), made official proclamations forbidding the people to assist the rebels, without making any attempt to enforce them. A group of Massachusetts militiamen, in Vermont looking for "criminals," was stopped at gunpoint by the people of a town they passed through, who stated, "No person shall be carried from this state! You are in pursuit of the most virtuous of your citizens." In New York, a group of militia that captured a rebel in a raid across the border was overtaken by forty New Yorkers, who freed the captive.

On February 26, 130 men, led by Perez Hamlin of Stockbridge, left New Lebanon to attack Pittsfield, where General Lincoln was. They had heard that all but a few of his militia had left, their enlistments expired. Unfortunately, Lincoln was reinforced before they reached Pittsfield, so they turned south to Stockbridge, where they seized the town's military supplies, captured several prominent government supporters, and ransacked their homes. They then went ten miles further south to Great Barrington, where they freed the inmates of the jail, and started back to New York with their prisoners.

On the way back, they fell into a militia ambush; In the ensuing battle, the rebels lost three dead and several captured, including Hamlin, who was badly wounded and eventually died in jail. Also among the captured were Peter Wilcox, whose brother died in the battle, and Nathaniel Austin, who had led a particularly active group of cavalry, both in their early 20s, This is the only time both sides fought it out in an actual battle.

A few days after Hamlin's raid, New York officials sent their militia to clean out the towns on their side of the border, forcing the rebels to move into Vermont and Connecticut. Activities began to die down, but the situation remained volatile.

Elections for the new General Court were held in the Spring; due to the disenfranchisement of the rebel supporters, there were towns with no voters left, while in many others only a few government supporters were left. Except in the places occupied by militia or with strong pro-government factions, the disqualification was ignored: "they chose with an air of insolence to the friends of government and a vindictive triumph over authority the suspected and disaffected characters." In at least one case, a man in jail was elected. For governor, John Hancock, running on a vague program of reform and leniency, beat the incumbent almost 3 to 1; he was, aside from his platform, also preferred because he had made his money before the revolution and thus was not considered a profiteer. Statewide, only one-fourth of the old legislators were re-elected.

In April, after the elections, the Supreme Court, able to meet by virtue of military protection, began trying the captured rebels. In Great Barrington, six persons, captured in Hamlin's raid were sentenced to death. In Northampton, another six, most for the attack on the Springfield arsenal. Two others were to be hung in other counties. The High Sheriff of Berkshire County found a note on his door:

"I understand that there is a number of my countrymen condemned to die because they fought for justice. I pray have a care that you assist not in the execution of so horrid a crime, for by all that is above, he that condemns and he that executes shall share alike ..Prepare for death with speed, for your life or mine is short. When the woods are covered with leaves, I shall return and pay you a short visit. So no more at present, but I remain your inveterate ENEMY."

A Commission of Clemency, appointed by Hancock, decided to hang only five people: Peter Wilcox and Nathaniel Austin in Berkshire, Captain Jason Parmenter (who killed a militiaman) and Henry McCullough (only thought to be a leader because he was once seen at the head of several hundred men) in Hampshire, Henry Gale (one of the few leaders captured) in Worcester, and Job Shattuck in Middlesex. The date of execution was set for May 24.

Throughout early May, frantic preparations were made to rescue the condemned; guns were smuggled into the state and Several hostages seized. Tremendous numbers of appeals from towns and individuals all over the state were sent to the governor. Wilcox and Austin escaped, were recaptured, escaped again, were recaptured again, escaped a third time ... The executions were postponed to June, then to August.

In the new General Court, the House repealed the rewards offered for the capture of prominent rebels; the bill was blocked by the Senate, a more aristocratic body, not elected by the people. In the fall, it revised the debtors' law to free persons who, in effect, declared bankruptcy. The right to serve on juries was restored to the rebels, a necessity, as many towns were incapable of producing a jury. A general pardon was defeated by the House, 100 to 94.

Throughout the summer things remained fairly quiet. On September 12, the militia was sent home, a new pardon offered, and all prisoners pardoned, except Wilcox and Austin, who were no longer pursued.

In December, however, two men, Charles Rose and John Bly, age 22, were hung. Bly had recruited men for Shays, was captured during Hamlin's raid; released by the Court, he went back to New York, led two raids, and finally took advantage of the new pardon and returned. During the winter raids, he and Rose, of whom nothing is known, took some clothes for a comrade in need. They were charged with burglary and hung. Murder and rebellion were excusable crimes, but not burglary.

In March of 1788, Shays, Luke Day, Eli Parsons, and a few others, who had been excluded from the previous pardon offers, were given pardons. Shays went back to farming, was arrested for debts in 1792, and moved to New York state, where he died in 1825 and was buried in an unmarked grave,


Published by: Solidarity, 713 Armitage Ave. Chicago, Ill. 60614, October, 1973

Taken from


Shays' rebellion, 1786 (libcom.org)

Unhappy Children

 The number of 10- to 15-year-olds who say they are not happy rose from 173,000 (3.8%) in 2009-10 to an estimated 306,000 (6.7%) in 2018-19, the Children’s Society found. That 6.7% – one in every 15 young people – is the highest proportion in the last decade, it said.

The charity lamented the “significant decline in children’s happiness over the decade”

Mark Russell, its chief executive, said: “It’s deeply distressing to see that children’s wellbeing is on a 10-year downward trend and on top of this a number of children have not coped well with the pandemic. Unhappiness at this stage can be a warning sign of potential issues in later teenage years.” 

The Children’s Society added warned that children who are unhappy with their lives at the age of 14 are “significantly more likely” than their peers to display symptoms of mental ill-health by the time they reach 17 or to have self-harmed or tried to take their own life. Young people with low life satisfaction at 14 should be helped to build relationships and avoid being bullied to avoid descent into mental illness, it advised. 

Tom Madders, director of campaigns at the mental health charity Young Minds, said: “It is shocking to see a further decline in children and young people’s level of happiness and that thousands are unhappy with their lives overall.

Number of UK children unhappy with their lives rises – report | Children | The Guardian

Golf or Houses?

 Golf courses in London make up an area larger than the borough of Brent and there is enough space on publicly owned courses to house 300,000 people.

Nearly half of the capital’s 94 active golf courses are owned by London boroughs or other public bodies, such as the Church Commissioners, and yet serve a tiny fraction of the capital’s 9 million residents.

The 43 publicly owned golf courses in London take up just under 1,600 hectares (3,950 acres) of land in Greater London, bigger than the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, which has a population of 185,000.

The borough of Enfield alone contains seven courses, but the council receives just £13,500 from Enfield golf club each year to rent its 39-hectare golf course – less than the typical annual rent for a two-bedroom flat in the area.

Russell Curtis, the author of “Golf Belt”, a new study of how London’s golf courses could help address the housing crisis, said he was not calling for all the capital’s golf courses to be turned into housing but that some courses could be made more accessible to the capital’s residents if they became allotments, biodiverse green space, sports facilities or even urban farms.

Said Curtis, “There surely has to be a way of improving the social utility and accessibility of golf courses to benefit the wider population. The redevelopment of golf courses is always presented as a binary choice between beautiful green fields or concrete, but there’s a model in the middle where you could provide new homes and social infrastructure while achieving biodiversity gain.”

Building at a density of 60 homes per hectare on publicly owned golf courses that fall within areas designated as suitable for further development by the London Mayor’s local plan – close to railway stations, for instance – would provide homes for 101,700 people. 

Guy Shrubsole, the author of Who Owns England?, said: “With so much of London devoted to golf courses only used by a small segment of society, surely councils should be repurposing more of them as public parks and nature reserves, with open access for all.”

Britain is home to a quarter of all the golf courses in Europe, with one in 20 found in London, despite the capital making up just 0.65% of the UK’s total land area.

London golf courses could provide homes for 300,000 people, study says | Planning policy | The Guardian