Sorry to say – NO revolution today!

th[7]

Why? You may ask. Well, the people are a bit busy at the moment. I’m not quite sure when they will have the time to follow their dream of a decent life. No doubt that once they have the opportunity to think about the future they will demand considerable change.

Then there’s the other problem.

What?

Getting organised! Many poor people are working 12 – 14 hours a day, often more. They get home have their fried bread and mash; tired they don’t feel much up to starting a crusade.

There are exceptions!

In the town of Flint in Michigan USA, population 100,000 a quiet fight has begun. The government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carried out a series of tests on the water supply to determine the level of lead in the supply. The EPA concluded that the water was fine.

One woman thought differently, she demanded further tests be carried out on her domestic supply. The recommended ratio is 15ppb (parts per billion). What the new investigation found was above 40ppb = dangerous level. Independent studies found several hundred more ‘dangerous’ cases. The EPA’s testing technique; a load of …. I’ll leave you to fill in the blank space.

It now emerges that all 50 states have cases of ‘excessive levels of lead contamination’ affecting several million people. When testing shows levels above 15ppb the authorities are supposed to inform residents and carry out immediate remedial work. Nearly 400 water suppliers are repeat offenders!!!

thDC82LPF2The crucial point here is that one woman stood her ground and now the government and its agencies are under close scrutiny. This woman should be nominated for -woman of the year –for person of the year. She gets my high-five award.

But wait:

At an elementary school in Ithaca NY another woman kicked up a fuss. Testing revealed that the water supply to the school registered at 5,000ppb that’s the EPA’s threshold for ‘hazardous waste’! Wow! Wow! Wow!

What both cases illustrate is that when people have the time to think they won’t allow themselves to be crapped upon. Well done mothers!!!

www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/3/11/nearly-2000-water-systems-failed-lead-tests/81220466

Alison Young & Mark Nichols

Two other points arise from this:

 

Still in America, in the state of Louisiana, a cut to local government spending has seriously reduced access to public defenders. In the Parish of Vermilion the number has been reduced from 10 to one. That’s one public defender and a waiting list of 2,300+ offenders.

Most of these cases are for minor crimes. However, many are kept in prison because they can’t afford bail money and can’t afford to hire a lawyer. Others can’t get a job while the prospect of a sentence hangs over their head.

Local officials are blaming a reduction on speeding fines for the chaos. Mm. Thus they can’t afford public defenders because not enough people are breaking the law by speeding. Mm. I find it unbelievable that the justice system is dependent on others breaking the law. I hear Patsy Cline in the background – Crazy.

Moreover, how much is this debacle costing in lost working days, on taxes, on prison costs, on social security payments. How much damage is it doing to families, to kids and the community? Who cares it only affects the poor!

www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/         (twitter)       Campbell Robertson

I can hear a few voices declare that there are millions of poor around the world, why the focus on America. The USA is held aloft as the greatest of democracies, as the place where dreams are realised: ‘everything’s big in America’…..West Side Story. If welfare is a shambles in America and the poor are downtrodden, what hope to find anything better anywhere else?

Of course there are millions of poor around the world and many are found in India. The country claims a booming economy and the parade of the world’s top motor manufacturers tends to back that up. The boom- boom for the big car groups is based on the huge advantage of cheap-cheap labour.

The average wage for a low skilled worker is around 150 rupees ($2.40) a day. In the capital Delhi it averages 361 rupees ($5.80). But, averages disguise the reality for many of the poorest. The big boys sub-contract out the work which is again sub-contracted out. The little factories at the bottom are nothing less than hell holes.

Workers in these places find themselves in sweat shop conditions with no safety equipment and forced to work long days, 12 -14 hours, or more. While the Indian government speak of an economic miracle, and it may well be a hub for exports to General Motors and Ford etc. The truth is that it is only possible because of the poverty wages and the horrid conditions the poor have to work in. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are bad offenders!

In Bangladesh the minimum wage is set at 5,300 taka or $68 per month before tax. In China there are substantial differences from area to area. However, it is well documented that millions work in near slave labour conditions.

www.tradingeconomics.com/india/wages

www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/                        January 2016.

In the Middle East we have tyrannies of different hues from religious zealots to hard headed dictatorships. Religion holds the millions in check as it once did in Europe of old. In Saudi Arabia people are afraid to speak out for fear of prison and lashes by the score. Special religious police scour the towns and cities to enforce allegiance to the monarch’s determination to remain in power and promote their Sunni version of Islam.

Herein lays the reason there will be no revolution today. The people are exhausted byth66MZWZV4 the struggle to survive. They are smothered by the sheer weight and trauma of making ends meet. The poor have responsibilities that the wealthy will never know or understand. Many are in a constant battle to give, when there’s as great a need to have.

While the uncaring heart of business sucks at their strength they carry that burden and keep going. There are heroes in every street, unrecognised, unknown and yet they forge on because others are dependent on them.

And in this upside down world we make heroes of celebrities. The media maintain a constant downpour of trash TV to take the peoples mind off their struggle, for a few hours. In consequence the poor become divorced from the political world and thus from their ability to fight back. Whilst too many become the “mindless consumers” as recognised by Jürgen Habermas.

The Poor have NO Say!

E.E. Schattschneider argues that the politicians pay little heed to the people as there is no recognition of ‘popular preferences’. The fact is,

“that there is very low level of participation and political awareness, and real decisions are taken by much smaller groups of organised interests”.

Cited: Francis Fukuyama (p483) Political Order and Political Decay

In the UK the BBC is one of the worst offenders with their stratified TV programming to satisfy the class and educational bias in our society. The hierarchy at the BBC are of the same metropolitan elite that promote a left leaning political agenda.  Hypocrisy knows no boundary.

Do some good – join Robin Hood!

Dark – Darker – Darkness

human_evolution_article_big3[1]How far are we humans along the road of evolution? Some will point to our technological advances to suggest we are well north of phenomenal. They will point to developments in science generally and to medicine, travel and communication in particular and pronounce that the world is growing smaller and more beneficial for all.

A minority report may argue vociferously that the world has grown worse. This report would point to trafficking of people, drugs, and weapons, in effect anything illegal that generates cash. Money is the oil which keeps the wheels of the economic system working. This ‘black economy’ is perhaps the real economy.

Power and its offshoots – privilege –prestige – influence (there are more) are the motivators. It’s a truism that money speaks and money buys, whether you are a CEO of a major company or a head-honcho of a major drug cartel. If you are truly ambitious and have enough dosh personally and in support you can become the President of the USA, numero uno of the world’s politicians.thKGW4YVRM

“It is now painfully clear that elections depend substantially on money, and elected officials have to spend too much time raising money and respond disproportionately to the preferences of donors.” US Supreme Court cited Reuters 2015/01/19

www.blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/01/19/

In my previous post: Morality: Did it Ever Exist I mentioned that slavery is now more prevalent than ever and sad to say but the same is true of child abuse. The statistics are a tale of human depravity.

Figures such as, forty million kids below the age of 15 are subjected to abuse, WHO 2001. Most suffer from physical abuse. Emotional abuse can devastate for a lifetime. thBHNITY72Sexual abuse is estimated to affect 36% of girls and 29% of boys. In 2005 UNICEF suggested that an astonishing 100 – 140 million girls are subjected to genital mutilation. The ILO (2006) say that around 250 million kids between the ages of five (5) and fourteen (14) are used as forced labour. Also that one million kids have been trafficked for the sex trade.

Check the dates, they are from years ago but nothing has improved. Up to date statistics can be found at:

My attention was redrawn to this heinous crime by the events in Kasur Pakistan. Here child abuse was run like a family business.

Around 270 kids from the age of 12 were forced into sexual acts which were videoed. The child and family would then be blackmailed or the video sold. The depravity has been going on for years. We may never know the true number of kids abused in this way. Telegraph 2015/08/10 + uk.reuters.com

Another attention grabber was in Bedford England where a man was jailed for 16 months for having 20,000 images of child abuse on his computer. Some 3,300 were Category A – the most obscene. Personally, I would lock the cell door and toss the key! www.bedfordtoday.co.uk

The picture in the UK generally is not good, the NSPCC report that 62,000 children phoned Childline in 2014 of these over 18,000 referred to sexual abuse. Of 23,000 sexual offences against kids some 5,500 were under the age of eleven (11). The number of cases continues to rise.

Meanwhile across Europe 250,000 kids go missing. Almost half are runaways – from what? Of the rest; will we ever know? There is a European hotline 116000 but the funds to operate it run out at the end of the year. Do many know of its existence?          Euronews.

I was bemused to read that in western countries preventing abuse was “a high priority”, among politicians.  Read the coverage at this site.      www.en.m.wikipedia.org/childabuse

The situation in America is dire. The website childhelp.org suggests that 3 million child abuse cases are reported annually which is categorized as the worse of the industrial nations. In addition five (5) kids a day die from abuse and neglect.

Furthermore, compassion.com suggests that 20% of women and between 5 -10% of men say they were sexually abused as kids. That worldwide nearly two (2) million children are exploited in the commercial sex trade and, that sexual abuse is the second largest criminal industry and growing.

There is a slither of good news Google (developer) Facebook and Twitter are to block “hash lists” of child abuse. This is good news indeed by these companies but hiding it will not prevent it. Our politicians must do more.

What of the “high priority” pledge by politicians. Is it a pretence that something is happening when in fact it is not. We should demand a ten or twenty point plan with a timeline agreed to at a G20 summit.

At the 2014 UN General Assembly meeting – the 69th session –  seven (7) summits were organised for the week: indigenous people, climate change, counter-terrorism, Ebola, education and a Global compact – businessmen meeting. www.ipnews.net

Have you noticed any significant change in these areas? Ebola, but that in reality was a marketing exercise by the West. (Call me cynical) It was an easy fix in global terms. More people die in Africa from poor water supply and malaria. Let’s eradicate them!!

Another UN meeting in August 2015 the Sustainable Development Agenda was accepted with the aim to end poverty by 2030. The cost will be in the region of $3 – 5 trillion per year. Can you see it happening? Cynical!! One interesting point came from the discussions:

“Women and girls everywhere have much to gain from the SDGs. But to make it a reality we have to keep pressure on governments to follow through in their commitments”. Shannon Kowalski

Note the ‘But’! That’s a big ‘if’ factor as success depends on national politicians. Note also that everything is geared to sustained business development as the only hope of achieving the goals. However, centuries of capitalism has not ameliorated poverty, slavery or child abuse.

Capitalism is not the best-fit option for humanity. It stimulates our base instincts like greed and pride. When stress enters our lives some go dark, the greater the stress the darker they go. In times of great upheaval we enter the darkness, ethnic cleansing etc.

The world cannot grow until men learn how to!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immigration: The True Cost of Cheap Labour

thD11S73YEIt’s a strange phenomenon but both the Left (includes Liberals) and Right in British politics support mass immigration. But it has nothing to do with helping the poor. The latest figure published was a net annual increase of approximately 250,000. That’s a population growth of one (1) million every four (4) years not including the birth rate. It comes as no surprise that business is unashamedly in favour of mass immigration, it’s good for business. The support from the Left is a bit more bewildering. Nonetheless, what are the costs to our society?

There are several areas upon which immigration has a serious impact. The first of many is on wages and this hits the people at the bottom the hardest. A large body of people entering the country seeking work obviously keep wage levels down and forces them down further. This can only be good news for employers. How does it help the local workers?

Working conditions also suffer as migrants do not unionise. This is mainly because they are too scared for fear of losing their job. Going on strike outside of union support is a non- starter. Therefore they are subject to added pressure to work longer hours than their local counterparts. In addition over one (1) million migrants are illegal and have little choice but to do as they are told.

We can then add the large number which is controlled under gangmasters. Their working conditions are as they find them with no method to bring about change. Likewise their living conditions can be well below the standard acceptable to the rest of our society. This virtual slave labour market should be abolished forthwith.

It is true to say that migrants do take jobs from the local indigenous population. Localsth[10] cannot manage their households on the wages offered and pay rent/mortgage, council tax and the cost of getting to and from work and other associated costs. In most cases the ordinary Joes’ would have to accept a lower standard of living in order to take up a job.

Their refusal to live on less than what national state benefits allow has the poor castigated as scroungers. They are hit with a volume of abuse that would definitely not be tolerated if they were composed of one ethnic group. These people are almost demonized.

The unemployed and those who have been on benefits long term tend not to own their own home. Many are corralled into Council run estates and left to fester. It is well documented that employers don’t look favourably on such residents when jobs become available.

Thus we are allowing the continued development of sub culture districts. The clear thBNJC2GU0knock on effect is that families become increasingly dysfunctional. In consequence, we are condemning many thousands of children to a miserable existence. A sizable number of these communities will disenfranchise themselves. The danger is that they become increasingly lost to the wider community and delve into crime etc. Such disassociation will end up costing a lot more in the long run.

Of course we have had slums since the Industrial Revolution but up until the modern era there have been jobs that catered for the labourer army. However, labourer jobs are not as numerous and cheap competition means many are not as accessible. Factories up and down the country employ cheap /illegal workers, usually paid below the minimum wage.

In this new environment those without jobs have become dependent on benefits to survive. Even for the skilled the cost of relocation, (north to south) is not an option either due to the financial implications of finding accommodation and surviving until the first wage comes through. And the prospect of training or retraining is just another scribble added to the Santa Claus wish list.

th[2]A further consequence of mass immigration is that we fail to train the locals for the jobs that need doing. A recent example is that of nurses, whereby 80,000 applied nationally for a course but only 20,000 got accepted.

Meanwhile, we are employing many from abroad. It is cheaper to bring them in than train our own young people. Not a moment’s thought is given about the needs these workers leave behind in their home country. We are as leeches on the poor abroad. Employers are saving £millions not having to provide training. What is the message to our young people?

The differences in societal precepts emerge as migrants naturally bring their own cultural norms, can and do bring tensions. In the past this has led to a clash of cultures which in turn leads to ethnic ghettoes. In these districts the residents become fair game for gangs and political opportunists. The areas become increasingly shut off from the mainstream and the aspiration and value of the individual lessens and the community becomes more insular.

Immigration on the scale we are presently witnessing is all about money; it is about big business getting the cheapest possible labour and therefore making the highest possible profits. It is not about people. It is not about helping the poor of other nations. It is not about helping this country and it’s poor. It is about exploiting the poor from abroad and in doing so degrading the workers already here.

No doubt there are heart-warming stories of some migrants who have made it good. However, for every positive there will be 100+ heart-breaking stories of young women and children forced onto drugs and prostitution and slave labour. There are thousands out there just surviving in lives of unimaginable misery.

We have failed to advance the livelihood of many young people in the UK whatever their background. Without adequate training programmes we compound their difficulties, we leave them on the shelve like last year’s hot toy, hoping someone will take pity and do the right thing. It is a testament to their character that they carry on without causing an upheaval.

Whatever happened to Education, Education, Education? Ask Mr Blair and his party.

The present government’s flagship for youth is the apprenticeship scheme. According to the most recent study it is not all it aspires to be:

  • 70,000 less applied than the start year of 2010.
  • 15% of all apprentices are paid below minimum wage.
  • 21% get no formal academic training.
  • 93% of those aged 25+ already worked in the place before being put on the apprentice scheme. Wow! Does this mean that their employer simply turned them into apprentices to get the grants from government?
  • Small to medium size firms can get £1,500 per apprentice. How much do the big boys’ get?

The idea behind apprenticeship is a wholly positive one; it was to cut youth unemployment but here’s the irony: there has been a 520% increase of apprenticeships in the over sixty (60) age bracket. I wonder if they all had to dye their hair.     Independent Newspaper 1/1/2015

The real story is that it has become just one more money spinner for business at the taxpayers’ expense. Their greed knows no end.

Why has the Left supported mass immigration? It is beyond my simple political thinking. I can only assume that they have been beguiled by human rights activists and have gone on a binge of HR rhetoric. It would seem that they are still pissed on said rhetoric or suffering from a huge hangover. How else can they justify the damage they are causing all over the country? Our society has become fractured.

The conspiracy theory:

We are all participants in a global experiment by the Liberal/Left to change the fabric of the world. In this brave new world, we all speak the same and everyone’s right is tolerated no matter how bazaar. However, we will be separated by education, wealth and nepotism. So what’s so different from today’s world?

Joe wants to matter now.               Join Robin Hood and do some good!thSJMZ0920

 

Free Trade: Nothing for Nothing. (Blindland 10)

 

Many governments under the umbrella of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a large body of economists view free trade as a boon for the world economy. The governments of the USA, UK and the nations comprising the EU support the concept of free trade but do they practice what they preach? Several economists suggest that free trade would boost the world economy and by doing so benefit the poorest countries. Those in the opposing camp are of the opinion that it’s all about securing markets for profit and little to do with the poor. The opposition to free trade also suggest that such trade has no moral compass.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is busy trying to dismantle as many barriers to trade as it can negotiate. They envisage a free world market in which governments place no restrictions on exports or imports. In effect, “…free trade enables foreign companies to trade just as efficiently, easily, and effectively as domestic producers”. It would seem clear to me that the big boys have a head start as their business is already up and running and highly organised.

www.wisegeek.com/what-is-free-trade.htm

The first free trade agreement (FTA) was between America and Israel in 1985. This was followed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 between the USA, Canada and Mexico. FTA’s were not simply to be about trade but to encapsulate a moral imperative.

“The net effect of the new FTAs on other countries involved should also be beneficial but much more significant than the effects on the United States because of the much smaller size of these countries”. Bruce Arnold, US Congressional Budget Office, July 2003.

www.policyalmanac.org/economic/archivefree_trade_agreements.shtml

However, in practice the policy does not seem to have worked to the benefit of the smaller economic state. In 2002 it was recorded that trade between Israel, Canada, Mexico and Jordan and the USA was: the others received 37.2% of American exports but supplied 31% of US imports. That is a significant disparity. We have to assume, Mr Arnold had not seen the figures before his speech. Twenty years later and the Economist (January 2014) suggest that Mexico has benefitted greatly because of inward investment and a developed manufacturing base. However, it hasn’t slowed the immigration from Mexico or the number below the poverty line.

www.economist.com/news/leaders/2159261

Moreover, Denise H. Froning writing in 2000 pointed out that trade is the bedrock of American prosperity. She is fond of the adjective ‘stellar’ in describing the benefits of free trade to the American economy between 1990/2000, she found that during the period the US economy grew by 23% and added $2.1 trillion to its coffers. She also managed to throw a carrot to America’s partners, “Free trade helps to spread the value of freedom, reinforce the rule of law, foster economic development in poor countries”. Well, I suppose the poor should be grateful for some titbits. Or was she hinting they should adopt American culture?

www.heritage.org/research/reports/2000/08/

What has become clear is the impact of NAFTA on America’s partners:

  • Family run farms in Mexico are fast disappearing.
  • Increased dependency of Mexico on imported food.
  • USA and Canadian companies could dump their waste products in Mexico bypassing their own national laws.

www.debate.yukozimo.com/pros-and-cons-of-free-trade/

It has been argued that over one (1) million Mexican farmers have lost their jobs since the introduction of NAFTA. Texas, on the other hand has benefitted from the import/export flow of trade as has America as a whole. A major consequence has been the doubling of immigration into America in that period.

www.smallbusiness.chron.com/north-american-trade-agreement

An eminent economist, Ha-Jong Chang, ranked among the world’s top thinkers in 2013 has stated clearly, “The free market does not exist”. He can be bold in his statement, without contradiction, because nearly every country operates some form of tariff, tax or subsidy to protect a specific industry. From, 23 Things You Didn’t Know About Capitalism (2011) cited by www.truth-out.org/news/item/

Read about Ha-Jong Chang at: www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ha-Jong-Chang

th9A01CFI4Chang’s argument is that the developed nations have had a long period of gestation, and with the extensive use of protective tariffs, taxes and subsidy to build their economies. A further point raised by Chang is the productivity gap between the thCAF0PORYdeveloped and developing world is still quite wide. The technology available to the big boys far outstrips anything the locals can muster.

In today’s world of multinationals and with internal markets satiated the need for expansion is obvious. What better way and with competitive advantage to forward the concept of free trade? “…competitive advantage is a key determinant of superior performance and it will ensure survival and prominent placing in the market”. Multinational companies have substantial resources and can badger and bully when occasion arises. The big boys can bring economies of scale and can undercut any competitor until they have secured the market.

th5DOBCQG5

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_advantagethRAQAJJJT

 

 

 

For a detailed economic explanation see: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage

We have the story in the UK whereby, Google, Starbucks, Amazon etc. operate openly making ££billions but have their offices sited elsewhere to avoid the payment of tax. Wringing the last drop of blood from the stone is obviously their motto, as this serves to boost the top dog’s bonus. Could the government of the UK tell them to politely leave, perhaps, but the President of the USA would be on the phone so quick and his roar so deafeningly loud, it would initiate a swift change of direction.

However, Steven E. Landsburg suggests, “Free trade creates winners and losers, but theory and empirical evidence show that the size of the winnings from free trade are larger than the losses”. The statement has a semblance of truth to it, but who are the winners and losers and how much is ‘theory’ and how much ‘empirical’. If we look again at the consequences of NAFTA, the small family farmers were definite losers and the big agricultural companies of America the beneficiaries.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade

To overcome the perceived difficulties of whoever wins and who loses some economists have come forward with a scheme whereby developing nations should look to specializing, to focus on one or two crops or particular raw material. The problem with that scenario is that dependency on single elements of trade can be a hindrance, as the country would need to import all other requirements. A crop can fail and extraction of raw materials may have to be given over to a multinational company who have the means but who would set the scale of return. Any such scheme creates too big a dependency gamble.

The multinationals have the power to set up anywhere, use local labour, including child labour to maximize their return (profit).They easily circumvent the moral aspect by outsourcing to sweatshops and thus are one step removed from the work and pay conditions. If they were to follow labour law implicit in their home country that would make a substantial difference to the local population, as hinted at by Bruce Arnold. However, there would be no point in them being there!

thCASYM14SAlas the name of the game is to grab what you can while you can – tomorrow’s another day. On news reports we can see kids wearing T shirts in war zones advertising US brands even if the conflict is anti-American. There is no moral or ethical code in the capitalist handbook, so there is little purpose in reading the book to find a hidden grain of empathy.

Meanwhile, major supermarket chains are clambering over each other to distance themselves from the horror story of shrimp/prawn fishing in Thailand. A report by Annie Kelly 30th July 2014 for the Guardian has highlighted a story of the slavery of fishermen, “who are bought and sold like cattle and kept on ships for years”. The blind eye syndrome has worked until the hell was exposed. The chain stores are cancelling contracts with CP Foods fast as the consequence could be the loss of custom through bad publicity. People power! Will it improve the lives of the fishermen; only as long as the spotlight remains beamed on the situation!

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/

While the big boys are having a ‘jolly’ abroad, back home thousands may have been sacked and been forced onto welfare. The cost is borne by those still in work through their taxes, and not counting the social cost of divorce, separation, repossession etc. Many will be forced to work zero hour contracts, not knowing if they are getting a full wage and able to pay their weekly bills.

Doing business abroad is all about finances. The average wage in China is around 10% of the US. In India it’s a mere 2% of the American wage. I would love to believe in the altruism of the big boys but it looks like their wallets are telling a different story. Capital and Moral will never be lovers!

What they are doing is spreading Western culture. Japan is unrecognisable from the period before the Second World War. We can see the same departure taking place in China through the distribution of wealth. There are thousands of shabby factories throughout China employing millions of cheap or virtual slave labour.

An example of conditions faced by the workers in China was brought about by an explosion at a factory close to Shanghai, which polished wheel hubs for the likes of General Motors. Seventy –five died and 185 were injured. An examination of the factory found: safety facilities were poor, the working environment was terrible and production methods were illegal. Reuters, 4th August 2014 Contrast that with the emergence of a new super rich class and all the bling money can buy. Why is a so called Communist country allowing free reign to a gang of nihilists who oppose the regime? This is a first, a welcome mat for colonialists!

In December 2013 the WTO met in Bali, Malaysia, this was a continuation of the Doha Development Round initiated in 2001, with the aim to spread the uptake of free trade agreements. Twelve years and still no firm decisions would suggest that not everyone is in favour of free trade. At the meeting several delegates sought a reduction of subsidies in operation in the developed countries. India demanded to keep their subsidy which America opposed. A number of South American states demanded that the USA should end its embargo of Cuba. The USA is viewed as the architect of free trade, but acts contrary when the policy interferes with the nation’s political stance.

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Organisation

The case of India’s subsidy was left in abeyance and will be discussed and clarified within the next four (4) years. India mirrors China in its dichotomy of wealth distribution and with the use of cheap and slave labour. They are merely doing what Europe and America did while building their economies.thCA6S7RJL

If we add the situation of Europe’s Common Agriculture Programme (CAP) which is heavily subsidized to that of India’s subsidy we end up with quite a distorted picture of free trade. If free trade is so wonderful why are countries not in a stampede to join the get rich quick game? Politics will determine the fate of free trade and that’s how the people can have an influence. Use your vote but use it wisely!

th60L2SFC9The notion that free trade helps poor countries is hogwash. Free trade was conceived by business for business to gain an automatic entry ticket into countries that might otherwise have blocked them or placed severe restrictions on their products or intentions. Business is all about competitive advantage and the maximizing of returns.

Free trade amounts to the multinationals coming and taking over whatever industry that exists be it technological or agricultural. Also, the big boys have wares to sell and they can sell more than anyone at a price that their competitors can’t match. In that way the big boys sap the energy, the ingenuity, initiative and thus the motivation out of a country.

It is not about the law of supply and demand as demand can be created artificially; that’s what advertisements help with. Find a product that gives a sense of individuality and you have a winner e.g. smart phones, cars, fashion and bank cards none of these are essential items but don’t tell the baa,baas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Dmocracy:Blind Man’s Buff (Blindland 9)

Social democracy (SD) the harbinger of change was planned to transform society for the good, to the betterment of all. As society progressed through the social democratic vision the poor would gather the greatest harvest. In general terms the whole of societythBHNITY72 nationally and internationally would accrue a massive uplifting. Oops, the bubble burst! All the thinking, all the slogging, all the good intentions to make the world a better place thwarted by a little pinprick of a gene called self.

The promise of a better world, dating back to the late 19th century, has been left by the roadside. The thoughts of Lassalle, of Marx and Engels among a host of thinking people who tried to give a scientific rationale to accomplishing socialism, gather dust.

From the start there was contradiction on the best way forward, revolution, proposed by Marx or evolution which was to win the day. Marx (1878) would eventually accept that parliamentary democracy could secure better conditions for the workers and social democracy became the main vehicle to drive the whole of society forward.

It was in Germany with Ferdinand Lassalle followed by August Babel and Wilhelm Liebknecht (1869) that the Social Democratic Party (SPD) would be founded. Latterly, Eduard Bernstein would add his considerable intellect to the debate and it is he who is generally viewed as the main proponent of the social democratic ethic: “… a better society can be achieved by working within the existing political order”. www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/551073/social-democracy

In the UK the voices of the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party (ILP) gave their weight to the peaceful route. Only where no democracy existed did revolution occur, Russia 1917 and China 1948. As the franchise was extended it was the obvious hope that the majority, the lower classes, would hold the balance of power and the Social Democrats would have all the power necessary to implement the changes to benefit all.

The stimulus for these pioneers to put themselves at the vanguard of revolutionary change was more than self-interest. Their altruism was fed I’m sure by the horror of everyday life which they witnessed unfold before them; the abject poverty of the many as opposed to the spectacular opulence of the few. These thinkers were not looking for recognition to enhance their financial state, they genuinely believed in the betterment of mankind.

Over the years some significant changes did materialize in the UK, the vote for women 1918/ 1928. The rise of the Labour Party as a credible opposition and Party of power which would lead to the seismic shift in 1945/51 with the nationalisation of many industries and the setting up of the National Health Service (NHS). The welfare state has without doubt saved many, many people from fear and anxiety and saved many lives.

Defining social democracy also has its contradictions:

  • Political ideology that advocates a peaceful, evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism using established political processes.   Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia
  • Social democracy is a general term for political doctrines that claim an important role for the State and the community in shaping and directing a society’s economic and social life. www.sociologyindex.com/social_democracy.htm

Note the omission of ‘from capitalism to socialism’. The Times they are a changin’ Bob Dylan

Major changes were afoot in 1959 when the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) dropped its Marxist programme which it had held since the days of Babel and Liebknecht in 1869. In that same year 1959, Hugh Gaitskell the leader of the Labour Party (UK) tried to do the same but was outvoted. A portend for the future, Margaret Thatcher became an MP. It seems that being electable became the prime focus. Being elected is fine, if the politicians, once elected provide some legislative muscle to the benefit of the people. Instead the politicians recognised the growing global economy and didn’t know how to deal with it.

Entrenchment and a narrowing of outlook dominated the thinking of the hard core socialists. The Left held on like bindweed but with little hope of choking the life out of capitalism. A few concessions here and there maintained the Left’s belief but politics was no longer about the big picture of socialism; the massaging of capitalism was the new vade mecum. The other problem for the Left was that the electorate were on the move too and the old tired message of socialism had lost its impetus.

thBZNBAEI3Unfortunately, socialism came to conjure up a picture of the little Red Book of Mao Zedong, of everyone dressing the same, of repression and monotony. The Cold War of Gulags and the Berlin Wall allowed the Gibbers of the media to exercise their wit and their propaganda sang like a bird on the wire. For some, socialism was devoid of emotional input and of exhalation. Individualism had become the key to self-fulfilment, the condition manufactured and satiated by the multinationals. The thinkers had gone to make a career for themselves in TV etc. And the fast buck became the essential buck.

One of the few concessions made came in 1976 when the Germans spread the notion of workers participation via Co-determination, first introduced in 1951. Naturally, the new law was bitterly opposed by the employers. A year later the Bullock Report commissioned by Harold Wilson of the Labour Party proposed the introduction of Co-determination in the UK but it never happened. A few years later the EU tried to introduce the Fifth Directive which would have granted workers’ rights similar to the German model but it was allowed to drift beyond the clouds.

www.eurofound.europa.eu/emire/GERMANY/CODETERMINATION-DE.htm

The spiral downwards speeded up during the seventies and the eighties. Crippling inflation of 25%+ in the UK saw the Labour government introduce wage restraint, it worked, and inflation gradually fell. However, the cost was borne by the workers’ as wages did not keep pace with the cost of living. James Callaghan who had taken over from Harold Wilson in 1976 kept wages in check. In 1978 when Callaghan had an opportunity to go to the polls he forwent the chance and continued the policy of wage restraint.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Party_(UK)

Disaster struck in the form of the Winter of Discontent when union members came out in droves. The scale of the strikes and the nature of them, dead not buried, meant the Gibbers in the media created stories of hell. People were disgusted by the actions of some unionists and come the next election (1979) Margaret Thatcher was elected the new Conservative Prime Minister.

Between 1980 & 1993 there were six major pieces of legislation that boxed the unions in. The miners’ strike of 1984/5, which Thatcher had prepared for and won, allowed her a free hand to bind the unions more thoroughly than ever. Union membership has fallen since; from 13m in the 1980s to just over 7m in 2000 and below 6m by 2012. www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_unions_in_the_United_Kingdom

During her period in power Margaret Thatcher was to batter at and bring down the ramparts of old Labour. Under privatization of Water, Electricity, British Gas and BT and several others the self-gene was let loose and people rushed to buy shares. Share ownership rose from 7% to 25%. The sale of council houses likewise brought its own stampede with over one million being sold. The gold rush was on and all the Left could do was watch.

The final blow to any pretence that social democracy still held a glimpse of a socialist future came from the Trojan Horse of New Labour. “These days, many social democrats are largely indistinguishable from their Conservative opponents, as a result of both types of parties converging around the centre of the political spectrum”. www.rationalwiki.org/wiki/social_democracy

And so it proved when Tony Blair became leader of Labour. He set the warning flare in 1994 with an article in the Fabian magazine and in a special Easter conference in 1995 sealed the fate of Clause 1V. (Sydney Webb 1917) However, the game had long been up for the social democrats since the Bad Godesberg conference in 1959. It was clear that the leadership both in Germany and the UK where seeing the world from a different perspective than the traditionalist. When the mind has wondered off course it is easy to get lost, or find what you have been looking for.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clause_1V

Leszek Kolakowski in 1982 pointed out that social democrats merely offer, “…an obstinate will to erode by inches the conditions which produce avoidable suffering, oppression, hunger, wars, racial and national hatred, insatiable greed and vindictive envy.” Quoted from Ben Jackson

www.academia.edu/1763736/Social_Democracy

By ‘inches’ will take a very long time and the idea of socialism will have disappeared into the fog of history. For example, the social democrats control the EU but have failed to utilise that power. The EU is essentially an economic club to assist the nations of Europe to fare better in the global market. Therefore workers’ rights are not a priority and if challenged the EU leadership will bring out their present stock answer; if the workers fail to let them control the vagaries of capitalism there will be no treats. And there you have it children, capitalism is the one true master. Overlords rule, ok!

In the UK the outlook is cloudy, e.g. Anthony Giddens in his book: Beyond Left and Right: The Future of Radical Politics writes, “Socialism is the pursuit of ideas of social cooperation, universal welfare, and equality-ideas brought together by the condemnation of the evils and injustices of capitalism. It is based on the critique of individualism and depends on a belief in group action and ‘participation’, and collective responsibility for social welfare”. Has it not always been so? Giddens has his detractors and so the squabble goes on. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy

Meanwhile, the Labour Party leaders of the past walk hand in hand with their partners along a secluded beach: the Kinnock’s walk away to make their millions (£), the Blair’s do likewise, and the Miliband’s will likely continue the trend. Where’s Robin Hood when you need him, alas, he’s just a fictional character! Obviously they have never read, William Blake:

I will not cease from Mental Fight,

Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green & pleasant Land.

The Oxford Library of English Poetry Vol: 2 edited by John Wain

th171YMN79The Left have long been lost and have lost the prospect of galvanizing the people even with essentials like human rights. They have turned the issue into a peepshow by advocating the rights of individuals to have a sex change and legal assistance for illegal

Human Rights at a glance

Human Rights at a glance

immigrants. They were batted off the field when the Conservatives pushed through same sex marriage in church. Thus a trivial tit-for-tat plays out while the need for real human rights continues unabated: slavery, child labour, mass sexual exploitation of women and children, et cetera. Human Rights have become a money spinning industry, in need of a soul.

Environmental issues are also a graveyard for the Left as they try to cherry pick specific areas such as fracking. The opponents of fracking probably turn up in their cars and use their smart phones to implore others to join them; meanwhile, taking pics of police brutality. And not a moment’s thought about their personal carbon footprint. No thought either for the slave labour used to manufacture the phones or the carbon cost of the car. Phones and cars are a tangible experience of individualism and are viewed as essential items; being such they have become divorced from conscious thought about others misery and global warming. Dah!

 

Child Labour: A True Horror.

 

cotton mills

I wish we could escape

From 1833 to the modern day children are forced to work!

The worst offenders in the tragedy that is child labour

child lathe worker

I must do!

are found in the Asia and Pacific region, where 122.3 million kids aged 5-14 years old are employed.

  • 49.3m in sub-Sahara Africa
  • 5.7m in Latin America  (These figures are too precise- see later)
  • 13.4m in other regions   (ILO)

South Asia which includes India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh have the heinous exploitive method of child labour called, ‘bonded labour’ which is just another word for slavery. (See India: An Indictment). We cannot put an accurate number on the scale of children affected by this foul work.

What happens to all those children caught in the horror of child labour is not dealt with adequately either, but what we can be sure about is that the use of kids in such circumstances is inhumane! A study by Tulane University (2011, USA) is cited by a number of organisations. The study found that 1.8m children work in the cocoa industry in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. That 40% of these kids are not enrolled in any education programme whilst only 5% are paid for their labour. Slavery, alive and well in Africa! (Huffington Post) (stopchildlabour.org)v

child grinder

What if I was your kid?

Of course it’s not just cocoa that these kids are forced to work in. An estimated 1m work in mines, others are forced to become domestic servants and are under the constant threat of physical and sexual abuse. The majority are found in agriculture, usually associated with subsistence farming.  Many industries make use of the cheap and easily silenced workforce: sand mines, silk, glass factories, carpet factories, the brick industry, the making of matches and fireworks, the list goes on. Tobacco farms in Malawi and the cotton farms of Uzbekistan. (UNICEF)

The US Department of Labor, (dol.gov) state that, “There are no specific international standards on forced child labour.” Why is such a scandalous situation allowed to continue? They also report that in Sudan you can buy a boy aged 7-12 for a mere $70. I am finding it hard to accept that information as a reality. I just don’t want to believe it. Also that boys from South Asia are trafficked and sold as camel jockeys in the Gulf States. I’m sitting here with a cup of tea thinking, is this how depraved we truly are?

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

H.G.Wells

Thankfully, a number of industries are under scrutiny about how and where they produce their goods. I read that Hershey’s has come under fire because of possible involvement in the cocoa usage from Ghana and Ivory Coast. Other industrial giants are also under the microscope, such as Samsung because of dealing in China. Businesses in the UK have been questioned regarding their promotion of goods as British when in fact the goods have been made in : Africa, India or China. (Which.co.uk)

The American economics writer, P. Davidson, speaks for many when he states,

“To accept the outsourcing of high paying manufacturing jobs to the competition of countries that employ child labour and workers in sweat shop conditions at real wages per hour of labor far below the American standard is a disgrace.” (econ.bus.utk.edu)

Moreover, it is not just so-called underdeveloped countries that child labour happens. A recent report suggests that some 2000 children have been trafficked into the UK by Romanian & Bulgarian gypsy gangs for the purpose of begging or to be used in the sex industry. (Daily Mail) In the USA it is estimated that around 10,000 foreign children are trafficked into the country each year. (CIA) It is quite clear that to some, children are just another commodity to be bought and sold, just like a pair of socks.

I never thought that a statistic could shock me, but 1.2 million children trafficked each year for sexual exploitation, blew my mind. (UNICEF) Lust, depravity disguised as desire! Where are all the politically correct, all the human rights activists, all the do-gooders and the entire liberal minded? Come out, I say, come out! Come out from your swamp and howl at your politicians until you’re breathless. Or hide in your compartmentalized bog where you fiddle with God politics. It is a staggering figure, be ashamed be very ashamed.

I am stunned having read various reports from several countries of the extent of trafficking. This is a huge industry, making billions of dollars, $$$$ and it goes on right under our noses. And politicians, the guardians of our rights, I await their voice raised each day in condemnation of such a heinous crime. The children have been waiting since 1989! That is 24 years X 1.2 million. You do the maths!

I have no intention of demeaning the horror of child sexual exploitation but don’t these guys have hands? Can’t they buy a blow up doll!

Whilst doing my research I found that June 12th is World Day against child labour, I had never heard of it. I am not ashamed; it’s just that it is not well publicized. Why not? The question now, is can we put the date on the map?

  • Why doesn’t every church, worldwide, have a poster outside paid for by the congregation?
  • Why hasn’t UNICEF paid for an advertisement?
  • Local councils could promote the day through their regular circulars.
  • Why don’t human rights lawyers pay for an advert?
  • Why don’t newspapers mention it a few days beforehand?
  • Why don’t schools make it an activity day?
  • Why doesn’t some big advertising agency design an advert for free, actors perform it free and TV companies air it for nothing?

As you can see lots could be done but, but, but, only where there is a will. You have to think beyond ‘me’ to make free truly free!