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Keep the engines of capitalism working? Or find a beneficial alternative?

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Following the summary of yesterday’s article by the Times’ Jenni Russell, a second analysis is made by John Wight in the Huffington Post article. He writes:

“The liberal order has collapsed and no one should mourn its demise, for on its tombstone is engraved the disaster of Afghanistan, the murder of Iraq and Libya, and the unleashing of an upsurge in global terrorism and religious fanaticism on the back of the destabilisation wrought across the Middle East in the wake of 9/11. Married to a refugee crisis of biblical dimension and the closest we have ever been to direct military confrontation with Russia since the Cold War, these are the fruits of this liberal order abroad.

“Meanwhile at home its moral and intellectual conceit has produced obscene levels of inequality, alienation, and poverty, exacerbated by the worst economic recession since the 1930s and the implementation of that mass experiment in human despair, otherwise known as austerity, in response.

adams-common-good“Tony Blair, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton epitomise this failed liberal order – leaders who perfected the art of speaking left while acting right, presenting themselves as champions of the masses, of ordinary working people, while worshipping at the altar of the free market, cosying up to the banks, corporations, and vested interests”.

  • Are Brexit and Donald Trump ‘unleashing the dogs of racism and bigotry’ as John Wight fears?
  • Is hope in Jeremy Corbyn lost? Wight thinks he failed to understand the danger posed by Brexit and mounted a dispassionate and lacklustre nature of the campaign.
  • Was the manner in which Bernie Sanders folded his tent after Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Party nomination in decidedly dubious circumstances was tantamount to a betrayal of the passion, commitment and hope that millions across America had placed in him?

He emphasises that politics is not a mere parlour game and says that both Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders are fully deserving of criticism for taking positions and an approach which has suggested that for them it is, continuing:

mlk-live-together-smaller“Demoralisation and defeatism is never an option”.

Agreed, but there are better prescriptions than those he outlines in his final paragraphs.

Jenni Russell sees ‘the anguished question’ as being how to remedy the acute problems of inequality, while keeping the engines of capitalism working.

Should we instead try the engines of co-operation, peacebuilding, mutuality and increasing self-provision?

 

 

 

 

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Budget Day: Professor Sikka highlights the British state, a major guarantor of corporate profits

prem sikka 4Prem Sikka, professor of accounting and director of the Centre for Global Accountability at the University of Essex, points out that during his budget speech the Chancellor won’t talk about the amount spent on corporate welfare and how that is contributing to austerity, income and wealth inequalities, and deteriorating public finances. Read the full article here.

Extracts

In a society where corporations fund political parties and provide jobs for potential and former ministers, the state has become a major guarantor of corporate profits. There are cuts in investment in healthcare, education and social infrastructure, and hard won social rights. A kind of reverse socialism has been created where the state transfers wealth to the well-off and punishes ordinary people. The following examples provide some evidence for the above thesis.

A small sample of Britain’s escalating and unsustainable corporate welfare programme:

EDF

The price of gas and electricity has been rocketing and Energy companies are accused of making vast profits. But EDF and its partners are set to receive £17.6 billion subsidy for building a nuclear power plant even though this investment is projected to provide a return of up to 21%. Despite this exceptionally high rate of return, the company will be able to charge a price of £92.50 per Megawatt hour (MWh), roughly double the current wholesale price of electricity.

Consultants, including accountancy firms KPMG, picked-up £8million in fees. High profits are not accompanied with social responsibility. Energy company SSE declared record profits of £1.5billion, but wants taxpayers to bear the burden of cleaning-up the social and environmental mess.

Rail

In 1996, the railways were privatised and now over 100 companies are running them, but subsidies have increased. The industry has received over £60bn in subsidies, and more is on the way with the Crossrail and HS2 projects. The industry has paid vast amounts in dividends to its shareholders whilst the customer has ended up with the most expensive rail fares in the western world.

PFI

Rather than borrowing directly to finance investment in schools, hospitals, roads, bridge and social infrastructure, under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) companies borrow money to build the project and then lease the assets to the government at exorbitant prices. In 2012, some 717 PFI contracts with a capital value of £54.7billion were running. The government is committed to repaying £301billion, a guaranteed profit of £247billion over the next 25-30 years.

The resulting profits do not necessarily get taxed in the UK either. For example, HICL Infrastructure is a fund established by HSBC and registered in Guernsey. Its portfolio of PFI projects includes Portsmouth Hospital and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. For 2011, it is estimated to have made a profit of £38million from 33 PFI schemes, but paid only £100,000 in UK tax.

The government should be clawing back billions from the PFI programme, as it has become evident that the interest rates have been rigged. Even a small adjustment could save taxpayers billions of pounds.

The financial sector

The financial sector preaches free markets and deregulation, but is almost entirely reliant on the state.

The deposit-taking licence is provided by the state without any quid pro quo and the state also provided insurance for deposits of up to £85,000 to promote confidence in the industry.

The sector has boosted its profits through indulgence in money laundering, insider trading, cartels, tax dodges, and the sale of abusive financial products, with virtually no prosecutions for ant-social practices.

In its boom years, between 2002 and 2007, the financial sector paid £203billion in UK corporation tax, national insurance, VAT, payroll taxes, stamp duty and insurance taxes, about half of that paid by the manufacturing sector. In return, the state has poured in billions.

The latest data shows that some £976 billion of loans, guarantees and other forms of support have been provided to banks. The Bank of England has helped out with another £375 billion under its quantitative easing programme. Rather than building their tattered finances, the banks continue to pay exorbitant executive salaries.

BT

BT has annual turnover of £18billion and profits of £2.5billion, but received a government subsidy of £1.2billion to install broadband for rural areas. BT will keep the assets and the revenues generated by the subsidy.

Lotus

With 13million people living below the poverty, many on low wages and lengthening queues at food banks, most Britons can only dream about buying a sporty car. Lotus, the sports car manufacturer, has received £10billion subsidy: the price of a £90,000 model is now reduced by £5,000, thanks to a government subsidy.

By any measure the role of the UK state has been restructured to guarantee corporate profits. This welfare programme needs to be rolled-back. If the government insists on supporting fledgling companies, then the amounts should be returned once the company is profitable.

Media 25: A hue and cry, twisting the truth, as MP for Bradford East dares to be honest

 

david wardIn a surprising report in the Huffington Post, David Ward’s comments were first said to liken the holocaust to the current atrocities carried out by Israel in Palestine – but his reported words later in the article show that he did not. He actually said:

“I have just returned from my second Holocaust day signing. We have had a big event in Bradford. Everybody talks about this awful, awful time we must never forget and always say we must learn lessons.

“I’ve been to Gaza and seen for myself what is, in effect, apartheid. I think it needs to be discussed.

“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Others who have visited this area confirm that Palestinian civilians suffer deprivation, humiliation and many have died in military strikes.

Even Gush Shalom, Israel’s peace movement, insists that Israel is committing war crimes on a daily basis

Why is there this hysterical reaction to the facts in Britain? Who orchestrates it?

Act simultaneously on climate change and many other global issues

 

John Bunzl is a businessman with a simple and powerful new vision for global governance. In 2000 he founded the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO) and launched the Simultaneous Policy (Simpol) campaign. Ever since the Simpol campaign started John Bunzl has worked tirelessly to reach out to citizens, activists, non-governmental organisations, politicians and business people to raise both their awareness and understanding of what global simultaneous policies could mean for humanity, prosperity and peace. Here are extracts from his recent article in the Huffington Post:

It’s ironic no mention of climate change was made in the recent U.S. presidential TV debates given the east coast just got hammered by Hurricane Sandy– just the kind of extreme storm climate scientists have been warning could become more intense as climate warming evaporates more water into the atmosphere and so feeds storms more likely to develop into hurricanes.

But despite the disruption and economic cost and devastation, the truth is neither Republicans nor Democrats see any political mileage in the climate issue. As David Roberts explains, “The right is united in implacable opposition to all solutions.  Burdened with so many coal states, the [Democratic] coalition doesn’t have the votes to overcome the right’s opposition. So there’s just nothing to say. There’s no margin in talking about it.”

There’s very widespread scientific agreement that climate change is occurring. But much of the argument and opposition revolves around whether it is human-induced or not. Surely what matters is the effect climate change is having – and will have – and that we respond robustly to it; not whether it was we humans, or solar flares, that caused it. After all, identifying non-human phenomena as the cause would hardly make the effects any less catastrophic!

Blame-games aside, right-wing opposition, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, often centers on concerns over the economic costs and their effect on national competitiveness: the concern that acting decisively to cut carbon emissions will only see domestic costs rise and thousands of U.S. jobs go elsewhere while already-glacial growth would slow to a complete halt. And in reality, this is the key concern shared by the Left too, not only in the U.S., but all over the world. As the center-left former UK prime minister, Tony Blair, once said, “The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge”.

The real question, then, is how do we make it in every nation’s interests to cooperate in responding to climate change? And how can ordinary citizens who care about the issue get it firmly back on the political agenda? That, precisely, is what a global UK-driven citizens campaign called the Simultaneous Policy (Simpol) is starting to do in a number of countries around the world. And the way it’s doing it could be of considerable relevance to the U.S.

Simpol calls for virtually all nations to act simultaneously on climate change and on many other global issues, because if all nations act simultaneously across multiple issues, no nation need lose out. Not only would nations that might lose on one issue gain on another, simultaneous action would break the vicious circle of fear and inaction all nations are presently caught in, so opening the way to cooperative action that’s in everybody’s interests. But here’s the rub: Citizens who support the campaign have declared they will vote in future elections, not for one side or the other, but for ANY politician or party – within reason – that has committed to implement Simpol’s range of policies if and when all or sufficient other nations have also signed up . . .

(B)oth opposing candidates would be obliged to sign on, so placing climate change firmly back on the political agenda regardless of who won the election, and regardless of any funding for either side provided by vested or corporate interests.

Sound far-fetched? You may think so. But Simpol is already making in-roads in countries across Europe and elsewhere.

Here in the UK 200 parliamentary candidates signed on to the campaign during the last national election. 24 are now Members of the UK Parliament.

Could this be a solution to swing voting in the UK and around the world? Some Members of Parliament in the European Union, Australia and elsewhere have also signed on.

With the current political deadlock on climate change in the U.S. and Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc and destruction, it may only be a matter of time before Simpol makes an impact in the U.S. too. So it could just be the political game-changer many have been waiting for.#

 

Read the whole article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-bunzl/swing-voters-mr-president_b_2064072.html