Cowering Before Capital

If this were debt cancellation and stimulus it would be interesting and the details are not out but I somehow doubt this will be much more than doing what the markets want, the level of debt created by financialisation and neoliberal policies is socially unsustainable unless police states become standard. Nowhere in the article are people mentioned, just banks & governments. The quote ‘inability of the Greek government to live within its means‘ is such a poisonous falsehood, as if financial institutions did not for years bribe key people into endless debt restructuring not because it helped them but because it made money for the banks. This is a merry game played by elites with the costs passed onto those not allowed to participate, yet the besuited oligarchs have the chutzpah to project their irresponsibility onto their victims. This is a rescue package within the rules of the game, better than what could have happened but ultimately it prolongs the scam. Neoliberalism, does not work, financialisation in place of actual productivity does not work (excuse the pun), capitalism unregulated and unconstrained does not work, Adam Smith was actually very clear on that despite what Randroids and laissez faire fundamentalists prefer to read into his works (by current standards he’d be labeled a socialist by corporate media). What we are seeing is a rolling breakdown of  systems of human activity because we are serving the economy not making the economy serve us.

Oh and some spurious wonky shit about elections, is it just me or are you sick of the (very masculine) obsession with numbers and deals and very little mention of the consequences to people of the cuts no one seems to want to think about (is this I suspect because they are all convinced of the neoliberal arguments and wouldn’t know a socialised market if they fell over one). Or am I just stupid for hoping just a tiny bit a coalition and public appetite for reform might stymie the cuts agenda of a lib/lab coalition because they can see the tories waiting to profit off the market fetishised ‘austerity’ measures (nice euphemism for class war and shock doctrine beloved by all those who fully expect not to suffer one iota because of them, until maybe that crime spike means it’s their home invaded and they get beaten the shit out of to give up all their valuables, no really I’m trying to feel sympathy for the self absorbed privileged twats).

What? You didn’t order a rant, well you got one anyway. Try the veal, I’ll be here all week… then I’ll be at http://www.tenpercent.org.uk/

Peace out motherfunkers.

Yeah, But They Really Needed That Billion

In 2009, the worst economic year for working people since the Great Depression, the top 25 hedge fund managers walked off with an average of $1 billion each. With the money those 25 people “earned,” we could have hired 658,000 entry level teachers. (They make about $38,000 a year, including benefits.) Those educators could have brought along over 13 million young people, assuming a class size of 20.

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Every Cloud

Hedge funds have made large profits from Greek debt and providing insurance to overexposed European banks, it emerged on Sunday.

France signalled that private banks were likely to help in any rescue plan for Athens.

The hedge funds have been successful as traders anticipated that over-exposed European banks would drive a wave of selling against Greece, industry insiders told the Financial Times.

“There are a group of funds, perhaps three or four, that have played this as a huge sovereign basis trade, and made a lot,” said a strategist at one of London’s biggest hedge funds.

But as we know the wonder of the financiers is they can make money from a crisis, thus the Greeks will be safe knowing they will be ok as the hedge funds will use these profits to ensure human welfare…Oh no wait, the other thing, fuck the people over completely so they can buy themselves a third yacht. I knew it was one of the two!

Go: Cards Profit Off The Poor

This is a slick marketing operation to make money off the poorest people, disgusting. Given how much the govt. bailed out the banks and in fact own one they could have put into place regulations that mean people on benefits get free banking, of course they didn’t which tells its own story (even as neoliberalism is being proven not to work).(ht2 The Socialist Way)

People in some of the poorest parts of the country are having benefits paid onto pre-paid cards, but many are not aware of the costs involved. An internal e-mail from the Department for Work and Pensions expresses concern at the lack of customer awareness. One benefit office has received requests to pay benefits for almost 100 people directly onto these pre-paid cards, which incur charges.

The card providers say the cards promote financial inclusion. However when staff at the Clyde and Fife Benefits Delivery Centre contacted customers before processing the requests, they found that the majority of customers were not aware of the charges.

One of the companies mentioned in the e-mail sent 46 applications to the benefit office requesting benefits to be paid on to a GO: Card. The forms were accompanied by a letter from Go Money Solutions sales director, Steve Tobin. In the letter Mr Tobin says the forms were obtained “through face to face marketing” in the local area.

A GO: Card costs £10 to buy and a £7.50 annual management fee is charged after the first month. It costs a minimum of £1.25 and a maximum of £2.50 to have each benefit loaded on to the card and the same charges apply for each cash withdrawal.

5 Months of Theatre

As per the weather my connection is faltering so who knows if this gets posted… how thrilling we have 5 months of election pantomime as none of the three parties are significantly deviating from neoliberalism and them and the media have all agreed there must be cuts so orthodox economics that created the problems remains the only religion in town… this is at best an exercise in damage limitation. The Tories and their US borrowed deficit mantra will be vicious and evil, so will New Labour and the LibDems will if they sniff power, it is lesser evilism and please don’t expect me to get excited by it. Given the atrocious possibilities probably what might turn out best is a Labour hold but with no real majority so they have to rely on the LD’s, not because either offer real governence for the people but because left at the wheel on their own they are unconscionable shits. For those on good incomes none make much difference so that’s why the pundit/wonk class in all media (blogs included) can get excited about the small differences, they will not get the sharp end, for those on low incomes and those on welfare or subsidised by it they will be attacked brutally whoever wins, the difference is Tories do it with huge sincere hate filled smiles on their faces and New Labour hide those smiles slightly out of politeness to their abused base.

Harpy is right the priority should be ensure actual leftwing MP’s win-

The most important task for the Left in the upcoming GE is to make sure that the proven socialist MP’s such as John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and Katy Clark remain a voice in Parliament.

Other than that, well for Wales if the Tories win it’s shit both ways, more devolution will make the Tories shit all over Wales in spite, less, and the Tories have power to shit all over Wales more directly, given the options if Cameron is PM I’d like Wales to be less connected to England (although Plaid is subtly split between conservatives and lefties, and the nationalists with conservative ideas worry me). I am on a low income and at times have to rely on welfare so I am simply engaged in survivalism as no party is interested in my continuing to breathe oxygen. I know an eliminationist vibe when I feel it and frankly all of them give the impression they would not mind a few million poor people ceasing to live. In that respect thirty years of neoliberalism have done its cultural job, poverty is because you are a morally bad person, so waste no thoughts on such failures, social darwinism and eugenics are implicit in how the institutions actually work (as opposed to the shiny stated functions) ask a migrant, ask a single parent, ask someone who is despised for surviving on £50 a week, and argue all you like how one party is not really like that but I don’t care what is said, I care about what actually happens and what has happened is thirty years of hate directed at the poorest by the wealthiest. So enjoy your wonky pundit shenanigans, forgive me for not getting excited by the colour of poison chalice I will be handed, I’m thinking about the poison.

PS. And not forgetting in the MP’s/prospective MP’s worth supporting, the great Salma Yaqoob.

Buying Something You Already Own

Charities could take over post offices, pubs and parks, says shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman. The Conservatives have pledged to introduce a ‘community right to buy’ that will allow not-for-profit groups to take control of struggling local facilities, such as post offices, pubs and parks. Under the scheme, community groups would have first refusal to bid for publicly owned assets as well as failing privately owned ones, such as post offices, pubs and shops.

Also ‘failing privately owned ones’ will include previously privatised assets, so just how stupid do the Tories think people are? Election as national IQ test will be an amusing phenomenon. It’s better than just selling them off to their chums in business but the road to hell is paved with lesser evil good intentions. But where do charities & communities get the money (hmm maybe a loan from a bank, hey there see how that works)? They are creating the distinction that government and local councils are not ‘us’ they are neoliberal governance entities and so have no responsibility to the public and what they own on our behalf…is not ours, but hey lovely Davy boy will let us have first refusal on buying our own property. Ooh, have I just summed up Red Toryism?!?!? Privatisation but with the words *community*, *charity* plastered all over it?

Secret Inquests & The Workhouse

So now the govt can murder people and cover it up and force people below the poverty line into work that makes them worse off or else pay a fine, yep really they just made poverty and receiving welfare a crime. Apparently raising child is not work to our ruling classes (well it isn’t for them, they pay nannies and boarding schools to keep human emotions between them and their children at bay while servicing their careerism, but there’s a clue there, they pay people to do it, so why isn’t lower class child rearing labour valued? Hmm seems to me a subtext of eugenics by economics)

Coroners and Justice Bill. Following its Royal Assent on yesterday, the Act permits inquests in to deaths that include sensitive information that could risk national security can be held in secret.

The Welfare Reform Act’s most eye-catching provision is the decision by the government to fine unemployed lone parents with young children if they did not prepare for work while receiving benefits.

Earlier this week MPs overturned a Lords amendment that would have restricted the fines to lone parents whose youngest child was at least five years old. (ht2 HarpyMarx)

Robin Hood Goes Postal- Support The Posties!

The postmen & women who are being forced to defend their careers against a dishonest and rapacious management & government are to be applauded. What has become clear is the corporatist Neoliberals of New Labour and the bullying management have conspired to continue a backdoor process of privatisation despite public opposition and official denials. This coming strike will be a watershed moment that either successfully stalls their plans or leads to the destruction of a postal service that serves the British people rather than profits off them. What will be crucial in keeping the postal service in our hands will be the public’s support of the strikers, when the government and management see their ‘customer base’ reject their plans for exploitation it will create greater pressure for them to return and negotiate with the union.

Check out local CWU branches here. Show your support.

Check out Roy Mayall’s Blog Going Postal (ht2 Soul of a Man Under Capitalism)

As Dave Semple says-

Now it is a fight, alea iacta est. The working class, and all socialists, labourites and everyone on the Left, should stand behind the posties. Turn up to their picket lines and wish them well. As one young pluck did, bring them homebaked goods. Donate some money to the strike fund. Attend solidarity group meetings. The bottom line is this; the posties are the men and women who deliver a service we all take advantage of.

If, in our own jobs, we know about mismanagement or the government neo-liberal ideology getting in the way of efficiency, if we’re sick of being lectured at and told things which are blatantly untrue, of being bullied and cajoled into overtime we’re not getting paid for, and we ever want the support of other workers, now is our time to shine.

PS. I think it is crucial to pass on information that gives the context to the strike action, psychologically there is a tendency for people to assume all is well until something different happens or there is a change, when the event occurs and it has negative effects for the observer they will, in the absence of knowledge and context, make a judgement that the party that is presented as causing the change is to be blamed. So when a strike occurs the corporate media have an easy job making people annoyed at the strikers because people have not had the ongoing situation within the industry reported in as prominent a way, they have not read of bullying management, false statements and fraudulent negotiating stances. This combined with the false notions of balance corporate news uses as a fig leaf excuse for giving undue emphasis to the views of the powerful makes the media aspect of a strike very difficult. Or short version- if someone moans about the strike do make them read this from the London Review of Books then point out people do not like striking, it is anxious and worrying experience that costs them money, they do so because management have committed such serious abuses against them and all other means of redress have failed. The blame lies with management and the government and particularly millionaire Baron Peter Mandelson, the striking posties are the heros coming to the rescue of our postal service.

Like many businesses, the Royal Mail has a pet name for its customers. The name is ‘Granny Smith’. It’s a deeply affectionate term. Granny Smith is everyone, but particularly every old lady who lives alone and for whom the mail service is a lifeline. When an old lady gives me a Christmas card with a fiver slipped in with it and writes, ‘Thank you for thinking of me every day,’ she means it. I might be the only person in the world who thinks about her every day, even if it’s only for long enough to read her name on an envelope and then put it through her letterbox. There is a tension between the Royal Mail as a profit-making business and the Royal Mail as a public service. For most of the Royal Mail management – who rarely, if ever, come across the public – it is the first. To the delivery officer – to me, and people like me, the postmen who bring the mail to your door – it is more than likely the second.

We had a meeting a while back at which all the proposed changes to the business were laid out. Changes in our hours and working practices. Changes to our priorities. Changes that have led to the current chaos. We were told that the emphasis these days should be on the corporate customer. It was what the corporations wanted that mattered. We were effectively being told that quality of service to the average customer was less important than satisfying the requirements of the big businesses.

Someone piped up in the middle of it. ‘What about Granny Smith?’ he said. He’s an old-fashioned sort of postman, the kind who cares about these things.

‘Granny Smith is not important,’ was the reply. ‘Granny Smith doesn’t matter any more.’

So now you know.

Posted in Class War, Shock Doctrine. Tags: , . Comments Off on Robin Hood Goes Postal- Support The Posties!

Royal Mail Is Lying

London Review of Books, Diary by Roy Mayall:- The truth is that the figures aren’t down at all. We have proof of this. The Royal Mail have been fiddling the figures. This is how it is being done.

Mail is delivered to the offices in grey boxes. These are a standard size, big enough to carry a few hundred letters. The mail is sorted from these boxes, put into pigeon-holes representing the separate walks, and from there carried over to the frames. This is what is called ‘internal sorting’ and it is the job of the full-timers, who come into work early to do it. In the past, the volume of mail was estimated by weighing the boxes. These days it is done by averages. There is an estimate for the number of letters that each box contains, decided on by national agreement between the management and the union. That number is 208. This is how the volume of mail passing through each office is worked out: 208 letters per box times the number of boxes. However, within the last year Royal Mail has arbitrarily, and without consultation, reduced the estimate for the number of letters in each box. It was 208: now they say it is 150. This arbitrary reduction more than accounts for the 10 per cent reduction that the Royal Mail claims is happening nationwide.

Doubting the accuracy of these numbers, the union ordered a random manual count to be undertaken over a two-week period in a number of offices across the region. Our office was one of them. On average, those boxes which the Royal Mail claims contain only 150 letters, actually carry 267 items of mail. This, then, explains how the Royal Mail can say that the figures are down, although every postman knows that volume is up. The figures are down all right, but only because they have been manipulated.

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Unemployment In Wales Jumps 72%

Alarming figures (and these are the registered claimants, so true numbers will be larger)

THE number of people claiming job seeker’s allowance in Wales soared by 72% in the last 12 months. The largest rise came in the over 50 age group, which increased by 79%.

There was also an 78% rise in those aged between 25-49 seeking to work, and 62% for those who are between 18 and 24 years old. The job seekers benefit count, which had been around 40,000 during every August since 2005, jumped from 45,975 in 2008 to 79,155 in August 2009.

But in contrast, the number of unfilled vacancies across Wales in the same month stood at less than 11,000. The largest proportion of jobcentre vacancies in Wales were in Swansea West constituency at 10% of live unfilled vacancies.

In North Wales, Alyn and Deeside had the highest proportion of unfilled vacancies at 3.8%, followed by Wrexham at 3.6%. Clwyd South has the lowest proportion of similar unfilled vacancies at just 0.6%, compared to 1% in Cynon Valley and 1.1% in Rhondda, Ogmore and Merthyr & Rhymney, and 1.2% in Ynys Môn.

On Anglesey, 1,695 claimants were looking at 131 vacancies, compared to 1,845 claimants and 394 vacancies in Wrexham, and 1,945 claimants and 412 vacancies on Deeside.

The figures were obtained by Plaid Cymru AMs Leanne Wood and Chris Franks, who argued that it would be wrong to expect unemployed people to chase jobs that did not exist. Leanne Wood said: “Any attempt to reduce the overall benefit budget will be disastrous for Wales. These figures show that you cannot force people into jobs that don’t exist.

nb. the use of accepted newspeak jobseekers, seeking work etc. these are government created linguistic scams, the only thing we can objectively say is people are unemployed and that should be the language the media use. There is an ongoing pressure to make unemployment -which neoliberalism relies upon to maintain a ‘flexible’ labour market, ie without protections or a living wage- an unacceptable state of being in order to facilitate cutting welfare, introducing workfare & further terrorising workers into a submissive pliable ‘human resource’. You either work or are desperately trying to work, the fact the jobs do not exist does not mitigate this stigmatising of an ‘undeserving poor’ for our political and media class.

Chris Hedges- Globalization Goes Bankrupt

The rage of the disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can’t blame them. But unless we on the left move quickly this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.

Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is hoping we will do—stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.

“The leaders of the G-20 are meeting to try and salvage their power and money after everything that has gone wrong,” said Benedicto Martinez Orozco, co-president of the Mexican Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT), who is in Pittsburgh for the protests. “This is what this meeting is about.”

The draconian security measures put in place to silence dissent in Pittsburgh are disproportionate to any actual security concern. They are a response not to a real threat, but to the fear gripping the established centers of power. The power elite grasps, even if we do not, the massive fraud and theft being undertaken to save a criminal class on Wall Street and international speculators of the kinds who were executed in other periods of human history. They know the awful cost this plundering of state treasuries will impose on workers, who will become a permanent underclass. And they also know that once this is clear to the rest of us, rebellion will no longer be a foreign concept.

The delegates to the G-20, the gathering of the world’s wealthiest nations, will consequently be protected by a National Guard combat battalion, recently returned from Iraq. The battalion will shut down the area around the city center, man checkpoints and patrol the streets in combat gear. Pittsburgh has augmented the city’s police force of 1,000 with an additional 3,000 officers. Helicopters have begun to buzz gatherings in city parks, buses driven to Pittsburgh to provide food to protesters have been impounded, activists have been detained, and permits to camp in the city parks have been denied. Web sites belonging to resistance groups have been hacked and trashed, and many groups suspect that they have been infiltrated and that their phones and e-mail accounts are being monitored.

Read the rest.

Those Astroturf Shills For Capital

Click to Embigenify

Click to Embigenify

Image via A Very Public Sociologist’s Twitter (me like the Nambu)

Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers

  • Conservatives for Patients’ Rights is led by health care entrepreneur Rick Scott, the co-founder of Solantic urgent care walk-in centers, which he’s spread across Florida and is looking to expand. While 80 percent of its patients have at least some insurance, Solantic also bills itself as an alternative to emergency-room care and a resource for patients with no insurance. Scott left his job as CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospitals during a federal Medicare fraud probe in 1997 that led to a historic $1.7 billion settlement. He wasn’t prosecuted and got a golden parachute.
  • FreedomWorks, which has been advocating against the overhaul but has not launched TV ads, is chaired by Dick Armey, the former Republican majority leader of the House of Representatives from Texas. But also noteworthy are the group’s other backers and board members. They include billionaire flat-tax proponent and former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes; Richard J. Stephenson, who founded Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which offers alternative as well as standard therapies, sometimes not covered by insurance; and Frank M. Sands, Sr., chief executive officer of an investment management firm whose offerings include a Healthcare Leaders portfolio.
  • Patients First and Patients United are creations of a larger group called Americans for Prosperity. AFP’s Web site describes a grassroots organization with more than 700,000 members that advocates “for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.” It was started by billionaire David Koch, of the Koch Industries oil family, one of the country’s top donors to conservative, free-market causes. The foundation’s board includes Art Pope, a former North Carolina legislator also involved in conservative causes, whose family owns hundreds of discount stores. Tim Phillips, AFP’s president, is a former Republican congressional staffer who helped former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed start up the consulting firm Century Strategies in the 1990s. Clients paid the firm to build Christian grassroots support for various business causes. That included work for since-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Shock Doctrine: The Motive

Money.

(CBS) Several financial giants that received federal bailout money in the last year paid out bonuses to employees in 2008 that greatly exceeded the amount of profit generated by the banks, according to a study on executive compensation released by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Thursday. Despite claims by bank executives that bonuses are tied to the company’s performance, the report states that “there is no clear rhyme or reason to how the banks compensate or reward their employees.” Cuomo’s investigation “suggests a disconnect between compensation and bank performance that resulted in a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ bonus system.”

According to the report:

  • Goldman Sachs, which earned $2.3 billion last year and received $10 billion in TARP funding, paid out $4.8 billion in bonuses in 2008 – more than double their net income.
  • Morgan Stanley, which earned $1.7 billion last year and received $10 billion in bailout funds, handed out $4.475 billion in bonuses, nearly three times their net income.
  • JPMorgan Chase, which earned $5.6 billion in 2008 and received $25 billion from the government, paid out $8.69 billion in bonus money.
  • Citigroup and Merrill Lynch lost a combined $54 billion last year. They received a total of $55 billion in bailouts and paid out $9 billion in combined bonuses. ($5.33 billion for Citigroup; $3.6 billion for Merrill Lynch, which was subsequently acquired by Bank of America.)

If you haven’t read Matt Taibi’s exposé of Goldman Sachs, what’s stopping you!?!?!?!

Construction Industry’s McCarthy Gets Off With Small Fine

Remember this- black lists of left wing activists are traded in order to victimise them– well…

Some of Britain’s leading construction firms subscribed to a secret blacklist of workers which prevented them from getting jobs, a court has heard. More than 40 firms used the database of 3,213 workers – which included details of trade union activity – to vet workers, Knutsford Crown Court heard. Ian Kerr, 66, of Avoncroft Road, Stoke Heath, Worcestershire, has been fined £5,000 for administering the list.

Keer has form as a latter day McCarthy-

Kerr has spent many years compiling databases on workers. He did not wish to comment on a report in the Guardian 15 years ago which said he had been working for the Economic League, a controversial vetting agency which accumulated files on thousands of people it considered subversive between 1919 and 1993.

I said at the time- Will the numerous companies listed… who used his expensive blacklist services be prosecuted?- I am trying to act surprised that not only have none of them have been prosecuted but the single man brought to trial gets a small fine.

Kerr ran the blacklist for up to 15 years. The court heard that accounts showed it was paid £478,000 between 2004 and March 2009.

Still investigations are ongoing, as they say (will the police be helping the ICO?)…

After the hearing, ICO investigator Dave Clancy said the inquiry would continue to see if the companies involved had broken the law. “We are looking to see if the requirements of the Data Protection Act have been complied with. We will take action in due course,” said Mr Clancy.

George Guy, regional secretary for the construction workers’ union Ucatt, said he was disappointed by the result of the hearing. He said: “The people who provided this information and received it have got off scot free. Some of our members were out of work for years because of this list. They were forced to live in poverty, unable to provide for their families and they had no idea why. We will continue this fight until the companies involved are brought before the courts.”

(ht2 Jim Jay)

Swine Flu Silver Lining

It could be worse, you could be in a backwards nation with no comprehensive health service-

The fatality rate also appears to be low. In the UK, only three people – all with significant underlying health problems – have died out of 7,447 confirmed cases. Health experts believe more people have caught swine flu but shown no symptoms. In the United States, the official figures show 27,725 Americans have contracted H1N1, with 127 deaths.

Hmm roughly what, almost a thousand percent higher fatality rate for corporate profits first system? (money- a pretty comon motive for murder I guess).