Spot The Class War

Here Comes The Pain

Citizens’ advice managers in Wales are warning the “true human cost” of the recession has yet to materialise after debt inquiries rose by almost 20%. The charities 32 offices in Wales dealt with 111,339 debt inquiries in the 12 months to April 2009, a rise of 19%. CAB Cymru director Fran Targett said previous recessions showed a lag before the number of debt advice calls peaked. More recent figures suggested a “spike” in problems with mortgages, loans, fuel debt and bailiffs, she said. The service, which operates from 200 locations in Wales, overall inquiries rose by 11% on the previous year to 298,119 in the 12 months to April 2009.

More than thirds of these we related to debt, with benefits and tax credit problems rising 11% to 97,803 and employment-related problems increasing by 17% to 22,262. Problems with mortgage and secured loans increased by 57% as did problems with private bailiffs. Fuel debt problems also increased by 31%. Within the benefits portfolio, problems with Job Seekers Allowance increased by 61%. Within the employment portfolio there was a 124% increase with redundancy-related problems.

Food Bank Sees 300% Increase As Benefits Are Delayed

I don’t understand, doesn’t everyone get £400 a month in expenses just to buy food???? Or a multi-Billion pound bailout??? Or am I being silly, million pound bonuses for financiers and income scams for their chums in parliament are more important than eating? Because literally that is the choice that has been made, and thankfully the police were there to enforce it with murder. Walk ten miles to a food bank then tell me things are fine with how we run this shit. Shall we have a big shiny think tank debate on it? Will there be a buffet lunch?

A charity providing emergency food aid says it has seen a massive increase in demand for help in a Welsh town. The Ebbw Vale food bank in Blaenau Gwent says there has been a 300% increase in those asking for help.

The charity’s manager, Adrian Curtis, said many of those affected were on benefits. “So far we’ve fed 165 people in the borough and last month we saw a 300% increase in our client base,” he said. “As more people are getting familiar with it, we’re getting more coming forward. We have noticed that some clients that have come in can be attributed to the credit crunch.”

He said just over half of the clients had contacted the food bank because of problems related to their benefit claims. “As a result of the economic downturn the benefit system is under stress and people are having to wait a little longer for their benefits,” said Mr Curtis, who is also regional development officer for Food Bank Wales.

He said the food bank helped people in a short-term crisis, such as a sudden drop in income which meant they could not provide food for themselves and their family. This includes people who have been made redundant or even victims of domestic abuse who have fled their homes with almost nothing.

Across the UK, the food bank network has now fed 24,000 people.

One individual helped by the project was unemployed Nigel Smith, 44, originally from Blaina. On the Friday morning before the May Day bank holiday, he discovered he would be unable to access any money as a result of a delay in his benefit. When benefits staff supplied him with a food voucher to help him out, he walked the 10 miles from his home to the food bank in Ebbw Vale. Staff there were able to supply him with two bags of food – a variety of tins, pasta, biscuits and breakfast cereal – as well as money for a bus ticket home and even a lift to the bus stop.

I’m Don’t Think Alleviate Poverty Means What They Think It Means

As the boss of the publicly owned company which invests billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to alleviate global poverty, Richard Laing is one of many dedicated to improving the finances of the poorest of the poor. But few engaged in the battle to relieve the suffering of the developing world can count on a pay package of nearly £1m as their reward.


The “extraordinary” remuneration received by Mr Laing as chief executive of CDC Group Plc, a little-known investment body that is wholly owned by the Department for International Development (DfID) and controls assets worth £2.7bn, is revealed today in a stinging report by the Westminster spending watchdog.

Between 2003 and 2007, Mr Laing, a 55-year-old Cambridge engineering graduate, saw his income rise from £383,000 to £970,000 as investments in projects from a Nigerian shopping mall to a Chinese egg producer reaped handsome returns. But MPs said the 250 per cent increase in Mr Laing’s pay deal had been given without CDC producing sufficient evidence that its portfolio of investments, from a mattress manufacturer to Kenyan fruit farmers, were reducing global poverty.

Equal Justice

While even Truth & Reconciliation ideas which would involve no prosecutions over crimes including- kidnap, rape, murder, torture, war of aggression causing over 1 million deaths are given a luke warm non-committal pass, the journalist who threw a shoe at Bush faces 15 years in jail.

It’s Class Stupid

I think this is interesting because it calls out the phenomenon of affluent middle class media people setting poorer people against each other using race, all the better to keep attention off the inequality from which they profit. I think people who obsessively put ‘white’ in front of -working class- all the time are always suspect. And it’s not just the usual tabloid, conservative or fascist suspects doing that (hello BBC!)-

The white working class are discriminated against because of their accent, style, food, clothes, postcodes and even their names, but not because they are white, according to a Runnymede Trust study published today.

The report, Who Cares about the White Working Class?, disputes the claim that white working class communities have been directly losing out to migrants and minority ethnic groups.

It says that commentators who pretend that white working class disadvantage is ethnic rather than a matter of class does little to address the real and legitimate grievances that poor white people in Britain face.

The study followed a call from Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, for white working class voices and grievances to be heard.

It says that after a decade of politicians and commentators ignoring the issue of class, with Labour preferring to talk about “hard-working families” and “social exclusion”, class inequality is making an overdue comeback onto the political agenda.

“Britain remains blighted by class division, and economic background is still the best predictor of life chances. Class is central to how people see their place in Britain today. Returning to the issue of class inequality and social mobility is therefore long overdue,” the report says. Socially, Britain remains dominated by the same class divisions that have been in place for 40 years with scorn for poor white people and their “perceived” culture not only socially acceptable but also rampant.

But it also warns that there is a danger the “muted and repressed” debate on class that is re-emerging could prove harmful. It argues alarmist predictions that Labour’s neglect of the white working class will boost the British National party are little more than veiled attempts to curb race equality.

Citing examples of the BBC’s White Season and Channel 4’s Immigration – the Inconvenient Truth, the study says: “The interests of the white working class are habitually pitched against those of minority ethnic groups and immigrants, while larger social and economic structures are left out of the debate altogether.”

The researchers show, for example, that poor white working class boys being left behind at school are losing out to affluent white pupils, not minority ethnic pupils.

They say middle class commentators are happy to defend white working class interests against politically correct multiculturalism but they simultaneously deride and ridicule the feckless and undeserving poor, who have squandered the opportunities offered by the welfare state.

Posted in Media. Tags: , . 4 Comments »

Tariq Ali on Mumbai

Why should it be such a surprise if the perpetrators are themselves Indian Muslims? Its hardly a secret that there has been much anger within the poorest sections of the Muslim community against the systematic discrimination and acts of violence carried out against them of which the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in shining Gujarat was only the most blatant and the most investigated episode, supported by the Chief Minister of the State and the local state apparatuses.

Add to this the continuing sore of Kashmir which has for decades been treated as a colony by Indian troops with random arrests, torture and rape of Kashmiris an everyday occurrence. Conditions have been much worse than in Tibet, but have aroused little sympathy in the West where the defense of human rights is heavily instrumentalised.

Indian intelligence outfits are well aware of all this and they should not encourage the fantasies of their political leaders. Its best to come out and accept that there are severe problems inside the country. A billion Indians: 80 percent Hindus and 14 percent Muslims. A very large minority that cannot be ethnically cleansed without provoking a wider conflict.

None of this justifies terrorism, but it should, at the very least, force India’s rulers to direct their gaze on their own country and the conditions that prevail. Economic disparities are profound. The absurd notion that the trickle-down effects of global capitalism would solve most problems can now be seen for what it always was: a fig leaf to conceal new modes of exploitation.

Posted in Media. Tags: , . 3 Comments »

Winning A Battle, Losing The War

(Points for knowing the song that title is from) Retarded homophobes and cretinous heterosexual supremacists did rather better out of November 4th in the US of A than McPalin (although…one and the same I suppose)-

Amendment 2: Florida constitutionally banned any institution approximating marriage, with 62% of the vote

Proposition 102: Arizona constitutionally banned same-sex marriage

Measure 1: Arkansas constitutionally banned any unmarried person from adopting children by a 57-43% vote

Prop8 in California is also scraping past funded by out of state Catholics and Morons Mormons. There is still some fight to be had and court challenges are being launched as this proposition enshrines discrimination into the state constitution which is …unconstitutional. The Obama victory very generally does indicate bigots are on the losing side (although the dem platform on gay marriage was lacking), like dinosaurs shunning mammals even as a mysterious big meteorite approaches, it’ll take some time and lots of effort but they are losing the war even as they manage a few paltry battle successes. I hope we are a bit further along in realising prejudice is not a ‘opinion’ or a political position, it’s a personal failing a bigot needs to work on before they open their big fucking stupid gob.

Neoliberalism, Apartheid, Inequality

Despite the dismantling of apartheid in the early 1990s, and significant annual economic growth over the past 10 years, South African cities have the highest levels of inequality in the world, according to the UN Habitat’s latest State of the World’s Cities report. The flagship report, published every two years, says even though local governments in the continent’s richest country have adopted policies to fight poverty, efforts to bridge the gap between rich and poor have for the most part failed.


The neoliberal transition has squeezed and spewed out the poor but galvanized them at the same time. The “poors,” as they have come to be known in the South African vernacular, have opposed the water and electricity cut-offs and evictions (consequences of the privatization of public services), and have begun making connections between their situation and that of people, first in Soweto and Tafelsig, but then also in Bolivia, South Korea, America’s prisons, Zimbabwe, and Chiapas. But they have done this without any grand ideology. They are actors on a local stage, squaring off against homegrown villains like Operation Masakhane [Let Us Build], which supposedly aims to normalize local governance and the provision of local services by convincing people with no money that they must pay for these services.

In the most comprehensive study of the ability of people to pay for basic services, David McDonald found a serious crisis:

If for example, 18 percent of the seven million people who are reported to have been given access to water since 1994 are unable to pay their water bills “no matter how hard [they] try,” then 1.26 million of these new recipients are unable to afford this water and an additional 1.2 million have to choose between paying for water and buying other essentials like food. Similar percentages apply to the 3.5 million South Africans who have been given access to electricity.

As part of the process of “normalization,” the government’s Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) program aims toward “a fundamental shift away from the ‘statist’ service delivery models of the past where the state subsidized and delivered municipal services (albeit in a racially-biased manner), towards a more ‘neo-liberal’ service delivery model where the private sector (and private sector principles) dominate. In the latter model, the state acts as a service ‘ensurer’ rather than a service ‘provider’ and municipal services are ‘run more like a business,’ with financial cost recovery becoming the most effective measure of performance.” These developments have seen the costs of basic services escalate. This, in turn, has caused increasing cost-recovery mechanisms such as disconnections of water and electricity to occupy the attention and energy of the local state, as opposed to delivery in the first place. Between 1999 and 2000, for example, some 75,400 water cut-offs occurred in the Greater Cape Town area. In Soweto after the 1999 general election, some 20,000 houses had their electricity supplies disconnected every month. Brian Johnson, the manager of Eskom, the state-owned electricity supply company, indicated that “the aim is to disconnect at least 75 per cent of Soweto residents.” Since 1994, some ten million South Africans have had their water and electricity cut-off for nonpayment, while two million have been evicted from their homes for the same reason.

Yum Yum

Food prices in UK supermarkets and shops have risen by 8.3% since the start of this year, according to figures obtained by the BBC. Meat and fish registered the biggest price increases in the survey, compiled on behalf of the BBC by leading retail analysts Verdict Research. The figures come amid growing concern about the high cost of food, which is exceeding the official inflation rate. The figures show price rises of nearly 50% for some food items

The figures produced for the BBC are in line with other recently-published research showing the impact of food price rises on UK household budgets. On Wednesday, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that food price inflation over the past year amounted to 10% – more than twice the official Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate of 4.4%. The BRC figures indicated that the rate of increase for fresh food items was even higher, at 11.9%.

Still David Blunkett has an answer work yourself into your grave fuckers. And the UN report the sun does in fact come up each morning and water is wet- UN says wealthy failing the poor.

Posted in Capitalism, Class War, Media. Tags: , . Comments Off on Yum Yum

71 Dead

Not of military conflict but casualties of a constant economic war, but we should count them nonetheless-

As many as 71 illegal migrants drowned after their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea, eight of their companions have told Maltese police. The survivors were rescued by a fishing vessel from a semi-submerged dinghy about 70km (40 miles) off Malta, then handed over to a Maltese military boat.

“Notwithstanding that they know about [previous] tragedies, these desperate people still try and make the journey to Europe,” Neil Falzon, a representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Malta, told the AFP news agency. Mr Falzon said that if the number of fatalities was confirmed, it would serve to highlight “the need for assistance to these people”.

In June, the European Parliament passed a controversial set of EU rules for dealing with illegal migrants, which allow those caught to be detained for up to 18 months and face a five-year re-entry ban. Lawmakers backed the measures by a large majority despite opposition from many Socialist and Green parties, and condemnation from human rights groups.

I’ve crossed out ‘illegal‘ because in part, as I wrote in a note to the BBC, territorial waters extend 12 miles, they were found 40 miles out so had not done anything illegal and they are not alive to make their case to be ‘legal‘ human beings. An action can be illegal but not a person, the term illegal migrant is a twisted pejorative we don’t need. The headline for the story is right Migrants feared drowned off Malta and that’s what they were, not ‘illegal‘ anything, that is term for governments use to dehumanise people, we should not reinforce that by repeating it. Will the survivors be jailed for a year and a half then deported in exile from the EU, that is the law as it now stands. Don’t be shy of telling your elected representatives what you think about that (politely).

Inequality of Life in Israel

The lifespan of Israeli Jews is four years longer than that of Arabs, a new report revealed Wednesday. The report was composed by the SIKUI organization which monitors the situation of Arabs within Israel vis a vis their civil and human rights.

The report, which presents the past year’s data, displayed a somber picture, indicating that not only has no improvement been made, but some of the gaps between the two populations have grown.

For instance, the gaps in infant mortality rates are significant showing that in 2007, 8 Arab babies died for every 1,000 births and amongst the Jews, 4 babies died for every 1,000 born.

The report also showed that 65.7% of Arab children live under the poverty line while 31.4% of Jewish children do. Moreover, “The country’s welfare investment in Jewish citizens is NIS 508 ($160) on average as opposed to 348 shekel ($110) on Arabs,” the report said.

Another survey found-

A recent opinion poll conducted by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government found that 77 percent of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world.

The survey of 1,721 Israelis, both Arab and Jewish, also showed that 73 percent of the Jews and 94 percent of the Arabs want Israel to “be a society in which Arab and Jewish citizens have mutual respect and equal opportunities.”

The Kennedy School said in a statement that the poll produced a number of results it termed surprising, pointing to a higher level of co-existence than might have been anticipated.

According to the poll, 68 percent of Jewish citizens support teaching conversational Arabic in Jewish schools to help bring Arab and Jewish citizens together.

The data also showed that more than two-thirds of Israeli Jews (69 percent) said they believed that contributing to co-existence was a personal responsibility.

Now that is from Haaretz at ynet you also get-

Sixty-six percent of Jewish citizens and 84% of Arab citizens believe the Israeli government investments should begin now, and not wait until the end of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Some spinning is being done here, could it be Arabs want to live in Israel because y’know that’s where they are from for generations before the state of Israel claimed the place? And the figures show when comparing Jewish and Arab attitudes that the Arabs are consistently more in favour of equality and coexistence than the Jewish respondents. Although overall a good majority do want more progressive and equal policies which rejects the Israeli right wingers values and the apartheid security state. The child poverty figures are also interesting, which show even a self proclaimed Jewish state is riddled with the inequalities caused by capitalism and its adherents, their greater loyalty to personal power and wealth than to their own community- and then amplified by racism in the Arab population’s case.

I Dream of Gini

After reading this at People’s Geography

Israel is not a state of, by and for the Jewish people. It is rather a state of, by and for a sprinkling of families, 19 in all, whose income amounts to $70 billion—88% of the national budget.

…inequality, as measured by the UN Development Program’s Gini Index (0.0 = perfect equality), has worsened steadily from 0.222 in 1982 to 0.392 in 2005, making it the most unequal of Western democracies with one exception: the United States (Gini = 0.408).

I checked out the Gini indices (Gini Index ratios expressed as a percentage ie. 0.392 becomes 39) and found this graph on wikipedia with various countries-

[click image for full res]

You can see how the UK bumbled along until Thatcher and her Friedman neoliberalism came in in 1979, then the inequality grew steadily and continued unabated under NuLabour. Still we are a whole lower order of inequality to the US, but as the rising line shows, not for long, not for long.

Also it reminded me of an incidental gag in a KITH sketch (Cucumber Salad on Face ep#203) where one sales manager presents to his boss a graph with many lines on it but they are all one colour and criss cross-

Harris: So, Don, this green line represents our product. And this green line represents the competitor’s product. So what we’ve got here is a case of-
Don: Uh-oh.
Harris: Hmm?
Don: See, it’s kinda hard to read cuz all the lines are green.
Harris: Yeah.
Don: What I would have done is used some different lines, uh… then it would have been a lot easier to read.
Harris: Oh, jeez, you’re right. God, jeez, you know Don? That’s probably why you’re in the big comfy chair, huh?
Don: Well, you work hard, Harris, maybe someday you’ll have a chair like this too.
Harris: Ah, yeah.

Which is to say the evidence is plain to see yet all 3 main parties adhere to neoliberal dogma (gosh why is voter turnout so low, bereft of a real choice in a media simulacrum where no other parties exist outside the consensus big brands perchance?), still that’s what gets you the big comfy chair, and fuck the rest of us, eh?

Bravo Jon Kelly at the BBC

A nice piece about how people on low wages are betrayed by the Labour government’s recent tax changes-

Hoarding loose change. Always having to buy the cheapest groceries. Dreading the arrival of utility bills through the door. Britain’s low earners say their lives are already difficult enough. But changes to the tax system could mean that making ends meet becomes even harder for many.

Under the new system, standard income tax has been cut from 22% to 20% and tax credits raised – but the lowest 10p band has been scrapped entirely…

“As it is I always try to buy the cheapest own-brand groceries but it’s never enough. I’d love a fresh wardrobe but I can’t remember the last time I bought new clothes. I don’t think it should be people on low incomes who have to pay more. It should be those with higher incomes – like MPs.”

Fuck Tha Poor

Mother-hating-psycho John Hutton defends the Labour government as it increases tax on the poorest. Now far be it from me to say mother-hating-psycho John Hutton is happy with this because of his hatred of his working class mother and his working class upbringing… But it’s worth considering. Oh yes thanks Labour government, really exemplifying your roots here-

Business Secretary John Hutton has ruled out a rethink on the decision to scrap the lowest tax band, amid claims Labour has abandoned low-paid workers. He said he did not think it possible to go back on a decision to scrap the 10p rate, despite Labour MPs’ unhappiness.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg told the BBC it was a “cheap political stunt” to allow a 2p cut in the basic tax rate at the expense of the poorest people. Mr Hutton said the move had to be seen as part of a wider package of tax cuts. From Sunday standard income tax is being cut by 2% to 20% but the lowest 10p band is being scrapped entirely.

Mr Clegg told the BBC earlier : “Over five million of the poorest people, it’s estimated with incomes between £5,000 and £18,000, are suddenly finding their starting rate of tax is doubling, why? So Gordon Brown could offer a 2p cut in the rate from 22p to 20p for the following day’s headlines. I think that is an outrageous political stunt at the cost of the poorest in British society.”

(ps. check the picture on that BBC story, c’mon he is a psycho & the beeb agrees!) God forbid they tax the rich who under their stewardship have grown richer at a higher rate than anyone while the poor got poorer and social mobility (although that there is a need for that demonstrates gross inequity & class stratification anyway) has declined…Under a Labour government. All neatly done over the weekend when the people worst affected get away from their wage slavery and escape & relax so they will know the least about it, nice.