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.

Why?

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).

theyworkforyou.com writetothem.com

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.”