Posts Tagged ‘corporate media’

“The United States is the most successfully repressed country in the world ” – Stokely Carmichael, Black power activist.

“Repression is when you can get 90% of the students in the U.S to name you all the Three Stooges but can’t tell you what the WTO is.” – Michael Parenti

“The People are the very substance of Power. We have to organise.” – Michael Parenti

A classic talk from 1999 by political scientist Michael Parenti.
It’s just as illuminating today as it was then–and often funny, too.

Parenti shows how the Western colonial powers un-developed the “Third-World”–increasing poverty there in order to enrich private corporations at home.
Indeed (Parenti argues), almost all U.S. foreign policy seems aimed at increasing the profits of the Fortune 500.

This is the real purpose of the hundreds of U.S. military interventions abroad–many of which overthrew democratically elected governments, replacing them with dictatorships friendly to U.S. corporate interests. Boosting corporate profits likewise is the reason behind “humanitarian” military interventions.

Parenti shows that imperialism’s current form is “multilateral free-trade agreements” such as NAFTA and GATT.
These draconian, anti-democratic treaties give corporations the power to veto any national laws that might interfere with their profits.

Parenti’s brilliant, passionate, and funny talk is as relevant today as it was in 1999.


Globalization And Democracy: 

Some Basics

By Michael Parenti

26 May, 2007
Michaelparenti.org


The goal of the transnational corporation is to become truly transnational, poised above the sovereign power of any particu­lar nation, while being served by the sovereign powers of all nations.

Cyril Siewert, chief financial officer of Colgate Palmol­ive Company, could have been speaking for all transnationals when he remarked, “The United States doesn’t have an automatic call on our [corporation’s] resources. There is no mindset that puts this country first.”[i]

With international “free trade” agreements such as NAFTA, GATT, and FTAA, the giant transnationals have been elevated above the sovereign powers of nation states. These agreements endow anonymous international trade committees with the authority to prevent, over-­rule, or dilute any laws of any nation deemed to burden the investment and market prerogatives of transnational corporations. These trade committees–of which the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a prime example—set up panels composed of “trade special­ists” who act as judges over economic issues, placing themselves above the rule and popular control of any nation, thereby insuring the supremacy of international finance capital. This process, called globalization, is treated as an inevitable natural “growth” development beneficial to all. It is in fact a global coup d’état by the giant business interests of the world.

Elected by no one and drawn from the corporate world, these panelists meet in secret and often have investment stakes in the very issues they adjudicate, being bound by no con­flict-of-interest provisions. Not one of GATT’s five hundred pages of rules and restrictions are directed against private corporations; all are against govern­ments.
Signatory governments must lower tariffs, end farm subsidi­es, treat foreign companies the same as domestic ones, honour all corporate patent claims, and obey the rulings of a permanent elite bureaucracy, the WTO. Should a country refuse to change its laws when a WTO panel so dictates, the WTO can impose fines or international trade sanctions, depriving the resistant country of needed markets and materials.[ii]

Acting as the supreme global adjudicator, the WTO has ruled against laws deemed “barriers to free trade.” It has forced Japan to accept greater pesticide residues in imported food. It has kept Guatemala from outlawing deceptive advertising of baby food. It has eliminated the ban in various countries on asbestos, and on fuel-economy and emission stan­dards for motor vehicles. And it has ruled against marine-life protection laws and the ban on endangered-species products. The European Union’s prohibition on the importation of hormone-ridden U.S. beef had overwhelming popular support throughout Europe, but a three-member WTO panel decided the ban was an illegal restraint on trade. The decision on beef put in jeopardy a host of other food import regulations based on health concerns. The WTO overturned a portion of the U.S. Clean Air Act banning certain additives in gasoline because it interfered with imports from foreign refineries. And the WTO overturned that portion of the U.S. Endangered Species Act forbidding the import of shrimp caught with nets that failed to protect sea turtles.[iii]

Free trade is not fair trade; it benefits strong nations at the expense of weaker ones, and rich interests at the expense of the rest of us. Globalization means turning the clock back on many twentieth-century reforms: no freedom to boycott products, no prohibitions against child labor, no guaranteed living wage or benefits, no public services that might conceivably compete with private services, no health and safety protections that might cut into corporate profits.[iv]

GATT and subsequent free trade agreements allow multinationals to impose monopoly property rights on indigenous and communal agriculture.
In this way agribusiness can better penetrate locally self-sufficient communities and monopolize their resources.
Ralph Nader gives the example of the neem tree, whose extracts contain natural pesti­cidal and medicinal proper­ties.
Cultivat­ed for centuries in India, the tree attracted the attention of vari­ous pharmaceutical companies, who filed monopoly patents, causing mass protests by Indian farmers. As dictated by the WTO, the pharmaceuticals now have exclusive control over the marketing of neem tree products, a ruling that is being reluctantly enforced in India.
Tens of thousands of erstwhile independent farmers must now work for the powerful pharmaceuticals on profit-gorging terms set by the companies.

A trade agreement between India and the United States, the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA), backed by Monsanto and other transnational corporate giants, allows for the grab of India’s seed sector by Monsanto, its trade sector by Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, and its retail sector by Wal-Mart. (Wal-Mart announced plans to open 500 stores in India, starting in August 2007.)
This amounts to a war against India’s independent farmers and small businesses, and a threat to India’s food security.
Farmers are organizing to protect themselves against this economic invasion by maintaining traditional seed-banks and setting up systems of communal agrarian support.
One farmer says, “We do not buy seeds from the market because we suspect they may be contaminated with genetically engineered or terminator seeds.”[v]

In a similar vein, the WTO ruled that the U.S. corporation RiceTec has the patent rights to all the many varieties of basmati rice, grown for centuries by India’s farmers.
It also ruled that a Japanese corporation had exclusive rights in the world to grow and produce curry powder. As these instances demonstrate, what is called “free trade” amounts to international corporate monopoly control.
Such developments caused Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to observe:

We now have a situation where theft of genetic resources by western biotech TNCs [transnational corporations] enables them to make huge profits by producing patented genetic mutations of these same materials. What depths have we sunk to in the global marketplace when nature’s gifts to the poor may not be protected but their modifications by the rich become exclusive property?

If the current behaviour of the rich countries is anything to go by, globalization simply means the breaking down of the borders of countries so that those with the capital and the goods will be free to dominate the markets.[vi]

Under free-trade agreements like General Agreements on Trade and Services (GATS) and Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), all public services are put at risk. A public service can be charged with causing “lost market opportunities” for business, or creating an unfair subsidy.

To offer one in­stance: the single-payer automobile insurance program proposed by the province of Ontario, Canada, was declared “unfair competi­tion.” Ontario could have its public auto insurance only if it paid U.S. insurance companies what they estimated would be their present and future losses in Ontario auto insurance sales, a prohibitive cost for the province.
Thus the citizens of Ontario were not allowed to exercise their democratic sovereign right to institute an alterna­tive not-for-profit auto insurance system. In another case, United Postal Service charged the Canadian Post Office for “lost market opportunities,” which means that under free trade accords, the Canadian Post Office would have to compensate UPS for all the business that UPS thinks it would have had if there were no public postal service. The Canadian postal workers union has challenged the case in court, arguing that the agreement violates the Canadian Constitution.

Under NAFTA, the U.S.-based Ethyl Corporation sued the Canadian government for $250 million in “lost business opportunities” and “interference with trade” because Canada banned MMT, an Ethyl-produced gasoline additive considered carcinogenic by Canadian officials. Fearing they would lose the case, Canadian officials caved in, agreeing to lift the ban on MMT, pay Ethyl $10 million compensation, and issue a public statement calling MMT “safe,” even though they had scientific findings showing otherwise. California also banned the unhealthy additive; this time a Canadian based Ethyl company sued California under NAFTA for placing an unfair burden on free trade.[vii]

International free trade agreements like GATT and NAFTA have hastened the corporate acquisition of local markets, squeezing out smaller businesses and worker collectives. Under NAFTA better-paying U.S. jobs were lost as firms closed shop and contracted out to the cheaper Mexican labor market. At the same time thousands of Mexican small companies were forced out of business. Mexico was flooded with cheap, high-tech, mass produced corn and dairy products from giant U.S. agribusiness firms (themselves heavily subsidized by the U.S. government), driving small Mexican farmers and distributors into bankruptcy, displacing large numbers of poor peasants. The lately arrived U.S. companies in Mexico have offered extremely low-paying jobs, and unsafe work conditions. Generally free trade has brought a dramatic increase in poverty south of the border.[viii]

We North Americans are told that to remain competitive in the new era of globalization, we will have to increase our output while reducing our labor and production costs, in other words, work harder for less. This in fact is happening as the work-week has lengthened by as much as twenty percent (from forty hours to forty-six and even forty-eight hours) and real wages have flattened or declined during the reign of George W. Bush. Less is being spent on social services, and we are enduring more wage conces­sions, more restructuring, deregula­tion, and privat­ization. Only with such “adjustments,” one hears, can we hope to cope with the impersonal forces of globalization that are sweeping us along.

In fact, there is nothing impersonal about these forces. Free trade agreements, including new ones that have not yet been submitted to the U.S. Congress have been consciously planned by big business and its government minions over a period of years in pursuit of a deregulated world economy that undermines all democratic checks upon business practices. The people of any one province, state, or nation are now finding it increasingly difficult to get their govern­ments to impose protective regulations or develop new forms of public sector production out of fear of being overruled by some self-appointed international free-trade panel.[ix]

Usually it is large nations demanding that poorer smaller ones relinquish the protections and subsidies they provide for their local producers. But occasionally things may take a different turn. Thus in late 2006 Canada launched a dispute at the World Trade Organization over the use of “trade-distorting” agricultural subsidies by the United States, specifically the enormous sums dished out by the federal government to U.S. agribusiness corn farmers. The case also challenged the entire multibillion-dollar structure of U.S. agricultural subsidies. It followed the landmark WTO ruling of 2005 which condemned “trade-distorting” aid to U.S. cotton farmers. A report by Oxfam International revealed that at least thirty-eight developing countries were suffering severely as a result of trade distorting subsidies by both the United States and the European Union. Meanwhile, the U.S. government was manoeuvring to insert a special clause into trade negotiations that would place its illegal use of farm subsidies above challenge by WTO member countries and make the subsidies immune from adjudication through the WTO dispute settlement process.[x]

What is seldom remarked upon is that NAFTA and GATT are in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the preamble of which makes clear that sovereign power rests with the people: “We the People of the United States . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution reads; “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” Article I, Section 7 gives the president (not some trade council) the power to veto a law, subject to being overridden by a two-thirds vote in Congress. And Article III gives adjudication and review powers to a Supreme Court and other federal courts as ordained by Congress.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution states:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

There is nothing in the entire Constitution that allows an international trade panel to preside as final arbiter exercising supreme review powers undermining the constitutionally mandated decisions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

True, Article VII says that the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties “shall be the supreme Law of the land,” but certainly this was not intended to include treaties that overrode the laws themselves and the sovereign democratic power of the people and their representatives.

To exclude the Senate from deliberations, NAFTA and GATT were called “agreements” instead of treaties, a semantic ploy that enabled President Clinton to bypass the two-third treaty ratification vote in the Senate and avoid any treaty amendment process. The World Trade Organization was approved by a lame-duck session of Congress held after the 1994 elections. No one running in that election uttered a word to voters about putting the U.S. government under a perpetual obligation to insure that national laws do not conflict with international free trade rulings.

What is being undermined is not only a lot of good laws dealing with environment, public services, labor standards, and consumer protection, but also the very right to legislate such laws. Our democratic sovereignty itself is being surrendered to a secretive plutocratic trade organization that presumes to exercise a power greater than that of the people and their courts and legislatures. What we have is an international coup d’état by big capital over the nations of the world.

Globalization is a logical extension of imperialism, a victory of empire over republic, international finance capital over local productivity and nation-state democracy (such as it is). In recent times however, given popular protests, several multilateral trade agreements have been stalled or voted down. In 1999, militant protests against free trade took place in forty-one nations from Britain and France to Thailand and India.[xi] In 2000-01, there were demonstrations in Seattle, Washington, Sydney, Prague, Genoa, and various other locales. In 2003-04 we saw the poorer nations catching wise to the free trade scams and refusing to sign away what shreds of sovereignty they still had. Along with the popular resistance, more national leaders are thinking twice before signing on to new trade agreements.

The discussion of globalization by some Marxists (but not all) has focused on the question of whether the new “internationalization” of capital will undermine national sovereignty and the nation state. They dwell on this question while leaving unmentioned such things as free trade agreements and the WTO. Invariably these observers (for instance Ellen Wood and William Taab in Monthly Review, Ian Jasper in Nature, Society and Thought, Erwin Marquit in Political Affairs) conclude that the nation state still plays a key role in capitalist imperialism, that capital-while global in its scope–is not international but bound to particular nations, and that globalization is little more than another name for overseas monopoly capital investment.

They repeatedly remind us that Marx had described globalization, this process of international financial expansion, as early as 1848, when he and Engels in the Communist Manifesto wrote about how capitalism moves into all corners of the world, reshaping all things into its own image. Therefore, there is no cause for the present uproar. Globalization, these writers conclude, is not a new development but a longstanding one that Marxist theory uncovered long ago.

The problem with this position is that it misses the whole central point of the current struggle. It is not only national sovereignty that is at stake, it is democratic sovereignty. Millions, of people all over the world have taken to the streets to protest free trade agreements. Among them are farmers, workers, students and intellectuals (including many Marxists who see things more clearly than the aforementioned ones), all of whom are keenly aware that something new is afoot and they want no part of it. As used today, the term globalization refers to a new stage of international expropriation, designed not to put an end to the nation-state but to undermine whatever democratic right exists to protect the social wage and restrain the power of transnational corporations.

The free trade agreements, in effect, make unlawful all statutes and regulations that restrict private capital in any way. Carried to full realization, this means the end of whatever imperfect democratic protections the populace has been able to muster after generations of struggle in the realm of public policy. Under the free trade agreements any and all public services can be ruled out of existence because they cause “lost market opportunities” for private capital. So too public hospitals can be charged with taking away markets from private hospitals; and public water supply systems, public schools, public libraries, public housing and public transportation are guilty of depriving their private counterparts of market opportunities, likewise public health insurance, public mail delivery, and public auto insurance systems.

Laws that try to protect the environment or labor standards or consumer health already have been overthrown for “creating barriers” to free trade.

What also is overthrown is the right to have such laws. This is the most important point of all and the one most frequently overlooked by persons from across the political spectrum. Under the free trade accords, property rights have been elevated to international supremacy, able to take precedent over all other rights, including the right to a clean livable environment, the right to affordable public services, and the right to any morsel of economic democracy. Instead a new right has been accorded absolutist status, the right to corporate private profit. It has been used to stifle the voice of working people and their ability to develop a public sector that serves their interests.

Free speech itself is undermined as when “product disparagement” is treated as an interference with free trade. And nature itself is being monopolized and privatized by transnational corporations.

So the fight against free trade is a fight for the right to politico-economic democracy, public services, and a social wage, the right not to be completely at the mercy of big capital. It is a new and drastic phase of the class struggle that some Marxists–so immersed in classical theory and so ill-informed about present-day public policy–seem to have missed. As embodied in the free trade accords, globalization has little to do with trade and is anything but free. It benefits the rich nations over poor ones, and the rich classes within all nations at the expense of ordinary citizens. It is the new specter that haunts the same old world.

Michael Parenti’s recent books include The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org.


© 2007 Michael Parenti

[i] Quoted in New York Times, May 21, 1989.[ii] See Lori Wallach and Michelle Sforza, The WTO (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2000); and John R. MacArthur, The Selling of Free Trade: Nafta, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000).

[iii] New York Times, April 30, 1996 and May 9, 1997;Washington Post, October 13, 1998.

[iv] See the report by the United Nations Development Program referenced in New York Times, July 13, 1999.

[v] Project Censored, “Real News,” April 2007; also Arun Shrivastava, “Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto,” Global Research, October 9, 2006.

[vi] Quoted in People’s Weekly World, December 7, 1996.

[vii] John R. MacArthur, The Selling of “Free Trade”: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy (New York: Hill & Wang, 2000; and Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, “Nafta’s Unhappy Anniversary,” New York Times, February 7, 1995.

[viii] John Ross, “Tortilla Wars,” Progressive, June 1999

[ix] For a concise but thorough treatment, see Steven Shrybman, A Citizen’s Guide

to the World Trade Organization (Ottawa/Toronto: Canadian Center for Policy

Alternatives and James Lorimer & Co., 1999).

[x] “US seeks “get-out clause” for illegal farm payments” Oxfam, June 29, 2006,

http://www.oxfam.org/en/news/
pressreleases2006/pr060629_wto_geneva

[xi] San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 1999.

 

 

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Not my research.

Full Acknowledgment to the author. Miles Goslett | 11:52 am, July 20, 2016

http://heatst.com/uk/owen-smith-accepted-60000-from-industrial-scale-tax-avoidance-firm/

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith accepted a £60,000 donation from an accountancy firm which has been accused of promoting tax avoidance on an “industrial scale”.

Smith received the gift from City firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers in November 2011 while serving as a shadow Treasury minister.
He said the benefit –  in total worth £58,530 – was a “donation in kind” for “ad hoc advice” provided to Labour during the passage of the Finance (No. 4) Bill.
Smith received this advice for a period of six months, until May 2012.Links between the Labour Party and PwC were particularly strong at the time, with shadow cabinet ministers during the last parliament including Ed Balls, Chuka Umunna and Rachel Reeves also accepting free advice worth hundreds of thousands of pounds from the company.

However, some of their colleagues were always suspicious of the cosy relationship and last February Public Accounts Committee chairman and Labour MP Margaret Hodge declared this sort of help from PwC was “inappropriate”.

Hodge’s committee also – produced a report – at that time which accused PwC of “the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale”.

Hodge wrote in February 2015 that evidence PwC had provided to her committee two years earlier – in January 2013 – was “misleading” – in particular its assertions that “we are not in the business of selling schemes” and “we do not mass-market tax products, we do not produce tax products, we do not promote tax products”.

News that Smith was happy to accept such a significant gift from so controversial a source, albeit prior to publication of Hodge’s report, sits uncomfortably with his claims to be a socialist and promise to close the gap between the –  “haves and have nots”.

It also highlights a key difference between him and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. lthough Corbyn raised about £220,000 in cash and gifts during last summer’s Labour leadership contest, almost all of that cash came from trade unions. None of it was from big business.

Smith has already come under fire for his previous job as an £80,000 a year lobbyist for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, triggering a row with Corbyn’s allies who regard having held such a post as Blairite.

Before working for Pfizer, Smith worked for BBC Wales.

Unusually, he secured his full time job for the broadcaster at around the same time as his father took up a senior management post there. Smith Jnr’s CV states that he began working for the BBC in 1992 months after leaving the University of Sussex, but it is understood he did so on a freelance basis initially before becoming a fully fledged producer. He later worked for the BBC in London.

His father, Prof David Smith, confirmed to Heat Street that he and his son were employed by BBC Wales simultaneously, with Smith Snr being appointed head of radio at BBC Wales in 1993.

In 1994 Smith Snr became Head of Programmes at BBC Wales.

Smith Snr told us: “I didn’t appoint Owen and I wasn’t Owen’s boss.” He also said that they didn’t work on any programmes together, ruling out any suggestion of nepotism.

However, Owen Smith has been able to make some use of his BBC connections. In 2013 he was given two tickets worth £781 to watch Ireland play Wales at rugby. His benefactor? BBC Wales.

A spokesman for Owen Smith said he would get a comment from the MP regarding the PwC donation and the specific circumstances of his BBC employment. He said it was important to note that Margaret Hodge’s PAC report was published more than two years after Smith’s receipt of advice from PwC had lapsed.

 

Tonight a Ward within Nick Smith’s Blaenau Gwent constituency, Nye Bevan’s ward of Sirhowy in Tredegar was said to have voted support for Smith with just 4 voting for Corbyn. Those that attended said “it was a foregone conclusion”. When a very good friend of mine, who is a committed activist for the homeless in the constituency, spoke to me after the vote, she told me:
“Not one of the Borough or Tredegar town Cllrs even KNEW Nick Smith and his wife Jenny were directors(sic) of Progress. Both Him, Owen and Angela Eagle and Stephen Kinnock were ALL parachuted into their “safe” Labour seats with the support of Progress, and none disclosed their connection to the organisation (to their CLPs).”

Nick Smith is V-C of Progress. His wife Jenny Chapman MP is also a V-C of Progress. She appeared on George Galloway’s TalkRadio talk show as a surrogate for Owen Smith last friday and made a disgusting connection between Jeremy Corbyn, his supporters and the appalling death of Jo Cox MP by a man in her constituency! – this isn’t gone to trial yet so I can’t write any further on the subject other than is common knowledge.

The distortions the media and anti-Corbyn MPs provides – often at the behest of affiliated business interests – means that popular conversation and perspective is at best skewed or fact is obscured completely, there must be a fight to directly disrupt and challenge this narrative with FACTS.

Big-Pharma, Pfizer & Amgen, professional PR Lobbyist Owen “Man of the People” Smith is a figure firmly of the neoliberal establishment. 

My support goes to Jeremy Corbyn the last remaining hope to reclaim a party for it’s roots in SOCIALISM & the WORKING CLASSES.

Please share.

 

 

He failed his own fiscal targets and leaves a bitterly divided country in crisis, with the union at risk of splitting, after gambling our future on the EU referendum

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/12/david-cameron-premiership-tragedy-pay-eu-referendum

The most disastrous premiership since Neville Chamberlain has drawn to a brutally abrupt end. David Cameron is a failure on his own terms, as well as the terms of his opponents. The historical revisionists will one day come and – for the sake of contrarianism – try to salvage Cameron from a wreckage of his own making. Don’t bother.

As he gathers his belongings from No 10, I wonder if he has the occasional flashback to the conference speech in 2005 that secured him victory over the Tory leadership frontrunner, David Davis. It was soaring rhetoric infused with optimism: “And let’s resolve here, at this conference, when we put defeat behind us, failure behind us, to look ourselves in the eye and say: never, ever again.” Perhaps he lingers on the memory of winning a majority last year that the pollsters and bookies declared was near impossible. “There was a brief moment when I thought it was all a dream,” he would later say. “I thought I had died and gone to heaven.” It must seem like a dream now: one from which he would prefer to wake.

Cameron crept into government in 2010 promising to eradicate the deficit in a single parliamentary term. His government didn’t even come close. His government was “paying down Britain’s debts”, he declared in 2013: it actually added more debt than every Labour government put together. Upon assuming office, he committed “to ensuring our whole country shares in rising prosperity”: his government presided over the longest fall in wages and the most protracted economic stagnation for generations. After the last general election, his chancellor introduced three fiscal rules: a welfare cap, a national debt falling as a proportion of GDP, and a budget surplus by 2020. The first two were broken by March; the budget surplus was ignominiously abandoned by George Osborne at the beginning of July.

Osborne himself was less consistent on austerity than his supporters or his critics (like me) have often admitted. But his potential successors now call for his economic strategy to be abandoned, a confession of failure. His business secretary, Sajid Javid, advocates a fiscal stimulus that could mean raising the deficit from 3% to 5% of GDP. All that misery; all that stagnation; all that bloodcurdling rhetoric about the disastrous consequences of Britain not cutting its deficit. All for what?

And take another linchpin of Cameron’s domestic agenda: education. “We’ve got to win the great debate about education in this country, to give choice to parents, freedom to schools, and to fight for high standards,” he declared back in that 2005 speech. A recent league table revealed that local authority schools are, overall, outperforming the government’s flagship academies.

There is an exception: equal marriage for same-sex couples, won on the backs of Labour and Lib Dem votes. What a tragedy that a rare shining achievement is one that some have alleged he regretted.

Cameron hoped that his premiership would preserve the union for generations. But Scotland’s independence referendum result was not only far narrower than anticipated, it left the country polarised and halfway out. While the Scottish National party only had six MPs when David Cameron came to power, he stands down facing a parliamentary bloc of 56 nationalists. With Scotland ejected from the EU against its will, it has never looked more likely to leave and precipitate the breakup of the UK.

What of foreign policy? Little is said about David Cameron’s major foreign military escapade: war in Libya. Rather than ushering in a peaceful, stable, democratic Libya, the country was left consumed in chaos, war and extremism.

And then his means of political suicide: the EU referendum. It was called not with the national interest in mind, but as a method of resolving internal party divisions. It helped secure him a majority, and he gambled everything on it. The man who wanted his party to stop “banging on about Europe” lost, and was left personally repudiated, his country plunged into its worst crisis since the war: economic turmoil, a wave of xenophobia and racism, and a country more bitterly divided than it has been for generations. Those who voted remain resent him for being the instrument of Britain’s exit from the EU; those who voted leave resent him for what they regard as scaremongering.

Cameron leaves Downing Street with few admirers, a country in crisis, the central aims of his premiership in rubble. It is nearly enough to make you pity him – but, given how grave the situation facing our country is, not quite. His premiership is a tragedy for which we will all pay.


 

After 6 years as UK PM the country still has no idea what Cameron believed in other than a belief that he was the right man to be PM. A belief of a mendacious PR man who viewed the PM job as just another rung on the career ladder.

GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE!

QC Jolyon Maughan, ripping lying spiv Gideon Osborne’s claims before parliament to SHREDS!
http://youtu.be/B4l07CC5xWM The Artist Taxi Driver, Mark McGowan
DID CUTTING THE TOP RATE REALLY RAISE £8BN?
 
Osborne has said that reducing the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p raised an additional £8bn from the highest earners in its first year. Speaking in the Commons he said the revelation “completely defies” predictions made by Labour that cutting the rate from 50p to 45p would cost £3bn and give top earners an average £10,000 tax cut. HMRC previously estimated that cutting the top rate from 50p to 45p would cost the Exchequer £100m.
Osborne said:
“Under this government the richest pay a higher proportion of income tax than under the last Labour government. Indeed we have just had numbers out this morning from HMRC which for the first time show the income tax data for the year 2013/14, which is when the 50p rate was reduced to 45p.
 
And what that shows is that actually there was an £8bn increase in revenues from additional rate taxpayers, which completely defies the predictions made by the Labour party at the time and shows that what we have are lower, competitive taxes that are paid by all.” ( Guardian Reporter )
 
I don’t have the number to which Osborne refers but it is broadly in line with what was forecast in May 2015 which showed a projected increase in income tax paid by additional rate taxpayers of £7.1bn.
 
Does this increase vindicate, as Osborne suggests, to the tune of £8bn of extra receipts the decision to cut the 50p rate?
 
Reader, it does NOT!
 
Tax receipts were artificially low in 2012-13 (because people delayed receiving income until rates fell) and were artificially high in 2013-14 (when those delayed receipts were received). Combine those two numbers and you may well explain your £7bn jump.
 
Please Read More here, see graphs included: http://waitingfortax.com/2016/03/01/did-cutting-the-top-rate-really-raise-8bn/ Jolyon Maughan QC

At The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, N.Y., May 2015, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges spoke for over an hour about how his new book, “Wages of Rebellion,” differs from his previous works, including, the public loss of faith in the political process and the revolutionary potential bubbling beneath the surface of American life.

SACRIFICE ZONES

ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS

ECONOMIC CRISIS

UNFETTERED UNREGULATED CAPITALISM

What it takes to Rebel

GLOBAL CAPITALISM

We are passive in front of our electronic hallucinations

Movements of Mass Civil Disobedience

Cornell West

Noam Chomsky

Susan Sontag

Mechanisms of coercion and violence

Paramilitarised police

It struck me that all the aspects of “inverted totalitarianism” (which Hedges highlights and defines early on) can in fact be seen today in the European Union, where the financial industry has in fact made the sovereign governments of member nations subservient to their whim and have even begun to implement what is essentially “inverted socialism” by means of austerity to weaken governments and social programs and then strengthening these same financial industries with bail-outs. (SOCIALISM/ANARCHISM for the Richest, Austerity for Everyone Else!).

The EU is to inverted totalitarianism is to what the USSR is to true totalitarianism, except in the EU we are seeing true socialism applied but to corporations and a kind of “let them eat cake” feudalism to the population.

It’s like the corporate world had been waging a war with the population, which it in fact had been doing, due to the population starting the war by adopting democratic values.

The population then lost the war and is now being punished with a kind of “Treaty of Versailles” where they must pay reparations to the corporate state, just as the Wiemar Republic did after World War 1.

"Intolerant Bastards: if this is Man, then what?" - Discordion, 2014.

“Intolerant Bastards: if this is Man, then what?” – Discordion, 2014.

These Tory quacks and charlatans are beyond belief


For some time now, Conservative strategist Lynton Crosby has been reassuring his adopted party they will reach “crossover”. This is the term he’s been using to describe the moment when they take over the lead from Labour in the polls and push ahead.

The date of crossover, rather like the rapture, keeps being pushed back. It was meant to be Christmas last year, but nothing of significance happened then apart from a particularly good Dr Who special. January was also disappointing, February was frigging desolate and March passed without a squeak.

Now we’re in the middle of April, what TS Eliot described as “the cruellest month”: for the Tories that’s proved true, with Labour and Conservative still stuck on more or less 33%.

It would be easy then for David Cameron to give up on Mr Crosby and his promise of good polls ahead; except, he can’t. Lynton Crosby is his Designated Bastard, the man his party has paid fistfuls of money to order all of them about and get them to do whatever it takes to win. It’s the stuff of tradition for Tory governments to get in an expensive Designated Bastard at election time; it’s the line of life, a cycle of comfort. The Designated Bastard arrives, tells them not to be pussies, puts up posters about Labour’s tax bombshells, flashes up cartoons of the Labour leader in the pocket of someone, or being the poodle of someone, sitting on someone’s lap, wearing someone’s hair, or being stuck up someone’s arse.

Usually, the party pays devoted attention to the Designated Bastard.

First, because he’s so expensive but really because he’s such a Bastard. He gets them to do things they’ve spent the past five years being ordered not to under any circumstances. For five years, they’ve been clenching their teeth and talking about partnership and coalition. They’ve been pushing Big Societies and feeling everyone’s pain by sobbing that we’re all in it together.

Except, this time, it seems not to be. Lynton Crossover hasn’t worked.

And that’s a problem, since there is no plan B.

The Tories believe in tradition and the tradition has always been that being a Bastard works.

So panic sets in. Once panic starts, rational political behaviour falls apart. Hence the true “crossover” we got last week – the much commented on swapping of clothes brazenly taking part in the Labour and Conservative manifestos.

Labour painted themselves as the party of fiscal rectitude, while the Tories went crazy on uncosted spending commitments. In this crazy looking-glass politics, Labour turn out to be the party with the most conservative financial commitment to the NHS, while the Conservatives are the most profligate.

This muddle has been a long time coming. For decades now, each main party has been defining itself on how similar it is to the other and how different it is from its own past. New Labour stole Thatcherite prudence and Cameroonian Conservativism detoxified its nasty image by going green and socially aware. Like two galaxies drawing closer to each other, it’s no wonder they ended up in a massive swirl of confusion.

The spinning can’t be stopped: if anything, it gets faster and faster until you can’t tell which one is which.

Labour’s paranoia about looking like Old Labour I can understand: battered for so long by a mostly rightwing press, it still clings to a suspicion that even in this digital age the old tabloid headlines still affect people’s opinion.

The Tory volte-face I find truly extraordinary, though. Normally, this type of trickery is done with just words. Last election, it was the verbal gymnastics contained in such slogans as “Vote Blue, Go Green” or that most perfect of semantic paradoxes, “Vote for Change: Vote Conservative”. It’s a basic trick with words, in which you take a word and insist it means its opposite. The more you insist, the greater chance people will believe you. (We know it as Orwellian double-speak)

This time round, though, there is something desperate about the trick.

  • They will “spend” on the NHS more than Labour, but that spending will be funded by carrying on with their “track record” on the economy.
  • They’ll block Scottish MP’s voting on certain tax laws but that will somehow keep the UK united.
  • They will rail against recklessness, but concede a European referendum (to stave off a threat to their support)
  • and pledge billions in public spending based on no more than an inkling the economy’s going to keep growing.

All this time, they’ll muffle this panic with words such as “steady” and “on course”, words used to conceal an unsteady veer away from stability.

They’re like bad magicians who, at the moment of subterfuge, simply shout: “What’s that?” and point to the other side of the room in the hope we’ll turn away.

This isn’t wordplay – this is charlatanism pure and simple.

David Cameron is indulging in basic quackery, trying to sell you stuff he knows doesn’t work. He’s doing it with our money and he’s conjuring with people’s lives.

We know there’s no magic; the money will come from the cuts and deficit reductions and benefit targets and financial squeezes on those Cameron knows won’t be voting for him anyway.

It’s the bastardly misuse of the public purse and the final proof, if any were needed, that he is unfit to lead his country and his party unfit to govern.


Mark McGowan

Katie Hopkins is the typical private school toff.

Her parents never cared about her much, never said they loved her, and packaged her off to some boarding school aged 7. She’s a twisted victim of her upbringing. She sees the world as cold and loveless as her childhood and realised a great way to get attention is to spit bile and vitriol and draw shocked reactions to her attention seeking. She should be in a psychiatrist chair not on tv and in newspapers. She is mentally unstable, possibly sociopathic, and is being exploited by Murdoch media for entertainment.


I still Don’t care” is the ideology of David Cameron and Katie Hopkins, it is the message of our time.


The David Clapson story  – David Cameron left furious after the Andrew Marr interview

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-cameron-left-furious-andrew-5551652

David Cameron was left fuming today after being grilled on live TV over the death of a diabetic ex-soldier whose benefits had been stopped.

The angry Prime Minister’s “lips went thin” with rage after he was quizzed about tragic David Clapson, according to witnesses.

Downing Street did not deny the PM was angered by the questions but rejected suggestions he “stormed out” of the studio after filming finished.

The Mirror told last summer how David, 59, died with just £3.44 in his bank account after his £71.70-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance was axed because he missed an appointment .

Tests show he died from diabetic ­ketoacidosis – caused by not taking his insulin.

His devastated sister Gill Thompson said he may have stopped injecting himself with the lifesaving drug after becoming so desperate over his lack of cash and work.



There is a saying: When I give to charity I am called a good citizen, when I ask why the charity is needed I am called a Communist.

I recently wrote about “The Business Of Charity” https://discordion.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/another-bbc-feel-good-day-comic-relief-is-just-one-month-away-business-of-charity/ There are many institutions in our culture and society that, for me, highlight the depth of our dysfunctionality, dissonance and despair. These institutions express the shocking degree to which a social system of artificially-created human misery has been so successfully naturalised and absorbed that its universality, its ubiquity has been rendered invisible. They also reveal how we are, wittingly or unwittingly, complicit in hiding truth, and how depressingly limited our collective imagination is. One such institution in the UK is the annual national do-something-silly-for-charity-shenanigan. There are two primary charity-thons like this: Comic Relief and Children in Need. On both these occasions, Brits come together to dress up, do silly things, bake cakes, school children are cajoled into collecting money, buying this year’s specific branded item, etc… in order to raise money for the “poor and needy” at home and abroad. The fact that every year the poor and needy are still with us and that their poverty and need grows is NEVER questioned and is used merely to justify a redoubling of efforts and breaking last year’s “Record”!   Comic Relief is one of the UK’s largest overseas development charities. Its annual fund-raiser is; ‘Red Nose Day’, after the clown-inspired red noses that people all across the country wear. Alongside the money-raising fun and games of ordinary folk, the event is, inevitably, centred on celebrities and ‘big-hearted’ multi-national corporations. On Red Nose night, on TV last Friday, we are alternately entertained and then harrowed by comedians who travel among the world’s poorest to capture both their suffering and, of course, the hope that Comic Relief and our money bring. Big corporations – this year it seems to be PG Tips and Persil (Unilever-owned tea and washing powder brands – get in on the act, showing us how humane and generous they are, by pledging big money in return for us buying their products.

Sainsbury supermarket has monopoly on certain types of Red Nose Day items – the same supermarket that had a roll-up equating all homeless who were begging to heroin users… Banner photographed in its Ipswich store front window last Tuesday.

Your Kindness Can Kill banner, infers that giving money to the homeless will mean they spend it on over-dosing on Heroin!!!

Your Kindness Can Kill banner, infers that giving money to the homeless will mean they spend it on over-dosing on Heroin!!!

How can something so well-meaning, something that brings people together, something that has raised so many hundreds of millions of pounds for charity stir feelings of such anger and distress in me? I will answer this question by drawing on the work of Oscar Wilde, someone who understood precisely what charity constituted within capitalist society and who explained it with his characteristic eloquence. For Wilde, it was quite ‘inevitable’ that people who found themselves ‘surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation’ would be ‘strongly moved by all this’. However, since, unfortunately, ‘the emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man’s intelligence’, ‘with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.’ Thus, Wilde saw charity as an institution that ‘degrades and demoralises’ and ‘creates a multitude of sins’. Comic Relief constitutes merely the most degenerate expression of the Spectacle-mediated, consumer-driven institution of contemporary charity. Not only does today’s ‘spectacle charity’ serve as the eternal sticking plaster over a gaping, festering social wound, it actually functions directly to sustain the system that injures us. First, spectacle charity does this by alleviating social pressure. Legitimate frustration and anger at blatant social injustice is channeled ‘productively’ into charitable activity. Second, spectacle charity serves to appease feelings of guilt among those who are, or at least feel, better off and luckier. It also tells those unlucky ones they should be grateful they’re not far worse off in some Third World urban slum. Third, spectacle charity reinforces capitalist social relations by asking us to help alleviate suffering by acting as consumers – buying cakes, red noses, corporate sponsors’ products. Fourth, spectacle charity serves to maintain the status quo by providing depoliticised depictions of human suffering. The political-economic root causes of, say, child poverty in the UK are not and cannot be confronted. Poverty is portrayed in technical terms as a mere lack of things: money, education, resources. Fifth, in this way, spectacle charity reinforces the status quo by reinforcing general thoughtlessness. ‘Don’t think, do!’ is the general message here.   In all these ways Comic Relief, and charity in general, does more harm than good by serving to maintain the status quo economically, socially, and culturally. Here is some evidence for these claims: When trying to find out where Comic Relief’s red noses were manufactured and what they were made from there is very little information. With regard to labour, that could be established was that Comic Relief had signed up, alongside other major charities and companies, to the ‘Ethical Trading Initiative’ (ETI) under which partner NGOs (non-government organisations) monitor the companies (presumably, predominantly in China) that manufacture their orders. I also found a mixed (albeit quite old) report on the ETI’s effects by Sussex University, found out that several major companies, including Boots, had subsequently left the ETI, and that Primark, the company whose Bangladeshi subcontractors were guilty of the Rana Plaza tragedy in which 1,129 people needlessly died, is an ETI member. With regard to the environment, I could find nothing except for the fact that red noses can be recycled at various outlets. Whether the conditions in these factories had improved under ETI or not is secondary to the telling fact that I was not able to establish where Comic Relief’s red noses were made. This tells us everything we need to know about the hidden, alienated nature of capitalist social relations and the institutions of commodified, spectacle charity within it. Comic Relief, an organisation dedicated to alleviating poverty, is largely blind to and reliant on the structure of class exploitation that creates this poverty. Thus, even if conditions are a little better in red nose factories, they are still exploitative. Why? (Here’s “the Great Money Trick” of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists)… Because it is the human labour within these factories that generates the surplus value that allows Comic Relief to sell these things for a profit. If this was not the case, these red noses would simply be produced in the UK! In terms of the environment, I am none the wiser, but pessimistic, as to the ecological cost of mass-producing millions of plastic red noses. Over a century ago, Oscar Wilde was acutely aware of the perversity of charity: ‘It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property.’ His ultimate conclusion resounds to this day: ‘The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible.‘ The only thing that gives me heart on days like Red Nose Day is that people undoubtedly care. But, no amount of foolery or hard, cold cash will end poverty. Capitalism breeds it, capitalism needs it. The goal of socialists is to encourage well-meaning, big-hearted people (i.e. most people) to go beyond doing and take some time to explore and think about the root causes of a bleak situation. Instead of blindly Doing Something Funny For Money… Ask WHY this situation exists??? – especially in the fourth largest economy on the planet!   Ten years ago, the major charities in the UK came together under the banner of ‘Make Poverty History‘. Remember the white plastic wristbands? In the UK and beyond, poverty has increased in the past ten years! here’s a more radical and realistic thought… To make poverty history means to make charity history, and to make charity history we must make capitalism history!