Posts Tagged ‘neo feudalism’

“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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DWP forced to reveal firms using benefit claimants for unpaid work after 4-year legal fight

Here’s the (very long) list of companies that took advantage of taxpayer-funded workers courtesy of the DWP.

Feel free to use the information in whatever way you see fit.

1. African Childrens Fund

2. Abacus Children’s Wear

3. ABCAL

4. Ability

5. Ace of Clubs Charity Shop

6. Acorns

7. Action for Disability

8. Action Housing

9. Active Community Team

10. Advocacy Support

11. Afro Caribbean Centre

12. Age Concern

13. Age UK

14. Agnew Community Centre

15. Air Ambulance

16. Aire Valley Recycling Ltd

17. Airedale Computers,

18. Al-Khair Foundation

19. All Aboard

20. Allied Healthcare

21. Almadene Care Home

22. AMF Torquay Bowling Alley

23. Amicus Horizon Housing Association

24. Animal Krackers

25. ARAS German Shepherd Inn

26. ARC

27. Archer Project

28. Arthritis Research UK

29. Arthur Rank

30. Arts Factory

31. ASAN

32. Asda

33. Asha Charity Shop

34. Ashgate Hospice

35. Aspire Community Enterprise Ltd

36. Auchinleck Talbot F.C.

37. Autism Plus

38. Aylestone Park Boys Football Club

39. Babygear

40. Back2Earth

41. Bangladesh People

42. Bangladeshi ass sangag centre

43. Barnardos

44. Basic Life Charity

45. B’Dwe

46. Beaumaris Hostel

47. Bedfordshire Education Academy

48. Belgrave Hall Museum

49. Bernicia Group (Social housing provider)

50. BHF

51. Blaby & Whetstone Boys Club

52. Blue Cross

53. Bluebell Wood

54. Bookers

55. Boots

56. Botanical Gardens

57. Bottle Rescue Aireworth Mill

58. BR Environmental

59. Bradford Autism Centre

60. Bradford Community repaint

61. Breaking Free

62. Brian Jackson House

63. Briardale Community Centre

64. Bright House

65. Brighton and hove wood recycling

66. Britannia College

67. British Heart Foundation

68. British Red Cross

69. British Waterways

70. Brockhurst Community Centre

71. Bryncynon Strategy

72. Bryncynon Strategy

73. Butterwick Hospice

74. Cancer Research

75. Cancer Uk

76. Capability Scotland

77. Care & Repair

78. Carers Centre

79. Caribbean Centre

80. Caribbean Restaurant (Streatham)

81. Carlisle Park

82. Carr Vale Allotments

83. Cash Convertors

84. Castle Gresley Community Centre

85. Cat Haven

86. Cats Protection League

87. Cauwood day services

88. CCA Furniture Outlet

89. Cerebal Palsey Care

90. Changing Lives in Clevedon

91. chapletown youth community centre

92. Chesterfield FC Community Trust

93. Chestnut Tree House Shop

94. Children in Distress

95. Children Scrapstore Reuse Centre

96. Children Trust

97. Childrens Society

98. Chopsticks North Yorkshire

99. Circulate

100. Citizen Advice Bureau

101. Claire House

102. Clic Sargent

103. Comfort Kids

104. Community Association – Trefechan

105. Community Re-Paint

106. Community Resource Centre

107. Community Voice

108. Complete Professional Care

109. Compton Hospice

110. Congburn Nurseries

111. Cooke Computers

112. Cooke E – Learning Foundation

113. Co-op

114. Corby Boating Lake

115. Cornerstone

116. Cornwall Hospice Care

117. County Durham Furniture Help Scheme

118. Croydon animal samaritans

119. CSV Media

120. Cusworth Hall

121. CVS Furniture

122. Dan’s Den Colwyn Bay

123. Dapp UK

124. DC Cleaning

125. Deans

126. Debra

127. Demzela

128. Derbyshire Timber Scheme

129. DHL

130. Dial Intake

131. Didcot Railyway Museum

132. Disabled Childrens Services

133. Discovery Community Cafe

134. Dogs Trust Glasgow

135. Dogsthorpe Recycling Centre

136. Doncaster College

137. Doncaster Community Centre

138. Dorothy House Hospice

139. Dorset Reclaim

140. Dovehouse Hospice Shop

141. Dragon Bands

142. Durham Wildlife Trust

143. E Waste Solutions

144. Earl Mountbatten Hospice

145. East Anglia Childrens Hospice Shop

146. East Cleveland Wildlife Trust

147. East Durham Partnership

148. East Midlands Islamic Relief Project

149. East West Community Project

150. Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

151. eco Innovation Centre

152. Elleanor Lion Hospice

153. ELVON

154. Encephalitis society

155. English Landscapes

156. Enhanced Care Training

157. Enterprise UK

158. Environmental Resource Centre

159. Essex County Council

160. Extra care Charitable Trust

161. Fable

162. Family Support

163. Fara

164. Fare share Malmo Food Park

165. Featherstone Rovers

166. Fenland District Council

167. First Fruits

168. FN! Eastbourne

169. Foal Farm

170. Food Cycle

171. Fops Shop

172. forget me not childrens hospice

173. Foundation for Paediatric Osteopathy

174. Fountain Abbey

175. Fox Rush Farm

176. FRADE

177. Frame

178. FRESCH

179. Fresh water christian charity

180. Friends of St Nicholas Fields

181. Furnish

182. Furniture for You

183. Furniture Project

184. FurnitureLink

185. Gateway funiture

186. Genesis Trust

187. George Thomas Hospice – Barry

188. Geranium Shop For The Blind

189. Glasgow Furniture Initative

190. Glen Street Play Provision

191. Goodwin Development Trust

192. Govanhill Baths Community Trust

193. Greenacres Animal Rescue Shop

194. Greenfingers

195. Greenscape

196. Greenstreams Huddersfield/ environmental alliance

197. Grimsby District Health care charity

198. Ground Work

199. Hadston House

200. Happy Staffie

201. Harlington Hospice

202. Hart Wildlife Rescue

203. Hartlepool Council

204. Hartlepool Hospice

205. Hartlepool Prop (Mental Health)

206. Hartlepool Trust Opening Doors

207. Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling Project

208. Havens Childrens Hospice Shop

209. Havering Country Park

210. headway

211. Healthy Living Centre

212. Hebburn Community Centre

213. Help the Aged

214. Helping Hands

215. High Beech Care Home

216. High Wycombe Central Aid

217. Hillam Nurseries

218. Hinsley Hall Headingley

219. Hobbit Hotel

220. Holmescarr Community Centre

221. Home Start

222. Homemakers

223. Hope central

224. Hospice of hope

225. Hounslow Community Transport Furniture Project

226. Hull Animal Welfare Trust Hull

227. Humanity at Heart

228. I Trust

229. Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organisation (IRMO)

230. Intraining Employers

231. Ipswich Furniture Project

232. Iranian Association

233. Islamic Relief

234. Jacabs Well Care Center

235. Jesus Army Centre

236. JHP

237. Julian House Charity Shop

238. K.T. Performing Arts

239. Kagyu Samye Dzong London

240. Keech Hospice Care Shop

241. Keighley & District Disabled

242. Kier Services – Corby

243. Kilbryde Hospice

244. Killie Can Cycle

245. Kingston Community Furniture Project

246. Kiveton Park & Wales Community Development Trust

247. LAMH

248. Leeds & Moortown Furniture Store

249. Leicester City Council

250. Leicester Riders

251. Leicester Shopmobility

252. Leicestershire Aids Support Services

253. Leicestershire Cares

254. Lifework

255. Lighthouse

256. Linacre Reservoir

257. London Borough of Havering

258. London College of Engineering & Management Woolwich

259. Longley Organised Community Association

260. Lyme Trust

261. Lynemouth Resource Centre

262. Mackworth Comm. Charity Shop

263. Making a Difference

264. Marie Curie

265. Mark2 (marc)

266. Martin House Hospice

267. Mary Stevens Hospice

268. Matalan

269. Matchbox

270. Matthew25 Mission

271. Mayflower Sanctuary

272. MDJ Lightbrothers

273. Meadow Well Connected

274. MEC

275. Mental Health Support

276. Midland Railway Trust

277. MIND

278. Miners Welfare community centre

279. Mistley Place Park

280. Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal Regeneration Partnership Scheme

281. Moore Cleaning

282. Morrisons

283. Muslim Aid

284. Myton Hospice

285. Nandos

286. Naomi Hospice

287. National Railway Museum

288. National Trust

289. NDDT

290. Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

291. Necessary Furniture

292. Neighbourhood funiture

293. Neterlands Dog Rescue

294. New Life Church

295. Newham Volenteers Group

296. Newport City Council

297. Nightingale House

298. NOAH enterprise

299. North East Lincs Motor Project

300. North London Hospice Shop

301. North Ormesby Community Shop

302. Northumberland County Council

303. Norwood

304. Old Nick Theatre

305. One 0 One

306. Open Secret

307. Overgate Hospice

308. Oxfam

309. Papworth Trust

310. Partner Shop

311. Paul Sartori Warehouse

312. Paws Animal Welfare Shop

313. PDSA

314. Pegswood Community Centre

315. Pennywell Community Association

316. Peterborough Streets

317. Pheonix Community Furniture

318. Pilgrim Hospice

319. Placement Furniture Project

320. Platform 51 Doncaster Womens Centre

321. Playworks

322. Plymouth Food Bank

323. Plymouth Play Association

324. Plymouth Volunteer Centre

325. Pound stretcher

326. POW Shop

327. Powys Animal Welfare Shop

328. PPE Paving

329. Preen Community Interest Company

330. Primrose

331. PRINCE & PRINCESS OF WALES

332. Prince of Wales Sherburn in elmet

333. Princess Trust

334. Queen Elizabeth Foundation

335. Queens Walk Community

336. Queensland Multi-Media Arts Centre

337. Rainbow Centre

338. Rainbows End Burngreave

339. Real Time Music

340. Recycling unlimited

341. Red Cross

342. Refurnish

343. Regenerate Community Enterprise

344. Remploy

345. Restore

346. Rhyl Adventure Playground Association

347. Right Time Foundation

348. RNID

349. Rochford Council

350. Rosalie Ryrie Foundation

351. Rosliston Foresty

352. Royal Society for Blind.

353. Royal Wotton Bassett Town Council

354. RSPB

355. RSPCA

356. Rudenotto

357. Rudyard Lake

358. S & S Services

359. Saffcare

360. Sainsburys

361. Salvation Army

362. Santosh Community Centre

363. Sara

364. Save the children

365. Savera Resource Centre

366. Scallywags

367. Scarborough Council

368. SCD Fabrications

369. School of English Studies

370. Scope

371. Scottish Cancer Support

372. Scottish International Relief

373. Scunthorpe Central Community Centre

374. Seagull Recycling

375. Seahouses Development Trust

376. Second Chance

377. Second Opportunities

378. Sedgemoor Furniture Store

379. Sense

380. Sesku Acadamy Centre

381. Shaw Trust

382. Sheffield Reclamation Ltd – Reclaim

383. Shelter

384. Shooting Stars

385. Shopmobility & Community Transport – Access

386. Slough Furniture Project

387. Smythe

388. Sneyd Green

389. Somali Community Parents Association

390. Somerfields

391. Somerset Wood Re-Cycling

392. South Ayrshire Council

393. South Bucks Hospice Warehouse

394. South Wales Boarders Museum

395. Southend United Football Club

396. Spaghetti House

397. Spitafields Crypt Trust

398. Splash fit

399. St Barnabas

400. St Catherines Hospice Trading

401. St Chads Community Centre

402. St Clare’s Hospice

403. St Davids Foundation

404. St Elizabeth Hospice Charity Shop

405. St Francis Hospice Shops Ltd

406. St Gemma’s Hospice

407. St Georges Crypt

408. St Giles

409. St Helens House

410. St Hughs Community Centre

411. St Lukes Hospice

412. St Margarets Hospice Scotland

413. St Oswald’s Hospice

414. St Peters Church

415. St Peters Hospice

416. St Raphaels hospice

417. St Vincents

418. St. Catherines Hospice

419. St.Theresa’s Charity Shop

420. Stages Café

421. Stannah Stair Lifts

422. Stef’s Farm (Education Farm)

423. Step Forward

424. Stocking Farm Healthy Living Centre ( Sure Start)

425. Stockton Council

426. Stone Pillow

427. STROKECARE

428. Strood Community Project

429. Strut Lincoln

430. Sudbury Town Council

431. Sue Ryder

432. Sunderland Community Furniture

433. Sunderland North Community Business Centre

434. Superdrug

435. Swindon 105.5

436. Sycamore Lodge

437. sydney bridge furniture shop

438. Sypha

439. T&M Kiddy’s Kingdom

440. Tara Handicrafts

441. Teamwork

442. Teesside Hospice

443. Tendring Furniture Scheme

444. Tendring Reuse & Employment Enterprise

445. Tenovus

446. Tesco

447. Thames Hospicecare

448. Thames Valley Hospice

449. Thanet District Council

450. The Ark Shop

451. The Art Organisation

452. The Charity Shop

453. The Childrens Society

454. The Childrens trust

455. The Crossing

456. The Good Neighbour Project

457. The Greenhouse

458. The Harrow Club

459. The Hinge Centre Ltd

460. The Isabella Community Centre

461. The Island Partnership

462. The Kiln Cafe

463. The learning community

464. The Linskill Centre

465. The Listening Company

466. The Octagon Centre Hull

467. The Old Manor House Riding Stables

468. The Princess Alice Hospice

469. The Range

470. The Reuse Centre

471. The Rising Sun Art Centre

472. The Rock Foundation Ice House

473. The Shores Centre

474. The Spurriergate Centre

475. The Undercliffe cemetary charity

476. The Vine Project

477. The Welcoming Project

478. The Woodworks (Genesis Trust)

479. Think 3E,

480. Thirsk Clock

481. Thurrock Council

482. Thurrock Reuse Partnership (TRUP)

483. TLC

484. TooGoodtoWaste

485. Top Draw

486. Traid

487. Trinity Furniture Store

488. Troed Y Rhiw Day Project

489. True Volunteer Foundation

490. Tukes

491. Twice as Nice Furniture Project

492. Twirls and Curls

493. Ty Hafan

494. Tylorstown Communities First

495. United Churches Healing Ministry

496. United Play Day Centre

497. Unity in the Community

498. UNMAH

499. Untapped Resource

500. Urban Recycling

501. Vale of Aylesbury Vineyard Church Project

502. Vista Blind

503. Walpole Water Gardens

504. Walsall Hospice

505. Wandsworth Oasis trading Company Limited

506. Wat Tyler Centre

507. WEC

508. Weldmar

509. Well Cafe

510. Wellgate Community Farm

511. Wellingborough District Hindu Centre

512. Western Mill Cemetary

513. WH Smith

514. Wheelbase

515. Whitby Council

516. Wildlife Trust

517. Wilkinsons

518. Willen Care Furniture Shop

519. Willington Community Resource Centre

520. Windhill Furniture Store Shipley

521. Woking Community Furniture Project

522. Womens Aid

523. Womens Centre

524. Woodlands Camp

525. Worsbrough Mill & County Park

526. Xgames

527. YMCA

528. York Archaeological Trust

529. York Bike Rescue

530. York Carers centre

531. Yorkshire Trust

532. Yozz Yard

533. Zest

534. Zues Gym

 

The Tory government has been forced to reveal a vast list of firms that hoovered up free labour from benefit claimants after spending four years trying to keep it a secret.

Poundstretcher, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons are among more than 500 companies, charities and councils named as having used Mandatory Work Activity.

Others on the list from 2011 included payday loans firm Cash Converters, chicken diner Nando’s, WH Smith, Superdrug and DHL.

More than 100,000 jobseekers were put on the hated ‘workfare’ scheme, which forced them to work 30-hour weeks unpaid for a month each or have their benefits docked.

Yet the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) mounted an astonishing and costly legal battle to keep the firms’ names a secret.

Officials claimed revealing those involved would hurt their “commercial interests” because protesters would boycott them.

The DWP stood its ground for nearly four years despite being overruled by the Information Commissioner (ICO) watchdog in August 2012.

The saga finally ended at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday – where a trio of top judges threw out the DWP’s argument by a 2-1 vote.

Campaigners and Labour condemned the vast cost of the cover-up – in which taxpayers had to fund lawyers for both the DWP and ICO.

 

 

 

An Eight Point Brief for LEV (Lesser Evil Voting)

By John Halle and Noam Chomsky
JohnHalle.com, June 15, 2016

*****

1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.

2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning.

3) One of these candidates, Trump; denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point.

Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.”

Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses.

4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency.

5) 4 above, should constitute sufficient basis to voting for Clinton where a vote is potentially consequential-namely, in a contested, “swing” state.

6) However, the left should also recognize that, should Trump win based on its failure to support Clinton, it will repeatedly face the accusation (based in fact), that it lacks concern for those sure to be most victimized by a Trump administration.

7) Often this charge will emanate from establishment operatives who will use it as a bad faith justification for defeating challenges to corporate hegemony either in the Democratic Party or outside of it.
They will ensure that it will be widely circulated in mainstream media channels with the result that many of those who would otherwise be sympathetic to a left challenge will find it a convincing reason to maintain their ties with the political establishment rather than breaking with it, as they must.

8) Conclusion: by dismissing a “lesser evil” electoral logic and thereby increasing the potential for Clinton’s defeat the left will undermine what should be at the core of what it claims to be attempting to achieve.

 

Preamble to the above:

Among the elements of the weak form of democracy enshrined in the U.S constitution, presidential elections continue to pose a dilemma for the left in that any form of participation or non participation appears to impose a significant cost on our capacity to develop a serious opposition to the corporate agenda served by establishment politicians.

The position outlined in this list is that which many regard as the most effective response to this quadrennial Hobson’s choice, namely the so-called “lesser evil” voting strategy or LEV.

Simply put, LEV involves, where you can, i.e. in safe states, voting for the losing third party candidate you prefer, or not voting at all. In competitive “swing” states, where you must, one votes for the “lesser evil” Democrat.

Before fielding objections, it will be useful to make certain background stipulations with respect to the points in the list.

The first is to note that since changes in the relevant facts require changes in tactics, proposals having to do with our relationship to the “electoral extravaganza” should be regarded as provisional. This is most relevant with respect to point 3) which some will challenge by citing the claim that Clinton’s foreign policy could pose a more serious menace than that of Trump.

In any case, while conceding as an outside possibility that Trump’s foreign policy is preferable, most of us not already convinced that that is so will need more evidence than can be aired in a discussion involving this statement. Furthermore, insofar as this is the fact of the matter, following the logic through seems to require a vote for Trump, though it’s a bit hard to know whether those making this suggestion are intending it seriously.

Another point of disagreement is not factual but involves the ethical/moral principle addressed in 1), sometimes referred to as the “politics of moral witness.” Generally associated with the religious left, secular leftists implicitly invoke it when they reject LEV on the grounds that “a lesser of two evils is still evil.” Leaving aside the obvious rejoinder that this is exactly the point of lesser evil voting-i.e. to do less evil, what needs to be challenged is the assumption that voting should be seen a form of individual self-expression rather than as an act to be judged on its likely consequences, specifically those outlined in 4).

The basic moral principle at stake is simple:

not only must we take responsibility for our actions, but the consequences of our actions for others are a far more important consideration than feeling good about ourselves.

While some would suggest extending the critique by noting that the politics of moral witness can become indistinguishable from narcissistic self-agrandizement, this is substantially more harsh than what was intended and harsher than what is merited. That said, those reflexively denouncing advocates of LEV on a supposed “moral” basis should consider that their footing on the high ground may not be as secure as they often take for granted to be the case.

A third criticism of LEV equates it with a passive acquiescence to the bipartisan status quo under the guise of pragmatism, usually deriving from those who have lost the appetite for radical change. It is surely the case that some of those endorsing LEV are doing so in bad faith-cynical functionaries whose objective is to promote capitulation to a system which they are invested in protecting. Others supporting LEV, however, can hardly be reasonably accused of having made their peace with the establishment.

Their concern, as alluded to in 6) and 7) inheres in the awareness that frivolous and poorly considered electoral decisions impose a cost, their memories extending to the ultra-left faction of the peace movement having minimized the comparative dangers of the Nixon presidency during the 1968 elections. The result was six years of senseless death and destruction in Southeast Asia and also a predictable fracture of the left setting it up for its ultimate collapse during the backlash decades to follow.

The broader lesson to be drawn is not to shy away from confronting the dominance of the political system under the management of the two major parties. Rather, challenges to it need to be issued with a full awareness of their possible consequences. This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the “reasonable” alternative.

A Trump presidency, should it materialize, will undermine the burgeoning movement centered around the Sanders campaign, particularly if it is perceived as having minimized the dangers posed by the far right.

A more general conclusion to be derived from this recognition is that this sort of cost/benefit strategic accounting is fundamental to any politics which is serious about radical change. Those on the left who ignore it, or dismiss it as irrelevant are engaging in political fantasy and are an obstacle to, rather than ally of, the movement which now seems to be materializing.

Finally, it should be understood that the reigning doctrinal system recognizes the role presidential elections perform in diverting the left from actions which have the potential to be effective in advancing its agenda. These include developing organizations committed to extra-political means, most notably street protest, but also competing for office in potentially winnable races.

The left should devote the minimum of time necessary to exercise the LEV choice then immediately return to pursuing goals which are not timed to the national electoral cycle.

By John Halle.

 

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.

 

 

Only Greece (out of developed nations) has seen a wage collapse as dramatic as the UK

While most of the rest of Europe have experienced some wage growth since 2007, including crisis devastated economies like Spain (+2.8%) Ireland (+1.6%) and Italy (+0.9%), UK workers have seen a catastrophic decline in earning power only matched by workers in the economic catastrophe zone that is Greece (-10.4%).

Ordinary British workers have seen the deliberate decimation of their wages since the Lib-Dems enabled the Tories back into power in 2010. Meanwhile the super wealthy minority have literally doubled their wealth since the economic crisis. 

Aside from overseeing the longest sustained decline in wages in economic history, a reduction in earning power only matched by the crisis stricken Greek economy, a huge upwards redistribution of wealth, and the slowest economic recovery on record, the Tories have also been savagely attacking working rights too.

Just look at the furious way the French have reacted to attacks on their employment rights with continued riots (mostly unreported by UK MSM), and consider that they’ve enjoyed a 10% increase in their earning power since the pre-crisis period.

In Britain we’ve had a 10.4% decrease in our earning power and most people have sat back compliantly as the Tories have repeatedly snatched our employment rights away.

What will it take for the Sheeple of the UK to wake up from their torpor?

 


Credit to the TUC report below: http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/2016/07/uk-real-wages-decline-10-severe-oecd-equal-greece/

UK real wages decline of over 10% is the most severe in the OECD (equal to Greece)

27 Jul 2016, by  in Economics

The decline in UK real wages since the pre-crisis peak is the most severe in the OECD, equal only to Greece. Both countries saw declines of 10.4% per cent between 2007 Q4 and 2015Q4. Apart from Portugal, all other OECD countries saw real wage increases, albeit mostly modest ones.

oecd_w_jul16

(NB strictly the Greek decline is 10.41% and the UK 10.37%, but no way are the figures accurate beyond one decimal place.)

These results are derived from figures in the 2016 edition of the OECD’s Employment Outlook (released a couple of weeks ago, but it has taken me some time to get hold of the figures – see endnote for details of calculation). Even though most countries have seen real wages rise, growth rates are generally disappointing – under normal condition you might expect around 2% a year, and so 16% over eight years.

At the time their UK release contrasted a strong employment performance with weak earnings growth. The employment rate is at a record level, some 5 percentage points above the OECD average. On the other hand real wages “fell by more than 10% after 2007”. See the left and rightmost charts below:

oecd_report_jul16

The comparison of figures for individual countries therefore gives a fuller context for the wage decline shown on the OECD chart. To be balanced, the same should be done for employment – the OECD also provides figures for the ‘employment gap’ – defined at the top of the next chart:

oecd_e_jul16

(The figures are extracted from chart 1.2 in the Employment Outlook.)

The government’s argument is that flexibility on wages has permitted the employment gains. Whatever your view of the theory, the data show this is not obviously the case. In spite of the largest falls in wages, the UK ranks sixteenth (of 42) in terms of job gains (though the employment chart includes some non-OECD countries that have performed well). Any flexibility in Greece was completely pointless. Moreover the countries with the highest gains in real wages were also among those with the highest employment gains.

Plainly the relationship between wages and employment is not as straightforward as notions of flexibility might suggest. The following chart compares outcomes on employment with those on wages (the underlying data by country is in the annex).

The UK is very much an outlier – the only country where a good jobs performance is associated with a bad (terrible) real wages performance.

Employment v earnings, change over 2007Q4 to 2015Q4

oecd_scatter_jul16

Thankfully the UK is not Greece or Portugal in the bottom left quadrant. Taking the low wage road may have helped to keep jobs afloat in the UK; in contrast, in the majority of countries (in this sample) the employment gap was still negative but wages rose (bottom right quadrant). It is possible to think that economies/policymakers face a choice between these two options.  But this would be wrong – other countries have managed to have it both ways (top right quadrant).

These are mainly central European countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland along with Japan and Israel. All these countries have benefited from strong aggregate demand in recent years, in particular through exports and/or government spending.

Plainly this is not a decisive measure of performance, if such a thing exists. My sense is that outcomes in the post-crisis period should be assessed alongside a comparison of performance relative to the pre-crisis period (see for example my examination of the effect of spending cuts cross the OECD – here). On this basis of the countries above, those ‘A8’ countries (that joined the EU from 2004) may have performed strongly over the post-crisis period, but have seen a significant reduction since the pre-crisis days.

Nonetheless the above results offer a valuable perspective on labour market outcomes overall.

We knew already that the UK had endured the longest and steepest decline in real wages since at least 1830. We now know that this decline is matched by no other country apart from Greece. Gains in employment are not adequate compensation.

Endnote: the total wage decline is derived from Figure 1.6, by compounding the separate growth rates for 07Q4-09Q1, 09Q1-12Q4 and 12Q4-15Q4. Note that the OECD derive real wages from national accounts information, dividing total wages by hours worked and putting into real terms with the household consumption deflator. These can differ from those based on average weekly earnings and CPI inflation that tend to be used in the UK.

ANNEX: change over 2007Q4 to 2015Q4

oecd_tabler_jul16

The Bank of England’s dose of honesty throws the theoretical basis for austerity out the window

Retweeted from the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/18/truth-money-iou-bank-of-england-austerity

Back in the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn’t know how banking really works, because if they did, “there’d be a revolution before tomorrow morning”.
 
Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. In a paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy”, co-authored by three economists from the Bank’s Monetary Analysis Directorate, they stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong, and that the kind of populist, heterodox positions more ordinarily associated with groups such as Occupy Wall Street are correct. In doing so, they have effectively thrown the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.
 
To get a sense of how radical the Bank’s new position is, consider the conventional view, which continues to be the basis of all respectable debate on public policy. People put their money in banks. Banks then lend that money out at interest – either to consumers, or to entrepreneurs willing to invest it in some profitable enterprise. True, the fractional reserve system does allow banks to lend out considerably more than they hold in reserve, and true, if savings don’t suffice, private banks can seek to borrow more from the central bank.
 
The central bank can print as much money as it wishes. But it is also careful not to print too much. In fact, we are often told this is why independent central banks exist in the first place. If governments could print money themselves, they would surely put out too much of it, and the resulting inflation would throw the economy into chaos. Institutions such as the Bank of England or US Federal Reserve were created to carefully regulate the money supply to prevent inflation. This is why they are forbidden to directly fund the government, say, by buying treasury bonds, but instead fund private economic activity that the government merely taxes.
 
It’s this understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource like bauxite or petroleum, to say “there’s just not enough money” to fund social programmes, to speak of the immorality of government debt or of public spending “crowding out” the private sector. What the Bank of England admitted this week is that none of this is really true. To quote from its own initial summary: “Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits” … “In normal times, the central bank does not fix the amount of money in circulation, nor is central bank money ‘multiplied up’ into more loans and deposits.”
 
In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it’s backwards. When banks make loans, they create money. This is because money is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There’s really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it. They will never get caught short, for the simple reason that borrowers do not, generally speaking, take the cash and put it under their mattresses; ultimately, any money a bank loans out will just end up back in some bank again. So for the banking system as a whole, every loan just becomes another deposit. What’s more, insofar as banks do need to acquire funds from the central bank, they can borrow as much as they like; all the latter really does is set the rate of interest, the cost of money, not its quantity. Since the beginning of the recession, the US and British central banks have reduced that cost to almost nothing. In fact, with “quantitative easing” they’ve been effectively pumping as much money as they can into the banks, without producing any inflationary effects.
 
What this means is that the real limit on the amount of money in circulation is not how much the central bank is willing to lend, but how much government, firms, and ordinary citizens, are willing to borrow. Government spending is the main driver in all this (and the paper does admit, if you read it carefully, that the central bank does fund the government after all). So there’s no question of public spending “crowding out” private investment. It’s exactly the opposite.
 
Why did the Bank of England suddenly admit all this? Well, one reason is because it’s obviously true. The Bank’s job is to actually run the system, and of late, the system has not been running especially well. It’s possible that it decided that maintaining the fantasy-land version of economics that has proved so convenient to the rich is simply a luxury it can no longer afford.
 
But politically, this is taking an enormous risk. Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.
 
Historically, the Bank of England has tended to be a bellwether, staking out seeming radical positions that ultimately become new orthodoxies. If that’s what’s happening here, we might soon be in a position to learn if Henry Ford was right.

In his 2013 budget speech, Chancellor George Osbourne repeatedly used the phrase aspiration nation. This idea comes from the conviction politics, economics and social policy of Thatcherism and is a pivotal ideology of Conservative politics.

This aspiration nation is a society that values and fetishizes commodities above all else, as predicted by Karl Marx (b. German, 1818 – 1883, Das Kapital Vol.1, 1867).

I believe this “aspiration nation” is in fact a neo-feudal culture. It has become a Corpocracy, a society usurped by corporate global banks. And these international banks are tightening their grip by increasingly pushing us toward a cashless society.

Governments would love to see the end of banknotes. But what would a cashless society mean for freedom? The Guardian’s   has written about this today…

Crime, terrorism and tax evasion: why banks are waging war on cash

I can remember the moment I realised the era of cash could soon be over.

It was Australia Day on Bondi Beach in 2014. In a busy liquor store, a man wearing only swimming shorts, carrying only a mobile phone and a plastic card, was delaying other people’s transactions while he moved 50 Australian dollars into his current account on his phone so that he could buy beer. The 30-odd youngsters in the queue behind him barely murmured; they’d all been in the same predicament. I doubt there was a banknote or coin between them.

The possibility of a cashless society has come at us with a rush: contactless payment is so new that the little ping the machine makes can still feel magical. But in some shops, especially those that cater for the young, a customer reaching for a banknote already produces an automatic frown.

Among central bankers, that frown has become a scowl. There is a “war on cash” in the offing – but it has nothing to do with boosting our ease of payment or saving trees.

Consider the central banks’ anti-crisis measures so far. The first was to slash interest rates close to zero. Then, since you can’t slash them below zero, the banks turned to printing money to stimulate demand. But with global growth depressed, and a massive overhanging debt, quantitative easing (QE) is running out of steam.

Enter the era of negative interest rates: thanks to the effect of QE, tens of billions held in government bonds already yield interest rates that are effectively below zero. Now, central banks such as Japan and Sweden have begun to impose negative official interest rates.

The effect, for banks or long-term savers, is that by putting your money in a safe place – such as the central bank or a government bond – you automatically lose some of it.

Not surprisingly, these measures have led to the growing popularity of cash for people with any substantial savings. Bank of England research shows demand for cash has grown faster than GDP in many countries. So the central banks face a further challenge: how to impose negative interest rates on cash itself.

Technologically, you can’t. If people hold their savings as physical currency, it keeps its value – and in a period of deflation the spending power of hoarded cash increases, even as share prices and the value of bank deposits fall. Cash, in a situation like this, is king.

But the banks are ahead of us. Last September, the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, openly pondered ways of imposing negative interest rates on cash – ie shrinking its value automatically. You could invalidate random banknotes, using their serial numbers. There are £63bn worth of notes in circulation in the UK: if you wanted to lop 1% off that, you could simply cancel half of all fivers without warning. A second solution would be to establish an exchange rate between paper money and the digital money in our bank accounts. A fiver deposited at the bank might buy you a £4.95 credit in your account.

More radical still would be to outlaw cash. In Norway, two major banks no longer issue cash from branch offices. Last month, the biggest bank, DNB, publicly called for the government to outlaw cash.

Why would a central bank want to eliminate cash? For the same reason as you want to flatten interest rates to zero: to force people to spend or invest their money in the risky activities that revive growth, rather than hoarding it in the safest place.

Calls for the eradication of cash have been bolstered by evidence that high-value notes play a major role in crime, terrorism and tax evasion.

In a study for the Harvard Business School last week, former bank boss Peter Sands called for global elimination of the high-value note. Britain’s “monkey” – the £50 – is low-value compared with its foreign-currency equivalents, and constitutes a small proportion of the cash in circulation. By contrast, Japan’s 10,000-yen note (worth roughly £60) makes up a startling 92% of all cash in circulation; the Swiss 1,000-franc note (worth around £700) likewise. Sands wants an end to these notes plus the $100 bill, and the €500 note – known in underworld circles as the “Bin Laden”.

 

The advantages of a digital-only payment system to the user are clear: you can emerge from the surf in only your bathing shorts and proceed to buy beer, food, or even a small car, providing your balance is positive. The advantages to banks are also clear. Not only can all transactions be charged a fee, but bank runs are eliminated. There can be no repeat of the queues outside Northern Rock, nor of the Greek fiasco last summer, because there will be no ATMs, only a computer spreadsheet moving digital money around. The advantages to governments are also clear: all transactions can be taxed. Capital controls are implicit within the system.

But there are drawbacks, even for governments that would like to take absolute control of money transactions. First, resilience. If a cyber-attack or computer malfunction took down a digital-only payment system, there would be no cash reserves in households and businesses to fall back on. The second is more fundamental and concerns freedom. In most countries, the ability to take your cash out of the bank and to spend it anonymously is associated with many pleasurable activities – not all of which are illegal but which exist on the margins of society. How tens of thousands of club-goers would pay for their drugs each Saturday night is a non-trivial issue.

Nevertheless, the arrival of negative interest rates for banks, together with new rules allowing governments to bail-in – i.e. confiscate – deposits above a protected minimum, are certain to increase savers’ awareness of the value of cash, and will prompt calls in earnest for its abolition.

If it happens, it would be the ultimate demonstration of the power of FINANCE over people. As for resistance? Go ahead and try.

It may be the Queen’s head on a £50 note but the “promise to pay” is made above the signature of a Bank of England bureaucrat.

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Neo-Feudalism and the invisible fist, a form of structural violence, a return to the caste system. It is privatised governance and the ordinary person doesn’t stand a chance.