Monday, 17 December 2012

Disability rights: the UK pariah state

December 3 was the United Nations International Day for Persons with Disabilities. It was also the day on which the government of the United Kingdom's Department of Work and Pensions began forcing disabled people into forced, unpaid labour for their benefits.

Those with severe disabilities and chronically illnesses placed onto Employment Support Allowance, such as such as cerebral palsy sufferer Wayne Blackburn, are being told that they must partake in a 'mandatory work activity', or else their benefit will be sanctioned by 70% and reduced to £28.15 a week; they are being blackmailed with total destitution. Destitution that will undoubtedly affect thousands of infirm people who cannot engage in the forced labour demanded of them given their conditions. All of this is justifiedsuch as by Iain Duncan Smith in response to Owen Jones's remarks, on the deaths of severely disabled people who perished after being deemed 'fit to work' by farcical Atos 'Work Capability Assessments'by an extremely twisted notion of compassion. As much as can be derived from the slogan Arbeit Macht Frei.

It ought to pointed out that Article 27 paragraph 2  of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, covering rights of employment, which the UK is a ratified signatory to, reads the following: 

States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not held in slavery or in servitude, and are protected, on an equal basis with others, from forced or compulsory labour.

The UK government's mandatory work activities for disabled persons, coerced into them through financial blackmail, can undoubtedly be described as such. It chose to commemorate the United Nations day commemorating the rights of disabled people by violating United Nations international law protecting them. Not only should it be held accountable for engaging in this sick irony, but should reprehended on a formal, legal basis.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The case for a Wealth Tax

Though Britain is currently undergoing what is termed an "age of austerity", it is an austerity that certainly does not apply to the most advantaged, or to those responsible for financial crash that caused the ongoing recession, or virtual depression, of the economy.

The UK is unmatched for increases in its income inequality among all other developed nations since the 1970s. Appropriate to the country's Dickensian neoliberal political orthodoxy, according to Professor Danny Doring of the University of Sheffield, the amount of adjustable wealth owned by the UK's richest one percent is almost equal to what it was in the year 1918.

While the poor and vulnerable suffer austerity to pay for the expense of a financial insecurity, primarily the consequence of the £1 trillion bailout of the City of London's financial firms, the Labour Party MP Michael Meacher notes that the UK's wealthiest 1,000 persons have increased their collective wealth by £155 billion since the crash. While rejecting the concept of a Mansion Tax proposed by their Liberal Democrat partners, David Cameron's Conservative-led coalition government has incidentally introduced what has been termed a Bedroom Tax on social housing tenants, turfing thousands out of their homes for having one too many bedrooms, and surely almost irreparably fraying swathes of social fabric in the process.

According to a report by the independent Office of National Statistics, the richest 10% of the UK's population owns 40% of the country's entire £10.3 trillion worth of national wealth. They are 850 times wealthier than the poorest 50% of households. Income tax alone (which the Cameron government has cut for the highest earners) is inefficient in addressing economic inequity, given that tax relief is permitted for private pensions and trust funds. 

In countries including Iceland (which has made the financial institutions that caused its financial crisis to pay for it rather than its people), Switzerland (which is hardly a Soviet Republic in regard to tax policy), Norway (one of the most highly developed countries in the world), and France, a wealth tax is levied on the cumulative assets of the most fortunate, going by the varying names of an Equity Tax, a Capital Tax, and in France (straightforwardly) a solidarity tax on wealth. The most latter yielded €4.42 billion of government revenues in 2007.

The starting assets to be part of the UK's richest 10% is according to this ONS report £967,000 and above. Generally speaking, Wealth Taxes in other countries have varying rates, with those at the starting rate paying fairly substantially less than multi-millionaires and billionaires. In France, for example, this ranges from 0.55% to 1.8%. A Wealth Tax applied to Britain's wealthiest therefore warrants a more detailed analysis on what its rates should be; but we can consider the revenue raised from a hypothetical flat rate of 1.5%. A 1.5% levy applied to the £4.12 trillion of wealth the richest 10% own would raise £61.8 billion a year. This is more in one year than all of the cuts made to public services and welfare combined by George Osborne's treasury so far. In two years, this would raise more (£123.6 billion) than all of the cuts made so far, and all of the cuts that are planned to be made over multiple years. "Austerity", clearly not applying to the most providential, of which we are told there is no alternative to reduce the national budget deficit and structural debt (caused by the £1 trillion bailout of financial firms, which we can assume that many within the richest 10%, and probably 1%, have prospered from). With the rates of the wealth tax varying, it would more subjective generality raise £60-70 billion per year.

Britain would still remain the second most economically unequal country on the planet. The richest 10% would still own nearly £4 trillion of wealth. But the fact of how much the Wealth Tax would raise exemplifies our endemic inequality; and clearly dispels the ideologically-driven lies that attempt to justify social immobility and deprivation for the whole of wider society. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Cameron's Potemkin: austerity over equity

Some claim that hypothetical efforts to combat tax evasion and avoidance by individuals and corporations, reaping surplus profits and wealth during the 'age of austerity', are dubious and complex. (Many of them employ this tactic to straightforwardly excuse the ideological basis for the austerity itself).

Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne are claiming to be supplying funding to tax collection efforts against avoidance, and to find it "morally repugnant", respectively.

The anti-evasion "efforts" of Cameron's government will apparently yield a paltry £7 billion a year by 2014; this is less than 8% of the estimated £95 billion a year expense of tax avoidance and evasion by high-earners and multinational firms.

A legitimate effort to tackle the systemic efforts of firms to avoid fair social contributions, unlike that of the Cameron government, has been undertaken by the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas. In March 2011, she cited a "report by Tax Research UK," revealing "that around 500,000 companies ‘disappeared’ from the UK’s Register of Companies in the year to March 2010 – with billions being lost to the Exchequer as a result." Based upon this report Lucas proposed a private member's bill, the Tax and Financial Transparency Bill 2010-12, to comprehensively counteract it. The Tory majority Parliament, inflicting austerity onto society, voted against it.

It is estimated that the revenue lost to the treasury from corporate manipulation of this loophole is £16 billion a year; amounting to £80 billion over a 5 year period,  falling only £1 billion short of the £81 billion of cuts in George Osborne's brutal 2010 spending review (the remaining £1 billion could be found through renationalisation of Britain's railway system).

Cameron and the Conservative Party have an awkward balancing act. For populist political gain, they must appeal to the moral indignation instigated by the wealthy's tax avoidance through constructing a PR facade of doing so, while ensuring placation of the vested interests whose generous party donations are their lifeblood. The Tory parliamentary body shutting down any legitimate effort to do so makes clear their absolute facetiousness.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Price-rigging and the struggle for survival

Major utility companies in Britain have recently been implicated, thanks to the bravery of whistleblowers, of manipulating trading information relating to the cost of gas and electricity supplies, and therefore their profits through increased prices for consumers. The architect of neoliberal utilities privatisation was Margaret Thatcher's Chancellor to the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, who has since become known, perhaps not coincidentally, as a leading denier of climate change caused by fossil fuel emissions.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has promised "punitive" fines on the corporations for this wrongdoing. But it may as well be regarded as marginal, given the multi-billions of capital and assets held by them. Earlier this year, many energy companies announced an increase in fuel prices. British Gas and Scottish Gas recently announced £2.4 billion of profits thanks to these price hikes (adding to the £22.8 billion of profits accumulated by their owners Centrica), while SSE announced a 38% increase in profits to £397.5 million. All of the price increases are seemingly well-timed for the winter season, by the utility companies who insist on them being a necessity despite their massive profits (and who, as we now know, used illegally deceptive information to excuse them).

The outrage over this profiteering is warranted. Households in need of these basic necessities are essentially being extorted and indentured en masse. But most important is the statistic of its human cost: 27,000. As much as 27,000 people, every year in Britain, die from by fuel poverty driven by the punitive for-profit price hikes of utility corporations, for the benefit of their FTSE 100 shareholders. Fewer were killed in some of Nazi Germany's Action T4 euthanasia facilities. The majority of those who die are elderly people over the age of 70, who most struggle to survive in their fragility. The deaths are often the result of both starvation and hypothermia, given that in my cases elderly people are forced to choose between "heating or eating". The expense of fuel makes it impossible for them afford adequate nutrition simultaneously. The fatality of profit-driven fuel poverty is not limited to the elderly however: it is, along with government welfare cuts, forcing children to live without adequate nutrition or winter clothing according to Save the Children. How young may some of the 27,000 a year killed by fuel poverty be?

Given that these corporations are complicit to this mass deprivation, harm and endangerment to human life, and are being proven to have lied to justify soaring utility prices in the interests of shareholder profits, they can therefore be implicated in engaging in self-serving systematic manslaughter on a yearly basis.

The solution to this atrocity is the nationalisation of all public utilities, and the reinvestment of their profits to make prices as equatable as possible and to abolish fuel poverty, and the assure the sustainable and insulated fuel efficiency of homes, rather than subsidise the wealth accumulation of capital shareholders, and the pay and bonuses of corporate utility executives.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Thoughts on the 2012 U.S. vice-presidential debate.

  • U.S. sanctions on Iran are indeed “crippling” and “devastating” as Joe Biden says. They are literally starving people. How can this be something to brag about?
  • The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the killing of Osama bin Laden are mentioned by Biden. But he ignores mass-killing drone wars in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
  • The Mubarak regime in Egypt was supplied with diplomatic support and multi-billions in U.S. military aid for 30 years. Not just from the Obama administration.
  • Listening to a “debate” on slightly differing positions of posturing militarism is nauseating.
  • The gargantuan subsidy for the military-industrial complex is always preserved from any substantial cuts.
  • Amidst talk of Iran, the U.S. has enough nuclear missiles to destroy all life on earth numerous times over. Perhaps Iran would be more inclined to end its proliferation if it deactivated a few dozen.
  • American foreign policy: condemning human rights violations and declaring allegiance to Saudi Arabia in the same sentence. The sheer hypocrisy is self-evident.
  • Does America defend the values of “liberty and individual rights” by imposing a brutal, punitive police and surveillance state against anti-corporate dissidents and Occupy protests?
  • Paul Ryan’s justification of market-driven healthcare is the notion of “choice”. There is no choice for people unable to access treatment and medicine due to its cost.
  • Friday, 5 October 2012

    A universal single-payer healthcare system would reduce the United States government deficit by 40%.

    According to a study by the United States National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health: “The total cost of the intervention over 12 months was $238,388 and the cost of increasing the delivery of appropriate care was $192,912 for a total cost of $431,300. The savings from reduction in inappropriate testing were $148,568 and from avoiding treatment costs as a result of appropriate testing were $455,464 for a total savings of $604,032. On a yearly basis the net cost saving to the government is $191,733 per year (2003 $Can) equating to $3,687 per physician or $63,911 per facilitator, an estimated return on intervention investment and delivery of appropriate preventive care of 40%.”
    This is the conclusion of a study comparatively eliminating all of the financial bureaucracies of a healthcare system controlled by government-subsidized corporations, in which patients are individually divided and denied the medical treatment of practitioners according to their ability to pay or by the technicalities of their private insurance coverage.
    Total spending on Health and Human Services in the 2013 federal government budget is $940.9 billion. A 40% reduction achieved through the United States creating a universal healthcare system like the rest of the industrialized world would by the NLM’s estimation save $376.36 billion a year; around 41.8% of the entire government deficit at planned 2013 levels.

    Thursday, 4 October 2012

    Some thoughts on the first U.S. presidential debate.

    • Mitt Romney will help the families losing their homes. By supporting bank foreclosures of them?
    • It’s typical neoliberalism for Mitt to use the symptoms of wealth inequality to justify economic austerity.
    • Tax evasion costs the U.S. $400-500 billion a year. The same amount of money would be saved through adaption of a universal healthcare system according to the American Medical Association. 
    • The problems relating to abandoning Medicare for elderly people essentially exemplify the endemic inefficiency and immorality of for-profit healthcare for all.
    • The reality of the U.S. healthcare system is an infant mortality rate higher than in Cuba.
    • If Mitt believes in state-by-state healthcare, does he supports plans in Vermont for free universal coverage?
    • Mitt argues against a board of people in government deciding on access to healthcare treatments.  Don’t health insurance companies dictate on what treatments patients can and cannot have according to their “preexisting conditions”?
    • Romney will protect religious “freedom and tolerance” by supporting segregation and suppression of the rights of women and LGBT people.
    • How reassuring that Republicans and Democrats are united in extrajudicial drone strike assassinations.
    • Of course, spending on the absurd and gargantuan military budget is untouchable.  There is no austerity for Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing etc.

    Wednesday, 3 October 2012

    The inhuman crimes of Atos Origin and the Department of Work and Pensions

    It has been disclosed that over 11,000 disabled and chronically sick people in Britain have died after being declared 'fit to work' by the Department of Work and Pensions and Atos Origin, the company contracted to undertake "Work Capability Assessments" of their abilities. To put this into perspective, this is over 26 times the amount of UK military deaths in the war in Afghanistan.  

    These schemes are justified by the idea that disabled people should be forced into work by whatever means possible. In a twisted irony, Remploy, an organization providing means for disabled people willing and able to work in certain capacities, has had large amounts of its funding cut by the same government abusing the disabled community as workshy welfare dependents. Of course, most disabled and severely sick people are unable to work, and would not be given a job by any responsible employer. 55% of them, after having their vital welfare withdrawn by the government, are jobless and without any income. A breast cancer survivor, with clinical depression and muscle pain caused by her chemotherapy, considers that her life "isn't worth living" after the withdrawal of her Disability Living Allowance has left her impoverished and unable to provide for her children.

    These Atos "assessments" are claimed to be a reasonable basis on whether to deny or allow claimants of Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Employment Support Allowance welfare payments. They have been roundly condemned by the British Medical Association, who view them as medically harmful to those subjected to them, and without any scientific medical basis. Atos are known to systematically drive their pseudoscientific "points" system on the ability of those subjected to their tests with extremely contrived and unaccountable flexibility. According to former Atos 'nurse' Joyce Drummond, she was demanded by the company to take advantage of as many methods as possible for claimants to fail the points test, and resigned in her refusal to do so. She was also discouraged for being "too nice" to the disabled and sick people supposedly in her care. Atos appear to prefer to subject the assessed to intimidation, humiliation and abuse. A person disabled by severe sciatica was forced to "crawl on the floor in tears" in agony, by a "doctor" who refused them any aid, and any points in their assessment, so therefore any disability welfare payments. Another with multiple sclerosis expressed concern over "becoming just another boring statistic in the mounting death toll.”

    It is subjective to consider how the 11,000 who died after having their benefit payments withdrawn may have joined this 'mounting death toll'. Some may have been effected enough by the consequences of deprivation and distress, and others will have killed themselves. Colin Traynor (aged 29), with severe epilepsy, died after a seizure assumed by his family to have been the result of his welfare payment being cut by £70 a week. Karen Sherlock (aged 44), with many illnesses caused by inherited diabetes and resulting in her needing to undergo regular dialysis, died of a cardiac arrest after being forced into a "Work Related Activity" under the threat of losing her entire Incapacity Benefit, the stress of which presumably overwhelmed and distracted her from recovery. In the 10,998 other cases, there will be a multitude of untold stories even sadder and more sickening than these.

    The routine excuse given by Atos on such cases is that they "do not make decisions on people's benefit entitlement or on welfare policy". Though this seems to have contrived in the spirit of Adolf Eichmann's statements as the Nuremberg Trials, it is nevertheless true that the Department of Work and Pensions under Ian Duncan Smith is the main source of responsibility for them. Atos are in their conduct, afterall, only following orders.

    I believe that the institutionally-driven violence against disabled people, and the sentiments justifying it in the tabloid newspapers that are just as racist and chauvinistic as they are disablist, can be described as fascist without reservation. This is beyond hyperbole or Godwin's Law. It is an accurate way of defining the scapegoating and cold cruelty inflicted against vulnerable people, whose existences are viewed as futile and warranting of ritual derision. This is evident in the explosion of disability hate crimes which appear to be relative to government policy and enthusiastic mass media agitation against the "benefit scrounging" disabled community.  

    Article 25.1 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the foundation of international standards for basic civil and human rights which any supposedly morally decent society is obliged to adhere, reads the following: 

    "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his [or her] family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his [or her] control."

    There is no doubt in my mind that the way in which the United Kingdom government's welfare policies treat disabled and incapacitated people violates international United Nations standards of basic human rights.

    PCS union leader Mark Serwotka argues that "A society that refuses to support its most vulnerable has lost the right to be called civilised". I would agree, and say that a Britain complacent to the systematic manslaughter of those vulnerable people has ceded that right completely. Though this will hopefully be regarded infamously in history, and eventually atoned for as it should be, it makes no difference to the hardest hit, suffering and dying at this very moment. Their situation warrants any feasible action by those they need to defend them.

    Monday, 1 October 2012

    The consent manufacturing of the Commission on Presidential Debates

    On 3 October in the United States, the first of three presidential debates between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will take place. There is arguably definite differences between the two candidates; it would be naive to claim them as indistinguishable. But nevertheless, they are mutually inclined to certain tendencies: such as warmongering on Iran and support for the Israeli government's violations of international human rights law, the failed and damaging 'War on Drugs', authoritarian laws eroding basic civil liberties such as the NDAA and SOPA, the CIA's mass-killing drone strikes in the Middle East, and general pandering to the interests of multinational corporations and financial institutions. Romney is undoubtedly a mendacious neoliberal kleptocrat in his own regard, but one of Obama's largest financial contributors is Lloyd Blankfein: the CEO and Chairman and chairman Goldman of Sachs, and a former economic adviser to George W. Bush. So though Obama and Romney will dispute their differences and attempt to have invented one-liners catch on in the public consciousness, they will be in the highly stage-managed confines of rhetorical monopoly, with no challenge to the opinions they mutually share, which will likely be dismissed and unaddressed entirely.  This is quite an explicit representation of the manufacture of political consent: by a two-headed one party state allowed to express their servile policies by corporate media control in the U.S., which Noam Chomsky has always described.

    The Commission on Presidential Debates who coordinate them decide to obey to this pathetic whitewashing entirely. But there is no reason for them to: only their own pre-set guidelines of candidate inclusion which, perversely, make the opportunity for the candidates who are not the Democrat and Republican to participate an impossibility, due to their deliberate and systemic unacknowledgment by the very same media. I have emailed the media representatives of the Commission:

    I am contacting you to join many others in expressing my dissatisfaction and disappointment with the Commission of Presidential Debates' exclusion of the Libertarian Party candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein from October's presidential debates (as well as that of of their respective running mates Judge Jim Gray and Cheri Honkala from the vice-presidential debates). The candidates are being excluded despite their eligibility and hypothetical mathematical possibility to win the election. The Commission should at least consider the inclusion of Gov. Johnson, given the fact he has major ballot access and has polling numbers on par with that of H. Ross Perot, who was allowed to debate with then President Bush and Gov. Bill Clinton in the 1992 election campaign.

    The Commission claims itself to be non-profit organization without bias and in informative journalistic service. If so, then it should not limit the prism and openness of the national debate in evident partiality to the two main parties. Such exclusion, in my view, is in totally lax abandon of journalistic integrity and democratic legitimacy. The media in any free society should challenge power; not adhere to its dictated wishes. A number of your sponsors who have withdrawn their financial support of your activities appear to have the same view. I suggest their sentiments are heeded in accordance to the freedom of speech the American people deserve. How can it be justified to exclude such candidates based upon an arbitrary set of standards they are implicitly impeded from achieving by such inbuilt censorship of their views to a national audience? 

    Whether or not we personally agree with candidates like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein to whatever extent is irrelevant. I encourage anyone, anywhere in the world, who cares about freedom of expression, do to the same accordingly. The emphasis of and by many people on the narrow prism of the debates may at least convince them to modify their lack of openness.

    Sunday, 9 September 2012

    Ideological austerity = deficit reduction?

    In an extremely uninspiring interview with the New Statesman, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has made clear that, despite his posturing to the moral contrary, Labour are just as committed to austerity and privatisation inflicted upon public services and society as the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition. The interjection in brackets by the New Statesman quoting Miliband speaks volumes about his ideological uniformity: "I can’t make a promise on EMA [Education Maintenance Allowance]. You can't both say to me there's less money to spend and are you realistic about the economic circumstances and then I spray around lots of promises. That's why Ed's speech [on accepting Tory cuts and fiscal discipline] in January and my speech were important." What exactly is the point of a Labour opposition that absolutely and capitulatingly submits and concedes to a narrative set by the parties of government, other than to present to facade of criticism of the prevailing ideology?

    Let's be clear:  the notion that there is no method to reduce budget and structural deficits, other than in cuts to social spending and privatisation schemes in public services, is a straightforward untruth. It is an obscuring ideologically-driven narrative construction. It is a lie. The Education Maintenance Allowance that Ed Miliband casually dismisses the restoration of, for example, assured access to higher education to many thousands of young people, who have been forced to abandon those basic opportunities due to its abolition by David Cameron's government.

    It was somewhat bizarre to listen to the speech given by President Bill Clintonwhose presidency was the most recent in U.S. history to supply a budget surplus through its increased taxation on the wealthy and investment in education, and scientific, technological and infrastructural development—to use terminology such as "the mass we inherited" in reference to the financial catastrophe parlayed onto American society by the deregulatory and supply-side economic policies of the George W. Bush administration and the Federal Reserve of Ayn Rand disciple Alan Greenspan.

    The ironic truth is that when the Tories discuss, in their extremely condescending and monotonous way, an "economic mess" they inherited, they aren't technically inaccurate. Just as the United States has been inflicted with the failure and disaster caused by an Objectivist-led Fed and the policies  which began with the Reagan Administration, as has Britain by the neoliberal Thatcherite ideology which was first institutionalised in the mid-1980s by its General Pinochet-supporting namesake, and continued by the railway-privatising and single mother-attacking government of John Major, and the neoliberal New Labour project of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.  

    The basic agenda of the current government is to make wider society: public sector workers, the National Health Service, education, universities, poor, elderly, vulnerable and disabled people, students, children, and the arts and sciences, pay for the cost of the economic crisis that none of them caused. As well as to supply generous tax cuts and subsidies to the wealthy and multinational corporations. 

    The frustrating reality which Ed Miliband and Balls seem to be oblivious to is the fact that the Labour Party opposition (which is tremendously lacking in its presupposition as an opposing ideological force against the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition) could have a far stronger and bolder line on deficit reduction, completely synonymous with an opposition to unjust austerity, which fulfills only ideological Tory psychopathology and nepotistic vested interests mutually.

    Outlined is some basic statistics: 

    • The accumulated estimate for cost the Bank of England's liquidation (bailouts) of Britain's banking system in 2008 is £1.5 trillion. This is £523 billion more than the structural deficit which was estimated as £977 billion when George Osborne began to engage in his austerity drive against public services in 2010. It is known that the banking system's wealth has increased in the years following the financial crisis it caused, while thousands of families and children have been plunged into poverty by the ensuing recession and austerity justified to pay down a deficit caused by the said £1.5 trillion bailout. 
    • Government spending at 2009-2010 levels preceding said public spending cuts was £155 billion. (Though this includes spending such as the number of nuclear weapons maintained, subsidies for marketisation of public services, and state surveillance programs which I would advocate cutting). The estimated collectivised cost of revenue lost by tax evasion and avoidance schemes and loopholes manipulated by select groupings of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals is known to be £95 billion every year. This is compared to the £81 billion of cuts to public services in George Osborne's original 2010 'spending review'. 
    • According to Andy Haldane, Executive Director of Financial Stability at the Bank of England, £100 billion of subsidy is granted by the UK government to give free insurance to the banks who received bailout funds. What implicit need do financial institutions with multi-trillions in combined assets have for this subsidy, when compared to, for example, poor children or severely disabled people victim to the same government's budget cuts in the welfare system, whose benefit payments are absolutely marginal in cost when compared to this subsidy?
    • Conclusively: 1) ensuring that the banks who received percentages of their £1.5 trillion in bailout funds easily compensate their obligations to taxpayers and the treasury, 2) tackling evasion and avoidance of fair taxation by the wealthiest in society, and 3) ending £100 billion a year of exorbitant state subsidies to investment bankers and hedge-fund managers, would leave Britain with a £523 billion structural surplus, and a possible maximum budget surplus of £64 billion per year with government spending hypothetically restored to the whole of 2009 levels (though I would cut nuclear weapons and state surveillance programs), before the beginning of the Cameron coalition government's ideologically-driven austerity agenda.

    If the Labour leadership insists on ideological triangulation, then it ought to understand that it can completely break through the deception of the ideologically-driven austerity narrative: that deficit reduction and neoliberal divestment and privatisation are synonymous. Instead standing wholly against the Tory agenda, in mind of the fact of there is an alternative to it, not morally depraved or regressing 21st century society in its implicit failure.

    Wednesday, 29 August 2012

    The Daily Mail's far-right fascist racism

    During the French presidential election of April 2012, the Daily Mail's Richard Waghorne wrote a column supporting the candidacy of the far-right French National Front's Marine Le Pen. The daughter of open Nazi sympathizer and antisemitic Holocaust denier Jean-Marie, who himself bemoans the influence of "Jewish organizations" and denies that non-white footballers in French national football team are truly French, and describes his daughter as "passing the baton" of his ideas. Though Waghorne supposedly disowns the extreme racist fascism of the NF and Le Pens, he still justifies his endorsement based upon as "an imperfect choice in urgent times, the only candidate capable of saving France’s control over her finances, borders, and identity." This is evasive and revisionist language easily on par with the rhetoric of British National Party leader Nick Griffin. The French NF are part of the same party grouping in the European parliament as the BNP. Why don't the Daily Mail support the BNP based upon the same reasoning of them being a "reformed" far-right fascist party with the same agreeable priorities?  Nicholas Sarkozy (ironically described as "the foreigner" by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2007 for his Jewish ancestry) was keen to pander to the fascist segment of the voting population in his unsuccessful reelection campaign, by describing France as having "too many foreigners", and warning against the threat of immigrant "invaders" if Francois Hollande was elected to the presidency. Sadly, it appears that  President Hollande, who was once thought as beholding values in line with social justice, is just as keen to pander to racial hatred for political gain as Sarkozy.

    "How to crush a Roma camp French-style", begins the Daily Mail's article on the subject (which I will spare anyone reading this from linking to) on the French government's displacing of Romanian gypsies from their bulldozed decrepit caravan camps. It is comparable to the title of an instruction manual rather than an consciously ironic newspaper headline. And this very unsubtly seems to be the case.  The article discusses in detail the Roma's motivation for moving into deeply poverty-stricken and dangerous living conditions in camps such as this in Lyon; primarily to escape the crushing and hopeless conditions they face in their native Romania, in the hope to find more social mobility in continental Europe, and an improved hope to their children's futures rather than an entirely hopeless one. Nevertheless, Steve Bird's writing continues in its seemingly fetishistic glorification of the deposition of "the gypsies", noting how "they giggle" in their foreign Romany language and live inhabitation with their "dirty" threadbare clothes. Bird's use of brutalistic Germanic language continues, describing the "grab and smash" of the diggers used to destroy the Roma's caravans.

    The article refers to "how long" the council in Basildon, Essex took to evict the Irish travellers of Dale Farm —who cleared up a concreted tip which is now a concreted tip again—with aggressive bailiffs and truncheon-happy riot police. The article describes how the Roma are "herded together under the watchful eye of CRS officers (the French equivalent of the riot police) wearing military-style blue outfits and black leather boots, then taken to airports and put on flights to their home countries." It details the CRS's method of sending "hundreds of police armed with truncheons, shields, smoke grenades and dogs" to undertake to raids, herding and deportation of them. And it seems to praise them for their "ruthless efficiency." 

    And here comes the clincher of appeal: "guess where they want to come next", the Daily Mail implores us. Just like the French NF they support, invoking the fear of an "invasion" by the dirty untrustworthy gypsies, and exalting their ruthlessly efficient crushing and  smashing by the jackbooted French stormtroopers, and conveniently incorporating a baseless and ignorant attack on the welfare system.

    But what else to expect from the newspaper that supplied propaganda to Herr Hitler and Il Duce Mussolini, and said "hurrah" to Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts?

    Thursday, 16 August 2012

    What if the U.S. presidential election was decided on the issues? is a very compelling non-partisan and non-profit political organization. Ahead of the U.S. presidential election this November, it provides a relatively short quiz which impartially posits questions on major political policy issues (such as on the economy, foreign policy, taxation and moral issues etc.) and  then assigns according to the its results to whomever taking it a candidate in the election who most closely shares their views. As of this writing, over one million people have taken this quiz. Of course, the overwhelming media narrative only considers the election in terms of two opposing campaigns: Democratic President Barack Obama, and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney who is vying to defeat the president's attempted re-election. But the I Side With quiz is compelling for the reason that it includes candidates from beyond this narrow paradigm: including Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein, right-libertarian bulwark Ron Paul (presumably as a candidate without a label), American Socialist Party candidate Stewart Alexander, Virgil Goode of the radical right and Christian fundamentalist Constitution Party, among others (including Jimmy McMillian, who is keen to remind us that the rent is too damn high in the State of New York).

    There are plenty of issues on which Obama and Romney are indistinguishable. Compared to Johnson, Stein and Paul, they both believe that U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan until 2014, and support America's continual but evidently counterproductive war on drugs, as prominent examples.

    Just to clarify for the sake of transparency, here are my results from taking the quiz, align me with the Green Party's Jill Stein:

    President Barack Obama has achieved a fair amount of admirable things. But I cannot support a foreign policy which in the majority of ways a continuation of the George W. Bush administration's: that involves the indiscriminate killings of civilian targets in the Middle East and North Africa with drone strikes. Or indeed a domestic policy that condones indefinite detention and a punitive attitude to anti-government protests. 

    Obama is controversial for his healthcare reforms, that are of course based upon those enacted by Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts, that nessecitate the purchase of market-provided health insurance in law, and which also make it compulsory for healthcare companies to provide this insurance to all people without any depriving or extortionate conditions at sustainable pricing. This is easily better than America's currently atrocious market-driven healthcare system, but it is nevertheless not the universal healthcare system that the Green Party prefers, along with the majority of those within the Democratic Party.

    At first, the most popular candidate of the quiz by state (with Alaska and Hawaii for what ever reason not included) was Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, with Barack Obama coming second in most strongly Democratic states and Mitt Romney lagging well behind in three states with the strongest right-wing conservative tendencies (such as Alabama and Latter-Day Saints mecca Utah):

    Ron Paul also claims two states. Though he and Johnson are nominally libertarian (in the American general free-market capitalist sense), Paul is somewhat more conservative orthodox (such as in regard to immigration and abortion) and intellectually driven in regard his commitment heterodox Austrian economic philosophy.

    Though the results by the state of the quiz will be again somewhat different as of this posting, the paradigm differences and nuance in terms of support for a wider rage of candidates speaks volumes about competing political priorities and cultural beliefs in the United States.

    Thursday, 9 August 2012

    Cyclical failure

    Five years ago, the economic systems of the developed world began a descent as a consequence of their own cataclysmic undoing, through sheer criminality and self-entitled irresponsibility. Relative to that descent has been a total collapse in confidence and percieved legitimacy from wider society; that at least with any sense or intellectual realisation or ethical morality. The failed economic system's descent in terms of legitimacy has not been helped by its determination to drag down humanity with it, which it inherently depends upon doing so to preserve itself, which is also part of their ongoing sense of self-entitlement. Banks like Barclays, HSBC and Standard Charted can engage in multi-trillion dollar fraud, money laundering and by proxy drug smuggling essentially without any fear of substantial prosecution.

    The fact that Britain's economy has once again uniliterally regressed as a consequence of the government's ideological austerity drive, under the "leadership" of Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, is no surprise to anyone who comprehends basic economic literacy. It has become a routine expectation, as well as a source of comic derision. Such casual reflection however is only an example of the banality of evil that Hannah Arendt identified, in regard to the communities and lives ruined and wasted by austerity's incompetence ideological pathology; whether this be in the form of societal disinvestment and commodification, or regression caused by it, dragging humanity down to subordination and indignity.

    What is the neoliberal solution to failure? More failure. While failure the agenda regardless, when failure is prevention of opportunity and development in society.

    Monday, 23 July 2012

    More rogue violence from California police officers.

    On July 21, in Anaheim, Orange County, California, the Anaheim police force assaulted a group of entirely peaceful and unassuming demonstrators with rubber bullet shotguns and attack dogs, as documented in the video below.

    As the video title says, the victims of this brutal, pathological and provoked attack included women and infant children, such as a mother shot in the back by an officer while holding her baby.

    And why were this small crowd of people compelled to make their forces heard on the streets of Anaheim? In objection to the cold-blooded killing of man in their community in dubious circumstance by a police officer; who will almost surely be acquitted or not held accountable for this casual homicide.

    Such brutality is not limited to Orange County. Police forces throughout the state of California appear to have a traditional and routine protocol for extreme violence against any form of active political dissent. Whether this be the military-grade combat assault of an Occupy movement camp by the Oakland riot squad (who have trained and advised in cooperation with the security forces of the U.S.-supported regime in Bahrain), or the pepper-spraying of entirely non-resisting students protesting against tuition fees hikes and education cuts.

    Another important aspect of the Anaheim brutality case in the fact that the police force attempted to buy (or bribe) the person who had filmed it, in clear attempt to evade any accountability or possible compromise for their mobility to engage in such assaults on local families or communities in the future. The fact that our states depend upon abject corruption and mercenary violence to detain and suppress objections to police statism and socioeconomic deprivation says more than anything about their commitment to their own systems of "democracy" and "justice".

    Friday, 20 July 2012

    No justice, no peace.

    Within the span of a week, two families have been deprived of justice for a father, a husband and a son. After the thuggery and violence of state security forces have taken the lives of one of their loved ones, those responsible have been acquitted of any wrongdoing, despite even overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 

    The first is the family of Jimmy Mubenga, who received this verdict on 17 July 2012, admit complaints of the private security firm G4S's inefficiency and failure to fulfill its state-funded contract to provide security for the Olympics in London, thereby nessecitating increased police statism and martial law from the public sector instead (and proving that neoliberal privatisation resulting in greater cost-effectiveness is a total fallacy). Failure on the security of the corporate and fascistic Olympic games is one thing, but the way the Mubenga was treated by G4S, and his family by the state and so-called justice system should invoke more moral outrage entirely. Those of who have been aware of G4S long before the Olympic security debacle are aware of the sheer cruelty and ethical dilapidation within its history and practices. Such as profiting from the enforcement of apartheid in South Africa, the detention centres and checkpoints of the Israeli government in Palestine, and the general treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres in Britain like animals, with many accounts of torture, assaults, verbal abuse and racism. In Jimmy Mubenga's case, he was restrained by G4S officers when being extradited to Angola. Passengers on the flight could hear his screams and complaints of being in pain and feeling as if endangered when being compressed on the floor by G4S guards. Though his cause of death is precisely unknown, the court somehow conveniently figured that the G4S officers in question had no responsibility in causing Jimmy Mubenga's death through their aggressive and abusive treatment and detainment of him.

    On 19 July 2012 police officer Simon Harwood (who has a long history of brutal and aggressive behaviour) was acquitted of the manslaughter of Ian Tomilinson. The specific case in question was that Tomlinson was an innocent bystander during the London G20 protests in 2009,  who happened to be in the vicinity of Harwood's happily inflicted truncheon. Following this attack, Ian Tomlinson collapsed and died from a heart attack, as seen in the footage below. 

    Just as in the case of Jimmy Mubenga, the state high court somehow came to the conclusion that the aggressive behaviour of the police officer in question had absolutely no relation to the medical trauma that Ian Tomlinson died from.

    This diametrical confliction with basic rationality is a phenomena of injustice that is not at all in common, in context of no justice for police brutality victims and their families, or otherwise. This basic phenomena being that "independent" legal authorities, on behalf of state, police or corporate powers, will always go to the effort of making the application of accountable justice and transparency as flexible as possible, either through technical loopholes, or sheer lying and intentional failure to apply basic justice to them. They have what we can term a monopoly of truth. Whereby in an Orwellian fashion, they define reality according to their own accounts of reality, self-supplied or supplied from each self-serving authority to each other, which are then used in courts of law which undertake legal proceedings and investigations that are as farcical as any banana republic; which conclude decisions enforcing of all authoritarian power and evasion of responsibility, even when extremely clear evidence affirms the contrary of their constructed narratives, such as the footage of Harwood's baton strike in Tomlinson's case. 

    One of the most fundamental imperatives of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions was opposition to the brutality of security forces. 

    None of us should be delusional, and are not deceived, to think that a legal system without justice serving the moral corruption and violent ideologies of socioeconomic powers can be in anyway relied upon to fulfill justice. As in all contexts of power in the modern world, eroded fundamental freedoms can only be re-empowered through our own actions.

    Tuesday, 10 July 2012

    Politics, purpose and the enemies of joy

    The discovery of the Higgs boson particle as the basis for all atomic structure in the universe by CERN in Geneva was confirmed on the anniversary of the 236th year of American independence. Like electricity and the double helix, the United States could have made one of humanity's major scientific advances of discovery, and much earlier. The precursor to the Large Hadron Collider was the Superconducting Super Collider in Waxahachie, Texas, which when established for building in 1991 was well on its way to doing so. At the same rate of LHC, the SSC would have discovered the Higgs boson at around the dawn of the new century.  But in the midst of development 1993, it was stopped dead in its tracks: after all of its funding was withdrawn by the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress at the time, and it failed to find a source of private finance. 

    Nobody can really identify the basis for political authorities doing things like this. Perhaps only out of their sheer callousness and nihilism, culturally shared by their small-minded constituents. Or perhaps it was the priorities of public spending. We compare the roughly $2 billion cost of the LRC to the $683 billion or so of present yearly military spending by the United States government; the former being the equivalent of around 0.3% of the latter. Deactivating less than a few American weapons of mass destruction would have easily financed the equivalent of of the LHC or SSC, and all long-term scientific discovery consequentially entailing  immense benefit to humanity as a whole. It reminds us of Foucault's insistence of political engagement and actual opposition as being inherently necessary to assure human decency and facility of advancement. Or plainly as possible, the abandonment of such projects or advances are the result of nothing but sheer ignorance and pathology of these political powers, as well as in contradiction of the U.S. Constitution, which according to the intellectual ideals of those founding fathers such as Franklin and Jefferson promotion of "the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." Note the interchangeable respect for the practical sciences and creative arts, which brings me onto the origin of the term enemies of joy.

    Chris Coltrane referred to the closure of a library by a Conservative Party council in this way:

    Is there anything more callous or nihilistic than the closure of a library, when considering books as containing the sources of inspiration and knowledge of unimaginable importance? We recall of Carl Sagan, who wrote in his Cosmos of his passion for astrology and physics beginning in his childhood reading at a local New York library. And it is Sagan who reminded us that "the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries." We can also imagine a young Sagan being inspired by Ray Bradury, who is oft quoted on the matter: “You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” 

    As torturer Agent O'Brien elaborates to Winston Smith in Orwell's dystopia, one of the primary motives of the enemies of love, knowledge and joy is the destruction of culture. Within this, an inherent drive of social engineering to cleanse and indoctrinate minds out of wonderment and individualistic cognition, whether developed in libraries or discovered at the LHC for the sake of knowledge and betterment, and into sheer servitude of bare existence. 

    Friday, 6 July 2012

    The destruction of the National Health Service could not be any clearer.

    According to a man named Wayne Pontin, whose title is given as the chairman of the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (an assortment private for-profit healthcare companies), 'it will “not be long” before patients have to pay for primary care in the same way they pay for optical and dental services,' as a consequence of government-enforced frontline cuts to the NHS. Corporate manipulation and unethical, Non-Hippocratic behaviour towars paitents does already of course exist in the form of the "private finance iniatives" and other marketisations gradually introducted over years, including by the New Labour governments of the 1990s and 2000s. But primary care is of course the supply of universal healthcare in Britain that has existed since 1948, that provides healthcare as a right, and not as a commodity to be financially manipulated or deprived to any person. Being as clear as possible: the NHS is being systematically destroyed. It is being dismantled. It is being privatised by the coalition government, by Prime Minister David Cameron's Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, to implement the eventuality of health insurance provided by predatory and profiteering corporations at a fundamental determent to society and the health of patients; which as seen in the United States results in imaginable inhumanity and justice in the way in which patients are treated by their entirely abusive insurance providers.

    Nye Bevan said that the NHS will exist so as long as there are folks good enough to fight for it. And now is truly the turning point to reclaim from the clutches of the lying Tory political forces and its mendacious corporatism.

    Thursday, 5 July 2012

    2008: a redux

    Many of us rightfully react to the banking system's new criminality in the form of Barclays's rigging of LIBOR interest rates with profound disgust and infuriation. It is a rightful incredulity in this regard: that the banking system could continually engage in its corruption and abuse of consumers, including those within society suffering under the ideological austerity to pay for the £1 trillion bailout of their institutions during the financial crisis that they created. An extra £50 billion of free money is given to it by the state, while a charity reports a 200% influx of hungry children depending on it to avoid starvation.

    In essence however, it is arguably no exception. Banks and other major corporations and financial institutions have been engaging in such practices for many years. It is a mere example of their systemic cyclical processes of criminality and financial abuse. A stand and anger against it inherently realizes the necessity for its fundamental deconstruction in favour of the economic system that society deserves. When it comes to preserving the wealth and economic control of the elite, political powers suddenly become very keen on generous Keynesian stimulus spending, which is essentially a continuation of the 2008 bailouts. The disaster of late capitalism is that it inherently must abandon its own ideological purity to maintain itself. It is certainly not free-market or laissez-faire: political agenda is economic crisis, with state forces as the apparatus of corporate socioeconomic control going to every length of preserve the vested interests of the system that is imploding in on itself multi-nationally.

    Tuesday, 3 July 2012

    Shostakovitch and art as subversion of totality

    From his rise to cultural prominence in the mid-1920s, the compositions Dmitri Shostakovich were originally granted deep renown and honour by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet state. His first two symphonies were admired in particular, not just for their musical qualities, but for the affective gravitas they supplied to Soviet propaganda commemorating the tenth anniversary of Russian Revolution. In later seeking to fulfil his artistic vision, Shostakovich was uncompromising, and for this his latter compositions were severely attacked by critics; most of these critiques are known to have been guided and ordered via intimidation by Stalin directly. His descent into disfavour with the government began with his two operas, The Nose (1928) and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and the ballet The Golden Age (1930). For his pioneering and determined rejection of the country’s conventional musical standards, such as in his use of the operatically satirical scherzo and instrumental passacaglia, they were famously attacked in the state newspaper Pravda in 1937 as “muddle instead of music”.  There is no coincidence that Shostakovich’s most negative reception corresponded to Joseph Stalin’s severity in totalitarian exertions.  Compared to most musicians composing triumphalist orchestral pieces to commemorate Stalin’s central role of victory in the aftermath of war, Shostakovich’s sombre and dissonant seventh, eighth and ninth symphonies instead expressed horror and grief in the face of both the tremendous loss of life in Stalin’s prior purges, and the war’s atrocities; the indistinguishable “mountains of corpses” seen in either the mass graves of Gulags or the trenches of Stalingrad. Essentially avant-garde in nature, they were strongly attacked as “repulsive” and “grotesque” for their “atonal” and “formalistic” qualities. It is important to put this cultural dissidence in greater contemporary context.  All Soviet artists were obliged to conform to traditional standards and styles defined by Soviet institutions. For example, graphic artists, painters and architects were expected to model their works upon isolated Soviet styles of realism and modernism.

    Music in the Soviet Union is described as being “expected to be rousing simple, and tuneful, in order to demonstrate public happiness and allegiance to the state, and not to challenge or include dissonance”. Shostakovich’s deliberately experimental scores were in profound contrast to such expectations.   The notion of “tradition” in this case is a fairly exceptional one. Rather than precisely rebelling on a frontier against longstanding notions of artistic acceptability, Shostakovitch instead represented a form of opposition against the side of Stalin’s authority, which he was inspired to hold to account in synchronicity to the drastic and one-dimensional implementations of totalitarian ideology. It is accounted that many Soviets respected Stalin’s role in the war effort, even if resenting or despairing of existence under his rule. And though some benefited from his socioeconomically radical reforms and modifications to their society, the majority were obviously forced to deal with profound discord and strife. In official state-controlled media, these conflicting perspectives were simply ignored.   In conveying suffering experienced by the great proportion of people in Soviet society, as well of own life as in his fourth and fifth symphonies, Shostakovich boldly and dangerously refused to submit to these conventions. The chamber music and string quartet ensembles he favoured was important in this respect. The chamber form is described as being used by many composers “to give us the truest portraits of themselves, [and] their most intimate thought and feelings.” This emotional individualism and intellectual honesty was in great deviation from established propaganda narratives and patriotic collectivism. The third aspect of Shostakovich’s dissidence is elaborated in his disputed memoir Testimony, published by Solomon Volkov in 1979. His determination as an ethnographer to incorporate Jewish forms of folk music and poetry into to his work, such as in his String Quartet No. 2 and Piano Trio No.2, was strengthened through his stand against the anti-Semitic abuse, cultural oppression and genocide of Jews within the Soviet Union, such as the mass shooting of 400 Jews who were killed for being writers, artists and musicians that fostered Jewish culture in their work. As such pogroms of Soviet Jews were justified by to references them as “unpatriotic” and “rootless cosmopolitans” by Stalin’s regime, we can understand Shostakovich’s disobedience as being a just as “undesirable” influence against its power. In light of his Symphony No. 7 being smuggled out of the Soviet Union to Arturo Toscanini for interpretation as a score of solidarity with Jewish resistance in Western Europe, it provides understanding of the treatment of Soviet Jews as essentially differentiated from those in Nazi Germany. And beyond ethnic discrimination, Shostakovich’s music relates to the genocidal famine of the Holodomor just as it does the Holocaust. Shostakovich’s compositions inspired by Jewish musical styles such as the klemzer, expressed personal mourning of these events. Alongside his politically-charged protest, this could be considered as a simultaneous exertion of dissent, in terms of public and personal expression of such negative perspectives otherwise neglected by other artists. In conclusion, Shostakovich can be recognised as a dissident against Soviet totalitarianism in the cultural rather than usually political realm, but with the implications of this noncompliance to traditional expectations equally as a relevant to dissent within Soviet society as a whole. Even if the exact verifiability of Volkov’s Testimony is challenged, it was only until long after the end of Stalin’s rule that its directly articulated anti-Stalinism, in obvious contradiction to Stalin’s personality cult, could it be permitted for publication. In experiencing events of history as they occurred, Shostakovich strove to portray the sense of his reactions and objections to the occurring and increasing malevolence of the regime, and the sacrifices caused by the war, through the interpretative medium of music. Instead of the dissenting political speech entirely forbidden and punished with exile, purging or imprisonment. For this, numerous members of Shostakovitch own family were deported to Siberia and Central Asia. For coming to his defence following Pravda’s scathing article, friend and patron Mikhail Tukhachevsky was executed under Stalin’s order.   It perhaps this subtlety alone, aside his international standing, that spared Shostakovich from such a fate.  His distinction illustrates the importance of artistic expression in influencing, expressing and directing dissenting socio-political sentiments within an authoritarian society, which even under the ubiquity of a traditionally absolute power, has in the Lacanian sense the role via reflection and subtlety to challenge and inspire to do so indirectly. The extremity of such examples accentuates the importance of a sense of satire and creative expression generally.

    Tuesday, 26 June 2012

    Christian fundamentalism as education in the American South

    In the state of Texas, the Republican Party has outlined in an official manifesto its objection to the teaching of critical thinking skills to students in schools. This, in its own words, is because free and inquisitive thinking has the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs". 

    We then turn to Louisiana, where public funds have been used for a Christian creationist curricula that teaches children, in the vain of financial felon and astronomically moronic creationist Kent Hovind, that the existence of the Loch Ness Monster refutes the scientific legitimacy of Darwinian biological evolution. 

    The satire-eclipsing stupidity and absurdity of religious fundamentalism knows no bounds. But more seriously, indoctrinating and depriving children of the basic scientific and creative education they deserve is abusive and dangerous to what should be criminal proportions. 

    Wednesday, 20 June 2012

    Bailouts and a modest sum

    In the political discourse of Greece, where a coalition government has been formed essentially as a one party state to enforce further brutal austerity and neoliberal privatisation measures as dictated by the IMF, the term "bailout" is used synonymously with "austerity". Greece's politicians referred to as "pro-bailout" are accordingly those in favour of the IMF-dictated austerity measures. The bailout funds of course do not aid the Greek people themselves; they are injected into its banking system to ensure its buoyancy within the financial crisis it played a major role in creating through its irresponsible overlending and malpractices in general, as applies on an international level. Compared to the government of Iceland, which nationalised its banks, and jailed and reclaimed the profits of the select groupings of white-collar criminals from its corporations and investment banking systems instead (sparing it from recession), the Greek government with IMF diktat is determined to force the cost of the bailing out its banking system upon its people, manifesting in the unspeakable socioeconomic austerity which Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras rightfully describes as "barbaric".

    The identifiable synonymy of the bailouts of banking systems and the ideological austerity inflicted onto society to pay for its financial cost, is therefore something that is very much worth incorporating into a more universal lexicon of opposition to said ideological austerity. (The austerity itself obviously not applied to corporations and banking systems). The effects of the austerity ideology's barbarism in Britain is quite similar to those in Greece. Teachers are having to bring food into schools to feed children who have gone without breakfasts due to their parents being unable to afford to feed them because of the government's cuts to welfare and tax credits, for example. The authorities within Britain's healthcare system are 'rationing' funding for urgent surgeries and medicines for patients, thereby forcing people to suffer with medical conditions for prolonged periods of time only because their afflictions happen to not be terminal or immediate existential crises. Those are a recent sample of the barbarism's consequences. The hungry child and the suffering patient: they pay for the at least £850 billion cost the bailout of the UK's banking establishments in 2008. The bailout barbarism is something that should be opposed completely.