Posts Tagged ‘Food Poverty’

Secular Talk on Poor Americans Now Using Pet Antibiotics

September 7, 2016

This is a story from another side of the Pond, but it’s relevant because it shows the kind of horrific medical system that the Blairites and the Tories are introducing over here through the destruction of the NHS. In this piece from the atheist/ secularist news channel, Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski comments on a story in Raw Story from a report from a respected medical journal, The Journal of Antibiotics. A survey was done of 400 people in Houston, Texas, asking them how they obtained their antibiotics. These were people, who needed the drug, not those who did not. Kulinski is very clear to dispel this possible misunderstanding, as the overprescription of antibiotics is a separate issue. It’s responsible for the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which is a serious threat to health around the world.

This is about people, who genuinely need the drug. It investigated how people obtained it, when they could no longer afford it. About a quarter had saved up supplies of the drug. Another 12 per cent talked about getting it from friends or relatives. And 4 per cent took pet antibiotics. As Kulinski points out, animals metabolise drugs in a different way. This shows how desperate the poor are in America when they can’t afford healthcare.

Kulinski describes this disgusting state of affairs in justifiably strong language. He points out how its shows the twisted attitude of the country’s political elite, who have been bought by the corporations. Many Americans can’t afford medicines. The country’s infrastructure is falling apart. In some places there isn’t any clean water. But the country has spent $7 trillion on the Iraq War. It’ll be paying it off until 2053. $80 billion has spent bailing out the banks. $4 billion or so was given by the government to the oil company, ExxonMobil, to help with their research and development, despite the fact that this is one of the richest companies in America. He makes the point that America can afford to spend all this money on pork barrel projects for companies, and making wars on ‘Brown people’ who have never invaded us. But somehow it can’t afford to spend money on healthcare, despite the fact that singlepayer is actually cheaper than the insurance system already in place.

Nearly all of these criticisms can be directed at our parliament, and our politicos in New Labour and the Tories. Blair was all too eager to invade Iraq as George Dubya’s poodle. We’re sending our sons and daughters to fight and die in a country that never attacked us, despite all the spin and lies about how Hussein was in league with Bin Laden, and ready to launch weapons of mass destruction at 45 minutes notice. And Blair and the Tories are selling off our healthcare system, so it won’t be long before we have people in this country saving antibiotics, or using stuff that’s been prescribed for their dogs and cats. We’ve already seen 4.7 million of us forced into food poverty. That’s people, who don’t have enough to eat, or don’t know when or where their next meal’s coming from. But we have more than enough money to support the Iraq War, and for Cameron, May and Bomber Benn to talk about attacking Syria. We’ve more than enough money to spend on Trident, a weapon system we don’t need, which will set us back trillions. And despite the spin, the majority of jobs it’ll create are in America. And apparently we’ve got enough money to go threatening to start a war with Russia, despite the fact that Putin isn’t a threat, and the people being genuinely persecuted in Ukraine is the ethnic Russian minority.

Oh yes, and as someone who believes in socialism and the trade unions, I have difficulty in understanding why I should be called upon to support a war for a government that includes Nazis and brutally attacks trade unionists. That’s right – the coalition currently ruling the Ukraine includes the Nazis from the Pravy (Right) Sektor. When I say ‘Nazis’, I mean Nazis. The real thing. People who wear the insignia and regalia of the auxiliary SS units and nationalist organisations that collaborated with the invading Nazis during the Great Patriotic War. Unreconstructed anti-Semites, who revere the memory of those responsible for the Holocaust and the pogroms against Jewish Ukrainians. During the ‘democratic’ demonstration that ousted Yanukhovych from power in Maidan Square in Kyiv, a group of these attacked a group of trade unionists, throwing several of them out of the upper floors of one of the buildings into which they’d fled. Red Ken in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, condemned the way the West had recruited Nazis, including participants in the Holocaust, as part of the global campaign against Communism. And he’s right. We shouldn’t have recruited them and given them sanctuary, and we shouldn’t be supporting a bunch of Nazi collaborators now.

This is what British and American politics has degenerated into. We’re bankrupting ourselves for wars against people, who’ve done us no harm, while denying our own people healthcare, food and clean water. All for corporate profit.

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Vox Political: Real Wages Fall by Ten Per Cent Under Tories

July 30, 2016

Mike also published a piece last week on a report published on Wednesday by the TUC, which found that while wages had grown in real terms across the EU between 2007 and 2015, they had fallen in Britain by 10.4%. The average rise in wages across the EU was 6.7 per cent. In Poland, wages had risen by 23 per cent. In Germany wages rose by nearly 14 per cent, and in France by 10.5 per cent. The only countries across the OECD which suffered a fall in wages were Portugal, Britain and Greece.

Mike’s article has two illustrations – one is a graph showing the rise in real wages in various countries, while another is a meme showing the massive pay rises enjoyed by other, very privileged groups, in Britain. Like Bankers, whose pay has risen by 35%, directors of FTSE 100 companies, 14%, and MPs, whose pay has gone up by 11%.

Mike makes the point that New Labour must share some of the blame for this, as not only was Peter Mandelson and his chums very relaxed about people making money, they were also extremely relaxed about wages stagnating. He makes the point that the crash his the poorest the hardest, and the austerity launched by the Tories has been punishing and impoverishing the poor to bail out the bankers and the rich. He also makes the point that Owen Smith’s solutions are just cosmetic, and won’t do anything without concrete proposals for the redistribution of the extra money gained through the ‘wealth tax’ he proposes.

See the article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/27/real-wages-in-the-uk-have-fallen-by-more-than-10-per-cent-under-tories/

Mike’s right about New Labour being very relaxed about wages stagnating. In fact, wage restraint has been a major part of the neoliberal consensus ever since Maggie Thatcher took power in 1979. Keynsianism tolerated high inflation – and in the 1970s at times the inflation rate in Britain was truly eye-watering – as it was coupled to an expanding economy. Both Labour and the Tories attempted to keep pay rises within certain boundaries nevertheless. Thatcher’s Monetarism was much harder towards inflation. It saw this it as the major obstacle to economic growth, and so demanded that it be ruthlessly cut, even if this meant shedding jobs on a truly massive scale, accompanied by a fall in real wages, and the dismantlement of various welfare programmes. It also meant abandoning the Keynsian commitment, pursued over 40 years, to full employment.

Robin Ramsay in a piece on his ‘News from the Bridge’ column in Lobster, made the point that when he was studying economics at Uni in the 1970s, Monetarism as an economic theory was so poorly regarded by his lecturers that they left it to the undergrads to work out what was wrong with it. Which shows you it was known even then to be totally rubbish and useless. He argues that it was adopted by the Tory party because it gave them a rationale for doing what they wanted to do on other grounds – destroy organised labour, dismantle the welfare state, including the Health Service, and grind the working class into poverty.

Now a number of economists are pointing out that, despite the emphasis by the Tories on wage restraint and very low inflation rates, the economy is not growing. I think Han Joon Chang is one of these in his 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

The comparison with Greece is particularly chilling. Greece has been ruthlessly punished by the Troika with very harsh austerity policies, partly because the Greeks dared to defy the Eurozone authorities and elected Syriza, a radical anti-austerity party. Counterpunch has attacked the economic despoliation of the country by mainly German banks as a form of economic warfare. Greece was one of the countries that suffered from the effective collapse of the Eurozone. The result has been grinding mass poverty for its people. One recent programme on the country’s plight showed children picking rubbish off dumps to sale, just as they do in Developing Nations. The presenter looked on, aghast, and made the point that he had never seen this before in what was supposed to be a developed, European country.

Is this what New Labour and the Tories have in store for us? One of the books I found in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham yesterday was about how Britain would have a ‘third world’ economy by 2014. Clearly the book was written a little while ago, and the timing’s out, but nevertheless, the appearance of third world conditions in Britain is a real possibility. There are already 3.7 million people living in ‘food poverty’, and hundreds of thousands facing off poverty only because of food banks. I also remember how this was predicted on a BBC Horizon programme, entitled, ‘Icon Earth’, twenty years ago. The programme was about how the image of the Earth in space, taken from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts, had affected global religious, political and economic perspectives. That image had stimulated people around the world to realise that everyone on Earth shared a common home. One result of this, so the programme claimed, was globalisation. It discussed the growing campaigns against migration from the developing world with an Indian anti-racism activist. She predicted that as globalisation progressed, pockets of the third world would appear in the first.

She’s right. This has happened with Greece, and it is occurring in Britain, thanks to the Tories and New Labour. But unlike Greece, we cannot blame the EU. We never joined the Eurozone, and the deterioration in wages and conditions will occur because of Brexit. The cause of this stagnation ultimately is three and half decades and more of Thatcherism.

Do We Need to Return to the 70’s Prices and Incomes Policy?

March 22, 2016

One of the features of the Post-War political consensus was the government’s prices and incomes policy. Roughly speaking, the government kept careful – or not so careful – watch on the economy, and tried to make sure that wages matched the prices of goods available in the shops. This was, of course, in the period when governments of all parties were ostensibly committed to full employment, and the economy was actually growing due to Keynsian economic policies.

Amazing. Who’d have thought it!

The policy was abandoned when Mrs Thatcher got into No. 10, and the Tories decided to abandon economic planning. And besides, privatisation and Friedman’s grubby Monetarism was going to make us all so affluent that we wouldn’t have to worry about issues like whether we were earning enough to eat.

Except now poverty has returned. And millions of us aren’t earning enough to eat. 4.7 million people, apparently, live in ‘food poverty’ in the UK. That’s truly disgraceful in this country, one of the richest in the world. Or at least, it is if you’re one of the 1%. If you aren’t, you can easily end up like those millions wondering if this week you’re going to be faced with a choice of either heating your home, or having enough to feed yourself and your family. But you can’t have both.

And if we do need a prices and incomes policy – which I think we do, one way or another, it shows that the Thatcherite Revolution is finally revealed to be what it always was: a busted flush, a mirage with nothing of substance behind it whatsoever.

And just thinking about that, I can almost hear the howls of rage from the Tory party and the right-wing press, if they were forced to face up to the facts that the policies of their great molten idol were a fraud.

The Obesity Epidemic, Starvation and Osborne’s Sugar Tax

March 16, 2016

I caught a piece of Osborne on the News today telling parliament and the British public that he was going to slap a tax on sugary foods and drinks. The BBC included with his comments some stats on the obesity epidemic, such as supposedly 25% of adults are now obese, and how much this was costing the Health Service. While I’m sure that there is an obesity epidemic, I doubt the statistics and have grave concerns about the effects of the tax. I can see it leading to further starvation, rather than healthier eating. I’ll explain why.

Firstly, there was an interesting little programme on BBC 2 a few years ago about the influence ad men and lobbyists had had on buying and general consumer culture. This included a piece on the way the official definition of obesity had been changed in America due to lobbying from one of the drug companies, keen to sell a fresh load of diet pills and supplements to a worried American public. Before this company and the like got involved, the line at which Americans were considered officially obese was higher, and so there were fewer technically obese people in the Land of the Free. Then the corporate lobbyists got to work, the definition was lowered, a whole new group of fatties was created that the corporation could sell their quack cures to. And I wonder whether the same process is at work over this side of the Pond. Given how much Dave C., Osbo and their fellows parliamentary whores just love lobbyists and corporate cash, my guess is that it is.

Then there’s the issue of starvation. It’s seeming contradictory and paradoxical to be discussing this in modern Britain, but it exists. 590 people have died in neglect, starvation and by their own hands since Dave C. and his chief thug in charge of the genocide of the disabled, Ian Duncan Smith, embarked on their sanctions regime. Stilloaks over on his blog has a list of them. An artist, whose work was covered by Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge, turned their faces into a composite artwork as a protest against the Coalition’s policy of mass death. We were told by our parish priest last week that there are 4.7m people in ‘food poverty’ here in Britain. This is a disgusting number, given that the country is the 6th/7th wealthiest nation in the world.

One of the reasons why people eat unhealthy food – all the fatty, sugary stuff that’s bad for us – is because it’s cheap and easily available. Joe Queenan and his contributors, including a journo from the Torygraph, mentioned this when the issue of America’s obesity epidemic was aired on the Radio 4 show, Postcard from Gotham twenty years ago. They were agreed that people on low incomes, like the unemployed, bought it because it made you feel good. Going back to the 1930s, Orwell reckoned that one of the reasons there wasn’t a revolution was because, despite the Depression, cheap food was still available. He’s quote in Eric Hopkins’ History of the British Working Classes. And he wasn’t the only one. The 1990s also saw the public of a book on the Social History of the Potato. This discussed the way the humble spud had managed to combat some of the mass famines and starvation in Europe after its introduction from the New World. The book quoted the organisation representing fish and chip shops during the First World War as saying that it was only them that was keeping millions of Brits from starving.

My fear therefore is simple. If Osborne whacks a tax on all the cheap, sugary foods to make them too expensive to buy, or at least buy in the quantities people are currently doing, without raising incomes so that people can purchase the healthier but currently more expensive foods, the result won’t be a slimmer waistline, but the emaciation of the starving.

Mind you, Ian Duncan Smith had a jolly good laugh in parliament, when the story of how one woman suffered from starvation due to his wretched sanctions was told. Considering that vile incident, it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s exactly what he and his vile crew wanted.

IDS Hiding Poverty Statistics until After the Election

March 1, 2015

Benefits and Work have this story, IDS hides poverty statistics until after the election, reporting that the Tories do not intend to publish the true figures on how people have been affected by their welfare reforms until after the election. It begins

Crucial statistics on the effects of the governments welfare reforms will be deliberately delayed until after the election, to prevent academics and campaigners discovering the effects of policies such as the bedroom tax, changes to disability living allowance and employment and support allowance and increased sanctions.

The Households Below Average Income figures will be two and a half years out of date by the time of the election.

Complaints about the delay in publication were made to Iain Duncan Smith as long ago as last September, but with no effect. IDS has also continued to refuse to meet with the Trussell trust to discuss food poverty.

This makes you wonder how damaging the statistics will be, if they don’t want the electorate knowing them in time to vote them out?

Answers on a postcard, please.

The answer must be: very, very damaging. And it’s long past time they were voted out. So do so in March.