Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/751/16096
Them & Us
In the last decade spending on cinema and theatre tickets has dropped by a third and spending on foreign holidays by 16 to 34 year olds has fallen by £922 million.
It's no surprise that 'luxuries' are falling off the priority list - the Intergenerational Foundation has shown that spending power for the under 30s is declining rapidly.
And Shelter recently pointed to one of the big reasons why - last year rents in London jumped by 4.8% while wages fell.
No Work Programme
The complete failure of the government's Work Programme has been highlighted yet again.
The BBC found that many of the private companies being paid to provide the work programme are dishonestly encouraging people into self-employment. They get the same fee from the government for this as for getting someone a job.
Some claimants reported being told they could lie about how many hours they were working or even (falsely) that they could receive more benefits by officially being self-employed and claiming tax credits than on Jobseeker's Allowance.
It's all money in the pocket for the profiteers.
Value for money
Remember the line that privatisation and competition lead to the best prices for the customer?
Well train fares on some of the busiest routes have risen up to three times faster than the cost of living since privatisation.
The cost of a single ticket to Manchester from London for example has increased by 208% since 1995 (compared to overall RPI inflation of 66%).
Night on the town
Tamara Ecclestone, daughter of Formula 1 boss Bernie Eccleston, knows how to have a good time. She spent £30,000 - more than the average yearly salary in the UK - on a night out.
Among other lavish drinks, she ordered 28 bottles of Cristal champagne from Aura nightclub in Mayfair, at a mere £465 each.
Tamara was only with two friends at the time, but the generous celeb shared the fruits of her £30k around - even sending a bottle to the paparazzi outside.
What we heard
A letter in last week's Independent reported that in Merthyr Tydfil, Les Miserables' last scene with workers mounting the barricades to wave red flags was met with loud and prolonged cheering.
It's worth remembering that the Paris barricades came just a year after workers in Merthyr staged their own insurrection, disarming militia sent from Brecon and holding the town for a week against the military.
Arguably, this was also where workers first adopted the red flag (a sheet dipped in lamb's blood).
Coincidentally, the same day the letter appeared, a fork lift truck manufacturer owned by a US private equity firm announced the closure of its Methyr factory with 200 more workers added to the already huge toll of unemployment in Merthyr.
Hopefully, those cheers in the cinema are the music of the future, rather than Russell Crowe's singing.
Geoff Jones, Llanelli and West Wales Socialist Party
What we saw
On hearing that they were losing their jobs because the company had gone into administration, HMV workers took over the company's official twitter account:
There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand. #hmvXFactorFiring
Sorry we've been quiet for so long. Under contract, we've been unable to say a word, or - more importantly - tell the truth #hmvXFactorFiring
Under usual circumstances we'd never dare do such a thing as this. However, when the company you dearly love is being ruined...
...and those hard working individuals who wanted to make hmv great again, have mostly been fired, there seemed no other choice.
Just heard our marketing director (he's staying folks) ask 'how do I shut down Twitter?' #hmvXFactorFiring
In The Socialist 6 February 2013:
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party reviews and comments
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis