Reports and Campaigns
Reports and campaigns:
US investor Warren Buffett has ruffled the feathers of his fellow billionaires by demanding they pay more taxes. In what must be an anathema to Republican Tea Party zealots, Buffett said: "My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."
So far, Buffett's catharsis has fallen on stony ground as the Obama administration and Congress have not reversed president Bush's 'temporary' tax cuts (worth $700 billion) to the wealthy but instead have slashed trillions from public services and welfare in an attempt to plug the country's giant debt.
Since 1979 the top 1% of US income earners have seen their federal tax liability fall from 37% to 29%. And while the middle classes have also enjoyed a 4.3% fall in tax rates, median male real earnings have not risen since 1975.
Buffett can afford to be altruistic since he certainly won't be checking down the back of the sofa for any loose change to pay the electricity bill. His motivation in demanding higher taxes for the rich probably has something to do with trying to save the capitalist system from the anger of poor workers and the dispossessed.
Armaments are probably the last thing people in north Africa and the Middle East need but that hasn't stopped a surge of British arms exports this year to these regions.
According to the Times, £30.5 million of arms were exported to Libya, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia between February and June 2011 (30% up on the same period in 2010) when these regimes were carrying out repression against pro-democracy opposition.
These exports coincided with David Cameron's trade tour of the Middle East where he defended UK arms sales. Eight of the 20 companies accompanying Cameron were defence and aerospace firms.
Defend women's rights
The Department of Health has confirmed that it will change the law on abortion to mean that women must be offered advice from 'independent' organisations. As well as delaying the process of getting an abortion, this opens the door to 'pro-life' groups getting involved to talk women out of going ahead.
Right wing Tory MP Nadine Dorries had tabled an amendment to the Health Bill to this effect but this move by the government removes even the need to have a debate in parliament on the issue!
Dorries has explicitly said that she hopes the measure will cut down on the number of abortions performed each year by 60,000. But she says nothing about investment in decent homes, wages, sex education, childcare or opposition to cuts. These measures would help give women a real choice over when and whether to have children.
This development shows that the Socialist was correct in warning that the Con-Dem government would attack women's reproductive rights and highlights the need for a united trade union and community response to defend hard-won women's rights.