Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/703/13659
The Socialist 1 February 2012 |
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Them & Us
God bless America
The United States of America - home to Wall Street, Hollywood and Disneyland; where dreams come true; capitalism at its best. Or not. Rapidly rising unemployment combined with wage freezes means that the average 25-64 year old American male earns about a quarter less than his 1969 equivalent. But, of course, we're in an economic crisis - when it's over and businesses have more money again, wages will surely go up...
And yet there doesn't seem to be much evidence of a crisis for big business - corporate profits in the US are higher (as a proportion of GDP) than at any time since the 1950s. And there is $1.7 trillion sitting in the bank accounts of US companies rather than being invested - that would make a start on those wages, surely!
Friends in high places
This will come as a bit of a shock to teachers - Michael Gove is the most popular government minister. He has received more donations into his private office since the 2010 general election than any other cabinet minister including the Prime Minister and the Chancellor - £35,500 for his private office and £61,279 at constituency level.
His constituency has received a staggering £284,416.40 since he became an MP. We don't know who gave him the 40p. We do know that former Lehman Brothers' banker Jeremy Isaacs donated £3,000 to Gove's office.
Around three quarters of his private office donations since 2009 have come from individuals with business interests in the City. The biggest single donation to Gove's private office was £150,000 from Martin Calderbank of private equity firm Stirling Capital Partners.
So obviously Gove has friends in high places. You can't call this perfectly legal activity 'corruption'. That would be like saying the whole capitalist system is corrupt. And we wouldn't want anybody to think that.
Apple is now the most valuable company in the world at £400 billion. If that was split between all of Apple's employees (ie the people who actually do the work that makes the money) it would mean almost $7 million for each. Probably best for them not to factor that into their budgeting though. How much do you keep in the bank at a time? Apple has $97.7 billion in cash reserves - that's enough to write off the debt of eight EU countries! Again, we won't hold our breaths.
Poor getting poorer...
A report by Aviva Family Finances shows that the average family in the UK owes nearly £8,000 in unsecured borrowing (things like overdrafts and credit cards) - that's up 48% on this time last year. So, are we all just getting greedier?
Well, a report by the TUC suggests some other answers. Workers are taking home £60 billion a year less in real terms than 30 years ago. That's despite being more productive than ever. And funnily enough, the only group who don't seem to be following the same trend are top executives whose pay is still going up. In fact, the ratio of executives' pay to workers' pay has gone from 47:1 in 2000 to 102:1 last year. Workers are being paid less for more work and having to get ourselves into debt to maintain any decent standard of living. And to make it all worse, the poorer we get, the richer the bosses get!