The Socialist 23 May 2012 |
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Them & Us
Big Society goes global
I think I have misjudged David Cameron. When he talked about the Big Society I did not realise it stretched all the way to Greece. Whatever criticism I may have of the Big Society idea, I can't say it's not big.
Also it is widely reported that Greek governments cooked the books to obtain entry to the European Union. The people in charge must have been ministers of the Pasok or New Democracy parties, and yet David Cameron seems to be calling for Greek voters to choose these parties of liars and fiddlers.
Deprived of life
Poverty can rob you of at least 20 years - it's official. Women in Toxteth, Liverpool - where 62% of children live in poverty - can expect to live to 74. Average live expectancy in affluent Comberton, Cambridgshire, is 94.
In Glasgow, men can expect to live to just 71. And this is before the Con-Dems get to break up our NHS.
Putting the boot in
It's not all bad in the medical world though. Alliance Boots annual profits have increased by 10% to £693 million. So, more tax income for spending on public services? Probably not.
Boots has been based in Switzerland since a private equity takeover in 2007, paying just £60 million a year in tax. This represents part of £120 billion - a sum similar to the amount the Con-Dems want to slash from our public services - that goes unpaid in tax, mainly by the very rich every year.
The government's solution to such tax dodging? Stop cutting tax office jobs? No. Reducing the corporation tax rate to 26%!
Boots chair Stefano Pessino thinks the UK's 'obsession' with tax is bad for business. Maybe big businesses' 'obsession' with tax avoidance is bad for the UK?
More market solutions
Homelessness increased by 14% in 2011. House building starts fell 11% in three months.
The Con-Dems' answer? Massively expand affordable housing? Put a cap on private rents? Make nationalised banks provide affordable mortgages?
Don't be silly. Cut the affordable housing budget by 60%, make social housing rents almost as high as market rates, slash housing benefits and scrap planning regulations.
Privatisation's a gas
The supporters of gas and electricity privatisation in the 80s said that competition would lead to
cheap utility bills for customers - far better than public ownership and democratic control, then.
And what a result. With the average household annual spend now at £1,252 - compared to £522 in 2004 - energy bills have gone up seven times faster than wages.
Now 400,000 more people in England alone are expected to be in fuel poverty by the end of the year, taking the total to 3.9 million according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
But don't worry, not everyone's losing out. The six biggest energy firms made annual profits of £15 billion.
Equality in poverty
The government wants public and private sector workers to unite - in getting their pay cut.
From January to March 2012, workers became 2.9% worse off due to prices rising by 3.5%. Public sector workers are 3.2% poorer - even before increased pension contributions - and private sector workers 2.2%.
Maybe we should unite - for a general strike!