Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/683/12685
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.
Donate to the Socialist Party
Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
- Click here to read our full appeal statement
- Click here for our coronavirus articles and reports
- Click here to join the Socialist Party
In The Socialist 31 August 2011:
Fighting public sector cuts
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party review