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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 December 2011

Them & Us

Merry Xmas...

The total UK personal debt at the end of October 2011 stood at an incredible 1,451,000,000,000 - an average household debt of 55,808 according to the financial education charity Credit Action.

The average debt for every adult is nearly 30,000, a figure likely to rise as the government's cuts and the economic downturn bites deeper. This is reflected in the huge surge of debt enquiries which the Citizens Advice Bureaux have to deal with, and in the alarming statistic that one person every minute (during the working week) is being declared insolvent.

Other statistics show:

101 - properties were repossessed every day during the third quarter of 2011

142 - new people became unemployed for more than 12 months every day during the year ending September 2011

1,611 - people reported to have become redundant each day from July to September 2011

... if you're a banker

But it's not bad news for everyone - Barclays is planning to pay a total of 5 billion in bonuses and perks to its bosses. The move came after Bank of England governor Mervyn King appealed to the banks to keep the cash from the bonuses to build reserves to aid the ailing economic situation.

With friends like these...

Jeremy Clarkson is a close friend of PM David Cameron. As well as both being millionaires they share a hatred of trade unions.

While DC was dismissing the N30 strike as a 'damp squib' his friend launched a pre-planned attack on N30 participants, calling for them to be shot in front of their families. The Times reported that the BBC was aware of - and approved - the attack in advance.

In the response sent to the 30,000+ who complained the BBC claimed that Clarkson "apologised". But Clarkson merely said that he is happy to apologise alongside the BBC. But the BBC did not apologise. And now Clarkson has denied the BBC claim that he apologised.

In the Sun, which ridiculed the strike as a "not so great general strike", Clarkson was let loose in his Saturday column to abuse victims of the increasing suicide rate on the tube.

He wrote: "get the train moving as soon as possible and let foxy woxy and the birds nibble away at the smaller, gooey parts that are far away and hard to find."

But this time Clarkson faces his Waterloo. Union leaders called for his sacking. Trade unionists suggested he find work in Colombia and Guatemala where trade unionists have been shot by paramilitaries.

An Amnesty International blog suggested that Saudi Arabia is just the country for him, where public executions of those who challenge the government are not uncommon.

Cameron dismissed his pal's comments as "silly". It was reminiscent of when he kindly insisted his friend Andy Coulson get a "second chance", just like everyone deserves - apart from those young people caught up in the riots who faced severe sentencing and ruined lives.

Wage inequality

In the face of record pay rises for top company bosses and pay cuts for millions of workers, the government's austerity measures mantra - 'we are all it together' - is sounding more risible by the day.

In fact, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the divide between the wages of the rich and poor is growing throughout the world.

In the 22 countries examined, researchers found that in 17 of them wage inequality grew between the 1980s and the financial crisis of 2008. They listed Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the USA as the most unequal nations. Inequality rose the fastest in the UK.

Just on salaries alone, leaving aside wealth accumulation, the report found that, in these 22 OECD countries, the richest 10% of the population earns nine times more than the poorest.

In the UK, the annual average salary for the richest 10% of wage earners in 2008 was 55,000 - 12 times higher than the average for the bottom 10%.

In October 2011 it was reported that the total annual pay for company directors now averages 2.7 million, a 49% increase on 2010.

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In The Socialist 7 December 2011:

Socialist Party feature

Con-Dems pile on the misery - 'Enough is enough'

Socialist Party editorial

Eurozone crisis - capitalists have no solution

Workplace news and analysis

Cuts and misery - it doesn't have to be like this

Socialist MEP supports public sector strike

"The genie is out of the bottle"

30 November strike: a historic day!

Building a fighting union - interview with Steve Hedley

Defend the JIB, victory to the sparks!

Reinstate Paul Kelly: Solidarity with Portsmouth RMT

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tory sleaze is back!

Reading the riots

All in it together

Them & Us

Climate change

Climate change and extreme weather

Housing crisis

Homes Crisis: Fund housing need - not fat cat greed!

International socialist news and analysis

Portugal: Build on the general strike action

Ireland: Resist latest austerity attacks

Tamil Solidarity: Gearing up for 2012

Brazilian socialists remember Socrates

Socialist Party reviews

Theatre review

When workers planned production: the Lucas Aerospace plan


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