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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2013

Them & Us

Starvation speculation

Goldman Sachs (GS) made up to 250 million pounds from speculating on food prices including wheat, maize and soy. The bankers are accused of contributing to a growing global food crisis.

GS created the first commodity index funds which allow huge amounts of money to be gambled on prices.

Anti-poverty campaign group the World Development Movement released the estimate following the publication of GS's 2012 results.

The group is calling for tough rules to curb financial speculation on food, to prevent banks and hedge funds driving up prices.

The US has passed legislation to limit speculation, but the controls have not been implemented due to a legal challenge from Wall Street spearheaded by "The International Swaps and Derivatives Association", of which GS is a leading member!

Similar legislation is on the table in the EU, but the UK government has so far opposed effective controls.

GS has lobbied against US and EU controls, and they carry a lot more clout than the starving millions.

Derek McMillan

Profits a gas

And if you're not starving you can freeze instead.

The 'big six' energy companies are making 120 in profit per household, tripling profit margins after sticking fuel prices up 10.8%.

With the average dual fuel bill at 1,420 a year, six million people are now living in fuel poverty - meaning more than 10% of their income is spent on energy bills.

Charities have said that 20% of cancer patients cannot afford to heat their homes.

When gas and electricity was privatised in the 1980s, it was claimed that competition would push down prices! Utilities should be renationalised under democratic working class control and management.

Keep your friends close

Probably not starving are the Tory chancellor George Osborne and London mayor Boris Johnson. Their latest dinner party venue was an apartment in Mayfair. Rupert Murdoch's, in fact.

So, post Murdochgate, post Leveson inquiry, post having to lose your spin doctor as he's a former News of the World editor with multiple phone hacking charges - it's okay to have a private dinner with the News International boss, along with several NI executives and editors?

Code of quality?

Former employees at Triage - a private business given part of the government's 5 billion Work Programme project - have alleged that the company used the 'LTB code' to refer to jobless and disabled clients. LTB stood for "lying thieving bastards".

But it seems that 'LTB' should refer to Triage itself. The Work Programme scheme gives firms money for taking on more disabled clients.

The employees said that Triage took on clients and left them "parked", with very little time spent helping them find work - usually just a 'box ticking phone call'.

What another marvellous example of private sector initiative!

Caring cuts?

So the government's sorting out the childcare crisis by, er, cutting the amount of childminders required.

The change in nursery care ratios means that only two staff would be needed to look after 12 two-year olds, instead of three under current rules.

What about increasing free childcare? Don't be silly.

The cuts in funding for Sure Start children's centres since 2010 have resulted in 400 centres closing. 126 have closed in London. In Westminster, the number of centres has been cut from 15 to three.

Half of the remaining London centres don't provide onsite childcare. A fifth now charge for services that were free.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to ring-fence Sure Start for under-fives. The 420 million cuts in funding make this another broken election promise.

Back to Sachs

Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein denounced Cameron's purely verbal attack on tax dodgers, saying that holding people up for criticism for their tax arrangements risked "criminalising every right-thinking person who organises his or her affairs in a sensible way".

They make money. People starve because they cannot afford food. But God forbid that anyone should suggest the super-rich pay tax!

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In The Socialist 30 January 2013:

Socialist Party NHS news & campaigning

NHS workers resist cuts

Privatisation: Bleeding the NHS dry

Heatherwood hospital campaign shows determination

East Midlands: Campaign forces retreat on ambulance station closure

Life as an NHS worker: bullying and stress

Socialist Party news and analysis

Cameron takes a gamble by threatening EU referendum

Austerity's utter failure

Taxing words from Cameron?

Aaron Swartz: a fight to free information

Them & Us

Fighting the cuts

Southampton councillors have a choice ... Don't vote for cuts!

Hull councillors ready to vote No

Brighton's Greens vote for cuts in workers' allowances

Labour meltdown in Stoke-on-Trent continues; and Unison withholds funding

Stop Sheffield children's centre closures

Workplace news and events

Twelfth day of strike action by Tyne and Wear metro cleaners

DfE strike ballot

London teachers call for strike action against Performance Related Pay

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party review

Fired up by Fire in the Blood - a story of big business cruelty and neglect

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Jumping through hoops for a job

Shrewsbury 24: What is the government hiding?

Wales conference - confidence in socialist ideas

Server appeal: Members provide a huge boost to our resources

Socialist Party National Congress 2013


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