Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1070/30139
Them & Us
Rich live longer
Wealthy people live eight years longer than the poor, UCL has found. The richest can expect an average 83 years for women and 81 for men. The poorest can expect just 75 years for women and 73 for men.
A tale of two cities
While hard-up French workers strike and march to save their pensions, the rich splash their cash in plush Parisian boutiques. The Financial Times' 'How to Spend It' supplement laid out one marketing executive's "perfect weekend in Paris" on 21 January.
Between pilates studios and hotel swimming pools, Myriam Badault shops for "copper cookware, exotic spices and vivid scented geraniums," then eats out before the opera or ballet. Meanwhile, many workers struggle for the time, let alone the money, for this breadth of participation in culture.
Badault's luxury goods firm Dyptique is launching a new perfume this month. It's a steal at £120 for 70ml.
Bezos' billions reach space
The Earth's 2,153 billionaires had fortunes exceeding the wealth of the 4.6 billion poorest in 2019, says Oxfam. Super-exploitative Amazon boss Jeff Bezos remains at the head, with $116 billion to his name. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett aren't far behind.
If Bezos and Gates built a tower of all their filthy lucre - in $100 bills - it would penetrate outer space. Meanwhile, a worker who'd saved $10,000 a day since the pyramids were built in 2,500 BC would still only have one-fifth the average wealth of the five top billionaires.
The six richest billionaires in the UK are worth as much as the poorest 13.2 million workers here. Just four families are swimming in wealth totalling £39.4 billion, says the Equality Trust.
Sacked MPs enter Lords
Lost your seat in the general election? Worry not! You can simply mosey over to the House of Lords and reclaim your place in the government.
The Tories have appointed Zac Goldsmith, defeated in December, and Nicky Morgan, who couldn't be bothered to stand, to parliament's upper chamber and Johnson's cabinet. They'll now earn £70,137 a year as ministers - and can claim up to £305 a day, plus expenses, if they're sacked.
Lords to keep it real
The government has floated the idea of moving the House of Lords to York or Birmingham. Tory party chair James Cleverly explains this would help peers "reconnect" with disenchanted voters outside London.
"Re"-connect? When has this semi-feudal, unelected chamber of 795 wealthy expense-spongers ever been 'connected' to ordinary workers? Abolish the Lords!
... & us
A&E waiting time solved!
A&E waiting times are at an all-time high, as anyone who's been ill or injured recently will know. The government target since 2004 has been for 95% to be treated and moved on within four hours, already quite a wait.
But in December, just 68.6% were processed in that time - a new record low. The Tories' solution? Easy: scrap the target!
Grenfell advisor insult
Boris Johnson appointed engineer Benita Mehra to advise the judge leading the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster last month. The organisation Mehra used to head had previously received £71,000 in funding from Arconic, maker of the cladding panels which spread the fatal inferno.
The whole capitalist establishment is implicated in the Grenfell deaths. And the bosses are marking their own homework once again. For an independent, resident and union-led inquiry!
Private rent causes illness
High rents, insecure tenure and inhumane conditions are making England's 8.5 million private renters sick. Half suffer stress or anxiety, 2.7 million feel hopeless, and two million suffer physical illness, reports Shelter.
The number of families renting privately has more than doubled to 1.6 million - a quarter of families - in a decade. Renters spend an average of 41% of their income on housing, say government statistics.
Rents are projected to rise still more - over 3% annually over the next five years. Meanwhile, the value of landlords' investments has more than doubled in a decade to £1.6 trillion, according to Savills.
Greggs bonuses stolen
Greggs announced a £300 profits bonus for 25,000 staff this month. But low-paid bakery workers might only get to keep £75 of it as the state will deduct the rest from their Universal Credit!
Universal Credit must be scrapped in favour of real living benefits. But why does 'generous' Greggs get away with paying so little that workers have to claim in the first place?
No trust in UK institutions
The UK came second-to-last in the latest survey of popular trust in its national institutions. The annual Edelman Trust monitor measures public confidence in the government, businesses, media and NGOs in 28 countries.
Six in ten believe politicians undermine national institutions and democracy for their own gain, and worsen the state of the country. Only in Russia were the institutions of capitalism less trusted.
Big Ben bunkum
Chief cutter Boris Johnson is asking the general public to fund a £500,000 temporary opening of Big Ben. He wants to pause renovations and ring the bell on 31 January when the UK formally leaves the EU.
Given Johnson's Telegraph column bagged him £275,000 a year, he earnt a total of £829,255 in 2018-19, and he's still on £150,402 a year plus expenses, perhaps he could cover it himself? Workers have given more than enough to the Tories and their big business masters already.
In The Socialist 22 January 2020:
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