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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 April 2020

Capitalism causes crisis profiteering: fight for workers' oversight and public ownership

A queue out the door of a pharmacy in East Ham, London, March 2020, photo Dave Carr

A queue out the door of a pharmacy in East Ham, London, March 2020, photo Dave Carr   (Click to enlarge)

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Socialist Party

The government's laissez-faire attitude towards supplies, in effect contracting out any control of this to the major retailers, means there have been opportunities abundant for speculators to rip people off.

Individual profiteers have been selling items at inflated prices via online marketplace platforms like eBay and Amazon. One user made 1,000 selling toilet roll for double the retail price, according to the Guardian. Another was selling a 72-pack of Andrex for 84.99, more than three times its normal price of 27, with another selling them for 99.90!

Care homes have paid suppliers for aprons at 166% of usual prices, reports the Times - and masks at a whopping 1,000%! One Dr Mark Ali made 1.7 million in just one week selling coronavirus tests through his company, 'Private Harley Street Clinic Ltd', based out of a north London flat.

These were then sent to Randox Laboratories in Northern Ireland. Ali charged 375 a test, while Randox provides them directly for an already-high 120.

Price controls

The capitalist system prioritises profit, not need, and continues to do so even in these crisis conditions. The government should implement price controls, under the democratic oversight of the trade unions, to prevent further abuses.

Big firms which bend the rules should be nationalised. Unions should also elect local committees of retail workers and consumers to control rationing policies where there are shortages, and form part of the oversight of price controls.

These are essential working-class counters to the profit system in this emergency. But the only way to prevent these problems outright is bringing all the major food and staple goods manufacturers, distributors and retailers into public ownership, as part of a democratic plan of production to meet people's needs. That would be a core part of a socialist programme.

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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.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 6 April 2020:


What we think

Tory lies cost lives

End of the Corbyn era - Organise to fight for socialist policies

Workers take action while union leaders call truce with government and bosses


International news

Coronavirus: Amazon workers threaten revolution!

Coronavirus, capitalism and fighting for socialism worldwide


Coronavirus news

Dispatches from the front: shortages of NHS staff, equipment - and union leadership

Expired PPE relabelled for NHS use

The minimum wage must go up! Fund coronavirus workers, not bosses' profits!

Capitalism causes crisis profiteering: fight for workers' oversight and public ownership

Under the microscope: Pandemic news in brief


Workplace news

Where's the PPE Welsh Assembly?

EE puts workers' health and safety at risk

Things will never be the same again

Anger as London local authorities bulldoze through powers to discipline workers

A day in the life of a frontline worker

Victory for Medway bin workers

Socialists in Unite meet via Zoom: Struggles continue in the workplaces


World War Two

Class collaboration and worker militancy in World War Two Britain


Campaigns

Labour leadership election: Starmer wins but the fight for socialism goes on

Coronavirus crisis finance appeal

May Day greetings: we need to fund independent workers' media now more than ever

Getting the Socialist out safely under lockdown


Readers' opinion

Going viral


 

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