austerity

Book Review: Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling Apart edited by Rowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 04/01/2018 - 10:21pm in

In Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling Apart, editors Rowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow make a compelling moral case for the social sciences to challenge the prevailing neoliberal climate based around profit-making and individualism. The book’s central message — that the notion of the social needs to be reclaimed and restored for a better society — makes this a relevant and timely addition to the literature on social justice, recommends Olumide Adisa

Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling ApartRowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow (eds). Policy Press. 2017.

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This new book from a collection of social scientists, edited by Rowland Atkinson, Lisa Mckenzie and Simon Winlow, presents critical arguments for what is needed to make society better. Building Better Societies: Promoting Social Justice in a World Falling Apart has a simple message—being in favour of the social (‘prosocial’) means valuing communal bonds not as mere connections, but rather as mechanisms through which we can attain development and fulfil our potential together. No doubt, the perspective of the book will be intriguing to anyone that is for society, but it also begs the question: do we need another book on social justice? The answer seems to be yes. The text largely makes a compelling case for the betterment of society and charts a credible way forward for how we might best achieve this.

In setting the context, the accounts in this book paint a rather depressing picture of inequality in contemporary British society: low-income households have been hardest hit by government cuts to services and the social welfare structures associated with the fabric of a tolerant Britain will become a thing of the past—indeed, the introductory section of the book appears to suggest that they already have.

Building Better Societies takes an unapologetic stance against neoliberalism—in short, neoliberalism is largely to blame for all our troubles. But the book also makes a moral case for social scientists to care again: to be bold and courageous in our ideas that may often be at odds with a climate of profit-making, individualism and careerism. It positions itself as the sociologist’s conscience in a world of social science that has become more commercialised and less in touch with proposing solutions for those who are marginalised.

The book is divided into three parts—problems, ideas and futures—with the three editors writing the first and last chapters to underpin the main purpose of the book and to conclude it, respectively. The book includes a brief historic account of how contemporary British society has descended to its current depths. It traces a journey from a post-war social-democratic era (where collaboration and community were celebrated in the development of a welfare state that saw a generation enjoying security, stability and togetherness) to a period of marketisation that has led to the erosion of a caring welfare system.

Image Credit: (Quinn Dombrowski CC BY SA 2.0)

In my view, the strongest chapters are Chapter One by the three editors, which makes a splendid case for the prosocial movement, and Chapter Two, authored by Iain Wilkinson, which critiques C. Wright Mills’s ‘The Sociological Imagination’ and makes a case for Jane Addams’s ‘Doing Sociology’. Here, Wilkinson asks ‘how should sociology hold public relevance?’ and sets the scene by presenting statistics on inequalities. He further argues that sociology has lost sight of ‘social’ questions and has become ‘morally neutralised’. As a result, the impact and sway that sociology holds, particularly in caregiving settings, have been limited. In Wilkinson’s mind, political activism ought to be better entrenched within public sociology.

The prosocial argument is further contextualised in Chapter Four authored by Mckenzie. The author makes a compelling argument that social goods, such as education, social housing, state pensions and child benefits, have always been important to working-class people. But with neoliberalism, gains from the post-war consensus have been rolled back and these social goods are no longer guaranteed for those at the bottom of society.

Chapter Seven by Deborah Warr, Gretel Taylor and Richard Williams is a pleasure to read in its discussion of creative practice as a way of examining issues prosocially and embedding them within research designs. Drawing on their research on arts-based activities in low-income neighbourhoods, the authors demonstrate an innovative way of doing social research that combines sociology with creative practice. Similarly, Chapter Eight by Kate Pahl and Paul Ward further builds on the prosocial ethics agenda by exploring ways in which co-producing research with local communities ensures that community knowledge is embedded within social research designs: this can help foster social inclusion and a greater understanding of the diversity within communities.

The book does not present itself as an objective critique but rather as a useful reminder that we need not separate our passionate selves from doing good public sociology and that adhering solely to strict academic conventions stifles our voices as social researchers. By doing so, the narratives in the book are largely inclusive and accessible.

To conclude, the book’s prosocial arguments are primarily built on moral grounds. To the converted, this book is a balm to the moral soul of sociology. And to the sceptics, dare I say hard-core neoliberals, the book’s dependence on morality to drive home its points could be misunderstood. The extent to which the ideas in this book can gain traction is greatly dependent on how quickly our society recalibrates itself to reconnect with values that foster collaborative human behaviour. When one takes a cursory view of recent political events that are dangerously shaping how we treat each other and social values, this book is relevant because it offers a different way of thinking and a simple message—that the notion of the social needs to be reclaimed and restored if we are to have a better society. This book is a well-timed addition to the social justice discourse and should be read by everyone.

Dr Olumide Adisa is a Research Associate at the University of Suffolk. She is an economist and sociologist and her cross-disciplinary research experience straddles both disciplines. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, she undertakes qualitative and quantitative research around welfare issues affecting vulnerable groups. She also teaches and contributes to research methodology courses. Twitter: @docadisa

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


The terrible price of austerity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/12/2017 - 1:55pm in


In August 2014, I wrote this post arguing that harsh austerity during the Depression caused Hitler's rise to power. At the time, my argument seemed controversial, at least in Germany. There, it is not the austerity of 1930-32 that is blamed, but the debt-driven hyperinflation of a decade earlier. Germans remain terrified of both inflation and debt to this day.

I am certainly not the only person to identify a causative link between austerity and Hitler. Here is Paul Krugman slapping down Eduardo Porter in 2015, for example:

Yes, there was a hyperinflation in 1923, which may have helped radicalize German politics. But the proximate factor in Hitler's rise to power was the great deflation of the 1930s, brought on by a disastrous attempt to stay on gold. 

Disastrously staying on gold might of course have been due to the recent experience of hyperinflation. In 2014, when Bulgaria was unable to pay insured depositors for six months after a bank failure, the central bank refused to relax the Euro peg so that the necessary money could be created. When I asked why, my Bulgarian friends reminded me that Bulgaria had suffered hyperinflation in 1996. "If the central bank printed money, there would be riots in the streets," they said. The scars of hyperinflation can take a very long time to heal.

But Chancellor Brüning's austerity policies went far beyond keeping interest rates high to stay on the gold standard and stem capital flight. A series of draconian fiscal budgets imposed severe spending cuts and tax rises:


The degree of fiscal consolidation achieved by these decrees, and the speed of the adjustment, was remarkable:

But there was an ulterior motive for this harsh austerity programme. Embedded in the "Second Emergency Fiscal and Economic Decree" of 5th June 1931 is a "reparations proclamation" that announced that "the limits of what the German people can tolerate have been reached". Brüning, it seems, wanted to engender desperate hardship among the German population in order to persuade the Allied powers to cancel the WWI reparations. And he succeeded. The reparations were suspended in 1931 and cancelled in the Lausanne conference of June-July 1932. Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. Contrary to popular opinion, therefore, neither the 1923 hyperinflation nor the WWI reparations were the direct cause of Hitler's rise to power.

So what was? Well, unemployment was shockingly high, touching 30% in 1932:


chart from Willi Albers, 'Handwörterbuch der Wirtschaftswissenschaft, Band 9, 1982, ISBN 3-525-10260-7, p. 85, CC BY 1.0, via Wikipedia

Maybe the German people, sick of unemployment and poverty, voted for Hitler because he promised relief from austerity?

According to a new research paper (pdf, gated) that's exactly what happened:

With dashed hopes and a loss of faith in the Weimar Republic, fury and despair were channelled into the ranks of populists and demagogues, with the Nazi party campaigning against austerity and offering promises for a new era of prosperity. 

But wait. It wasn't the poor and the unemployed who voted for Hitler:

In fact, much of the growth in support for the Nazi party came from the middle classes, who were fearful of the Communists. The Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD) had achieved 16.9% of the vote by November 1932 (about 100 seats out of 584 in the Reichstag). The Nazis also received support from elites. During the 1920s, those with the highest incomes lost income more quickly than those at the bottom (Adena et al. 2015; Piketty 2014; Satyanath et al. 2017; Schreiner 1932). It was not that Hitler did not try to appeal to the unemployed masses, but rather that the Communist Party was perceived as the party that traditionally represented workers’ interests. Ultimately, Hitler’s attempts to attract the unemployed were ineffective (King et al. 2008; Petzina 1977).

The Nazis were a party of the middle and upper classes.

This was a surprise to me. I thought that unemployment was the principal reason why people turned to the Nazis. But the researchers found that unemployment growth was negatively correlated with support for the Nazis. In other words, Nazi support grew when unemployment was falling.

It seems that the real driver was the sharp fiscal consolidation imposed by Chancellor Brüning. Draconian spending cuts, tax rises and deliberately deflationary policies in a severely depressed economy had dramatic political effects (my emphasis):

We find that austerity measures are correlated with the rise of the Nazi party in interwar Germany, offering econometric support for the argument that austerity created polarization and radicalisation of the German electorate. Each 1 standard deviation increase in fiscal consolidation was associated with between 2 and 5 percentage point increase in votes to the Nazis or up to one quarter or one half of one standard deviation of the dependent variable.

Yes, I know - correlation isn't causation, and all that. But it clearly isn't possible for causation to be the other way round, and although there could be other drivers, the hurt caused by austerity is a rational explanation for rising Nazi votes. "Austerity caused the rise of Hitler" is a reasonable working hypothesis.

But we know that fiscal consolidation tends to affect the poor the most. So why did it cause better-off Germans to vote for extremists?

Better-off they may have been, compared to the poor and the unemployed, but they didn't see it that way. They resented government policies that cut their wages, raised their taxes and reduced their pensions and benefits when they were already suffering because of the economic depression. And they also resented those who were poorer than them, because the really poor received some government support, while they got nothing:

.....austerity measures contributed to votes for the Nazi party among middle- and upper-classes who, despite the depth of the Depression (i.e., after controlling for the level of output and employment) still had something to lose and may have resented government austerity in the face of Depression (a pocket book motive) and while other segments of society received benefits from relief or automatic stabilizers. 

They were what Theresa May dubbed the "Just About Managing", and I have called the "in-betweeners".  They bore the full brunt of tax rises, spending cuts, the deliberate wage-price deflation imposed by Brüning, the extremely tight monetary policy needed to maintain the gold standard and the effects of the Depression itself. They weren't wealthy enough to weather the storm unscathed, but they were too well-off to receive any support. And the public services on which they relied were being cut to the bone. They saw no future for themselves or those they loved. They became angry and desperate - and desperate people are cannon fodder for extremists.

Perceptive as ever, John Maynard Keynes warned in 1932 (emphasis in original):

....many people in Germany have nothing to look forward to – nothing except a ‘change’, something wholly vague and wholly undefined, but a change.

Now where have we heard something very like this recently?

The Nazi party certainly offered a change. It campaigned on an anti-austerity manifesto, promising generous pensions, infrastructure investment (notably roads) and restoration of welfare benefits. The Communist party had a similar manifesto, of course, but the German middle classes were frightened of the Communists. So they fled to the Nazis in droves. By the time Brüning was replaced with a less austerity-minded Von Papen in 1932, it was already too late to save the Weimar republic - and the lives of 60 million people.

Of course, the researchers warn that there may also be other reasons why better-off Germans turned to the Nazis, including anti-semitism. Humans are complex creatures: there is seldom one single reason for the rise of a populist movement. But the terrible folly of imposing austerity in a deeply depressed economy seems clear.

And therein lies the warning for today. Austerity policies in a depressed economy cause political crisis:

....even when the particular history of a country precludes a populist extreme-right option, austerity policies are likely to produce an intense rejection of the established political parties, with the subsequent dramatic alteration of the political order.

In the UK, years of foolish, harmful and wholly unnecessary austerity policies - about which I and many others repeatedly warned - have already plunged the country into deep political crisis. Brexit is no accident: a straight line can be traced from the financial crisis, through the years of stagnation and austerity, to the rise of UKIP and ultimately to the Brexit vote. A deep fault line has opened up, fracturing the political system and undermining the UK's system of representative parliamentary democracy.Today's politics is driven not by Left versus Right, but by Leave versus Remain, or as David Goodhart would have it, the "somewheres" versus the "anywheres". And the damage to the social fabric of the UK is already evident. Families are split, friends lost, relationships broken. Where will this end? I do not know.

The US, too, is in political crisis. There, the fracture is more external than internal. The world's hegemon is threatening to abandon globalisation and adopt 1930s-style protectionist trade practices. The consequences for world trade, and indeed for world peace, could be serious indeed.

The EU has yet to suffer its political crisis. But it will come. The researchers observe that the EU appears to be repeating the mistakes of the 1930s. And they warn:

The case of Weimar Germany explored in this article provides a timely example that imposing much austerity and too many punitive conditions can not only be self-defeating, but can also unleash a series of unintended political consequences, with truly unpredictable and potentially tragic results. 

Learn from your history, Europe, before it is too late. Unless there is radical loosening of the fiscal straitjacket into which too many countries have been tied, your political crisis, when it comes, will be terrible indeed.

Related reading:

The Worst Political Storm In Years
Austerity and the rise of populism
Anti-nationalism
When the world turns dark
What have we learned from history?
Study: austerity helped the Nazis to come to power - Vox
The chilling irony of German austerity - The Week

Image is from The Week. 

Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/12/2017 - 4:00am in

In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. Sooner or later, Trump’s core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side. The tax legislation that Republicans have rushed through Congress could prove especially dangerous, given that millions of middle-class and low-income households will not only get little out of it, but will actually pay more when income-tax cuts are phased out over time. Moreover, the Republican plan would repeal the Obamacare individual mandate. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this will cause 13 million people to lose health insurance, and insurance premiums to rise by 10%, over the next decade. Not surprisingly, a recent Quinnipiac poll found that a mere 29% of Americans support the Republican plan.

Hammond Blames the Disabled for Fall in Productivity

This is another outrageous statement. But it really doesn’t come as a surprise, as it was mouthed by the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, a poisonous incompetent amongst a government of poisonous incompetents.

When Hammond was asked about the fall in British productivity, he responded by blaming it on the inclusion of various marginal groups in the workforce, such as the disabled. Mike over at Vox Political has posted a piece commenting on this stupid, insensitive and mendacious reply. He points out that if productivity has fallen, it might have something to do with a lack of motivation coming from insultingly low pay, poor nutrition, overwork, tiredness and anxiety due to zero hours contracts to care about profits or productivity.

He also points out that, thanks to May’s government fully supporting poor wages and precarity, employers now find it cheaper to employ people under these wretched conditions than invest in new equipment.

Mike also points out that Hammond’s comments follow the usual Tory line of blaming and demonising the disabled. But this doesn’t mean that they’re coming for them to throw them in the gas ovens just yet. No, they’re just content to let the stress of dealing with the benefit system either worsen their mental health, or force them to commit suicide. All while denying that people are being driven to take their own lives by the stress of their benefit reforms.

This is despite suicide notes left behind by those who have committed suicide, explicitly saying that this is why they have been reduced to taking their own lives.

And Mike also rightly notes how DWP staff are asking people with suicidal tendencies why they haven’t taken their own lives. Which sounds like a question from the infamous ‘Nudge’ Unit, the psychological manipulation department set up to manoeuvre people’s thinking so that they come to the decision the authorities want.

Mike also quotes Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, who has condemned Hammond’s comments, pointing out that disabled people are paying the price for the government’s failed austerity policy. This has included scrapping the schemes to get disabled people into the workforce. She states that we should be doing more to get disabled people into work, and definitely not denigrate their contributions. She went on to demand an apology from Hammond.

Abrahams also points out the contradiction that’s also hidden in Hammond’s statement. He states that there are more disabled people in the workforce, which we should be proud of, but the Tories have actually cut the programmes to get the disabled into work, as well as scrapping their manifesto pledge to halve the gap between the employment rates for disabled and able people.

You can’t have it both ways, so one way or another, Hammond is clearly lying.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/12/07/chancellor-blames-fall-in-uk-productivity-on-disabled-people-in-the-workforce/

Hammond’s comment is disgusting, but it is more or less standard Tory replies. The Tories’ entire economic strategy is to prolong the deficit crisis as long as possible, so they have an excuse for cutting welfare benefits, privatising whatever remains of the state sector, including education, and removing workers’ rights. All to create a cowed, beaten workforce that will accept starvation wages, for the benefit of ultra-rich profiteers, including the banksters, hedge fund managers and multinational corporations that are currently keeping their wretched party afloat.

At the same time, they desperately need a scapegoat. Usually this function is filled by the unions, who provide them with an excuse for taking away more workers’ rights while at the same time trying to dismember the Labour party by attacking its foundations in the trade union movement. But as no-one’s currently on strike, they can’t do it.

So Spreadsheet Phil has to blame the disabled.

As with everything else the Tories utter, a few moment’s thought can show that the reality may be the very opposite of what they’re saying. Let’s examine Hammond’s statement that the fall in productivity is due to too many disabled people in the workforce. Quite apart from the fact that, as Mike has pointed out, the Tories have actually cut initiatives to stop disabled people finding work, you can find reasons how disabled people in the workforce may actually be a boost to productivity.

Firstly, there’s the obvious point that just because a person suffers from one type of disability does not mean that they are totally incapable of work. One of the blokes I met years ago was a computer whizzkid, who was totally paralysed from the neck down. But he was very, very good at his job, and was earning a very high salary for his skill. Which he clearly earned and deserved. Despite the problems of dealing with this gent’s handicap, his firm clearly found it well worth their while to employ him. And he wasn’t the only one. I’ve heard of other, physically disabled people with mobility problems, who have also pursued successful careers in computing. Clearly, these peeps are anything but unproductive individuals.

Disabled people also act to stimulate innovation. I blogged a little while ago about how the robotics department at the University of the West of England in Bristol had set up a company to manufacture and sell their artificial hands, which are designed specifically for children. Never mind the hype and bullsh*t about self-driving cars: this is precisely the type of robotics we need. This technology is making it possible for disabled children and their parents to have more normal, better lives. It is positively enabling them, giving them the ability to do things that they otherwise couldn’t do, or would find more difficult. The technology is brilliant, and I’m sure will have other applications as well. And its effect on the children is liberating and empowering. If adults with similar disabilities also have access to improved artificial limbs, then you can expect that their productivity will also improve, as well as simply quality of life.

And this can be said of almost any technical innovation that improves the lives of disabled people, and gives them more independence and freedom, if only a little.

Then there’s the fact that disabled people, like everyone else, contribute to the economy. They have to eat, pay bills and the rent or mortgage. Getting disabled people into proper paid employment, rather than just subsisting on whatever benefits the DWP deigns to throw their way, means that they have surplus cash to spend. Which means that their purchasing power also pumps more money into the economy, and encourages manufacturers to produce more.

And the disabled have also contributed to British culture. Remember Evelyn Glennie, a drummer with one of our orchestras? She’s actually deaf, but that hasn’t prevented her from excelling at her instrument. And those of us, who were kids in the 1970s will remember the brilliant madness that was Vision On. This was a show for deaf children, so that the dialogue was signed as well as spoken. Much of it was silent, accompanied only by music. Among those on the show were Sylvester McCoy as a mad professor, a couple of young animators, who went on to form Aardman Animations, and the artistic genius that was Tony Hart. It also launched the career of another star, at least down here in Bristol: Morph, the mischievous plasticene man, who acted as a kind of comic foil to Hart’s artistic endeavours. The show brought joy to millions of kids, both deaf and hearing, and part of its legacy has been Wallace and Gromit, Creature Comforts and the other films to come out of Aardman. Vision On is remarkable because, by taking the job seriously and doing it well, it became more than a programme aimed at children with a particular type of disability, and was a massive source of TV creativity.

This makes me wonder about the possible potential out there for other programmes aimed at or with a disable audience, that could also do the same today.

But this is all too much for their Tories. Their whole philosophy is based around grinding their social inferiors down, and then blaming them for their poverty.

But this also shows how desperate the Tories are getting, and how they’re running out of plausible excuses.

Once upon a time, they would simply have blamed British workers, claiming that we’re too lazy, work shorter hours and go on strike more than our French or German competitors. But they can’t do that, as it’s notorious that we work far longer hours than them. In fact, the Germans even make jokes about how we work ourselves into the ground, but nothing in this country still works properly. So that excuse simply won’t do. You still hear though, occasionally, from the odd CEO windbag, who feels like giving the rest of us the benefit of his decades of ignorance. But it’s very definitely not true, and Hammond knows it. Thus he’s been reduced to blaming the disabled.

I’m sick of him, sick of this government, and sick of their lies and bullying – of the disabled and of ordinary working people. Debbie Abrahams is right: Hammond should apologise. And then I want him and his vile government cleaned out like the parasites they are.

Newsletter – Free Yourself From An Exploitative Culture

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/11/2017 - 11:00am in

Shoppers hit the malls and online stores this week, spending over $3.5 billion online alone on what is called ‘Black Friday’. Some people reject the extreme consumerism, calling it ‘Buy Nothing Day’ and staying home in protest, others take their protests to the streets. Anti-police violence activists in St. Louis, Missouri, demonstrated peacefully at a major shopping mall to say “No Justice, No Profit.” True to form, police responded by violently attacking the 100 or so protesters and arresting seven people. Mazaska Talks, an indigenous-led movement, promoted ‘Divest Black Friday,’ and encouraged people to protest the banks that are funding pipelines. They asked people to place notices on ATM machines to let customers know that their money is financing destruction of the planet. In our home town of Baltimore, groups hosted ‘Buy Black’ for Black Friday through small markets featuring local black-owned businesses. Our friends at The Rules remind us that there are many fulfilling things money can’t buy, such as community and wisdom. They write that ‘Buy Nothing Day’ is “an opportunity… to nurture the feeling of sovereignty you get when you step back from mainstream culture and know that it has no hold on you.” Another way to free yourself from a culture that exploits people and the planet is to change the way that you celebrate Thanksgiving by looking at the truth behind the holiday and what it really represents, the slaughter of Indigenous People’s for their lands and resources, the American Genocide. This is why the Indigenous call it the ‘Day of Mourning’. The impacts of that genocide are ongoing. Glen Ford of Black Agenda report explains that “Nobody but the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of ‘the founders’ as the supremely white US holiday.” Cliff DuRand of the Center for Global Justice writes, “Much of the bounty celebrated on Thanksgiving Day is the fruit of the land we stole from the natives, created by the labor of slaves, their descendants and the waves of immigrants that continue to this day.” He adds that once this is understood, we can also recognize that the Thanksgiving Myth represents what we want to value as a people, personal relationships and peace. With that in mind, Emma Fiala lists ways that we can celebrate the holiday constructively, such as supporting Indigenous-led organizations, discussing the truth about the holiday and choosing as a family whether to continue to celebrate it or not.’ Amazon and the run-away wealth divide While we’re talking about truth, let’s look at ways our exploitation-based culture is hurting each of us. One example is the concentration of wealth in the United States, which is accelerating at an alarming pace. In 2010, 400 people owned wealth equivalent to the bottom 50%, over 150 million people. We thought that was outrageous, but by 2015, the number was down to 20 individuals. A new report by Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie of the Institute for Policy Studies finds that now just three people in the United States, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, own wealth equal to the bottom 50%. That percentage may have changed yesterday because online sales raised Amazon’s stock values so much that Bezos is now a hundred billionaire ($100,000,000,000). Amazon has become a giant predator in the US economy with a stronghold on Washington politics. Bezos bought the Washington Post, and then signed a $600 million contract with the CIA to build a ‘private cloud’ for the spy agency, raising concerns about conflicts of interest over the Post’s reporting on the CIA and federal government. This month, because of Bezos’ heavy lobbying efforts, Congress took steps that could lead to a $53 billion contract for Amazon to provide goods to the Pentagon. Amazon is so powerful that cities across the US and Canada are tripping over themselves to lure Amazon with huge tax breaks and land give-aways. James Wilt explains how this is a “textbook ‘race to the bottom’ situation, in which governments are expected to commit massive public funds to subsidize a for-profit corporation so it doesn’t lose the ‘opportunity’ to another jurisdiction.” Simon Head describes Amazon’s business model as one that puts increasing pressure on workers for greater output and fires them if they fail to perform. Workers have gone on strike to protest “unpaid wages and overtime, dangerous conditions, a lack of breaks and water during hot summer months, and retaliation by management against their organizing efforts.” Amazon also exploits workers who deliver its products. Instead of using the US Post Office for the ‘last mile’ of delivery, Amazon now employs “a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws.” In this disposable worker economy, it is no surprise that poverty is growing. Collins and Hoxie’s wealth inequality report described the ‘underwater nation’: one in five households either have zero or negative wealth (they are in debt). Hoxie also published the report, “The Road to Zero Wealth” this September, which delves deeper into the significant racial wealth divide. If nothing is done to change the current trends, black households are on track to reach zero wealth by 2043. (Listen to our interview with Collins and Hoxie on Clearing the FOG Radio) This trend is happening world wide. Another report found that globally, billionaires increased their wealth by almost 20% last year. This level of wealth disparity has not existed since the Gilded Age. John Atcheson writes that this is a natural result of capitalism with its drive for ever greater profits. Will we have prosperity or more austerity? Contrary to what is normally taught, growth is not necessary for prosperity and well-being. Costa Rica demonstrates that prosperity can exist with a low per capita income through investments in social necessities such as education and health care. If a relatively poor country, such as Costa Rica, can do it, the United States can certainly create prosperity for everyone. It requires significant changes that are not being considered by Washington at present, such as what happened after the Gilded age when the...

Videos of People’s Assembly Demonstration against Budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/11/2017 - 5:05am in

I found this on the channel of someone describing themselves as ‘Loveofpeace’. On Thursday, just before Philip Hammond released his vile, abysmal budget, the People’s Assembly organised a mass demonstration in front of 10 Downing Street, in which they piled up a small mountain of food, which they would later deliver to a real food bank. They did this to call attention to the mass starvation the Tories’ austerity policies are causing.

This is just a series of short snapshots of the demo, but it shows the workers piling on the food. There’s also a performance poet attacking the media for colluding with the government. It shows the signs up demanding an end to austerity, the sacking of the Tories, and defending the NHS. There’s also a banner from one of the Marxist parties or groups, and another sign saying ‘Migrants welcome here’.

There are now something like a quarter of a million people forced to use food banks. 7 million in ‘food insecure’ households, where they don’t know if this meal will be their last. And that liar Philip Hammond had the utter gall to appear on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday and claim there were no jobless in Britain. He was wrong: Marr quoted the figure of 1.25 million. I don’t believe that, as the figures are fiddled so that they’re meaningless. I think the real figure is probably 4 million. Quite apart from the fact that most of the poor in Britain are actually in work. But they’re not making money because of low wages, zero hours contracts and all the other fiddles employers are using to not have to pay real wages. And Mike put up another piece about some female Tory from Yorkshire, somebody Pow, who claimed that people had thousands in the bank and the Tories had made them richer.

Well, they have made some people richer. Those, who were rich already. The top 25 per cent. Either this woman really doesn’t know any poor people – which is possible – or she’s suffering from serious cognitive dissonance, and actually believes what her party says – or she’s a liar. Either way, she’s telling porky pies, and is totally unsuited to government.

Get her, Hammond, May and the rest of the Tories out. Now. Before more people die from starvation.

Austerity stories you won’t hear about in today’s Budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/11/2017 - 11:59pm in

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London, austerity

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Rhea needs a home. She is a full-time single mother
of three living in destitution on the brink of homelessness. Yet two local
authorities are reluctant to help. Why?

Red box with gold handle Hard times: For the last seven years British governments have cut spending on public services, which has hit the poorest households hardest. Image by Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

 

 

One Friday evening last summer, Rhea* and her
children walked through a north London neighbourhood. It was around six
o’clock, pubs and bars on the high street were already heaving, customers
holding glasses spilled onto the streets.

Grace* was nine, the boys, Benny* and Joseph*, were
four and seven. They carried their belongings in rucksacks and bags. Rhea led them
away from the noise of rush hour traffic, down a side street, the bars thinned
out into residential houses. “We don’t have anywhere to go,” she told them.
“Don’t be frightened. Cooperate.”

Their latest troubles had begun three months before when their rented flat flooded. Water poured through the ceiling, the children’s beds got soaked.
A fire officer said there was a problem with the boiler and the flat was
unsafe. Rhea and the children stayed with a friend for the night. Next day she
called the council for help.

Council staff didn’t point blank refuse to help. They
dodged and prevaricated. It took a week and angry tears before Rhea could get
an appointment to be assessed. (The assessment is a statutory duty related to
the children’s needs. It ought to have determined whether the family qualified
for temporary housing and subsistence while the flat was fixed.) Rhea expected
a formal meeting, questions, a decision. But it wasn’t like that. Instead the council
response was piecemeal, random, frightening.

Rhea and her children bounced from one temporary
home to another. Briefly, home was a bed-sit, one of five in a terraced house
with a shared kitchen and bathroom. In the other bedsits lived a woman with a
baby, another mother and her two children, and an elderly man who had mental
health problems.

It didn’t feel safe.

The children were eating dinner one evening when
there was a knock at the door. Their social worker. She fired questions: Why
are the children eating pizza? Who bought it for them?

Still no help.

Rhea was on the bus
taking her son to nursery when one day when her phone rang. More questions.

At the doctors having a
blood test to find out why her eyesight had dimmed. Another phone call. The
council. You must come in now. They needed to ask her more questions.
If you don’t attend, it will be marked as non-compliance, which will invalidate
your claim.
Off she went.

Except for the couple of times the council gave Rhea a food bank voucher, the
interrogations rarely translated into actual help. We don’t have a house,
can you find somewhere else to sleep? Can you come back tomorrow? Why are you
here?

Some nights Rhea and the children slept on sofas. They
slept three nights in a church. Weeks went by and the family still had nowhere
to live, and no access to the flat. The children’s school provided uniforms for
Grace and Joseph. Grace’s school continued to feed her. The outstanding school
dinner fees were added to Rhea’s debt. (A year later that’s around £400).

Rhea had turned to the
council because she needed help. Eventually the council would turn her away,
but before that Rhea was subjected to what felt like trial by local authority
staff. She was judged, accused, threatened. 

Councils are rationing services in sometimes random ways, making assumptions about whether people are deserving or underserving

This wasn’t a case of
one bad experience. Stretched local authorities are forced to prioritise services.
By design or by accident, council officers are rationing services in sometimes
random ways, and making assumptions about whether people are deserving or
underserving.

***              

Since the 2007 financial crash, British governments
have pursued a policy
of austerity
, making deep cuts to services for people in
crisis. In the June 2010 budget George
Osborne
announced cuts so severe that even the BBC’s Nick
Robinson called the Chancellor’s statement
a “massive gamble economically and politically”.

Since then the government has cut and cut again
funding for legal
aid
, social
homes
, supported
housing
, social
services
, lone
parent support
, welfare
benefits
and other public services.

Pain is spread across groups, mostly falling on women, and mostly ethnic minority women.
Grace, Benny and Joseph are among the growing number of British children
growing up in poverty. If planned tax and benefit changes go ahead, by 2020,
their lives will become even harder.

And the cuts will hurt Grace and her brothers more
than most children. Here’s why.

When you look at the cumulative impact of tax,
welfare benefits and spending polices since 2010, it is black and brown women who
lose most
. The Women’s Budget Group and the Runnymede Trust,
who’ve done this analysis, predict that if austerity continues, by 2020, Asian
women in the poorest households will be worse off by £2,200. That’s twice the
loss of white men in the poorest households. The richest white men would lose
£400. 

Black and Asian lone mothers would lose £4,000 and
£4,200 a year on average by 2020. That is around 15 and 17 per cent of their
net income. 

“The data produced by these models tells a powerful
story — showing clearly that across all income groups BME women have
experienced greater losses in proportion to their income than white women or
BME men,” say the Women’s Budget Group. 

 

The report combines economic analysis
and interviews
with working class women and young people in
Manchester and Coventry. Their stories chime with Rhea’s. The system punishes
them more than it helps.

Asian women will be worse off by £2,200. Twice the loss of white men in the poorest households. The richest white men would lose £400

Cuts to housing benefit and tax credits have made
it harder to pay for food and housing. Jobcentre staff and other state
representatives can make women feel pressured, punished, unworthy. Women may be
sanctioned by mistake, driven into debt, forced to stay in violent
relationships to avoid destitution. 

Meanwhile social housing is in short supply. Rhea
needs a home. She is a full-time single mother of three living in destitution
on the brink of homelessness. Yet two local authorities hesitated before
even considering finding her
somewhere to live. 

Why is this happening?

***

Under the new Housing and Planning Act councils
must prioritise the provision of homes for sale (starter homes for first time
buyers) over social housing. When the Act was first published in October 2016 it was billed part of a
“national crusade to get 1 million homes built by 2020”, transforming
“generation rent into generation buy”. 

Small comfort for anyone who can’t afford to buy
their own home (in London, where Rhea lives, the average house price is
£480,000, Even with the 20 per cent discount promised under the Act’s starter
home policy, a household would need an annual income of more than £100,000 to
find a mortgage). 

The small print of the Act is still being worked
out, but councils are already turning people away, especially women. When challenged about
their duties to the most vulnerable councils are quick to point out the
pressure they are under. The government cut funding for local authorities by 50
per cent between 2010 and 2015. The deepest cuts per head have fallen in
the most deprived areas.

And as central
government funding shrinks, councils are forced to ration the support they
give. Some local administrators are even refusing to carry out their statutory duties to help survivors of domestic violence, destitute migrants and their families, homeless people and others in dire need.

One London
councillor asked Rhea why she had children in the first place. Collectively the
council officially denied that it had a duty to house her. And five times
Children’s Services tried to split up the family.

***

The first time was very
soon after she became homeless. 

“The option we have now, we want to take your
children,” one of the officers told her. “We have got accommodation, but only
for your children.” 

Rhea had spent the day pleading with council staff,
being passed from department to department, waiting for hours, being told to
come back another day. But Rhea refused to leave. She had nowhere to go, her
children were by her side. 

The children will go into
foster care
, they said, we just need you to sign an
agreement. 

“No way,” Rhea was
furious. You have to sign, they said. 

“I can’t sign anything.
You can’t separate me from my children,” she said, in tears. 

More talking, she felt the pressure to give her
children away. Why am I here? It’s because of these children. They can’t, I
will never.

Rhea’s head hurt. The
children began to cry. 

“If you can kill me, then
you can take them. If you can’t then no.” 

Hours passed. Rhea continued to protest, she lay on
the floor, crying and refusing to leave. The council officers threatened to
call the police, then they did. Rhea asked the officer: “Am I a criminal?” He
said she wasn’t. 

Things could have turned even worse. But then Grace, in tears, said she had a friend at school, they could stay with her. Or what about the
woman that helped us last time?

A council officer seized on that, demanded the
woman’s contact details, phoned her and fired questions at her. It didn’t seem
right. She was just a kind acquaintance who had put the family up once before.
Then she passed the phone to Rhea, who pleaded. The woman said: “I don’t
want them to take your children, just come.”

***

After that Rhea kept the children with her whenever they weren’t at school. But Grace worried they might be taken away
from their mum while they were at school. All three of the children
cowered when the social worker came to see them. The fear of separation
stayed with them. 

Rhea knew this and tried to reassure them the
Friday night they traipsed through those north London streets. She wanted them
to feel safe. They wouldn’t go to the council this time, they would go the police.
“Don’t be frightened. The police are your friend.”

Rhea and her family walked into the police station,
a grand redbrick building with high curved archways. Rhea told them her story.
The council had finally said no and refused to house them nearly a month ago. They
spent three weeks with a stranger, but she’d asked them to leave. They’d gone
to Shelter, the homelessness charity, who were helping them to apply for
housing with another local authority, but meanwhile they were homeless. 

A police officer told them:
“We are here for crime, not housing.”

“Whatever,” Rhea said. “This place is safe. That is
why I am here. It is safe for me and my children and I am here.”

***

That June, just a few miles across London, Theresa
May, the new Prime Minister, stood outside Number 10 Downing Street and seemed
to signal a kinder, more responsible style of government. She wanted to help
the “just about managing” and tackle “burning injustices”.

Was that just talk? The cuts have continued, the
country’s much-needed social safety net is in tatters.  

May did commission a “race
audit”
, a collection
of statistics
showing how different ethnic groups in Britain
experience health, education, justice and employment. The report, published in
October, confirmed what
so many people know by experience:
life is tougher in
Britain if you are from an ethnic minority and/or poor. Children on free school
meals from black and Asian backgrounds do well in school, but as they get older
their outcomes change. For the worse. They face harsher, more punitive
treatment in the courts and in prison. They face a tough and discriminatory jobs
market. Pakistani and Bangladeshi British people are the least likely to be in
employment. Fewer than half of people from Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and
mixed backgrounds own their home. This is compared to more than two thirds of
people from a white or Indian background.

Rhea’s
experience isn’t exceptional. The statistics, the
government’s own evidence, all suggest that inequality and poverty is growing,
social security nets are being shredded. Rhea knows what this feels like. Her
children, growing up black and in precarity, have all this to overcome.

And more. 

As a migrant Rhea is subject to the ‘hostile environment’
policies designed to make life in Britain tough for the poorest migrants.
Policies spearheaded by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary. The idea is to
restrict access to public services in order to 
deter people from coming to the UK.

Transferring ‘gatekeeping at the border’ to
‘gatekeeping access to services’, is how migration
experts
describe it. That deliberate hostility, enshrined
in law, policy and practice, seeps into how people think and behave.

Rhea’s experience illustrates the impact all this
can have.

 

***

Rhea is 39 and came to Britain in her late
twenties. Her three children were born in the UK. When
she became homeless Rhea realised she had no access to public funds because
she’d overstayed on her travel visa. Before this she worked, had a normal life.
It was only in crisis that she was forced to turn to the state. She is in the
process of regularising her status. It’s been more than a year since the Home
Office wrote to say they were considering her case. Grace, who was born in the
UK, must apply for citizenship too. For this Grace’s application Rhea will need to find £973.

As someone with ‘no
recourse to public funds’ she can’t access mainstream welfare benefit like
housing benefit, jobseekers allowance or working tax credits. Nor can she
access social housing or homelessness assistance.  Her children are affected too. A child can
access public funds only when they turn 18. Before that child benefit and other
child-centred support is awarded to their main carer. If their main carer has
no recourse to public funds, they receive nothing. Free school meals count as a
public fund, so Grace, Benny and Joseph don’t qualify, not even when they were
destitute and homeless.

How many children are affected by this? The hardship
faced by those families with ‘no recourse to public funds’ is not captured by the
race audit. But two studies from 2015 and 2016 offer some insight.

Free school meals count as a public fund, so Grace, Benny and Joseph don’t qualify, not even when they were destitute and homeless

Some
background

A study by Oxford University academics published
in 2015 reveals a tension between child safety legislation and Home Office
policy towards migrant families. Councils have a duty to support vulnerable children.
They also have to administer aspects of the hostile environment. As one local
authority staff member told researchers, “A negative attitude
towards them as a client group can be reinforced by the Home Office saying they
should all go back…”.

Restrictions on benefits for migrants goes back
decades. The Labour government formally restricted access to the bulk of
mainstream welfare and support for many migrants within the Immigration and
Asylum Act 1999.

Families with no recourse could still potentially
access accommodation and some support from social services under the Children
Act 1989, providing the household contained a ‘child in need’. But then in
2002, the Labour government amended the law to further restrict the ability of EEA nationals and undocumented migrants to rely on this safety net. At the same time they
further complicated the process local authorities use to assess whether families receive help. It can take many weeks.

Then
Theresa May made life even harder.

In changes to the Immigration Rules introduced
in 2012, she made ‘no recourse to public funds’ the default position for many
migrants granted ‘limited’ (up to ten years) leave to remain in the UK.

And so the number of low-paid, precarious or
unpaid migrant workers with children subject to benefit restrictions grew. At
the same time government pushed the financial burden off its shoulders and onto
local authority social services’ departments. Councils were left to administer
a complex assessment process under the Children Act and support those children,
and their families, whose destitution had reached such a level that they were assessed
as being ‘in need’.

How many families are affected? The Oxford University study, carried out by COMPAS, estimates that local authorities supported roughly 3,391 families with
no recourse to public funds, including around 5,900 children in 2012/13.

More than 50,000 people with dependents were
denied access to public funds between 2014 and 2015, according to the
Children’s Society. How many children
were turned away? Nobody was counting.

The charity estimates that there are
approximately 144,000 undocumented children living in England and Wales, more
than half are born in the UK.

“They
[no recourse families] have generally been in the UK for a considerable period
of time, are well integrated and were not reliant on the state until a crisis
provoked their referral,” the COMPAS report says. “Precarious living and
relationships of dependency expose some parents and children to exploitation.

 

“Where
support is provided, subsistence rates are well below minimum welfare benefit
levels and below those provided for refused asylum seekers. Accommodation is
often in B&Bs, which local authorities acknowledge are unsuitable for the
welfare of the child. Parents’ reasons for remaining in the UK despite the
hardship and insecurity it entails largely relate to the future education and
welfare of their children.”

A report by the Children’s Society
echoes this and brings fresh evidence of the increasing destitution of no
recourse families. Councils place barriers to them receiving any support.
Children are
left hungry and without lunch for school, they are made street homeless, and
forced to live hours from school. The charity says: “These children and their
parents face extreme levels of destitution and risk which are multiple and
varied including living in unsafe accommodation, being unable to afford food
and engaging in informal sexual relationships for small amounts of money.”

Councils receive zero funding from the Home
Office to cover the millions they now spend on families with no recourse.
Lawyers say that changes (yet to be introduced) contained in Theresa May’s
Immigration Act 2016 will make things even worse.

***

That night at the police station in June 2016, an
officer gave Rhea and her children an interview room. The boys slept. Grace
watched her mum phoning everyone she knew. She called the council’s out of
hours number. They told her the case had been closed and hung up.

What happens now? You can imagine the unhappy ways
that Rhea’s story goes from here.

But Rhea’s quest had already led her to a Sunday
meeting in East London. She’d met other women like her: “There are lots of
people going through this. A lot of women. Everybody is scared.”

She had begun to understand the law and what was
happening to her. “Before all this I didn’t know about no recourse. I didn’t know anything.”

The group, called Nelma,
offers solidarity, a place to eat, relax and talk and the kind of practical
support that Rhea wasn’t getting from the council. It was set up by volunteers
from migrant drop-in centres across north London, volunteers alarmed by the
accelerating damage being done to the people who came to them for help. 

 Nelma offers solidarity, a place to eat, relax and talk and the kind of practical support that Rhea wasn’t getting from the council

They were meeting destitute asylum seekers,
migrants fallen on hard times, homeless pensioners who have lived in Britain
all their lives told they have to pay for NHS treatment, Eastern Europeans
worried about the implications of Brexit.

They were meeting people with no recourse to public funds who were being denied support from the council. More and more
frequently, they were hearing that people were being treated with something
worse than discourtesy: contempt.

The volunteers started an accompanying service, so
that people wouldn’t have to go alone to meetings with the council. They take
notes, offer emotional support, act as a witness.

“It’s really quite dehumanising. People come to
these appointments already in difficult emotional situations, already facing
destitution,” says Sophie, a Nelma volunteer. “They are faced with aggressive
questioning, bullying tactics. Often social services bring the attitude that if
you are asking for support you must be lying. Trying to catch people out. 

“The atmosphere can be very very tense. And very
very exhausting. And it often goes on for days. Often at the end of the day the
council will say, ‘We can’t support you. You need to come back tomorrow with
all this evidence.’”

That is evidence of destitution. In the form of an
eviction letter, bank statements, proof of residency.

When Rhea needed proof of her destitution, Nelma
helped her gather it. When the council refused to believe her old flat was
unsafe, Nelma called the fire station and got a statement from the officer who
inspected her flat and told her it wasn’t safe.

Nelma activists don’t see themselves as service
providers or a charity. Sophie, a researcher in her day-job, said:

“We want to
address the wider injustice of no recourse to public funds, we think it should
end. The wider injustices of council gatekeeping practices. These practices are
obstructing routes to support for some of the most vulnerable people in
society. We want to help people navigate this really difficult situation but we
also want to call attention to injustices of that situation in the first place
and campaign for change.”

***

After a frantic weekend of calls, Rhea and her
Nelma friends managed to secure a meeting at a different local authority for
Monday morning. Rhea worried that the whole humiliating process would start
again.

But this social services staff member behaved
professionally, informed Rhea of her rights and what to expect. A social worker
visited the children’s school. The council gave her a bus pass and a
Sainsbury’s voucher. Over the next month the family stayed in four B&Bs,
each day Rhea sent a text to find out where they would be sleeping that night.
Eventually, last winter, the council found them a temporary flat close to the
children’s school. It was nearly five months since they’d left their flooded flat.

The
struggle isn’t over for Rhea and her children. They remain subject to
immigration control, the hostile environment, the daily bombardment of the
message: you are
undeserving, you have brought your troubles upon yourself
.
As one Nelma
member puts it: “If you don’t have status you are nobody”.

It’s hard not to internalise that message, Rhea
says, to become depressed and defeated. But the comradeship she has found
through Nelma, have helped her to resist.

Rhea hands leaflets out to other mothers at school,
joins in protests, supports others, spreads the word. Her children inspire her.
“They are innocent. In this life, there are some things you can’t make a choice
of. Where you are born, who gave birth to you. You can’t choose.”

 

 

*Names changed to protect identity. 

 

 

Sideboxes
Related stories: 

Housing activists stand up to dodgy landlords and council bullies

Refuse, retract, resist: boycott the schools census

Rats in the yard: 4 years of UK asylum housing by G4S

The end of domestic violence support for black and brown women in the UK?

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Help Britain Charity Film (1971)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/11/2017 - 11:50pm in

 
In 1971 the council released a short film which predicted the state of the nation by 2025. While the film is no longer extant, these three frames have been found in our archive.

According to the transcript, the film anticipated Britain joining and leaving the European Union and becoming a nation of racist immigrants who intern themselves in camps and try to get themselves deported. It also predicted that Southern Britain would become a dumping ground for international toxic waste. This leads to the genetic modification of Brits who eventually become a delicacy in Japan and the only known food item that complains.

Landmark Study Links Tory Austerity To 120,000 Deaths

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/11/2017 - 3:00am in

Above Photo: Labour has called on Theresa May to match £6m pledged by Labour for health (Getty) Google is blocking our site. Please use the social media sharing buttons (upper left) to share this on your social media and help us break through. Government is accused of ‘economic murder’ The Conservatives have been accused of “economic murder” for austerity policies which a new study suggests have caused 120,000 deaths. The paper found that there were 45,000 more deaths in the first four years of Tory-led efficiencies than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-election levels. On this trajectory that could rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020, even with the extra funding that has been earmarked for public sector services this year. Real terms funding for health and social care fell under the Conservative-led Coalition Government in 2010, and the researchers conclude this “may have produced” the substantial increase in deaths. Is austerity really to blame for stalling life expectancy in England? The paper identified that mortality rates in the UK had declined steadily from 2001 to 2010, but this reversed sharply with the death rate growing again after austerity came in. From this reversal the authors identified that 45,368 extra deaths occurred between 2010 and 2014, than would have been expected, although it stops short of calling them “avoidable”. Based on those trends it predicted the next five years – from 2015 to 2020 – would account for 152,141 deaths – 100 a day – findings which one of the authors likened to “economic murder”. The Government began relaxing austerity measures this year announcing the end of its cap on public sector pay rises and announcing an extra £1.3bn for social care in the Spring Budget. Over three years the additional funding for social care is expected to reach £2bn, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said was “patching up a small part of the damage” wrought by £4.6bn cuts. The study, published in BMJ Open today, estimated that to return death rates to their pre-2010 levels spending would need to increase by £25.3bn. The Department of Health said “firm conclusions” cannot be drawn from this work, and independent academics warned the funding figures were “speculative”. However local councils who have been struggling to fund care with slashed budgets urged the Government to consider the research seriously. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government must match Labour’s spending pledges in the Autumn Budget. Per capita public health spending between 2001 and 2010 increased by 3.8 percent a year, but in the first four years of the Coalition, increases were just 0.41 per cent, researchers from University College London found. In social care the annual budget increase collapsed from 2.20 percent annually, to a decrease of 1.57 percent. The researchers found this coincided with death rates which had decreased by around 0.77 percent a year to 2010, beginning to increase again by 0.87 percent a year. And the majority of those were people reliant on social care, the paper says: “This is most likely because social care experienced greater relative spending constraints than healthcare.” It also notes that a drop in nurse numbers may have accounted for 10 percent of deaths, concluding: “We have found that spending constraints since 2010, especially public expenditure on social care, may have produced a substantial mortality gap in England.” The papers’ senior author and a researcher at UCL, Dr Ben Maruthappu, said that while the paper “can’t prove cause and effect” it shows an association. And he added this trend is seen elsewhere. “When you look at Portugal and other countries that have gone through austerity measures, they have found that health care provision gets worse and health care outcomes get worse,” he told The Independent. One of his co-author’s, Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University, said it showed the damage caused by austerity “It is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits – it is bad economics, but good class politics,” he said. “This study shows it is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.” The Department of Health stressed that no such conclusion could be drawn. A spokesperson said: “As the researchers themselves note, this study cannot be used to draw any firm conclusions about the cause of excess deaths. “The NHS is treating more people than ever before and funding is at record levels with an £8bn increase by 2020-21. We’ve also backed adult social care with £2bn investment and have 12,700 more doctors and 10,600 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.” And independent academics added that it is hard to prove cause and effect with this kind of study even if the underlying assumptions may be correct. Professor Martin Roland Emeritus Professor of Health Services Research, University of Cambridge said: “This study suggests that a change happened to cause deaths to stop declining around 2014. This is likely to be a correct finding. However, the link to health and social care spending is speculative as observational studies of this type can never prove cause and effect.” Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “We would urge government to review the evidence behind this analysis. If correct, it would clearly reinforce the desperate and urgent need to properly fund social care Mr Ashworth, responding to the study, said: “This shocking mortality gap is a damning indictment of the dire impact which sustained Tory cuts to our NHS and social care services have had on health outcomes across the nation. “Ahead of the Budget, this appalling news must serve as an urgent wake up call to the Prime Minister. She must match Labour’s pledge to deliver an extra £6 billion for our NHS across the next financial year to ensure the best possible quality of care is sustained for years to come.”

Prosperity Through Keystrokes: Understanding Federal Spending

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 19/11/2017 - 2:00am in

Above photo: From CNN Money. Google is blocking our site. Please use the social media sharing buttons (upper left) to share this on your social media and help us break through. Progressives Trigger warning: Compassion required. When is the last time you heard Greens, Berniecrats or Indie voters not acknowledge the distinct and pressing need for election reform, campaign finance reform, voting reform? More to the point, when haven’t they mentioned unleashing third parties from the fringe of irrelevancy and up on to the debate stage? That is mostly what is talked about, simply because it is low hanging fruit. It has long been known that our electoral system and methods of voting are corrupt, untrustworthy, and easily manipulated by less than savvy politicians, state actors, and hackers alike. The answers to many of these issues is the same answer that we would need to push for any progressive reforms to take place in the United States: namely, we need enlightened, fiery, peaceful, and committed activists to propel a movement and ensure that the people rise, face their oppressors, and unify to demand that their needs be met. What is not as well-known, however, is how a movement, the government, and taxes work together to bring about massive changes in programs, new spending, and the always scary “National Debt” (should be “National Assets”, but I will speak to that later). In fact, this subject is so poorly understood by many well-meaning people on all sides of the aisle that these issues are the most important we face as a nation. Until we understand them and have the confidence and precision necessary to destroy the myths and legends we have substituted in the absence of truth and knowledge, it must remain front and center to the movement. Progressives, like most people in the U.S., are almost religiously attached to the terms “the tax payer dollar,” and the idea that their “hard earned tax dollars” are being misappropriated. Often, the most difficult pill for people to swallow is the concept that our Federal Government is self-funding and creates the very money it “spends”. It isn’t spending your tax dollars at all. To demonstrate this, consider this simplified flow chart: These truths bring on even more hand wringing, because to the average voter they raise the issue of where taxes, tax revenue, government borrowing, and the misleading idea of the “National Debt” (which is nothing more than the sum of every single not yet taxed federal high-powered dollar in existence) fit into the federal spending picture. The answer is that they really don’t. A terrible deception has been perpetrated on the people. We have been led to believe that the U.S. borrows its own currency from foreign nations, that the money gathered from borrowing and collected from taxing funds federal spending. We have also been led to believe that gold is somehow the only real currency, that somehow our nation is broke because we don’t own much gold compared to the money we create, and that we are on the precipice of some massive collapse, etc. because of that shortage of gold. People in the United States have been taught single entry accounting instead of Generally Accepted Accounting Practices, or GAAP-approved double entry accounting, where every single asset has a corresponding liability; which means that every single dollar has a corresponding legal commitment. Every single dollar by accounting identity is nothing more than a tax credit waiting to be extinguished.  Sadly, many only see the government, the actual dollar creator, as having debt; that it has liabilities, not that we the people have assets; assets that we need more and more of as time goes on, to achieve any semblance of personal freedom and relative security from harm. In other words, at the Federal level it is neither your tax dollars nor the dollars collected from sales of Treasury debt instruments that are spent. Every single dollar the Federal Government spends is new money. Every dollar is keystroked into existence. Every single one of them. Which brings up the next question: “Where do our hard-earned tax dollars and borrowed dollars go if, in fact, they do not pay for spending on roads, schools, bombs and propaganda?” We already know the answer. They are destroyed by the Federal Reserve when they mark down the Treasury’s accounts. In Professor Stephanie Kelton’s article in the LA Times “Congress can give every American a pony (if it breeds enough ponies).” She states quite plainly: “Whoa, cowboy! Are you telling me that the government can just make money appear out of nowhere, like magic? Absolutely. Congress has special powers: It’s the patent-holder on the U.S. dollar. No one else is legally allowed to create it. This means that Congress can always afford the pony because it can always create the money to pay for it.” That alone should raise eye brows and cause you to reconsider a great many things you may have once thought. It will possibly cause you to fall back to old, neoclassical text book understandings as well, which she deftly anticipates and answers with: “Now, that doesn’t mean the government can buy absolutely anything it wants in absolutely any quantity at absolutely any speed. (Say, a pony for each of the 320 million men, women and children in the United States, by tomorrow.) That’s because our economy has internal limits. If the government tries to buy too much of something, it will drive up prices as the economy struggles to keep up with the demand. Inflation can spiral out of control. There are plenty of ways for the government to get a handle on inflation, though. For example, it can take money out of the economy through taxation.” And there it is. The limitation everyone is wondering about. Where is the spending limit? When we run out of real resources. Not pieces of paper or keystrokes. Real resources. To compound your bewilderment, would it stretch your credulity too much to say that the birth of a dollar...

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