Who are Australia’s homeless?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/03/2018 - 9:40am in

The topic of Homelessness is one of the most frequently raised during our briefings to councils and communities across the country.

On March 14th, the ABS released ‘Estimating Homelessness‘. This eagerly anticipated publication comes out once every Census, and provides detailed counts and estimates of the number of people who are homeless or in substandard accommodation in Australia.

This version is from the 2016 Census, and is one of the last datasets to be released from it.

Collecting data on homelessness

Actually, data isn’t just from the Census. The ABS has teams of field interviewers counting homeless people via a special short form on Census night, but these data are supplemented by information from crisis accommodation providers and boarding houses to provide a more robust count. As you can imagine, it’s not easy to get a complete count of the homeless population, so these are estimates from a variety of sources.

At the 2016 Census, there were estimated to be 116,427 people homeless in Australia, an increase from 102,439 in 2011. This represents an increase of 13.7% on 2011, but the rate per capita only increased by 4.6%, to 49.8 people per 10,000 Australia-wide. So much of the increase is just due to Australia’s general population increase.

The breakdown by state is shown below.


Number of homeless
Homeless rate per 10,000 people

New South Wales



South Australia

Western Australia


Northern Territory



Source: ABS, Estimating Homelessness, 2016 (2049.0)

One number really stands out. While Tasmania recorded the lowest rate of homelessness, the Northern Territory had a rate of more than 10 times the next highest state, New South Wales.

This is largely due to the much higher rate of homelessness among the Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander population (361 per 10,000 across Australia, but 2,083 per 10,000 in the NT). That means that one in five Aboriginal people in the NT were classified as homeless. But the rate among Non-Indigenous people there was also the highest in the nation, at 84 people per 10,000.

The different types of homelessness

The ABS breaks the homeless population down into 5 “operational groups”. Homelessness does not just include people sleeping rough, under a bridge or on a park bench. This is a common view of homelessness, but this category made up only 7% of all the homeless population (8,200 people) in the 2016 Census.

Other, much larger categories include “Supported accommodation for the homeless”, (which includes crisis centres, domestic violence shelters etc), people staying in boarding houses, staying temporarily with other households but having no usual address (commonly called couch surfing).

Homelessness Category 2016
Homeless Persons

Persons living in improvised dwellings, tents, or sleeping out

Persons in supported accommodation for the homeless

Persons staying temporarily with other households

Persons living in boarding houses

Persons in other temporary lodgings

Persons living in ‘severely crowded’ dwellings

Source: ABS, Estimating Homelessness, 2016 (2049.0)

The largest single group, however, accounting for 44% of the homeless population Australia-wide, is people living in “severely crowded” dwellings.

Some may say these are not homeless, since they are living somewhere. However the definition of “severely crowded” is that a dwelling requires 4 or more bedrooms to accommodate its household adequately. Generally, this standard allows 2 people per bedroom (plus some more nuanced criteria around age and sex of children who can share a bedroom). So a dwelling requiring 4 extra bedrooms would be something like a 2 bedroom house accommodating 12 people. That’s pretty crowded!

This is the category which has seen most of the increase between 2011 and 2016. While it’s 44% of homeless across Australia, it’s 80% in the NT – indicating the significant problem with overcrowding in Indigenous communities. However, it actually decreased in the NT, while the biggest increase was in NSW, where it rose from 9,655 in 2011 to 16,821 in 2016, an increase of 74%! This may be an indication of housing unaffordability in NSW.

Characteristics of the homeless population

A few interesting characteristics of the total homeless population in Australia:

  • Males made up 58% of the homeless and females 42%. Males outnumbered females in every category, but particularly rough sleepers (66%) and boarding house residents (73%). It was close to even (51%-49%) in supported accommodation for the homeless.
  • This sex difference was mainly among the older population. Despite the elderly population in general being skewed towards females, the older homeless population was very male-dominated, with 59% male in the 75+ age range, and 65% aged 65-74. Among young people under 18, homelessness was about 50-50 male-female.
  • The highest rate of homelessness was in the 19-24 age range (95 per 10,000), but 16% were aged over 55.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 20% of the homeless population Australia-wide (3% of total population).
  • All categories of homelessness increased from 2011 to 2016, except for people in supported accommodation for the homelessness, which was largely flat.

In great news for Local Government, the ABS is now publishing homelessness numbers for Local Government Areas, as well as standard larger geographic units. Unfortunately, there’s not a huge amount of information available at the LGA level – only the total homeless population. Many councils rely on local surveys to provide more information on their local homeless population. Nevertheless, it’s great to have some data available at the local level.

The data shows that the Local Government Area with the greatest number of homeless persons in 2016 was in the City of Brisbane (5,813 people). However, it’s worth remembering that Brisbane has a population of over a million – much larger than any other LGA (The City of Sydney had 5,061, and East Arnhem 3,833 – indicative of the high rates in the NT). The next three are all in suburban Western Sydney, Cumberland, Canterbury-Bankstown and Fairfield – all indicative of a growing homelessness issue in that region.

For our Local Government clients – you can download these figures from the publication download page on the ABS website. Would you find it helpful to see homeless population figures directly on your community profile highlights page? Let us know in the comments section below!

.id is a team of population experts who combine online tools and consulting services to help local governments and organisations decide where and when to locate their facilities and services, to meet the needs of changing populations. Access our local government area information tools here.

RT Reports on People Attacking Robots and Driverless Cars in California

This is a very short video – about 2 1/2 minutes long – I found over on YouTube by RT. It reports attacks on driverless cars and other robots by the good folks of California. The other robots attacked include a robot guard, designed to shoo the homeless away from business entrances, which was put out of action several times, and a robot burger chef. The machine is basically just an arm and hand, which is shown flipping burgers, and laying them out ready for the bun. The attacks on this machine have included comments about it taking people’s jobs.

The piece cuts to an expert, who says that when you have predictions that mechanisation will destroy half the jobs in America, which will cause massive social dislocation – people are going to be angry. He then makes the anodyne statement that they have to find ways to make automation work for the benefit of everyone.

There is no way under capitalism that automation will work for everyone. Value under capitalism is determined by scarcity. The scarcer and more vital a product or service is, the more people are willing to pay for it. Hence the neoliberal dictum that there must be a ‘reserve army of the unemployed’ to bring down wages, whatever George Osborne and the other liars in the Tory party say about reducing unemployment. Making half the workforce unemployed will create immense poverty, but I can see the Tories and their backers salivating over that, as it means jobs will become more precious, and the working and lower middle class more dispirited and willing to put up with even worse condition to get them.

Of course, one solution would be to nationalise the companies not using a given proportion of human labour, so that their profits could be used to benefit everyone, perhaps through a universal citizen wage. The Polish SF author, Stanislaw Lem, mentioned this option in one of his short stories in Tales of Pirx the Pilot. But there’s no way this is going to happen, as the Tories and other apologists for capitalism will scream blue murder about the sanctity of private industry. Even when that industry is destroying jobs for private profit.

There needs to be a complete change in the structure of our society, if such widespread automation goes ahead. And it should begin by kicking out the Tories and the other corporatist politicos.

Police, Political Figures and Vigilante Attacks on the Homeless: Fascist ‘Social Cleansing’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/03/2018 - 5:00am in

Mike put up a piece earlier today, reporting and commenting on an article in the Groaniad stating that charities dealing with homelessness were concerned about action taken against rough sleepers from the police, political figures and vigilante groups. This was after the cops in Cambridgeshire claimed that every single homeless beggar in Ely was fake, and making considerable amounts of money from feeding on others’ charity. A local businessman in Devon has also launched his own vigilante campaign against the ‘fake’ homeless, which has ordinary people in Torquay photographing them, and then putting up posters identifying them. And the head of Windsor council, who wanted rough sleepers cleared from the borough, has said that he intends to increase the numbers of community wardens to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Mike links these actions, and the demonization of rough sleepers, to the processes leading up to genocide. This is stage one: classification.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/03/04/homeless-charities-slam-open-season-on-street-people/

Mike isn’t exaggerating this threat. We’ve seen how the Tories are going about a silent, chequebook genocide of the poor and disabled by clearing them off the benefits they need to survive, on the very flimsiest of excuses. And real attacks on the homeless do occur. Rough sleepers commonly live with the threat of violence from members of the public.

But there have also been attacks and murders of homeless people by Fascists. Way back in the early ’90s, during the Bosnian War, BBC news carried chilling footage from Colombia of a homeless man being killed by a gang. This group of thugs declared that this was ‘social cleansing’, in emulation of the ethnic cleansing being waged by the Serbs, as well as the Croats and Muslims, in the former Yugoslavia. And the inventor of electric shock treatment to treat mental illness was a doctor in Fascist Italy, who began his experiments on an unwilling homeless man he’d dragged off the street.

This is what can happen – what will happen – if these developments don’t go unchecked. The Tories and their lapdogs in the rightwing press are turning Britain into a Fascist society, and the end result will be officially sanctioned murder on the streets as people here decide to do a bit of ‘social cleansing of their own’.

May’s Speech to Rich Tory Donors: This Is What the Lollards Warned You About

Sunday is the Christian holy day, so I thought I’d include here a particularly relevant piece of radical Christian polemic against the rich and powerful and their neglect and oppression of the poor from the 15th century.

A few days ago Mike put up a piece reporting Theresa May’s speech at a fundraising banquet for rich Tory donors. To get in, you had to pay £15,000 for a ticket. The long reign of Thatcherite neoliberalism in this country has led to a massive transfer of wealth from the poorer sections of society – the working and lower middle classes – upwards to the extremely rich. Thatcher, and her fanboys and -girls – have cut and privatised benefits and services to the poor, with the specific intention of making the bloated rich even richer, though tax cuts, massive subsidies, and exploiting the very state industries, that they have privatised and sold to them.

The Lollards were a proto-Protestant sect of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, who followed the teachings of the Yorkshire priest and reformer, John Wycliffe. Wycliffe was disgusted by the corruption of the church and society in his day. He advocated the Bible in English, holy scripture as the only source for religious authority, clerical marriage and proper concern for the poor. And he and his followers were bitterly critical of the friars, as they were generally perceived to have neglected their vocation of teaching and preaching Christianity to focus on serving the rich for their own material gain.

The text here is ‘The Perversion of the Works of Mercy’, which inveighs against the way Christ’s commandment to feed, give drink, and clothe poor people, and visit those in prison, as well as other holy works, have been so corrupted so that those, who feign moral rectitude and Christian charity now spend their time doing this for the rich and powerful instead. Here’s an extract. You should be able to understand the late medieval spelling and vocabulary.

Hou Sathanas [Satan] and his children turnen werkis of mercy upsodoun and discyven men therinne and in here five wyttis.

First Crist comaundith men of power to fede hungry pore men. The fiend and his techen to make costy festis and waste many goodis on lordis and riche men and so suffer pore men sterve and perishe for hunger and other myschevys. Ye, men that feynen hem [them] ful of charite and religion gadren proper goodis to hemselven and festen dlicatly lordis and laides and riche men and suffer here pore brethren begge for meschef and fare ful harde.

Crist comaundith to yeve drynk to thrusty [thirsty] [men] and wymmen. The fiend and his techen to puveye high wyn and spised ale and strong for riche men and lordis to make hem drunken and chide and fighte and foryete God and his lawe, and to suffer pore, that han nought of hore owene and may not labore for febilnesse or sikenesse and blyndenesse drynke water and falle in feveris or ellis perische.

Crist comaundith to clothe nakyd men and wymmen whanne thei han noght of here owene. Thereto the fend and his techen to yeve costly clothis and manye to riche men and mynstralis and shavaldours {Northern slang for robbers] for worldly name and suffer pore men have nakid sidis and schakynge lippis and hondis for cold that woo is hemwith the lif. Ye, prelatis and men singular religion, that taken the charge to ben procuratouris and dispenderis of pore mennus liflode, clothen fatte horsis with gaie sadlies and bridles and mytris and croceris with gold and silver and precious stonys, and suffren pore men and children perische for cold. And yit these prelatis and newe religious comen in staat of Cristis povert and his apostlis, and techen and crien that whatever thei han is pore mennus goode. Yit riche men closen dede stockis and stonys with precious clothis, with gold and silver and perlis and gaynesse to the world, and suffren pore men goo sore acold and at moche meschefe.

Crist trechith to herberwe [harbour, accommodate] pore men that han non houses ne penby to peye for here innys [inns, lodging]. The fend and his techen to herberwe riche men and lordis with grete cost and deyitte for worldly worschipe and suffer pore men wander in stormys and slepe with the swyn and many tymes suffer not hem come withinne here yatis, and so to fynde many excusacions and coloure this doynge, Ye, ypocritis of privat religion maken grete houses and costy and gaily peyntid more than kyngis and lordis bi sotil beggynge and confessions and trentalise and mayntenynge of synne, and herberwe lordis and riche men, and namely ladies, and suffer more men lie withouten or geten houslewth at pore men or ellis perische for wedris and cold.

Crist techeth to visite sike men and counforte hem and helpe hem of sustenaunce. The fend and his techen to visiten riche me, lordis and ladies in here prosperite and lykynge to be holden kynde [high born] and curteis, and to comforte eche other in synne and to have lustis of glottonye, lecherie and other schrewidnessis; but of pore men that ben beddrede and couchen in muk or dust is litel thought on or noght. Yit ypocritis of feyned religion vistien not fadirles children and modirles [motherless] and widewise in here tribulacion, and kepe not hemself unbleckid fro this world as Seynt James techith; but visite off riche men and wymmen and namely riche widewis [widows] for to gete world muk by false deceitis and carien it home to Caymes’ {Cain’s] castelis and Anticristis covent [convents] and Sathanas children and marteris [martyrs] of glotonye.

Crist techith to visit men in prison and helpe to delyvere hem in good manere and counforte hem bi almes-yevinge. The fend and his prresonen pore men for dette whanne thi ben not at power to paie and traveil night and day and liven ful harde and toylen with trewthe and susteynen wif and children…

From Middle English Religious Prose, edited by N.F. Blake (London: Edward Arnold 1972) pp. 239-41.

Clearly, this is a piece of sectarian polemic, and isn’t entirely fair. Historians have pointed out that the church was suffering serious poverty and neglect the time, which affected many of the lower clergy and monastic institutions, so that they simply weren’t in any position to perform their Christian duties of aiding the poor themselves.

And my point here is not to attack the Roman Catholic church, as I know many ordinary Catholics and Roman Catholic clergy are deeply involved in caring for the poor. But simply to make the point that the issues the Lollards inveighed against are still present and embodied in the Tory party and people like Tweezer. In the Middle Ages, it was the church that had the function of providing whatever welfare services there were to the poor, as well as the personal charity of great lords. But since Thatcher, public institutions and the welfare state – the modern, secular equivalents of these religious institutions, have been run down for the profit of the rich.

And there’s also a distinct religious parallel here too, though it’s with the evangelical Christian Right and their prosperity gospel. Tweezer is a vicar’s daughter, who claims that when she was a child she was a ‘goody two-shoes’. Lobster has pointed out just how many right-wing Christians gathered around IDS and now Damian Greene in the DWP. The evangelical Right in America believe that God doesn’t want you to be poor, for whom they have nothing but contempt. One particularly self-righteous Republican politico – it might have been Ted Cruz – even declared that the poor should be taxed more. ‘Because it’s what Christ would have wanted’. No, and this moron should read the Gospels before opening his mouth.

And I’m still furious at the way a large number of right-wing pastors made it clear that they didn’t care if one Republican candidate was guilty of molesting underage girls. He stood for their values, which were for the rich, and against the poor. And, of course, gays. Which shows how selective their concern over changes and violation of traditional sexual morality is.

These hypocrites have done as much harm to Christianity as Dawkins and the militant atheists. Many of the atheist polemicists are socially conscious people, whose rejection of religion is partly based on the way the religious don’t live up to their ideals. And as history has shown, and these pratts continue to show, all too often the atheists have been right in this criticism.

And in there moral condemnation of the fawning over the rich at the expense of the poor, the Lollards were right. And this text from six hundred years ago shows up the Tory party and its hypocritical supporters in the Christian religious right as it is today.

Chunky Mark on the Tory Supporter Who Punched Female Protester at UWE

One of the big stories this weekend, apart from the Sunset Times and Robert Peston libelling Mike as a Holocaust denier, was about the violence at a meeting held by Jacob Rees-Mogg at the University of the West of England in Bristol. The story, as reported by the mainstream news, was that the Antifa assembled there had attacked and hit Rees-Mogg. In fact, as Rees-Mogg himself stated later, he hadn’t been attacked.

But there was violence. And the Skwawkbox revealed that later footage of the incident showed it started with one of Mogg’s own Tory supporters. This thug stood in front of a young woman holding a placard, and struck her in the face. He then continued to stand there menacingly, and I think may have tried to hit her again.

And it also appears that this same man has also on occasion thought it would be jolly good fun to dress up in Nazi uniform.

In this clip from Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver, he expresses his own anger and disgust at the incident, and the thug’s predilection for Nazi dress. He also criticises the Tories’ hypocrisy over the incident. They’ve made much of the violence by the Antifa in order to discredit the left, as it shows them as intolerant. In the meantime, none of the mainstream media have covered the attack by this character. It was done by the Skwawkbox as a piece of citizen journalism. And Brandon Lewis, David Gauke and other Tories have actually defended the thug, who hit the young woman. Chunky Mark also attacks the way they want to take this round the universities.

He states very clearly and loudly that the Tories have no policies, and are attacking those who do. This is the people, who fight for higher wages, against homelessness, for the NHS and against people dying in corridors. People who believe that another world is possible.

I’m not surprised that the Tories supporter, who punched the protester liked to dress up in Nazi uniform. A number of them were caught doing this several years ago in a series of scandals. And Private Eye reported several times that the late Conservative cabinet minister, Alan Clarke, used to describe himself as a ‘Nazi’. He probably wasn’t, but it shows the fascination the Third Reich and the Nazis have for a certain type of right-wing Conservative.

As for Brandon Lewis wanting to tour this round the universities, and pass legislation so that it’s impossible to criticise it, this refers to the government’s concerns about democracy on campus. The Tories are afraid that some of the groups at university threaten free speech. By which I think they mean the anti-racist, feminist and gay rights groups. I think they’re afraid of the strong position such groups hold on campuses throughout Britain, and want to attack them as part of a campaign to promote approved Tory values. It’s just part of their programme to change educational system to indoctrinate children and young people with Conservative views. Like Michael Gove tried to do when he was head of education a few years ago, and complained about schoolchildren getting the ‘Blackadder’ view of the First World War.

They’ve clearly realised that actually admitting that they want to promote Conservativism amongst students would sound bad, and so they’ve been trying to pass this off as a defence of free speech. But the only speech they’re interested in defending is for themselves. They really want to close down everyone else’s. And so they and their supporters in the press were busy promoting this story about Rees-Mogg and his supporters being attacked, and very carefully ignoring the fact that the violence was started by the Conservatives.

Conservative Lady Claims Labour and Momentum Supporters Responsible for Misogynist Abuse – But Is This Real?

There was a bit in the I today, reporting a speech made in the House of Lords by a female Tory peer, in which she broke the taboo against saying the ‘C’ word. She said it as an example of the misogynist abuse, which she claimed was coming from Labour and Momentum supporters. Mike’s already covered this issue over on his blog, pointing out that it’s been condemned by Jeremy Corbyn. Mike’s fully behind the condemnation, saying that death threats and other abuse have no place in civilised politics, and we shouldn’t lower ourselves to the Tories’ level. Which is absolutely correct, though looking at the incident, I wonder how much of the abuse, and the good lady’s outrage over it, is actually genuine.

Remember, one of the accusations that the Blairites tried to use against Corbyn and Momentum was that they were all terribly misogynist, and subjecting to poor, middle class corporatist Blairite women to vile abuse. This was taken over wholesale from Killary in the US, and her attempt to demonise Bernie Sanders’ supporters. In fact, the ‘Bernie Bros’ she claimed were responsible for all this abuse didn’t exist, and on examination neither did the misogynist abuse the Blairites were claiming came from Corbyn’s supporters. But clearly the tactic has made an impression, and it’s become part of the right-wing narrative that Corbyn’s supporters are all terrible misogynists, as well as anti-Semites. None of which is true.

It also seems to me something of a diversionary tactic. This is the week that Toby Young came under fire as May’s appointment for the universities’ regulatory board, because of the highly offensive nature of comments he’d made and written. These really were sexist and misogynist. There were Tweet after Tweet in which Young commented on the size of women’s breasts, including those of Claudia Winkleman, whom he told to ‘put on weight’. As for a photograph that seemed to show him touching a female celebrity, he also Tweeted that he had his ‘d**k up her a**e’. Labour’s women and equalities minister, Dawn Butler, rightly condemned Young’s comments as vile and misogynistic, and demanded Young’s removal from the post.

Which makes the Honourable Lady’s comments about misogyny from the Labour left, and how it was turning women off politics, seem somewhat contrived. It looks as if she was trying to take attention away from how terrible Young, and those like him in the Tory party are, by making a similar claim against Corbyn and the Labour party.

Now I share Mike’s and Corbyn’s views on such abuse. It’s clearly not acceptable. But I can understand the rage behind it. If people are sending hate messages to the Tories in May’s cabinet reshuffle, including Esther McVile, some of the anger is because they feel powerless. This government has done everything it can to humiliate and degrade working people, and particularly the sick, the disabled and the unemployed. Thanks to Tory wage restraint, jobs don’t pay. There is rising poverty, and move people are being forced to use food banks. At the same time the Tories are engineering a crisis in the NHS so they can eventually privatise it and force people into a private insurance-based system, like America. Where 40,000 people die each year because they don’t have medical coverage. The unions, with one or two exceptions, have been decimated, so that working people are left defenceless before predatory and exploitative bosses. And the benefits system has been so reformed, so that claimants can be thrown off it for even the most trivial of reasons. All so that May and her cronies can give their corporate backers even bigger tax cuts, and a cowed, beaten, compliant workforce.

In this situation, I think people have every reason to be angry. Especially when it comes to Esther McVie. When she was in charge of the disabled at the DWP, she was directly responsible for policies that threw thousands of seriously ill people off benefits, on the spurious grounds that they had been judged ‘fit for work’ by Atos and then Maximus. As a result, people have died, thanks to her policies. Personal abuse is unacceptable, but people have every right to express otherwise how loathsome she is, and how she is manifestly unsuited to have any responsible post dealing with the vulnerable.

If people are angry, and they can’t find any other way to express their anger, then it will turn into abuse. I don’t know how much of the abuse the Tory lady claimed is real, but if it does exist, it’s because the Tories have left people feeling powerless, and feeling that they have no other means of expressing their anger and fear.

And I also find it highly hypocritical that this woman, who is rich and entitled, should accuse those below her of abuse. Quite apart from the fact that I’ve no doubt that you can find similar comments expressed by the Tories on their websites, Tweets and blogs, various Tory grandees have in the past made their contempt for working people very clear. Such as the infamous comment by one of them – was it Matthew Freud? – that the homeless were the people you step over when coming out of the opera. The Tories are very well aware how controversial the appointment of these new cabinet ministers are, especially Esther McVile, the minister in charge of culling the disabled, as she’s been described by Mike and others. It looks to me very much like part of the purpose of this accusation was to silence genuine criticism of the grotesques, bigots and corporatist horrors with which May has decided once again to fill her cabinet.

I therefore have strong doubts that there was misogynist abuse directed at Tory women, or if there was, whether there was any more than usual, or the same amount of abuse directed at female Labour MPs. If you want an example of really vile abuse, take a look at some of the comments the Tories have made about Diane Abbott, which manages to be both misogynist and racist. It all looks very much like a ploy to stop people noticing the vile abuse coming from Toby Young and the Tories, by repeating the lies spewed by the Blairites in an attempt to silence justifiable criticism of May’s murderous new cabinet appointments.

Japanese History: Twelfth Century Guild Power against Feudalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 17/12/2017 - 10:05pm in

This is the type of history you don’t hear much about from the Land of the Rising Sun. Much of our images of Japanese history and culture are based on Japanese feudalism and the samurai, who held power until the modernisation of the country in the later 19th century during the Meiji Restoration. But there was a period during the 12th century during a period of intense civil wars when the power of the daimyos began to break down. This meant that a number of towns began to shake off their yoke, and asserted their own independence. The ruling powers in them were the guilds, who organised local armies.

This is a period I’d love to know more about. The guilds weren’t trade unions – not in Japan, Europe or wherever. But they represented the ‘middling sort’ and the craftspeople, regulated trade and provided some welfare services. They were also a powerful inspiration to the British Guild Socialists – hence the name – who formulated a British version of continental syndicalism.

During the radical ferment of the 1960s there was a revival of interest in ideas of municipal anarchism following the publication of Goro Hani’s The Logic of the Cities. This can partly be explained by the alienation many Japanese felt through the Fascism of Imperial Japan during the Second World War, and the humiliation they felt at their nation’s defeat. it doesn’t look like Japan’s current economic decline, marked by rising homelessness and poverty, will lead to renewed interest in radical ideas over there. But this is period of the 12th century seems to me to be a fascinating period that should be a bit better known.

Google Scaremongers, Claims RT’s Lee Camp Influenced by Putin

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/12/2017 - 4:24am in

In this clip from RT America’s Redacted Tonight, the host, comedian Lee Camp, tells how Google is trying to scare people away from watching him. Apparently if you Google his name, a little ‘knowledge card’ comes up on the screen telling you a bit about him. If you clip on the influences section, it then tells you that his comedy has been influenced by George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Douglas Stanhope, and that titan of post-Soviet mirth, Vladimir Putin. There then follows a long series of jokes about the Arkhiplut as a radical comedian, before Camp makes the serious point that this is Google trying to put prospective viewers off watching him.

He’s right. Google has been one of those desperately trying to take viewers away from left-wing and alternative news sites. They’ve even been developing computer algorithms to redirect viewers, or to make the sites deliberately difficult to find by ranking them lower than they would otherwise be.

And now they’re following the Red Scare started by Killary and her corporatist friends in the Democrats, in which anyone left-wing is automatically an agent of pernicious Russian state influence, no matter how far-fetched or contrived the allegations are.

RT America is, like RT over here, a prime target, not just because it is owned by the Russian state, but also because it’s dedicated to uncovering the kind of news the Conservative establishment does not want people in America or Britain to see. About mass homelessness, poverty, the deaths, sickness and deprivation resulting from the lack of a single-payer healthcare system, and the well-documented horrors of American imperialism. Redacted Tonight is one of those programmes taking the lid of these highly taboo subjects, which makes Lee a prime target for these smears.

RT America has so far laughed off some of the allegations. I’ve posted a vide they made spoofing the allegations, which showed the video’s host, one of the company’s senior female production crew, walking through their studios in Red Army uniforms, speaking Russian, while the news team creates fake news, amid raging gun battles and with a group of political prisoners kept in the basement.

More seriously, Abby Martin, who used to work at RT, but has since moved to TeleSur English, talked about these allegations in an interview she did with Jimmy Dore. She herself was smeared as a puppet of the Arkhiplut. She wasn’t surprised that they’ve target RT, as she saw years before how they went after Al-Jazeera. She made the point that she never said anything about Putin. And she stated very clearly that the people at RT were leftists and Socialists, who were only there because RT was the only media outlet, where they could express their views.

As for Google, I think I’ve seen somewhere that the head, or one of its heads, is a close friend of Hillary. So with those connections, it’s no surprise that it’s smearing genuine leftists and progressives as agents of Moscow.

RT Footage of Workers’ Protests against Trump and Japanese Prime Minister

RT has put up this short clip of less than a minute in length, showing workers demonstrating in Tokyo against Donald Trump, who has gone on an official visit of their country, and their Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

The brief description for the video runs

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tokyo on Sunday in occasion of the 20th National Worker’s Meeting, to protest against the policies of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the visit of US President Donald Trump.
Protesters contested Abe’s economic plans in the realm of company privatisation, the country’s nuclear power policies and the US troops’ presence in Japan among other things.

The marchers bang drum, and as well as carrying placards, many of them also wear headbands bearing slogan. Some of the placards have the slogans in English ‘No War’, ‘No Poverty’, ‘No Trump’. Trump and Abe are hanged in effigy, and there’s a performance in which a man, masked and dressed as Trump, is attacked and buried under cardboard boxes, bearing the words ‘War’, ‘Poverty’, ‘Kairoshi’. I’ve no idea what the last means, except it’s probably a very Japanese concept describing some godawful aspect of the present administration.

I am really not at all surprised that Japanese working people are protesting. As is notorious, they work extremely hard, but the continuing problems of the Japanese economy mean that people are being laid off, and there is very little in the way of a state welfare system to support them. A few years ago the BBC did a piece on the current state of the Japanese economy, and showed some of the victims living in tents under a bridge. One of these poor homeless souls came up to explain a few things to the programme’s host. According to the presenter, it was a bitter complaint about the government and the economy.

I am also not at all surprised at their anger against Trump. The orange buffoon’s aggressive stance towards North Korea, threatening to go to nuclear war with the Stalinist thug, is obviously going to frighten a nation that stands pretty much in the firing line. The last missile North Korea lobbed in America’s direction overflew them. The Japanese people probably remember only too well the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and are all too horrified by the prospect of a repeat.

The presence of American troops in Japan, where there’s a base on the island of Okinawa, is another major source of irritation. You may remember that there were also massive demonstrations against it a few years ago. I think that while the Cold War was on and Communism remained a threat, real or perceived, the Japanese were prepared to accept it. But now the Japanese, or at least a sizable part of them, see it as American occupation.

Book Review: The Violence of Austerity edited by Vickie Cooper and David Whyte

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/11/2017 - 9:07pm in

In The Violence of Austerity, editors Vickie Cooper and David Whyte bring together contributors to explore the negative impact of austerity upon citizens in the UK, covering such topics as health, education, homelessness, disability and the environment. This is a powerful description of the consequences of austerity policies for the UK’s most vulnerable people, writes Paul Caruana-Galizia, and should be read widely. 

The Violence of Austerity. Vickie Cooper and David Whyte (eds). Pluto Press. 2017.

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Milton Friedman used to say that you can’t have political freedom without economic freedom. Libertarians have taken up his saying as a mantra. There’s logic in it – taxes directly restrict your economic freedom and fund other government interventions – and rhetoric – it casts politics and government as dependent and redundant. But is it right?

We’ve been building up to an answer since the 2010 election of the Conservative-led coalition government in the United Kingdom. The country’s path to economic recovery, the coalition government argued, isn’t more government spending and intervention. It’s ‘austerity’: a sharp reduction in government spending or, in Libertarian terms, a sharp rise in economic and so political freedom. For context, Local Authority spending per person fell by 23.4 per cent in real terms between 2009 and 2015, and general government spending as a percentage of GDP fell by 11 per cent.

The Violence of Austerity, edited by Vickie Cooper and David Whyte, contains chapters on the relationship – always negative – between the UK’s austerity policies and such areas as health and education outcomes, homelessness, the environment, poverty, disability and even the Northern Ireland Peace Process. The book is varied in its coverage, but it shows one thing clearly: for a lot of people in the UK, austerity has created less economic and political freedom.

In Chapter Four, Jon Burnett and Whyte cover ‘workfare’: the welfare conditionality schemes in which people are made to work without pay to improve their employment prospects or risk losing their entitlement to benefit income. They show us that people in ‘workfare’ are often forced into unsafe, physically draining, unpaid jobs. Complaints about working conditions are met with threats of sanctions. Employers, with the government’s backing, have total coercive power. Every year, over 100,000 people are put onto workfare schemes (65). Every year, over a million sanctions are imposed on them (62).

Robert Knox’s chapter, ‘Legalising the Violence of Austerity’ (Chapter Nineteen), shows us that when a government cuts spending, it doesn’t simply provide fewer services. It compensates for lost revenues with harsher enforcement of existing regulations and the implementation of new ones. Local Authorities, for example, are now faced with declining core funding from the central government, and a legal obligation to balance their budgets. Failure to do so can result in fines, disqualification and even imprisonment, Knox tells us. He concludes: ‘austerity has been accompanied by the extension and intensification of legal frameworks into politics’ (185).

Image Credit: (Funk Dooby CC BY 2.0)

A critic might respond: ‘fine, but when funding is limited it must be managed stringently.’ So where is the government making savings? On children, as Joanna Mack shows us in Chapter Seven. Not that there’s room for it: 27 per cent of the UK’s children live in poverty, a higher rate than most EU member states. On taking office in 2010, the coalition government froze the rate of child benefit. On winning the 2015 election, the Conservatives announced further spending cuts, including limiting tax benefits to two children. Lone parent households have experienced the sharpest falls in their incomes over this period (86-87).

Savings are also being made on those with mental illness, as Mary O’Hara shows (Chapter One). Again, not that there’s room for it: mental health services receive 13 per cent of the NHS’s budget while mental illness accounts for 23 per cent of the UK’s total loss of healthy years of life (37). Still, O’Hara writes: ‘mental health provision was hit hard and early by austerity measures and this pattern continued into 2016’ (38).

John Pring tells us that savings are furthermore being made on disabilities (Chapter Three). He quotes an estimate from think tank Demos that disabled people risked losing £28 billion in income support by 2018, in response to then-Conservative Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘emergency budget’ of June 2010 (52). And savings are also being made on those who are homeless, as we see in Chapter Eighteen by Daniel McCulloch. He writes that between 2010 and 2015, the number of people sleeping in rough in England has more than doubled, increasing year-on-year (172). The number has risen by a further 16 per cent from 2015 to 2016. McCulloch cites a study which found that 67 per cent of Local Authorities have seen a rise in rough sleeping as a direct outcome of welfare reforms (173). He also references another that shows that increasingly punitive benefit sanctions exacerbate the risks homeless people face and also the risk of homelessness (173). This is all sad enough to contemplate; sadder still when you see that the savings are a false economy.

The book’s introductory chapter, by Cooper and Whyte, nonetheless misses an opportunity when assessing the success of austerity policy on its own terms. The terms: faster economic growth by cutting fiscal expenditure and public debt, which makes room for private business investment and creates a more competitive economy. Cooper and Whyte argue that austerity was never necessary as UK public debt has been higher; that mainstream economists advised against it; and that Iceland experienced a similar crisis, but didn’t undertake austerity and recovered faster than the UK. The second and third points are fair, the first less so: public debt as a percentage of GDP spiked in 2009 and remains elevated. But this is the most fundamental criticism of austerity policy – a lot of harmful side-effects without the intended effects. We should read more on why this is the case, rather than be told that it just didn’t work.

Cuts in government spending are cuts in total demand, which lower output and raise unemployment. Cuts in government spending in a depressed economy depress that economy even further: they diminish demand when demand is already low. For this reason, an empirical study across a sample of OECD countries by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found no support for the argument that austerity is good for economic growth. Even in purely fiscal terms, austerity is self-defeating: whatever savings are made by, for example, cutting income benefit, are partly offset by lower revenue. There’s only so much fat you can cut before you hit the bone.

Another empirical study by the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs found that austerity generates income inequality. As Ruth London’s chapter on fuel poverty shows, there are costs to cuts. Fuel poverty, for which the government is scaling back its support, costs the NHS £3.6 million per day (101). The costs are borne by those least able to bear them – children in cold, damp homes fall ill and miss school; adults miss work and lose jobs (Chapter Nine). Those who can afford to heat their homes remain unaffected. There are occasional attempts throughout the book to link austerity and inequality to the Brexit vote. A lot of work has been done on this, and the book feels like it should have had a chapter dedicated to it.

The Violence of Austerity is a powerful description of what’s happening to the UK’s most vulnerable people: more premature deaths, more malnutrition, more suicides, people freezing in their homes. On this basis alone, the book should be read widely. That is, even if you think some of the worrying trends explored in health and in the labour market pre-date austerity policies, the book shows us that a lot more people aren’t economically and politically free, but are suffering and struggling. You’d think they need more, not less, support.

Dr Paul Caruana-Galizia is a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Economic History at the London School of Economics. He is the author of The Economy of Modern Malta and Mediterranean Labor Markets in the First Age of Globalization. Read more by Paul Caruana-Galizia.

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.