wages

You’ve Heard Of The Gender Pay Gap, But There’s More

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/08/2018 - 2:00am in

The gender wage gap continues to harm women, their families, and the economy, despite women being in the workforce for decades. But not all women are marginalized by this disparity in the same way. In 1996, the National Committee on Pay Equity decided to bring awareness to the wage gap by creating National Equal Pay Day. The day signifies how long it takes for a woman to make the same amount of money a man makes for the year prior. Each year Equal Pay Day for All is held in April — meaning it will take an average woman about 16 months to make what a typical man makes in a year. But when we look at the wage gap for women of color, this day of “catching up” falls way later in the year — all the way into August.

Chicago May Become Largest City In U.S. To Try Universal Basic Income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/07/2018 - 11:00pm in

Tags 

Chicago, wages

He is concerned that a coming wave of automation could put millions of people out of work and result in more extreme politics. Pointing to investments in autonomous vehicles by companies like Tesla, Amazon, and Uber, Pawar observed that long-haul trucking jobs, historically a source of middle-class employment, may become obsolete. More people out of work means more political polarization, says Pawar.”We have to start talking about race and class and geography, but also start talking about the future of work as it relates to automation. All of this stuff is intertwined.” Before leaving the race after being outspent by two billionaire candidates, Pawar campaigned for the Illinois Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. One of the themes of his candidacy was that politicians were scapegoating various racial or ethnic groups for their constituents’ material problems.

As Prevailing Wage Laws Are Being Threatened, New Research Explains Their Importance

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/07/2018 - 5:01am in

The repeal was originated and pushed by Associated Builders and Contractors  (ABC) through the ballot committee Protecting Michigan Taxpayers. ABC represents mostly non-union contractors. Opponents of Michigan’s repeal(link is external) say that it will erode safety and training standards and hurt the construction industry’s ability to attract and retain skilled workers. Proponents of repeal claim it will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The savings are expected to come directly from the wages of the construction workers who currently earn Michigan’s prevailing wages. Interviewed in the website Crain’s Detroit Business(link is external), Michigan State University economist, Charles Ballard, is skeptical of the claim that repealing prevailing wage saves money.

Stagnation Nation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/07/2018 - 5:00pm in


Real wages since 2006 are down - and getting much worse. But hey, look on the bright side!

Tight labour markets and self-service beer: is the productivity slowdown about to reverse?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/07/2018 - 6:00pm in

Will Holman and Tim Pike

Firms are increasingly investing in automation, substituting capital for labour, as workers become more scarce and costly. We are seeing multiple examples, from automation in food processing to increasingly-common self-service tills. This push for productivity growth is one of the key themes from our meetings with businesses in the past year, which we think suggests a reversal of a decade-long trend.

The productivity slowdown

The slowdown in productivity growth since the global financial crisis – both in the UK (Chart 1) and elsewhere – is a much-discussed subject, including at Bank Underground on the historical context, the nature of the productivity puzzle, and human distraction as one possible explanation.

 Chart 1: UK labour productivity per hour (2013=100)

Source: ‘A millennium of macroeconomic data’ data-set

There is no consensus as to the precise causes of the slowdown, nor if (and when) it might unwind. In its latest Inflation Report, the Monetary Policy Committee forecasts productivity growth to be a little faster than its average in recent years, as increases in investment begin to feed through, but still only half the rate seen before the financial crisis. In this post we describe how our business intelligence suggests a recovery in productivity growth in the next few years.

The Bank’s Agencies

The Bank of England has 12 regional offices across the UK, staffed by employees (so-called “Agents”) whose work includes intelligence gathering from their local business communities. In total, about 30 Agents have discussions with around 9000 businesses per annum, including most of the UK’s largest companies, as well as thousands of SMEs, covering all sectors of the economy. Our intelligence is used by Bank policymakers to inform their decision-making. (Our work is described in more detail in the above link.)

Globalisation and productivity

Until recently, a common thread running through the Agents’ intelligence gathering in the post-crisis period had been that, when looking to expand their productive resources, companies chose recruitment over business investment. This included both ‘direct’ (e.g. shopfloor) and ‘indirect’ (sales, marketing, R&D) employees. In part that reflected a change in the relative costs of labour and capital. Strong growth of labour availability was associated with low real wages growth. Many of our contacts recruited additional staff, sometimes to handle sales growth but often to improve non-price competitiveness – for example to raise levels of service and marketing. Low real wages growth made these actions affordable, with only a limited impact on profit margins. So raising labour productivity was not always a key performance indicator for our contacts – although many believed that the extra resources would ultimately lead to, or be justified by, higher sales revenues.

This link between labour availability and wage inflation was one of the themes covered in our post, ‘The economic effects of globalisation’. There we highlighted the large inward migration of employees from Eastern Europe; our intelligence was that this ready supply of labour effectively capped wage inflation in some sectors (broadly in line with other work by Saleheen & Nickell and Stephen Clarke) Many companies in relatively low value-added consumer services took advantage of the plentiful supply of potential employees to grow rapidly. So we observed that the composition of the economy and workforce pivoted towards lower value-added services and jobs, resulting in downward pressure on average wages and productivity levels. (See for example Figure 1.7 and Table 1.9 of the Low Pay Commission’s Spring 2016 Report , which shows comparatively strong employment growth in low-paying sectors since 2010.)

That was then; this is now 

Less sought-after jobs have relied heavily on migrant workers, such as in logistics, hospitality, warehousing, agriculture and food (as documented by Stephen Clarke here– table 1).  Our contacts indicate that some recruitment difficulties are now emerging in these areas (See for example the Employment and pay section of the Agents’ summary of business conditions, 2018 Q1). Greater scarcity is adding to pay pressure, as reported in the Agents’ latest pay survey.

Chart 2: Net inward migration

Source: May 2018 Inflation Report/Office for National Statistics

A boost to productivity?

When expanding output, companies typically assess the relative costs and returns from recruiting additional labour and/or investing in new plant and machinery. Larger companies formally estimate the payback period for a major capital project, in terms of how long it takes to recover the costs of the project from enhanced earnings. Often the benefits from investment in new plant and machinery include a reduction in the need for labour.  Higher labour costs shorten the payback period and incentivise such investment.

The Bank’s Agents’ recent experience is that, increasingly, the focus of many companies is turning to investment in labour-saving plant and machinery to raise productivity and alleviate resource bottlenecks. This recent pivot towards business investment to overcome greater labour scarcity is being aided by some major advances in technology, which are increasing the returns from investment relative to those from recruitment. Robotic technologies in particular are being deployed in a mix of manufacturing and service industries, at relatively low cost and often with payback periods of less than five years. Usually, the working life of the equipment being deployed is greater than five years, making the investment extremely attractive.

Research from the International Federation of Robotics indicates that the UK has lagged well behind other developed economies in adopting robotics in the industrial sector over the past decade or so. Discussions with some of our multi-national contacts which have automated factories in Europe, but not in the UK, indicate this at least partly reflects higher relative unit labour costs on the continent. Hence, the payback period associated with automation of European factories has been comparatively favourable. But with the gap in relative labour costs starting to close, some of those contacts are now actively looking to deploy the same technologies in the UK as they do overseas.

Examples span many sectors

We have found many examples of business investment in automation technologies, spanning a variety of industries and services, involving investment in both physical equipment and IT software. The use of robots is growing amongst our packaging industry  and meat processing contacts. In the services sector, large and medium-sized chains of retailers are accelerating the roll-out of self-service till points. Retailers and logistics firms are increasingly investing in warehousing automation that can raise productivity substantially. Hotel and airline groups are introducing online check-in facilities, while the former are starting to offer a range of service levels in cleaning and catering so as to provide customers only with the services they genuinely value. Looking into the future, restaurant and bar staff may be gradually replaced through automation and self-service beer pumps. And among higher value-added industries such as accounting, cloud-based IT is being used to automate administrative processes (for example invoice-handling), thereby reducing the need for support staff. Further transformational changes in technology may automate myriad processes which currently rely in part on human labour – an example being the use of artificial intelligence to assist institutional investors.

In closing, it is important to note that, while greater automation should improve the productivity and cost competitiveness of the industries so affected, the impact on measured productivity of the whole economy may be somewhat less apparent, at least initially. That is because those employees displaced by automation might be forced into less productive and less well-paid work. So there could be an adverse mix effect on measured UK productivity in the short term.

Conclusion 

We detect a change in the mindset of business leaders recently, in favour of capital over labour. The fact that examples are becoming more common across sectors suggests that the recent slowdown of labour supply growth may be followed by a sustained productivity recovery. Many of the technologies being implemented have been available for some time, but a reduction in the availability of labour is acting as a catalyst for their introduction. We suspect the recovery in productivity may be gradual at first, as planned investment takes time to complete and then bear fruit.  However, the frequency of cases where contacts are looking to address rising costs and poor productivity suggests to us that whole-economy productivity growth should soon start to recover.

Will Holman and Tim Pike both work in the Bank’s Agency Division.

If you want to get in touch, please email us at bankunderground@bankofengland.co.uk or leave a comment below.

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Bank Underground is a blog for Bank of England staff to share views that challenge – or support – prevailing policy orthodoxies. The views expressed here are those of the authors, and are not necessarily those of the Bank of England, or its policy committees.

Why New York City Subway Delays Don’t Affect All Riders Equally

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/06/2018 - 9:00pm in

Nicole Gorton and Maxim Pinkovskiy

LSE_2018_Why New York City Subway Delays Don’t Affect All Riders Equally

The state of the New York City subway system has worsened considerably over the past few years. As a consequence of rising ridership and decaying infrastructure, the network is plagued by delays and frequently fails to deliver New Yorkers to their destinations on time. While these delays are a headache for anyone who depends on the subway to get around, they do not affect all riders in the same way. In this post, we explain why subway delays disproportionately affect low-income New Yorkers. We show that wealthier commuters who rely on the subway are less likely to experience extensive issues on their commutes.

Roughly half of employed New Yorkers living in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Queens rely on the subway to get to work each day. The subway is one of the few commute methods where the distribution of incomes among riders roughly reflects the distribution of incomes throughout the city. In comparison, communities where most people walk to work or take a taxi tend to be far wealthier than the median New York City community, whereas communities in which most people take the bus tend to be poorer than the median. But even though all of these subway users are riding the same trains and waiting in many of the same stations, commute experiences (and especially commute duration) vary widely. What drives these differences?

In the figure below, the upper panel shows the distribution of median household incomes across the city’s census block groups, the smallest geographic level for which aggregate data are available, using 2012-16 data from the American Community Survey (ACS). Lighter colors indicate lower-income communities. The lower panel shows average commute times among census block groups where the majority of commuters rely on the subway each day. Lighter colors indicate relatively shorter commutes. In both maps, areas where a majority of commuters do not rely on the subway each day are grayed out.

Comparing the two panels, it is clear that higher incomes are associated with lower commute times. A short commute is often expensive because housing demand is high in city centers where many people work and hence want to live, and because people are willing to pay a premium for easy access to efficient transportation. Thus, house prices and rents are higher around transportation centers, reflecting the value that residents place on this amenity. However, this relationship between income and commute time is actually more pronounced in places that rely on the subway (subway-dependent communities) than in places that do not (subway-independent communities). In other words, the elasticity of commute time with respect to income—how commute time changes as household income changes—is significantly more negative in subway-dependent communities.

One potential explanation is that within subway-dependent communities, there is significant heterogeneity in terms of subway access, and that subway access is correlated with both household income and commute time. Individuals who live closer to a subway station spend less time walking, and those living closer to a larger number of lines and stations can take the most efficient route to their destinations and substitute away from troubled lines and stations when delays and construction affect service. And because of the housing cost premium placed on transportation access, these elements are correlated with household income.

Why New York City Subway Delays Don’t Affect All Riders Equally

When we control for these factors, we find that the relationship between income and commute time shrinks considerably, to a magnitude similar to that within subway-independent areas. This finding provides some suggestive evidence that subway access is expensive, and that access has a measurable impact on commute duration for riders. Many of these measures of access, like proximity to different train lines, are expensive in part because they are permanent, while some other measures are harder to predict—for example, when and where delays and planned work will occur. What happens to commute times when extensive delays and construction strike, and how do the effects vary across the income distribution?

Spending more time on the train necessarily increases the risk of experiencing some kind of service disruption. And as we discussed above, subway riders with the longest commute times are also less able to substitute away from a troubled line because the next subway line or station may be very far away. In addition, workers traveling during off hours (for example, to cover a nightshift) are far more likely to be at the mercy of planned work. We explore the implications of delays and planned work across the income distribution by simulating morning commutes, using data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on subway service status that we have collected over the past few months.

For each subway-dependent block group, we use data from the ACS on average commute time and the most common morning departure time. We also identify the set of trains available within three-quarters of a mile from each block group center. Using these inputs, we find the number of minutes during the commute that the lines available to that block group are not experiencing “good service ” for each day in our sample (subway “downtime”).

For example, say the average commute time for a certain block group is forty-five minutes and the most common departure time is 9:00 a.m. We would then identify the number of downtime minutes that occurred between 9:00 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. for each weekday in our sample and every train line available to that block group. Note that this figure is not necessarily a measure of how long people are waiting on or for a train, as our data do not allow us to calculate that, nor do we interpret it as the number of minutes added to a trip. Instead, it is simply a measure of downtime severity: for example, in a census block group that only has access to the C train, we measure twenty minutes of “downtime” on a morning when the C line was having signal problems for twenty minutes of a thirty-minute commute window. In addition, it is worth noting that, to the extent they are able, commuters probably choose departure times and trains to reduce the effect of delays on their commute.

In the figure below, we plot median household income against subway performance, as measured by the worst-case delay recorded during the morning commute period for each census block group—more precisely, the number of minutes at the 95th percentile of the morning downtime distribution for each group. We look at this measure, instead of at the mean or median downtime, because when risks are high (for example, if a job is at stake) individuals make decisions based upon the worst possible scenario, not the average scenario. Even if an extreme delay occurs only once every ten or twenty trips, individuals must commit more time to commuting every day to insure against lengthy delays. As an area’s household income declines, the length of extreme subway downtime spells increases. This result is a combination of the increased risk of experiencing downtime associated with a longer commute, the distribution of trains to which each block group has access, and differences in morning departure times.

Why New York City Subway Delays Don’t Affect All Riders Equally

We have presented some descriptive evidence that subway delays disproportionately affect lower-income New Yorkers because their already long commutes get even longer and they may have no choice but to wait out even the worst delays. There are also other mechanisms, not discussed in this post, through which subway delays make long commutes worse for low-income people relative to wealthier people. For example, low-income people may not be able to spend money on a taxi or rideshare service to get to work in the case of an extreme delay. We also do not consider differential time value of money, which may mitigate these effects. Aside from the obvious frustration of unanticipated delays, longer commutes mean people risk losing pay—or even their jobs—and may have less time to invest in their health, education, and children. That is bad news for all New Yorkers.

Chart data
Excel

Disclaimer


The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Nicole GortonNicole Gorton is a senior research analyst in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Maxim Pinkovskiy
Maxim Pinkovskiy is a senior economist in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group


How to cite this blog post:


Nicole Gorton and Maxim Pinkovskiy, “Why New York City Subway Delays Don’t Affect All Riders Equally,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics (blog), June 27, 2018, http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2018/06/why-new-york-city-s....

Grand Theft Paycheck

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/06/2018 - 3:00am in

For the past two decades, Walmart has repeatedly been accused of compelling workers to perform certain tasks off the clock and has paid numerous fines for those practices. It is often suggested that the retailer is an anomaly, acting more like a fly-by-night sweatshop than a corporate giant. I recently completed a research project showing that, on the contrary, off-the-clock work, denial of overtime pay through misclassification and other forms of wage theft are pervasive in American big business. After digging through court records for much of the past year, I found more than 1,200 successful wage and hour lawsuits against hundreds of the country’s largest employers. These collective action suits have yielded some $8.8 billion in settlements and verdicts in the period since 2000. The same group of corporations have paid around $400 million in fines to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Never mind the tax, it's wages that are making us glum

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/06/2018 - 3:57pm in

Tags 

column, wages

Why do they keep going on and on about tax when they must know it’s not our real concern? Because the sudden dive in wage growth – the thing that is really worrying us – is beyond their control.

As recently as 2012, just six years ago, wages were growing like they usually had, at a touch under 4 per cent per year. The rapid dive meant that by June 2014, two years later, they were growing at 2.4 per cent, the lowest rate since the last recession, and a good deal less than the lows plumbed during the global financial crisis.

Another two years later they were growing at just 2 per cent; even less than in the early 1990s recession, and on the face of it, the least since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Yet we weren’t in a depression, or even in recession. And we kept buying houses and other things as if wage growth would recover. It needs to recover to make those home loans and car loans manageable.

Banks and finance companies have formulas they use to decide how much to lend. Unchanged since the days when workers could expect solid wage rises, they are based on income and the size of a deposit. Difficult to manage at first, home loans became easier to repay as the borrower’s income climbed, meaning many were paid off early. But not now, not unless wage growth picks up.

Banks are advancing 30-year mortgages to 50-year-olds. Without faster wage growth, a lot of those borrowers will remain mortgaged into retirement, and have much of their pension eaten up in payments, a fate their parents escaped.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe touched on the phenomenon in a speech last week. His bank has even coined a name for it: mortgage tilt. Whereas required payments as a proportion of income used to tilt down over time, now they are more horizontal, meaning a long horizon of fairly constant payments. Unless interest rates climb, in which case payments will climb, which would be even worse.

And he pointed to something else. He said low wage growth was “diminishing our sense of shared prosperity”. When I first visited Japan in the late 1980s the locals seemed optimistic and proud to be part of something big. When I next visited in the late 1990s after a decade of near zero wage growth, their faces and stories were glum, even though by international standards they were prosperous and had jobs. Glum Australians feeling they are not part of the Australian project can derail the project, as we have seen in Britain and the United States.

Why should wage growth have dropped so suddenly, when the unemployment rate is little different to what it was back when it was high?

The first thing to note is that we are not alone. It’s been a shift throughout the developed world, with Japan getting in early. Improved communications have made competition from cheaper workers overseas a potent threat. Also, unions no longer have the bargaining power that they used to.

In the words of Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England: “There is power in numbers. A workforce that is more easily divided than in the past may find itself more easily conquered.” As recently as 1990, 40 per cent of the Australian workforce was in a union. Now it’s 14.5 per cent.

Unions no longer have the unfettered right to enter workplaces, or the right to demand special clauses in awards that benefit only their members. Strikes are illegal in most circumstances, and require notice and hard-to-organise ballots in others. The Fair Work Commission can no longer intervene to resolve disputes without the consent of the employer.

And although employment is strong, people are losing their jobs. Telstra is letting go of 8000, many in its Melbourne headquarters. The National Australia Bank is shedding 2000 each year for the next three years. The NSW public service will lose as many as 11,800 jobs as a result of efficiency measures in this week’s state budget. Few workers, in any of those organisations, are going to feel game to make themselves expensive.

The way Dr Lowe sees it, a small number of Australian firms are investing massively in the technology needed to do things more cheaply. A much greater number are not, and are having to fight off brutal price competition. The only way they can do it is to hold the line against wage increases, even at the cost of missing out on good staff.

Added to this might be what US economist Paul Krugman calls the scarring effect of the global financial crisis. He says employers discovered during the crisis that they couldn’t cut wages, even though they needed to. It wasn’t socially acceptable. It taught them that “extended periods in which you would cut wages if you could are a lot more likely than they used to believe”.

So they’re keeping wage costs low, in preparation for the next crisis. It’s an awful response, with political as well as economic implications.

Government forecasts notwithstanding, it is hard to see anything changing for quite some time. Glum is starting to look like the new normal.

In The Age and Sydney Morning HeraldPeter Martin is economics correspondent for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

He blogs at petermartin.com.au and tweets at @1petermartin.

Dimbleby Resigns as BBC Propagandist on Question Time

Yesterday, Mike put up a piece commenting on the resignation of former Bullingdon boy David Dimbleby as the host of Question Time. The man Private Eye dubbed ‘Dimblebore’ has been presenting the show for 25 years, and now considers it the right moment to leave. Dimbleby is another BBC presenter, who is very biased towards the Conservatives. Mike’s photograph of him accompanying his piece shows him raising two fingers, with the comment that it’s probably to a Socialist. Mike also cautions against feeling too good about Dimblebore’s resignation, as we don’t know what monster’s going to replace. He wonders whether the secret of human cloning has been found, and whether the next biased presenter of the programme will be Josef Goebbels.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/06/17/if-david-dimbleby-is-leaving-the-bbcs-question-time-what-horror-will-replace-him/

Last week Dimblebore was off in Russia, presenting a documentary about the country under Putin ahead of the footie there. He wasn’t the only, or even the first person to go. The comedian Frankie Boyle got there over a week earlier, presenting a two-part show about the country, it’s people and football on Sunday evening. Dimblebore was rather more serious in tone, presenting Russia as a country in the grip of a repressive autocrat, and mired in corruption which was strangling the economy.

Dimbleby first explained that Putin was most popular with young people, the generation that everywhere else is rebelling against autocrats, dictators and tyrants. He puts this down to Russians’ experience of economic collapse under Yeltsin. Yeltsin ended communism and dismembered the economy of the Soviet Union, privatising whatever he could. The result was chaos, and massive employment. At one point it got so bad that some factories were paying their workers in the goods they produced. Putin has restored order and economic stability to the country, and so has the support of the younger generation.

He spoke to a great of young professionals, an advertising branding team who were supporters of Putin, working to promote him through images and slogans. He stated that most of the media was controlled by the Russian president, with a few exceptions. He then went to speak to someone from RT’s Moscow branch. Dimbleby explained that some of the staff were British, and asked one of the Brits there whether he was presenting propaganda. The man denied it, said that there was no one watching over him, telling him what to do, and that his conscience was clear. Dimblebore then gave a knowing smirk into the camera.

He then talked to a female presenter on one of the few dissident broadcasters Putin had allowed to remain open. She said that she had not received any threats, but she knew that she could be killed for what she did. But she was still determined to carry on.

He then talked about how those, who criticised the government were arrested and jailed, interviewing a human rights lawyer, who defended them. When asked what people could be arrested and jailed for, the lawyer explained that it could be criticism of the government, or a non-traditional understanding of the Second World War. The other year Putin passed a law criminalising the view that Stalin was partly responsible for the Nazi invasion of eastern Europe and Russia through the Nazi-Soviet pact. From what I remember, I think you can also be arrested for promoting gay rights.

He then spoke to a woman, who was protesting her treatment by the state. She had already been jailed for criticising Putin, but was determined to do so again. She had not been able to get a permit to organise a protest, and so held her own, one-woman demonstration outside the court. This is permitted under Russian law. If you can’t get a permit for a demonstration, you can still protest, so long as there is only one person involved. As she stood with her placard, she was joined by an increasing number of counter-protesters determined to disrupt her protest, and possibly send her to jail. They moved closer to her, and she moved away, telling them to keep their distance. They kept coming, and their numbers kept increasing. Then the cops turned up, and started filming things as they’d been told foreigners were involved. And someone else from one of the TV companies materialised to film the protest as well. Eventually it all ended, and the police and counter-protesters disappeared.

Dimbleby then did a piece about the police’s brutal suppression of dissent, complete with footage of the cops beating what looked like a feminist protester from Pussy Riot.

He also touched on gender roles. He talked to a hairdresser, while having his haircut, who told him that Russia still had very traditional gender roles, in which women wanted a strong man to provide for them.

Putin has also succeeded in reversing the declining Russian birthrate. Instead of falling, it is now rising, with medals and benefits given to couples who have large families. He showed one woman and her husband, who were being presented a medal by Putin for having ten children.

He also went off to talk to a youth organisation, that was set up to get children, including boys of junior school age, interested in the army. The group’s name translates as ‘Net’, and is run by army officers. The children there wear combat uniforms and learn to shoot using air rifles, which they are also taught how to strip down. They were shown blazing away at targets, and competing with each other over who could reassemble a gun while blindfolded the quickest, with Dimblebore cheering the winner. And it wasn’t all boys. One of the youngster there looked like a girl. Dimblebore asked them if they wanted to join the army, to which they gave a very enthusiastic ‘Yes’.

He then went off to speak to a prelate from the Russian Orthodox Church about its support for Putin, where he described Putin as an autocrat attacking human rights and threatening peace in Europe. The prelate responded by saying that there were those, who did not agree with his view. And that was that.

He then went off to discuss the massive corruption in Russia, and how this was undermining the economy as more and more investors and companies left the country because of it. Russia has 144 million people, but it’s economy is 2/3s that of Britain, or about the size of Italy’s, and is declining.

Now all of this is factually true. John Kampfner, in his book Freedom For Sale discusses Russia as another state, where the population has made a deal with its leader. They have absolute power, in return for which they give their people prosperity. Except that, according to Dimbleby, living standards and wages are declining. Putin has passed laws against the promotion of homosexuality, there are massive human rights violations, including the jailing of the type of people, who would have been called dissidents under Communism. Journalists, who haven’t toed the Archiplut’s line have been beaten and killed.

Other aspects of the Russian state, as revealed by this programme, would have been immediately recognisable to the generation raised by Communism. Like the corruption. It was rife under Communism. The Bulgarian journalist, Arkady Vaksberg, wrote a book about it, The Soviet Mafia. And Gogol took a shot at official corruption under the Tsars back in the 19th century in his play, The Government Inspector. So no change there.

As for the Russian Orthodox Church supporting Putin, it was always the state church under the tsars, to which it gave absolute support. The watchword of the tsarist regime was ‘Autocracy, Orthodoxy and the People’. And its support of autocratic leadership didn’t begin under Putin. After the restrictions on religion were lifted in the 1990s, the BBC journalists interviewed some of its clergy on their shows. And the clergy had the same preference for absolute state power and total obedience from the people. Putin made the relationship between the Church and his government closer by granting them a sizable share of Russia’s oil.

The youth groups designed to get children interested in joining the army are also little different from what already went on under the Soviet system. Secondary schoolchildren did ‘military-patriotic training’ to prepare them for national service as part of the school curriculum. It was led by retired army officers, who were often the butt of schoolboy jokes. They were taught to handle weapons, complete with competitions for throwing grenades the furthest.

And let’s face it, it also isn’t much different from what used to go on over here. I’ve known young people, who were in the army and naval cadets. And the public schools used to have the CCF – the Combined Cadet Force – which the Tories would dearly love to bring back. And boys, and some girls, do like playing at ‘War’, so I’ve no doubt that if something like the Russian group was set up in this country, there would be many lads and girls wanting to join it.

Russia has also too been a very masculine society with very traditional ideas about gender and masculinity, despite the fact that most engineers were women, who also worked as construction workers and many other, traditionally masculine areas. One of the complaints of Russian women was that the men didn’t do their fair share of standing in queues waiting to get whatever groceries were in store.

And the medals and rewards to the women, who gave birth to the largest number of children is just another form of the Heroic Mother Awards under the Soviet Union. Putin’s Russia continues many of the same aspects of the country’s society from the age of the tsars and Communism, although Dimblebore said the country was going backward.

I’ve no doubt it is, but the programme annoyed me.

What irritated me was Dimblebore’s knowing smirk to camera when the guy from RT denied that he broadcast propaganda. Now I’m sure that RT does. There’s videos I’ve seen on YouTube from RTUK, which could fairly be described as pro-Russian propaganda.

But what annoyed me was Dimblebore’s hypocrisy about it.

The Beeb and Dimbleby himself has also broadcast it share of propaganda supporting western foreign policy interests, including imperialism. Newsnight has finally got round, after several years, to covering the Fascists running around the Ukraine under the present government. But the Beeb has emphatically not informed the British public how the pro-western regime which was put in power with the Orange Revolution, was created by the US State Department under Obama, and run by Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland. Far from being a grassroots movement, the revolution was orchestrated by the National Endowment for Democracy, which has been handling the US state’s foreign coups since they were taken away from the CIA, and one of George Soros’ pro-democracy outfits.

Putin is also presented as the villainous aggressor in the current war in the Ukraine, and some have compared his annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine to the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland. But Crimea had been a part of Russia before 1951, when Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, gave it to that state. And Putin is not looking to take over the country either. The population of Russia is 144 million. Ukraine’s is a little over a third of that, at 52 million. If Putin really had wanted to annex it, he would have done so by now. And under international law, as I understand it, nations are allowed to intervene in foreign countries militarily to defend members of their ethnic group that are being persecuted. That was the pretext for the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, and it’s also the reason why Putin’s invaded eastern Ukraine. But it’s legal under international law. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that Russians, and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, were being persecuted by the new, pro-Western government.

In his documentary, Dimbleby met a very angry, patriotic Russian, who told him that the British had tried to invade Russia three times in the past three centuries. Once in the 19th century during the Crimean War; then in 1922 during the Russian Civil War. And now we were preparing to do the same. He angrily told us to ‘get out!’. Dimbleby looked shocked, and said to him that he couldn’t really believe we were ready to invade.

This was another continuation of the Soviet paranoia and hostility towards the West dating from the Communist period and before. Russia has always felt itself encircled by its enemies since the tsars. But the man has a point. We did invade Russia in 1922 in an effort to overthrow the Communist regime. Pat Mills has talked about this in his presentation on comics he gave to the SWP a few years ago. He tried to get a story about it in Charlie’s War, the anti-war strip he wrote for Battle. This is another piece of history that we aren’t told about.

And when Gorbachev made the treaty with Clinton pledging the withdrawal of Soviet troops from eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism, Clinton in turn agreed that these state would not become members of NATO. He broke his promise. They now all are, and NATO’s borders now extend to Russia. At the same time, western generals and NATO leaders have been predicting a war between Russia and NATO. One even wrote a book about it, 2017: War with Russia. Thankfully, 2017 has been and gone and there has, so far, been no war. But with this in view, I can’t say I blame any Russian, who is afraid that the West might invade at any moment, because it does look to me like a possibility.

And there are other matters that the Beeb and the rest of the lamestream news aren’t telling us about. They’re still repeating the lie that the invasion of Iraq was done for humanitarian reasons, whereas the reality was that western corporations and the neocons wanted to get their hands on Iraqi state industries and privatise the economy. And the American and Saudi oil industry wanted to get their mitts on the country’s oil reserves.

The civil war in Syria is also presented in simplistic terms: Assad as evil tyrant, who must be overthrown, and Putin as his bloodthirsty foreign ally. Assad is a tyrant, and one of the causes of the civil war was his oppression of the Sunni majority. But we are constantly being told that the rebels are ‘moderates’, while the fact is that they still have links to Islamists like the al-Nusra Front, the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Nor have I seen the Beeb tell anyone how the Syrian rebels have also staged false flag chemical weapons attacks against civilians in order to draw the west into the war.

And objective reporting on Israel is hindered by the pro-Israel lobby. Any news item or documentary, which shows Israel’s horrific crimes against Palestinian civilians is immediately greeted with accusations of anti-Semitism from the Israeli state and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. I’ll be fair to the Beeb. Some of their presenters have tried to give an objective reporting of events, like Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin. But they’ve been accused of anti-Semitism, as was Dimblebore himself when he tried to defend them. In this instance, the bias isn’t just the fault of the Beeb. But it is there, and newsroom staff have said that they were under pressure from senior management to present a pro-Israel slant.

Domestically, the Beeb is very biased. I’ve discussed before how Nick Robinson in his report on a speech by Alex Salmond about Scots devolution carefully edited the SNP’s answer, so it falsely appeared that he had been evasive. In fact, Salmond had given a full, straight answer. Salmond’s reply was whittled down further as the day went on, until finally Robinson claimed on the evening news that he hadn’t answered the question.

And numerous left-wing bloggers and commenters, including myself, have complained about the horrendous bias against the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn in the Beeb’s reporting. Dimblebore himself has shown he has a very right-wing bias on Question Time, allowing right-wing guests and audience members to speak, while silencing those on the left. Not that he’s alone here. Andrew Marr has done exactly the same on his programme on Sundays.

Dimblebore is, quite simply, another right-wing propagandist, with the Beeb backing current western imperialism. His smirk at the RT journalist’s denials of doing the same is just gross hypocrisy.

Private Eye Attacks Facebook Group for People Suspended from Labour

Private Eye has published much excellent material, and over the past few days I’ve blogged about some of the material revealed in this fortnight’s issue. But the magazine does have a very pronounced anti-Corbyn bias, and does seem to have swallowed, and regurgitated all the bilge smearing Corbyn and his supporters in the other parts of the lamestream media. It does seem to take as fact that the smears that Momentum is full of abusive misogynists and anti-Semites, and that the Labour leader and his supporters are ‘hard Left’ and Trotskyites. They aren’t. Corbyn and Momentum really are just traditional Labour, standing for the old Social Democratic policy of a mixed economy, and strong and healthy NHS and welfare state. All of which is anathema to the Thatcherite right – the Blairites – who have tried to position themselves as moderates when in fact the truth is, they’re the extremists. They’re extreme right. And outside the Labour party this is also unwelcome to the Tories and the mainstream media and its bosses pushing for more privatisation and further policies to destroy the welfare state and push the working class further into poverty. Because they see it as good for business having a cowed workforce on poverty wages.

In this fortnight’s Eye, for 15th-28th June 2018 on page 10, the pseudonymous ‘Ratbiter’ has published an article attacking a Facebook group for those suspended from the Labour party, and the attempts of its members to make contact with officials close to Corbyn to obtain justice or redress. It accepts absolutely uncritically the charges against them. And the end of the article once again repeats the claim that those suspended for anti-Semitism are automatically guilty, with an example of an anti-Semitic post from one of those in the group.

But many of those suspended from the Labour party for anti-Semitism and other offences are anything but, as shown in the cases of people like Mike, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and very many others. As I’ve blogged about ad nauseam, ad infinitum. The article therefore needs to be carefully critiqued. It runs

Suspended Animation
Facebook has a secret and carefully vetted political group called Labour Party Compliance: Suspensions, Expulsions, Rejections Co-op. As the ungainly title suggests, it is a online hangout where Corbyn supporters facing disciplinary action for abuse, anti-Semitism and other loveable quirks can nurse their grievances in private. Or so they think.

Screenshots of the site obtained by the Eye show that the outcasts are not so far out in the cold they don’t have access to the highest levels of Corbyn’s Labour.

Take 17-year-old Zac Arnold, who has been suspended from the Forest of Dean Labour Party. He revealed he had “been given the email of someone called Thomas Gardiner by James Schneider at JC’s office, who said he would be a useful contact over my suspension”. He asked his fellow pariahs “what your thoughts are and if you know him”.

They certainly knew Schneider. “I have chatted with James,” said Caroline Tipler, the founder of the “Jeremy Corbyn Leads Us to Victory” Facebook group. “I def think it would be useful to make contact”. The best way to get back into the party would be to start by “making a tentative enquiry and gauge from the response whether to progress it from there”.

The “someone called Thomas Gardiner” to whom young Zac referred is a Labour councillor from Camden. When Corbyn assumed total control of the Labour machine in March by installing Jennie Formby, Len McCluskey’s former mistress, as Labour’s general secretary, Formby’s first act was to call in Gardiner.She sent John Stoliday, the head of Labour’s compliance unit, on gardening leave and put Gardiner in charge of overseeing complaints against members. So he is certainly a “useful” man to know for as any Corbyn supporter facing troublesome allegations – as indeed is Schneider, who works in the leader’s office alongside fellow Old Wykehamist Seumas Milne as Corbyn’s director of strategic communications.

Suspended members appear to think that, so long as they discuss their prejudices in private, they will be fine. Their Facebook group is splattered with posts painting Labour activists as victims of a Jewish conspiracy. “They will try to silence you,” reads one. “They will try to discredit you. Because you are not allowed to criticise Jewish politics.” But their own group suggests
that you are, as long as you aren’t caught and have friends in high places.

So what’s going on here? Well, first of all, the fact that Ratbiter claims to have had screenshots passed to him of the Facebook page shows that it’s not based on his research. It’s from an outside organisation. From the way this is about smearing Corbyn supporters as anti-Semites, it looks like it’s the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism or the Jewish Labour Movement up to their vile tricks again. The CAA’s modus operandi is simply to go back over people’s internet conversations in search of something vaguely anti-Semitic they can use, and then grossly distort it so that they can smear them. They did it to Mike, taking his comments out of context and grossly misreporting what he actually said. They did it to Jackie Walker and her conversation with two others on Facebook about the Jewish participation in the slave trade. Again, a serious issue, which reputable historians are discussing. Walker never said that Jews were responsible for the slave trade, or that they were exclusively in charge of it. She said that the ultimate responsibility lay with the Christian monarchs and states which employed them. There are, however, real anti-Semites, who claim that the Jews were responsible for the slave trade, and so the CAA smeared her, a practicing Jew with a Jewish partner, as an anti-Semite. Just like they’ve smeared Ken Livingstone, because he dared to talk about an embarrassing truth: that the Nazis did reach an agreement with the Zionists to send Jews to Israel, before they decided on the Final Solution. And then there was that entirely artificial controversy a month or so ago, where they smeared Corbyn himself as an anti-Semite, because of a post he made admiring a piece of street art showing bankers around a table resting on the bodies of black men. Only two of the bankers were Jewish, but nevertheless, the CAA and the Board of Deputies of British Jews frothed that it was ‘anti-Semitic’, trying to link it to all the vile theories about the Jewish banking conspiracy.

Unable to unseat Corbyn at the leadership elections, the Blairites and the Israel lobby have been trying to oust him gradually by suspending and smearing his supporters. As happened to Mike. The CAA’s vile article smearing him was passed on to the Labour party, who suspended him just as he was about to fight a council election as the Labour candidate in his part of mid-Wales. As Mike has blogged, he has appealed against his suspension, but was tried once again by another kangaroo court, very much like the one that decided that the veteran anti-racist campaigner, Marc Wadsworth, was an anti-Semite. The Labour party’s compliance unit is so determined to refuse justice to expelled or suspended members on trumped up charges of anti-Semitism, that there is now an organisation set up to fight them on this issue: Labour Against the Witch Hunt, one of whose organisers is the redoubtable Tony Greenstein. I think another is Walker herself. As for Wadsworth, he has gone on a triumphant tour defending himself up and down the country. His campaign was launched in London with Alexei Sayle. Sayle’s parents are Romanian Jews, who were card-carrying Communists, and Sayle himself was one of the leaders of the new, politically correct Alternative Comedy in the 1980s. He was very anti-racist, anti-sexist and pro-gay rights, as were the others that emerged at the same time. So he is very definitely not anti-Semitic.

Clearly, the movement to discredit the smear campaign against decent people unfairly libelled as anti-Semites is gaining ground, otherwise Ratbiter wouldn’t bother writing the article, and attacking and revealing the officials close to Corbyn, who may be prepared to give assistance to them.

Now let’s deal with their quotation that ‘you are not allowed to criticise Jewish politics’. Is this anti-Semitic? Or is simply a clumsy way of expressing a truth: that any criticism of Israel, or support for the Palestinians, will result in you being smeared and suspended. I strongly believe it’s the latter. And the issue of Israel has been deliberately confused with Jews by Israel and its satellite, Zionist organisations themselves. Netanyahu a few years ago declared that all Jews, everywhere, were citizens of Israel. Of course, it’s a risible statement. Many Jews don’t want to be citizens of Israel, a land with which they have no connection, and certainly not at the expense of the country’s real, indigenous inhabitants. Netanyahu and the other maniacs in his coalition don’t want all Jews to be citizens of their country either. Liberal or genuinely left-wing Jews, or Jews, who simply ask too many questions about the Palestinians and dare to think for themselves, rather than swallow Likudnik propaganda, aren’t let in. or if they’re there already, they get thrown out. As have dissident Israelis, like one historian now at Exeter University, Ilon Pappe, who was driven out of his homeland because he dared to describe and protest his nation’s long history of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians.

The organisations behind the smear campaign are Jewish organisations, or claim to be pro-Jewish, like the CAA and the Jewish Labour Movement, which was formerly Paole Zion, ‘Workers of Zion’. Now these organisations clearly don’t represent all Jews. They only represent those, who are fanatically and intolerantly pro-Israel. They also have gentile members, so it’s highly questionable just how ‘Jewish’ these Jewish organisations are. Those smeared by them include self-respecting and Torah-observant Jews, and they have subjected them to the kind of abuse, which would automatically be considered anti-Semitic if it came from a non-Jew. Indeed, many of the Jews smeared by them feel that there is a particular hatred of Jewish critics of Israel. Just like the founders of Zionism were absolutely dismissive of diaspora Jews.

Given this, it should be no surprise if a non-Jew, who has been smeared, becomes confused and says that you can’t criticise ‘Jewish politics’, meaning Israel. Because these Jewish organisations, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, insist that you can’t. And deliberately so, in order to make it easier to claim that all critics of Israel are anti-Semites.

This is a nasty, mischievous and deceitful article. It is designed to further isolate Corbyn by smearing his supporters and attacking the official close to him, who may be able help them. And it repeats the lie that all of those smeared are anti-Semites. It’s publication is a disgrace to Private Eye.

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