UN

Inequality and poverty – the latest UN report on UK poverty illustrates the need for the end of class society

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/11/2018 - 11:20pm in

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austerity, poverty, UK, UN

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The figures set out in the latest UN report on UK pauperisation, shocking enough in their own right, form the latest link in a chain of extremes which is the reality of global inequality, a tendency which has rocketed since the 2008 financial crash.

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Life at the sharp end of austerity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/11/2018 - 6:39am in

Rough sleeper sitting on a benchImage © Taylor Wilkins – Deamstime

In the news this week…..

“I’m scared to eat sometimes in case we run out of food.”
“We had people coming to us who hadn’t eaten for several days,”
“I wash in what I call a birdbath – a little hot water in a basin and have a spruce down,” she said. “To keep warm I wrap up in layers and layers. I never thought I would be 48 and in this position.”
“They have taken everything from me but my body. What do they want me to do? Do they want me to sell my body?”

These are some of the many shocking indictments of the UK government arising from the UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston’s two-week fact-finding mission to gather evidence about the impact of austerity on British families. He has been visiting some of the poorest cities and towns across the UK including Jaywick in Clacton, Newcastle and Newham where he has heard the heart-breaking testimony of families and individuals plunged into hardship and despair as a result of the government’s welfare reforms and cuts to public spending.

It is sure to prove yet another shameful assessment (the fourth so far) by the UN of the last 8 years of government imposed austerity. Here, in the world’s fifth largest economy, the UK has over 4 million children living in households that struggle to feed them. The growth of food banks and charitable food collection has become normalised and child homelessness is at its highest level since 2007. According to a report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year, it is disabled people, single parents and women who have suffered disproportionately as a result of the government’s harsh welfare reforms which have left people in penury and abandoned.

In 2009 David Cameron declared that the ‘age of irresponsibility’ would give way to the ‘age of austerity’. The government committed to cutting £billions of government spending claiming that failure to do so would leave the country under mountains of public debt and facing bankruptcy. Public sector jobs were lost and benefits slashed as the government set in motion its programme for welfare reform.

Almost a decade on the consequences of its cuts are laid bare for all to see. The neoliberal belief that it was possible for a nation to cut its spending without wrecking the economy has proven catastrophic and has delivered unnecessary human suffering, increased poverty and rising income inequality.

As Philip Alston told a packed public meeting in Clacton:

“What tells you most about a society is how it treats its poor and vulnerable. A wealthy country could decide to help those who hit hard times, to ensure that they don’t slip through the net and are able to live a life of dignity. It’s a political choice.”

That is the crux of the matter. Beginning or ending austerity is a choice. An ideological choice by government. At the ballot box voters should base their decisions not on a party’s promise to be fiscally accountable but whether it has a clear agenda to act in the best interests of citizens for their economic and social well-being. That it will make its spending decisions based on the best use of resources it has available to deliver public, social and economic purpose.

An understanding of monetary reality is essential in challenging the idea that fiscal prudence, taken out of its wider context, is a stand-alone marker of good government.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/12/a-political-choice-un-envoy-finds-uks-poorest-feel-badly-let-down-in-jaywi

Restoring public service to its rightful place as a public good.

So said the Chancellor Philip Hammond in the Autumn Budget, conveniently sidestepping the increasing public concerns about public private partnerships which over the last year have been in the news again and again.

After the collapse of Carillion last year, the on-going fiasco over the part privatisation of the public probation service and now fears over the financial health of Interserve one of the British government’s biggest contractors alarm bells are ringing very loudly.

Adam Leaver, professor of accounting at Sheffield University claims that this ‘failure’ is due to ‘there [being] something structurally wrong with the outsourcing model”.

Over decades the rationale presented by politicians for private involvement in the delivery of public services is that it can deliver more efficient services at lower cost thus creating less of a burden for taxpayers. But at the root of free market ideology is a belief that when the state interferes in service provision it is distorting the market in such a way that it can’t find its natural ‘equilibrium’. The solution, therefore, must be for government to try harder to ‘liberate’ the market from the constraints of state interference by stepping aside and only providing the services that the market can’t or won’t provide because they are not profitable i.e. services for the poor.

In the meantime the so-called failure of Private Public Partnerships can be remedied, the government claims, not by a change of policy to bring services back into the public sector but by better negotiated contracts to deliver better value to the taxpayer. This is not just a fantasy but is also confirmation to corporations that it’s business as usual.

The nation is paying the price for the government’s obsession with balanced budgets. While the lie continues to be perpetuated that there is a finite amount of public money determined by taxation and the confidence of markets to lend it or that public debt not private debt is the real problem, the government will be able to continue its ideological assault. The damaging economic cost of the government narrative about creating value for the taxpayer will increasingly put more strain and pressure on the lives of citizens and the social and public infrastructure which will ultimately lead to further economic decline and unnecessary suffering.

If Philip Hammond was serious about restoring public service to being understood as a public good then he could start with the recognition that public service adds real value to society and its well-being. It provides the infrastructure upon which everything else depends including corporations, from the NHS and social care, to education, bin collection and street cleaning. Given their strategic importance to the health and well-being of the nation and the economy such services would be best delivered by the public sector not profit hungry corporations who derive profit through cutting costs. Secondly, recognising the value of public service must be accompanied by a better public understanding of how money works and the powers of a sovereign currency issuer so that we can challenge once and for all the narrative which has served market driven ideology so well that the government has no money but taxpayers’ money.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/budget-2018-latest-philip-hammond-axe-pfi-private-finance-initiative-treasury-public-debt-a8608611.html

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The post Life at the sharp end of austerity appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

The Economics of Climate Change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/10/2018 - 7:30pm in

Following the very successful launch of GIMMS last week welcome to our second blog. The GIMMS team have been both delighted and excited by the response both on the day and subsequently.  Despite a few technical hitches the event exceeded our expectations and it was pleasing to see so many people.  The packed room and clear enthusiasm was our reward.  We’d like to thank our speakers Professor Bill Mitchell and the chief leader writer for the Guardian, Randeep Ramesh, for their insightful contributions to the day’s success not to mention our guests whose animated conversations during breaks showed their passion for the subject and a desire to make a real difference. 

We hope that the launch of GIMMS will prove to be an opportunity to start a real public conversation about how to create a society which puts public and social purpose at its heart.

Our weekly blog will aim to bring together the latest news and events analysed from an MMT perspective. Today it focuses on the IPPC report on climate.  Don’t forget to bookmark us, like our FB page and follow us on Twitter for all the latest.

 

Burning Earth in space with target

This week the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) released its comprehensive report on the state of the climate. Climate scientists are warning that we only have 12 years left to halt the worst effects of climate change and keep warming to a maximum of 1.5˚C. The planet is already 1˚C warmer than pre-industrial levels.

The evidence is stark, and the clock is ticking on the capacity of our natural world to support life. It is a wake-up call for humanity and our leaders need to react with urgency. Without a reduction in greenhouse gases the planet will face significant threats from drought, floods, extreme weather events, food and water shortages, rising sea levels and destruction of the natural environment. It will drive hundreds of millions of people into poverty and create further refugee crises.

In an age of endless consumption which keeps the economic wheels turning it is no surprise that our leaders have failed dismally to address adequately the very real and long-term global issues of climate collapse and it has been left for too long on the political backburner.

Do we still have time to change and prevent the worst effects of climate breakdown? Politicians must now open their eyes to the pressing challenges we face, and they need, crucially, to move beyond manifesto pledges to real action.

An understanding of monetary reality could prove a critical resource for politicians grappling to formulate an environmental strategy to deliver the fundamental change that is essential if we are to have half a chance of survival. A macroeconomic stability framework offers the possibility to develop practical solutions to the ecological challenges we face to deliver sustainable growth, a more equitable access to real resources by world citizens and support those nations who are already facing very real threats from climate change.

Governments with currency issuing powers already have a unique capacity to command and shape the profile of how national resources are used and allocated. This would be achievable through a combination of fiscal deficit investment in green technology alongside a more stringent legislative and tax framework to drive the vital behavioural change essential to addressing the life-threatening effects of climate change. In this way, and by moving the emphasis away from excessive consumption and its detrimental effects on the environment, governments could focus on the delivery of public and social purpose with more appropriate, fairer and efficient use of land, food and human capital in a sustainable way. The implementation of a Job Guarantee Programme could also play a pivotal role in reshaping our economy and making the necessary shift towards a greener and more sustainable future.

It is time to shift the narrative away from the ‘fake news’ fear of public debt and its hocus-pocus burden on future generations. The real threat to our grandchildren will come from depriving them of the life-sustaining benefits of our investment today. If we fail to make that transformation our children and grandchildren will most certainly face an uncertain future. Ultimately, the responsibility will lie with politicians to grasp the monetary realities and embrace the urgency of this task. It will require courage, creativity and determination by all of us from large corporations to individuals to achieve it.

Climate Devastation, Full Employment and GDP vs GPI – Drs Steven Hail and Phil Lawn

A Strategy for Developing Nations Caught in the Neoliberal Trap – Prof Fadhel Kaboub

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The post The Economics of Climate Change appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Trump Threatens Mars With Tariffs To Protect America’s Bottled Water Industry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/07/2018 - 8:26am in

Following news that Scientists have discovered water on the planet Mars American President Donald Trump has launched a verbal assault on the planet and threatened to put tariffs on it’s water.

“My role as President is to get the best deal for the people of America,” said the President. “So Mars you just can’t waltz on in and try and take away jobs from hard working American bottled water makers with your fancy space water.”

“We let you sell your Mars bars so don’t push us with your water. Otherwise I’ll hit you where it hurts with a tariff or three.”

News of the President’s attack on Mars has been rejoiced by Fox news who said of the attack: “Strong words from a strong President. If you’re against the US attacking Mars then why don’t you go and live there you damn anti-fa hippie.”

Whilst the rest of the media was more circumspect with most thankful that life hadn’t yet been discovered on Mars.

Mark Williamson 

www.twitter.com/MWChatShow

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