Thursday, 27 September 2012

Apparently 'economics' means screwing the workers

Last week we heard that Vince Cable had decided to kowtow to his Tory masters and introduce a range of 'reforms' which are intended to make it easier to sack workers and 'create more jobs'. This is an ideological class-war driven attack on workers rights which follows hot on the heels of the recent lengthening of the period of no fault dismissal for workers from one year to two years, and apparently implements some parts of the discredited Beecroft Report, described as 'crap' by Coalition government insiders. It's important to point out that there is no evidence that these measures will create any more jobs - just evidence that the 1% are using the economic crisis that they caused as an opportunity to bash the workers. This is part and parcel of the well known 'Shock Doctrine' described by Naomi Klein, you create a crisis, then use it as cover to attack the living standards of the 99%.
Cable - screwing the workers
Now, these attacks are being followed by renewed calls for an end to national pay bargaining in the public sector. According to the Guardian '25 senior academic' economists have called for individually negotiated public sector contracts.  This is a blatant attack not only on employee rights but the trade union movement itself, and has been a Tory dream for decades. All the usual bogus arguments about 'labour market flexibility' and 'job creation' are predictably trotted out. What's crucial here is to understand that this is really 'free' market fundamentalist ideology dressed up as 'economics'. This is not about the economy it's about politics. The so-called economists who have dreamt up this stuff are capitalist economists  - the same blinkered individuals who promoted the ideas that caused the economic crisis in the first place and who see the solutions as more of the same or 'business as usual'. This is about screwing workers -  allegedly to make markets work better. It is not a science or an academic discipline but a belief system, and these economists are the high priests of the system, worshipping at the altar of the market.

These are the very same neoliberal 'free' market fanatics who believe in 'externalities' which is capitalist economic speak for explaining away the right of corporations to dump their costs free of charge onto communities and the environment, in the form of pollution and unemployment, causing health problems, hardship for millions, and massive environmental destruction. These are the same sort of people who believe that basics such as food can be traded as commodities - in short they are people without human values who should not be taken seriously and represent a danger to the well-being of millions. Their type of economic 'solutions' are responsible for death and destruction on a global scale, and, of course, they won't be the ones to suffer pays cuts and unemployment as a result of these proposals. They will remain safe in their cosy academic bubble while the rest of us get our standard of living cut still further.  

Of course economics doesn't have to be like this. There are economists who recognise that economics has a social dimension, and at its heart should be the well-being of people and communities, not abstract notions about money which favour corporations and the rich. For an excellent analysis of the ongoing destruction of the social contract in Europe by neoliberal economists, and its consequences, read this excellent article by the economist Ha-Joon Chang. At its root this debate is not about economics at all - it is really about values. The values of humanity, decency and pay equality for hardworking people doing the same job versus the anti-human, 'abstract', and immoral values of the 'free' market, and screwing the workers.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Cameron's Paralympic hypocrisy covers a vicious Coalition attack on the disabled

Have you been watching the Paralympics? If so you will have been impressed by the endeavour of the Paralympians in striving for medal success. But what will happen to Paralympians after the games are over? How many will be adversely affected by the government's attempts to remove Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from 500,000 disabled people in the UK? Predictably, Prime Minister David Cameron plumbed new depths of hypocrisy recently when he spoke about the Paralympics. According to the BBC :
Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he believes Paralympics will "inspire a lot of people and change people's views on disability".
But Cameron has done more than any other Prime Minister change people's views on disability, causing harm to disabled people in the UK in the process. The Coalition's attempts to deny benefits to disabled people through removal of the DLA and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) have lead to great hardship for many people who relied on the allowances to lead a decent life. And their attack on the disabled has lead some people to believe that they are "benefit scroungers". Disabled people have been subject to abuse and physical attacks as a direct result of  the government's policy. Its important to point out that these benefits for disabled people are there to help them live independent lives, and in many cases enable them to go out to work.

The government have paid 'healthcare' firm Atos £400 million to carry out 'disability assessments' designed to get disabled and chronically sick people off benefits. In a cruelly ironic twist it turns out that Atos is a sponsor of the Paralympic Games! Now Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) are fighting back and recently staged a protest at Atos's offices in London. DPAC have also collected stories about the hardship caused to sick and disabled people by the Coalition. DPAC's Linda Burnip, quoted in the Independent, said:
"The stories are disgusting, really harrowing, they are people who are really, really seriously ill who couldn't possibly be expected to work – and yet they're being found capable. Disabled people are being driven to suicide and death"
Cameron has filled his role as Tory Party frontman really well. Despite the Tories still being the nasty party, and despite the vicious class-war attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, Cameron somehow remains popular, almost as if the worst excesses of an extremist Coalition government had nothing to do with him. This latest outburst of shameless hypocrisy is typical of Cameron, but how long can this continue before people see him for what he really is, a class-war reactionary politician protecting the interests of corporations and the rich at the expense of the rest of us? Lest hope this Paralympic hypocrisy will soon backfire and help to hasten the end of this rotten government.