Tag Archive: law


stop-the-cutsFocus On Benefit Cuts and Sanctions

Benefit claimants Assessed as ‘fit for work’ are dying within six weeks of assessment
Thousands of sick benefit claimants are dying within six weeks of being wrongly assessed as “fit to work”, a North-East MP claimed yesterday, during a commons debate  in which he called for an independent assessment of the Coalition’s welfare policy.

Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead, blamed the Government for the misdiagnosis at least 10,600 sick and disabled people in just ten months, who then quickly died. He said: “Four people a day are dying within six weeks of being declared fit for work under the work capability assessments. It is scandalous.

Mr Mearns said the figure of 10,600 deaths, after unsuccessful claims for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), covered the period January to November 2011. And he added: “This Government has repeatedly refused to release updated 2013 figures for deaths within six weeks of an end of an ESA claim.”No-CutsStop the benefits cuts and sanctions says Citizens Advice Bureau Punishing Poverty is a report published last week by Citizens Advice and which is based on a national survey of those who have had benefits stopped or sanctioned for not meeting the endless ‘work related activity’ conditions imposed by Jobcentres.  Hundreds of thousands of claimants have faced sanctions varying in length between four weeks and up to three years.  These sanctions are often imposed for the most trivial of reasons and as this report exposes, quite often for circumstances that are entirely beyond the claimant’s control.  It is not just unemployed claimants who face sanctions, but increasingly sick and disabled people and single parents with children over the age of five.

The results of the survey portray a truly horrific account of the destitution and human misery that this regime has inflicted on people.  Stories of families ripped apart, pregnant women left without food, those with dietary needs due to health conditions becoming sick, mental health deteriorating, suicide attempts and people forced to beg or go through bins to find food.

These stories are not the inevitable consequence of economic crisis, the UK is still one of the richest countries in the world. Benefit sanctions barely save the tax payer a penny such is the cost of policing and administering the system. 

As the Citizens Advice report reveals there are countless tales of benefits being stopped due to a mistake by the Jobcentre, or because a claimant faced unavoidable circumstances such as travel delays, hospital appointments and even job interviews which caused them to be late to an appointment with their advisor.  It is the widespread, seemingly haphazard nature of the regime which forces all claimants into a state of perpetual fear.  The threat of the dreaded brown envelope through the door from the DWP is a feature of life on all benefits, a daily reminder that you are only ever a heartbeat away from complete destitution.

The welfare state is not a political weapon to stigmatise  or scapegoat people, force down wages and pursue a work makes you free ideology. It should exist as the opposite, to empower, provide dignity and even act as a force against poverty pay – saying to grasping employers that there is an alternative for people if all you’ve got to offer is shit wages. Benefit sanctions must be brought to an immediate end with no exceptions. The full report can be downloaded at: http://sdrv.ms/1c48ECqwelfare10 Facts About Benefits Britain
1) A TUC survey showed that people think around 41% of benefits go to the unemployed, the real figure is 2.6%. (1)

2) 42% of the Welfare Bill goes to pensioners, 21% goes to people in low paid work. (2)

3) Nearly 80% of JSA claimants stop claiming within 6 months. (3)

4) Of the 7.8 million families receiving child benefit, 1.2 million have more than two children. (4)

5) A TUC survey found that people think around 27% of welfare is lost to fraud – the real figure is only 0.7%, around £1.2 billion. (5)

6) Around £17 billion of benefits that people are entitled to goes unclaimed every year. (6)

7) Immigrants are 60% less likely to claim benefits than a British-born person. (7)

8) 64% of families receive benefits – that’s 20.3 million families. (8)

9) The UK spends 12% less on benefits per head than France does, and 19% less compared to Germany. (9)

10) 93% of new Housing Benefit claimants in 2010 and 2011 came from working people, as UK housing costs are the 3rd highest in Europe. (10)Socialism or Barbarism, it really is that simple!

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Join-The-SWPThe Socialist Party Debates: The Tendency For The Rate Of Profit To Fall Vs Underconsumptionism.

The VOAG can’t help but notice the growing debate inside the Socialist Party (SP). The VOAG’s inbox had just quietened down following an avalanche of emails during the recent SWP splits. Now it seems it’s the Socialist Party’s turn to spam the living daylights out of us all.

The VOAG has already heard rumours of people being banned from the Socialist Party’s International Summer School, now I understand the SP’s NC is removing members from the SP Facebook group and banning all discussion relating to Marxist economics. (1)

As Bruce Wallace, one of the leading dissidents put it: “Under the pretext of agreeing to comradely debate, the critical material of oppositionists is being censored and repressed while public attacks on us are made by the leadership”. How SWP. (2)

And just like the SWP debacle, the argument is being conflated with a general dissatisfaction with internal party democracy. One dissident quotes Lenin: “Criticism within the limits of the principles of the Party Programme must be quite free, not only at Party meetings, but also at public meetings. Such criticism, or such “agitation” (for criticism is inseparable from agitation) cannot be prohibited”

What’s it all about.
 At the root of the argument are different perspectives regarding the relative importance in Crisis Theory (why capitalism goes into cyclical recessions) of “The Tendancy For The Rate Of Profit To Fall” (TRPF) and “Overacculation /Underconsumption”. Another SP dissident, calling himself Crucial Steve, writes on his blog:

“According to Lyn Walsh [editor of the SP’s monthly Socialism Today], the current crisis is one of over accumulation and lack of demand. Peter Taaffe writes in issue number 157 “The capitalists refuse to invest because there is no ‘profitable outlet’. In this sense, it is a crisis of ‘profitability’. Not because profits have dropped or there is a ‘tendency’ for the rate of profit to decline. Both the rate and the absolute amount of profit have increased it seems, even during this terrible crisis”.” (3)

Crucial Steve (Steve Dobbs) counters: “Marx was very clear that the accumulation of capital and the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall were in fact “two expressions of the same process”. As capital accumulates, the organic composition [fixed capital over variable capital] rises and the rate of profit tends to fall. Thus to speak of over accumulation without reference to the rate of profit is somewhat “one-sided”, shall we say.

Cde. Crucial sets out his stall: “According to the statistics, the rate and the absolute amount of profit have not increased as the SP would have it. As anyone who has worked with management in the private sector will tell you, capitalists are concerned with the rate of return. So naturally, the projected rate of profit will determine investment. A fall in return and a subsequent fall in investment can also lead to a drop in the mass of profits. We can see empirically that the fall in the mass of profits precedes a fall in investment prior to a recession”.

Crucial quotes Walsh in Socialism Today No.161: “How, as socialists, should we regard a stimulus package or programme of public works? In the face of mass unemployment and the prospect of prolonged economic stagnation, the leaders of workers’ organisations should indeed be calling for a massive programme of public works to provide jobs and stimulate growth. Effective economic stimulus would require a big increase in social spending, increasing pensions and other benefits. Tax rates for the wealthy and big corporations should be substantially increased, with a levy on the uninvested cash piles of big companies. Effective measures should be taken against tax evasion and avoidance”. (4)

The SP’s official position, that the current crisis is one of over accumulation and lack of demand, implies that the answer is to inflate the economy by increasing salaries and public spending, in order to spend ones way out of crises. In other words, classic Keynesianism. We at The VOAG reject this approach and agree with Marx, that capitalism has structural contradictions that cannot be resolved by keynesian economics or reformism.

Socialist Fight breaks it down.
To get some help understanding this argument, let’s visit the pages of this month’s Socialist Fight:
Let us first of all set out the proposition according to Marx: “The progressive tendency of the general rate of profit to fall is, therefore, just an expression peculiar to the capitalist mode of production of the progressive development of the social productivity of labour. This does not mean to say that the rate of profit may not fall temporarily for other reasons. But proceeding from the nature of the capitalist mode of production, it is thereby proved a logical necessity that in its development the general average rate of surplus-value must express itself in a falling general rate of profit. Since the mass of the employed living labour is continually on the decline as compared to the mass of materialised labour set in motion by it, i.e., to the productively consumed means of production, it follows that the portion of living labour, unpaid and congealed in surplus-value, must also be continually on the decrease compared to the amount of value represented by the invested total capital. Since the ratio of the mass of surplus-value to the value of the invested total capital forms the rate of profit, this rate must constantly fall”. Karl Marx, Capital vol. 3, chapter 13.

TFRP is the central plank of Marx’s revolutionary economic theories. He formed his theory in opposition to the closely related theories of the so-called “iron law of wages” and underconsumptionism, and sharply counter-posed TFRP to them. The Iron Law of Wages is a proposed law of economics that asserts that real wages always tend, in the long run, toward the minimum wage necessary to sustain the life of the worker. Karl Marx attribute the doctrine to Lassalle (notably in his Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875), but credited the idea to Thomas Malthus in his work, An Essay on the Principle of Population.

Marx did not have several theories of capitalist crisis, he had one: TFRP. Marx attacked the “iron law of wages” in two lectures to the international Working Men’s Association in 1865. The argument was that the “iron law” meant the absolute immiseration of the working class which led to a lack of demand for commodities and hence a crisis pushing prices below the value of commodities finally squeezing profits.

This is closely allied to underconsumptionism. Of course it has an immediate reformist implication; there is a Keynesian solution to the crisis of capitalism. All we need to do is raise wages and pump more money into the economy and the crisis will be solved. The underconsumptionist tells us there is plenty of money available but the capitalists just won’t invest. So implicitly all we have to do is force them to do so or get the government to do so on their behalf. It is this reformist conclusion that Bruce Wallace has correctly identified in the line of both the CWI and the CPGB. The notion that they won’t invest because the rate of profit is too low is beyond them.

The point about TFRP is that it is a revolutionary theory; capitalism is in crisis because it has these fatal structural flaws; private ownership of the means of production and a system of production for individual profit which has this inescapable tendency to fall and halt production through lack of investment. Only a rationally planned socialised economy based on production for need will overcome the ever recurring [and increasing] crises of capitalism. War on a global scale is the only thing that will temporarily solve this crisis for the capitalists; a much smaller group of monopoly capitalists will now have their profits rates restored before they fall again and the next conflagration is prepared. That is the history of the twentieth century. The same iron laws apply to the twenty-first. (6)

Notes
1. http://howiescorner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/is-shttp://howiescorner.blogspot.ocialist-party-heading-fo-split.html
2. http://69.195.124.91/~brucieba/2013/08/01/what-exactly-did-marx-and-engels-get-wrong-a-la-nial-mulholland/
3. http://socialismiscrucial.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/ted-grants-notes-on-marxist-economics/
4. Ibid
5. https://suacs.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/socialistfightno14.pdf
6. Ibid

Acknowledgements and Thanks
Many thanks to Ray Rising for providing a selection of print-outs regarding the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall.

The VOAG would like to acknowledge Socialist Fight for their article “Ticktin, Taaffe and Underconsumption” in Socialist Fight No.14 some of which is reproduced here.

Thanks also go out to Socialist Fight for their excellent Open Meeting on the “Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall” which The VOAG attended. For details of future Socialist Fight meetings contact: Socialist_Fight@yahoo.co.uk.The Voag

Anne, the abused circus elephant says: “Ban Animals In Circuses NOW!” 

Travelling circuses will be banned from using wild animals in their shows, the Government has announced.

Ministers unveiled plans to outlaw the “outdated” practice through new legislation at the “earliest opportunity”. But a tough licensing regime will be brought in to improve conditions for performing animals while changes in the law are developed.

Animal welfare minister Lord Taylor said: “There is no place in today’s society for wild animals being used for our entertainment in travelling circuses. We are developing proposals to introduce a bill as soon as parliamentary time allows. In the meantime we are introducing a Circus Licensing Scheme to ensure decent conditions for wild animals in travelling circuses.”

It comes after a push for action following revelations of the mistreatment of a circus elephant, Anne, last year. MPs backed a blanket ban last June and though it was non-binding it was highly embarrassing for the Government, sparking Downing Street to later signal it would bow to pressure over the demands. But it warned that Government could be left open to lawsuits from circus owners and workers. That is a hurdle that is still likely to make progress of the ban slow.

Tory MP Mark Pritchard, who led last year’s backbench call for a ban, said: “Any licensing scheme should also guarantee that no new new wild animals are imported into UK circuses. Quite frankly, I don’t believe the Government when they say they will move towards a ban. I don’t trust No 10 on the issue. I will believe it when I see it, but I am not holding my breath.”

A consultation on the new welfare licences has been launched and the regulations are expected to come into force by the summer. Anyone responsible for a travelling circus that uses wild animals in a performance will need to hold a valid licence, meet strict welfare standards and have a retirement plan for each animal.

They will also need to provide proper accommodation, full veterinary care, a good diet and high welfare standards during training and performances. A dedicated Government-appointed inspector, paid for by the circuses, will ensure rules are met, officials said.

Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International, who exposed the abuse of Anne the elephant last year, accused the Government of “stalling”.

She said: “It seems to us that the Government will just keep changing the question until they get the answer they want. It is appalling that public and parliamentary wishes are cast aside in such a cavalier manner.”

 Tory Cuts Will Lead To Recession  And Spiralling Unemployment!!

Yahoo News reported today that more than 50 leading economists have issued a warning that Tory plans for cuts will push the economy back into recession. 

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph said 58 economists from around the world had signed a letter warning the recovery remained “fragile” and “rash action” could lead to spiralling job losses.

The Tory paper, which claimed it had obtained a leaked copy of the letter, said the signatories included such Tory academic economists as Lord Layard, Lord Skidelsky, Lord Peston and Sir David Hendry. The disclosure comes after the first week of the General Election campaign was dominated by declarations of support for the Tory plan by business leaders.

In their letter, the economists said that while the Tories described their proposed £6 billion cut as “efficiency savings”, in economic terms it was “just a cut by another name”. They said: “It will lead directly to job losses and indirectly to further falls in spending.  With the recovery still delicate we will tip back into recession – with much larger job consequences.”

Here in Guildford there is only one choice, as the bar chart below indicates. It is between the Liberal Party and the Tories. Many may say that there is no difference between them. Both parties will make cuts, both parties will attack living standards and neither party represents normal working people.

Whilst this may be true – a Conservative government is the very worst case scenario for the normal working majority of the country. A hung parliament  is better than a Tory government, A Labour majority is better than a Tory government. The three main parties may all be the same, but for those of us that remember the Tory years – We know we have to keep them out at all costs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Million Unemployed, Riots in all Major Cities, Poll Tax, Destruction of Industries, Break-up of Communities, Minors Strike, Steel Workers Strike, Argentine War, High Crime Levels, Unsafe Cities.

Here in Guildford, it may only be one seat in the parliament – But why give that seat to the Tories by not voting, or by voting for the Greens or by making a “protest” and giving your vote to some kind of quasi religious sentiment.

We all want Peace – But we won’t get it by voting for the Peace Party and letting the Tories win here.