Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Poverty makes people sick.

Poverty and inequality not the only cause of child death, of course. But they are leading factors. 
A new report concludes 600,000 children have died in the United States for no reason over a 50-year period. Thousands more will die this year, and next year, and the year after that. 600,000 is a lot of people. It’s more than the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Or Oakland, California. Or Minneapolis, Minnesota. Or Omaha, Miami, Atlanta, and Milwaukee. An entire city of children has been lost.
These deaths should have led every news broadcast and been a banner headline in every newspaper in the country. They would have been, if terrorists had killed these kids. But after the deaths of 600,000 children, nothing’s changed at all.
 The journal Health Affairs, compared child mortality in the United States with that of 19 other comparably developed nations. Here’s what the authors found:
A child born in the U.S. is 76 percent more likely to die before reaching adulthood than a child born elsewhere in the developed world.
“From 2001 to 2010 the risk of death in the U.S. was 76 percent greater for infants and 57 percent greater for children ages 1–19.”
“During this decade, children ages 15–19 were eighty-two times more likely to die from gun homicide in the U.S. Over the fifty-year study period, the lagging U.S. performance amounted to over 600,000 excess deaths.”
“There is not a single category for which the comparison countries had higher mortality rates than the U.S. over the last three decades of our analysis.” The U.S., say the report’s authors, is “the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into.”
The United States spends more on health care than the other countries, but has worse outcomes. Although it spent more on health care, the U.S. “spent significantly less of its gross domestic product per capital on child health and welfare programs, compared to other wealthy nations.” These programs also affect child health.
 The country’s worst white infant mortality rate is better than its best black rate. 
 African-American infant mortality rates are 2.2 times higher than those of non-Hispanic whites. They were 3.2 times more likely to die from complications due to low birth weight, and experienced more than twice the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  The infant mortality rate in Mississippi is the highest in the country. At 9.4 deaths per thousand, that state is closer to Botswana, and Sri Lanka than it is to the overall United States.
The mortality rate for black infants ranged from a low of 8.27 per 1,000 in Massachusetts to a high of 14.28 in Wisconsin. That means a black infant born in Wisconsin faces the same likelihood of death as an infant born in the West Bank of Palestine. She or he is more likely to die than an infant born in Colombia, or Jamaica, or Venezuela, or Tunisia.
2017 survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health found that more than half of African Americans reported that they did not go to the doctor when they needed care because of cost. 58 percent of Hispanic-Americans reported that they did not seek medical care because of the cost.
Infants born Washington D.C.’s poorest neighborhood were ten times more likely to die than its richest infants. That neighborhood, Ward 8, was 93.5 percent black at the time. It also found that the nation’s capital has a higher infant mortality rate than any other capital in the developed world. Another recent infant mortality report found something else significant: The white, non-Hispanic infant mortality rate ranged from a low of 2.52 deaths per 1,000 in the Washington, DC to a high of 7.04 in Arkansas.
people of color are hardest hit by poverty. Although they are not the largest group of the poor, they are disproportionately affected because they are minorities. Overall, only 14 percent of white toddlers and infants in this country is poor. By contrast, 42 percent of all black children in this group are poor. So are one-third of all Hispanic children, and 37 percent of Native American children.
A 2011 study compared World Health Organization data from the U.S. and 19 countries and found that the U.S. had the worst child mortality rates. Using a UNICEF standard of measurement, it concluded that “the USA health care system appears the least efficient and effective in ‘meeting the needs of its children’.”
The needs of working women are also a subject of political neglect. Wage theft, unplanned shift changes, low wages, hostile work environments, lack of family leave: all these factors make life hard for working mothers to provide for their children, give them a healthy environment, and get them the medical care they need.
The new study authors said their findings support the conclusions of the Institute of Medicine, which blamed a fragmented health system, poverty, a weak social safety net and other factors for ‘poor health outcomes’ in the U.S.
A 2002 report from the Institute of Medicine (U.S.) Committee on the Consequences of Uninsurance concluded that “Uninsured women receive fewer prenatal care services than their insured counterparts and report greater difficulty in obtaining the care that they believe they need” and that “Health insurance status affects the care received by women giving birth and their newborns. Uninsured women and their newborns receive, on average, less prenatal care and fewer expensive perinatal services.” It concluded, “Uninsured newborns are more likely to have adverse outcomes, including low birth weight and death, than are insured newborns.”
Environmental problems plague lower-income communities and communities of color.  Five of the environmental injustices faced by communities of color, include higher exposure to air pollution; greater proximity to landfills, toxic waste sites, and industrial facilities; higher rates of lead poisoning; water contamination; and greater vulnerability to the effects of climate change.  An in-depth report in Scientific American, “Pollution, Poverty and People of Color: Children at Risk,” detailed the harmful health effects of environmental pollution and chronic stress. A report for the Philadelphia Department of Health outlined the harmful impact of inadequate housing on children’s health. Housing can cause or exacerbate asthma, lead poisoning, and physical injury, and can inflict emotional harm on both parents and children. Childhood obesity is worse among poor children, and its effects are more severe. 
 Some people can afford all the medical treatment they need. Others, even those with health insurance, struggle to get needed care. Others have no way of affording it. And our system permits financial exploitation by pharmaceutical companies and other for-profit players, leaving less money for actual care. Healthcare remains inaccessible to millions of Americans, with that number about to increase dramatically.

Sanitizing the Streets

Leilani Farha,  a Canadian lawyer and also the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, charged with probing deplorable living conditions and assessing compliance with international human rights law while on  a walking tour in central San Francisco making tortillas commented “The last time I saw cooking on a sidewalk was in Mumbai.” She observed, "The situation is unacceptable in light of the wealth of the country,” adding that she was “deeply, deeply concerned” by the homelessness she saw.

In Mexico City, she spent time in a slum by a railway line. In Manila and Jakarta, she visited decrepit and makeshift houses. Farha had come on an unofficial visit to San Francisco which has a median home value of $1.3m.

  Last month, another rapporteur was dismayed by visits to Skid Row in Los Angeles and hookworm-afflicted deep south communities. In 2011, a UN representative visited Sacramento. After discovering that homeless people were defecating into plastic bags, the official wrote to the city’s mayor. Such circumstances, she said, could amount to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Homelessness is on the rise in the US for the first time since the great recession. In San Francisco, about 7,500 homeless people were counted last year, more than two-thirds suffering from health conditions. There is almost nowhere in the US that is affordable for those earning minimum wage. The country is short about 7.5m homes for extremely low-income renters. In San Francisco, the waitlist to get into a homeless shelter is more than 1,000 names long.

It would be easy to dismiss such extreme poverty as a product of human frailty. Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development, has described poverty as a “state of mind”. Farha takes a contrary view.
“If I turned to San Francisco and there were 100 people who were homeless, I might say, ‘Hmm, this is probably about psychological disability, drug dependence, a history of sexual abuse in their childhood’ or something like that. I might be able to say that it is very individualized. But when you’re seeing the numbers of people who are homeless here and in every other city, you just know it’s structural.”
“In international human rights law,” Farha said, referring to article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “providing shelter to people who are homeless is the absolute minimum standard for any country, regardless of resources.”
in Oakland, she saw in the shadow of several freeways, the city had installed a scattering of sheds, housing about 35 people on a bare patch of gravel. The sheds do not come with electricity, plumbing or insulation. Each has one small window. Such “tiny homes” are increasingly used in western cities when permanent housing is unavailable. Experts fear they could pave the way for American shantytowns. A mile or two away, there was a string of shacks built from discarded materials. Farha picked her way through one, an immense, rickety warren of tarps and wood, the floor sodden and covered with broken glass.

One of the richest counties in California has started evicting hundreds of its poorest residents from a dusty riverbed homeless encampment just a few miles from Disneyland. Activists say the site may be home to as many as 1,000 people. Yet Orange County has admitted that it has just 250 shelter beds currently available.  An local  attempt to install portable toilets in the encampment was blocked by county and then city officials, who worried amenities in the riverbed might further entrench the settlement.  Leilani Farha said the county should halt the riverbed sweeps. “Forcibly evicting people without any alternative housing options for the bulk of them is hugely problematic and not consistent with a human rights approach. It’s about treating people like human beings,” she said

Farha has widened her case. 

"Cities are becoming increasingly uniform. Without question, multi-national brands, be it Starbucks, McDonalds, or H&M, have firmly installed themselves and are sanitizing our streetscapes...  Cities are already starting to resemble sterile airports: filled with smooth glass and steel, lined with generic stores and services which lack any particular cultural relevance, populated only by those who can afford to be there and who come and go, where the population is viewed predominantly as customers, where difference is regarded as a security threat, and where meaningful social interaction rarely occurs....residential real estate is now valued at least 163 trillion dollars, which is more than twice the world’s total GDP. To put this in context – the total value of all the gold ever mined is worth $6 trillion.
Residential real estate is simply the pre-eminent asset class.  Banks, pension and hedge funds, private equity firms and other kinds of financial intermediaries seek out housing in “hedge cities” as a safe haven to park excess capital. They often benefit from tax shelters and use a lack of transparency to provide cover for anonymous investors and capital gained through corruption. And, with no intention of living there. Thousands of homes stand vacant.  his influx of capital has increased housing prices in many cities to levels that most residents cannot afford – in many cities upwards of 50% in less than a 5-year period.  Housing prices are no longer commensurate with household income levels, and instead are driven by demand by global investors.
The effect of skyrocketing housing prices is to push out the people who sustain cities: school teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses and doctors, and the employees of the multi-national coffee, food and retail chains. Some simply move away, facing long commutes back to the city and their jobs. Increasing numbers are forced to live in hostels or on the streets.
If rendered homeless, stereotypes and discrimination that often inform city laws and policies make continuing to live in the city nearly impossible. People living in homelessness are often criminalized for engaging in activities necessary for survival - like standing, sitting or sleeping and sharing food on public lands. They are prevented from using public services like libraries, and shunned by service providers and store owners. In some jurisdictions people who are homeless are swept off the streets and relocated to different jurisdictions.

Peru's Land Degradation

Peru has approved a law that would allow roads to be built in the most remote and pristine region of its Amazon rainforest, a haven for isolated indigenous groups and an area rich in mahogany trees. The area encompasses four national parks and could affect five reserves for indigenous tribes living on voluntary isolation. The law contravenes several international commitments made by Peru including climate change pledges and trade agreements with the US and Europe.

The law which declares the construction of roads in border zones of “national priority and interest” was announced just hours after Pope Francis ended a visit to the country in which he warned that the Amazon and its peoples had never been so under threat.

In an address in the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado,  the Pope railed against “pressure being exerted by big business interests” which were destroying a natural habitat vital for the entire planet.

Lizardo Cauper, head of Peru’s federation of native Amazon peoples, Aidesep, explained “These projects don’t benefit indigenous people. This is an area with isolated people who are extremely vulnerable,” he told the Guardian. “Roads bring outsiders who traffic our land, log our timber, as well as drug traffickers and illegal miners.”
Julia Urrunaga, Peru director for Environmental Investigation Agency, said 95% of deforestation happens less than 6km from a road, adding the new law contradicted a court ruling that declared the protection of the forest in the national interest.
The network of roads, including the main 172-mile (277km) highway connecting Puerto Esperanza and Iñapari on the Brazilian border could result in the deforestation of 2,750 sq km, according to satellite mapping by Monitoring of the Amazon Andes Project.
“This law makes a mockery of Peru’s climate change commitments...” said Laura Furones of Global Witness.

Israeli Pilots Protest Deportations

In December, the Israeli government announced its plans to deport some 35,000 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who entered Israel without proper authorization since the early 2000s starting in March. The asylum seekers claim they are fleeing famine and civil war in their home countries. Israel claims that the Africans are "infiltrators" and "economic migrants," not refugees. The Israeli government also said it plans to hold African asylum seekers in indefinite detention if they do not choose to leave the country voluntarily.
A group of airline pilots in Israel recently vowed not to fly deported African asylum seekers and refugees back to war-stricken countries in their home continent, Israeli media has reported.  Pilots from Israel's flagship airline, El Al, posted their intentions to refuse to fly planes carrying refugees back to Rwanda and other African nations and called on the Israeli government to forego their deportation plans.
One of the pilots wrote, “I’ve joined many of my colleagues in declaring that I will not fly refugees to their deaths. I will not be a partner to such barbarism.”
A second pilot stated, “There is no way that I, as part of a flight crew, would participate in taking refugees/asylum seekers to a destination where their chances of surviving in a ‘third country’ are minuscule.”
Their protest comes days after Zizim Community Action, an Israeli non-government organization, launched an online campaign calling on pilots from the Israel Aviation Association and the Israel Pilots Association to refuse to fly migrants to Rwanda, Sudan or any other country deemed dangerous by the group.
“Throughout the world, citizens are fighting cruel expulsion decrees and stand alongside refugees and asylum-seekers,” Raluca Gena, chief executive officer of Zizim, said in a statement last Thursday. “This is a test for the Israeli public to determine the fate of tens of thousands of people." In her statement, Gena pointed to the 222 planned deportations stopped by pilots in Germany last month as a source of inspiration. "We call on Israeli pilots to follow their European counterparts and stand on the right side of history,” she proclaimed.

An Education Minister and Ignorance

India’s minister for higher education has been condemned by scientists for demanding the theory of evolution be removed from school curricula.

“Darwin’s theory is scientifically wrong,” he said at the weekend. “It needs to change in the school and college curriculum. “Since man is seen on Earth, he has always been a man. Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, said they ever saw an ape turning into a human being.”
“I have a list of around 10 to 15 great scientists of the world who have said there is no evidence to prove that the theory of evolution is correct,” Singh told a crowd at a university in Assam state, adding that Albert Einstein had agreed the theory was “unscientific”.
More than 2,000 Indian scientists have signed a petition in response calling Singh’s remarks simplistic, misleading and lacking in any scientific basis.
“It is factually incorrect to state that the evolutionary principle has been rejected by the scientific community,” the statement said. “On the contrary, every new discovery adds support to Darwin’s insights. There is plentiful and undeniable scientific evidence to the fact that humans and the other great apes and monkeys had a common ancestor.”
Prof Raghavendra Gadagkar, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, in Bangalore, responded on NDTV, saying: "It seems to be aimed at politically polarising science and scientists, and that is the real danger we must guard against."

Sweated Labour in Vietnam

Vietnam's garment sector accounts for the country's largest workforce, but many of its employees are forced to work hard to fill the pockets of rich shareholders, Oxfam has said in a new report on the global inequality crisis.

In Vietnam, as well as Indonesia, Kenya and Morocco, wages have failed to keep pace with increased productivity and economic growth, and profits are often returned to wealthy shareholders, leaving workers to suffer a “relentless squeeze,” Oxfam said.

According to Oxfam, the minimum wage in Vietnam is currently not enough for people to escape poverty. Vietnam’s minimum wage now ranges between VND2.58 million and VND3.75 million ($113-165) per month, depending on region. The government has approved a 6.5 percent wage increase for later this year. The minimum wage is used by businesses to calculate salaries for workers by multiplying the base level by a coefficient assigned to each worker, based on their skills and experience. But a study by the International Labor Organization, published in August 2016, found workers in the garment sector actually earned 6.6 percent less than the minimum rate in 2013. Vietnam’s Institute of Workers and Trade Unions surveyed workers in March 2017, and a third of them said their incomes were low and barely sufficient to live on, while 12 percent said their wages simply did not cover living expenses, forcing them to work extra hours.

To increase the salaries of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers to a living wage, employers would have to spend $2.2 billion a year, which is equivalent to just a third of the amount paid to shareholders by the top five companies in the sector.

 “Poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few,” it said. “Women are in the worst work..."

Lan, has been stuck between long hours and low pay and has been unable to go home to see her son for nine months. Lan, 32, works in a garment company in the southern province of Dong Nai, 30 hours south of her home in Thanh Hoa. She works six days a week for at least nine hours a day, sewing together the heels and soles of shoes for around $1 per hour. Every day, she works on 1,200 pairs of shoes for multiple global brands. She remembers thinking that her son would like a pair of the shoes, but she would never be able to afford them. “These shoes would fit my son perfectly, they are very nice,” she said. “I’d like my son to have shoes like these, but he can’t. You know, that one pair of shoes that we make is valued more than our whole month’s salary,” she said.


Vulnerable Employment

The International Labour Organization (ILO) forecast a worldwide unemployment rate of 5.5% this year, a marginal improvement on the 5.6% recorded in 2017.

"Even though global unemployment has stabilized, decent work deficits remain widespread: the global economy is still not creating enough jobs", the organization's director-general, Guy Ryder, said in a statement. 

"The significant progress achieved in the past in reducing vulnerable employment has essentially stalled since 2012", the ILO said.   "Vulnerable employment" is a category that includes informal work arrangements with little or no social and contractual protections. The problem is most acute in the developing world, where 3 out of every 4 workers have a "vulnerable" employment status.

“A large part of the jobs created in the region remain of poor quality: vulnerable employment affects almost half of all workers in Asia Pacific, or more than 900 million men and women.
“Projections indicate that 72% of workers in Southern Asia, 46% in South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific, and 31% in Eastern Asia will be vulnerable employment by 2019, showing very little change from 2017,” the ILO said. The poor quality of jobs and high informality, the ILO said, is key for the high level of “working poors” or those living with less than $3.10 per day
ILO economist Stephan Kuhn, pointed out that 40% of all employed people in the developing world still live in "extreme poverty".

Eat or Heat?

More than a million elderly people fear they won’t be able to afford to pay their energy bills this winter, according to new research. Almost two-fifths of people aged over 65 surveyed said they would ration their energy usage over the winter because of increasing costs88 per cent said that they believe the cost of energy presents a real health threat to older people living in the UK.

A fifth eat less or buy cheaper food to offset the cost of energy bills, and 12 per cent say their health suffers because they limit the amount of heating they use. Nearly half of over-65s said they would have to dip into their savings or use credit if energy companies increase prices, while 37 per cent said they believed they would need to cut down on expenditure in order to make ends meet. 

Around two million over-65s could be stuck on expensive standard variable tariffs, which are often among the most expensive options. The average energy bill rose by more than £240 to £1,625 in 2017 and those on standard variable rate tariffs may be paying even more. One problem is that energy bills are too complex, meaning that millions of customers simply do not understand what they are paying for and why.

More than half said they did not think an energy price cap planned by the Prime Minister will help them reduce their bills. A further 36 per cent did not even know about the measure.

“The rising cost of energy is a real concern for older people, especially at a time when household bills are already sky high,” said Peter Earl, head of energy at Comparethemarket.com.  “Cold weather already presents worrying health problems to the elderly and it is critical they should not be faced with additional costs at a time when they are at their most vulnerable,” he added. 



Transport Minister, Chris Grayling, was abroad when
New Year rail fare increases of 3.4% were announced.

Let's keep the railways privatised,
In a (John) Major way;
So each branch hasn't got a clue,
What others do each day.
Let's show the public how to run,
A real bureaucracy;
With private enterprise that 'earns',
A double subsidy! (1)
Let's make the railway timetable,
An incoherent mess;
So tariffs and all travel times,
Are anybody's guess.

Let's paint all the train carriages,
In psychedelic hues;
So when train's cancelled, passengers,
Won't have those 'Lost Train Blues'!
Let's turn compartment heating on,
Sometime in early June;
To make each straphanger emerge,
Like a wet, wrinkled prune.
Let's give commuters refunds when,
The trains are running slow;
In Summer months that start with 'X',
With the 'wrong type of snow'!

Let's raise train fares repeatedly,
Above inflation's rate;
And site the ticket barriers,
To make the punctual late.
Let's vaguely threaten railway firms,
With a small paltry fine;
When staff in Winter wrongly leave,
The wrong leaves on the line.
Let's change our minds and take the bus,
To miss all this delay;
Then catch all level crossings whilst,
We journey on our way!

(1) Action For Rails claim that subsidies have more than doubled
and fares have increased by 24% in real terms since privatisation
in 1994. Chris Grayling has recently had to bail out Virgin Trains.

© Richard Layton

Greed Versus Need

 Four out of every five dollars of wealth generated in 2017 ended up in the pockets of the richest one percent, while the poorest half of humanity got nothing, Oxfam found.

"It reveals how our economies are rewarding wealth rather than the hard work of millions of people," Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's executive director, said. "The few at the top get richer and richer and the millions at the bottom are trapped in poverty wages."

"The economic model is not working at all," Oxfam report co-author, Iñigo Macías Aymar, explained. "The way this wealth is being distributed we are really worried, it's being concentrated in fewer hands."

The number of billionaires rose at a rate of one every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.

In the United States the three richest people own the same wealth as the poorest half of the population.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Meet The Socialists

West London Branch

Tuesday, 23 January - 8:00pm

Committee Room, 
Chiswick Town Hall, 
Heathfield Terrace
London W4 4JN

South London Branch

Saturday, 27 January - 2:30pm

Head Office
52 Clapham High Street,
London SW4 7UN 

The Socialist Party knows that it is difficult for the workers to recognise their slave status because wage-slavery is cloaked with many disguises. And because the capitalist class or the capitalist state owns the media of propaganda, it is indeed difficult to air the truth. This is why fellow-workers usually believe that they live in a free society. If our fellow-worker would but peep beneath the cloak of superficialities they would glimpse the real nature of society. They would see that the only sound future for them is to join a movement, the World Socialist Movement, and work to overthrow the system that keeps you in poverty and to introduce a sane system — Socialism.

India's Inequality

India's top 10 per cent of population holds 73 per cent of the wealth and 37 per cent of India's billionaires have inherited family wealth. They control 51 per cent of the total wealth of billionaires in the country.

The richest 1 per cent in India cornered 73 per cent of the wealth generated in the country last year.

 67 % of Indians comprising the population's poorest half saw their wealth rise by just 1 per cent

Last year's survey had showed that India's richest 1 per cent held a huge 58 per cent of the country's total wealth -- higher than the global figure of about 50 per cent.

This year's survey also showed that the wealth of India's richest 1 per cent increased by over Rs 20.9 lakh crore during 2017 -- an amount equivalent to total budget of the central government in 2017-18, Oxfam India said.

"2017 saw an unprecedented increase in the number of billionaires, at a rate of one every two days. Billionaire wealth has risen by an average of 13 per cent a year since 2010 -- six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 per cent," it said.

In India, it will take 941 years for a minimum wage worker in rural India to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment firm earns in a year, the study found. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year. "It would take around 17.5 days for the best paid executive at a top Indian garment company to earn what a minimum wage worker in rural India will earn in their lifetime (presuming 50 years at work)," Oxfam said

 it said the country added 17 new billionaires last year, taking the total number to 101. The Indian billionaires' wealth increased to over Rs 20.7 lakh crore -- increasing during last year by Rs 4.89 lakh crore, an amount sufficient to finance 85 per cent of the all states' budget on health and education.

New Zealand's Inequality

The report revealed 28 per cent of all wealth made went to the richest 1 per cent of Kiwis in 2017. The 1.4 million poorest New Zealanders got just 1 per cent of that wealth.  Many of those 1.4 million New Zealanders were in employment and working hard. 

New Zealand's richest man added more than $4 billion to his coffers last year, as more Kiwis joined queues at food banks.

The wealthy elite have continued to accumulate their assets while hundreds of millions of people struggle to survive on poverty pay, Oxfam NZ executive director Rachael Le Mesurier said.
"This gap is extreme. It's not reducing, so that's a real concern. Inequality is really bad for democracy.

Australia's Inequality

"The richest 1 percent of Australians continue to own more wealth than the bottom 70 percent of Australians combined. While everyday Australians are struggling more and more to get by, the wealthiest groups have grown richer and richer."
Australia's inequality is the worst it has been in two decades, data released by the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam) on Monday revealed.
Oxfam said that Australian billionaires increased their wealth by 38 billion Australian dollars (30 billion U.S. dollars) in the financial year ending in June 2017.
"Over the decade since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the wealth of Australian billionaires has increased by almost 140 percent to a total of 115.4 billion AUD (92.1 billion U.S. dollars) last year.
"Yet over the same time, the average wages of ordinary Australians have increased by just 36 percent and average household wealth grew by 12 percent.

Welsh Inequality

In Wales, the wealthiest 16% of people have as much money as the other 84%.

Oxfam Cymru says Wales has more people living in relative poverty than any other UK country.

They also say the "low wage economy" here disproportionately affects women.

"Here in Wales, nearly a quarter (24.9%) of workers are paid less than the voluntary Living Wage of £8.75 an hour based on the cost of living, and women in part-time role employment represent 63% of all women earning less than this Living Wage." explained, KIRSTY DAVIES-WARNER, HEAD OF OXFAM CYMRU

South Wales Branch 

12th February  

Monday, 7:30pm - 9:00pm

 Unitarian Church, 
High Street, 
Swansea SA1 1NZ

The rich get richer....again

Capitalism? Who is complaining?
Oxfam launched a new report showing that 42 people hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion who make up the poorest half of the world’s population ( compared with 61 people last year and 380 in 2009.)

Billionaires had been created at a record rate of one every two days over the past 12 months, at a time when the bottom 50% of the world’s population had seen no increase in wealth.

 It added that 82% of the global wealth generated in 2017 went to the most wealthy 1%.

 Oxfam said it was “unacceptable and unsustainable” for a tiny minority to accumulate so much wealth while hundreds of millions of people struggled with poverty pay. 

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB chief executive, said: “The concentration of extreme wealth at the top is not a sign of a thriving economy, but a symptom of a system that is failing the millions of hardworking people on poverty wages who make our clothes and grow our food.” Goldring said it was time to rethink a global economy in which there was excessive corporate influence on policymaking, erosion of workers’ rights and a relentless drive to minimise costs in order to maximise returns to investors.

The charity added that the wealth of billionaires had risen by 13% a year on average in the decade from 2006 to 2015, with the increase of $762bn (£550bn) in 2017 enough to end extreme poverty seven times over. 

In the UK, when asked what a typical British chief executive earned in comparison with an unskilled worker, people guessed 33 times as much. When asked what the ideal ratio should be, they said 7:1. Oxfam said that FTSE 100 bosses earned on average 120 times more than the average employee.
Mark Littlewood, director general at free-market think tank The Institute of Economic Affairs, said Oxfam was becoming "obsessed with the rich rather than the poor".

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Land Wars in Montana

According to a study from the Center for Western Priorities, 4m acres of public lands in the Rocky Mountain West (Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico) are considered “landlocked”, blocked off by private landowners who control adjacent properties or roadways. Two million of those landlocked acres are in Montana.
The report notes that “land ownership in the Rocky Mountain West is a quilt of federal, state local, Native American and private lands. The patchwork of owners can make it difficult for the public to access lands without trespassing through private lands.”
And in some pockets that have become havens for the uber-rich – like the Crazy Mountains near Livingston - and politically connected, private landowners have tied up huge tracts of prime recreational public lands.
Kate Kelley, public lands specialist with the Center for American Progress, said while natural resource development like oil and gas threatens access to public lands in the west, a major and less noticed peril in Montana – and to a lesser degree in other states – comes from private landowners blocking public access.
“Where Montana stands out is when it comes to how much public land is essentially inaccessible,” said Kelley. “For Montana, it appears that a very real problem is private landowners – including those coming in from out of state – and their unwillingness to grant access to public lands. It’s essentially locking Montanans out of their backyard.”
The region was built on a snatching land from Native Americans and conflicts have long been present over who owns what and goes where for what purpose.
Gloria Flora, a former US Forest Service manager, explains, “I know this sounds like an odd thing to say, but we’re kind of running out of land.” 
Since the 1960s, the population of the Rocky Mountain West has grown at a higher rate than the rest of the United States. States including Idaho and Montana have seen steady population increases in the past 30 years. In other words, this is not a stagnant economic zone lacking for growth. In 1970, Montana’s population was less than 700,000; today it’s more than 1 million. That inward migration has come alongside a shift from an economy based on mining and logging to one based on the service industry. And it’s all brought fast-rising income inequality and an ongoing, roiling culture clash.