About this blog

Blog formerly known as I am Bored.Com. Desperate attempt to appear interesting and get a job via social media.
Write on anything that I like but usually book and film reviews, economics, politics, culture and sociology.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Why do the Tories offer subsidies to state-run firms to run UK energy?

George Osborne: offering subsidies to state-run industry
The coalition's deal with China to build nuclear power stations has raised a strange ideological get-together – along with some security considerations and worries over working conditions.

The Tories (and Lib Dems) are now offering subsidies to both a Stalinist state-run firm and a French state run company in order for them to build and run a UK industry.

So how have the Tories come to backing state-run companies with subsidies from consumers' bills? Remember, they're labelling Labour as Marxists for having the audacity of suggesting a price freeze for 20 months and attacking green subsidies for putting up energy costs.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

US rich get richer proves Karl Marx was right on inequality

The global recession since 2007 has been a boon for some.
"95% of the increase in American income since 2009 has gone to the top 1%." (Daily chart: The rich get richer | The Economist)
The Economist is quoting a study from Emmanuel Saez, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, that shows:
"The top 1% enjoyed real income growth of 31% between 2009 and 2012, compared with growth of less than 1% for the bottom 99%. Income actually shrank for the bottom 90% of earners."
Income redistribution from the poor to the rich is a result of recessions, often exacerbated by government policies.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

UK Constitution: Who Made the Decision to Attack Libya?

The UK constitution is uncodified and involves practice and precedent. So the Prime Minister not Parliament makes the decision to go to war.
The attack on Libya has revealed the peculiarities of the United Kingdom's uncodified constitution.
It was the Prime Minister David Cameron and his ministers who decided on attacking Libya without needing a vote or even debate in Parliament. It is one of the powers that come under the remit of the Royal Prerogative.

Who can commit the UK to fight a war?
The power to declare war or hostilities is a power originally exercised by the Monarch. The wars of the 17th century, such as the English Civil War, put many constraints upon royalty. The constitutional settlement after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the following year's Bill of Rights restricted the powers of the Monarch, handing several key ones, including the decision to go to war, to the King's ministers. This is the origin of the Royal Prerogative.
The British constitution is uncodified and consists of several key documents such as the Bill of Rights and Magna Carta along with custom, tradition and precedent. The tradition is that the Prime Minister declares war using the Royal Prerogative. Parliament is not called upon to vote on the issue, although a debate may be held.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The British TUC discovers class politics – at last

The TUC's Touchstone blog has a well argued piece, Political Economy Trumps Macroeconomics,
by Duncan Weldon on how some prominent neo-Keynesians* have come to realise that politics is standing in the way of the current policies to escape recession and stagnation.

"Essentially Krugman’s (and indeed Kalecki’s) point is this – we have the macroeconomic tools to restart a robust recovery and get unemployment down but these tools are not being used for political reasons."
All of which is true: politics does indeed determine the economic choices made by governments and global institutions. The power of the capitalists who own the means of production and dominate the state determine the policies of the state, especially when the opposition fails to challenge them.

It's a shame that the TUC wasn't arguing this at the beginning of the crisis but let's hope that the leadership of UK's unions will start pointing out the class nature of austerity and a working class alternative. I won't old my breath.

*Krugman, the NIESR people, Brad De Long

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Greater profits but UK bosses still fail to invest

Recent reports form the House of Commons library reveal that since the recession started in 2008, workers wages have fallen by 7.5 per cent or £52bn.

The Conservatives and businesses will argues that this is necessary to make the UK more competitive. But this money hasn't been passed on in cheaper goods – inflation is running above the 2 per cent norm – instead its has gone into increased profits for capital.

The capitalists argue this is a good thing as increased profits will kick start the economy. But to achieve this the profits must be invested in machinery, raw materials, part goods and labour to start accumulating.

But there is no rise in investment.

Short-time contracts and wages decline

Recent revelations claim that there are anything between 250,000 to a million people on zero hour contracts. The increasing insecurity of work contracts goes hand in hand with the declines in wages and is the main thrust of austerity.

The attacks on living standards and workers' rights are having the desired effect of driving down wage costs or the price of labour.
  • The Office of National Statistics says that since the start of the recession in 2008, households have lost £1,200.
  • Figures from the House of Commons Library show that "average hourly wages have fallen 5.5% since mid-2010, adjusted for inflation."  This decline is the fourth worst decline among the 27 EU countries.Teh same BBC report also cited the Institute for Fiscal Studies saying  "that a third of workers who stayed in the same job saw a wage cut or freeze between 2010 and 2011".
  • Using the House of Commons data, the TUC has found that on the eve of the recession, workers earned in the UK a total of £690bn, now it is £638bn. This is a fall of £52bn or 7.5 per cent. In some areas the fall is even greater with the South West and North West experiencing 10 per cent falls in wages.
Where has this £52bn gone? In greater profits to businesses, which the capitalists argue will kick start the economy. But does it?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

IMF Chief Lagarde wakes up to the UK's crisis

The Wall Street Journal's Real Times Economics blog quotes MF Managing Director Christine Lagarde who is concerned about the state of the UK economy.
“Looking at the numbers–without having dwelled and looked under the skin of the British economy, as we will do in a few weeks’ time under the Article IV—the growth numbers are certainly not particularly good. What has changed is clearly the quality of the numbers.”
Aah the quality of the numbers isn't good.

Think on that phrase. The UK's economic problems have nothing to do with the wrong policies, which have been backed by Lagarde and the IMF in the past. Nothing to do with the wrong idea about the multipliers, which the IMF's own research revealled last year meant that cuts did cause declines GDP.

No, the numbers are poor quality. But we have to wait for what lies beneath.

Margaret Thatcher and the UK economy: A Marxist analysis

For the past week, Baroness Margaret Thatcher has been praised for saving Britain. Very few dissident voices have been allowed to air their opposition to the hagiography. Instead we have faced a state-orchestrated festival of remembrance culminating in yesterday's funeral.

Beneath the guff what is really being remembered is Margaret Thatcher's government's offensive on the working class, violence and all, in order to break the labour movement and bring about a counter-revolution.

This is an analysis I wrote a few years back of the UK economy, the Tories' offensive of the working class and New Labour.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher and the society of the spectacle

In their desire to give him a splendid funeral and honour his memory the senators so vied with one another that among many other suggestions some proposed that his cortege pass through the triumphal gate, preceded by a statue of Victory which stands in the House, while a dirge was sung by children of both sexes belonging to the leading families.
Seutonius on the death of Caesar Augustus

How we treat the dead says much about the development of society. Ceremonial burial is an important marker in the development of humans' self consciousness, of our place in nature and recognition of mortality. Our honouring the dead is both a public display of our consideration of the deceased and a private ceremony of comforting ourselves.

When however the ceremony becomes organised by the state then the private emotions become subsumed within the needs of wider society. The builders of monumental pyramids and mausoleums of the Ancient world were doing it to glorify themselves, their achievements, families and power; the work needed to make such things was itself a major feat of organisation for society. The rites associated with death said much about the relations among the living and their contemplation of the unknown.

Today, in our more secular world the unknown is left to the world of the noumenon but it is the relations among the living that becomes paramount. 

And so it is with the death and funeral of Margaret Thatcher.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

How Fleet Street failed to defend freedom of the press

The row over the Royal Charter exposed the claims of the billionaire newspaper owners and their editors that they were the defenders of free speech and of a free press. Freedom of the press and of speech can only be guaranteed by the mass of people being involved in the production and dissemination of ideas, not by a tiny elite of super rich owners in cahoots with the Tory party

The right-wing proprietors and their editors worked with the Tories on the proposal for a Royal Charter. A Royal Charter is governed by the Privy Council, a medieval relic in the UK constitution that is, in practice, overseen by the government of the day. It is staffed by MPs who are government appointees and like most of the monarch’s powers, it is beholden to the Prime Minster. For all the media’s outrage about press freedom, the newspaper industry supported a feudal body controlled by the government as its preferred form of oversight.

The Liberal/Labour reforms may have strengthened parliamentary control and the right to redress for the public but in all of its essentials the Royal Charter is what the press backed.

The talk of press freedom was always a diversion. The main fear for the press barons and their editors was the perfectly reasonable proposals on public access to redress and apologies. These proposals would have interfered with commercial freedom to print whatever is necessary to make money.