Sunday, June 23, 2013

The People’s Assembly

Report from London 22 June, 2013 by Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants:

Unemployed activists, disabled campaigners and trade unions warned today of a co-ordinated action against the Government’s spending cuts. Thousands of activists gathered to highlight the impact of the coalition’s controversial austerity measures. The People’s Assembly brought together the unemployed, unions, politicians and campaign groups amid complaints that minsters were “deaf” to the concerns of ordinary people.

Respect For the Unemployed and Benefit Claimants warned:
Today’s People’s Assembly cannot be a one-off rally that brings people together in anger but without focus and practical results. It must serve as the first step towards a broad-based movement that joins communities and established organised forces around a new economic programme to put ordinary people, not the forces of capital, in the driving seat.

Civil disobedience, direct action, protest, and coordinated mass strike action—all will be part of the arsenal. But without clear, achievable goals based around the kind of society we desire such efforts will remain isolated gestures of resistance.

More than 4,000 people packed into the Methodist Central Hall Westminster, cheering speeches from union leaders including Len McCluskey of Unite the Union, Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services Union, Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers, politicians including Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and officials from a number of protest and campaign groups. McCluskey said the UK economy was “dead in the water”, and accused the Government of refusing to consider alternatives to austerity:

Our message is different—make the tax avoiders pay, make the wealthiest put their hands in their pockets to bail us out of the crisis they have caused. If the government spent one tenth of the resources that they do hunting down so-called “welfare fraud” in tackling tax avoidance, in tackling tax dodging then the budget deficit would start to melt away.

McCluskey said local People’s Assemblies should become a mobilising force against cuts, adding:

We need to demonstrate, protest and lobby, and we need to do more—take direct action to let the elite know we are here. We must all work together to build the fighting spirit which creates the climate for mass industrial action. Let me make it clear to politicians of all parties—if it is right to strike against austerity in Greece, in Spain, in France, then it is right to strike against austerity here.

Delegates attending the conference agreed to mobilise for a day of civil disobedience on 5 November against the Government’s austerity measures. They also agreed to support a union-organised demonstration at the Conservative Party annual conference in the autumn.

Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services union said:

In the face of a government that is borrowing more for failure and inflicting on us the longest economic slump in living memory, we need to be united. We need unity among our trade unions, in our workplaces and in our communities, and we need to be working together and co-ordinating protests, industrial action and civil disobedience.

He added:

We must also recognise that the People’s Assembly isn’t just a reaction to this government’s policies, it is an opportunity to say that austerity is not the answer now and nor will it be under any government. It is an opportunity to set out an alternative that can inspire people, one where we invest in our communities and our economy for the benefit of the millions, not just the millionaires.

He summed up his speech with a succinct message, saying:

Let our slogan be ’stuff your austerity, we want something different.’

A series of People’s Assembly meetings have been held across the country in recent months, which have been packed with members of the public. A survey of almost 1,500 adults in England for the Unite union revealed two thirds wanted the coalition to concentrate on investing in jobs and growth, even at the expense of deficit reduction. The poll showed two out of three people faced money troubles or job worries, with many voicing concern about soaring energy bills at a time of pay and benefit cuts.

McCluskey said the survey, published ahead of next week’s Government Spending Review, revealed “genuine worries” among the public:

The Government is deaf to the everyday worries of ordinary people struggling to get by in towns across England. These figures remind us that deteriorating living standards, low wages, youth unemployment and job insecurity are now a major part of people’s everyday lives.

He added:

Next week an out of touch Chancellor from an out of touch Government will claim that austerity is delivering the green shoots of recovery. Ordinary people seeing their young people on the dole, food bank queues stretching even longer and the NHS breaking will not buy this.

Green Party of England and Wales MP Caroline Lucas said:

The huge numbers of people here today show that there’s a growing movement supporting alternatives to austerity—alternatives like investment in the green economy, which is far more labour intensive than the fossil fuel economy it replaces, and which would create hundreds of thousands of jobs at the same time as reducing our carbon emissions.

The anti-austerity campaign and the environmental movement have to work together to deliver a safer and fairer society. Our challenge now is to make our voices larger, louder and clearer and build a joined up movement that will stand up for the many not the few.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Keynesianism. Borrowing For Growth. US Wartime Experience.

US War Production
The Great Depression (1929-39) was the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world. In the United States, the Great Depression began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and rising levels of unemployment as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its nadir, some 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half of the country’s banks had failed. Though the relief and reform measures put into place by President Franklin D Roosevelt helped lessen the worst effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the economy would not fully turn around until after 1939, when World War II kicked American industry into high gear.

After a decade of depression, the great economic innovation in the wartime USA was the creation of an immense flow of credit to support the construction of industrial plant and equipment for the war effort. The US government willed the ends—of vast steel factories, great new production facilities for ships, aircraft, and armaments—and willed the means, by authorising the Federal Reserve Bank to create credit for business expansion. This is the secret of rapid economic development. Allowing banks and the government to create credit allied with businesses borrowing to invest that money, then the economy will prosper.

The public debt and investment credit created to fund these vast programs was rewarded by immense productivity gains made by American industry. From 1938 to 1944, economic growth increasing on average by over 12 percent pa, industrial production booming at over 20 percent pa, productivity per head up by 8.5 percent pa, industrial construction climbing at70 percent pa. USA productivity was up 64 percent per capita. The output of the economy increased in constant $2005 prices from a trillion dollars in 1938 to about two trillion dollars in 1944 ( The USA of 1946 had over 50 percent of the production capacity of the market economies of the world.

But the doctrinaire capitalist US Government regarded economic planning as an unfortunate, neo-socialist wartime necessity. After the war, under President Harry Truman, it abandoned the Investment Credit Creation procedures which had won the war, and all forms of industrial development policy. Consequently, the American economy declined to the modest growth rate of two to three percent pa. First Japan, then China learnt the lessons. Deng Xiao-Ping's China was not scaared of socialism and introduced Investment Credit Creation from the mid-1970s. That is why China has grown so dramatically in recent years. It also points the way for the western world battered by austerity. Socialism is the answer, even if it is limited to war socialism.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

State of Play: Euro 2013, Football and Palestine

Palestinians even have to struggle against the obstructiveness of the Israeli occupation to let their kids play football.