Posts Tagged ‘Capitalism’

Corbyn’s in the frame – so watch out

October 1st, 2015 Comments off

PETER MANDELSON didn’t like the question.

It was 2010, and he’d come to Dublin to plug a book, and consented to a public interview at the concert hall.

“Lord Mandelson, do you think conviction politics have come to an end in Britain?”

A fair enough question from the audience, but touching a deeper and more serious place than the interview – a fluffy thing featuring probing posers such as “do you like wearing the ermine cloak of a Lord?” – which preceded question time.

Snarling ever so slightly, the Prince of Darkness dismissed the idea as tedious and irrelevant.

And now, there’s Jeremy Corbyn!

I strive to be heard above all the sniggering and horrified intakes of breath. A man of priniciple, someone who has stuck to the hard road of old-fashioned socialism, who has kept the red flag flying in his heart: not really one of the political class of the 21st century, is he?

Since Corbyn crushed the other identikit centrist candidates for leadership of the British Labour Party on September 12, there have been all sorts of agitated ripples from that mighty stone being chucked in the pool.

The heirs to the shameful legacy of Tony Blair – just so you know where I’m coming from – in Labour are only now coming out of goldfish mode and recovering the powers of speech.

The Tories, somehow not perceiving that this is probably actually a good thing for them, are having multiple orgasms of horror/delight. The Spectator magazine has been particularly entertaining in this regard, as columnists and contributors from both right and left line up to choke on their porridge and explain that this is The Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened in British politics.

Okay, so Corbyn is a humourless old trout, but it is as refreshing, as bracing, as a shower in a mountain waterfall, to see one of his ilk centre-stage in mainstream politics. Read more…

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So what will we do between 55 and 70?

June 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Retirement age is being pushed back in countries all over the world, with the latest being the Australian government’s plan to make 70 the life-point when the old-age pension begins.

There’s no doubt people are living longer, with the average span now being in the mid-80s for both men and women, in the west.

And many people would be happy to remain in the labour force, and earning a reasonable income, till their late 60s.

But colliding with this scenario, and not being addressed anywhere by governments, is the problem of what to do with these older workers, in a world where looking for a job over 50 is like the famous needle-in-a-haystack quest.

Evidence is everywhere: in Britain, the 2013 Commission on Older Women report found that a government programme to get people into work had a 28 per cent poorer result for the 55-64 cohort than the under 55s.

[The recession was particularly unkind to older women, with a 41 per cent rise in unemployment among the 50-64 age group between 2010 and 2013. In the population as a whole, the rise was just one per cent.]

Read more…

Newspapers also victim of capitalism

October 17th, 2011 Comments off

Perhaps it was inevitable – but the triumph of capitalism which has led to poverty, joblessness and the anger of the people around the world also hammered a large nail in the newspaper industry, Angela believes

On Australian radio today a commentator asked, what do they want? She was referring to the thousands, millions, of people who have been protesting in cities around the world this past weekend. Inspired by the OccupyWallSt movement, and more fundamentally ‘los indignados’ of Spain and other European countries, the demonstrations were a cry of rage and pain at the destruction of the economic boom by its supposed guardians, the bankers and financial traders.

A wider view is that these people are angry at the resilience of the triumph of capitalism: even after the disaster which started with the collapse of Lehman Brothers three years ago, and the tide of Euro debt which could drown the EU, the masters of the universe are largely still in place.  As in the 1920s song, the rich get richer and the poor get laid off.

Michael Lewis noted in The Big Short that, when Hank Paulsen championed the $700 billion rescue of US financial institutions three years ago, there was never a whisper of such generous support for the ultimate victims of the sub-prime fiasco, poor people who had lost their homes and were the stooges of a capitalist system that was not just illogical but wicked.

The people ‘Occupying’ around the world are protesting to let off the steam of powerlessness, which has been reinforced by the chain reaction of austerity measures around the world.

And newspapers are picking their way among the ruins of their own industry, and the market ethic which corrupted them and their place in society.

The industry, my core industry, could even be seen as a motif for the triumph of capitalism. A newspaper, a social artefact, was never like a widget, subject to simple profit-and-loss equations, and measures of ‘shareholder value’. Back in the 1970s, a larrikin columnist on my newspaper used to boast that he and his mates would ‘win this place back from the accountants’. A newspaper was a social tool, not just a product to make profit. Granted, the financial viability of a print or broadcast news entity was essential: but making enough money to operate and hire staff got subsumed in the global lust for pforits, multiples, money money money. Good newspaper editors around the world stood up for investment in resources, in reporters and what they needed to expose scams, injustice, hypocrisy.

No, the bean-counters said, all that mattered was the profit profile. Give away CDs or feed readers lots of dross about untalented egomaniacal celebrities. And if you were at News Ltd, or one of its London competitors, get the dirt, get the personal anguish no matter what the morality or even legality of your manoeuvres.

Much has been said about the failure and demise of the ‘business model’ on which newspapers were based – briefly, most income from ads, a token amount from cover price. As circulations plummeted in the 1995-2010 period, the inability to deliver the same number of heads on a plate meant that cash-strapped advertisers fled.

Simply, a newspaper was never just a commercial product; but it was the demands of the proprietors of newspaper companies, buoyed on the tide of unquestioned ruthless capitalism, that ignored this reality and treated the daily accounts of human life in all phases as a pile of widgets.


PS When rambling around the web for similar arguments about media and capitalism, I came across this video of Michael Moore spouting something along these lines – so for all the Moore-heads (haters and lovers), here’s the link… Moore at Toronto Film Festival

And putting both side of the story (although aiming to diss the dismissively-titled ‘grad student’ who crunched the numbers) is this columnist on Gawker, who says surprise, surprise, newspapers were businesses…

Gawker view

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