By Ekow Mensah
Please don’t look far for what can kill you. The Fante Kenkey you buy from the Mfantseman West and East Municipal Assemblies can send you to your grave.
This because the Fante Kenkey cooked in these areas is wrapped in polyethylene films prior to cooking.
The Food and Drugs Board (FDB) has determined that this expose the Kenkey to the risk of Bisphenol A (BPA) and Phthalates.
These chemical leach into the Kenkey because the polyethylene films with which the Kenkey is wrapped were not designed for boiling temperature.
In a document, signed by Dr Stephen K. Opuni, Chief Executive the Food and Drugs Board said “though the pellets used for the manufacture of the polyethylene films are food grade, these polyethylene films are meant for packaging of food under normal room temperatures only and not for cooking.”
The FDB says it intends to embark upon the education of the general public on the danger of cooking food wrapped in polyethylene films.
It says, it will liaise with the Mfantseman West and East Municipal Assemblies to education the Kenkey processors and sellers in the catchment area on the need to use plantain leaves only in packaging Kenkey……”
A report by Eliza Martinez outlines the dangers of using polyethlene films in graphic details.
She writes, boiling foods in plastic bags is a trend that has come and gone several times. In recent years people have begun to question the safety of this cooking method. The FDA regulates the safety of plastic containers so that they can be used for boiling or heating foods. However, plastic bags are not regulated the same way. Harvard Medical School recommends heating foods only in approved containers that are labeled as such, especially when heating in the microwave. Many dangers that can lead to illness or injury exist when food is boiled in plastic bags.
According to the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Agriculture Communication, some bags are made from plastic that is too thin to boil without melting. They recommend calling the manufacturers of the plastic bag and asking them what the softening point is. NDSU reports that Ziploc brand bags have a softening point of 195 degrees, which means they would melt at boiling point, 212 degrees. This will ruin both the food and the dishes the bags are in.
When plastic is boiled, the chemicals used to produce it can leach into the food being prepared due to a high temperature. Common chemicals in plastic include BPA and phthalates. Harvard Medical School says that high-fat foods are especially susceptible. NDSU adds that some plastic bags will leach toxic fumes from the ink, glue and recycled materials used in making them.
The Food Domain says that when water is boiled in a bag it can cause bubbles to form that could burst when the bag is moved. Even if the water is outside the bag, the bag itself can still burst open when temperatures get very high. If either of these two things happen, the cooks may get burns on their face or hands. Adding salt or other spices can produce the same effect because it disturbs the bubbles that have formed, causing them to erupt. NDSU also reports that the bag can ignite, producing a fire and subsequent burns to a person standing nearby. This is most common when a microwave oven is being used.
Phthalates are mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity). Phthalates are being phased out of many products in the United States, Canada, and European Union over health concerns.
Phthalates are used in a large variety of products, from enteric coatings of pharmaceutical tablets and nutritional supplements to viscosity control agents, gelling agents, film formers, stabilizers, dispersants, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents. End-applications include adhesives and glues, electronics, agricultural adjuvants, building materials, personal-care products, medical devices, detergents and surfactants, packaging, children's toys, modeling clay, waxes, paints, printing inks and coatings, pharmaceuticals, food products, and textiles.
Phthalates are easily released into the environment because there is no covalent bond between the phthalates and plastics in which they are mixed. As plastics age and break down, the release of phthalates accelerates. People are commonly exposed to phthalates, and most Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have metabolites of multiple phthalates in their urine. Because phthalate plasticizers are not chemically bound to PVC, they can easily leach and evaporate into food or the atmosphere. Phthalate exposure can be through direct use or by indirect means through leaching and general environmental contamination. Fatty foods such as milk, butter, and meats are a major source.
In studies of rodents exposed to certain phthalates, high doses have been shown to change hormone levels and cause birth defects.
What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA?
BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.
BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles. They may also be used in other consumer goods.
Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.
Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods. This assessment is based on review of hundreds of studies.
The FDA is continuing its review of BPA, including supporting ongoing research. In the meantime, if you're concerned about BPA, you can take these steps to reduce your exposure:
Seek out BPA-free products. More and more BPA-free products have come to market. Look for products labeled as BPA-free. If a product isn't labeled, keep in mind that some, but not all, plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
Cut back on cans: Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin.
Avoid heat :The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher, because the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.
Use alternatives. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
The decision of the British establishment that Ghanaians and other specified nationals would have to deposit ¢3,000 before they are issued with visas to visit that country.
The claim that this measure is meant as a guarantee against visitors who over stay their visa is laughable.
If British citizens were asked to deposit ¢3000 before being issued with visas to visit Ghana, how many of them would quality?
It is obvious that the current economic crunch in Western Europe is largely responsible for this and other discriminatory decisions in the United Kingdom.
Those who control the levers of power in the UK, have bought into the suggestion that the immigrants are responsible for mass unemployment, homelessness, lack of access to education etc.
They strangely believe that if they can block immigrants from Ghana and elsewhere all will be fine.
The Insight is convinced that the social and economic problems in the U.K spring from the crisis of Capitalism.
The capitalist system is no longer able to provide for the needs of the British people and blaming immigrants is nothing more than escapism.
We urge the Government of Ghana to respond adequately to the discrimination and insult form the British establishment.
Ghana must also insist on British citizens depositing £3000 before being issued with Visas to visit.
British citizens need to have taste of what they are dishing out to the people of Ghana.
What kind of jazz is this?
WOW! LOSES BE WHAT?
|Kwaku Botswe, VRA Boss|
This is from the horses own mouth. The Volta River Authority (VRA) says that the loses in the electricity sub-sector are not sustainable.
A review of the sub-sector by the Chief Executive of the VRA claimed that in 2011,” ECG and NEDCO registered Aggregate Technical, Commercial and collection losses of 40 per cent and over”
In real terms this means that the ECG received value for only 4,100 gwh of the 7,260 Wh of power supplied to it by the VRA.
The VRA gave NEDCO 730gwh of power but the company received value for only 445gwh.
The loses of the ECG and NEDCO are said to be twice the losses suffered by comparable developing countries such as India.
The VRA’s verdict is more than damming.
It says “Ghana’s electricity sector will not meaningfully grow when 40 per cent of all generation produced leaks out through these loses.
“This will be the case whether that generation is publicly owned and managed or whether it is privately owned and managed” it said.
Google beyond CIA and espionage factory
By Gordon Duff
Intercepted emails expose Google as an intelligence contractor openly involved in aiding terror organizations throughout Africa, Asia and the world, working well outside any official oversight and authority, far beyond even the CIA’s wildest abuses.
STRATFOR, in an email exchange says this of Google:
STRATFOR, in an email exchange says this of Google:
“GOOGLE is getting White House and State Department support & air cover. In reality, they are doing things the CIA cannot do. But, I agree with you. He's going to get himself kidnapped or killed. Might be the best thing to happen to expose Google’s covert role in foaming up-risings, to be blunt. The US Gov. can then disavow knowledge and GOOGLE is left holding the (expletive deleted) bag.”
Among the STRATFOR emails Wikileaks received were some exposing Google as, not just an intelligence contractor for the CIA and Department of Defense but foreign governments as well.
Text within the highly sensitive cables outlines criminal and even terrorist activities on the part of Google including the planning of insurgency operations. Sources have confirmed Google has helped plan military operations against Syria and has been directly involved, working with Arab states, Turkey and Azerbaijan to plan destabilization of Iran.
Emails expose meetings between Google executives and insurgency groups in Azerbaijan operating against Iran.
Under the front name of “Google Ideas Groups,” with support including “air cover,” authorized by the White House and State Department, Google Corporation is directly involved in planning terror attacks.
The SACIA (South African Counter Intelligence Agency) said:
“Google should be brought to justice for terrorism, international privacy violation and it's time for governments to take action and wake up as Google also poses a threat to global security when privacy information in exchanges without control of any government. This directly violates the international agreements on classified and non-classified information exchange of the UN. The absence of media reporting of Google espionage and insurgency operations and the lack of prosecutions clearly demonstrates that the line between “private security” and terrorism and piracy has been permanently blurred.”
Wikileaks intercepted STRATFOR emails outlining Google operations in planning insurgencies and illegally conduction both foreign policy and espionage.
“Re: GOOGLE & Iran ** internal use only - pls do not forward **
Released on 2012-03-14 22:00 GMT
Date 2011-02-27 15:31:56
To email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
GOOGLE is getting White House and State Department support & air cover. In reality,they are doing things the CIA cannot do. But, I agree with you. He'sgoing to get himself kidnapped or killed.
Might be the best thing tohappen to expose Google’s covert role in foaming up-risings, to beblunt. The US Gov. can then disavow knowledge and GOOGLE is leftholding the (expletive-deleted) bag.
Scott Stewart wrote:
Cohen might end up having an accident if he is not careful. This is notchild's play.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Fred Burton [mailto:email@example.com]
> Sent: Sunday, February 27, 2011 9:28 AM
> To: Secure List
> Subject: GOOGLE & Iran ** internal use only - pls do not forward **
> *** PLS DO NOT FORWARD -- SOLE SOURCE
> ** Extracted from an internal email to a senior Google Executive. Themsg is from Jared Cohen (the former policy appointee @ State) anddiscusses Cohen's plans on meeting w/Iranians (note: anti-government insurgents).
I wanted to follow-up and get a sense of your latest thinking on theproposed March trip to UAE, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The purpose of thistrip is to exclusively engage the Iranian community to better understandthe challenges faced by Iranians as part of one of our Google Ideasgroups on repressive societies.
Here is what we are thinking:
Drive to Azerbaijan/Iranian border and engage the Iranian communities closer to the border (this is important because we need the AzeriIranian perspective)”
Google had long been criticized for selling “keyword intercepts” from Gmail accounts to advertisers. However, it has long been known that, not only does Google go much further, scanning emails for intelligence, both security related and corporate, but there is no clear accounting of who Google’s clients are.
Sources indicate that Google sells email and search related intercepts to governments like China, Vietnam, North Korea and others.
Additionally, Google has been proven to accept payment for suppressing searches of news stories clients find embarrassing, to push conspiracies, to support hate groups, to work in smear campaigns and now, of course, is exposed as having armed personnel working directly with insurgents in direct violation of international law.
Google Corporation has systematically represented key core aspects of their business model, intelligence gathering and security contracting. Certainly, there has been no mention of terrorism and espionage, activities “outed” by STRATFOR and Wikileaks.
From Google’s investor relations site:
“We believe in the importance of building stockholder trust. We adhere to the highest levels of ethical business practices, as embodied by the Google Code of Conduct, which provides guidelines for ethical conduct by our directors, officers and employees.”
Nothing in any Google publication indicates that employees are involved in illegal covert operations that fall within the ICC’s definition of “war crimes.”
When STRATFOR, as outlined above, says the following of Google employees:
“He's going to get himself kidnapped or killed…Cohen might end up having an accident if he is not careful. This is not child's play.”
This is a well-known and respected private intelligence contractor’s assessment of the price Google can expect its employees to pay for involvement in “foaming up-risings.”
Not one Google stockholder, many of whom are institutional investors or individuals who would never own stock in a company involved in war crimes or who are legally prohibited from doing so, has been informed of the activities they are backing.
MK “Google Ultra”
Top intelligence and security personnel now warn that, not only the use of Gmail accounts but even the Google search engine including derivative engines like AOL Search and others can place users in quite real danger.
All information passing through Google, including use of Google Voice, Google Groups, Gmail, Google Search, Google Talk and every other corporate platform is gleaned, not just for intelligence but subjected to sophisticated algorithms.
Profiles created are designed to predict behavior, interpret possible threats and target with information crafted to play on fears and vulnerabilities in control economic, political and social activities of the individual.
We could call it “Google slavery.”
Countering Imperialism: An Alternative Vision to Tyranny
|The White House|
The alternative to cockroaches
Many of us have a vision, an alternative vision to the tyranny of those who control the world. But we are ridiculed, dismissed, put on trial (Manning), confined to a small embassy in London for months on end (Assange), called unrealistic or subversive and told to ‘get real’. Are we destined to be the ‘I told you so bunch’?
The current wholly corrupt system is edging humanity towards the precipice of oblivion. When that happens, we (if we are still alive – if anything is still alive, apart from cockroaches) will say ‘we told you so’. If there is to be any hope, if there is to be anything better, we must remain ‘unreal’ and true to our beliefs.
Some like to believe that the meek (or gentle) shall inherit the earth. But it is popularly suggested that cockroaches may well do so if or when humanity destroys itself through nuclear war (or depleted uranium radiation). Cockroaches have a much higher radiation resistance than vertebrates, with the lethal dose perhaps six to 15 times that for humans.
Cockroaches are regarded as pests. They feed on human food, and can leave an offensive odor. They can also passively transport microbes on their body surfaces, including those that are potentially dangerous to humans. Cockroaches have been shown to be linked with allergic reactions in humans, including asthma.
It begs the question: is there much difference between the people that currently run the world and the cockroach? Both are pests, both feed off humanity, both cause disease and suffering. And both can end up sucking the oxygen from our lungs. The only difference is that there is no malicious intent on the part of the insect variety – it’s just the way they are. And the impact of the cockroach is minimal by comparison.
The same may not be said of the human variety that has instituted a corrupt system of ‘globalisation’. This system of US-led imperialism benefits state-corporate interests who have been able to manipulate the international system of trade and finance in their favour to shift capital around the globe at ease. Supported by militarism and secular theology masquerading as neo-liberal economic theory, the result has been big profits and environmental degradation, easy money and cheap labour, private gain and public havoc.
The food and pharmaceuticals/healthcare industries work hand in glove to sicken and treat us; ‘big oil’ works with agribusiness to impose a system of big-dam, water intensive chemical-industrial at the expense of environmental sustainability; from Syria to Pakistan, US militarism is implemented under on behalf of powerful corporations under the lie of ‘humanitarianism’ or the ‘war on terror’; and the profiteering nuclear energy and resource extraction industries are destroying democracy, robbing people of their land and putting environments in jeopardy in places like India, where a nation’s poorest people are considered ‘surplus to requirements’, an inconvenient truth, and are beaten, raped and disposed of because they are a barrier to corporate ‘progress’ – profit and greed.
Whole populations are lied to and deceived on behalf of rich corporate interests that have succeeded in hijacking the machineries of state and media for commercial gain. Democracy is corrupted, local economies are destroyed, debt and dependency is used to assert control, science is pressed into the service of a worldwide arms industry and fraudulent corporate activities and there is endless conflict over finite resources.
The current system is ecologically destructive and relies on perpetual war and conflict. It is both socially divisive and unsustainable and is tied to an image of the world laid down by corrupt transnational corporations and translated into policy by the IMF, WTO, World Bank and national governments.
Projects like Navdanya in India that seek to take the control of food and agriculture back from agribusiness, or the finer elements of successful policies in places like Cuba or Venezuela, are just some of the many examples from across the world that indicate how we could address the problems we currently face. However, from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and General Electric to Shell, Monsanto and others, there are those who seek to maintain the current system at all costs. We don’t need them, but they will be difficult to get rid of.
“Some cockroaches have been known to live up to three months without food and a month without water. They are even resilient enough to survive occasional freezing temperatures. This makes them difficult to eradicate once they have infested an area.” – Wikipedia
These cockroaches, the financiers, industrialists and corporate funded politicians, despise transparency, dislike democracy and hate anyone trying to hold them to genuine account. These are the criminals who have quite literally got away with murder with their illegal wars, indiscriminate use of drone attacks and exploitative economic policies.
It is the likes of Bush, Blair, Obama, Cheney, Rice and their profiteering arms dealing cronies, private ‘security’ contractors and corporate billionaire puppet masters who should be standing in the dock, not the likes of Manning or Assange. They should be made to pay for the millions of deaths they have caused.
“It (the Nuremberg tribunal) defines aggression as the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes, and it encompasses all of the evil that follows. The US and British invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression, which means that we were responsible for all the evil that followed. Serious conflict arose. It spread all over the region. In fact the region is being torn to shreds by this conflict.
That’s part of the evil that follows…Take a look at the International criminal court (ICC) – Black Africans or other people the West doesn’t like. Bush and Blair ought to be up there. There is no recent crime worse than the invasion of Iraq.
Obama’s got to be there for the terror war… it’s just murder on executive whim” Noam Chomsky (1)
However, to achieve what Chomsky advocates would entail the victims of such crimes being made to sit in judgement over the perpetrators. The International Criminal Court, a criminal court in the starkest sense of the term, is based on the opposite principle. And that’s the reason for its existence.
Will Robots Cause Capitalism to Collapse?
In March the Socialist Party debated with Federico Pistono, the author of a book entitled Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That’s OK: How to Survive the Economic Collapse and Be Happy (reviewed in the March Socialist Standard). His argument is typical of many who think that the market-money-wages system we call capitalism is going to soon collapse as a result of the increasing pace of technological innovation leading to constantly growing mass unemployment. Peter Joseph, the founder of the Zeitgeist Movement, put it more dramatically in a TV interview the same month:
‘unemployment is a consequence of technology, entirely. The entire reason we have unemployment in America and across the world is explicitly based on the application of technology for cost efficiency. And this is not going to stop. And this will lead to what has been called by theorists the ‘contradiction of capitalism’, to the ultimate instability of our social system: the ability to produce more with less people and cheaper rates. It’s a complete clash of the system.’ (www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhZSxeiziMg).
A computer whizz-kid himself, Pistono describes various already-existing inventions that can displace humans in production, particularly due to advances in computer technology. Two he discusses in detail, because of their impact on relatively unskilled labour, are automatic vending machines (which would replace shop assistants) and driverless road vehicles (which would replace van and lorry drivers). He then asks why, if this is all possible, we are not seeing it:
‘Sounds futuristic? Every piece of technology needed for making this happen already exists, and has existed for many years. Then why is it not in place already?’
Good question. Why indeed?
Why machines are (and aren’t) introduced
When a machine is introduced in a particular production unit this reduces the number of workers (living labour) required there to produce the same goods or provide the same service. But, since the machine had to be produced by living labour, extra workers must have been taken on somewhere else to build it, so the question arises of whether the two effects on employment cancel each other out at the level of the economy as a whole.
At first, economists tried to argue that this was so but they soon recognised that they were mistaken and conceded that there would be a net reduction in the total level of employment, not as great as the number of workers displaced in the productive units affected but to a level less than previously. In other words, machines sack more workers than they take on.
Writing in 1821 not long after the Luddites had been smashing knitting machinery, David Ricardo concluded:
‘That the opinion entertained by the labouring class, that the employment of machinery is frequently detrimental to their interests, is not founded on prejudice and error, but is conformable to the correct principles of political economy’( Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, third edition, Ch. 31).
He added that this reduction in total employment could, and normally would, be offset if the economy expanded as a result of new capital investment in some other field of activity. Marx, writing nearly fifty years later, agreed. This – the expansion of capitalist production – is the reason why the introduction of machinery in the past has not resulted in steadily increasing mass unemployment.
Marx made a further point about the introduction of machinery: for a machine to be genuinely ‘labour saving’ in the sense of reducing the total labour-time required to produce something from start to finish, ‘less labour must be expended in producing the machinery than is displaced by the employment of that machinery.’ (Capital, Vol 1, Ch. 15, section 2). By ‘labour’ Marx meant not simply ‘living labour’ or its immediate product but also the ‘dead labour’, the product of previous living labour, incorporated in the raw materials, energy, buildings and machinery used in production.
In a rationally-organised society based on the common ownership of productive resources so that production can be carried on to produce directly to satisfy human needs instead of for profit whether or not a machine did this would be the main criterion for deciding whether to apply it to production. Not all inventions of machines do displace more labour than would be required to produce them but, in a rationally-organised society, even machines falling into this category could be introduced if it was considered that the specific labour that would be replaced was considered dangerous, unhealthy or boring.
But this is not what happens under capitalism. Built-in to the capitalist system is a drag on the use of machines. As Marx went on to explain:
‘For the capitalist, however, there is a further limit on its use. Instead of paying for the labour, he pays only the value of the labour-power employed; the limit to his using a machine is therefore fixed by the difference between the value of the machine and the value of the labour-power replaced by it.’
Under capitalism the immediate product of living labour is divided into a part that the capitalist firm has to pay for (wages) and a part that it doesn’t pay for (surplus value, the source of profit). This means that under capitalism a machine that would genuinely save labour – the time society has to spend to produce something – would only be introduced if it also reduced the total labour that the capitalist firm had to pay for, i.e. the dead labour incorporated in the machine and materials plus the living labour it employs. If this is not the case, then the labour-saving machine will not be introduced, as to do so would reduce the amount of unpaid labour that the firm extracts, i.e. the source of its profits. In fact, the lower wages are, the less the incentive to apply labour-saving inventions, and vice versa.
Marx gave some concrete examples to illustrate that under capitalism there is a difference between invention and application:
‘Hence, the invention nowadays in England of machines that are employed only in North America, just as in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries machines were invented in Germany for use exclusively in Holland, and just as many French inventions of the eighteenth century were exploited only in England … The Yankees have invented a stone-breaking machine. The English do not make use of it because the ‘wretch’ who does this work gets paid such a small portion of his labour that machinery would increase the cost of production to the capitalist.’
This is the answer to Pistono’s question as to why the futuristic labour-saving inventions he describes have not been used on a wide scale: capitalist firms are only interested in using machinery if it will reduce their costs of production, i.e. the labour (living and dead) that they have to pay for. They will not and do not introduce machines that will increase their costs of production, even if their use would reduce the total amount of labour required to produce them.
This is why, as long as capitalism lasts, the rate of the actual application of machinery to production will always be less than the rate at which labour-saving machines are invented. In this sense speculations such as Pistono’s about the rate at which inventions will increase (he claims, somewhat hyperbolically, that this will become exponential in the coming decades) is irrelevant. It is not this that will determine the rate at which inventions will be applied to production as the rate at which ‘robots will steal our jobs.’ That will depend on the rate at which they reduce the labour that a capitalist firm has to pay for, which will be considerably slower than the rate at which labour-saving machines are invented.
Under capitalism invention is one thing, application another. The mere invention of some labour-saving machine does not destroy jobs; only its application does.
Will history repeat itself?
The trouble with many theories of economic collapse is that, if they were true, they need to explain why capitalism has not already collapsed a long time ago. Pistono’s argument is no exception. He is aware of this, as he quotes one critic as exclaiming:
‘Have you ever heard of this discipline called history? We’ve gone through the same crap 150 years ago, and none of what you say has happened!’
It’s actually a good question. Mechanisation has been going on since the Industrial Revolution started in the eighteenth century (in fact, that’s what this was) but it has not resulted in steadily increasing unemployment. Pistono’s reply is that it will be different this time as in the past the pace of labour-saving technological inventions has never been as fast as it is today.
We have just seen that Pistono commits the fallacy of confusing technological invention with the application of inventions to production. Even so, as in the past mechanisation has not resulted in growing technological unemployment, since the capitalist system expanded to absorb this, a weaker version of Pistono’s contention might still be valid: that the rate at which machines are introduced (despite the restrictions on this under capitalism) might still be faster than capitalism can expand. In this case unemployment would still grow.
While capitalism does expand in the long run it does not expand, as everyone is agreed nowadays, in a straight upward-sloping line. It goes in fits and starts, booms and slumps, with each succeeding boom reaching a higher level of production and employment than the previous one.
Because capitalism grows in this way, it needs a pool of unemployed workers, which Marx called ‘the industrial reserve army of labour’, that capitalist firms can draw on quickly in a period of boom and who become unemployed again when the slump comes. So, unemployment rises and falls with the capitalist business cycle.
Pistono does not go as far as Peter Joseph and claim that all unemployment today is technological, but he does advance the increase in unemployment since 2007 as proof of his contention that the increasing application of modern technology is causing unemployment to grow.
Some of today’s unemployment will indeed be technological in the sense of being living labour displaced by machines and unable to find new employment because capitalism is not expanding (Ricardo’s worst case scenario), but most is cyclical, the result of capitalism currently being in one of its periods of slump. It is the industrial reserve army of labour returning to its slump level. Also, capitalist economists talk cynically about a ‘natural’ level of unemployment (the rate below which they say a rise in price level would result). So, by no means all unemployment today is technological; in fact, only a relatively small proportion will be.
Predictions of a continual increase in mass unemployment will only turn out to be true if capitalism does not recover from the present slump, and even then wouldn’t increase at the rate this hypothesis suggests. If it does recover then unemployment will fall.
So the question can be reformulated as: Will capitalism recover from the slump or will unemployment go on increasing until the system collapses? Both past experience and the theory of how capitalism works based on this suggest that capitalism will eventually recover, however long it takes and however hard workers have to be squeezed. There is no way of knowing, though, exactly how long it will take.
In any event, capitalism will have to be ended by the conscious action of people who want to replace it by a system where the resources of the planet have become the common heritage of all. Then, there will no longer be any barrier to the robotisation of repetitive and boring jobs. Then, robots will ‘steal our jobs’ much more quickly than today and that will be OK, as there will be no harmful side-effects since access to what people need to live and enjoy life won’t be tied to working for a wage or salary. As Marx put it, ‘the field of application for machinery would therefore be entirely different in a communist society from what it is in bourgeois society.’
|North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un with Generals|
By Pam BensonA former senior US official, who recently retired, says North Korea is a difficult target for the intelligence community but "the coverage is very extensive using national technical means: imagery, intercepts and other means." The official said, "It's hard to get in there, but we do have external capabilities. Looking, listening and watching are all in play."
Moving a missile to the east coast is "very discernible", the official said, even on mobile launchers. The mobile launchers are more difficult–one or two might get through, the official said, but North Korea has limited routes to take whether by rail or road. "It's not a large country with an intricate transportation system."
What is difficult to ascertain is its uranium enrichment program. It could be buried in underground facilities where there are no air samples, nothing to collect.
There are other shortfalls for gathering intelligence on North Korea, in particular a lack of human intelligence, the official said. "We don't have physical access, minimal, if at all," the official said.
What's missing from US knowledge is what are the plans and intentions of the Kim Jung Un regime. "They're not going to attack us or anybody else with nuclear weapons because they know the consequences. They're not suicidal." But there are a lot of unanswered questions, the official said, "Where are they going with their nuclear program? Who is whispering in Kim Jung Un's ear? What's the bottom line?"
The official says the physical aspects are very important, but "we don't necessarily know where all facilities are, the amount of fissile material it has, how many actual weapons they have produced."
"We look from afar, but we're not in the eye of the storm," the official said.
If the regime decides to launch a missile it would undoubtedly be a test, not a strike, the former official said. "They know enough to know not to take the country down." But the former official warned that "it doesn't mean we can't stumble into something that escalates and spins out of control."
The former official does agree with the moves the US has taken in response to North Korea's continued provocations. "Kim Jung Un and the hardliners need to know we are very serious, we have capabilities that are extensive, which extend to our allies in Japan and South Korea and that we are prepared to use them if North Korea does anything of a kinetic nature."
The official doesn't think there is a risk Kim Jung Un and the hardliners could feel they are backed into a corner and be forced to act. "They respect you when you are straight, honest, show what you have and don't threaten them." But when asked if the show of force by the US–the B2 flights, the additional ships–could be considered a threat by North Korea, the official responded, "They put the ball in play with threats of strikes against the U.S."
Not Another Maggie Thatcher?
Then there was the TV programme Young Margaret: Love, Life And Letters, to which Moore was an important contributor, if an apparently embarrassed one. This revealed a rather different character with a talent for cynical manipulation when it came to human relationships. For example among a succession of unsuspecting man friends she at first cultivated a relationship with one she described as displaying ‘...the kind of naivety only a Scotsman can have’ but who owned a fair bit of land and profitable shares in industry. When Margaret had more promising prospects in sight, the farmer was briskly passed on to her sister Muriel who was thus made (we believe) happy ever after.
Such discriminatory skills were also applied in the matter of some other holidaymakers in Madeira who are derided as ‘...rather tatty tourists, Jews and novo rich.’ And rich among the examples of cold, calculating tactics is her view of her father, Alf Roberts the grocer from Grantham, once credited, as she worked her way up to the top of the Greasy Pole, as an enduring, invaluable example of parental guidance for a supremely ambitious daughter. After her mother died Thatcher had Alf move in with her but this did not yield the kind of advantages she had planned: ‘He is eating the most enormous meals and doing absolutely nothing except reading’ she complained to Muriel, telling her she intended to ‘shunt Pop off ... will this be all right with you? Otherwise he will just hang on and on and not take any hints.’ A month or so afterwards Alf was writing to Muriel that he never heard anything from Margaret: ‘in fact I don't think I know their new phone number.’ And then, unremarked, he died.
A spin-off of the post mortem reverence for Thatcher was the requirement that any aspirant successor would have to be, apart from female, as scabrous as the Lady herself. It seemed a promising time for the emergence of Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk and recently promoted Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education. Although new to the game of Westminster politics – she was first elected in 2010 – she quickly attracted some notice, for example the assessment of her boss David Gove that she was ‘a minister to watch,’ and then the calculated flattery of Labour MP Sharon Hodgson that she had the ‘common touch of the Iron Lady about her ...she may take it as a compliment.’ Truss could describe her parents as ‘to the left of Labour.’ As a child she was taken by her mother to CND demonstrations and one of her school essays was an anticipatory piece on the fall of Margaret Thatcher. At Oxford she joined the LibDems, making something of a name for herself with an anti-monarchist speech at their 1994 conference. It was a couple of years later that she found her true place in the Conservative Party and, after the usual couple of abortive efforts, as the party's parliamentary candidate for South West Norfolk, where at her first election in 2010 she had a solid majority of over 13,000.
She had been a Deputy Director of Reform, a ‘think tank’ which calls itself independent and non-political but which was founded by a Tory MP and a former head of the political section of the Conservative Research Department. Its declared aim is to promote what it calls a ‘better way’ for public services and economic success through private industry and market de-regulation. It also works for the abolition of ‘pensioner gimmicks’ such as free TV licensing and the winter fuel payment. So when Truss was promoted to Gove's team she was well placed to implement Reform's ideas on ’higher standards’ in schools. For anyone with any doubts on the issue there was her paper Britannia Unchained which denounced British workers as ‘...among the worst idlers in the world’ with too many of them who ‘...prefer a lie-in to hard work’. A ’key plank’ in her intentions for nurseries is to work the staff harder by increasing their allocation of two-year-olds from four to six. At the same time she has been free with strictures on those workers because when she had inspected nurseries here ‘I have seen too many chaotic settings where children are running around. There's no sense of purpose’.. Among the response to these comments, from parents as well as experienced child-care practitioners, the arguments against stricter discipline for children were flavoured with reminders that the level of morale in nurseries would be associated with low wages, poor working conditions and a lack of expectations for the future.
And it must be said that Truss has not always been so strict in applying sound principles to her own behaviour. After her adoption as the candidate for South West Norfolk there was a move to reverse the decision when it became known that some years before she had had an affair with Mark Field, the Tory MP for Westminster. Some of the local Tories, dubbed The Turnip Taliban, led by former High Sheriff of Norfolk, Sir Jeremy Bagge, argued that Truss was unsuitable as their candidate because she had chosen to conceal the matter, leaving them to find out through a Sunday newspaper article. In the event, the rebellion failed and Truss continued on her way to emerge as a hopeful to be the new Iron Lady - who might in fact have taught her of the necessity in politics to be ready always to suppress the truth while energetically promoting falsehoods.