Destroy The 40-Hour Workweek

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Courtesy of Frugling.org:

Our American economy needs you to work nothing less than 40 hours per week. The message is simple: earn more, collect belongings, and don’t stop until you retire/die. Unless you meet this expectation, be prepared to be called lazy and unproductive — stuck in the unfortunate world of lower and middle incomes. And if you’re not doing something that makes more money than your neighbor, you ought to think about changing careers.

McMansions, vehicles, and stores grow. In turn, our consumption escalates. We need more to fill our bigger homes; otherwise, they feel empty. Meanwhile, our wallets are stripped and we maintain this cycle of work and near poverty — just getting by. Despite going through a horrific “great recession” over the last few years, companies have continued to report record revenue and profits. The business world is clearly benefiting from our workweek and continued spend.

This current system is predicated on infinite growth. If you’re not continually benefiting from pay raises and getting promoted, you’re not doing it right. Since the Industrial Revolution, we haven’t stopped to seriously question what we’ve created and amassed. Like worker zombies, it’s hard not to see the countless hours we put into companies — all so that we reach financial independence. Continue reading

What is TTIP and why should we fight it?

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Courtesy of Young Greens:

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated in the US and EU between governments and corporations presents an unprecedented threat not only to food, labour and environmental standards but to democracy itself.

TTIP is a proposed ‘free trade’ agreement between the US and the EU. The negotiations around it are shrouded in secrecy, but the information that has been forced out shows that if successful, the agreement would lead to deregulation of what we eat, how we work, and increase the power that large corporations hold over national governments. TTIP is designed to benefit these corporations: the removal of tariffs and regulatory ‘barriers’ to trade and labour would allow them to maximise their profits, at the cost of workers and consumers. All reasons why Greens in both the UK and across Europe oppose this bosses’ charter.

The Center for Food Safety has already raised concerns about the potential for TTIP to establish a Regulatory Cooperation Council, which could result in ‘harmonisation’ of safety standards, meaning that food not meeting EU standards could be sold here anyway. Such products include chemically washed poultry, livestock treated with growth hormones, and genetically modified crops. These are allowed in the US, which adopts a ‘cost-benefit’ approach to food safety, balancing the interests of corporations against the safety of consumers, as opposed to the ‘precautionary principle’ used in the EU. A lobbyist for the US Council for International Business has admitted that ‘getting rid of the precautionary principle’ is a key aim of TTIP negotiations. Furthermore, such deregulation would apply not only to goods but to labour, allowing business to relocate to places – such as the US – where working standards are lower. This would result in huge job losses in Europe. Continue reading

Amazon UK boycott urged after retailer pays just £4.2m in tax

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Amazon.co.uk’s warehouse in Milton Keynes. Photograph: David Levene

Courtesy of Juliette Garside @ The Guardian:

Shoppers have been urged to boycott Amazon’s British business after it paid just £4.2m in tax last year, despite selling goods worth £4.3bn – more than the UK sales of Argos, Dixons or the non-food arm of Marks & Spencer.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, said shoppers should find alternatives to the Seattle-headquartered retailer, after consumer action persuaded coffee chain Starbucks to resume UK tax payments last year.

“It is an outrage and Amazon should pay their fair share of tax,” said Hodge. “They are making money out of not paying taxes. I no longer use Amazon. We should shop elsewhere. What we demonstrated with Starbucks is the power of the consumer voice.”

Amazon’s most recent charge brings to just over £10m its contribution to the public purse through corporation tax in a decade. Over the last four years, Amazon has generated £23bn in British sales. It made a tax contribution of £3.2m the previous year.

Amazon is able to pay low tax because when shoppers in Europe buy from any of its local websites, the payment is taken by a subsidiary based in the low tax jurisdiction of Luxembourg. A British shopper’s bank statement will show a payment to Amazon EU S.à.r.l. rather than Amazon.co.uk.

Amazon’s British arm employs thousands of staff in warehousing, software design, accounting, human resources and other functions. For tax purposes, its role is simply to provide services to the European master company in Luxembourg.

“People will look at this and feel it’s incredibly unfair,” said Tory MP and tax campaigner Charlie Elphicke. “That they work hard and pay their taxes while big American multinationals engage in industrial scale tax avoidance. This is why international tax reform is badly needed and why the chancellor has been right to make the international case. Tax abuse is wrong and must be stamped out.” Continue reading

How the EU is making NHS privatisation permanent

The NHS is being privatised under the illusion that competition breeds efficiency. What many fail to understand is that the NHS is a monopsony. A monopsony, through its large size passes on savings and cost efficiencies to the patients. Under the guise and instruction of corporations, from Serco, Virgin and private American health care corps they will gut the NHS. Quality of service will go down, jobs will be lost, costs go up and all in aid of private profit which will go up, up and up.

Regardless of what the propaganda in the media betrays, (shame on the BBC for selling us out) the NHS, although not perfect, is one of the best health care systems in the world with many outstanding, dedicated and unsung staff. What our grandparents and parents paid for through their taxes, is being sold off. By an extension of this government action we are all being sold off, welcome to corporate fascism.

What is even more pernicious is TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which harmonises the EU, UK and US. This agreement will allow corporations to sue governments for loss of future earnings, regardless if they kill 10,000 patients through neglect or incompetence. It will put corporations above governments. That’s right, corporations will have more power than governments and the NHS will be privatised for good.

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We are sliding into a society where corporations rule, who do you think are pushing these rules through? Corporations are and for who’s benefit? Ours? Nope, for theirs and at who’s expense? Ours. Does not make sense.

All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing (Edmond Burke)

Cognitive dissonance and apathy are no excuse. Do we not all not have a responsibility to hand over an earth/country/economy in better shape than what we received? Through our very own inaction, we are selling our children and their children and their children into corporate slavery.

Next time you look at your child, niece or nephew, ask yourself this one question; could I willingly and knowingly sell another human into slavery. If the answer is no, make your stand. If you answer yes, you should immediately go and boil your head, post-haste.

Do not think that it would be different under labour or Lib Dem, it won’t because whoever is in charge still takes their orders from the Square Mile. The system is the problem and it is this we need to change! We have political parties to give the illusion of choice. There is no choice. It is easy to blame the EU but it’s our supposed elected leaders who are complicit in all this. Yes our MEP’s are not doing their job but we are consistently and indiscriminately let down by those we put our trust in, MPs, media, corporations, education, councillors et al. Shocking is one word to use.

Those that make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable (JFK)

Courtesy of Benedict Cooper @ The New Statesman:

No doubt the launch of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in June was cause for much celebration in Brussels. The European Parliament is in the process of enabling a historic shift in world economics with countless, far-reaching consequences.

A key part of the TTIP is ‘harmonisation’ between EU and US regulation, especially for regulation in the process of being formulated. In Britain, the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act has been prepared in the same vein – to ‘harmonise’ the UK with the US health system.

This will open the floodgates for private healthcare providers that have made dizzying levels of profits from healthcare in the United States, while lobbying furiously against any attempts by President Obama to provide free care for people living in poverty. With the help of the Conservative government and soon the EU, these companies will soon be let loose, freed to do the same in Britain. Continue reading

The medieval, unaccountable Corporation of London is ripe for protest

An old one from George Monboit @ The Guardian:

It’s the dark heart of Britain, the place where democracy goes to die, immensely powerful, equally unaccountable. But I doubt that one in 10 British people has any idea of what the Corporation of the City of London is and how it works. This could be about to change. Alongside the Church of England, the Corporation is seeking to evict the protesters camped outside St Paul’s cathedral. The protesters, in turn, have demanded that it submit to national oversight and control.

What is this thing? Ostensibly it’s the equivalent of a local council, responsible for a small area of London known as the Square Mile. But, as its website boasts, “among local authorities the City of London is unique”. You bet it is. There are 25 electoral wards in the Square Mile. In four of them, the 9,000 people who live within its boundaries are permitted to vote. In the remaining 21, the votes are controlled by corporations, mostly banks and other financial companies. The bigger the business, the bigger the vote: a company with 10 workers gets two votes, the biggest employers, 79. It’s not the workers who decide how the votes are cast, but the bosses, who “appoint” the voters. Plutocracy, pure and simple.

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There are four layers of elected representatives in the Corporation: common councilmen, aldermen, sheriffs and the Lord Mayor. To qualify for any of these offices, you must be a freeman of the City of London. To become a freeman you must be approved by the aldermen. You’re most likely to qualify if you belong to one of the City livery companies: medieval guilds such as the worshipful company of costermongers, cutpurses and safecrackers. To become a sheriff, you must be elected from among the aldermen by the Livery. How do you join a livery company? Don’t even ask.

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When reality overthrows imagination

Courtesy of Hugo Salinas Price@Plata.com

Imagination is an exclusively human faculty. Only humans can imagine.
I have on another occasion mentioned Arthur Koestler’s remarkable book, “The Sleepwalkers”. As a child of his time, Koestler accepted the theory of Evolution, but he did have a question (which he did not answer) regarding this theory.

I am not quoting Koestler’s very words, but this is their substance: “If we are evolved creatures, and our bodily constitution reflects the challenges of survival and our ability to evolve to meet those challenges, then – how is it that we are endowed with brains of a capacity for thinking vastly greater than necessary for our survival? All other living creatures have brains only just sufficient for their survival. But we humans have brains whose abilities far exceed the requirements of survival. This is a puzzle.”

At no time in history, surely, has humanity lived in this real, physically tangible world with so enormous a reliance on the human brain’s capacity for imagination. Continue reading