Monthly Archives For January 2014

Demand the Release of 79-year-old Anti-war Activist

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The Communist Party of Ireland condemns in the strongest possible terms the arrest of the Galway peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy, who was arrested today and brought to Limerick Prison to serve a three-month sentence. Ms D’Arcy suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is also being treated for cancer.

She refused to sign an undertaking that she would keep away from unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport, as a result of which her three-month suspended sentence has been activated.

Margaretta D’Arcy and Niall Farrell were sentenced in Ennis District Court in December 2013. Each received a three-month prison sentence, suspended on condition that they enter into a bond to uphold the law for two years and stay out of unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport.

Shannon Airport is a major hub for US warplanes on their way to sow death and destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the Middle East. It is also a transit point for aircraft carrying US military drones, also victims of “extraordinary rendition” were transported through the airport.

The Communist Party of Ireland demands her immediate release. It also calls on peace and democratic forces around the world to write to the Irish Government demanding her release.

Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice:
e-mail: info@justice.ie

Send messages of support to Galway Alliance Against War :
galwayallianceagainstwar@gmail.com

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Ireland Needs A Wage Increase

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2014 should become the year of the wage increase.  Lord knows, workers need one.  Falling incomes, rising prices, increased taxation, cuts in income supports and public services – all have contributed to a toxic situation where living standards are falling, especially under the continuing burden of household debt.  So, yes, a wage increase is not only desirable but necessary.

percentageincrease

In the last five years weekly earnings have fallen by three percent, with the low-paid sectors (marked with an asterisk) of recreation and hospitality, along with the public sector, taking the biggest hits.

We should remember the compositional effect on these numbers.  For instance, if you have three people earning €5, €10 and €15 respectively, these three would average €10.  However, if the lowest paid loses their job, the average of the other two increases to €12.50.  Yet, those two didn’t experience a wage increase; it’s just that the composition has changed.  So, we might find in many sectors, the actual fall in weekly earnings for many/most workers is more (and vice-versa).

No doubt, arguments about ‘wage competitiveness’ and ‘wage inflation’ will be raised (isn’t it odd we never hear about ‘profit competitiveness’ and ‘profit inflation’, or ‘poverty competitiveness and inflation’?).  These are arguments we will return to later.  Hear I want to outline another issue – one which will impact on the kind of economy and society that is being created for us.

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Becoming an American

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The Depression

“I would rather play roles that carry conviction.
Maybe it’s because they’re the easiest and yet
the hardest things for me to do.”

— Peg Entwistle, Oakland Tribune, 05/05/1929

n

Sprawled across a teak and brass rail bar,

suppose it’s September 1932
and you haven’t worked since Broadway.
n
Wouldn’t you sit and just get drunk?
Tell your folks you’re meeting friends
in a drugstore on Beachwood Drive
n
then beeline up the trail to Mount Lee?
Imagine the black fry of manure
and gardenias. All them crickets.
n
L.A.’s bristling dark and yellow
like a bumblebee’s fur.
Downhill through hosiery and scrub
n
to HOLLYWOODLAND and up the first
few rungs of a workman’s ladder,
you see your face in a small ravine.
n
Do you fall backwards or forwards
off the ‘H’; prefer it for its sigh—
in some quarters, not pronounced at all—
n
or simply jump? One day vies
against the next and for every kernel
of untruth, you’re just like a rosary bead.
n
Your own ghost calls it through
and two policemen make the find. Face down.
Well-dressed. Shoes and jacket in a parcel.
n
n

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How Do you Deliver Tax Cuts to Households Whose Income is so Low they Don’t Pay Income Tax?

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If the Irish Times report is correct, the Government is on track to implement tax cuts for ‘middle income’ families.  The Taoiseach is certainly keen on it:

‘“The priority will be to reduce the very high tax rates faced by families on middle incomes,” said Mr Kenny.’

What’s really interesting is that for many middle income families, tax cuts would be practically meaningless.  And what they need is not even on the agenda.

How much income do middle income households earn?  The following should only be seen as an approximation since it relies on income distribution data from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions which presents the information based on deciles (i.e. broken down on 10 percent categories).  Further, the latest Survey from 2011 doesn’t provide a decile breakdown; so this data is courtesy of Dr. Micheal Collins from the Nevin Economic Research Institute.  As well, the household breakdown comes from 2010 (again, as 2011 doesn’t present this data) – a breakdown for adults and children.  That’s why this should be treated as indicative.

This middle income lies in the 4th to 8th deciles, making up 55 percent of all adults and 60 percent of all children.  What is the average income for this middle group?

Avg_income

It ranges between €8,000 and €52,000 per household.  This refers to ‘direct’ income – income from PAYE work, self-employment and capital sources (e.g. capital gains).  This middle income group is made up of part-time workers, minimum wage workers, and the low-paid:  a household of two working adults would mean average gross wage of €26,000 each.  There would also be average and above-average income earners.

Data from the Revenue Commissioners is also helpful but there are some caveats.  There is a chance that there is double counting – where people might have part-time self-employment combined with part-time PAYE work.  Further, married couples are counted as one taxpaying unit.  And the data only includes those in work.  Notwithstanding these, the Revenue data corresponds with the above.

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January Issue of Socialist Voice is Out Now

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The January issue of Socialist Voice is out now. Read it as a PDF or online.

Articles in this issue:

1.   New year, same struggles [EMC]
2.   Insurance: the white man’s burden [RCN]
3.   A politics beyond anti-sectarianism [TR]
4.   Dealing with the past [TMK]
5.   Central Bank boss predicts a three-way banking split [MA]
6.   Mandela’s debt to socialist Cuba [TMS]
7.   An anti-monopoly or anti-imperialist strategy? [NL]
b.   A front for youth’s struggle
9.   Building class-consciousness in 2014
10. Latvia joins the euro [BG]
11. O’Flaherty Summer School

New year, same struggles
The beginning of a new year is the traditional time for most people to take stock of the past year and what they hope they can achieve in a new one. They make resolutions to do this, that, and the other, all done in good faith.

From a workers’ viewpoint, 2013 finished on a reasonably high note, with the victory of the ESB workers in securing their defined-benefit pension scheme, which may well have repercussions throughout the state-sponsored sector.

The establishment throughout the European Union are hoping that the deal done on the “outright monetary transaction” scheme and the European stability mechanism will continue to stabilise the euro. They have agreed that the debt must be paid off in full—not by inflation, default, or writing it off. All just wishful thinking.

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A Dialogue on Democracy and the Republic, Part 2

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Here is the second part of a dialogue with philosopher Juan Domingo Sánchez Estop on the idea of the republic. This is a continuation of the discussion started here on the 29th of October last.

Juan Domingo Sánchez Estop taught modern philosophy in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid from 1981 to 1986. He translated Spinoza’s correspondence into Spanish and, as a member of the Association des Amis de Spinoza, has taken part in seminars and congresses in France and Italy. He is currently working as a senior translator in the Council of the European Union and is specialized in foreign policy matters. He is an advisory editor of the review Décalages (on Althusserian studies). He writes in European and Latin-American publications on Spinoza, Althusser, modern philosophy and political philosophy. His latest book is La dominación liberal (Liberal Domination. Essay on liberalism as a power apparatus) (Tierra de Nadie, Madrid, 2010). He is currently linked to the Philosophy Center of the Université libre de Bruxelles, where he is preparing a PhD on Spinoza in Althusser. His blog, in Spanish, is Iohannes Maurus.

RMcA: I’d like to relate what you’ve been saying here to the present situation in Europe. Before I do, a couple of comments. I think you -and the rest of the line of the damned!- are right about the common-wealth as an originary reality underlying capitalism itself. Indeed, the legal architecture of a capitalist State rests, at a very basic level, upon a conception of something that is common to all. And it’s also true about the way neoliberalism puts knowledge of this originary reality to its own ends.

 

JDSE: There is much to say on common-wealth or even on communism as the very fabric of any society, even of the one which most utterly denies it, capitalism. What we, on the “line of the damned” construe as the commons, has in bourgeois legal terms, an equivalent: the “public” as synonymous with State-owned and/or -managed. This is, of course, a mystification of the common ground of society, placed as a transcendent One above the multitude. This is exactly the way Hobbes thinks of the union of a Commonwealth in his political works. Against this we consider the multitude as rooted in the common, as an ever open set of incomplete singular individualizations as the French philosopher Simondon put it, in a very Spinozist way (even if he never was aware of this connection). From this point of view, the common is always-already political, and the relevant question is not the one about the origin of the political or the common, but the one about individualization and its modes.

Neoliberalism is an effort -possibly the last effort- by capitalism to get asymptotically as close as possible to the communist fabric of society, and even of the human species, in order to exploit it. That’s why it has been identified by Michel Foucault as “biopolitics”. Life and the reproduction of capital are getting ever closer to each other. The very span of labour time or space is nowadays indefinite and becomes identical to human individual and social life. There is no longer a closed space and a definite time for labour, as was the case in the classical Fordist or even pre-Fordist (Dickensian) factory. Today, life reproduction and labour are the same: Marx would say that we have entirely completed the “real subsumption” of labour under capital.

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How Bad Will It Get?

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Chancellor George Osborne has recently been promoting two ideas. One is that a recovery is under way and the other is that further cuts in government spending are needed, up to £25bn.

The contradictory nature of those two statements tells us something important about the nature of the current recovery and the actual content of economic policy. It is clear that however weak the current recovery is, the overwhelming bulk of the population will not benefit from it. Austerity policies have always been aimed at transferring incomes from labour and the poor to capital and the rich. So for example, a VAT increase was said to be necessary to cut the deficit yet was simultaneously implemented with a cut in the corporation tax rate which reduced government revenues by almost exactly the same amount.

The popular shorthand for this is a recovery solely for the 1%. The class content is clear. The policy is designed to boost capital at the expense of labour and its allies.

Austerity is not at all designed to boost total economic output, in which capital might be one of the beneficiaries. The reason is simple. In the ordinary course of events an economic downturn or slump leads to a fall in profits far greater than the fall in output. A simple recovery in output could entrench that for a prolonged period.

So, the owners of a car firm sell cars worth £1,000 million in a year. Their main costs are all the inputs of labour, capital and raw materials amounting to £800 million. But these largely to tend to stay the same or even continue to rise a little when the downturn occurs. Suppose sales fall by 10% to £900 million. Input costs are unaltered in aggregate. Now profits are only £100 million and previously they were £200 million. On a 10% decline in sales, profits have fallen by 50%. Profits fall faster than output.

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Trips to the West Bank, From 12th to 20th Sept 2014

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Are you interested in travelling to the West Bank?  Would you like visit Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron?

Would you like to meet with Israeli and Palestinian individuals and groups working for peace and justice in the region?

Since 2006, Elaine Daly has organised 14 trips to the West Bank and is currently preparing for the next trip which is scheduled for the 12-20th of September 2014.

Participant numbers vary for each trip but are limited to a maximum of 30 people.

The aim of these trips is to enable people to see for themselves the situation in the West Bank and to meet with Israeli and Palestinian activists who are working for peace and justice in the region.

If you would like further information about this trip check out www.westbanktrip.com or contact Elaine on 086 1568 234.

Elaine Daly organises these trips to the West Bank in a personal and non-profit making capacity and is a member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Sadaka, The Ireland Palestine Alliance.

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Pantoum for Limerick National City of Culture 2014

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I will be taking stock of resourcing requirements

in the light of everyone else having resigned.

I am determined to hit the reset button.

I am moving on in a calm and deliberative way.

sdsdsd 

In the light of everyone else having resigned,

I’m absolutely satisfied we have the capacity.

I am moving on in a calm and deliberative way.

I would like to thank those who ran screaming from the building.

 sdsdsd 

I’m absolutely satisfied we have the capacity.

It’s been a challenging start but we need to draw a line under this.

I would like to thank those who ran screaming from the building.

I may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

 sdsdsd 

It’s been a challenging start but we need to draw a line under this.

I am humbled by what I’ve heard here tonight.

I may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

This is a lot more complicated than what actually happened.

 sdsdsd 

I am humbled by what I’ve heard here tonight.

I am determined to hit the reset button.

This is a lot more complicated than what actually happened.

I will be taking stock of resourcing requirements.

sdsdsd 

Kevin Higgins

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An Open Letter to Minister Shatter

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This open letter was originally published on Project Allende on the 9th of December 2013.

On Monday this week I received a surprise email from The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence. Signed “Best Wishes, Alan”, minister Shatter’s email was no Christmas greeting. It acknowledged a November online Contact.ie campaign to “Destroy the Anglo Bonds” in which I had participated along with an estimated 100,000 others.

The timing of Alan’s missal was unorthodox, as the vote had already taken place, the other emails I had received from TDs were in favour of the motion and had been sent before the debate. None of these were from any of the three major parties. In contrast to Alan’s letter they were strongly in favour of removing the Anglo ‘socialised’ debt, first created by Fianna Fáil as promissory notes, then consecrated by Fine Gael & Labour into sovereign bonds.

I can only surmise that Alan felt a need to explain himself.

This ‘debt’, as every Irish person knows, was the result of a disastrous public rescue of Anglo Irish Bank, the bank that The British Independent Commission on Banking called “the worst bank in Europe”. Internationally Anglo is a case study in the corruption of the European banking sector. To Alan it was an unsightly legacy from Fianna Fáil. Had Alan not listened to the Anglo Tapes? Maybe not.

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