Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Who says we can't afford to stop the cuts?

Take the wealth off the 1%, photo Paul Mattsson
In 2013 the Economist ran a feature on tax havens that admitted: "Nobody really knows how much money is stashed away: estimates vary from way below to way above $20 trillion." And we won't know what money is out there until we gain access to the secretive accounts of big business. 

Corporate Watch has unearthed some interesting figures
But we know there are vast sums available. 2014's Sunday Times Rich List found that Britain's richest 1,000 people are wealthier than ever. They have a combined fortune of £518.975 billion. Meanwhile a million people had to queue at food banks, many of them because their employers did not pay them enough to feed their families.

In January only five Labour MPs voted against the Tories' proposal for another £30 billion of cuts over the next three years. But the top five UK entries to the 2015 Forbes rich list have a combined wealth of £35 billion. Taking the wealth off the 1%, or the 0.001%, could end all austerity today.

A democratic socialist plan for the economy would open the way to eliminating poverty, unemployment and want. Under capitalism there is enormous waste. Look at the human and material resources that are poured into nuclear weapons, for example. 

The annual operating costs of the Trident programme are well over £2 billion. Replacement will cost at least £100 billion. A socialist government would invest that technology and finance into solving humanity's problems. 


Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has promised 20,000 more nurses by 2020. But we need them now. The RCN estimates that £980 million would pay for 28,155 permanent nursing staff. 

But Labour has not promised to scrap the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) robbery. There are 149 PFI hospitals valued at £12.27 billion for which the NHS is due to pay £70.5 billion! Refusing to pay back that excess of almost £60 billion to the privateers could easily fill the £30 billion funding black hole predicted by 2020, paying for many of the nurses, doctors and beds we need - and an end to the pay freeze in the NHS. 


Young people have suffered under this vicious Tory-Liberal coalition. In the autumn of 2010 college students protested in their thousands against the cold cruelty of the ending of the Education Maintenance Allowance payments of up to £30 a week for 16 and 17 year old students. To restore it is estimated to cost a mere £680 million.

The Con-Dems trebled tuition fees to £9,000 so going to university is a pricy business. But the wealth exists to fully fund high-quality free education (far better than Labour's £6,000 fees). Labour has priced its cut at £1.7 billion. It's estimated that re-introducing the grant and scrapping fees altogether would cost £12-£15 billion a year. That sounds like a lot of money but York university research found that £14 billion was paid out in grants and subsidies to big business in 2011-12. For example, the Department of Business provided £5 billion of coaching and marketing and advocacy services for big business.

Austerity is an attempt to steal away the gains of the past - like our libraries. But the Robin Hood tax campaign group estimates that only £110,000 would save 350 of those at risk of closure. 

Decent jobs not cash piles

£375 billion has been pumped into the economy via quantitative easing (QE). That money has gone to the richest in society. The biggest share of this has gone to the top 1% or even 0.1%. If this had been handed over to the British public, it would have meant an extra £24,000 per family.

Instead much of it is being hoarded. In March 2012 it was revealed that UK companies were sitting on £750 billion worth of cash piles. The Financial Times reports those piles are growing. They refuse to invest in factories and jobs. Why? Because of the weakened state of British capitalism they see no profitable outlet. Between 2007 and 2014, over 350,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared leaving 350,000 families without that income.

While Tory Osborne boasts that unemployment is no longer increasing, low pay and precarious working conditions mean the share of wealth going to workers continues to shrink. The Socialist Party campaigns for a £10 an hour minimum wage - now the official policy of the TUC. A campaign to win that demand is urgently needed.

The successful socialist-led campaign for a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle in the US shows what a struggle can achieve. It's estimated that in this city, the size of Glasgow, 100,000 workers will be lifted out of poverty over the next ten years, as $3 billion is transferred from the bosses to the workers.

The figures on this page pose the question - if the capitalist system can't use the resources that exist in a rational way to meet the needs of the population, 'what is the alternative?' The Socialist Party advocates going much further in order to fully transform the lives of the 99% - including nationalisation, under democratic workers' control and management, of the key sectors of the economy with compensation paid on the basis of proven need.

Thanks to 'The Socialist for the facts and arguments - original article taken from http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/20387/25-03-2015/reject-the-austerity-lies

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