Category Archives: underclass

A further truth to be told

David Conn’s extended piece for today’s Guardian, on the Hillsborough cover-up, is journalism at its best, and the exemplar why some of us will support, buy and read that great newspaper until the end. Even at £2 a throw.

The on-line presentation is less cogent than what is in the printed version. For example, in the paper we find this:

Later that day, the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, and her press secretary, Bernard Ingham, visited Hillsborough. [Chief Constable Peter] Wright briefed them. Ingham has always since said of Hillsborough that he “learned on the day” it was caused by a “tanked-up mob”. Ingham, later given a knighthood, has confirmed to there Guardian this was what police told Thatcher.

Good enough? That lets Thatcher off the hook?

Well, not for this blogger.

The culture of South Yorkshire police was “institutionally” corrupt. As Conn, also in the print edition, describes:

The evidence built into a startling indictment of the South Yorkshire police, their chain of command and conduct — a relentlessly detailed evisceration of a British police force. Responsible for an English county at the jeans-and-trainers end of the1980s, the police had brutally policed the miners’ strike, and was described by some of its own former officers as “regimented”. with morning parade and saluting of officers, ruled by an “iron fist” institutionally unable to admit mistakes. The dominance of Wright, a decorated police officer who died in 2011, loomed over the catastrophe. He was depicted as a frightening, authoritarian figure who treated the force “like his own personal territory” and whose orders nobody dared debate.

Those of us who had to drive down the A1 during the grim days of the miners’ dispute remember Check Point Charlie at the A1/A57/A614 roundabout, south of Ranby, where the A1 veers south-east. The lay-by (now by-passed by recent road-works) was where — day and night — a detachment of the Finest were posted, lest South Yorkshire miners escaped south to wreak havoc and mayhem.

CoulterJim Coulter, Susan Miller and Martin Walker produced a damning report (November 1984): A State of Siege, Politics and Policing of the Coalfields:  Miners Strike 1984. It was, but of course, just another loony lefty whinge — but it still stands up to scrutiny. The facts therein speak for themselves. The opinions have been proven by dint of experience;

It is important to understand the politics behind the policing because through the politics we can see what the Conservative government are pursuing is not the ‘rule of law’ but the ‘law of rule’; brute force and violence.

Rather than policing being an incidental spin off from the dispute it is at the very heart of it. [page 5]

Don’t believe me. Try ex-Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, John Stalker:

Britain has never been closer to becoming a police state than when Margaret Thatcher was in charge.

As Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester I saw at first hand how her authoritarian policies could have permanently shattered the bond of trust between the police and the people.

She turned the police into a paramilitary force and put us on to a war footing.

I met her several times during my time as a senior police officer.

She took an uncommon interest in law and order, and always acted as if she was the Home Secretary as well as the PM.

That was never more clear than during the miner’s strike in 1984 when I believe Margaret Thatcher took Britain to the brink of becoming a police state.

She decided that “her” police force was going to keep the miners and pickets under control. It was all about showing who was boss…

We got streams of instructions from the Home Office on how the strike should be handled, cleverly covered with legal fig leaves saying things such as, “of course the Chief Constable has complete control over operational matters, but this is our advice”.

miners-strike-orgreaveThe “morgue” (the libraries of newspaper clippings, from before the days of the internet and electronic documentation) of any proper media operation will thrown up evidence that it was Thatcher’s wish and intention to create an “officer corps” to run “her” police service.

The ethos of the Thatcher era was an unremitting war against the “enemy within“.

At Hillsborough the enemy were the “animals” (yes: you will find that term used, and quoted in the subsequent Commons debate) who had to be caged. Five years earlier it had been the miners and their families whose liberties were revoked, whose homes invaded, who were strip-searched and violated.

When Thatcher and Ingham dropped in on the South Yorkshire Chief Constable, after Hillsborough, it wasn’t just a convivial visit. Whatever impression Wright foisted on Thatcher, she was more than a willing dupe.

The guilt doesn’t stop, conveniently, with Wright and his subordinates.

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A very peculiar practice

Back in 1986, Andrew Davies wrote a black comedy for BBC TV, A Very Peculiar Practice. It went to a second series, and had a spin-off (a failed pilot?) based on the collapse of Communist Poland.

Well, odd-to-the-point of surreality as Davies’s take on the modern concrete university was, I think my day in St Andrews could match it.

St Andrews is a small town at the end of the East Neuk of Fife. It has a population of some 14,000, of whom half must be the around 7,000 students at the oldest university in Scotland. About a third of the student body come from south of the border, which must make it freakish among Scottish universities outside Edinburgh.

That last factoid might, just might have a connection with a not-quite-recent royal matching.

Oh, and attached to the town is a golf-course or three.

Wander the main drag, and note the proliferation of young-fashion stores.

That leads me to muse there is another oddity about the student population. It seems very, very well-heeled. Most undergraduate populations tend to the scruffy jeans-and-hoodie. St Andrews has a large contingent remarkable for what I tend to term the Morningside Glide. Morningside, for the uninitiated, is the terribly-naice suburb of Edinburgh, and was the natural home of Miss Jean Brodie. The Morningside Glide involves a young woman, clearly a bourgeoise of means, even aspirant bon chic, bon genre, swanning along with total insouciance, almost certainly wearing a tweedy cloak or (at the very least) well-draped shawl, who insists she walks straight at you, expects you to give way, and can look right through you. So clear the way.

Meanwhile, down on the Old Course, I was able to observe a foursome completing their round-of-golf. To be kind, they were not particularly good. But then, since this is still High Season, they would be paying £170 each for the pleasure and privilege. The grass is impeccably maintained, of course.

A very peculiar and expensive practice.

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Methinks he doth protest too much 1

The two press pieces of the day should undoubtedly be:

and

Both will be frisked in forensic detail by critics, bloggers and passing humanoids.

Cummings and goings

The former of those looks and reads like an extended late-night keyboard vamp, fuelled by too many shallow draughts, at too high an alcohol content, from the Pierian spring:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

What Cummings offers seems to involve a rag-tag of almost-formed notions, glossed over and poncified by a sweep of abstruse references.

Cut to the chase

If, as seems likely, what it all this highfalutin’ stuff amounts to is:

  • the Ministry knows its place, and trusts its professional Inspectorate;
  • the Inspectorate knows the Headteachers;
  • both Ministry and Inspectorate respect, trust and interact with the local authorities;
  • the local authorities are able properly to fund — especially from local funding (and so have local accountability and involvement) — their schools;
  • the local authorities respect and involve parents;
  • the Headteachers know their schools and their clientele;
  • the teachers know their pupils (especially at primary), and enjoy and relish their subject disciplines (at post-primary);
  • the students know their places, and how examination and testing is done (and the methodology of testing doesn’t change regularly at the whim of the Minister);
  • the examination system is stable, structured, reliable and trustworthy;

and

  • there is a decent, liberal ethos prevailing through the whole system and structure, not (as at present) an oppressive blame-culture,

— then Malcolm is all for it. [Those who wish to quibble should refer to Malcolm’s essential diagnosis of public education.]

Retrospective

Oddly enough, that is what we had back before the imposition of Baker’s and Thatcher’s National Curriculum, and that is what the better schools were delivering. No need for all the bureaucratic apparatus imposed by each successive incoming (and “reforming”) Minister. Specify the outcomes — as the GCEs and School Certs did — and heads, teachers, students, parents and responsible authorities will deliver.

For all the perceived inadequacies between the 1944 Act and Callaghan’s Ruskin speech (October 1976), the schools delivered. Over a quarter of a century, the social structure of Britain adapted to a post-industrial future.

An Orwellian truth

In a historical moment, Britain went from being predominantly blue-collar working-class, to white-collar middle-class. OK: there were exceptions — one example, because the UK’s energy needs were predicated to coal, we kept the colliery districts in a kind of industrial semi-servitude (albeit, one generally well-rewarded) far too long. Then Thatcher callously broke them, without offering alternatives.

Why was there no “alternative” to going down t’pit?

The real “fail” was Britain’s inability to devise any credible technical and technological education.  As Malcolm has argued here on several occasions, that is a chronic failure, and one identified over a century ago by George Bernard Shaw, among others.

Why the “fail”? Arguably, because the “toff schools” didn’t mess with anything that involved dirty hands; and what the “toffs” could pay for, the lower orders aspired to. Hence, with the rarest exceptions, the absence of that third element, technical education, in the implementing of Butler’s 1944 Act.

Two words for Gove-ernment:

Butt out.

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MRD still A

Here's to Mandy!Malcolm hopes nobody has forgotten MRDA. There’s a memory nudge on the right of this screen.

The delicious, delightful and definitely dangerous Mandy came instantly to mind after this, from the LibDem MP, John Leech (majority 1,894):

The government has published its mid-term report, and as expected Media coverage is naturally focusing on parts of the agreement that are not on track. However our own party analysis shows about 95% of the Coalition Agreement is on course.

The MTR also shows the huge extent of Liberal Democrat influence in Government. We have taken policies directly from the front page of our Manifesto and we are now delivering on them in Government.

Mr Leech then helpfully lists his Top 10 Liberal Democrat Achievements!

No: he doesn’t mention the double- or possibly treble-dip recession.

He doesn’t find space to mention £9,000 fees.

Minor stuff like that must be the delinquent 5%.

The LibDems are:

Delivering an extra £2.5 billion into schools!

That is despite:

the largest cut in education spending over a four-year period since the 1950s [Channel 4 News]

and

Funding for struggling schools has been slashed to cover a £1bn overspend in the academies programme [The Independent].

On Planet Leech the Lib Dems are:

Creating 1 million jobs and 1 million apprenticeships. 84% more apprenticeships in Manchester

and

Youth unemployment is lower than when we took office, thanks to our £1 billion Youth Contract, which gets young people off the dole and into work through apprenticeships, work placement or training.

Which runs the face of the reason of the Daily Telegraph:

The “bleak” outlook for young people is predicted within a new study by the Institute of Public Policy Research, which also expects long-term unemployment to near the 1m mark. Both figures would put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of permanent “scarring” in the labour market, the IPPR said…

The headline unemployment rate shows there are 2.56m unemployed people in Britain. But the consultancy report shows a further 3.05m are “under-employed” – desparate to find more work or longer hours but cannot – and a further 2.58m people are “economically inactive” but want a paid job.

The overall work shortage rate compared to the working age population is 23.8pc; three times higher than the official unemployment rate.

That, to some extent, trumps Stephanie Flanders’ wondering about the statistic that Britain’s finest economic brains simply cannot explain. Contrary to Leech’s cooking the books on youth unemployment:

Figures released today (16/11/11) show that the overall number of jobseekers allowance claimants has risen by 9,770 (13.5%) in Greater Manchester over the past year.

With national youth unemployment now past the 1 million mark, Greater Manchester saw a slight monthly rise in the number of claimants aged 16-24 of 180 (0.7%) to 27,080 – the highest level since youth unemployment peaked in the wake of the recession, and a level not seen since March 2010.

Memo to Mr Leech: the ConDems took over in May 2010.

Let’s not omit here Leech trumpeting that the LibDems:

 Secured the biggest ever cash rise in the full state pension, worth an extra £650 every year.

“Worth”, Mr Leech? Michael Meacher’s and the Kushners’ letter in today’s Guardian give chapter-and-verse of how ConDem policies are hurting. Or, specific to pensioners, there’s this:

For the whole population, inflation – measured by the retail prices index – has jumped by 14.4 per cent since September 2007.

For those aged 50 to 64, it has been 18.5 per cent, rising to 20.1 per cent for those aged 65 to 74. 

But it jumped 20.3 per cent for people aged 75 and above. Dr Ros Altmann, director general of Saga, said the ‘horrifying’ figures highlight the problems facing older people battling inflation on a fixed income.

Added to which:

the charity Age UK said the cost of living has added £1,173 to bills  for those aged 55 and above in  a year.

Does that qualify as an achievement, Mr Leech?

Malcolm really cannot be arsed to demolish the rest of this friable, tendentious nonse, but number 10 of Mr Leech’s achievements deserves a lunge for the sick-bag:

 Scrapped ID cards and removed innocent people’s DNA from the police database

Aw, sweet! Fair enough: but you and your colleagues are complicit in the:

Draft Communications Data Bill [which] wants to force ISPs to store the who, when and where of all online activity, including email, instant messaging, social media activity, web browsing and VoIP calls for a year.

So it’s back to Miss Rice-Davies for the last word:

Well, he would, wouldn’t he?

The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations (J. M. & M. J. Cohen, 1971) 190:69

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Too early, but rethink necessary

A day on, and we are already getting the post-mortem analyses of what went wrong for the Republican Party. This time it’s serious:

The New England wing of the House GOP, after showing brief signs of life, is extinct again.

Democrats cleaned out the region on Tuesday, knocking off New Hampshire GOP Reps Charlie Bass and Frank Giunta and fending off stiff challenges to Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney and Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline. Republicans also lost a toss-up open seat race in Connecticut.

The GOP didn’t fare much better in New England’s Senate races either. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown lost his seat, Independent Angus King captured retiring Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe’s seat, and Linda McMahon spent more than $40 million in a losing bid for Connecticut’s open Senate seat. In Vermont, meanwhile, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders demolished his GOP foe in a 71-25 landslide while Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse won 65-35.

The Republicans’ initial base was in the Northeast and the upper Midwest. So one good’un, even this early, is Peter Beinart on The Daily Beast. He is almost certainly wrong to assume (as his headline has it) any New Democratic Dominance in U.S. Politics. Where he is useful is to propose a once-over-lightly historical perspective:

For roughly half a century after the Civil War, Republicans dominated American politics because they dominated the North. But by the 1920s, after almost four decades of Catholic and Jewish immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, the North had changed. And instead of embracing that change, the GOP fought it, spearheading blatantly anti-Catholic measures like Prohibition and shutting down mass immigration in 1921 and 1924. Democrats capitalized, nominating a Catholic, Al Smith, in 1928. Smith lost, but in 1932 Franklin Roosevelt built on the coalition he had forged, and won the presidency by combining the white South—a traditional Democratic stronghold—with the new immigrants of the urban North. Then, to an unprecedented degree, he appointed Jews and Catholics to top administration jobs. In 1935 Time magazine noted the change by featuring two key Roosevelt advisers, the Catholic Thomas Corcoran and the Jewish Benjamin Cohen, on its cover.

But it was only in 1936, when FDR won despite a terrible economy and the venomous opposition of much of the Northern WASP elite from which he hailed, that Republicans began to acknowledge that America had changed—and left them behind. And that’s exactly what Republicans are realizing again Tuesday night. For the last four years, Republicans have argued publicly, as they did between 1932 and 1936, that their defeat was a fluke. They’ve said John McCain was a bad candidate who only lost because Americans were sick of George W. Bush. They’ve said the Tea Party heralded an anti-government shift that would sweep the GOP back into power. They’ve said America was still a center-right country.

By no coincidence, and it’s David Frum repeating it, Romney is being depicted as a “weak candidate”. Equally, loyalists in the Republican Party seem to be denying that anything is “structurally” wrong — cue Charles Krauthammer.

On the contrary, the whole scenery has changed.

  • Along with returning Obama, the Great American Public have accepted Obamacare and gifted Obama’s second term with the (surely, inevitable) economic bounce-back.
  • Even climate change, the great unspoken of this electoral cycle, is now mainstream (Allen West of Florida is a political corpse).
  • Maine and Maryland have voted for same-sex marriage, while Minnesotans voted down a constitutional ban: Washington may yet endorse marriage equality.
  • Colorado and Washington have legalised recreational Mary Jane.
  • California came within a three-per-cent swing of repealing the death penalty. Back in 1978 they voted 7 to 3 for judicial killings

In so many ways, the United States is adapting to the 21st Century.

The Woman issue

This is the biggie.

  • There are now a record number of women in the Senate— though not enough.

Hear it from Margaret Talbot in the New Yorker:

If you got caught up in the “war on women” narrative this election cycle, you might have missed the fact that that a conspicuous number of women were running for the Senate today. There were women candidates in fifteen of the thirty-three Senate races. In three states—California, Hawaii, and New York—both the Republican and the Democrat are women. And a couple of those women check other demographic boxes as well. In Wisconsin, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, won a tight race against former governor Tommy Thompson. She will be the first openly gay member of the Senate. In six of the contests where women are running, they’re the incumbents, and likely to be reëlected. Among the remaining nine states, there’s Hawaii—which will definitely send a woman to the Senate—Wisconsin; Massachusetts, where Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown tonight; Nebraska, where Republican Deb Fischer seemed to be beating former governor Bob Kerrey; Nevada, where Republican Dean Heller was trying to defend his seat from Shelley Berkley; and North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Rick Berg were running neck and neck. Linda McMahon, a Republican, was defeated in Connecticut.

The Show Me State

Republican center must be taking note of what happened — especially in Missouri.

Romney took the State by some eight points (when McCain in 2008 squeaked a lead of just 3,900 votes out of 2.9 million) — yet he had no coat-tails. The Democrat Governor was returned — the first successful re-run since 1996. And Claire McCaskill steam-cleaned Todd “legitimate rape” Akin by a 15½ per cent margin. 400,000 Missouri voters split their tickets: Romney but also McCaskill. As the AP summary of the exit poll had it:

Women didn’t carry McCaskill to victory on their own, but they did the heavy lifting. McCaskill outperformed by a wide margin among women, who supported her in slightly higher numbers than in 2006. The Democrat’s comfortable edge among women was propelled by those 18-44 who overwhelmingly lined up behind the first-term incumbent, as did a significant number of middle-aged women who made up the bulk of female voters. Akin offset some of these losses by holding his ground among women 65 and older and white women overall. Black women, however, backed McCaskill in a landslide.

Aside from being more likely to look past Akin’s comment, men backed Akin in stronger numbers than women, especially those who are older. Still, the best Akin could muster was a split with McCaskill for the entire male vote.

  • Women are some 52% of the Missouri electorate.

As one wise comment, while the results were coming in, had it: If you’re a Republican with views on rape and abortion, better to keep them to yourself.

The wit and wisdom of Bill O’Reilly

You don’t expect it on Fox News, but O’Reilly nailed it:

Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly said tonight that if President Barack Obama wins re-election, it’s because the demographics of the country have changed and “it’s not a traditional America anymore.”

“The white establishment is now the minority,” O’Reilly said. “And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”

“The demographics are changing,” he said. “It’s not a traditional America anymore.”

He could have added the other element: younger voters bothering to use their franchise, which is another change from pre-Obama days. He was mistaken to suggest that “America” has somehow changed: what has changed is that long-suppressed sections of the electorate — women and the ethic communities, the young and the radicals — have mobilised themselves.

Of course, the draught isn’t whistling just one side of the gang-way:

Blue Dog Democrats also saw their numbers shrink from 24 to 15, including six members who retired, sought higher office, or were defeated in primaries earlier this year. Reps. Ben Chandler, Larry Kissell, and Leonard Boswell all lost Tuesday.

The white establishment is now the minority — but they always were.

Now they know it.

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Mark meets Jimmy …

There’s a very nice piece by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker on The Voter-Fraud Myth. Jillian Rayfield fisks it on salon.com.

It is a major article. It won’t convince the neo-Cons, of course.

Then there’s Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury.

The greatest strike against the U.K. press is that, since the demise of the lamentably short-lived The Sunday Correspondent, we benighted Brits have to access the Sunday extended Doonesbury on-line.

Today’s exchange between Mark Slackmeyer and Jimmy Crow is a gem. It says enough of it to get to the caw! of the issue.

By the way: that (as right) is not the punch-line. Which is even more pointed.

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The Nero Solution …

Google “Olympics sales boost” and it currently returns “About 39,000,000 results (0.40 seconds)”:

All is not as it should be. Note the second item. That produces this:

Sales volumes including automotive fuel dipped 0.2 percent last month, giving an annual rise of 2.7 percent, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists had forecast a drop of 0.4 percent on the month and an annual rise of 2.7 percent.

Volumes were 0.3 percent lower on the month when excluding sales of fuel.

Non-store retail volumes fell 6.7 percent compared to July — the sharpest decline since December 2007.

“Feedback from online retailers suggests that sales were lower as consumers watched the Olympics instead of shopping online,” the ONS said.

However, retailers of sporting goods and toys reported a boost from sales of football shirts and other items as a result of the new football season, the European Championship and the Olympics.

Between June and August, all retail sales rose by 0.6 percent compared to the previous three months, a slight slowdown from the 0.7 percent increase in the three months through July.

Britons have been cutting back on non-essential spending as their incomes are suffering the worst squeeze for more than 30 years on the back of soaring food and fuel prices, higher taxes and slow wage rises.

Earlier surveys had indicated that many retailers were disappointed with business during the London Olympics, which took place during the first two weeks of August.

The ONS said retail prices rose by 0.2 percent on the year in August, matching July’s two-and-a-half-year low.

While easing inflation and falling unemployment should relieve the pressure on Britons’ incomes and support consumer confidence, a meaningful recovery looks still some way off.

All that quibbling over the odd tenth of one per cent! Oh, for the hell of it, let’s have Suetonius’ full version of Nero fiddling while Rome burned:

Nero showed no greater mercy towards the citizens, or even the walls of Rome herself. When in the course of conversation someone quoted the line:

When I am dead, let fire consume the earth,

he commented ‘No, it should rather be – while I yet live …’ and acted accordingly, since he had the City set on fire, pretending to be displeased by its ugly old buildings and narrow, winding streets, and had it done so openly that several ex-consuls dared not lay hands on his agents, though they caught them in situ equipped with blazing torches and tar. Various granaries which occupied desirable sites near the Golden House were partly demolished by siege engines first, as they were built in stone, and then set ablaze.

The conflagration lasted seven nights and the intervening days, driving people to take refuge in hollow monuments and tombs. Not only a vast number of tenement blocks, but mansions built by generals of former times, and still decorated with their victory trophies, were damaged, as well as temples vowed and dedicated by the kings, or later leaders during the Punic and Gallic wars, in fact every ancient building of note still extant. Nero watched the destruction from theTower of Maecenas, and elated by what he called ‘the beauty of the flames’ he donned his tragedian’s costume and sang a composition called The Fall of Troy from beginning to end.

He maximised his proceeds from the disaster by preventing any owner approaching their ruined property, while promising to remove the dead and the debris free of charge. The contributions for rebuilding, which he demanded and received, bankrupted individuals and drained the provinces of resources.

Now there’s a guy whose economic policies appeal to Treasury hard-liners: bring down the whole structure, then ask the victims to pay for reconstruction permits!

The voices protesting the constant squeeze are finally beginning to be heard. One of the latest comes from a quite remarkable direction:

TORONTO (AP) — The chief executive of Goldman Sachs says he’s against austerity measures in the short term as the U.S. fiscal cliff looms.

Lloyd Blankfein, also chairman of the investment bank, said Wednesday during a talk at the Canadian Club of Toronto that he’s all for budget cutbacks in the long term but not in the short term.

Blankfein says “you can’t austere yourself into a higher GDP” and says “it’s not going to be very good if the medicine kills the patient.”

Even more remarkable is the shrillness of the unrepresentative far Left seems to find points of agreement with the academic mainstream. Compare and contrast:

The Republicans on the whole serve a single master — corporate capital. In some cases, as in the notorious case of Wisconsin governor Walker, they even work directly for billionaire fractions of the ruling class like the infamous Koch brothers, cutting through the normal mediations and compromises of bourgeois politics. Union-busting legislation is literally drawn up in the offices of rightwing think tanks funded by these super-rich sponsors.

In any case, the program of cutting taxes for the affluent while slashing benefits and services for the population, eliminating union protection and business regulation, privatizing schools and hospitals and prisons and everything else up to and including Social Security — even if it’s not only socially destructive but ruinously expensive to do so — fully responds to the wish list of corporate America.

Taken together, these measures will accelerate the already rapid social decline of the United States — a society that becomes poorer, more profoundly unequal, more insecure and repressive and a great deal less democratic — to say nothing of paving global civilization’s road to irreversible environmental catastrophe. On the way to the bottom, however, the Republicans offer a wild ideological celebration of the return of the greatness of America to win the votes of millions of people whose jobs, pensions and kids’ access to education are vanishing.

 with this abstract of an article by James Crotty for the Cambridge Journal of Economics (and they don’t come more pointy-headed and academic than that):

Rapidly rising deficits at both the federal and state and local government levels, along with prospective long-term financing problems in the Social Security and Medicare programmes, have triggered a one-sided austerity-focused class war in the USA and around the globe. A coalition of the richest and most economically powerful segments of society, conservative politicians who represent their interests and right-wing populist groups like the Tea Party has demanded that deficits be eliminated by severe cuts at all levels of government in spending that either supports the poor and the middle class or funds crucial public investment. It also demands tax cuts for the rich and for business. These demands constitute a deliberate attempt to destroy the New Deal project, begun in the 1930s, whose goal was to subject capitalism to democratic control. In this paper I argue that our deficit crisis is the result of a shift from the New Deal-based economic model of the early postwar period to today’s neoliberal, free-market model. The new model has generated slow growth, rising inequality and rising deficits. Rising deficits in turn created demands for austerity. After tracing the long-term evolution of our current deficit crisis, I show that this crisis should be resolved primarily by raising taxes on upper-income households and large corporations, cutting war spending and adopting a Canadian- or European-style health care system. Calls for massive government spending cuts should be seen as what they are—an attack by the rich and powerful against the basic interests of the American people.

Shocked by all this out of any other emotion, one is reduced to laughing. As Private Eye notices,  the best marker of success for “Gids” Osborne’s Plan A for “the New Coalition Academy (formerly Brown’s Comprehensive)” is that:

he has now reduced the … overdraft from a worry ing £700 billion to a far more manageable £1.2 trillion.

Which comes first? Nero or Augustus? The Revolution or the New Deal?

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