Archive for the ‘Capitalist ideology’ Category

Theo Spierings: salary of $160,000 per week; $32,000 per ‘working’ day

by Don Franks

Not everyone admires the bloke but I believe Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings is due some appreciation.

If we have eyes to see it, Theo’s done us a favour.

This kiwi dairy worker has jumped into the headlines, not for what he’s done or not done at the office but on account of the size of his pay packet. A total of $8.32 million in 2017, a 78.5 per cent increase  from last year.

Theo Spierings’ earnings are made up of a $2.46m base salary, superannuation benefits of $170,036, a short-term incentive payment of $1.832m and a long-term incentive payment of $3.855m, the co-operative’s latest annual report shows.

Twenty-three other Fonterra executives received up to $1m for their efforts, five of those have recently left the firm, possibly feeling a bit deprived at their loss of relativity.

So what favour has Theo Spierings done us New Zealanders who can’t afford as much cream and butter as we’d like to put on the table?

The Fonterra boss stands as a reminder of several important truths. A reminder that  (more…)

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Bosses, not robots, lay off workers

The article below is taken from the French revolutionary workers’ journal Lutte de Classe (Class Struggle).  It was translated by members of the US revolutionary group The Spark.

French Socialist Party presidential candidate Benoît Hamon justified his proposal for a universal guaranteed income by citing the “inevitable disappearance of work.” Referencing the growing role of digital technology and robots, which he believes are going to cause the destruction “of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Western economies,” he also proposed to create a tax on robots. The deputies of the European Parliament, for their part, debated last January about the need to require businesses to “publish the extent and the share of the contributions of robotics… to their financial outcomes, for the purposes of taxation and determining the amount of their social security contributions” (Les Échos, January 13, 2017).

The idea that human labor will be replaced by machines and robots, and that we are heading toward the inevitable end of work, has recently come into fashion. Does this reflect reality or the ranting of pseudo-experts, good news for humanity or the chronicle of a catastrophe foretold? All of the discussions around this question make no sense if the heart of the matter is not taken into consideration: all of the means of production, which are set in motion in a social and collective manner through a vast international division of labor, remain the private property of a tiny minority of capitalists.

In order to justify their propositions, Hamon and the European deputies rely on a range of studies, such as one made by the think tank France Stratégie, according to which 3.4 million jobs in France are in danger of disappearing over the next ten years. In 2013, two researchers at the University of Oxford, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, maintained that 47% of U.S. jobs are at “high risk,” meaning that they “could be automated relatively soon, perhaps over the next decade or two.” They base their arguments on the progress that has apparently been achieved in the fields of robotics and machine learning, which would allow machines to carry out (more…)

Ardern and English: two faces of what is really one party

by Phil Duncan

Two events yesterday provided a micrcosm of the problem with the NatLabs, and yet more evidence of why workers and progressive people generally shouldn’t support either wing of this party.

One of the most obnoxious events in politics, and in elections in particular, is when capitalist politicians – people dedicated to managing the system that exploits workers- show up at workplaces.  They put on hi-viz jackets or hard hats or hair nets or whatever and walk around making absurd chit-chat with workers and posing for photo opportunities.  The more obsequious workers agree to be part of the photo opp and the most obsequious even take selfies and stick them on their facebook pages.

But, thanks to the courage of Robin Lane and several other workers, Bill English found one of these workplace walkabouts highly embarrasing.  Shortly after inspecting a tray of lemons at Kaiaponi Farms (near Gisborne), English looked like he was sucking on a (more…)

by Don Franks

I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’ve had enough of all the talk about child poverty.  Some of the talk is well-intentioned, but much of it’s actually bullshit

Phrases roll off the tongue but what does poverty mean in New Zealand today?

The Ministry of Social Development works from the level of income set at  60% of median household disposable income after housing costs. This is deemed a reasonable level to protect people from the worst effects of poverty.

Source: Stats NZ 2016

In these terms it’s calculated that the poverty line after deducting housing costs for a household with two adults and two children lies at $600 per week or $31,200 annually in 2016 dollars. For a sole parent with one child it is $385 per week or $20,200 annually in 2016 dollars. Inadequate amounts of money for a decent life and, by such reckoning, there are around 682,50 people in poverty in this country, or one in seven households.

New Zealand is a far more unequal country than it was a generation back. Over the past three decades, under both National- and Labour-led governments, New Zealand has gone from being one of the most equal to one of the most unequal nations in the wealthy OECD countries.  In those 30 years, incomes for the average of the top 10% income earners roughly doubled while lower and middle incomes barely increased. Let’s compare two reports, almost a decade apart.

The 2007 Statistics Department study Wealth and disparities in New Zealand revealed that the top 10% of wealthy New Zealand individuals owned over half of New Zealand’s total net worth, and nearly one fifth of total net worth was owned by the top one percent of wealthy individuals. At the halfway mark, the bottom half of the population collectively owned a mere 5 percent of total net worth.

The most recent available information is a 2016 Statistics Department study Household Net Worth Statistics: Year ended June 2015 (published 2016).  It reveals that the (more…)

From 2010 to 2015 Liberal Party MP Sir John Vincent Cable was the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in Britain.  The following is part of a retweet of Cable yesterday by author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.  Cable said:

In other words, even in terms of the operations of capitalism, scares about immigration depressing wages and limiting employment don’t hold up.

 

The article below is the discussion piece for the next gathering of the Imperialism Study Group.  It is reblogged from Monthly Review, here.  John is the author of  Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century, winner of the Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy Memorial Prize.  Our interview with him on the subject of 21st century imperialism is here

The Monthly Review editors note in an introduction to the article:

“In an interview with Richard Seymour in the March 2017 issue of Monthly Review, interviewer Michael Yates, in a question about imperialism, pointed out that noted Marxist scholar David Harvey ‘claims that wealth in the rich nations is being drained by the countries of the Global South.’1 Specifically, Yates quoted Harvey:

“‘Those of us who think the old categories of imperialism do not work too well in these times do not deny at all the complex flows of value that expand the accumulation of wealth and power in one part of the world at the expense of another. We simply think the flows are more complicated and constantly changing direction. The historical draining of wealth from East to West for more than two centuries, for example, has largely been reversed over the last thirty years.’

“Seymour suggested that what Yates said was too strong an indictment of Harvey. That is, the above quote by Harvey, taken from Prabhat and Utsa Patnaik’s book, A Theory of Imperialism,2 should be taken to mean that certain reasonably wealthy countries in the Global South, such as Taiwan and South Korea, ‘might now be “sub-imperialisms”.’ John Smith, author of the Monthly Review Press book, Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century,3 takes issue with Seymour’s interpretation of Harvey’s words. In what follows, Smith lays out his argument. Smith’s comments have been edited from several emails and files sent by Smith to Michael Yates. Smith has gone over these to make sure they accurately reflect his view. —Eds.”

by John Smith

I. An Imperialism Denier

David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism and other acclaimed books on the history of capitalism and Marxist political economy, is an imperialism-denier who uses his considerable prestige as a prominent Marxist theoretician to miseducate his readers on the single-most important issue confronting Marxist political economy: the huge drain of value and surplus-value from the global South (in which I include low-wage countries in East Asia) to the imperialist centers, a flow which has greatly increased in scale and importance during the neoliberal era.

According to Richard Seymour, Harvey’s contrary claim, that the “historical draining of wealth from East to West for more than two centuries… has largely been reversed over the last thirty years,” might be due to Taiwan and South Korea becoming “sub-imperialisms.” I see no basis for this in the work from which this quote is taken. Moreover, Harvey’s suggestion that the “East” now exploits the “West” repeats almost word for word what he said in his 2014 work, 17 Contradictions and the End of Capitalism:

Disparities in the global distribution of wealth and income between countries have been much reduced with rising per capita incomes in many developing parts of the world. The net drain of wealth from East to West that had prevailed for over two centuries has been reversed as East Asia in particular has risen to prominence as a powerhouse in the global economy. The recovery of the global economy (anaemic though it was) from the traumas of 2007–9 had largely been based by 2013 on the rapid expansions in so-called “emerging” markets (mainly the BRIC countries). This shift had even extended to Africa, which was the one part of the world that seemed to have escaped almost entirely from any effects of the crisis.4

All of this makes it clear beyond doubt that Harvey was making a general point about the supposed reversal in the flow of value between North and South, not one restricted to the exceptional cases of Taiwan and South Korea.

Harvey’s refusal to acknowledge that production outsourcing to low-wage countries signifies a major expansion of (more…)

by Don Franks

For reasons known only to themselves, Unions Wellington have chosen to pitch their election message at the level of a slow-witted preschooler.Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 8.16.50 PM

The UW Voters Guide advises: “This election its important to think about your rights at work when you cast your ballot.”\

“Here’s how the parties stack up on major issues: a living wage, industry agreements to control rogue employers, and a change of government!”

Following that text is a little coloured diagram depicting categories Living wage, Industry agreements, Change the government. Labour and the Greens get a tick for each box. The Maori Party get two ticks, NZ First one, Top and National none.

Or, as a friend of mine put it -“it’s simple really. Labour good, Greens good, NZFirst half good, workers stupid”.

Indeed. Can you really imagine advising a workmate: “Look, you know, this election its important to think about your rights at work when you  (more…)