Archive for the ‘Hunger’ Category

by Con Karavias

For more than five years, refugees have been subjected to horror and abuse on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. With the government’s decision to permanently close the detention centre on 31 October, the horror has descended into absolute barbarity.

Water, food and power have been cut off. More than 600 refugees have been reduced to filling bins with rainwater and mixing it with sugar and salt to sustain themselves. Sympathetic members of the local PNG community have been blocked from providing them with food. A protest sign in the centre in early November read, “If the air was in Australia’s hands it would cut it on us”.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee on Manus, talks of “a mood of death, climate of (more…)

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by Daphna Whitmore

The government has announced the minimum wage will rise by 50c an hour from April 2016. It will go up from $14.75 to $15.25 an hour, far short of the $19.80 called for by the living wage campaign.

livingwage

For the over 100,000 people on the minimum wage the small increase will not lift them out of poverty. Not only is the pay inadequate, many low-waged workers do not have secure hours of work. They do not know from week to week how many hours of work they will have.

However, this year’s increase is above the rate of inflation and again shows up those on the left who have mistaken National for a hardline neoliberal party. The fact is National occupies a pragmatic centrist position on the capitalist spectrum, snugly alongside Labour. (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

povertyA big new research project has been launched by the government. Called “A Better Start – E Tipu e Rea“, it is to run for ten years, with $34 million funding to “improve the potential of young New Zealanders to have a healthy and successful life”.

It will focus “on those tamariki most at risk of obesity, learning and mental health problems – those for whom we can make the most difference. These are Māori, Pacific and poorer children, who carry an unfair burden … Māori and Pacific communities are helping to design, execute and interpret our research in a way that is culturally right for them.”

While giving a nod to poverty being a factor, will the researchers get to the heart of the economic system?

Will they tackle the fundamental causes of inequality and consider who creates wealth and who gets it under capitalism? Will they establish why the majority of people earn only modest incomes and why there is a chronic shortage of jobs? In other words, will the research expose the capitalist disparity-creating system? (more…)

povertyby Michael Roberts

The Nobel prize for economics this year went to Scottish Princeton University professor, Angus Deaton.  Of course, this is not really a Nobel prize as it is an invention by the Swedish central bank, the Riksbank, and has become a ‘Nobel’ prize. But leaving aside the controversy over whether it should be called a Nobel prize and whether all these mainstream neoclassical economists should keep winning it, what does Angus Deaton have to offer?

He is an expert on world poverty, the consumption patterns of households and how to measure them.  The media coverage of Deaton’s work is keen to emphasise that he shows that humankind have never had it so good in 2015 under the capitalist mode of production. As one commentator put it: “Deaton’s central message is deeply positive, almost gloriously so. By the most meaningful measures — how long we live, how healthy and happy we are, how much we know — life has never been better. Just as important, it is continuing to improve.”

And it’s true that Deaton has emphasised that life expectancy globally has risen 50% since 1900 and is still rising. The share of people living on less than $1 a day (in inflation-adjusted terms) has dropped to 14 percent from 42 percent as recently as 1981. Even as inequality has surged within many countries, global inequality has very likely fallen, thanks largely to the (more…)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's new headquarters occupies 900,000-square-feet and cost $(US)500 million

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s new headquarters occupies 900,000-square-feet and cost $(US)500 million

by Sandhya Srinivasan

“There is no better place to have an impact than India.” – Bill Gates1

How much money does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) spend in India?

urban-poverty-in-india-1

According to World Bank figures, 68% of India’s population live on less than $US2 a day

BMGF has a substantial presence in India, directly funding projects totaling at least $1 billion from 2003, when it entered, to 2012.2 Apparently, this does not include funds given to international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that run projects in India. (For example, BMGF has donated a total of almost $1 billion to a single international NGO, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), to conduct and fund various projects; indeed PATH has been described as an agent of the foundation more than a grantee.3 PATH in turn runs projects in India.) In India, BMGF’s activities are largely in the fields of health and nutrition, where it co-funds government programmes, non-governmental organisations’ activities and pharmaceutical companies’ ventures here.

However, BMGF’s funds are small compared to India’s public health expenditure. The latter was $18.3 billion in 2010-11 alone.4 Thus BMGF’s funds as such cannot make a major contribution to meeting the health needs of India. Rather, if BMGF funds were withdrawn or declined, even a small (in percentage terms) increase in allocations by the Central and state governments would more than compensate for the loss.

What are BMGF’s objectives?

Key elements of the BMGF strategy5 – as described on the Foundation website – are as follows:

(i) using partnerships to leverage public and private resources to influence policy;
(ii) using State projects as ‘incubators of innovation’; and
(iii) underscoring the role of technology.

The BMGF strategy (as described on a website page that has since been changed but is available as an archived6 page) says:

“The foundation does not invest in delivering health or education services. Instead, we identify ways to leverage systems and innovate so these services achieve better outcomes for people.
All strategies leverage our partnerships to achieve impact…
All strategies underscore the role of technology.” (emphasis added)

In other words, BMGF’s objective is to influence Government policy. The foundation’s (more…)

by Don Franks

In 1919 the New Zealand Labour Party won eight seats contesting its first general election, promising “Increased taxation on monopoly and increased graduated income tax with a corresponding reduction of indirect taxation for the purposes of removing the present burdens on family incomes.”

This echoed the Communist Manifesto‘s demand for “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax”, in both cases a tilt at the rich in favour of the poor.

This was back when the New Zealand Labour Party was a new act juggling two balls; socialist rhetoric and parliamentary politics.

Karl Marx type taxing was never going to be delivered by a party committed to respecting capitalism’s political rules and so it proved to be.

But in 1919, punters could be excused for taking Labour at its face value.

Labour had been in existence for only three years and was in large measure a creation of  working men and women. There was then little reason to doubt Labour’s bright new pro worker promises. 

Labour has now completed almost one hundred years of reliable service to those exploiting the working class.  fruit&vege

In today’s latest skip down that road Labour leader David Cunliffe merrily tweeted: “I’ve just dropped GST off fresh fruit & veges and $5000 tax-free zone. Better ways to help Kiwis. Bold new policies coming in 2014.”

Cunliffe’s protection of the goods and services tax is consistent, because GST was a Labour Party creation. Initially at 10 per cent, then later raised to 12.5 per cent, GST hits the poorest hardest – because low-paid workers must spend a far higher proportion of their money on basic goods and services than do the better-off.  (more…)

Statement by BAYAN-USA – an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates.

November 15, 2013

Garage-Sale-2Mr. President, let’s set the record straight: Starving people can’t eat bullets or drink excuses.  Machine guns can’t heal broken bones. Finger-pointing can’t repair homes or hospitals. Only the people working together and fully mobilized to implement the largest nationwide relief effort in the history of the Philippines will be able to meet the victims’ immediate needs and rebuild the lives and communities wrecked by Typhoon Haiyan.  And don’t forget that it is the responsibility of the Philippine government to fulfill its obligation to provide relief and rehabilitation for the entire nation.

BAYAN USA joins the international criticism of the Aquino administration’s utterly inept handling of the relief efforts as the crisis worsens with each day that passes. With over 600,000 people displaced, at least 150,000 homes destroyed, a mounting death toll that is estimated at over 10,000 people to date, and at least 15 million people throughout the country impacted by Haiyan, the Filipino people are relying on unprecedented acts of care and sacrifice for each other and aid given in the spirit of genuine and respectful solidarity by people around the world. The lack of action by the government to prioritize the people and their extreme needs right now over the political interests of the elite is painfully obvious. (more…)