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Them & Us
£1 billion. That's the estimated value of pay-day loan company Wonga if it decides to go ahead with floating on the stock market. It is thought that Errol Damelin, founder of the company, which makes its profit by ripping desperate people off with interest rates of over 4,000%, owns 10% of the company which could put him in line for a £100 million windfall. Presumably it wouldn't take the company long to make that - Martin Lewis has calculated that if a Wonga customer borrowed £100 and made no payments for seven years, they would owe more than the entire US national debt!
A tale of two Jubilees
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published a report comparing spending and work now with the Silver Jubilee in 1977. The headline story is that we're paid twice as much now as then but there were many more facts hidden in the report. The income share of the richest 1%, for example, had trebled. There has been a significant decrease in the proportion of men in work, especially the young and the old. And Thatcher's destruction of manufacturing is clear to see - the proportion employed in this industry has reduced by 25% to 10%.
Going back in time
While most places in the country are having broadband internet installed as quickly as possible, two areas in Cumbria are having theirs removed. Cable & Wireless Worldwide says that funding had run out and so the service is no longer economical. The organisation which secured the original funding, the North West Development Agency was abolished as part of the Con-Dems' cuts. Local residents have pointed out that broadband has drastically improved life in the remote area. But if there's no profit to be made, you can be sure a private company won't be doing it. That's the madness of the market for you.
Olympic crack down
The Met Police are preparing to pre-emptively arrest anyone they think might disrupt the Olympics. They claim they will only target 'known criminals' and won't use these powers against people planning protests. But after the same tactic was used before the Royal Wedding last year, we're not convinced. Plus, the Met are also using Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos) in a similar way to keep individuals away from the Games. These have already been used against protesters, such as those who occupied Leyton marshes recently to try and prevent them being taken over for use in the Olympics.
Disposable incomes will fall in the UK for the third year in a row according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. Food, clothes and fuel costs are all rapidly rising while wages are stagnant. Someone still has money to spend though - sales of luxury goods are up 7%.
Warsi in trouble again
Lady Warsi, co-chair of the Conservative Party, is building quite a collection of investigations. Warsi's alleged expenses fiddling was already being investigated by a Lords inquiry and considered by the police. And now she faces a possible investigation into breaking the 'ministerial code' for taking a relative of her husband's on a government visit to Pakistan without letting anyone know they also happened to be business partners. But while Cameron has referred her to the adviser on the ministerial code, he has yet to do the same to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt for his role in Murdochgate - why's that we wonder?
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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
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In The Socialist 6 June 2012:
Fight the cuts!
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