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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 May 2020

Bail out the real wealth creators, not the rich

Jarrow demonstration: we are the 99% Take the wealth off the 1%, photo Paul Mattsson

Jarrow demonstration: we are the 99% Take the wealth off the 1%, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales

Remember the bank bailout after the 2007-08 crisis? The banks went cap in hand to the taxpayer while their executives continued to receive multimillion-pound bonuses. The government took the banks' debts off their hands while leaving them the profits - and making the working class pay with austerity for over a decade.

Now, faced with an even deeper crisis, virtually the whole capitalist class wants to be bailed out. Never mind that many of them are sitting on huge cash reserves.

Even companies making inflated profits from the crisis, like Tesco, are being subsidised. Tesco has received 585 million in business rate relief while paying 900 million in dividend payments to its shareholders this year, after making profits of over 2 billion.

Payments to workers amount to a very small proportion of the overall government bailout. 330 billion, or 95% of the original 350 billion announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, was intended to shore up business.

The sheer shameless gall of the billionaires makes you gasp. Richard Branson is sitting on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. This enables him to avoid paying any tax on the huge profits he has made while taking over 300 million in government subsidies for Virgin Trains, and over 2 billion in government contracts for Virgin Care.

He even sued the NHS when his company failed to win a contract from Surrey NHS clinical commissioning groups. But this has not prevented him demanding that the government stump up 500 million to stop his Virgin airline from crashing.

And while Branson's personal net worth is 4.5 billion, he is forcing the 8,500 staff of the airline to take eight weeks' unpaid leave, with deductions spread over six months. This saves him 34 million - less than 0.8% of his personal fortune.

This whole epoch in microcosm - workers tightening their belts, with many forced into severe personal hardship, to preserve the fortunes of the mega-rich. And the bosses are increasingly viewing the crisis as an opportunity to further attack workers' pay and conditions.

British Airways has announced the sacking of 12,000 workers, half its workforce, and demanded further cuts of the remaining workforce. Rolls-Royce is threatening to cut up to 8,000 jobs and P&O ferries has said that 4,000 jobs could go if the government doesn't cough up 150 million of public money.

Workers should have their jobs and income guaranteed, but the gold-plated parasites should not get a penny of a bailout paid for by the working class. All companies requesting funding should open their books so that we can see where their profits have gone - and how they have avoided taxes.

Any of the major corporations that are facing collapse or making workers redundant should be nationalised, with no compensation for the billionaire bosses, and run as public services under democratic workers' control.

After 2008 there was a public outcry at bankers' bonuses that even the Tory press was forced to echo to a certain extent. But once the furore had died down, there was a concerted propaganda campaign to shift the burden onto the working class, especially through cuts to public services, and to justify an enormous austerity programme.

This time, working people will not lightly accept further attacks while the rich laugh all the way to the bank.

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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.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 6 May 2020:


What we think

Bosses push to lift lockdown - they only care about profits


Coronavirus news

Dispatches from the NHS front

Bail out the real wealth creators, not the rich

Homes needed to end overcrowding

Homeless left on streets during pandemic

Pay full fees for virtual courses? - No way!

Them&Us

Your donations can keep the Socialist going


Test and trace

Test and trace: workers need a real plan

Tories using pandemic to shift lab testing out of NHS


Workplace news

Nationalise British Airways to stop 12,000 redundancies

Postal workers force Royal Mail back

No increase in transport capacity without adequate safety precautions for workers and passengers

Unsafe Workplace? "It's up to you" PCS tells reps and members

Further protests in Ireland against Debenhams closures - UK fightback needed

Rolls Royce threatens 8,000 job losses

EDF Energy workers furloughed on 100% pay


International news

India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

US: Trump's public health cuts have condemned thousands worldwide

Trump puts profit before safety (again)


Lessons from history

The Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2


Obituary

Peter Hadden remembered


Readers' opinion

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

TV Review BBC Panorama: PPE shortage - how many lives will be lost?


 

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