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The Socialist 16 September 2020 |
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Under the microscope
Covid-19, photo NIH/CC (Click to enlarge)
Bosses' pandemic profit bonanza
32 of the world's biggest corporations are in line to make an extra $109 billion profit under 2020's pandemic conditions, says Oxfam. The 'S&P 500' US stock market index hit an all-time high of 3,581 points on 2 September, while recession and unemployment punish millions of workers.
The 25 most profitable global firms could pay over $378 billion in dividends this year - equivalent to 124% of profits. Chemicals giant BASF took £1 billion in emergency loans from the British government - and plans to pay shareholders over €3 billion!
Meanwhile, Oxfam reports the pandemic fallout could push half a billion people into poverty. 400 million jobs have gone already, and the ILO reckons 430 million small enterprises are under threat. One 63-year-old manager made redundant by his restaurant even resorted to handing out CVs at Leeds railway station.
Privatised testing and treatment fiasco
The government is looking to hand £10 billion to private hospitals to fill in for overwhelmed NHS services over the next four years. Why not cut out the middleman and just fund the NHS? And how will Tory plans to axe Public Health England help the problem?
Aside from the wasteful drain of profit extraction, how can we even trust the private sector? Healthcare regulators in England and Scotland declined to publish care home death tolls because this would "likely prejudice the commercial interests of care providers"!
Johnson's welcome (but belated and secret) mass testing proposal, 'Operation Moonshot', would cost £100 billion. No doubt the Tories will try to hand this to private bosses too.
Meanwhile, swab tests can miss 30 to 50% of infections, finds Cambridge University. And even the paltry number of tests administered so far was subject to "an adjustment" last month - the government had overstated the figures by, oh, 1,308,071.