poverty

Error message

  • Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).

Video: audience laughs at Starmer as he answers ‘robot’ question like a robot…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/06/2024 - 8:27am in

…and brings up ‘my dad was a toolmaker’ yet again

Keir Starmer leaves the TV studio after tonight’s debate

Keir Starmer was mocked and laughed at by the audience at the televised general election debate tonight, after he short-circuited when asked by an audience member why he should trust someone so robotic – and answered just like a robot that hadn’t had an answer for that question added to his programming.

Starmer was forced to reboot as the audience laughed – and then had to default to a non-relevant answer about being the (awful) head of the Crown Prosecution Service:

Then the audience hooted again as Starmer rolled out another script about his father (a Corbyn fan, before his death, by the way) being a toolmaker and claimed this meant they hadn’t been able to make ends meet, even though his dad reportedly owned the factory:

For a supposedly high-powered barrister, the clueless and out of touch Starmer is astonishingly awful at thinking on his feet and regularly looks hopeless as soon as a question isn’t friendly and scripted or he faces the slightest scrutiny. Robotic, in fact.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Q and A with Naila Kabeer on Renegotiating Patriarchy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/06/2024 - 8:47pm in

In this interview with Anna D’Alton (LSE Review of Books), Naila Kabeer discusses her new book, Renegotiating Patriarchy: Gender, Agency and the Bangladesh Paradoxforthcoming from LSE Press in September. The book examines positive social change in Bangladesh over the past 50 years, in particular the factors that enabled significant and rapid gains for women in areas like health, education and employment within a deeply patriarchal society.

LSE Festival Power and Politics 2024

Join Naila Kabeer, Monica Ali, Phillip Hensher and Sarah Worthington for an event, Power and Storytelling on Saturday 15 June as part of LSE Festival.

Renegotiating Patriarchy: Gender, Agency and the Bangladesh Paradox. Naila Kabeer. LSE Press. 2024.

Bangaldesh Paradox naila kabeer book coverWhat is the “Bangladesh paradox”?

Bangladesh has been described as a new nation but an ancient land. For much of its history, Bangladesh was colonised by foreign powers, first by Hindu and Buddhist rulers from other parts of India, then by the Moghuls, followed by the British. When the British left in 1947, what is now Bangladesh was incorporated into Pakistan but occupied the status of a quasi-colony. It fought a war of liberation before finally becoming independent in 1971.

The long history of colonial extraction meant that Bangladesh embarked on independence as one of the poorest countries in the world. It had extremely high fertility rates which made it one of the  most densely populated countries in the world. It had a largely illiterate population that eked out a living in subsistence agriculture. It also had a very patriarchal culture, one it shared with the northern plains of India, that gave rise to very strong son preference and a tradition of discrimination against daughters. The high fertility rates in the country were partly due to the pressure on women to have enough children to ensure a minimum number of sons, pressure which resulted in very high rates of maternal mortality. Bangladeshi women were described by a Population Crisis Committee report from the 1980s as “poor, powerless and pregnant”, with the lowest status among women from the 99 countries covered by the report.

Bangladesh was regarded by the donor community at the time [of independence in 1971] as an “international basket case”[] Yet by the 1980s, fertility rates began declining at a speed that set a record in demographic history.

Bangladesh was regarded by the donor community at the time as an “international basket case”, a country would need foreign aid into the foreseeable future if it was to survive, let alone thrive. Yet by the 1980s, fertility rates began declining at a speed that set a record in demographic history, there were striking improvements in health and nutrition and educational levels began to rise. What stood out about these changes is the disproportionate gains made by women and the resulting decline in gender inequality.  So the term “Bangladesh paradox” is used as shorthand to describe the remarkable progress that the country made in spite of high levels of poverty and poor levels of governance.

There is one other element to the paradox that is less widely remarked on that interests me. The improvements observed in gender equality came at a time when the country had begun experiencing a steady rise in a very orthodox version of Islam, one imported from the Middle East and antithetical to many of the gains women had made.

Q: What aspects of the Bangladesh paradox does your book, Renegotiating Patriarchy address?

There have been many explanations of the Bangladesh paradox, but they tend to focus on the role of powerful actors such as the state, the donors and the non-governmental sector. They all have a part to play, but at the heart of the story I tell in this book is what I believe to be the main driving force behind the changes we associate with the paradox: the ideas, values and motivations of ordinary people. This hidden story of change takes as its starting point the evidence emerging in the literature that there had been a significant decline in son preference and a move towards more egalitarian preferences, with many parents satisfied with only having daughters. This was in sharp contrast to India where parents were seeking to reconcile their desire for fewer children with the practice of female-selective abortion to ensure that their children were only, or mainly sons.

At the heart of the story I tell in this book is what I believe to be the main driving force behind the changes we associate with the paradox: the ideas, values and motivations of ordinary people.

Clearly there had been some kind of shift in the structures of patriarchy in Bangladesh: girls were now more likely to survive the early years of life than boys (the norm in much of the world); they were more likely to be enrolled in primary and secondary school than boys and their labour force participation rates had been rising consistently, overtaking those of India and Pakistan.

My book sets out to find out what led ordinary people make the changes in their lives which coalesced into the Bangladesh paradox. And because there was evidence accumulating in various studies that women had played an important role in making these changes happen, I was particularly interested in this aspect of the story. Given Bangladesh’s patriarchal traditions, I wanted to know what motivated women to seek change and how they were able to bring it about when the changes they sought seemed to go against the grain of these traditions.

Q: What was your methodological approach and how did you arrive at it? 

The book is interdisciplinary in its approach and pluralist in its methodology. As I noted earlier, there have been many “big picture” stories about the Bangladesh paradox. What has been missing are the multitude of “small picture” stories from ordinary men and women. A great deal of the book is made up of these stories, gathered from my own research and from research that others have carried out. By examining the experiences and motivations related by different generations of women and men over successive periods of time, I was able to trace the unfolding of the Bangladesh paradox through the shifts in attitudes that they reported, the actions they took in response to survival imperatives and the changes in their aspirations as new possibilities came into view.

These narratives form the core of my analysis, but I draw on a range of other sources of information as well. I go back into the history of Bangladesh to understand the more tolerant version of Islam that had flourished in the country, an amalgam of the various religions that had co-existed in the region and that may have been a factor in allowing women to make the gains they did. I draw on secondary literature to understand the evolution of the country’s policy and legal architecture, piecing together the story of the economic changes that allowed the country to transcend its past poverty. These constitute the structural context within which individuals and groups were able to exercise certain forms of agency but not others, which allowed women to “renegotiate” the more oppressive aspects of patriarchy rather than to overthrow it.

Individuals and groups were able to exercise certain forms of agency but not others, which allowed women to ‘renegotiate’ the more oppressive aspects of patriarchy rather than to overthrow it.

In addition, woven into my account of the qualitative explanations that men and women gave for their behaviour are statistical findings that helped me to distinguish between the explanations that embodied the experiences of the few, perhaps those who were ahead of their time or lagging behind, and those of the many whose experiences were widespread enough to shape the larger statistical trends.

Q: A central research question in the book is around the decline for son preference among families and communities in Bangladesh. What were the reasons for son preference?  

Bangladesh is a part of a larger region that Deniz Kandiyoti refers to as “the belt of classic patriarchy” stretching from North Africa across the Middle east and the northern plains of the South Asian sub-continent, including Bangladesh. These countries may have very different histories, different religions, different economic trajectories, but they share certain features of their gender and kinship relations in common. They are characterised by patrilineal descent so that the family name and property pass through the male line. There are strict restrictions on women’s mobility outside the home so they are confined to reproductive and home-based activities, dependent on male breadwinners for most of their lives.  Daughters are married off early and leave the parental home to be absorbed into their husband’s lineage. Sons, on the other hand, carry on the family line, inherit its property, engage in productive work and look after their parents as they get older. Not surprisingly, these societies are characterised by a strong preference for sons, with lower levels of female education and labour force relative to male and, in contrast to the rest of the world, higher levels of female mortality, particularly in the younger age groups.

A woman in Bangladesh wearing an orange sari holds a tool and looks off camera with trees behind herA woman in Subarnachar, Noakhali, Bangladesh. Photo © Jannatul Mawa.

Q: In your research, you discovered that there was a decline in son preference in the past forty or fifty years. What were some of the reasons for that decline? 

My interest in son preference goes back to 1980 when I was doing my PhD at LSE and researching the reasons for high fertility in Bangladesh. I spent a year doing field work in a village in Bangladesh where it became clear to me that women had a particularly strong preference for sons over daughters, both to assure their status in their husband’s family and because sons represented security in old age. After my PhD, I joined the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex and continued to do research in South Asia. I was aware of the various studies from Bangladesh documenting, among other things, increasing gender equality in survival rates, health, nutrition and education. To find out why this was happening, I went back to the village in which I had conducted my PhD field work.

My interest in son preference goes back to 1980 when I was doing my PhD at LSE and researching the reasons for high fertility in Bangladesh.

What I found makes up the concluding sections of the book where I also touch on why a similar shift in son preference had not been happening in India. The full answer on the reasons for this shift, detailed in the book, are complicated and tangled up with the overall story of the Bangladesh paradox. The short answer revolves around changing intergenerational relationships and the belief on the part of parents that sons had become more focused on their own wives and children to the neglect of their parents, that daughters-in-law were not as subservient as they used to be and that daughters are now not only regarded as more loyal to their parents than sons. They are perceived as being more concerned about their welfare, but also, with the rise in their income-earning opportunities, in a better position to help them materially. It was mothers who were often at the forefront of this revaluation of daughters.

Q: You deal with the rise in women’s labour force participation in your book. What was its significance?  

It has been very significant. There is an interesting contrast here between Bangladesh and India. India has one of the highest per capita growth rates in the world but its female labour force participation has been declining steadily and is now among the lowest in South Asia. In fact, the jobless nature of India’s growth has seen high levels of unemployment among men as well. Although Bangladesh’s growth rates are also high, it remains far poorer than India.  However, it has had a more labour-intensive pattern of growth and generated opportunities that have benefited women as well as men. Its microfinance programmes have allowed women to take up income-generating activities that could be carried out within or near the home. Its export-oriented garment sector had a largely female labour force. Community-based services, including those provided by NGOs, hire large numbers of women. In Bangladesh, women’s ability to make a direct contribution to household income has been an important factor in enhancing their voice and agency within their households, has made daughters appear less of a burden to their families and has given women the motivation to resist the efforts of Islamist forces to curtail their opportunities.

Women’s ability to make a direct contribution to household income has been an important factor in enhancing their voice and agency within their households

Q: Do you think that the positive social changes, including the progress on gender equality that the paradox describes will be sustained in the future? 

It’s hard to say. I feel somewhat pessimistic but not just in relation to Bangladesh. The whole world seems to have become darker – it is more unequal, there are more wars, more natural disasters, more financial crises and, of course, accelerating climate change. And the same market fundamentalism that impededes our ability to put things to right in the rest of the world is also holding it up in Bangladesh.

We have seen inequality rising in Bangladesh over the last decades. Whereas in the early years after independence, it was possible to make important gains on the health front with low-cost vertical programmes, we now need broad-based health services so that everyone can be assured of decent care when they need it. Quantity in educational provision has been achieved at the expense of quality, and quality has been undermined by compromising on a secular curriculum in deference to Islamist forces. We have had multiparty democracy since 1990 and mainly civilian rule, but when the same party has been in power since 2009, we know it is not a very healthy democracy. Meanwhile, the rise of an intolerant Islamic orthodoxy has continued and may have been given fresh oxygen by what is happening to Palestinian people in Gaza today. I am not sure whether the pace of social progress we saw in the past will be sustained in the future. But who knows? Bangladesh has defied the odds before; it may do so again.

Note: This interview gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Main image credit: A woman in Subarnachar, Noakhali, Bangladesh. Photo © Jannatul Mawa.

 

Starmer unveils ‘GB energy’ logo – a stock graphic for 57p that ‘looks like it’s farting’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/05/2024 - 8:43pm in

Great British Energy logo is a cheap stock graphic available for pennies

Keir Starmer has ‘unveiled’ the logo for his ‘Great British Energy’ scam – it won’t actually supply any energy – and it’s a shocker that suggests how little thought and seriousness is behind the whole project.

The logo drew derision from the moment of its publication, with pithy reactions:

Another wag observed that the logo,

looks like a lightbulb farting.

And there may be a reason it’s underwhelmed its viewers – Labour appears to have bought it as a stock ‘vector graphic’ logo for the princely sum of… as little as 57 pence:

The price may have been slightly higher if bought as a one-off.

Great British Energy is a PR con designed to create the impression of nationally owned energy while allowing corporations to make huge profits at the public’s expense. Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds admitted as much when he told Utility Week in 2022 that it will not produce any energy, but its purpose would instead be the:

management of the investments, which we believe are essential to unlock these markets and opportunities.

Nothing to do with public energy provision to ensure that UK families do not continue to be ripped off and impoverished by greedy private energy companies making obscene profits, then – just more marketisation of an already broken sector that can only be repaired by full renationalisation.

And it seems that Labour can’t even be bothered to spend a bit of time and effort badging the thing in a credible way.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Women’s homelessness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/04/2024 - 11:03pm in

I’ve just published Chapter 8 of my open access textbook. This new chapter focuses on women’s homelessness.

An English summary of the new chapter can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/womens-homelessness/

A French summary of the new chapter is here: https://nickfalvo.ca/litinerance-chez-les-femmes/

All material related to the textbook can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/book/

Women’s homelessness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/04/2024 - 11:03pm in

I’ve just published Chapter 8 of my open access textbook. This new chapter focuses on women’s homelessness.

An English summary of the new chapter can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/womens-homelessness/

A French summary of the new chapter is here: https://nickfalvo.ca/litinerance-chez-les-femmes/

All material related to the textbook can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/book/

Homelessness in Yellowknife

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/02/2024 - 12:46am in

Here’s a ‘top 7’ summary of my recent book chapter on homelessness in Yellowknife:

Responding to homelessness in Yellowknife: Pushing the ocean back with a spoon

Homelessness in Yellowknife

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/02/2024 - 12:46am in

Here’s a ‘top 7’ summary of my recent book chapter on homelessness in Yellowknife:

Responding to homelessness in Yellowknife: Pushing the ocean back with a spoon

Homelessness among racialized persons

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/01/2024 - 1:13am in

Chapter 7 of my open access textbook has just been released. This chapter focuses on homelessness experienced by racialized persons.

A ‘top 10’ summary of the chapter can be found here (in English):
https://nickfalvo.ca/homelessness-among-racialized-persons/

A ‘top 10’ summary of the chapter in French can be found here:
https://nickfalvo.ca/litinerance-chez-les-personnes-racialisees/

The full chapter can be found here (English only):
https://nickfalvo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Falvo-Chapter-7-Racializ...

All material related to the book is available here: https://nickfalvo.ca/book/

Homelessness among racialized persons

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/01/2024 - 1:13am in

Chapter 7 of my open access textbook has just been released. This chapter focuses on homelessness experienced by racialized persons.

A ‘top 10’ summary of the chapter can be found here (in English):
https://nickfalvo.ca/homelessness-among-racialized-persons/

A ‘top 10’ summary of the chapter in French can be found here:
https://nickfalvo.ca/litinerance-chez-les-personnes-racialisees/

The full chapter can be found here (English only):
https://nickfalvo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Falvo-Chapter-7-Racializ...

All material related to the book is available here: https://nickfalvo.ca/book/

The empire of lies (and its consequences)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 27/11/2023 - 7:32am in

Illustration of people holding hands in a circleImage by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“Let’s face it, the universe is messy. It is nonlinear, turbulent, and chaotic. It is dynamic. It spends its time in transient behavior on its way to somewhere else, not in mathematically neat equilibria. It self-organizes and evolves. It creates diversity, not uniformity. That’s what makes the world interesting, that’s what makes it beautiful, and that’s what makes it work.”

Donella H. Meadows, Thinking In Systems: A Primer

 

The Mont Pelerin Society was founded in 1947 by Friedrich von Hayek. The tenets of its faith can be described best in the words of David Harvey in his book ‘A Brief History of Neoliberalism’.

“Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.”

Whilst it took a few decades for its proponents to win their arguments, since the 70s it has formed the backbone of political and economic thought that has driven public policy globally through national governments, and institutions like the IMF and the World Bank.

Mrs Thatcher was enamoured by Hayek and his book ‘Road to Serfdom’ which she read as an undergraduate at Oxford. It is reputed that at a Conservative party policy meeting, she took her copy of another of his books, ‘Constitution of Liberty’ from her bag, slammed it down on the table and declared, ‘This is what we believe’. From there, everything is history. Her insistence that ‘There is no such thing as public money, there is only taxpayers’ money’, provided the modus operandi for successive governments of all political stripes to implement policies that reflected Hayek’s political and economic beliefs.

It led to, as David Harvey also went on to say, ‘ the financialisation of everything … A power shift away from production to the world of finance’. It has overseen over those same decades the dismantling of public services, social security, deregulation and the breaking of labour and the unions, as well as huge increases in poverty and inequality.

Inevitably, this toxic philosophy has made the rich elite richer in what can only be described as an ongoing wealth grab. It has been responsible for the exploitation of some of the poorest countries in the world, who not only have had to watch as their own resources are plundered by Western corporations, but also have had to watch as their own existence is threatened by a climate crisis, not of their own making, but which keeps the profits of global corporations flying high.

Let’s fast forward to the present, where the consequences lie before us in all their horror. With a particular emphasis here on the UK and the effects of neoliberal dogma on the lives of citizens, which has resulted not just from decades of such policies, but the last 13 years of Tory austerity which have done so much damage to the public and social infrastructure meant to provide the foundations for a functioning economy and societal well-being.

Analysing the effects of austerity on the population, a study compiled by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and the University of Glasgow (and debated in the House of Lords) ‘adds to the growing evidence of the profound and deeply concerning changes to mortality trends observed as a result of UK Government economic ‘austerity’ policies. These have slashed billions of pounds from our public services and social security system with devastating impacts. Without support, people have been swept up by a rising tide of poverty and dragged under by decreased income, poor housing, poor nutrition, poor health and social isolation – ultimately leading to premature deaths…’

The response to the pandemic which began in 2020, highlighted as nothing ever could, the effects of cuts to public spending on public health systems and social care services, and the inhumane effects of welfare reform on working people and some of the most vulnerable in our society. The human reality is shocking.

Last week’s Autumn Statement exposes not just that cruelty, but also highlights the false narrative upon which that cruelty is meted out by politicians, and the economic dogma which directs public policy and spending.

Jeremy Hunt was clear; ‘There’s no easy way to reduce the tax burden. What we need to do is take difficult decisions to reform the welfare state’. His Chief Secretary to the Treasury was even blunter, people must ‘do their duty’, get back to work, sick or not, or face the consequences, lose benefits. As if these were choices to be made by the sick or those struggling with their mental health, and not political choices borne of a political class that has lost its way.

As Ayla Ozmen at the Charity Z2K commented, ‘There is no evidence to support the idea that there are fully remote jobs available that are suitable for these groups. This is simply a cut for those of us who become seriously ill or disabled in the future and need the support of social security, and risks worsening people’s health and pushing them further from work.’

Frances Ryan, disability campaigner and journalist at the Guardian put it even more starkly. ‘The Tories are back monstering people on benefits.’ This was nothing to do she said, ‘with saving money’, but was, in fact, ‘performative cruelty’, ‘nothing more than a raid on the income of those who already have the least whilst being demonised by those with the most.’

We have, as she said, been here before. People died. It can be no accident. This is a deliberate choice by a currency-issuing government to inflict harm on those least able to defend themselves, and to be frank, those who have suffered more than their fair share of the politics of austerity and cuts to public spending.

The Spectator predictably chose a divisive headline for this month’s publication, Britain’s welfare system is out of control,writing that, the number of Britons claiming sickness benefits – 2.8 million – will still keep rising to 3.4 million by the end of the decade. Reversing this trend, it seems, is a political impossibility.’ 

The more accurate headline would have been, ‘Tory Government out of control’, since the reality is that government austerity lies at the heart of an ailing nation. A government displaying psychopathic tendencies couching its plans in the language of reducing debt, taking a responsible approach to public spending, and rewarding hard work. Language reminiscent of George Osborne in 2012 when he commented in a radio interview that it was, ‘unfair that people listening to this programme going out to work, see the neighbour next door with the blinds down because they are on benefits. The nasty party isn’t back, it never went away. It is depressing to note, equally, that the opposition, in its rhetoric about fiscal discipline and growing the economy to raise the revenue for public services, promotes the same lie that drives their proposed policies.

Household budget economics rules the roost. A narrative that is designed to deceive by shifting responsibility away from the government, to create an ever more divided society, whilst at the same time shovelling more and more wealth upwards as data published by Oxfam at the beginning of the year demonstrated. That the richest 1% of Britons hold more wealth than 70% of Britons.

This is a government already using its currency-creating powers to serve wealth, but covering its tracks by using a false narrative about how it spends, so it can justify cuts to spending on serving the public purpose. Whilst the poorest must ‘do their duty’ and sacrifice themselves on the pyre of austerity, this as the evidence shows, does not apply if you are wealthy, a corporation, or an arms manufacturer selling death and destruction. The, ‘there is no alternative’ slogan applies only if you are poor, hungry, homeless, old or sick. See the contradictions?

It’s not much better in the Labour camp.

Whilst Wes Streeting, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, on the same neoliberal wavelength, proposes an open door for the private healthcare sector, (ignoring the fact it’s been open for decades, in fact since Tony Blair), he claimed a few weeks ago that ‘the money simply isn’t there to continue NHS spending because the Tories have trashed the public finances.’

Streeting, like his Labour colleague Rachel Reeves, promoting the myth that there is a finite pot of money and the Tories have spent it all, which will require some fiscal discipline, which will in turn involve not being able to afford free school meals for all children, or a functioning NHS.

‘I’m not going to be able to magic money out of nowhere’, said Rachel Reeves with her serious, former economist at the Bank of England face. As if she couldn’t possibly know how government really spends. But in a horrible game of, ‘we’ll be fiscally responsible one-upmanship,’ she is effectively denying monetary reality and condemning people to more hardship. Well, not the corporations of course. They’ll come in for some star partnership treatment. Labour’s proposal for a ‘partnership’ with business, as if somehow it doesn’t have already the monetary tools it needs to create an economy that works for everyone, not just those that have sufficient power and influence to swing the rules in their favour.

Next up, we have Gordon Brown, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer for Labour, who just prior to the Autumn Statement, and in the same vein, advocated partnerships with big business and charities to address the growing poverty that has arisen out of the politics of Tory austerity and neoliberal dogma.

Heady words like Corporate Social Responsibility were banded about by the man who advocated deregulation and a light-touch government, praising the City of London for its achievements. All just before the financial sector came crashing down around our ears and the government was forced to bail it out, using those elusive currency-issuing powers the current government is denying long-suffering citizens. His light touch led to the politics of austerity by the Tory government, the dismantling of public and social infrastructure, cruel welfare reform, food banks and growing homelessness, all based on a false narrative of how government spends.

Dear Gordon, we don’t need big business or charity to sort out this avoidable disaster. With 3.8 million people, including one million children, destitute in Britain today, what we need is a government that is politically motivated to change things for the better to give people the tools they need to live productive lives that enrich their existence and not condemn them to a life of penury. We need politicians to embrace how money really works, not the lie that passes for reality.

While Gordon Brown calls on companies to step in, the new Chair of the Charity Commission vowed to crack down on ‘squeamish charities accepting donations’ and accused wealthy British citizens of ‘not pulling their weight when it came to charitable giving.’ A little bit of philanthropy does you good, apparently, not to mention reducing the tax bill.

Putting aside the proposed crackdown on squeamish charities in an era when ethical and moral considerations have been thrown out of the window by a political class more concerned with serving the dictates of the US hegemon and its corporate masters, anyone demonstrating such values should be praised not castigated.

As we have said many times before, charities are a failure of government. Their purpose is to mitigate a rotten economic system designed to exploit and impoverish some people and enrich others. Whether charities like the Trussell Trust feeding hungry people or the myriad charities supporting the homeless living in temporary accommodation or on the street, they function as an alternative to state involvement in serving public purpose.  This was the point of Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ to shift responsibility into the wider society.

Such charities are now struggling to meet growing need as a result of government-imposed austerity that has ironically led to cuts in their funding. This is a government-created vicious circle deriving from the politics of austerity, the demonisation of deficit and public debt, and a market-driven neoliberal ideology that favours a small state, with charitable provision of welfare, and privatised public services acting not in the interests of citizens, but rather the state acting as a cash cow for private profit.

It also derives from a toxic ideology of personal responsibility designed to absolve the state from any duty of care for its citizens. This has involved blaming and shaming people for what we are told is personal failure. Just what the neoliberal doctor ordered to keep citizens poor, downtrodden, divided and struggling to survive by forcing them to sacrifice themselves to preserve the economic status quo for the already excessively wealthy.

A status quo which is transferring more wealth into the hands of corporations and wealthy individuals who, in turn, are then invited to do their bit and donate to charity. As if people are dependent on their philanthropy, their goodwill, on their largesse to keep body and soul together. A fabrication that rests on the false notion that the government needs taxes to spend.

This narrative is constructed on the lie that government spends like a household budget, that its sources of funding are taxation or borrowing. Economic well-being depends on neither. It depends on a government that puts the needs of citizens as a priority to create a functioning economy and a healthy, thriving society. That in turn depends on the political decisions a government makes as the currency issuer, imposer of taxes and legislator. Decisions about how real resources are distributed and to whom. In fact, we are talking here about the sort of society we as citizens want to live in.

Instead, we are told that our economic and social well-being is dependent on the state of the public finances, whether the economy is growing enough to afford public services, or for those on the left, how much we will need to tax the wealthiest to pay for public infrastructure.

We are living a destructive lie that is readily promoted by a self-serving media. The daily round of nonsense that passes as monetary reality.

Whether it’s Philip Inman in the Guardian suggesting that since the days of cheap investment credit are over, chancellors must find a different source of revenue, namely increased taxes, The Times implying that a lower borrowing bill will give the Chancellor some ‘fiscal headroom’, as if he’s suddenly found a few more quid in the pot to spend or deliver a tax cut because of it. Or indeed, Andrew Neil, who explained to his attentive audience in the Daily Mail, that ‘the bond markets are where governments go to borrow money from investors […] when their spending plans exceed the amount they are able to raise in tax.’ Apparently, we need to ‘free ourselves from their tyranny.’  ‘The era of big government, cheap money and untrammelled borrowing is over’ he said.

Presenting the public accounts as if the government were a business or private individual that has to cut back in hard times or borrow to fund its spending because it has a limited pot of money. The Treasury gnomes working hard to balance the books, find some spare money down the back of the sofa, rob Peter’s department to pay Paul’s, or beg the capital markets for a loan. All rubbish.

As Professor Bill Mitchell notes, ‘debt issuance is a redundant part of the process… a hangover from past currency arrangements.’ Clearly the media hasn’t caught up. This is the con that drives public policy decisions and leads people to believe that government’s primary role is to balance the accounts, rather than deliver a functioning, stable and sustainable economy, the corollary of which is societal well-being.

The bottom line is that lower interest rates for government borrowing make no difference at all to the capacity of government to spend, or indeed cut taxes.

The cost has been high and will continue to be. Neither of the main political parties frames its role as an initiator of public purpose, rather they think they are Dicken’s Mikawber borne again. We have two political parties obsessed with fiscal discipline, whilst at the same time aiming to shift responsibility into the wider economy and society through partnerships with business or charity. Full on neoliberalism. Full on Hayek vision for government and society.

This is how the government and ones in waiting, and media lackeys like Andrew Neil keep the public trapped in a lie about how government spends, by presenting government finances as a household budget. It serves as an ideologically driven justification for cuts to public spending, not because it’s necessary, but to keep the neoliberal stranglehold in place which is about dismantling public infrastructure and enslaving citizens. This is what Andrew Neil supports. This is the big lie that distorts reality and will ultimately be the death of us if we fail to grasp its fundamental importance to our survival.

According to this narrative, money is a scarce commodity. Which it is not. The role of government is not to balance the books, but to serve its citizens. To decide how real resources are distributed and to whom, through its spending, taxation and legislative policies. It should be pretty obvious by now, who the current beneficiaries are, the corporate estate, the military machine, and those with excessive wealth, power and influence.

This distribution is a political choice driven by ideological aims and it is regrettable that those seeking progressive change are still caught like rabbits in Mrs Thatcher’s headlights. There is a lot at stake. A liveable planet where world citizens have their needs met and crushing poverty and inequality cease to be the norm. When a Labour spokesperson justifies Rachel Reeves watering down her green transition pledges because of the state of the public finances, and that fiscal rules were more important than any policy, you know that without a doubt we are in serious trouble.

What happens in the wider economy starts at the top with the government and flows down resulting from its spending, taxing and legislative policies. We need to understand that the state of the public finances is an irrelevant sideshow and that the real test is what government has done to ensure a functioning and balanced economy, that respects the planet and the human beings that depend on it for their survival.

We need as a matter of urgency to understand what a functioning democracy, with an informed public no longer willing to throw themselves on the pyre of harmful austerity could achieve. The art of the possible to save humanity from a political class intent on serving the interests of a small group of people, not to mention their own interests through the revolving door. As Jason Hickel notes in his book ‘Less is more: How degrowth will save the world.

“When people live in a fair, caring society, where everyone has equal access to social goods, they don’t have to spend their time worrying about how to cover their basic needs day to day – they can enjoy the art of living. And instead of feeling they are in constant competition with their neighbours, they can build bonds of social solidarity.”

It is currently no more than an aspiration for change, but the struggle must continue to make it a reality for humanity.

 

Join our mailing list

If you would like GIMMS to let you know about news and events, please click to sign up here

Support us

The Gower Initiative for Money Studies is run by volunteers and relies on donations to continue its work. If you would like to donate, please see our donations page here.

 

 

Share

Tweet

Whatsapp

Messenger

Share

Email

reddit

Pinterest

tumblr

Viber icon
Viber

The post The empire of lies (and its consequences) appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Pages