Social injustice is killing on a grand scale

Listen to Kirsty Young interview Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

I am delighted that Profeesor Sir Michael Marmot, an expert on the links between socio-economic status and health and longevity, has been interviewed by Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs. Click on the picture to visit the episode’s webpage and listen to it.

Praise where praise is due.  I have previously criticised the BBC for its championing of GM and for offering a Pinochet-apologist a platform for his obnoxious views without challenging them. Now I must praise the BBC for hosting Professor Sir Michael Marmot on Desert Island Discs. Sir Michael is famous for exposing the links between inequality, morbidity and mortality, and for stating that ‘social injustice is killing on a grand scale’.

In his interview with Kirsty Young he talks about his famous study of Whitehall civil servants, which showed that their rank was inversely correlated with their health and wellbeing, and that this could not be attributed to their behaviour, and argues strongly for social justice to be a fundamental consideration in public policy.  On the basis of solid evidence, he argues that it is wrong to simply blame individuals for their life choices without tackling fundamental causes of inequality. He also addresses the issue of low social mobility: the ‘Great Gatsby curve’ – the greater the income inequality in a society, the lower the social mobility.

You can listen to the episode.

If you found this interesting you may also enjoy the following:

Work for many feels like rape/prostitution, but it needn’t be this way! Click on this image to watch David Erdal's inspiring talk on employee-ownership.

Work for many feels like rape/prostitution, but it needn’t be this way! Click on this image to watch David Erdal’s inspiring talk on employee-ownership.

See what David Erdal has to say about employee-owned companies, which have lower pay differentials and more-empowered employees (‘employee-owners’).

The Globalization of Addiction, A Study in Poverty of the Spirit

Click on the picture to read a review/summary of this amazing book.

Read what Professor Bruce K. Alexander says about the links between what he calls ‘hypercapitalism’ , ‘psycho-social dislocation’ and addiction.

Loads of information on the world's dominant economic system.

Tax breaks for “job-creators”? Toolkit for busting this and other neoliberal myths.

Learn more about the dominant global economic system (call it ‘neoliberalism’, ‘hypercapitalism’ or ‘free-market capitalism’). This may well shock you!

The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, with terrible consequences for individuals and society.

For a country of its GDP, Scotland is one of the most unhealthy in the world. As part of the grossly unequal UK, this is not surprising. How can we fix this? Click on the image for some ideas.

Read some of the reasons I think that Scotland should break free of the neoliberal UK and how we might make a fairer and healthier society.

And if you fancy a laugh…

The end of neoliberalism? The secret cloned leader of Better Together is not happy that the Lady Alba video has gone viral.

Watch my Downfall parody if you fancy a laugh. There are also plenty of links to sources of information below it.

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Unbelievably, yet more BBC pro-GM bias

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Botanist Sandy Knapp, clearly not an expert on GM, was led to support this highly dubious technology. This is the latest in a long line of non-evidence-based pro-GM propaganda by the BBC. Is Monsanto paying them? To hear it, click on this image and listen from about 23 minutes and 45 seconds.

[UPDATE: I have now received a response from the BBC dismissing my argument that the programme was biased but failing to answer my charge that Radio 4 programming as a whole is biased in favour of GM.  I have responded to this, asking for a response to this latter charge.]

I was greatly disturbed to hear yet another pro-GM propaganda piece by the BBC.  (See my previous blog entries about this.) Botanist Sandy Knapp, clearly no expert on GM, was led by interviewer Jim Al-Khalili to imply that anti-GM activists would be responsible for the destruction of the natural areas in which she gathers plants.

Listen to the interview from about 23 minutes 45 seconds and make up your own mind on this.  I hope you shall choose to complain, as I did, submitting the words below:

I was troubled to hear your presenter leading his interviewee (not a GM expert) in a pro-GM direction. He said something like, ‘If more GM crops are not produced I have heard that this will lead to the destruction of more of the wild areas in which you are working so that food crops can be grown. Is this true?’ Not at any point did he mention that opposition to GM crops is based on a broad array of arguments, not least the following:

1. Vast areas of rainforest have already been destroyed for the cultivation of GM soya.
2. As GM crops are patented, their seed cannot legally be harvested and re-sown (and some are not fertile anyway) . This is harmful to the food sovereignty and wealth of peasant farmers, who are forced to buy new seed every year,
3. GM crops displace multiple varieties of adapted indigenous crops, thus narrowing biodiversity and reducing the genetic base on which the breeding of future productive crops depends.
4. More than enough food is produced already – the issue is distribution and waste. The latter issues are due to profiteering by large corporations. How is putting more food production into their grasp going to improve this?
5. The most productive forms of agriculture, both absolutely but also and especially relative to the unsustainable input of fossil fuels, are small-scale integrated farms using organic and/or permaculture and analog-forestry techniques.
6. This adds to previous Radio 4 pro-GM bias. See http://biowrite.wordpress.com/?s=bbc+gm

Farmageddon - the true cost of cheap meat.

Farmageddon:
“This eye-opening book, urging a massive rethink of how we raise livestock and how we feed the world, deserves global recognition” – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
“A devastating indictment of cheap meat and factory farming. Don’t turn away: it demands reading and deserves the widest possible audience” – Joanna Lumley
“Offers the kind of realistic and compassionate solutions on which our prospects for a truly sustainable world depend” – Jonathon Porritt

I could also have mentioned the fact that huge amounts of food that could be consumed by people are fed to animals, because the relatively well-off eat far too much meat, but the BBC form only allowed me to write so much. On this topic, I intend reading Farmageddon soon.

Finally, in case you think I am an armchair critic, doing nothing practical in this area, I am proud to be a member of the board of  Leith Community Crops in Pots. We are doing our bit to produce food in a sustainable way. Here’s  our Facebook page.

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Economic inequality is caused by… Get the facts. Reject the propaganda.

If Pastor Martin Niemöller were alive today he would have had a thing or two to say to those who scapegoat the vulnerable for society's problems.

If Pastor Martin Niemöller were alive today he would have had a thing or two to say to those who scapegoat the vulnerable for society’s problems.

Economic inequality is caused by “free-market” (rigged-market) capitalism, not immigrants, asylum-seekers, “benefits-scroungers”, etc.

  • Get the facts. Reject the propaganda.

Here’s a handy compilation of resources. I hope you will find it entertaining and informative, if not jaw-droppingly shocking. My novel may also be of interest.

  • Find out what Pastor Niemöller said.

Here’s one version of his famous words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • Think.

Learn to distinguish between statistically unrepresentative anecdotes (propaganda) and evidence. In particular, be suspicious of those who scapegoat relatively powerless minorities for societal problems. They are almost certainly in politics to accumulate wealth and/or power for themselves and their cronies, regardless of the consequences for society at large.

I cannot possibly advise everyone on the planet on which parties and political movements to support or reject. However, I permit myself to make these observations about two countries:

South Africa

As I write this, in April 2014, I am visiting South Africa, which is in the run-up to elections twenty years after the ANC (African National Congress) first came to power. I have been struck by how many people of all races seem to be accusing the ANC of kleptocracy/crony capitalism. Were I South African I am not sure which party I would support. However, the DA (Democratic Alliance) strikes me as just another “free market”-worshipping neoliberal party which will therefore not be able to address the gap between the haves and have-nots. (I put “free market” in quotation marks as it is no such thing. As Ha-Joon Chang and others have pointed out, the market is heavily stacked in favour of the super-rich.)

While Michael Tellinger, the founder of the Ubuntu Party, also known as the Ubuntu Liberation Movement, has some far-fetched ideas, it strikes me that there is a lot of sense in much of their policy. Check them out.

Scotland

I am Scottish-born and -resident. On 18 September 2014 the people of Scotland have a unique opportunity to vote for independence from the UK, which in my view is our only hope of breaking free of the environment-destroying, inequality-generating and warmongering death-grip of “free-market” capitalism (crony capitalism/neoliberalism/hypercapitalism…).

Alas, the UK’s mainstream media are owned by hugely wealthy individuals and corporations who fail to see that their long-term enlightened self-interest also lies in a fairer economy. In their desperation to hold onto their wealth and power, they ceaselessly churn out propaganda against Scottish independence.

If the mainstream media are your major source of information you will probably not know what the term “neoliberalism” means, and you will be unaware of the work that has been done by us independence-campaigners in planning a sustainable and fairer society (info and links elsewhere on this blog).

If our only concern were the wellbeing of the people of the rest of the UK…

The main point I want to make here is that Scottish independence is not about “separation” or xenophobia. For all I know, there may be some anti-English sentiment amongst supporters of independence, but I have never encountered it amongst the people I campaign alongside. Indeed, I know that I speak for many of us when I say that if our only concern were the wellbeing of the people of Northern Ireland, Wales and England, then we would still support Scottish independence, because we believe the only way we can help is by demonstrating a more humane and caring, less unequal society. Only in this way can we give the lie to the scare stories of the pathologically wealth-hoarding super-rich (who require psychotherapy and education – they know not what they are doing).

I am against hatred and division and so I am against “free-market” capitalism/neoliberalism. To conclude, I repeat: the only way we, the people of Scotland, stand a chance of breaking free of this divisive philosophy, and of being a good neighbour and example, is by voting to govern ourselves. If you believe in togetherness, the evidence suggests that you should vote ‘Yes’.

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Journeys to Yes – Libby McArthur: ‘Let’s not be dictated to by fear!’

biowrite:

Here’s a powerful voice – a long-term Labour supporter realises that the only way to have a fairer society is to break away from the UK.  ‘Let’s not be dictated to by fear! It’s about taking responsibility.’

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The end of neoliberalism? The secret cloned leader of Better Together is not happy that the Lady Alba video has gone viral.

On 18 September 2014 the people of Scotland have an unprecedented opportunity to vote for independence from the UK in a referendum. The secret cloned leader of Better Together, campaigning for Scotland to stay part of the UK, who bears a striking resemblance to a certain infamous gentleman, is not happy that the Lady Alba video (a Lady Gaga Bad Romance spoof in support of Yes Scotland’s campaign for independence) has gone viral. He fears for the future of neoliberalism, as an independent Scotland, run by a progressive left, could demonstrate to the world that ditching neoliberalism is not only possible but hugely beneficial. The things he mentions (linked below) provide evidence for this. Please have a look, and if you believe in a more informed and equal world, please help this go viral. Help Scotland put an end to neoliberalism!

References and resources

Lady Alba – Bad Romance (Gaga for Indy)

Banned TED Talk: Nick Hanauer “Rich people don’t create jobs”

The Jimmy Reid Foundation’s Common Weal project

“We’re not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions” says Johann Lamont

David Erdal talks about employee-owned companies: ‘Work for many feels like rape/prostitution, but it needn’t be this way! Inspiring talk on employee-ownership.’

Father Jack responds to Bowie re Scottish independence

The definition of neoliberalism

Noam Chomsky lays neoliberalism bare:

The Official Yes Scotland site

The Radical Independence Campaign

National Collective: Artists & Creatives for Scottish Independence 

The Common Weal vision

Bella Caledonia

Wings Over Scotland

The Government’s White Paper (setting out the SNP’s vision):

Some thoughts on the currency issue

The Equality Trust

There are also lots of links in this interesting article: ‘The backlash against the mainstream in Scotland’

The Dons have just won a trophy

More on neoliberalism:

Media Lens

Abby Martin’s Breaking the Set

Comedy: Lee Camp

Get informed and join the debate!

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BBC ignores climate-change elephant, focuses on trivia

Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, denier of manmade climate change and an enthusiastic supporter of GM crops.

Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, denier of manmade climate change – an issue that BBC Radio 4 apparently does not think worthy of comment.

Listening to today’s edition of World at One on BBC Radio 4, I was pleased to hear that Ed Miliband had,  in the course of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), raised the issue of Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (an Orwellian title ever there were one, given this man’s proclivities), being a denier of climate change.

My pleasure was short-lived, as the ensuing discussion ignored this hugely significant point to focus on the tone of PMQs and whether it had changed.

Please read this excellent Media lens essay on manmade climate change, its consequences, and the ruthless and organised deniers.

Please read this excellent Media lens essay on manmade climate change, its consequences, and the ruthless and organised deniers.

Given the overwhelming scientific consensus on the issue of manmade climate change and its extreme importance (please read this Media Lens article), it seems wilfully negligent of BBC Radio 4 to refuse to even acknowledge this elephant in the room. Does the BBC hierarchy side with the deniers? Here’s a little quote from the Media Lens article:

Worse than the aforementioned trolls are the media. Fully captured by corporations and the corporate states, the media continue to dance around the issue of climate change. Occasionally a forthright piece is published, but it generally points in the wrong direction, such as suggesting climate scientists and activists be killed (e.g., James Delingpole’s 7 April 2013 hate-filled article in the Telegraph).

What explanation do you have for the BBC’s behaviour?

(This is not the first time I have criticised the BBC!)

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Lorde’s Suppressed Grammy Award acceptance speech (Full Transcript) 26 January 2014

biowrite:

Fabulous summary of the state of the world. I was not surprised to learn that an attempt was made to suppress this.

Originally posted on Snoopman News:

Queen Bee Sting: Grammy audience told to read more

Queen Bee Sting: Grammy audience told to read more

Update:

Lorde’s suppressed Grammy speech makes front-page news in New Zealand

  • Lorde’s censored handwritten Grammy speech
  • Full Transcript (with citations) of Lorde’s speech

Lorde Censored:The Queen Bee’s Suppressed Grammy Speech
http://wp.me/p3PDmH-7j

lordeheraldfrontsmall
See the Full Story:Royal Pencil in Print: Lorde’s suppressed Grammy speech makes front-page news in far-flung New Zealand at
http://wp.me/p3PDmH-6i

Lorde:

Thankyou soo much everyone for making this song explode because this world is mental. (Laughter). Planet Earth is run by psychopaths that hide behind slick marketing, ‘freedom’ propaganda and ‘economic growth’ rhetoric,[1] while they construct a global system of corporatized totalitarianism.

As American journalist Chris Hedges has identified, a corporate totalitarian core thrives inside a fictitious democratic shell.[2] This core yields an ‘inverted’ totalitarian state that few recognize because it does not look like the Orwellian world of Nineteen Eighty-four.[3]

This corporate totalitarian core…

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