Racism and Bigotry is encouraged from the top, but the real enemy is Global Inequality

The other day – about two weeks ago, the British Prime minister referred to the migrants at Calais trying to cross into the UK as ‘swarming..’ It was an insensitive term and many people rightly took offence. On twitter, many condemned such a wording as dehumanizing.

A few days ago, Philip Hammond, the British Foreign Secretary joined Mr Cameron, speaking of ‘marauding migrants‘ threatening the standard of life of British nationals in the UK. Again, Like Cameron, you have to wonder on which planet these people live on. Amnesty International called the language shameful. The Liberal Democrats Home Affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael had this to say:

“The Tories’ language is becoming increasingly hostile and unsavoury. In reality, they are too scared to deal with the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Calais.

“Britain can’t escape the problem just by sounding ‘tough’, it needs to take a lead.

“It’s time we proved our worth on the world stage, signed up to the EU asylum policy and accept our share of vulnerable refugees, rather than expect other countries to do it for us.”

I think it is insensitive to describe other human beings in such animate and dehumanizing terms, and just goes to show how out of touch politicians really are. It also shows that humans from Africa, Asia and the Middle East are not valued in the same way British or European people are.

It’s a fallacy to see British leaders going around the world preaching democracy and peace, when right on their doorsteps, they are treating foreigners like crap. You can’t make that up, and you’d hope the world is watching.

Asylum Aid criticised the Foreign Secretary’s words as

“inaccurate and inflammatory statements”,

I agree, they present a skewed picture that divorces nuance for the situation. I’m waiting for the day a sensible British politician will rise up who will say to the people of the world that the actions of British leaders in the past have caused immense human pain, and damaged other lands far away from British shores. And some of that damage is still being felt today. I may not be alive when that happens, but I hope one day someone will be honest and brave enough call a spade a spade.

Knowing what I know about British History (both what you are taught in school, and what you find out for yourself), and having experienced first hand the institutional racism in the UK, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that in some sections of the UK population non-white people are treated differently to white people. There is extreme hostility against foreigners, which is not entirely surprising since the media fans hatred all the times. But it’s kind of strange seeing migrants contribute so much to the UK (not only via the NHS, but in the taxes they pay).

The government’s attitude towards immigration is so frustrating precisely because it is so wrong-headed. There is endless proof that the long-term benefit of migrants and asylum seekers are manifold – Ugandan refugees, for instance, have created approximately 30,000 jobs in the Leicester since 1972. Last year the Treasury’s independent advisers said that immigration is beneficial to the economy as new arrivals are most likely to be of working age – and even the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility, Robert Chote, stated that growing immigration to the UK “does tend to produce a more beneficial picture” for the economy. Read more here

So then why would a leader or a minister speak so negatively about migrants? Cameron and Hammond are hardly Nigel Farage, they can’t possibly be that ignorant not to see the repurcussions of their statements.

Isn’t such talk exactly the kind of talk which sows the seeds of racism, hatred and bigotry in society? Are these the kind of behaviours these leaders want to encourage in Britain? I think not, my guess is there is an agenda – some political capital is to be carved from all this.

To me this is how it looks: they are saying migrants, whose ancestors, Europeans took advantage of, looted their lands of every natural resource, enslaved their peoples, raped their women, made wars against them, divided up their lands along nothing but profit-driven motives, and generally reduced to poverty entire peoples – as they did in India and China; and whose descendants – the migrants – are now trying to find a way of escaping hardship, poverty, discrimination and violence in their own lands,  are not worthy of peace, of security, of assistance – seeing their past troubles, of prosperity. Essentially that they are subhuman, thats what the actions say.

https://soundcloud.com/rttv/calais-ryan

The Greatest Cover-Up in History ? How Imperial Britain’s Racist India, Africa & China Narrative ‎Still Persists

Actions speak louder than words, and what we are seeing here is an entitlement mentality. That it’s okay for historical European abuse of non-European peoples to be swept under the carpet; that the bombing of Libya, Iraq and support for Syrian rebels is irrelevant to the migrant crisis and must be brushed over, that if you plunder resources of other countries, and create economic and political instability…  its okay because if s**t happens, you can always close the borders. It’s the sort of things these people on this poster would say

criminals

During Nazi Germany’s reign, Hitler’s honchos put out propaganda which was later enacted upon to make life difficult for foreigners in Germany, in particular for Jews. What followed was a human atrocity that culminated in the holocaust, but which the Nazi machinery justified with all sorts of abominable stories. But there was a sinister motive behind the hostile rhetoric, and the Nazis made a lot of money out of it.

There’s always a sinister motive behind hostile rhetoric.

Today, the migrants at Calais are not being threatened by gas chambers or execution, but the language directed towards them – by politicians, not least the likes of the Daily Mail – is no better than that which was used by the Nazi machinery. Still, most of these migrants have no access to land or capital in the countries they flee; a polar opposite to Western corporations operating in Eritrea, Ethiopia, the various West African Countries, Syria and Iraq  – who have access to land and capital in those same countries.

The migrants have no security, and indeed may be at the mercy of criminal gangs and trafficking networks – something which expats in the aforementioned countries do not have to fear. The expats can get on with their easy and comfortable lives seamlessly, while the nationals of those countries – and their migrant brothers and sisters drowning in the mediterranean – struggle with day to day living, and can’t afford an existence, never mind a luxurious lifestyle.

Why do we keep on blaming the poor migrants whose poverty the West is partly responsible for? Countries where corruption, tax-evasion, profit-shifting and white-collar crime are responsible for the loss of over US$1tn in illicit financial outflows

ChristianAidDeath & Taxes – the true toll of tax-dodging

That is the real problem driving migrants to Europe – Inequality. Because if you have security, a good job, great educational and financial prospects and a social life – in your own country, why would you want to leave and risk your life for a pie in the sky?

British Red Cross managing director Norman McKinley recently said about the cuts to the money asylum seekers receive in the UK:

“These cruel cuts will plunge families into further poverty, making it agonisingly tough for parents to feed their children, and practically impossible to buy clothes and other essential items.”

What he forgot to mention is that many foreigners support family members back home. I know people who send as little as £20 every other month to a relative in Africa for one thing or another; to help someone pay for school, or for food, or to settle some bill. It’s not much, but it does the job, and helps people at the other end.

So then, if a government introduces policies that have the effect of creating economic hardship for an already deprived community/ section of the population, how will they be able to help their relatives abroad – who are in worse financial circumstances? It doesn’t make sense and if anything it’s counterproductive…

One final thing I should say is this. How many Swiss ‘migrants’ do you bump into everyday? Or how many ‘Norwegians’ or ‘Mauritians’ do you know or do you bump into on a regular basis?

Switzerland, Mauritius and Norway are rich countries, and their nationals live in their own countries because the countries have the capacity to create jobs and distribute wealth fairly amongst their people. When you look at Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and most countries in West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, the story is rather different.

Further, European and American corporations are not paying bribes (in exchange for lax tax arrangements) in Norway or in Switzerland, or are they? At least you rarely hear of such corruption, unlike in the countries from whence migrants come.

If Western businessmen continue to fleece the countries from whom migrants originate,of valuable resources, how can European leaders realistically expect migrants to stay in their own countries? When the funds the country is losing is exactly the kind of money that would create jobs and an economy that can support that country’s citizens… Let’s be honest here… it’s not going to happen, and some of this rhetoric is a smokescreen to the real problems.

Mr Cameron, and Mr Hammond, if you are really serious about reducing immigration, begin by pushing for real global economic equality, at national level, within the EU, within Commonwealth, at UN level and beyond. That in my view has got a much higher chance of curbing migration to Europe than anything else.

A promising future

VISION
a sky shot in a prominent Asian city

What does a future of peace and prosperity for Africa look like? Is such a future possible with the present dynamics at play across the continent? Is such a future sustainable? What needs to be done for every child to have food each day. For every child to have access to an empowering education? For every man to have access to land ? For each person to have access to work? What will it take to achieve safety and security on the continent? To end the proliferation of arms into the hands of militia and rebel groups….What will it take for African countries to feed their people – an end to hunger, to be able to clothe them – an end to poverty; to be able to afford essential medicines, provide for their old and vulnerable, to protect their people, and for African leaders to be able to resolve their differences without turning to war?

Maybe some of these are the wrong questions to be asking at this time, but even still, the solutions are there. If others can achieve them, the solutions have got to be there.

Addressing the roots of Economic Disparities

afr

 I choose to write about these things because the plight of my people is tied to historical events which most of them do not know about. We are poor today, but how did we become poor. Have we always been poor? Were we created poor? Did evolution design that we would be poor? What happened before the here and now? Every one of them needs to know the unadulterated truth. Unbiased. Pure. I pray to the creator of the heavens and the earth that one day they will know such a truth…and I’ve made it my mission to make sure that as many as are interested, do get to know the truth.

“Sometimes history needs a push.”  — Vladimir Lenin

For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.” ― Noam Chomsky, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World

“The best way to predict your future is to create it” ― Abraham Lincoln

I began writing this article over a year ago, and I’m so glad I dithered. Because between then and now, a number of events took place which prompted people who are probably better placed than myself to delve into the debate on inequality, armed with better evidence and statistics.

Firstly we have Suzanne Moore writing for the guardian in an article titled Inequality isn’t inevitable, it’s engineered. That’s how the 1% have taken over in which she says:

 ‘Most wealth, though, is not earned: huge assets, often inherited, simply get bigger not because the individuals who own them are super talented, but because structures are in place to ensure this happens.’

This view is echoed by  Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Meschede, Lars Dietrich, & Thomas Shapiro of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, who co-authored a report with Amy Traub, Catherine Ruetschlin & Tamara Draut of Demos, a public policy organization. The report titled The Racial Wealth Gap (neatly summarised by this article on Forbes here) which looks at the racial wealth gap in the United States says:

“The racial wealth gap is reinforced by federal policies that largely operate to increase wealth for those who already possess significant assets,” wrote the authors, noting that more than half of the $400 billion in annual federal asset-building subsidies, such to promote homeownership retirement savings, economic investment and access to college, flow to the wealthiest 5% of taxpaying households. The bottom 60% of taxpayers receive only 4% of these benefits.

It’s main findings include:

‘..in 2011 the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings, compared to just $7,113 for the median Black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household…’
‘…While 73 percent of white households owned their own homes in 2011, only 47 percent of Latinos and 45 percent of Blacks were homeowners…’

‘…in 2011, the median white household had an income of $50,400 a year compared to just $32,028 for Blacks and $36,840 for Latinos. Black and Latino households also see less of a return than white households on the income they earn: for every $1 in wealth that accrues to median Black households associated with a higher income, median white households accrue $4.06 …’

If the world’s largest economy can have such debilitating inequality, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if data emerged that showed that the problem is far worse elsewhere?

Allow me please to get satirical by introducing a new character from an old YouTube clip by Stan (Warning: Very strong language):

Ignoring Stan’s annoying robotic accent – which reminds me of the adobe acrobat text-to-voice reader – I was struck by just how blatantly forthright his assertions (or allegations if you like) are. But what’s my point with all this:-

1. Inequality and Poverty is engineered.
mndlaNelson Mandela said so, when he said

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

And it doesn’t matter if you live in Tanzania, Togo, Brooklyn or in a refugee camp in South Sudan. If political leaders across the world wanted to, they could act to combat inequality. Unfortunately they don’t because:-
–Selfish Interests
— Ignorance. There are leaders of countries, and of black communities who were raised to believe they have to be subservient to white supremacy.
— Some of these leaders are afraid of upsetting big business, which funds their political parties
— Among those who genuinely want to orchestrate change for the masses, for the poor, such as Elizabeth Warren in the US, and say Julius Malema in South Africa, you will find that most of these leaders do not have the resources to create an alternative on their own.

2. Religion has been a debilitating cancer upon people of African origin.

If you have been following commentary on African troubles, the chances are you couldn’t have missed this one. Not only have many of the wars that have divided communities which previously lived harmoniously alongside each other been religious in nature (Muslim vs Christian), religion has driven adherents into poverty, allowed systematic and unchecked exploitation of resources by nonreligious often white minorities while the religious majority suffered, praying and believing for salvation or help from some messiah or deity.
I think this picture is much more pronounced in Africa than anywhere else on the globe. It has caused genocides, created poverty that has led to the death of millions of people. It has impeded scientific and personal development, entrenched ignorance and encouraged misinformation.
Religion has created pockets of powerful and extremely wealthy but irresponsible elites living in proximity to extremely poor and vulnerable populations that are tossed about by every wind of ideology, by one heist after another, but which are incapable of successfully challenging the elites;
Religion has created extremism (the likes of Joseph Kony) extremist groups (Boko Haram, Al Shabab) claiming to be fronting some religious line, but who are in all manner and form terrorists bent on terrorism using brutal tactics that instill fear in those who disagree with them.
Religion has also created a dependency culture, where you don’t work hard enough, ‘because God will provide‘, where people say ‘its not by my own strength but by the Lord
And I do agree that whether you believe in a god or not, the paintings of the white Christ (which interestingly have been shown to be historically inaccurate – see here and here) are not exactly confidence-instilling stuff to the undiscerning African youth.
But I’m not saying that there have been no positives to having a faith, no that’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m saying is that it is idiotic for a people who by even the least anthropological research are one, be it in Nigeria, Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda or Somalia to fight, kill and displace each other from homes and family, in their millions, because one’s pilgrimage is to Mecca, while the other faces Rome or Jerusalem. Its stupidity of the highest order!
If you need more convincing Consider these two articles here and here

3. Africans and black people have for long been made to believe (directly and indirectly) that they are inferior or at least not as good as white people.

The most honest and unbiased books on the subject include Peter Fryer’s Aspects of British Black History and Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain.
DSC_0001_20This assertion is not only false but inherently racist. As I tried to explain here and here, and as my colleague clarified here, this inferiority was invented.
Growing up in Malawi, a deeply religious country, one of the most annoying things I often heard was that ‘Mzungu ndi wa Nzeru‘ (the White man is Clever). I heard it everywhere! From friends, family, even domestic servants used to mention it. They’d say the statement when marvelling at something which they believed to be a western creation (to these people everything fantastic had been made by a white man – and obviously they didn’t know about innovations by non-caucasian people). No doubt they got this message somewhere, someone must have told them that ‘Mzungu ndi wa Nzeru‘?
Fortunately, my immediate family didn’t succumb to this kind of confidence-diminishing tosh. While my family were religious, they knew better and did not subscribe to this racist line. Instead, I was told by my immediate family that my father had been a very intelligent man, and that in our family we were extremely capable.
That if there were people who could do it, it was us.
I was told that no one had failed among my siblings in my father’s family. That if I failed, I would be the first one to do so, and my failure would be a huge disgrace to our whole family, and I would be the object of shame. I was told that my father would be extremely disappointed in me if I didn’t do well. So, from the word go, the pressure was on. I had to perform, there was no other option.
However way you want to interpret this kind of embellished encouragement, the result was that academically, I did very well, won two scholarships and was consistently in the top four of my classes.
My point here is that ideology that shaped western societies has been somewhat dishonest about the mental faculties of black and African people. And too little has been done to correct this anomaly.

4. Both historical and present events have created severe economic disparities between White and Non white people.

Unfair Advantage. That’s the real cause of the Racial Wealth Gap report I refer to above. You will find that this term Unfair Advantage is avoided or sugar-coated in discussions about poverty. When a writer brings it up, it’s often pushed under the carpet.
But it is unmistakably true; the actions of Europeans (and recently the US) throughout the last 500 or more years have given them an unfair advantage over others. And this unfair advantage translates into immense wealth for a significant section of white families, and poverty for the majority of non-white families.
As an example how this wealth trickles, I know a lady in Nottingham, whose husband is the 5th generation owner of their house. The house has been in their family for over 100 years.
But how many people from ethnic minority groups across the UK (or even in the US) have had a property be passed down through the family for over 100 years? Further what percentage of the wealth derived from colonial proceeds have trickled into white families today?

But is it really historical, this inequality?

Economists Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico writing on The historical roots of inequality, on VOX CEPR’s Policy Portal say that:

.. we turn to the impact of slavery on current income disparities and we find that it is indeed associated with a higher degree of income inequality. In other words, former slave counties are more unequal in the present day. They also show a higher poverty rate and a higher degree of racial inequality. Moreover, the data say that the impact of slavery on economic inequality and poverty runs through its impact on racial inequality, and not vice versa.’

So how do you fix it?

Well, as I wrote here, almost 2 years ago now, what should help are a combination of fixes including addressing educational outcomes for black and ethnic minorities. This also means changing the way black people have been taught, with a message that empowers.

You cannot have an empowered black population without a decent level of education that deconstructs the negative stereotypes. And while we are on this topic, giving black people handouts or free money will not help without addressing some of the other problems. Giving them preference in the form of positive discrimination on its own is also unlikely to go very far.

5. There are people who don’t want things to change. Who depend on systems within law that negatively affect black people and ethnic minorities more than they do white people.

Systematic Discrimination. Repression of Black, African and ethnic people. My observations based on a small sample of people I know, and others I’ve read about is that it doesn’t make a difference where you live. Black and African people have been victims of the system.

Whatever the real intentions of that system, the effect has been the same: Subjugation and dispossession leading to debt, poverty and all the associated ills….including bad credit histories, which affects their ability to get loans, which in turn affects their abilities to start businesses and be independent. A perfect storm.

As an example, read this, titled Trillion Dollar Scandal, and tell me how such a thing could be happening in the 21 century? Yet strictly speaking, not all form of siphoning money from developing countries are a crime. So the question becomes who made the rules that allows such plunder to be legal?

6. Black and African people are generally terrible at organising themselves

Again most of the people affected know this, but it’s not thought about any deeper than to accept the situation. Which sounds a bit like: ‘I know I’m disorganised, but what can I do about it’
It’s accepted as the way things are, a permanent disposition than cannot be changed. And when you take this to a community, organisational or even personal level it’s even worse.
In the UK, I’ve been deeply disappointed by some of the African businesses I’ve conducted trade with:-
— the Shipping company that said they would come on a Monday to pick up a consignment but turned up three weeks later on a Friday. No phone call, no email, not even a text to say, ‘Look we’re a bit tied up’ or ‘Theres a problem, we are sorry‘;
— then there was the computer repair shop that promised that my laptop would be fixed by a certain date, only for me to find it hadn’t been fixed when I went to collect it on that date. They didn’t care enough to inform me that the work hadn’t been completed, even a text would have sufficed and I wouldn’t have had to drive 3 miles for nothing. How the hell do they expect to grow as a business if they are so disorganised and have virtually no customer service?? This behaviour may be okay to other Malawians, but it’s not acceptable on a professional level.
— Then there is the church which wanted an event for their youth team. Having bent over backwards to request help from a dance collective run by some Brazilians in London, who put in a lot of effort in planning and creation of a schedule for the youth team, I was disappointed when the whole thing was trashed, after we’d put in so much effort to help them. There was no acknowledgement of our efforts, and in the end I had to apologise to my Brazilian friends for the trouble…
And then there is the time keeping, which frankly can be terrible…. Several years ago, one of my closest friends once turned up for work drunk and with a hangover from the previous night only to inform the befuddled and unamused manager that he wouldn’t be able to stay for work??

I can give many other examples, but I won’t.

However, when these habits permeate into other aspects of your life, such behaviour will vex the majority to the point businesses run by African or black people can lose clients/ potential customers.

The consequence of all this is disorder. And with disorderly conduct, you can’t operate successfully at a higher level or deal with people who have a sense of professionalism. And if you can’t operate a successful business, then you can’t have an income that allows you to train and empower your young people for a lifetime. And if you can’t train and empower your young people and create a positive culture of discipline that is patronised and passed down, then your young people have to find jobs elsewhere, working for someone who may neither give  the right transferable skills (that will help them be independent in the long run) nor pay them adequately.

7. Black and people of African origin are among the most undereducated people on Earth

Allow me to give some links to others who have studied this issue better:-

Why the Poor Stay Poor
Unemployed And Undereducated: Study Finds Black Youth Are Disconnected

14,000 British professors – but only 50 are black 

Black students and the class ceiling

My view is that the situation is a lot worse globally.

8. A historically peaceful disposition and accommodating culture of people of African origin has been used against them

While the arabs were fighting wars in crusades against ‘invaders’ and much recently while militants in Afghanistan and Iraq have been fighting against occupiers, using terrorism and brutal killings (none of which I support) as part of their campaign, in comparison with Africa, the African chiefs of the pre-colonial era were either largely fighting against each other, or welcoming and accommodating foreigners. Dancing to them, selling them slaves, carrying them on chairs. In Malawi for example, most people grew up being told we were ‘friendly people’. And in this fashion, people who for hook or crook took away what belonged to us, were tolerated, even celebrated

sedan-chair
source: usslave.blogspot.com

The result was that while Europeans found it hard to get a foothold in the Middle East, and were knocked back again and again, their attempts in Africa were significantly easier.

In Malawi today we have extremely wealthy foreigners living side by side with very poor people. Their wealth has been passed down the years from generation to generation, whereas the majority of Malawians living in Malawi fail to overcome the grip of poverty.

Inequality is a problem that’s not going to go away unless it is squarely addressed with the intention of ending it. I can bet my life on that.

Other links

Brazil’s Development

In Brazil, in just 10 years, around 40 million people have been lifted out of poverty.
Recently, the University of Manchester embarked on a three-year research programme (http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=10607) that will chart Brazil’s development experience with a view to identifying which elements might work for particular African countries. Even though the research just began in 2013, it’s clear there are a few vital building blocks that have underpinned Brazil’s progress:

(1) Direct support to reduce poverty

Government investment in health, education and direct poverty reduction has played a major role – with the much-feted Bolsa Familia social assistance programme grabbing many of the headlines.

The scheme has proved to be hugely effective, providing financial support to over 50 million Brazilians. It has been responsible for 28% of the poverty reduction from 2002 to 2012. Bolsa Familia is also remarkably cost effective, amounting to just 0.5% of GDP.

But it’s not the only social assistance programme in Brazil. The government’s non-contributory pension schemes receive much less attention, even though they have twice the budget of Bolsa Familia and help to lift millions more out of poverty.

(2) Investment in agriculture

While the global rise in commodity prices has helped, the long-term growth in agricultural productivity has been catalysed by government policy. In particular, an investment in research through the activities of the Embrapa institute has had positive results. Both large agribusinesses and smaller family farms have benefited significantly. In Brazil, family enterprises account for 84% of Brazilian farms and 24% of farm land. But unlike the subsistence agriculture practised by the majority of African smallholders, family farms in Brazil are well integrated into lucrative export markets. Further, government-sponsored research and adoption of technology such as irrigation has been crucial to this success.

(3) Political consensus

Since the transition to democracy in the late 1980s, there has been a broad consensus across the political spectrum emphasising incremental and inclusive reform. This has led to relatively stable macroeconomic and fiscal policies. The recognition of the country’s “social debt” towards the poorest has also ensured an ongoing political commitment to tackle poverty and inequality.

In other words, each new government improves and continues the policies of the previous government, and there is a concerted effort to tackle poverty.
Source: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/apr/17/brazil-role-model-development-africa

Similar reading: http://www.the-report.net/brazil/riodejaneiro-nov2012/216-sustainability-sustainable-development

http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/07/15/brics-summit-bank-idINKBN0FK08620140715

Global Justice Now

http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/campaigns

Interesting website and community that has worthwhile campaigns worth looking at. I like their call to Activism which goes like this:

‘Global Justice Now is made up of a network of activists and local groups full of people like you who take action in their communities to challenge corporate power and the policies that cause poverty and inequality all over the world.

Whether it’s stopping water privatisation or unfair trade deals, campaigning by our local groups has been central to making sure the interests of ordinary people aren’t trampled by those of corporations.

Global Justice Now groups do creative street campaigning, lobby politicians, get media coverage and organise local events such as film screenings and talks.’

For the avoidance of doubt :

  • There are policies which some governments adopt which cause Poverty and Inequality. Having been born in a third world country, and having moved to Britain, and seen how deprived and disadvantaged people are treated here, having analysed and compared and contrasted… having observed and learned ‘how the world works’ I know this is true.
  • Similarly there are policies that worsen poverty and make escaping the debt trap much harder.
  • There are corporations out there trampling on poor people, and whose chief motive is the generation of as much profit as possible above all else. These are the kind of companies which are happy to have ‘tax arrangements’ in tax heavens hiding hundreds of billions, while the public purse suffers; with the result that poor people, including single parents, the disabled, old people, the unemployed and other disadvantaged groups are subjected to an austerity onslaught that worsens their situations even further. In a week where Britain’s Labour leader has been unfairly criticised by tax-avoiding business moguls, let me get this one point absolutely clear. Most Activists are not in favour of communism, or anarchy or an end to free market capitalism. Thats not what they want. The main contention of most activists is that the current system is not working for the majority, simply because it’s increasing inequality, and has given a license for certain sectors (banking, corporations) to abuse the public trust. With the government acting like a trafficker in the middle, facilitating the abuse. Thus, in my own case, I’d favour RESPONSIBLE CAPITALISM that has humane socialist elements in it. Elements that allow businesses to make money, but that sufficiently protect disadvantaged and poor; that protects the voiceless, and helps them become resourceful. Not the current system which attacks, demonises and victimises innocent people, and which ironically, works so hard to keep them in poverty. In other words why don’t we have a ‘do unto others as you’d like to be done unto’ system.
  • There are certain corporations who in concert with selfish, corrupt and greedy politicians create a toxic combination that leads to death, violence, crime, poverty and much suffering. Again, if in doubt ask any better-informed African.

Global Justice Now must be supported and commended for the hugely important work they are doing.

 

THE INEQUALITY AND POVERTY WE SEE ALL AROUND US IS MAN-MADE.

It’s a product of extreme corporate capitalism and inherited privilege. It is all held together by a set of rules designed by and for a tiny elite. By controlling money systems, spreading false ideas, grabbing common resources and relentlessly centralising power, this tiny elite are impoverishing billions and destroying the planet.

It is not a dark room conspiracy; it is the inevitable outcome of a system built over centuries to serve self-interest and an insatiable need for more profit and economic growth.

But at it’s heart, their power is an illusion, a story, built on untruths, secrets and our willingness to participate.

We are the majority. We have the power to change the rules.

MORE AT THE RULES HERE

Researchers Call World Bank Poverty Figures Too Low

According to the study, five percent of all children in Vanuatu live in poverty as defined by the World Bank. But 17 percent live in poverty as defined by a national food and basic needs benchmark. Absolute poverty, where people are deprived of two or more basic human needs, affects 16 percent of children in Vanuatu, say researchers. The study was published in the Journal of Sociology.

Researchers Call World Bank Poverty Figures Too Low via Voice of America

Con Artists: Deception, deception and more deception

The typical con artist of the 21st Century is a puppet organisation whose employees have important sounding job titles, wear suits, have well manicured fingernails and sport pricey haircuts. None of that amateurish I have a gun give me your money or I’ll blow out your brains twaddle.

This morning, I found myself reading a hilarious article that suggested that the World Bank (of all the neoliberal outfits out there) was fronting some initiative designed to help Africa in preventing pricing irregularities of its minerals, in the process saving the continent billions of dollars?

Yeah, essentially that’s what it says…which is… how do I put it….dishonest, or at least not entirely truthful, if one is to be mild-mannered.

Yes, it will be good for people to know the actual price of their country’s minerals, but who exactly are we talking about here. Aren’t the prices of commodities evident and freely available to the public on international markets? Aren’t the people working in Natural resource departments of government agencies somewhat a bit more savvy (and knowledgeable) than the local man on the street? All you need is a computer (or even a mobile phone) and an internet connection. Don’t tell me government ministries of natural resources across Africa don’t have access to an internet connection to enable them to check the price of Platinum or Rare Earth Minerals on the international market…or are too incompetent to do so?

Which is why I think this initiative is merely a distraction. Having a map of your country’s natural resources and the cost thereof doesn’t immediately translate into physical or tangible gains. It doesn’t mean that you, the native, controls, owns or has the real benefit of those natural resources. Or does it?

At the most this is a PR stunt designed to mislead, a nefarious ploy to distract the people’s attention from the unfair, unethical and illegal state of play, where African resources are owned and exploited by foreign corporations who have no interest whatsoever in improving the lives of African people. It’s purpose in my view is simply to provide an illusion that something is being done, when the fact remains that nothing of any real substance is being done. It’s as hollow as announcing to the world that the UN is considering a resolution against Switzerland and other Tax Havens, to stop them receiving illicit funds from third world / developing countries, and then doing absolutely nothing else other than that annoucement….no action, zero! Meaningless.

So, you can mineral map the whole world if you like, but the locals in third world countries will still remain deeply afflicted by poverty, often going without, or with very little; there will continue to be poor or non-existent healthcare facilities, hunger and disease will continue to run amok, corruption will remain high, wars will tear the landscape and displace millions … as in the backdrop, an alliance of tycoons and wealthy billionaires multiply their wealth – their catalyst, a resource that should be owned by Africans, and yet isn’t.

How many African companies have contracts to mine minerals in North America? How many have contracts for oil extraction in the North Sea, or off the coast of Australia? What percentage of Canadians own Multimillion dollar companies registered in Canada? Similarly, what Percentage of Nigerian/ South Africans / Malawians own multimillion dollar companies in their own countries? Those are the questions the World bank or indeed any serious commentator should be asking, because addressing the disproportionate imbalances or anomalies in those questions is what has a far higher potential to reverse capital flight from Africa and third world countries. That’s what has a higher chance of improving the plight of the people of Africa. Not mineral mapping…or some silly PR stunt.

It can never be right, whether you have a mineral map or not, no amount of sugar-coating or window dressing will ever put that unfair state of play right. The truth is there has been a clearly indisputable economic unfair advantage gained by western countries (helped by wars, bad policies and stupid African leaders), and something serious must be done to reverse and rebalance the playing field. Half-hearted deceptive stunts fronted by agents of the neoliberal right will only harm the little sincere good that others are currently working on.

If you really want to know what this is all about, the ending of the article itself says it all:

BDs2