The governments welfare room bill and the introduction of universal credit has been very much in the news in the last week. Now clearly some simplification of the welfare benefits system is need as it is too difficult for claimants to understand. But I feel that the welfare room bill should lead us to answer some more fundamental questions.
Firstly why is the welfare bill so high in this country it is not as some right wing commentators say due to lazy welfare claimants. It is due to the low wage neo liberal economy with very high unemployment.
A major part of the welfare bill is tax credits this is where working class taxpayers subsidize the low wages paid by employers and the top up the low wages up with tax credits.
Also the enormous housing benefit bill which is due to the high rents charged by private landlords and the lack of cheap social housing available.
So why we need some reform of the welfare system we also need a new economy.
Public investment, co-operatives backed up by a guaranteed minimum income for everbody in or out of work.
But most importantly we need cheap accommodation,with a massive council flat and house building programme and the introduction of rent controls for private landords.
To get rid of poverty in this country we need a clear break from neo liberalism and an economy based on public investment
Without doubt the Arab league,s call for President Assad of Syria to step down is one of the most amazing acts of hypocrisy in recent years. The Arab league includes three brutal dictatoships Bahrein, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All suprise suprise supported by Britain and the USA.
Now clearly we must support a move towards democracy in Syria. But the best way to achieve this is negotiations between the Syrian governement and the opposition, who themselves have carried out atrocities. A recent poll by an independent Qatar media outlet showed 55% of the people supported President Assad in Syria.Their maybe some margin of error in the poll but Assad clearly has some support in Syria.
The western powers have little interest in democracy in the middle east hence their support for the dictatorships in Bahrein,Qatar and Saudi Arabia and their role in the overthrow of the Iranian socialist President Mossadeq in 1954 because he took into public ownership the western owned oil firms in Iran.The western powers are only interested in exploiting the resouces of the middle east.
So there should be no Nato intevention in Syria but a negotiated move towards democracy in Syria and the holding of free and fair elections.
Max Keiser the dissident American economist is in my opinion compulsory viewing on Russia Today on channel 85 freeview television.
He has a great record of exposing the coporate welfare payments to Goldman and Sachs and Morgan Stanley and other finance companies. Also he clearly shows the hold that these corrupt finance companies have over the American government and the world economy. Also he shows how the USA and many other countries are heading for total bankruptcy.
However although Max is well meaning there are I feel some weakness in his viewpoint
Firstly he is a former stockbrocker and thus most of the guests on his show tend to be dissident business people. He has no guests from the labour movement.
Secondly his view is that the American Capitalist system is basically a good thing and that what is need is real small business backed up by anti trust laws.
I feel that this view is naive and that many capitalist enterprises will by nature grow into monopolies. This is part of the nature of the capitalist system.
However Max being an American businessmen is not suprisingly hostile to socialism and does not appear to allow any great role for the working class movement in changing society.
So Max Keisers well meaning views are in my opinion to some extent overidden by his lack of interest in the labour movement having a role in changing society and also not being a supporter of democractic socialism.
In the next two years or so there will be a vote on Scottish independence. The big row at present is over the date that the vote on independence will take place. The coalition government favour the vote as early as possible whilst the Scottish government favour a vote in late 2014. The basis for this being that the present coalition governments will be more unpopular in late 2014 so the Scottish people will be more likely to vote in favour of independence in late 2014.
Of course the three main British parties Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats will campaign strongly in defence of the union when the referendum vote takes place.
Of course it is up to the people of Scotland to decide whether or not to vote for independence. At present opinion polls show about 38% of the Scottish people are in favour of independence however I suspect that the referendum vote may be quite close when it takes place.
However I will make some comments on the issue. Firstly England should have a referendum on the establishment of an English parliament.
Secondly my own view is that an independent Scotland would be good for the world Although as I have already said the issue is up to the people of Scotland to decide.The reason why I feel that an independent Scotland would be a good thing is that it would weaken the United Kingdom. A weaker United Kingdom would also weaken the British Ameica war alliance this I feel can only be a good thing.
So as an English person I want a vote on English home rule. But also as an English person I hope that Scotland votes in favour of Scottish independence.
On the first Tuesday in November 2012 the American presidential election will take place. It goes without saying that whoever is elected president of the USA will have a big impact on the whole world particularly as the USA likes to start wars every few years on behalf of American corporate business interests.
The two most important candidates will of course be Barack Obama and whoever the Republican party chooses. Both candidates should in my opinion be stongly opposed as they are sevants of corporate big business interests and are prepared to starts wars anywere in the world to support these interests.
Also they are prepared to support a growing trend towards authoritarianism.The most recent example of this is the NDAA the National Defence Authorization Act, under which any American citizen can be held indefinitely without trial.
So clearly a new political movement needs to be formed in the USA. A major weakness in America is that it has never had a large Socialist Party. Although a recent survey shows that under the age of 30 nearly 50% of people are hostile to the capitalist system and 47% had a positive view of socialism.
Of the two main political parties only Ron Paul has any positive features. Being against any new wars, he is against new anti civil liberty legislation also he is in favour of scrapping aid for Israel. However his negative side is his right wing neo liberal economic policies.
So on balance I feel that America needs a new major progressive third party.The newly formed Justice Party, Socialist Party and Green Party are standing in the 2012 presidential election. Let us hope that there is a progressive breakthrough in the election to challenge the dominance of the two major Democratic and Republican corporate controlled parties.