The right to work: undermined by technological advancements?

“I read the news today oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade…” which recently tends to be a dot.com entrepreneur who has made billions from a tech start-up employing a handful of people. These success stories are usually accompanied by reports of a company downsizing, rationalizing, restructuring, consolidating, streamlining or one of many ingenious euphemisms used to soften the news of job losses. The workers are always the first to feel the slice of the austerity cleaver. The business is butchered to provide maximum profit for its shareholders with its employees consigned to the offal pile; leaving a lean, mean, money making machine.

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Do you take sugar? No thanks.

Amid the election fever I feel it is still important to draw attention to this cardiologist for whom I’ve long had respect. Although I’ve never met him (probably fortunately!) I’m even more delighted that he was based at what used to be my local hospital, the Lister Hospital, Stevenage. For me he is spot on. I cannot understand why he never seems to be on the BBC. So don’t let anyone tell you the sugar tax is a stupid idea.

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When corporatism is the new colonialism, it’s too late for nationalism to be the answer.

Marine Le Pen, the SNP and the Conservatives seem to think that taking back control is about getting smaller. The international corporations and the global banks seem to have a different view. There danger lies.

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Why are there so few Credit Unions in Britain?

Credit Unions are non profit organisations run by members for members, which are part of the co-operative movement and run for mutual benefit. They are very much to be encouraged and indeed their promotion is certainly part of the Progressive Pulse vision. However British credit unions have strikingly failed to become widely established despite strong government support (on both sides of the house), leaving the ‘sub-prime’ sector vulnerable to pay-day lenders such as Wonga with very high interest rates which can reach  as much as 1509% APR.

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Universal Basic Income and Sarah Palin’s starring role.

 

Having attended a recent lecture on Universal Basic Income (UBI) – otherwise known as Citizens’ Income (the two are interchangeable) – by Bill Jordan, Professor of Social Policy at Plymouth University, I offer a summary of what I took from the evening, both from the lecture and the ensuing discussion.

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The need for mutuality in the economy and society in general

I see the French Left – irrespective of vision – has repeated the mistake that robbed Jospin of the chance to run for the Presidency in 2002, namely, failure to agree on a single standard-bearer, given that Mélenchon got 19.6% and Hamon got 6.3%,which combined would have put the single standard-bearer ahead of Macron. The Left fails more by strategic and tactical clumsiness and stupidity than by the failure to have a fleshed out stance – no one could accuse Mélenchon of lack of clarity.

However, there is a bigger question, which is about society having a choice between two visions.

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If we close our eyes will we know we have left the EU?

I visited Northern Ireland numerous times in the 1960’s most notably perhaps was a School Civics trip from my Dublin school (St Paul’s Raheney) to Stormont in early May 1968. We were sponsored by Gerry Fitt (the then leader of the SDLP) who showed us around and I remember meeting Ian Paisley who was really charming and gracious, in total contrast to the firebrand image he portrayed on Television. I can’t say I remember any of the debate, but we had some time in Belfast city centre. The overall impression was extremely positive. The roads were vastly better than in the Republic which was immediately apparent when we crossed the border. Indeed at the time the roads in the Republic were largely maintained at a county level. My maternal grandfather from Tipperary used to tease my grandmother, from Limerick, and ask her to close her eyes and guess when the county border was crossed – at the time the roads in Tipperary were much better; they lived in Galbally on the county border.  I saw my first ever colour television set, and even better, I was able to stock upon Opal Fruits (Starburst), which were unavailable in the Republic due to the strict protectionism of the local confectionery industry. (I tried them last week when I was again in Belfast but they were not the same!) I also thought the Belfast trolley buses were very exciting, it was the second largest system in the UK after London at the time. (The entire trolley bus system was closed just a week or so after my visit; there was a craze in both Britain and Ireland at the time for ripping out old transport systems in the name of modernity, which in retrospect seems vandalous.) Belfast City Hall was also very impressive and Belfast in general seemed a lot more prosperous than Dublin.

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