The problem with capitalism

I think the whole problem of capitalism is that different jobs are valued differently, even though workers may work the same hours and with an equal effort. The lower the skill of the worker, the more ‘replaceable’ they seem, and this gives rise to different wage rates. I accept that higher skilled workers have worked harder to achieve these skills, but that doesn’t warrant the gigantic wage differences we see today.

If you have, say, 5 people building a house, 1 drawing plans and 4 working, all working the same hours and with the same effort, surely the profit gained should be evenly split. This is no difference to a corporation, where the CEO is the planner. Therefore, the actual skill level in the job should not affect the wage rate, only the training requiered, and the liability and responsibility it involves.

One alternative would be to tax the rich more, but this is only a short-term fix. The best way is to place a greater emphasis on labour and workers and make them a part of the decision making process, as they have every right to be.

Tuition Fees are killing our country

University is the most exclusive it’s been for a hundred years. Politicians will tell you that they are the most diverse and best funded in the world, but more than ever, rapidly increasing tuition fees and other costs are making it almost impossible for motivated and driven people to get to university.

We pride ourselves on being a country where, if you work hard and desire to succeed, you can live the life you want. But look at what’s actutuition feesally happening. It is clear from the graph that when tuition fees were raised, in 1997, 2005 and 2011, the number of applicants to university actually fell. This means that there are people who were willing to go to university, but put off by the high cost.

Although this may not seem like a big problem, we read every day in the papers about shortages of doctors, nurses and teachers, Maybe, our high cost of university has something to do with this.

The House of Commons Briefing Paper on this subject says that:

The three major falls in this period were in 1998 when tuition fees were introduced, 2006 when variable fees were introduced and 2012 when the cap was lifted to £9,000.

The question that has to be asked is: if the government knows the harmful effects of raising tuition fees, then why do they do it?

Here is a quote from a Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a German politician. It explains why free tuition is beneficial to furthering our shared goals of equality and economic progress.

Tuition fees are socially unjust. They particularly discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up studies. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.

Maybe we can be taught a lesson from Germany about this. It’s basic economic theory: if you improve the quality of the workforce, you will increase your GDP and everyone will benefit. However, if you are not willing to spend money and invest in people, you will get nothing back.

‘The Peoples’ Railway’: a better way to run a business

There was a very interesting documentary on BBC 2 recently, that followed a group of five highly dissatisfied commuters as they attempted to bid for the South-Eastern rail franchise. Of course, they were unsuccessful; as they gained credibility, the Department of Transport raised the bar further and further to protect their shareholder friends. But it did raise very interesting ideas.

Britain has one of the most backward rail networks in the developed world. The whole system seems to be set up to siphon off billions of public funds into private pockets: the taxpayer is responsible for maintaining the thousands of miles of track, and the franchises make the profits from running the actual trains, which the shareholders take for themselves. In fact, we pay nearly double in subsidising private rail firms than we did when we actually owned the rail network ourselves.

It summed it up when one of the group remarked, on a visit to Switzerland’s efficient railway system: ‘it’s like being in the 21st century’.

And it did, even to the viewers. Here, in gun-owning, outside-the-EU Switzerland, railway franchises re-invest all of their profits to improve their service. As a result, trains are bigger, more frequent, and rarely cancelled.

Although, they are private companies, I respect their attitude that puts people before profits, and hopefully a similar system can be put in place in this country.

Perhaps we need to have representation of all stakeholders on company boards. A cross-section of employees, customers, investors and management would mean decisions would be made that benefit all those involved, instead of just the shareholders.

Sadly, this will not be the case until we have a better democracy. Switzerland is so democratic it makes us look like North Korea. I hope to do an article soon on why the Swiss system is so much better.

But back to trains: it is clear that the current system is a complete con. Taxpayers money is being used to subsidise private firms who run a bad service so that they can collect a huge profit. And when a group of individuals decide to do something about it, the government raises the bar so high they would need a trampoline with wings to jump over it. This is not competitive! Do not believe the government when they say this as an excuse to give public money to their friends!

This is not the best system. Theresa May and her corporate backers will not allow alternatives. Therefore, the only thing to do is vote Labour, and hope that Jeremy Corbyn will put an end to this madness.

Alexei Navalny: Russia’s next President?

Since the end of the USSR, Russia has embraced a new kind of regime. This is the country that has given us Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, a sovreign state.

Suprisingly, this country also has ‘elections’, although the extent to which these are complete works of fiction are unknown.

In Russia’s 2018 ‘election’, incumbent President Putin looks likely to be challenged by young insurgent Alexei Navalny. Like Corbyn, Sanders and Trump, he feeds on the anger felt towards the elites, making him a serious contender for the presidency.

His popular blog and YouTube channel is highly critical of Russia’s elites, Prime Minister Medvedev being a recent target. Navalny claimed that the PM owned a series of luxury villas and mansions complete with helipads, swimming pools and much else considerably greater than Medvedev could afford on his official salary.

This led to recent protest in Moscow, but Navalny has, unsurprisingly, got into trouble with the government. The apparently unfounded charges involve him conspiring to steal timber from a state-owned company. Something about that sounds like an attempt to desparately cling to power.

Navalny has also been personally attacked: having acid thrown in his face, causing him to almost loose sight in one eye.

He is an extremely popular campaigner, but can he win?

No.

The Russian system simply won’t allow a progressive populist to take charge. Yes, he may get onto the ballot, he may even do very well indeed, but if Putin and his cronies have to completely fix the election, they will do it.

However, what is does show is that times are changing in Russia. It shows that people are dissatisfied with the system. It shows that progress is being made. The first generation brought up free of the Soviet Union will soon be taking over, and then we will see some real change.

Representative Democracy is old and broken: it’s time to look at alternatives

In November, Hillary Clinton won the US presidential election, beating Donald Trump by nearly 3 million votes. But Trump is in the White House and his administration makes decisions on behalf of the American people and the most powerful economy and military in the world. The question that must be asked, therefore, is how is a supposed ‘democracy’ capable of allowing this to happen?

The flaws in American so-called ‘democracy’ are glaringly obvious, not to mention stupidly easy to fix. The electoral college was designed for a nation that existed over 200 years ago, when it took seven weeks to cross the Atlantic. Whatever great reasons the founders had to set in the constitution this system, the idea that it is still relevant today is laughable. It is often forgotten that in the early days of the presidential elections, states legislatures chose electors themselves, not to mention the fact that only white, male, owners of property could vote at all. What passed for democracy in the 18th century is very different to what we expect today.

Unfortunately, this is something all too common with Americans. The metric system, sensible gun laws and modern democracy are all things they seem to be too dogmatic to adopt. Maybe if they were more open to change, they wouldn’t be run by a billionaire orange moron. But the big question is: are we any better?

The answer is, unfortunately: we’re not.

We have a proud, but somewhat reserved history of quiet, subtle democratic reforms that have left us with what we have today. The Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are just two of hundreds of documents and agreements that set out the way our country is run. But this lack of a clear plan or system has led us to our current broken system. In the old days, we elected representatives of our local constituency that would go to London and do very little, as the executive branch of the government was effectively the ruling monarch.

Nowadays, very few people vote for a party because they like the local candidate. It is an unavoidable fact that people vote for a party in an election because they look at the leaders and the national figures that will form the cabinet.

As a result, the House of Commons can be compared somewhat to the US electoral college: they vote for the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister runs the country. So, you can see that our system is not dissimilar to the widely criticised American system. It’s crazy that a party that got less than 37% of the vote in 2015, has full reign over the House of Commons, and a majority government.

In short: if we want a better nation to leave to our children, then we need to fix this broken system. There are already campaigns underway by the Electoral Reform Society and others to argue for a Proportional Representation system, but there are flaws in this. However, there are many alternatives that are much more democratic than what we already have; but the only way it can realistically be changed is if normal people start writing to their MPs and being vocal about it.

If you have a minute today, fire off a quick email to your local MP, and see what they say in reply. It’s not going to be easy, but if enough people can see how stupid our system really is, then it’s only a matter of time before a proper discussion about it begins.

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