declining health

The UK used to have one of the very best rates of child health in the world. However, by 1990, following 11 years of Tory underfunding, six countries in Europe had lower neonatal mortality rates than the UK, but that was just the start of the decline. By 2015 the UK ranked 19th for neonatal mortality across Europe. Most recently the situation has become far worse, as infant mortality in the UK has risen year after year from 2015 onwards. Nowhere else in Europe has it risen. Similarly, but for separate reasons, overall life expectancy across the UK peaked in 2014 and has fallen since. Again, nowhere else in Europe has a record of change as bad as this.

shooting squads

Why not fly? Everyone else is doing it. The aeroplanes won't stop flying, just because you don't buy a ticket.

That's what they say.

Would they join a shooting squad, on the basis that the shooting won't not happen, just because they don't take part? Isn't propping up the aviation industry shooting people's homes and livelihoods?

No one person ever makes change happen on their own. Yet change happens.

How do they think the middle classes suddenly became preoccupied by plastic, if not by initial fanatics fussing, protesting, lobbying, not participating (pointlessly). How does a topic get onto the agenda if we all just join the shooting squad.

cherry picking

Neoliberals cite China as evidence of the benevolent power of capitalism: look how it's managed to reduce poverty.

Even if you accept their terms - that the good in China outweighs any bad, and only capitalism could have reduced the poverty - China is actually a prime example of state-sponsored and state-directed capitalism. Neoliberals should cite Russia, whose transition they managed.

But Russia doesn't look quite so good for neoliberalism.

china v russia

China Russia growth comparison

The economic transformation has produced much higher growth in China than in Russia. Although in both countries growth has not been equally shared, the outstanding growth experienced in China has very substantially lifted the living standards of the poorest. On the contrary, the bulk of the post-communist growth in Russia has been captured by the top. Over the 1989-2016 period, the top 1% captured more than two-thirds of the total growth in Russia, while the bottom 50% actually saw a decline in its income.

taxing the rich

You don’t tax the rich because you need their money in order to feed a hungry kid or fix a crumbling bridge. You tax the rich because they are too damn rich and extreme concentrations of wealth especially, but also income, are bad for the functioning of the economy, are bad for democracy. That’s the rationale for taxing the rich. Not because we can’t do other things unless we get money from them to pay for it.

standing by on cyprus

Britain had both the means and the obligation to stop the Turkish assault on Cyprus. After first ensuring Turkish hostility to the Greek majority, it had imposed a Treaty of Guarantee on the island, depriving it of true independence, for its own selfish ends: the retention of large military enclaves at its sovereign disposal. Now, when called on to abide by the treaty, it crossed its arms and gave free passage to the modern Attila, claiming that it was helpless – a nuclear power – to do otherwise.

the land of the free

Some 2.3 million people in the United States - more than .7 percent of the population - are in detention.... As a whole, the US locks up 716 people out of every 100,000, 20 percent of whom are pre-trial detainees. To put this proportion in perspective, the highest-ranking non-US territory on the prisoner-per-capita list is Cuba, which comes in thirty-ninth at a rate of 510. The only country that imprisons anywhere near the sheer number of people as the United States is China, whose relatively low rate of incarceration (121 per 100,000) applies to a population over four times larger. One of every four people doing time the world over is doing it in a US facility.

The scale of the US penal system looks even larger when accounting for all those whose lives are in some way supervised by correctional institutions. One in every 35 adults—almost 6.9 million men and women—in the United States is on probation or parole. That figure does not include the juvenile justice system, which holds about 80,000 children in residential facilities, including those held in adult prisons.


Austerity worked

How do we respond to offhand comments over lunch? They aren't meant to start a conversation: they're just said as if the whole world takes this as a starting point.

Dear X

You believe austerity worked here. I almost don’t know whether to believe that you believe it. For me, ‘austerity’ sums up exactly what it means for something not to work.

obama lies as cravenly as bush

Obama lies as cravenly, if not as crudely, as George W. Bush ... As a senator, Obama promised he would filibuster amendments to the FISA Reform Act that retroactively made legal the wiretapping and monitoring of millions of American citizens without warrant; instead he supported passage of the loathsome legislation. He told us he would withdraw American troops from Iraq, close the detention facility at Guantánamo, end torture, restore civil liberties such as habeas corpus and create new jobs. None of this has happened.


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