Cutting the Welfare Safety Net Is Not the Way to Make Work Pay

Adnan Al-Daini

How does one assess the cuts to the welfare safety net? Let us, for the sake of argument, put aside whether cutting the deficit should be the priority in the depths of a recession. The argument of the government seems to be (a) we must make work pay and (b) there is no alternative.

Making work pay could be achieved by a number of actions: raising the minimum wage for example, restoring the 10p tax band at the bottom to be paid for by restoring the 50p tax band, and introducing a higher band at the top. It is not right that the method chosen to make it appear that work pays is to cut the welfare safety net to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

Over 10 years up to 2012 executive pay trebled despite the double dip recession and the economic crash of 2008, with the average pay of chief executives of Britain's top companies at £4.8m, equivalent to 148 times the average wage. It is this skewed system of rewards that is keeping wages low, with taxpayers having to supplement the income of the working poor for them to survive. These in-work benefits, together with pension, constitute a substantial share of the welfare bill.

The in-work benefits are tantamount to a taxpayer's subsidy to enable those at the top of the income pyramid to receive such inflated salaries. How wrong can that be? The taxation system should be used to try and narrow the income and wealth gap between the very rich and the rest of society. Certainly there is a strong case for that.

Thatcher’s funeral: Pomp in the service of political reaction

Julie Hyland & Chris Marsden

Adjectives to describe yesterday’s funeral of former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher are not hard to find: nauseating, obscene, provocative.

She was, after all, the most hated political figure in recent British history—an admirer of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, who wrought destruction on working class communities throughout the UK.

Thatcher was given a state funeral in all but name, so that there could be no scrutiny of its total costs, estimated at £10 million—the most expensive ever staged.

The ceremony was so militaristic that some compared the scene in London, with armed police stationed every few hundred yards, to a coup. Her coffin set off from St. Clement Danes, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force and site of the statute to “Bomber” Harris—the architect of the fire-bombing of German cities in the Second World War. Mounted on a horse-drawn gun-carriage, draped in the union flag, it was accompanied by 700 armed forces personnel to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

There was more of the political sycophancy demonstrated in the specially recalled parliament last week, with Big Ben silenced for the duration of the funeral and parliament suspended to allow MPs to attend.

The Queen was present for the first time at the funeral of a former prime minister since Winston Churchill’s in 1965. Unlike then, however, Thatcher will not lay in state, precisely because she is so widely despised.

Echoes in the Aftermath: Remembering the Victims of Violence

Chris Floyd

All condolences are due to the victims of the Boston bombing and their families ― and to all those victimized by violence around the world today.

This includes the 37 people killed in bomb attacks across Iraq, a commonplace occurrence since American invaders destroyed the country and deliberately sowed bloody sectarian strife there.

And the families of the 20 people killed by a bombing Sunday in Somalia, a country whose fragile peace was shattered by an American-backed foreign invasion, which included American bombings, American renditions and American death squads sowing ― what else? ― bloody sectarian strife.

And the captives in Guantánamo Bay being beaten and brutalized by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who is keeping dozens of men cleared for release even by the twisted, draconian "rules" of the gulag itself ― while he continues to kill people around the world ― without charges, trial, evidence, defense or warning ― by his own unchallengeable, merciless diktat.

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