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The government is plundering money from workers in taxes and unpaid labour, and spending it on reaction...

War and crumbs – Brown's statement


You can't predict how dice will fall. The Chancellor gets berated for getting his forecasts wrong in an anarchic and unpredictable capitalist casino economy, but gets away with funding war and EU waste while throwing a few meagre crumbs to the deserving poor.

It used to be said that British workers consciously colluded with imperialism by accepting the crumbs it threw from the table. There was never any truth in this, as in reality everything had to be fought for. But there is a real danger now that we are becoming too grateful for the little that we are thrown without a fight and too uncritical of the way in which billions are spent on waste and destruction.

The wasted expenditure in the EU was not mentioned in the Budget, nor was the effect of any rebate which Blair appears willing to surrender. But £580 million more was allocated to cause further mayhem and death in Iraq, on top of the £5 billion already spent.

The Chancellor plugs his gaps by taxing oil companies in the North Sea oil fields by about £5 billion more, but they are secretly happy because those with an interest in Iraq know that they stand to gain many times more than this under the new Production Sharing Agreements (see News, page 3) being arranged there. Arms producers too are laughing all the way to the bank; no need to tighten their belts.

The Chancellor juggles with tax revenues, which are a relatively small part of the wealth of the nation. Capitalist companies have more liquid assets at their disposal each year than a government. Much more. The govern-ment's total direct income of £483 billion is less than the combined wealth of the 300 richest people in Britain. The top 25 richest individuals in Britain could pay ten times over from their increased profits last year for all of the good causes like pensioners' home heating and the youth and community projects which the Chancellor announced. The surplus value that becomes profit in private company bank accounts makes the government's coffers look like a piggy bank of old pennies. Imagine what could be done if all the wealth of Britain were at our disposal.

Of course since Labour came to power in 1997 they have reduced the tax burden on the very richest by 3.8%, while for the lowest income households it has risen by 11.4%. This in small part explains the rapid rise of the millionaires and billionaires who dance at Downing Street's court. One good friend of the government, Philip Green, made £1.2 billion in bonus this year alone, which he gave to his wife's off shore account to avoid taxes and paid £2 million back as conscience money to buy a college. MPs and company bosses, anxious to make everyone else think there is a 'pensions crisis', are demanding more to be put into their own pension schemes.

Meanwhile the Commons Public Accounts Committee estimates conservatively that the Chancellor would have had £8 billion more to spend on public services if so much had not been wasted on failed projects and fraud. Imagine that: 15 large hospitals more, if money had not been wasted on harebrained schemes and corruption. Add to that alone our huge net payments into the EU, some £3 billion a year, and at a stroke you could start to talk about real investment in science and technology, industry and public services. But then add the £850 billion in pension funds – earmarked for plundering to fund the EU, hence the so-called 'crisis' - and you could double total government spending on good causes with no problem at all.

Governments can fall
A previous Labour government fell on the issue of pay restraint. Yet Brown has succeeded in imposing pay restraint for eight years. This year's has a new twist: inflation at 2.3% while Brown is looking for no more than 2% pay rises in the health service for example. It is going to be the struggle for wages that could again undo the whole hypocrisy and waste of the capitalist government's income and expenditure account. While workers are modest, the employers flagrantly line their pockets and pensions, and celebrities flaunt the unearned wealth of a decadent system.

Government borrowing, a projected £37 billion, is of course good news for the usurers who will lend it. The sale of more public assets, this year £5.7 billion worth, is also good news for those who snaffle public assets up at bargain basement prices. So too is massive public investment linked to public private initiatives. And the education market soon to be opened up by the White Paper on schools is expected by some sharks to deliver 11.7 million students paying between £5,000 and £15,000 a year for the privilege of private education.