Year 2001 No. 21, February 5, 2001
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Bushs Own "Third Way" A "Faith-Based" Partnership Plan
Dudley Hospital Workers to Hold Further Actions
NHS News In Brief
NHS in Wales to Miss Waiting List Targets
Student Nurses Consider Quitting Over Rising Debts
Multinationals and Globalisation
Ecuador: Leaders of the People Arrested
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The Labour government has in recent times attempted to usurp the peoples opposition to the creed of neo-liberalism that "there is no such thing as society". They have done so by erasing the second part of this creed, that "there are only individuals and family values". They are translating this second part into an emphasis on the "civil society", a society of communities and community values which must enter into partnership with government by being coerced into "voluntary" work. This creed then becomes the "Third Way" exhortation to "civic patriotism".
The new president of the United States, George W Bush, having come to power by a ruling of the US Supreme Court, has himself lost no time pushing his own version of an ideology that is supposed to transcend traditional notions of "right" and "left". In itself, this fact furthers the exposure that the ruling circles themselves wish to go beyond the notions of "centre-right" or "centre-left". It also further underlines that the "Third Way" position of "neither old left nor new right" is itself taking society in a reactionary direction, or blocking the movement of the people to take society in a progressive direction.
Instead of the "new right" emphasis on individuals, therefore, the emerging ideology that George Bush is seeking to represent is supposed to pitch communal and social interests first and foremost. This emerging ideology has been christened "communitarianism", and is said to be taking root in the White House. Don Eberly, a Bush adviser, told The Washington Post last week: "This is the ultimate Third Way." He elaborated that "this is a new way to rethink social policy: a major reigniting of interest in the social sector."
In a commentary in The Times last Friday, it was pointed out that these ideas include: that the bonds of community need to be strengthened; that grassroots groups can best cultivate moral values; that lateral links within society are more durable than the pursuit and defence of individual rights. The commentary also added that the "communitarian" vocabulary emphasises civil society, social responsibility, community-creation and character building. These remarks are very pertinent. The values that the Bush administration is setting out to push are entirely consonant with the Blair-Brown programme of volunteerism and civic patriotism. It is a "rethink of social policy" that seeks to deny the obligation of society to care for the needs of every individual. The choice of Bush by the US ruling circles in this light takes on the character not so much of the negation of the Clinton and Blair "Third Way" or "progressive governance" as an deepening and intensification of its reactionary character, a character that is also being pushed by the Labour government. Just as Blairs ideology has the professed aim of uniting the nation around the Labour Party, the Bush form of communitarianism has an aim also of laying a foundation for an official ideology that crosses party lines.
One feature of this communitarian ideology that the US and British ruling circles are seeking to impose is that character of "faith-based" welfare programmes. This programme seeks to channel public funding not for social programmes but to religious groups to operate a range of social services. US President Bush has proposed a Federal Office of Faith-Based Partnership. This would be an extension of the "Charitable Choice" provision, the architect of which is the new US Attorney General John Ashcroft. This agenda is one which is espoused by the "religious right". In Britain, the call to rekindle religious values to solve the problems of the community is one that has also been given by Tony Blair. Like Bush, rather than affirming that religion is purely a matter of conscience, Tony Blair has been calling for communities to develop their religions as a way of regenerating community spirit and solving the "attitude problems" of the youth. It is notable that at the end of last year, he sent messages of greetings to people of the Jewish and Moslem faiths. This has the aim of identifying communities by their religions, and as he did at the Holocaust Memorial Day making the issue one of "tolerance" of minority religions.
These developments in the US and in Britain underline the reactionary direction, full of obscurantism and emphasis on community, that the ruling circles are trying to take society. There are a number of commentators who have pointed out the Hitlerite nature of this obscurantism and emphasis on community, and this is a very valid point. It underlines with even greater force the necessity for democratic people to rallying round the programme of the working class for the renewal of society, to take society in the direction of socialism and in opposition to the fascist direction that the US and British governments are elaborating.
Striking UNISON Dudley Group of Hospitals workers have given notice that they will start another 21-day strike at midnight (00.01) on Saturday, February 11.
The strikers report that a number of high profile activities are planned including a demonstration to a lobby of Health Minister and Birmingham Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart on Saturday, March 3. This has been provisionally organised to assemble at 10.30am in Chamberlain Square, Birmingham.
Hospital waiting lists in Wales have gone up once again. Nearly 1,000 people joined the queue for inpatient treatment in December, while the wait for an outpatient appointment grew by 1,200.
There are now more than 77,000 people on the inpatient waiting list down from a peak of 80,000, but still substantially above the 65,000 target set by Welsh health minister Jane Hutt for April.
Last week's figures released in a statistical bulletin without ministerial comment show just how far the NHS in Wales still has to go to meet those targets. Four out of five Welsh HAs reported a rise in waiting lists during December with Dyfed Powys HA being the only exception. Fifteen per cent of patients had been waiting more than 12 months, and 6 per cent more than 18 months.
Student nurses qualify with debts of £3,700 on average, according to a Royal College of Nursing survey of 800 students.
It says that 58 per cent have considered leaving their course because of financial hardship compared with 10 per cent of other full-time students.
Dissatisfaction is growing over inadequate bursaries for nursing students and last week a lobby of student nurses presented 60 case studies to MPs including paymaster general Dawn Primarolo.
The RCN argues that student nurses should be as a special case, not least because many are supporting families, as its survey showed. More than one in three nursing students had children living with them and 14 per cent had other caring responsibilities.
The average age of the 800 students was 29 years with 15 per cent aged over 40.
Two-thirds (63 per cent) thought they were worse off than students on other courses. 62 per cent said travel funding on clinical placements was inadequate and 90 per cent think they should be eligible for maternity and other benefits.
A massive 89 per cent said nursing and midwifery students should have a different funding system from other students. Only 2 per cent of those surveyed said funding should remain the same.
The RCN is demanding: a substantially increased non-means tested bursary for all nursing and midwifery students; increased allowances for mature students and those with dependants; access to student loans and hardships grants; parity between diploma and degree students concerning bursary levels and length of academic year.
According to a recent study by the Institute for Policy Studies, 51 of the largest 100 economies in the world are corporations, not countries. This conclusion has been based on a comparison of corporate sales and gross domestic product. The report is entitled "Top 200: The Rise of Corporate Global Power".
The report warns of the transformation of economic clout into political power. It gives as an example the fact that 44 of the US corporations in the top 200 list failed to pay the full 35% standard corporate tax rate from 1996b to 1998. It further shows that in 1998, seven companies General Motors, Texaco, Chevron, Pepsi, Enron, Worldcom and McKesson actually received rebates for taxes paid.
The report also points out that reforms made by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have eroded the dominance of manufacturing and natural resource-based companies. It says that between 1983 and 1999, the share of total sales made up by service companies has increased from 33.8% to 46.7%. Gains were particularly evident in financial services and telecommunications sectors. According to the report, more than half of the sales of the top 200 corporations were in one of four economic sectors: financial services (14.5%), motor vehicles and parts (12.7%), insurance (12.4%) and retail (11.3%).
Despite their market share and continuing growth, the top 200 corporations employ only a fraction of the worlds workers. According to the study, in 1999, the top 200 employed 0.78% of the worlds work force, compared with their 27% share of world economic activity. While their profits grew 362.4% between 1983 and 1999, the number of workers employed by these companies increased by only 14.4%.
The Institute for Policy Studies concludes that the threat posed by the top 200 corporations should become a major political issue in the United States and for other countries throughout the world.
The mass struggle against the repressive and neo-liberal policies of the Noboa government in Ecuador continues to grow. At the same time, the regime persists in trying to impose the demands of the IMF by increasing use of force. The numbers of people injured, many seriously, and those arrested, swells daily. Thousands of demonstrators have been confronting the police and army on the streets of Quito as the people gather there for a showdown with the government. In a number of provinces, such as Cotopaxi Province, a number of organisations of the people have also taken action.
Antonio Vargas, Luis Villacis Maldonado and Mario Morales were arrested in Quito on January 30 and accused of subverting the legal order. Vargas is the Chairperson of the CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) and was part of the brief government formed by the popular uprising that overthrew the Mahuad regime on January 21, 2000. Luis Villacis Maldonado is the National Chairperson and a spokesperson of the Patriotic Front and was also arrested in a pre-emptive strike five days before last year's revolt. Morales is the leader of a labour federation of the Quito region. After his arrest, Vargas was able to communicate a declaration, which stated: "Neither jail nor death shall block the unstoppable advance of our indigenous people and the organised popular forces. Fearlessly carry on the struggle...that is our sacred duty!"
Salvador Quishpe, Chairperson of the Parliament of the Peoples (of the Province of Pichincha), who is an outstanding leader of the indigenous nationalities, managed to evade capture and the police cordon. Quishpe played an important part in the actions in Cotopaxi, where the indigenous people held a soldier who was later released in exchange for the army freeing seven demonstrators.
Far from having the effect desired by the regime, these arrests have given fresh impetus to the mass mobilisation not only in Quito but also throughout the country. Contingents of indigenous people and peasants continue arriving in Quito after walking several days and making detours around military roadblocks. The popular forces aim to occupy Quito and force the government to withdraw the package of price increases demanded by the IMF. The economic crisis of the last few years and the neo-liberal direction pursued by several successive regimes has already left most Ecuadorians in great insecurity or outright poverty.
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