Example of environmental disaster from Java’s north coast!

As the tide rises, Indonesia struggles to save the living—and the dead

The land is sinking so fast on the north coast of Java that villages and at least one cemetery are being drowned. Climate change is to blame—and overuse of groundwater. Mulyono, 61, holds his father’s tombstone after removing it from the cemetery in Timbulsloko, a village in Demak Regency, on the north coast of Central Java, Indonesia. As the land subsided and the sea rose, the cemetery was flooded. Mulyono and his family have lost their farmland.They’re fishermen now.

BYADI RENALDI, PHOTOGRAPHS BY AJI STYAWAN. PUBLISHED JANUARY 7, 2022 • 25 MIN READ – nationalgeographic. com

DEMAK REGENCY, INDONESIATo bury Mukminah last June, they had to bring in the dirt by rowboat. The cemetery was underwater in Timbulsloko, a village some 285 miles east of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. On maps the village looks like it’s still on the north coast of Central Java, but the land around it has long since been taken by the Java Sea. The cemetery, a few hundred yards outside the village, had been submerged even at low tide since 2020. There was a dead rain tree in the middle of it, surrounded by dozens of headstones sticking out of the water.

Mukminah was in her early 70s when she passed away. She would have remembered, as surviving elders do perfectly, how green and prosperous their village once was. Paddy fields stretched as far as the eye could see. Villagers grew coconut trees, red onions, chilis, cabbages, carrots, potatoes.

Flooded village cemetery in Central Java, Indonesia.
At the end of Ramadan last May, Timbulsloko residents visit the graves of their relatives in the flooded cemetery, reaching it via a long boardwalk. They live surrounded by seawater, which regularly floods their homes. When they die, they are buried at low tide.

“Whatever seeds you threw to the ground, they would grow,” recalls Ashar, the village leader. He’s lean and muscular, and only 39—but he remembers the better days too. The water has come on fast in just the last two decades.

Villagers mark the location of flooded tombstones.
As they prepare to add mud to the top of the cemetery to raise it above the high tide line once again, villagers mark the locations of the graves with bamboo sticks.

The north coast of Java is sinking, and the sea is rising. In Jakarta, a city of more than 10 million, as much as 40 percent of the land is below sea level. But Demak Regency, the county that includes Timbulsloko, is one of the hardest hit parts of the coast. While global warming is causing sea levels worldwide to rise around an eighth of an inch a year, the land here is sinking as much as four inches annually. Demak is losing more than a thousand acres of land, about half a percent of its area, to the Java Sea each year.

Man writes his relative's name on a temporary grave marker.
Mulyono writes his relative’s name on the temporary marker that will replace the tombstone while the cemetery is being raised.

In Timbulsloko, after crops failed in the 1990s—the rice turned reddish black—the villagers shifted to aquaculture, breeding milkfish and tiger prawns in brackish ponds. They had a few good years—but by the mid 2000s, the ponds too had been overtaken by the sea. Now the “mainland” is over a mile away, and the villagers travel there by rowboat. To stay dry in their houses they’ve installed wooden decks or raised the floors as high as six feet, such that they now have to bend over to enter under the low ceilings of their “dwarf houses,” as they call them. Of the more than 400 families that once lived here, around 170 are left.

Satellites capture drastic change on coast of Java

These two images, taken 28 years apart, show the incursion of the Java Sea onto the island. Villages such as Timbulsloko, once nestled between verdant fields, are now consistently surrounded by sea water.

1992 – 2020

1992 coastline Java Sea

1.5 miles Timbulsloko

Semarang capital central Java

3 miles/3 km from city

Riley D. Champine, NG Staff. Sources: NASA; ESA; Google

Mukminah was buried seven hours later, in the dead of the night, when the tide had ebbed again and the water in the hole was only ankle-deep. She was buried under more than a ton of loose, light-brown soil that the men had rowed over from the mainland in white bags.

Flooded cemetery on the coast in Central Java, Indonesia.
Excavator moves mud onto a flooded cemetery.

Left: As many as 500 people have been buried over the decades in 150 graves at the cemetery.Right: An excavator dispatched by the local government begins digging mud from the seabed to elevate the cemetery. For the villagers of Timbulsloko, saving the cemetery preserves their connection to their past—and is a symbol of respect for their ancestors.

“You can’t bury the body with mud and water,” Ashar says. “So we have to buy fresh soil.”

“It isn’t easy to live here, as you can see,” he goes on. Ashar can’t afford to leave, because he can’t sell his property; nobody wants to buy a dwarf house in the middle of the sea. The elders, on the other hand, don’t want to leave. They want to live with their childhood memories, close to their ancestors.

After the funeral, the villagers pleaded with the Demak government for help. In the fall, the local public works department sent workers with a backhoe, who scraped enough mud off the shallow seafloor to raise the whole cemetery five feet. That will buy the living and the dead in Timbulsloko a little more time.

City of the saints

Demak Regency today has 1.2 million inhabitants, a small fraction of Jakarta’s population. But in the late 15th century it was an independent sultanate, the first Muslim state on Java, one that dominated the northern coast, as well as southern Sumatra. The Grand Mosque, built by the early ruler Raden Patah as a center of Islamic teaching, still stands at the heart of the town of Demak. More than 500,000 pilgrims a year visit the tombs of the Wali Songo, or nine saints, who helped spread Islam on Java—Demak is known as the City of the Saints.

Men hold bamboo fencing to hold mud on a flooded cemetery.
Villagers install a bamboo fence that will retain the mud added to the cemetery and keep it from washing away. The excavator worked for three days—but the villagers did most of the work to raise the cemetery themselves.

The North Coast Road, built in the 19th century along the length of Java by the Dutch colonial government, runs right through Demak. It’s still a major artery, with around 400 trucks passing every hour. Factories along the road produce everything from fertilizer to electronic devices to textiles to processed food. But in recent years tidal floods have repeatedly inundated the road, causing severe congestion and millions of dollars in economic losses.

There are several distinct causes of the floods—and of the fact that Central Java has lost some 20,000 acres of land, according to satellite data, 8,000 of them in Demak. Sea level rise caused by climate change is the least important contributor.

Java’s northern coastal plain consists of dozens to hundreds of feet of alluvial sediment, deposited over thousands of years by rivers flowing to the sea from the North Serayu Mountains. The sediment tends to sink as it compacts under its own weight, explains Aron Meltzner, a geologist at Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University.

A boy removes a grave marker from a flooded cemetery.
Misbah pulls out his relative’s tombstone before the cemetery is raised.

“This is a very natural process,” Meltzner says. “But because the river is bringing more sediment, as the existing sediment compacts, more mud gets built on top and that’s why the delta stays above water.” At least that’s what used to happen: As the rivers jumped their banks during annual floods, and as their channels migrated back and forth through the soft mud, they spread the sediment evenly across the plain.

Yet the flooding also threatened modern cities. In the late 19th century, the Dutch built canals, levees, and sluice gates as flood controls in every major city on the Java deltas, especially in Jakarta and Semarang, the capital of Central Java.

Today the levees and concrete embankments keep the rivers from flooding—but they also prevent them from spreading sediment across the plain. Instead it’s deposited at the bottom of the river or sent straight into the ocean, robbing the land of new soil. That’s one reason the north coast of Java is sinking into the sea.

“Even in the absence of sea level rise, just the fact that we channelized the rivers and prevented them from migrating, means that the natural process has been interrupted,” Meltzner says.

Man holds a grave marker.
Sularso carries his relative’s tombstone away from the cemetery. He later gave it a good scrubbing.

Drinking water, sinking land

Heri Andreas, a researcher at the Bandung Institute of Technology who has spent more than a decade studying the sinking of the north coast, says another factor is at work: massive groundwater extraction, which is causing the sediments to compact and the land to sink faster.

In Demak Regency alone, as of 2014, there were almost 250,000 wells bored to various depths, ranging from 82 to 500 feet, in an area the size of Berlin, Germany, or Fort Worth, Texas. There are probably more by now; 2014 is the latest year for which government data are available. Most of the wells are private. But the Demak Water Supply Agency, part of the local government, has also drilled deep wells at four sites. It uses them, along with water from the Jajar River, to provide tap water to more than 58,000 households in 59 villages, out of a total of 249 in the regency. In 2020 that system distributed at least 9.7 million cubic meters of groundwater.

For more than a decade, the local government has promoted groundwater extraction as the cheapest way to meet the pressing demand for drinking water and sanitation. With groundwater, there’s no need to build dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, and complex water treatment systems—it doesn’t require treatment. But using it here still exacts a high price.

“People, especially the government, keep blaming sea level rise as the main cause” of the loss of land in Demak, Andreas says. “But our conclusion is that the main culprit turns out to be decades of groundwater exploitation.”

Demak’s public tap water network still only serves a small fraction of the regency’s population, and it doesn’t reach Sayung District, which includes Timbulsloko and is where the worst land subsidence is taking place. In the village of Sayung, some residents have drilled more than a dozen deep wells to supply the entire village of almost 2,000 families. The water is stored in huge elevated tanks and costs around $0.20 per cubic meter, cheaper than the service provided by water companies.

“It’s been a good business, with good profit,” says Munawir, the 41-year-old village leader, who spends about $13 per month himself for water service. The 49-foot-deep well his father drilled in his backyard in the 1980s is unusable now, contaminated by seawater.

“Of course we hope that the government can provide a tap water network to prevent the sinking” of the land, Munawir says. “But it will also kill the already established local water business.”

Villagers spread mud on a flooded cemetery.
Using hand tools and their bare hands, villagers spread and level the mud dug up from the surrounding seabed by the excavator.

The local government says drilling deep wells requires official permits and that unregistered wells will be shut down. But it hasn’t closed any wells in recent years. Qomarul Huda, the head of the Demak Water Supply Agency, declined to comment on groundwater extraction. He blamed water shortages in the regency on farmers who draw too much from the Jajar River for irrigation.

As Demak’s population and industry’s water demands continue to grow, groundwater extraction will likely increase too. The reason is simple: No one is willing or able to invest the tens of millions of dollars that would be needed to build reservoirs, treatment plants, and distribution networks to provide the region with an alternative water supply.

Fighting the tide

For a decade, the Central Java provincial government and NGOs have been struggling to protect the coast from erosion. The government claims to have planted more than three million mangroves covering 900 acres across Central Java since 2011, to absorb the energy of the waves and tides. The plan is to cover almost 2,000 acres by 2023.

Environmental NGOs working with local fisherfolk, meanwhile, have built miles of bamboo fences just offshore in Sayung District. The fences act as permeable breakwaters that trap sediment stirred up and transported by ocean waves, especially during monsoon storms. The fences are cheap and meant to be temporary—the idea is to trap just enough sediment to allow mangroves to take root, which will then act as natural breakwaters—but they are attacked by wood-boring organisms, collapse easily, and sometimes have to be rebuilt.

“We have yet to feel the impact of this coastal engineering,” says Fadholi, a 36-year-old fisherman hired by an NGO to maintain the sediment trap in Bedono, another village in Sayung district. “We haven’t seen sediment build up here because the current keeps washing it away.” The fences do act as breeding grounds for green mussels, however, which locals collect and sell.

Researchers at Diponegro University in Semarang have tested several other methods of coastal protection, some successful. At Timbulsloko in 2012 they built a seawall of stacked concrete cylinders along about 500 feet of the former coastline. Within two years enough sediment had built up behind the wall to grow mangroves—which today are more than 10 feet tall.

Flooded cemetery in Central Java, Indonesia.
At the end of an operation that took 25 days, the cemetery had been raised five feet and the tombstones had been returned. Within a day the bamboo fence, battered by the tide, had begun to fall apart. The villagers replaced it with another, reinforced with nets—bu…Read More

But concrete is too expensive to be a large-scale solution, says Denny Nugroho Sugianto, an oceanography professor at Diponegoro. As a more practical and more environmentally friendly approach to coastal restoration, Sugianto advocates permeable breakwaters of bamboo and PVC pipe, which is more durable but still cheap.

«Yet we haven’t solved the problem of sinking land,” he says. “So no matter how many breakwaters we build, they won’t be successful.»

The national government, as part of a strategic effort to save vital assets and industrial zones, is building a combined highway and sea wall from Semarang to the town of Demak, a distance of some 17 miles. It’s expected to be finished in 2024 at a cost of $532 million. The bad news: Only small portions of two villages in Sayung’s coastal area will be protected. The move angers residents of villages outside the wall, such as Timbulsloko and Sayung, who feel they are being left to drown on their own.

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, a tall, 53-year-old man with graying hair and a boyish smile, acknowledges the limitations of the planned sea wall. He says the government simply can’t afford to build anything like the ones in the Netherlands, to protect the entire north coast of the province or even all of Demak Regency. Huge pumping stations would be needed to evacuate floodwaters from behind the wall into the sea. The whole system would require extensive maintenance indefinitely. The government simply doesn’t have the money, Pranowo says.

What should the people in the flooding villages do?

Woman prays in cemetery.
With the elevation complete, Sundari, 48, prays at her husband’s grave. Previously, villagers could only visit their relatives’ graves at low tide or by boat. The dead tree stands testament to what was their before the land began to disappear.

“The last resort is to relocate to a safer place,” says Pranowo, who’s in his second term as governor and is expected to run for president in 2024. “Or if they insist on living there, they have to adapt to the environment by building stilt houses, for example. If they want their land back just like the old times, it’s impossible. It’s drowned now.”

Communing with ghosts

There is no paddy field left in Mondoliko hamlet, another one of the drowned villages in Sayung District, and one of the most secluded. To get there, the locals walk a mile along a narrow cement path that crosses open water and is itself always submerged; at high tide the water is as much as thigh deep and the path is invisible. At the end of the path, the residents of Mondoliko continue another two miles in boats, passing hundreds of acres of green mussel farms. In the hamlet itself the road is flooded and so slippery that they walk barefooted.

“Villagers had raised the level of the road about 30 centimeters [nearly a foot] earlier this year,” says Kusmantri, 46, who works in a roofing factory in Semarang. “It’s drowned again.”

In his youth, Kusmantril helped his father in a paddy field that has since vanished. After his father died, Kusmantri became the backbone of his large family. He dropped out of junior high and began working odd jobs, finally landing the job at the factory. Now he has a wife and two children himself. A few years ago he bought a small motorboat, so he could also work nights as a mussel farmer and fisherman, catching bluespot mullet, shrimp, and crabs. He sells his catch to neighbors and sometimes to a commercial broker.

Kusmantri has lived in this hamlet all of his life, and he desperately wants to move out. He has raised the floor of his house three times since 2013, a total of five feet, but seawater keeps coming in during the highest tides. Apart from a wooden bed frame and a small side table to hold his TV, the place is relatively empty. The green paint on the cracked walls has started to peel off, exposing the bare cement.

“When you go home from work and you just want to get rest, you can’t do it here,” Kusmantri says. “You have to mop and dry the floor first before you can rest. We’re just tired of living like this. It’s draining our energy and mind.”

Kusmantri has begged the provincial government to relocate the hamlet. Though officials have heard his plea, there is no sign of it happening. There are only 40 families left in Mondoliko, down from 170 historically. The abandoned, dilapidated houses give it the feel of a ghost village. But the call to prayer still rings out from the mosque.

In Central Java the Muslim tradition is to visit the cemetery every Thursday, late in the afternoon, to deliver prayers to the deceased. One recent Thursday Khusnumarom, a 16-year-old high school student, made his way to the cemetery in Timbulsloko.

Dressed in a traditional white shirt, black songkok cap, and dark gray trousers, he walked barefoot on a narrow, six-foot-high boardwalk, nearly two miles long, that was built by the residents earlier this year to replace the vanished roads. He made a right turn down some wooden stairs and crossed a creek on the slippery, submerged road; the tidal flood reached knee deep. But his steps were confident. On the other side he climbed back onto the boardwalk and continued on.

When he reached the underwater cemetery, the shadows had already begun to fall. The dead rain tree and the headstones were silhouetted against the deep orange sky. Khusnumarom found the grave of his grandmother, Mukminah. He raised his hands and began to pray.

Khusnumarom knows how his village once was through bedtime stories, including the ones Mukminah told him. Those memories will die with the older generation, and sooner or later the stories too will fade. Like many of his fellow youths, Khusnumarom doesn’t plan to stay in Timbulsloko.

“I know what this village looked like,” he says. “But we see and experience what it has now become.” He’ll look for a job in the city once he graduates. He wants to be a software engineer.

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What will happen in world capitalism 2022?

Forecast for 2022

At the beginning of each year, I make an attempt to forecast what will happen in the world economy for the year ahead.  The point of making any forecast at all is often ridiculed.  After all, surely there are just too many factors to feed into any economic forecast to get even close to what eventually happens.  Moreover, mainstream economic forecasts have been notable in their failure.  In particular, they never forecast a slump in production and investment even a year ahead.  In my view, that shows an ideological commitment to the promotion of the capitalist mode of production.  Although, it is a confirmed feature of capitalism that there are regular and recurring slumps in production, investment and employment, these slumps are never forecast by the mainstream or official agencies until they have happened.

That does not mean making a forecast is a waste of time, in my view.  In scientific analysis, theory must have predictive power and that applies as well to economics if it is to be considered a science and not just an apology for capitalism.  So if Marx’s theory of crises is to be validated, it must have some predictive power – namely that slumps in capitalist production will happen at regular recurring intervals, primarily due to changes in the rate of profit on capital and resulting movements in the mass of profits in a capitalist economy.

But as I have argued in previous posts, predictions and forecasts are different.  From their models, climate scientists predict a dangerous rise in global temperatures; and virologists have also been predicting an increase in deadly pathogens reaching humans in a series of pandemics.  But forecasting when exactly these predictions become reality is much more difficult.  On the other hand, climatologists are not yet able to forecast well what the weather in a country is likely to be over a whole year, but their models are now pretty accurate for the weather over the next three days.  So forecasts for output, investment, prices and employment one year ahead are not so impossible. 

Anyway, let’s bite the bullet and make some forecasts for 2022.  Last year’s forecast was relatively easy.  It was clear that all the major economies were going to make a recovery from the slump of 2020.  I wrote: “Real GDPs will grow, unemployment rates will start to decline and consumer spending will pick up.”  With the rollout of vaccines, the “G7 economies should be recovering significantly by mid-year”.  But I added that “this will be no V-shaped recovery, which means a return to previous levels of national output, employment and investment.  By the end of 2021, most major economies (China excepted) will still have levels of output etc below that at the beginning of 2020.”  These forecasts have been borne out. 

There were two main reasons why I expected the economic recovery would not restore global output to 2019 levels by the end of 2021.  First, there had been a significant ‘scarring’ of the major economies from the COVID pandemic in jobs, investment and productivity of labour that can never be recovered.  This was exhibited in a huge rise in debt, both public sector and private, that weighs down on the major economies like the permanent damage of ‘long COVID’ on millions of people. 

This ‘scarring’ was also exhibited in a fall in average profitability of capital in the major economies in 2020 to a new low, the revival of which in 2021 was not sufficient to restore profitability even to the level of 2019.

Nevertheless, as expected, global real GDP growth in 2021 was probably around 5%, after falling an unprecedented 3.5% in the 2020 slump.  According to the IMF, in the advanced capitalist economies, real GDP per person fell 4.9% in 2020 but rose 5.0% in 2021.  That meant real GDP per person in these economies was still slightly below the level reached at end-2019.  So two years of scarring.

Most forecasts for this year, 2022, are more (or less) of the same as in 2021.  The world economy is expected to grow around 3.5-4.0% in real terms – a significant slowing compared to 2021 (down 25% on the rate).  Moreover, the advanced capitalist economies are forecast to grow at less than 4% in 2022 and at less than 2.5% in 2023. 

Forecast for real GDP growth (%) by the Conference Board.

2020202120222023
US-3.45.73.83.0
Europe-6.65.04.11.7
Japan-4.72.53.31.4
ACE-4.65.13.92.3
China2.25.03.33.2
India-7.17.58.54.3
LA-7.56.42.21.7
EME-2.15.24.03.2
World-3.35.13.92.8

https://www.conference-board.org/topics/global-economic-outlook/global-economic-outlook-2022-infographic

It’s a similar story for the so-called emerging economies of the ‘Global South’, including China and India.  China was the only major economy that avoided a slump in the year of COVID, 2020.  But growth of China’s output in 2021 was much weaker than after the end of the Great Recession in 2009.   The Conference Board seriously underestimates China’s growth rates, but even so, in 2022 China’s real GDP is unlikely to rise much above 5%.

What these forecasts suggest is that the ‘sugar-rush’ of pent-up consumer spending engendered by COVID cash subsidies from fiscal spending by governments and huge injections of credit money by central is waning and will do so further this year.  Indeed, as we know, central banks are now planning to ‘taper off’ their credit creation and even raise policy interest rates on borrowing.  The Bank of England has already started to hike its policy rate and the US fed plans three hikes in the latter part of 2022.

And all the forecasts for this year rely on the view that the new Omicron variant of COVID will prove to be short-lived and only mildly damaging to human health, thanks to vaccinations and new medical treatments.  That may be optimistic and even if Omicron turns out not to disrupt economies this year, there is no certainty that another, more devastating variant may not emerge.

Then, in my view, there is a third leg in the aftermath of COVID slump to come, probably in 2022.  In my 2021 forecast, I raised the possibility that such was the size of corporate debt and the large number of so-called ‘zombie companies’ that were not even making enough profit to cover the servicing of their debts (despite very low interest rates), that a financial crash could ensue.

And that is just the risk in the advanced capitalist economies. The so-called emerging economies are already in a dire state. According to the IMF, about half of Low Income Economies (LIEs) are now in danger of debt default.  ‘Emerging market’ debt to GDP has increased from 40% to 60% in this crisis. And there is little room to boost government spending to alleviate the hit.

The ‘developing’ countries are in a much weaker position compared with the global financial crisis of 2008-09. In 2007, 40 emerging market and middle-income countries had a combined central government fiscal surplus equal to 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product, according to the IMF. Last year, they posted a fiscal deficit of 4.9 per cent of GDP.  The government deficit of ‘EMs’ in Asia went from 0.7 per cent of GDP in 2007 to 5.8 per cent in 2019; in Latin America, it rose from 1.2 per cent of GDP to 4.9 per cent; and European EMs went from a surplus of 1.9 per cent of GDP to a deficit of 1 per cent. The Conference Board is forecasting a fall in the real GDP growth rate for Latin America of two-thirds from 6.4% to 2.2% and then even lower in 2023. That’s a recipe for a serious debt and currency crisis in these countries in 2022 – already Argentina is heading for another default on its debt.

Emerging economy governments are thus faced with either applying severe fiscal austerity that would prolong their stagnation; or devaluing their currencies to try and boost export growth. The Turkish government of Erdogan has opted for the policy of cutting not raising interest rates – in the policy style of Modern Monetary Theory. This has led to an outflow of capital and a 40% depreciation of the Turkish lira against major currencies. Inflation has rocketed. In 2022, the Turkish economy will dive and ‘stagflation’ will ensue.

A financial and debt crisis did not happen in 2021.  On the contrary, global stock and bond markets never had it so good.  Central bank-financed credit flooded into financial assets like there was no tomorrow.  The result has been a staggering rise in financial asset prices (stocks and bonds) and in real estate.  Central banks have injected $32 trillion into financial markets since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, lifting global stock market capitalisation by $60 trillion.  And companies worldwide raised $12.1 trillion by selling stock and taking out loans as a result.  The US stock market index rose 17% in 2021, repeating a similar rise in 2020.  The S&P 500 index reached a record high. The Nikkei 225 Index its highest annual gains since 1989.

But as we go into 2022, the days of ‘easy money’ and cheap loans are coming to an end.  The huge stock market boom of the last two years looks likely to peter out.  Indeed, since April 2021, just five high-tech stocks—Apple, Microsoft, Nvidia, Tesla and the Google parent Alphabet—have accounted for more than half of the rise in US S&P index, while 210 stocks are 10% below their 52-week highs. And one-third of ‘leveraged loans’, a popular form of debt creation, in the US have a debt to earnings ratio exceeding six, a level regarded as dangerous to financial stability.

So this year could be the one for a financial crash or at least a severe correction in stock market and bond prices, as interest rates rise, eventually driving a layer of zombie corporations into bankruptcy.  This is what central banks fear.  That is why most are being very cautious about ending the era of easy money.  And yet they are being driven to do so because of the sharp rise in the inflation rates of prices of goods and services in many major economies.

US consumer goods and services annual inflation rate (%)

This inflation spike is mainly due to pent-up consumer demand as people run down savings built up during lockdowns coming up against supply ‘bottlenecks’.  These bottlenecks are the result of the restrictions on the international transport of goods and components and continued restrictions on raw materials and components for production – it is part of the aftermath of the COVID slump of 2020 and because much of the world is still suffering from the pandemic.

Mainstream economics is divided over whether this spike in inflation is ‘transitory’ and inflation rate will return to ‘normal’ levels or not.  In my view, the current high inflation rates are likely to be ‘transitory’ because during 2022 growth in output, investment and productivity will probably start to drop back to ‘long depression’ rates.  That will mean that inflation will also subside, although still be higher than pre-pandemic. 

There is a view that 2022 will actually be the start of new levels of GDP and productivity growth as experienced by the US in the ‘roaring twenties’ of the last century after the end of the Spanish flu epidemic.  During the so-called roaring twenties, US real GDP rose 42% and by 2.7% a year per capita. But there seems to be no evidence to justify the claim by some mainstream optimists that the advanced capitalist world is about to experience a roaring 2020s.  The big difference between the 1920s and the 2020s is that the 1920-21 slump in the US and Europe cleared out the ‘deadwood’ of inefficient and unprofitable companies so that the strong survivors could benefit from more market share.  Profitability of capital rose sharply in most economies.  Nothing like that is being forecast for 2022 or beyond, as the Conference Board forecasts (above) show, or for that matter, those of the IMF (below). 

Optimists for a new long boom in the 2020s to replace the long depression of the 2010s, like the Conference Board, base their argument on a revival of total factor productivity (TFP). This measure supposedly captures the role of efficiency and innovation in output growth. The CB reckons global TFP will rise by 0.4% on average annually this decade compared to zero over the past 20 years. That’s not much of an improvement when compared with the forecast slowing or even falling working-age employment and weak capital investment growth globally. Indeed, in Q3 2021, US productivity growth slumped on the quarter by the most in 60 years, while the year-on-year rate dropped 0.6%, the largest decline since 1993, as employment rose faster than output. 

A long boom would only be possible, according to Marx, if there is a significant destruction of capital values in a major slump.  By cleansing the accumulation process of obsolete technology and failing and unprofitable capital, innovation from new firms could then prosper.  That’s because such ‘creative destruction’ would deliver a higher rate of profitability. But there is no sign yet of any sharp recovery in the average profitability of capital.  Probably there needs to be a sustained rise of about 30% in profitability to deliver a new long boom like the ‘roaring twenties’ or the post-war ‘golden age’ or even that modestly achieved in the neo-liberal period of the late 20th century.

And don’t expect any further fiscal and monetary help from governments.  Given the high level of public sector debt, pro-business governments everywhere are looking to reduce fiscal spending and budget deficits.  Indeed, taxes are set to rise and government spending to be curtailed.  According to the IMF, general government spending in 2022 will fall 8% as a share of GDP this year over last year.  This fall is partly due to less spending on COVID support and a rise in GDP. 

But if we look at the US government spending and revenue projections, according to the Congressional Budget Office, federal government spending is set to decline by 7% on average up to 2026 compared with 2021 levels while tax revenues are expected to rise by 25%.  The US budget will be halved in 2022 and kept down for the following years.  So no Keynesian-style fiscal stimulus is planned – on the contrary.

US president Biden’s plans to expand fiscal spending have been stymied by Congress and anyway would have had only a small impact on economic activity.  The EU’s recovery fund for the weaker Eurozone economies has not yet even started and again will be insufficient to sustain faster economic growth.

In conclusion, assuming no new disasters from the continuing COVID pandemic, the world economy will grow in 2022, but nowhere near as fast as in the ‘sugar-rush’ year of 2021.  And by the end of this year, most major economies will have started to slip back towards the low growth, poor productivity trends of the Long Depression of 2010s, with prospects of even slower growth over the rest of the decade.

From: Michael Roberts blog

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Just some updates on greed by capitalists in 2021!

Care home company ships profits to Cayman Islands


the rich hide their profits

Profits head offshore

The Troublemaker – Tue 14 Dec 2021


The private equity owner of HC-One, Britain’s largest care home provider, siphoned £5 million in tax‑free profits to the Cayman Islands while claiming extra ­government support during the pandemic.

The methods involved are legal but highly complex.

A company run by millionaire Saudi Olympic showjumper Kamal Bahamdan owns HC-One–which, has 265 facilities and a bed capacity of 16,116 in England.

Since 2002, he has been at the helm of Bahamdan Group, a global ­investment group with investments in ­telecommunications, education, ­infrastructure and retail in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Bahamdan Group controls Safanad Ltd, of which Bahamdan is also founder and chief executive, and which is the majority owner of HC-One.

According to a report by the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research, the companies in the HC-One structure have loaned money to each other via ­complex accounting, with very high ­interest rates.

These high-interest payments reduced taxable profits in Britain and let the company shift money to the Cayman Islands as interest income—where it is tax-free. HC-One stresses it pays full tax in Britain. As the pandemic took hold, HC-One asked councils for financial help. The firm then received £18.9 ­million of taxpayer-funded ­government support.

lA private care home director took home 120 times more money than front line staff during the pandemic.

It’s part of a pattern that saw two of the largest care home providers in Britain raise director pay despite ordinary people suffering in the under ­pressure sector.

Research by the i newspaper said that while carers’ pay is frequently around £9-£10 an hour, directors’ salaries run in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, and in some cases even into the millions.

Analysis of Barchester Healthcare’s accounts suggest its highest paid director received 120 times more than care staff employed by the company during 2020.

Care UK’s accounts suggest its highest paid director got paid almost 50 times more than care staff last year.


Tory ministers in secret CIA thinktank

Two current government ministers and two recent justice ministers have been funded by an opaque right wing group that includes spies. The Declassified website says eight current Conservative MPs are associated with the organisation.

The group, known as Le Cercle, was described by former Conservative minister Alan Clark in his diaries as “a right-wing think (or rather thought) tank, funded by the CIA, which churns Cold War concepts around”. Le Cercle has existed since the 1950s but has never revealed its funders. Even the group’s existence is only occasionally disclosed. It is unclear how influential Le Cercle—which is believed to meet twice a year, once in Washington DC and once elsewhere—actually is.

Declassified has found that eight current Conservative parliamentarians are associated with the group.

Two current ministers—business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and his deputy minister Greg Hands—have been funded by Le Cercle.

Kwarteng was given £5,258 to travel to Bahrain in June 2019 for a trip jointly funded by Le Cercle and the Gulf regime.

Three former justice ministers are associated with the group. David Lidington, the justice secretary from 2017-18, and Crispin Blunt, a justice minister from 2010-12, were previously funded by Le Cercle to attend meetings in Washington DC and Madrid.

Rory Stewart, who served as a justice minister under Theresa May, was previously chair of Le Cercle. Other ministers known to have been funded by the group include William Hague and Labour’s Margaret Beckett.


Sun’s Slack on Tory party

Troublemaker can’t decide why the Sun newspaper was initially reluctant to take up the Downing Street party scandal.

One thought not to be sniffed at is because last December they threw a rather raucous rule breaking event in fake news towers.

Or perhaps it is because the now deputy editor of the Sun is James Slack who was a spokesman for Boris Johnson at the time.


Giant oil firm Trafigura has cashed in on Covid chaos

The oil, gas and metals merchant Trafigura will hand its top traders and executives more than $1 billion (£760 million) after making record profits from the market upheaval during the Covid pandemic.

The loot is up 87 percent up on last year.

Ups and downs in the global commodities market helped the company to almost double its net profit to £2.4 billion, the highest in its 28-year history.

Commodity traders have emerged as one of the chief beneficiaries of the tumult in global markets, which has led to record highs in the price for oil, gas and copper. In 2006, a ship Trafigura owned was responsible for dumping toxic waste in Ivory Coast, west Africa.

It then sued people who said it had done so. Many people became sick and at least ten people died.

Trafigura paid just £130 million in compensation.


Billionaires push up global inequality

The world’s billionaires grabbed the sharpest rise in their share of wealth last year since the World Inequality Lab began keeping records in 1995, according to a report released last week.

Billionaires saw their net worth grow by more than £2.75 trillion in 2020 alone. Meanwhile, the pandemic has pushed approximately 100 million people into extreme poverty, boosting the global total to 711 million in 2021.

“Global inequalities seem to be about as great today as they were at the peak of western imperialism in the early 20th century,” the study said.

The wealthiest 10 percent of the world’s population takes 52 percent of global income, compared to the 8 percent share of the poorest half.

An individual in the top 10 percent on an average trousers £92,500 a year.

A person from the poorest half earns £2,965 a year.

The poorest half of the world’s population have only 2 percent of the total wealth.

In contrast, the richest 10 percent own 76 percent of all wealth.


  • The house price boom in Britain during the past two decades has delivered an “unearned, unequal and untaxed windfall” that has benefited richer people the most, according to a new study.

House prices have risen 86 percent above inflation since 2000, delivering a capital gain on homeowners’ main residences worth £3 trillion, according to research by the Resolution

Foundation. The figure equates to a fifth of all wealth in Britain. The study found the trend was “amplified” by the pandemic.


Un-policed and unenforced anti-corruption laws have made Britain the global money laundering capital for a post-Soviet Union elite, says a report from the thinktank Chatham House. The report highlights the adoption of only four “unexplained wealth orders” (UWO) since the measure was introduced with fanfare in the Criminal Finances Act 2017. A UWO allows for assets to be seized. None have been issued since 2019.

…and then some stuff from the tories:


‘The prime minister will not have lied about any parties’

Tory chief whip Mark Spencer

‘It was huge, there must have been 40 to 50 people. It was really bad.’

One Number 10 official on the party that didn’t happen

‘Respecting the lockdown rules’

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi gets the short straw and tours the TV studios to tell people Boris Johnson has done nothing wrong

‘It wasn’t a formal party but perhaps in hindsight it wasn’t the most sensible thing to do’

Spokesperson for Rishi Sunak denies they had a party at their party in the Treasury

‘Shamefully frivolous, vengeful and partisan’

Boris Johnson is convinced all his troubles are because the BBC is biased against the government

From: socialistworker.co.uk


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Innlegg: Flyktningar, vår tidsalder og fridomen sin pris

Framtida på havet (The future at sea), olje_61x40cm, 2011, Ivar Jørdre.

Flyktningar, vår tidsalder og fridomen sin pris

Aldri før har den individbaserte «fridom» vore større, meinar liberalistane. Samstundes har dei globale krisene aldri vore større heller: miljøkrise, økonomikrise flykningkrise og pandemi. Midt oppe i dette er vår forståing av fridomsomgrepet sentral. Fridom vert universelt sett oppfatta som positivt, dei fleste vil ha det, men dei færraste definerar innhaldet i det. Heilt frå antikken, hjå grekarane og romarane (og før) til omlag vår tid har omgrepet «fridom» vore diskutert.

To hovudretningar gjer seg gjeldande: Den liberalistiske fridom. Definert som «fråvær av innblanding», frå staten eller andre menneske. Ofte forbunde med den kapitalistiske marknaden sin “fridom” og den individuelle “fridom” til å velje sitt konsum. Denne liberalistiske ideologien har sitt opphav på tidleg 1800-tal, m.a. med filosofen Adam Smith.

Det andre fridomsomgrepet har sitt opphav i antikken og vidareført i m.a. den usanske (1776), franske (1789) og norske grunnlov (1814). I nyare tid har ein brukt omgrepet «republikanisme» (har ingenting med dagens republikanarar i USA å gjera!). Dette politiske fridomsomgrepet har m.a. i seg “fridom frå vilkårleg makt, tyranni og tvang”. Ein kan her legge til, fridom frå vilkårleg marknadsmakt og kjøpepress, fattigdom og krig. Dette krysspunktet mellom ulike innhald i «fridom» lyt me som menneske forhalde oss til, også i krisetider som vår. Me ser gradvis forverring av mange sider av flykningsituasjonen. Folk som rømer frå noko så alvorleg og uhaldbart som krig, svolt og fattigdom. Kontrasten er stor  til «vår fridom».

Innan EU er den kapitalistiske fridomen dei «fire friheiter»: Fri flyt av varer, kapital, tenester og menneske. Men, skal nokon inn i dette Schengen-området (EUs ytre grensekontroll og felles visumreglar, Wikipedia) og med Dublin-forordninga (reglar for asylsøknadar i EU-land, Wikipedia), vert saka straks annleis. Då er krava harde og utvelginga av folk som får kome inn urettvise. Dette «EU-regimet» fekk framover seinsommaren 2015 sin største utfordring nokon gong. Den sommaren og hausten kom det først omlag 350 000 menneske, så over millionen til kontinentet frå land som Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq og Syria. Tusenvis av medmenneske bankar framleis på «vår dør» no i 2021. Lat oss hugse litt på dette også i vår travle og noko oppspilte jolestemning. Ein del færre gåver til oss sjølve og meir støtte til flykningarbeidet er jole- og nyårsynskjet!

I 2020/21 er stemninga i Europa endra sidan 2015. Ingen vil ha flyktningar  lenger. Grensene vaktast meir og meir. Dei mange redningsbåtar i Middelhavet er vekke, berre få att. I 2021 har titusenvis av menneske forsøkt å krysse det sentrale Middelhavet, og minst 1236 har mista livet. Flyktningar «fanga opp» av libysk kystvakt vert tvangsreturnert til forferdelege inhumane tilhøve i Libya (leger uten grenser). I austleg middelhav har Hellas sine store problem med flykningeleirar på greske øyar. Her vert flykningar ofte verande i åresvis, dei kjem seg ingen stader. Kva for liv er alt dette for våre medmenneske? Er dette den fridomen Europa og me vil stå for og vera stolt av?

Ivar Jørdre, kunstnar og politisk aktivist

Fyrste gong publisert i avisa Hordaland, 28. des. 2021

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La victoria de la esquerda chilena!

Gabriel Boric se reúne con mesa directiva de la Constituyente

Boric recalcó durante toda su campaña y en el programa de Gobierno la importancia de defender el trabajo de la Convención, que este año debe culminar su trabajo de redacción de Carta Fundamental.

Publicado 21 diciembre 2021 – telesurtv.net

El presidente electo acude al encuentro como parte de su respaldo al trabajo de la convención, promesa de campaña.

El presidente electo de Chile, Gabriel Boric, llegó este martes a la Convención Constitucional para reunirse con la mesa directiva presidida por Elisa Loncón y Jaime Bassa como parte del proceso de transición hacia la asunción del nuevo Gobierno en marzo próximo.

LEA TAMBIÉN: 

Piñera: conversé con Boric sobre temas de interés para chilenos

Acompañado de la diputada Camila Vallejo y de su asesora, Javiera Cabello, el presidente Boric llegó a la sede del Congreso en Santiago para sostener una reunión protocolar con la mesa directiva de la Convención, tal y como había anunciado.

De acuerdo a lo que se indicó, Boric se reunió a puertas cerradas con la mesa directiva de la instancia y el encuentro fue destacado por Loncón a través de su cuenta en Twitter: “La Convención Constitucional seguirá caminando a paso firme para materializar los sueños de Chile, juntos seguimos con más fuerza que nunca”.

Luego de este breve encuentro, el mandatario electo se reunió con la mesa adjunta de la Convención, que incluye otras siete vicepresidencias, donde están representados prácticamente todos los conglomerados que componen la Convención.

Se trata, de acuerdo al entorno del presidente Boric, de un gesto simbólico y un respaldo al trabajo de la Convención, sobre todo tomando en cuenta que en casi seis meses el presidente saliente Sebastián Piñera no se ha reunido con la mesa del órgano constituyente, que comenzó su trabajo el 4 de julio pasado. 

A su entrada a la antigua sede del Congreso chileno, Boric dio un fuerte abrazo con Loncon, quien durante la campaña hizo explícitos llamados a favor de su candidatura pidiendo votar por lo que llamó la propuesta que está defendiendo la nueva Constitución, en alusión al diputado magallánico.

De hecho, Boric recalcó durante toda su campaña y en el programa de Gobierno la importancia de defender el trabajo de la Convención, que este año debe culminar su trabajo de redacción de Carta Fundamental que será sometida a un plebiscito de salida en el invierno austral próximo. También dijo este martes que hará «todo lo que esté a nuestro alcance para apoyarlo».

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Victory for the Left in Chile

Chile: copper-bottomed?

The victory of former student leader and activist Gabriel Boric in Chile’s presidential election is the culmination of a sweeping change of mood and direction among Chilean voters.  In a 56% turnout, the highest since voting was made voluntary, 35-year old Boric took 56% of the vote compared to ultra-right Antonio Kast’s 44%.  

Boric has pledged to stop mining projects that damage the environment, increase taxes on the rich, end private pension schemes and remove student debt. During his victory speech, Boric, who is part of a broad left-wing coalition that includes the Chilean Communist party, said he would oppose mining initiatives that “destroy” the environment. That included the contentious $2.5bn Dominga mining project that was approved this year. 

Earlier this year, elections to Chile’s Constituent Assembly resulted in a majority for the (disparate) left.  The Assembly is supposedly rewriting the Constitution to replace the authoritarian structure of the Pinochet military regime after 40 years.  But Chile’s Congress (parliament) is split down the middle between right and left coalitions.

Chile is the richest country in Latin America as measured by GDP per head.  But its 20m population makes it tiny compared to Mexico or Brazil, which have populations six to ten times larger and GDPs four to five times larger.  Argentina and even Venezuela are much larger in population and GDP.

Nevertheless, Chile’s real GDP growth rate has generally been slightly faster than the rest of Latin America and its governments have thus been relatively stable.  Many mainstream economists and political theorists often use this to claim that Chile is a ‘free market’ capitalist economic success story and consider Chile as the “Switzerland of the Americas”. Chile is a member of the OECD, the rich nations club, and in the (NAFTA-USMCA) trade bloc with Canada, Mexico and the US.

But this apparent success story is only relative in GDP growth compared to other Latin American economies.  Moreover, such gains have mainly gone to the rich in Chile.  Income inequality is among the worst in the OECD, only surpassed by Brazil and South Africa. 

The income share of the bottom decile in Chile is one of the lowest in the world.  Only a few countries, largely from Latin America, have lower income share accruing to the bottom decile of the distribution and this share has deteriorated in relative terms in the last 20 years.  Social spending (as a share of GDP) in Chile appears higher than in Mexico and Peru.  But public services have been reduced, forcing people to use private profit operations.  In particular, pensions are dominated by private sector companies and most Chileans find their savings for retirement are just too meagre to fund a decent standard of living in old age.

This was one of the big issues in the election and led to the widespread protests against pro-capitalist policies in 2019 (before COVID) which has now culminated in Boric’s election.  The IMF found that ‘replacement rates’ (ie pensions relative to average working income) in Chile are very low relative to other OECD economies, and this deficiency is even more pronounced for females than for males.

Amid high and rapidly increasing costs of living alongside limited income growth and low pensions, many households have accumulated considerable amounts of debt.

Taxes on the rich are very low, so that income redistribution is lower than almost all OECD peers and many other poor economies.

Chile’s relative economic success has always been based on its copper and mineral exports.  If copper and mineral prices are high and rising, Chile’s economy does better and conversely – but of course, little of that ‘trickles’ down from the profits of multi-nationals to the average Chilean household.

There have been some Marxist analyses of the Chilean economy that show how the profitability of Chilean capital has been driven by the copper cycle. Diego Polanco in his study for the whole of 20th century noted that “capital accumulation is driven by profitability” and that “the profit rate is a crucial variable for economic growth.”  Polanco found that and collapse of profitability explained the crisis phases in the Chilean capitalist economy.  “While Chile was a surplus labor economy, technical change had favorable contributions to the profit rate. However, once the process of urbanization advanced, Marx-Biased Technical Change took place, having a negative contribution to profitability.”  The neo-liberal period under Pinochet from the 1970s saw a rise in profitability enabling the regime to maintain its control for decades.

In a more recent study, Gonzalo Duran and Michael Stanton found that the rate of exploitation in Chile’s economy rose or fell according to the movement of the copper price. Profitability fell during the 1990s as copper prices stayed low and Marx’s law of profitability operated to lower the rate of profit. “In contrast, during the copper super-cycle period of 2004–2009, profits related to wages went up enormously due to the rise in copper prices, but new capital was still imported at low cost and wages were relatively constant. In other words, profits went up relatively to capital and wages and the ROP rose as a consequence.”

However, with the end of the commodity price boom from 2010 across Latin America, there was relative economic stagnation and a fall in the ROP.

My own measure of Chile’s profitability is based on the Penn World Tables IRR series. It delivers a similar trajectory for the profit rate: a drop in the rate from the mid-1990s; then a recovery in the commodity boom from 2003 to 2010, and then with the collapse of commodity prices from 2010, stagnation and decline in profitability.

The IMF’s own recent measure from 2006 confirms this general trajectory for all Latin American economies after about 2010.

The fall in profitability after 2010 led to slowing growth in GDP, investment, incomes and a further squeezing of public services prior to the COVID slump.  With COVID and the health disaster, there was a collapse in the economy, with the main impact falling on those with the lowest incomes and worst jobs.  The pro-capitalist forces have been forced into retreat politically.

The victory of Boric could open up a new chapter is Chile’s political economy.  Indeed, there are huge opportunities for the Chilean economy to increase investment and diversify the economy.  The IMF finds that even under the previous regimes there has been some development in non-mineral and technology exports.  This must be the way for Chile to go.

So will Boric revive the socialist experiment began by Salvador Allende in the early 1970s?  So far, that seems unlikely, as Boric’s program is moderate by those standards; with no plans to socialise the economy, but merely to try and redistribute the largesse appropriated by capital somewhat more evenly.  The multi-nationals and the forces of the reactionary right-wing in the Chilean business sector, Congress and the media are gearing up for an incessant campaign of attack against the new President.

From Michael Roberts blog

Peru: a crunch election June 6, 2021In «marxism»

US election: women, the young, the working class, the cities and ethnic minorities get rid of Trump November 8, 2020In «capitalism»

UK election: British capital in disarray June 9, 2017In «capitalism»

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Solidarity Manifesto for the World!

To: Policy Makers

COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto

COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto

Petition Text

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the urgency of changing global structures of inequity and violence. We, people around the world, will seize this historical moment. We are building solidarity at every level: local, national, global. Despite the need to physically distance, we are building mutual aid groups, community networks, and social movements. We declare this manifesto today to offer a vision of the world we are building, the world we are demanding, the world we will achieve.

1. We demand strong, universal health care systems and health care as a basic right for all humans.

2. We demand an immediate global ceasefire in all conflicts and an end to the disease of war. We demand that every nation move at least half its military spending to provide health care, housing, childcare, nutrition, education, Internet access, and other social needs so we can truly protect people’s physical, psychological, and economic security, including through the closure of foreign military bases, the cessation of military exercises, and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

3. We demand that unsustainable capitalist economies, based on the fantasy of endless growth, be replaced with cooperatively based economies of care, where human life, biodiversity, and our natural resources are conserved and a universal basic income is guaranteed so that governments can work together to combat the existential threat of climate change.

4. We demand an immediate lifting of all sanctions targeting entire nations, which are impoverishing vulnerable populations and killing people by blocking access to medicines and medical supplies.

5. We demand that all workers be protected against COVID-19 and have their long-term occupational health, economic, and labor rights guaranteed.

6. We demand the full protection of all people, especially the most vulnerable, including women and other victims of intimate partner violence and child abuse, the elderly, the impoverished, prisoners and detainees, refugees and other displaced peoples, migrants regardless of immigration status, the homeless, LGBTQIA+ individuals, racial/ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, and those disability or ability challenged, among others.

7. We demand that wealthy nations live up to their responsibility to provide medical aid (including through the World Health Organization) and debt relief to save lives in countries without strong public health systems because of long histories of colonialism, neocolonialism, and other exploitation, foreign and domestic.

8. We demand that governments and corporations respect privacy and not exploit the pandemic to expand repressive measures such as surveillance, detention without trial, and restrictions on basic human rights to assembly, free expression, self-determination, and the vote.

9. We demand that when governments implement economic stimulus programs and re-open their economies they prioritize the needs of people over the interests of corporate, financial, and political elites.

In a world where the gap between rich and poor is obscene, with the world’s richest 1% having more than twice the wealth of 6.9 billion people, a fundamental redistribution of wealth and power globally and within nations is imperative. Every human being must have the opportunity to live a healthy, creative, and fulfilling life, free of the ravages of poverty, exploitation, and domination.

Why is this important?

A group of around 50 people from more than 12 countries drafted the Manifesto in recent weeks. Many prominent people are supporting it. People in general are more awake to the absurdity of a planet in which the richest 8 people have more wealth than the poorest 3.8 billion than ever before as this pandemic spreads. We are circulating this widely in multiple languages to help frame the debate and actions moving forward, raising global demands that address the inequity resulting from decades of neoliberal economic policies and rampant and unbridled militarism.

From: diy.rootsaction.org

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Gjesteblogg: Privatisering av jernbanen i EU

EU OG BALKANISERING AV DEN EUROPEISKE JERNBANEN.

Det franske nasjonale og offentlige jernbaneselskapet SNCF som ble etablert i 1938, kommer ikke til å bli hundre år. I oktober i år ble den første togstrekningen i Frankrike 100% privatisert.

I et intervju med en fagforeningsleder i SNCF, har avisen Ruptures sett nærmere på hvordan den europeiske unionen påtvinger splittelser og privatisering av togtjenester. Det er utdrag av dette intervjuet du leser her: 
»For å kunne plassere ansvaret på rett sted, bør en se hva som har skjedd de siste tretti årene. På denne tiden har den europeiske unionen vedtatt fire pakker med mål å privatisere sektoren. Det første direktivet som ble vedtatt i 1991 åpnet den offentlige jernbanen for konkurranse med private aktører. Direktivet påtvang en deling av offentlige jernbaneselskap i to deler, forvaltning og drift. Godstransporten ble først rammet, deretter passasjertransport på internasjonale linjer. I 2016 kom den fjerde pakken og passasjertransport på nasjonale linjer ble åpnet for konkurranse. Fra 2023 skal all passasjertransport inkludert lokaltog gå på anbud.»
Splittelsen av SNCF. 
»Det nasjonale togselskapet SNCF ble først omstrukturert for å gi etter for krav fra EUs direktiv om deling mellom forvaltning og drift. I 2018 ble SNCF delt i fem AS: Selskapet SNCF, Stasjoner, Logistics Europe, SNCF nettverk, SNCF passasjerer.»Privatiseringen av godstransport ble effektiv fra begynnelsen av 2000 årene. De linjene som har overlevd er de som frakter store mengder gods og som på den måten er mest lønnsomme. Det er ikke lenger mulig for en liten bedrift å sende sine varer i små mengder fra den lokale stasjonen. Resultat er en massiv overføring av godstransport fra tog til varebiler. 
Et jernbanenettverk i oppløsning.
»I 2012 var allerede 7000 km av såkalte linjer med lav trafikk truet av nedleggelse. I 2018 vurderte statsministeren Edouard Phillipe nedleggelse av 9000 km toglinjer, men etterlot ansvaret for gjennomføringen til regionene. Marsjordren var lønnsomhet og rasjonalisering, på bekostning av det offentlige tilbudet. Allerede under F. Hollande (sosialdemokratisk president i Frankrike fra 2012 til 2017) ble det opprettet private busselskap for å erstatte tog. Disse selskapene fikk navnet Macron-bussene, oppkalt etter daværende finansminister E. Macron. Siden 2015 har antall togstrekninger mellom byer (inter-city tog) gått fra 390 til 80. Også jernbaneansatte med stillingsvern har gått kraftig ned, far 250 000 på åttitallet til 130 000 i dag.
Den første private togstrekningen.
»I oktober ble strekningen Nice-Marseille (10% av regionale trafikken) overtatt av det private selskapet Transdev som får en pot på 870 millioner euro på ti år, og arver infrastrukturer fra SNCF, blant annet en ett år gammel bygning for lagring og vedlikehold av togmateriell. Transdev overtar den gode stolen fra SNCF, uten å ha dets praktisk erfaring. 
Private kaster kortene.
»Det er verdt å se hva som skjer ellers i andre land. Storbritannia som har vært primus motor for privatisering av nasjonale togselskap, har gjort seg dyre erfaringer med flere ulykker, forsinkelser, stappfulle tog rundt London, osv. I dag renasjonaliserer den britiske regjeringen noen togstrekninger.Keolis har gitt fra seg togdriften av strekninger i Rhinen og i Nord Westfalen. Nederlandske Abellio gikk konkurs i juni. Over 3000 ansatte mistet arbeid. Italienske Thello som drev strekninger mellom Frankrike og Italia ((Marseille-Milano, Paris-Venezia) ga seg i sommer.
De reisende står ikke lenger i sentrum.
Med mer konkurranseutsetting forvitrer selve tanken om togtilbud som offentlig tjeneste. Med splittelsen av togtilbudet mellom selskap, blir forbrukeren kasteball mellom disse. På noen togstrekninger i Frankrike er det i dag 41 forskjellige tilbud å velge mellom. Korrespondanser mellom tog drevet av forskjellige selskap har blitt en stor utfordring.


Kommentar: Også norsk jernbane utsettes for EU direktivene. Bit for bit blir den helhetlige norske jernbane splittet opp, med oppløsning av fagmiljøer, dårligere arbeidsvilkår og maksimal profitt som mål i stedet for optimalt tilbud for forbrukerne. Jernbanepakke 4 som ble vedtatt i sommer, i all hast før stortingsvalget, må reverseres. Erfaringer fra Frankrike viser at privatisering av jernbane etter EUs krav for å tilfredsstille privat kapital, har ført til mer godstransport på veier og mindre med tog. Deler av »miljøbevegelsen» som forfekter EU som et miljølokomotiv, bør konfronteres med erfaringene med direktivene fra Brussel. Dette gjelder ikke minst MdG som er for EU og for EØS, og som »vil jobbe aktivt sammen med Europa for å sammen løse noen av vedens utfordringer.» 


Daniel Ducrocq

Kilde: L’édition de novembre est parue – Ruptures (ruptures-presse.fr)

Posta under Europa, Fagrørsle og kamp, Kapitalisme, Politikk&Samfunn | Merkt , , , , | Éin kommentar

Fuck Facebook’s Cencorship!

Facebook Stop Censoring Kurds!

The artist behind this work of art, Gelawesh Waledkhani,is a kurd from Iraq. She has for years painted these women as a symbol for womens revolution in the Middle East..This art is situated in Oslo, Norway.

Recently, Facebook has censored hundreds of people for sharing a picture of a work of art promoting Kurdish women freedom fighters with a quote by Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan saying «Society can never be free without womens liberation». 

Almost everything related to the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan is removed on Facebook. Ocalan is a key figure in the peace prcoess which Turkey has now abandoned. Ocalan has for many years campaigned for a peaceful and democratic solution within Turkey, yet has been kept in solitary confinement and unable in recent years to see his lawyer or family.

Facebook’s actions are undemocratic and contribute to a worsening situation. If people who actually ask for peace are censored and blocked, it can actually end up making the situation more violent.Kurdish people have a right to freedom of expression like all people in the world, yet Kurds feel that Facebook is targetting Kurdish content on behalf of the Turkish government.

We use Facebook to express our opinions and spread information about the situation in Kurdistan. We use Facebook to tell the world what the occupying powers are doing to the Kurds and how our rights are being violated every single day. 

We demand that Facebook stop censoring and blocking Kurdish and non-Kurdish activists. Facebook must stop removing photos and posts related to Kurds and the Kurdish movement.

Artists campaign against Facebook censorship!

Posta under Our global world, Politic&Society, Politikk, samfunn | Merkt , , , , , | Kommenter innlegget

Nei til baseavtale med USA!

Protest mot baseavtalen 8. desember
Protest motbaseavtale med USA 8. desemberProtester mot utvidet forsvarsavtale med USA vokser. Det blir demonstrasjon foran Stortinget 8.desember kl. 18:00 med Halle Jørn Hansen som hovedtaler. Appeller ved Ingunn Gjerstad – LO i Oslo, Ingrid Fiskaa – stortvingsrepr. SV, Geir Jørgensen – Stortingsrepr. Rødt, Sigrid Heiberg – upol.talsp for MDG.Oppdatert liste over appellanter og tilsluttede organisasjoner vises på facebookevent for markeringen. https://www.facebook.com/events/3102823123294014Den forrige regjeringen har signerte avtale med USA. Lovendringer rundt avtalen er lagt ut på høring med høringsfrist 8. desember. Den dagen høringsfristen går ut vil det gis et tydelig signal til nyvalgte stortingspolitikere om å si nei til avtalen.
Demonstrasjonen arrangeres av «Aksjon mot baseavtale med USA» som er et tverrpolitisk nettverk av flere fredsorganisasjoner og andre. «Aksjon mot baseavtale med USA» »arbeider for at det blir markeringer og protester flere steder i landet – i byer og tettsteder – og støtter aksjoner i lokalmiljøer hvor basene etableres. Det planlegges å ha en nasjonal protestdag tett opp til endelig stortingsbehandling våren 2022.
Stopp NATO er tilsluttet aksjonen
https://mot-baseavtale.blogspot.com/
 
Nei til NATO – Nei til krig!


Hilsen Stopp NATO – desember 2021
Posta under Imperialisme, Noreg - Norway, Politikk&Samfunn | Merkt , , , , | Kommenter innlegget