Money or life!

Money or life!

In_India_the_main_criticism_is_that-_Socialism_for_the_rich_and_capitalism_for_the_poor
Ill: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:In_India_the_main_criticism_is_that-_Socialism_for_the_rich_and_capitalism_for_the_poor.jpg

In our world today about one billion people are starving and around three billion lives for 2, 5 dollar or less a day. The countries particularly in the south will also in the future produce trade and consume more agricultural goods. Still, food shortages and hunger are a growing problem, today. The global capitalism has not as its purpose to give all people equal rights to food, housing, healthcare and work. Its purpose is to give the privileged their rights to profit! There is food enough in this world. On the other hand the poor have far away enough access to them. Therefore shall poverty be reduced and the economy should grow – according to the UN – and that should the farming sector help achieve (Wirtschaft.t-online.de, 17.6.09). (”Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development”, OECD, have also written in its “Agricultural overview 2009” that: “One billion people are starving”.)

Sounds good this, but it lacks the decisive thing: “access” to these goods. So, what lies behind this word “access”? Access means money, of course. It’s the money which omits the poor their tool to get food. They have to get money before getting food. With some logic one can assume this conclusion: The purpose with all production – also production of food – is not to produce goods, f. ex. What the poor needs. Instead the purpose is to get money. The material richness which is produced so abundant, exist without exception to become money. Further, it’s this constraint, this all dominating purpose, which carries forward the market-economic disaster! The experts in OECD although does not name the money, as “money”, but instead as “access”. This is on one hand the expression of, that it’s for them the most obvious thing in the world, and that one cannot get anything without money. On the other hand they (OECD) are covering up this, in a way “nice” word “access”, and that it’s in the end all about money. They will not admit that it’s the money, in other words that the basement of all production to earn money (profit), makes people starve. For them the problem lies in that people lacks money. Only the lack of money hinders the produced goods to arrive where they are most needed. As soon as the money is in place, they enable the “access” to the goods. Seen through this glance it’s clear what the issue is about: Hunger is not about shortage of food, but on the contrary, about shortage of money. And this, which the poor primarily have the need for, will then be: a successful economy of money! Billions of starving people are conscious (or manipulated) to believe the necessity of market economic growth measured in money. The last decades with growth in the world economy before the crises in 2008, have given a huge and increasing number of starving people – and the only “correct” tool against this was economic growth, told over and over again. And now after the economic crises with downfall in the total world economy, it tells itself what happens.

It’s thereby given what is the prescription as solution in the market economy, which is famous (or notorious) for its “effectiveness and humanness”: If starving people at all gets “access” to food, then it does not happen by making or eating it. Instead they have to participate in making food as a commodity, which can be traded, and then they should transport it where it can be paid for. This is the only way they can earn the money, which they then can use to buy food with. What else then can be offered to the poor than economic growth?

capitalism-bread-on-a-stick-is-being-used-by-a-fat-businessman-riding-on-the-back-of-a-poor-skinny-man
Ill: http://hateandanger.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/capitalism-5/

This is the way that market economist’s works on questions of life and survival. For professional economist’s the economy starts and ends with money. They do not understand or know other needs and products than money. No other questions or no other means of solution, do they know either. Where ever they start they will end with the tired less exerting of that economic growth is indispensable. These so called experts do not worry about much else than the market economy and its growth measured in money. Then it’s us so called ordinary citizens who do not live in poverty and what our knowledge are on what our economic system (capitalism) really is doing. We are living mostly in our own bobble and pay very little attention that we ourselves are “slaves” of capitalism, but then not as poor and starving people, but as relatively well nourished consumers. This condition is of course perfect for the system-believers and the capitalists. It’s not until us the well-nourished and they the poor reacts against the injustice of the system, that the system itself will worry. Not until!

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It’s not a question of ending thievery but ending capitalism!

Theft or exploitation?- a review of Stolen by Grace Blakeley

by michael roberts

All our wealth has been stolen by big finance and in doing so big finance has brought our economy to its knees.  So we must save ourselves from big finance.  That is the shorthand message of a new book, Stolen – how to save the world from financialisation,by Grace Blakeley.

Grace Blakeley is a rising star in the firmament of the radical left-wing of the British labour movement.  Blakeley got a degree in politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at Oxford University and did a masters degree there in African studies.  Then Blakeley was a researcher at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IIPPE), a left-wing «think tank», and has now become the economics correspondent of the leftist New Statesman journal.  Blakeley is a regular commentator and «soundbite» supporter for left-wing ideas on various broadcasting media in Britain.  Her profile and popularity have taken her book, published this week, straight into the top 50 of all books on Amazon.

Stolen: how to save the world from financialisation is an ambitious account of the contradictions and failures of postwar capitalism, or more exactly Anglo-American capitalism (because European or Asian capitalist is hardly mentioned and the periphery of the world economy is covered only in passing).  The book aims to explain how and why capitalism has turned into a thieving model of «financialisation» benefiting the few while destroying (stealing?) growth, employment and incomes from the many.

Stolen leads the reader through the various periods of Anglo-American capitalist development from 1945 to the Great Recession of 2008-9 and beyond.  And it finishes with some policy proposals to end the thievery with a new (post-financialisation) economic model that will benefit working people. This is compelling stuff. But is Blakeley’s account of the nature of modern Anglo-American capitalism and on the causes of recurring crises in capitalist production correct?

Just take the title of Blakeley’s book: «Stolen».  It’s a catchy title for a book.  But it implies that the owners of capital, specifically finance capital, are thieves.  They have «stolen» the wealth produced by others; or they have «extracted» wealth from those who created it.  This is profits without exploitation.  Indeed, profit now comes merely from thieving from others.

Marx called this «profit of alienation».  For Marx it is achieved by the transfer of existingwealth (value) created in the process of capitalist accumulation and production.  But value is not created by this financial thievery.  For Marx, profits, or surplus value as Marx called it, is only created through the exploitation of labour in the production of commodities (both things and services).  Workers» wealth is not «stolen», nor is the wealth they create.  Under capitalism, workers get a wage from employers for the hours they work, as negotiated.  But they produce more in value in the time they work than in the value (measured in labour time) that they receive in wages.  So capitalists obtain a surplus-value from the sale of the commodities produced by the workers which they appropriate as the owners of capital.  This is not thievery, but exploitation.  (See my book, Marx 200, for a fuller explanation).

Does it matter whether it is theft or exploitation?  Well, Marx thought so.  He argued fiercely against the idea of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the most popular socialist of his day that «property is theft».  To say that, argued Marx. was to fail to see the real way in which the wealth created by the many and how it ends up in the hands of the few.  Thus it was not a question of ending thievery but ending capitalism.

In Stolen, Blakeley ignores this most important scientific discovery (as Engels put it), namely surplus value.  Instead Blakeley completely swallows the views of the modern Proudhonists like Costas Lapavitsas, David Harvey and others like Bryan and Rafferty who dismiss Marx’s view that profit comes for the exploitation of labour.  For them, that is old hat.  Now modern capitalism is now «financialised capitalism» that gets its wealth from stealing or the extraction of «rents» from everybody, not from exploitation of labour.  This leads Blakeley at one point to accept the false analysis of Thomas Piketty that the returns to capital will inexorably rise through this process – when the evidence is that returns to capital have been inexorably falling – see my critique of Piketty here.

But these «modern» arguments are just as false as Proudhon’s.  Lapavitsas has been critiqued well by British Marxist Tony Norfield; I have engaged David Harvey in debate on Marx’s value theory and Bryan and Rafferty have been found wanting by Greek Marxist, Stavros Mavroudeas.  After you read these critiques, then you can ask yourself whether Marx’s law of value can be ignored in explaining the contradictions of modern capitalism.

Then there is the sub-title of Blakeley’s book: «how to save the world from financialisation».  «Financialisation» as a category or term has become overwhelmingly popular among heterodox economics.  The category originally came from mainstream economics, was taken up by some Marxists and promoted by post-Keynesian economists.  Its purpose was to explain the contradictions within capitalism and its recurring crises with a theory that did not involve Marx’s law of value and law of profitability – both of which post-Keynesians reject or ignore (see my letter to MR).

Blakeley takes the definition of the term from Epstein, Krippner and Stockhammer and makes it the centre-piece of the book’s narrative (p11).  As I outlined in a previous post, if the term means simply an increased role of the finance sector and a rise in its share of profits in the last 40 years, that is obviously true – at least in the US and the UK.  But if it means the «emergence of a new economic model.. and a deep structural change in how the (capitalist) economy) works» (Krippner), then that is a whole new ballgame.

As Stavros Mavroudeas puts it in his excellent new paper (393982858-QMUL-2018-Financialisation-London), the «financialisation hypothesis» reckons that «money capital becomes totally independent from productive capital (as it can directly exploit labour through usury) and it remoulds the other fractions of capital according to its prerogatives.» And if «financial profits are not a subdivision of surplus-value then…the theory of surplus-value is, at least, marginalized. Consequently, profitability (the main differentiae specificae of Marxist economic analysis vis-à-vis Neoclassical and Keynesian Economics) loses its centrality and interest is autonomised from it (i.e. from profit – MR).»

And that is clearly how Blakeley sees it.  Accepting this new model implies that finance capital is the enemy and not capitalism as a whole, ie excluding the productive (value-creating) sectors.  Blakeley denies that interpretation in the book.  Finance is not a separate layer of capital sitting on top of the productive sector. That’s because allcapitalism is now «financialised!: «any analysis that sees financialization as a «perversion» of a purer, more productive form of capitalism fails to grasp the real context. What has emerged in the global economy in recent decades is a new model of capitalism, one that is far more integrated than simple dichotomies suggest  According to Blakeley, «today’s corporations have become thoroughly financialised with some looking more like banks then productive enterprises«.  Blakeley argues that «We aren’t witnessing the «rise of the rentiers» in this era; rather, all capitalists — industrial and not — have turned into rentiers…In fact, nonfinancial corporations are increasingly engaging in financial activities themselves in order to secure the highest possible returns

If this were true, and all value comes from interest and rent «extracted» from everybody and not from exploitation, then it would really be making money out of nothing and Marx has been talking nonsense.  However, the empirical evidence does not bear out the «financialisation» thesis.  Yes, since the 1980s, finance sector profits have risen as a share of total profits in many economies, although mainly in the US.  But even at their peak (2006) the share of financial sector profits in total profits reached only 40% in the US.  After the Great Recession, the share fell back sharply and now averages about 25%.  And much of these profits have turned out to be «fictitious», as Marx called it, based on gains from buying and selling of stocks and bonds (not on profits from production), which disappeared in the slump.

Also, the narrative that the productive sectors of the capitalist economy have turned into rentiers or bankers is just not borne out by the facts. Joel Rabinovich of the University of Paris has conducted a meticulous analysis of the argument that now non-financial companies get most of their profits from «extraction» of interest, rent or capital gains and not from the exploitation of the workforces they employ.  He found that: «contrary to the financial rentieralization hypothesis, financial income averages (just) 2.5% of total income since the ’80s while net financial profit gets more negative as percentage of total profit for nonfinancial corporations. In terms of assets, some of the alleged financial assets actually reflect other activities in which nonfinancial corporations have been increasingly engaging: internationalization of production, activities refocusing and M&As.» Here is his graph below.

In other words, non-financial corporations like General Motors, Caterpillar, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, big tobacco and big pharma and so on still make their profits from selling commodities in the usual way.  Profits from «financialisation» are tiny as a share of total income. These companies are not «financialised».

Blakely says that «financialization is a process that began in the 1980s with the removal of barriers to capital mobility».  Maybe so, but why did it begin in the 1980s and not before or later?  Why did deregulation of the financial sector start then?  Why did «neoliberalism» emerge then? There is no answer from Blakeley, or the post-Keynesians. Blakeley points out that the post-war «social democratic model» had failed, but she provides no explanation for this – except to suggest that capitalism could no longer «afford to continue to tolerate union demand for pay increases in the context of rising international competition and high inflation».( p48). Blakeley hints at an answer: «competition from abroad began to erode profits»(p51).  But that begs the question of why international competition now caused a problem when it had not before and why there was high inflation.

But Marxist economics can give an answer.  It was the collapse in the profitability of capital in all the major capitalist economies. This is well documented by Marxists and mainstream studies alike.  This blog has a host of posts on the subject and I have provided a clear analysis in my book, The Long Depression (not a best seller).  The fall in profitability forced capitalism to look for counteracting forces: the weakening of the labour movement through slumps and ant-labour measures; privatisations etc and also a switch into investing in financial assets (what Marx called «fictitious capital») to boost financial profits.  All this was aimed at reversing the fall in the overall profitability of capital.  It succeeded to a degree.

But Blakeley dismisses this explanation.  It was not to do with the profitability of capital that crises regularly occur under capitalism and profitability had nothing to do with the Great Recession.  Instead Blakeley slavishly follows the explanation of post-Keynesian analysists like Hyman Minsky and Michel Kalecki.  Now I and others have spent a much ink on arguing that their analysis is incorrect as it leaves out the key driver of capitalist accumulation, profit and profitability.  As a result, they cannot really explain crises.

Kalecki says that crises are caused by a lack of «effective demand», Keynesian-style and although governments could overcome this lack of demand through fiscal and other interventions, they are blocked by the political resistance of the capitalists.  You see, as Blakeley says, «Kalecki’s argument is that not that social democracy is economically unstable, but that it is politically unstable.»  For Kalecki, crises caused by capitalists being politically unwilling to agree to reforms. So apparently, social democracy would work under capitalism if it was not for the stupidity of the capitalists!

Minsky was right that the financial sector is inherently unstable and the massive growth in debt in the last 40 years increases that vulnerability – Marx made that point 150 years ago in Capital.  And in my blog, I have made the point in many posts that «debt matters».  But financial crashes do not always lead to slumps in production and investment.  Indeed, there has been no financial crisis (bank busts, stock market crashes, house price collapse etc), that has led to a slump in capitalist production and investment unless there is also a crisis in the profitability of the productive sector of the capitalist economy.  The latter is still decisive.

In a chapter of the book, World in Crisis, edited by G Carchedi and myself (unfortunately again it is not a best seller) Carchedi provides compelling empirical support for the link between the financial and productive sectors in capitalist crises.  Carchedi: «Faced with falling profitability in the productive sphere, capital shifts from low profitability in the productive sectors to high profitability in the financial (i.e., unproductive) sectors. But profits in these sectors are fictitious; they exist only on the accounting books. They become real profits only when cashed in. When this happens, the profits available to the productive sectors shrink. The more capitals try to realize higher profit rates by moving to the unproductive sectors, the greater become the difficulties in the productive sectors. This countertendency—capital movement to the financial and speculative sectors and thus higher rates of profit in those sectors—cannot hold back the tendency, that is, the fall in the rate of profit in the productive sectors.»

What Carchedi finds is that:«Financial crises are due to the impossibility to repay debts, and they emerge when the percentage growth is falling both for financial and for real profits.» Indeed, in 2000 and 2008, financial profits fall more than real profits for the first time.  Carchedi concludes that: «The deterioration of the productive sector in pre-crisis years is thus the common cause of both financial and non-financial crises. If they have a common cause, it is immaterial whether one precedes the other or vice versa. The point is that the (deterioration of the) productive sector determines the (crises in the) financial sector.»

You may ask: does it matter if the inequalities and crises we experience under capitalism are caused by financialisation or by Marx’s laws of value and profitability?  After all, we can all agree that the answer is to end the capitalist system, no?  Well I think it does matter, because policy action flows from any theory of causes.  If we accept financialisation as the cause of all our woes, does that mean that it is only finance that is the enemy of labour and working people and not the nice productive capitalists like Amazon who only exploit us at work?  It should not, but it does.  Take Minsky himself as an example.  Minsky started off as a socialist but his own theory of financialisation in the 1980s led him to not to expose the failings of capitalism but to explain how an unstable capitalism could be «stabilised».

Undoubtedly Blakeley is made of sterner stuff.  Blakeley says that we must take on the bankers in the same degree of ruthlessness as Thatcher and Reagan took on the labour movement back in the neoliberal period starting in the 1980s.  Blakeley says that «the Labour Party’s manifesto reads like a return to the post-war consensus…we cannot afford to be so defensive today.  We must fight for something more radical.. because the capitalist model is running out of road. If we fail to replace it, there is no telling what destruction its collapse might bring.» (p229). That sounds like the roar of a lion of socialism.  But when it comes to the actual policies to deal with the financiers, Blakeley becomes a mouse of social democracy.

First, Blakeley says «we must adopt a policy agenda that challenges the hegemony of financial capital, revoking its privileges and placing the powers of investment back under democratic control.»  Now I have argued in many posts and at meetings of the labour movement in Britain that the only way to take democratic control is to bring into public ownership the big five banks that control 90% of lending and deposits in Britain. Regulation of these banks has not worked and won’t work. 

Yet Blakeley ignores this option and instead calls for «constraining» measures on the existing banks, while setting up a public retail bank or postal banks in competition along with a National Investment Bank.  «Private finance must be properly constrained» (but not taken over), «using regulatory tools that are international adopted.» P285.  At various places, Blakeley refers to Lenin.  Perhaps Blakeley should remind herself what Lenin said about dealing with the banks. «The banks, as we know, are centres of modern economic life, the principal nerve centres of the whole capitalist economic system. To talk about «regulating economic life» and yet evade the question of the nationalisation of the banks means either betraying the most profound ignorance or deceiving the «common people» by florid words and grandiloquent promises with the deliberate intention of not fulfilling these promises.»

As for a National Investment Bank, a Labour manifesto pledge, it leaves the majority of investment decisions and resources in the hands of the capitalist financial sector.  As I have shown before, the NIB would add only 1-2% of GDP in extra investment in the British economy, compared to the 15-20% on investment controlled by the capitalist sector.  So «financialisation» would not be curbed.

Blakeley’s other key proposal is a People’s Asset Manager (PAM), which would gradually buy up shares in the big multinationals, thus «socialising ownership across the whole economy» and then «pressurising companies» to support investments in socially useful projects.  «As a public banking system emerges and grows alongside a People’s Asset manager, ownership will be steadily be transferred from the private sector to the public sector.» (p268) «in a bid to dissolve the distinction between capital and labour» (p267).  So Blakeley’s aim is not to end the capitalist mode of production by taking over the major sectors of capitalist investment and production, but to dissolve gradually the «distinction» between capital and labour.

This is the ultimate in utopian gradualism.  Would capitalists stand by while their powers of control are gradually or steadily lost?  An investment strike would ensue and any socialist government would be faced with the task of taking over completely.  So why not spell out fully a programme for a democratically controlled publicly owned economy with a national plan for investment, production and employment?

Stolen aims to offer a radical analysis of the crises and contradictions of modern capitalism and policies that could end «financialisation» and give control by the many over their economic futures.  But because the analysis is faulty, the policies are also inadequate.

From Michael Roberts Blog

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The other 11th September! To remember – 46 years!

4 Things to Remember About Chile’s 1973 Coup

June 26 marked the birthday of former president Salvador Allende, who died in the coup.

Salvador Allende, the iconic left-wing leader and one of Chile’s best known presidents, was born on this day on June 26, 1908.

The tragic fate of his government, overthrown in a right-wing coup in 1973, changed the history of the country—and region—forever.

ANALYSIS:
10 of the Most Lethal CIA Interventions in Latin America

On September 11, Allende’s socialist was toppled by a U.S.-backed military coup led by Augusto Pinochet, barely three years after being elected.

Allende wasn’t the only casualty of the coup, as thousands of Chileans were subsequently tortured, jailed and killed by the military regime. Democracy in Chile was irreparably altered, and even now the country continues to be scarred by one of the darkest eras of fear and repression on the continent.


Social Progress Under Allende

After winning the 1970s presidential elections in Chile, the left-wing Salvador Allende worked toward social reforms and justice, nationalizing natural resources, building homes for the poor and focusing on better access to health and education.

Allende fought until the last hours of his life to defend the social gains and constitutional order. On his last speech, just minutes before the military bombed the presidential palace, he gave Chileans one last message of hope.

“I will not resign. Placed in a historic transition, I will pay the loyalty of the people with my life. And I tell them I have the certainty that the seed that we have planted in the dignified conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled. You have the power, they can destroy us, but social progress cannot be stopped neither by crime nor by force. History is ours, and people make it happen.”


Military Repression

Allende’s own army chief, Augusto Pinochet, led the coup and ordered his forces to march through the streets of Santiago, intimidating the local populace and entering La Moneda Presidential Palace by force.

Pinochet later consolidated power with the support of the United States and ruled the country with an iron fist for 17 years, until 1990. He jailed an estimated 80,000 people, tortured 30,000 and murdered around 3,200. Only 75 of more than a thousand of his former agents are serving prison sentences for human rights violations.


U.S. Intervention

With the success of the 1959 revolution in Cuba, leftist movements in Latin America were emboldened, and Washington’s Manichean Cold War world-view translated into fears—and policies—that affected much of South America.

As declassified CIA documents show, the government of Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger influenced the military to overthrow Allende, and provided resources to deter any leftist movements in the country through the CIA.

As fears of the «Red Scare» grew, Washington opposed any form of socialist gains on the belief they would affect U.S. economic and political interests in the hemisphere.

Dubbed Operation Condor, a brutal campaign of political repression and state terror took hold of the continent, as the United States sought to obliterate leftist movements opposed to Washington-backed military coups in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay — and Chile.

 

 

Modern Democracy

More that 25 years since the end of the dictatorships, social movements in Chile are still demanding that the remnants of the Pinochet regime – including the constitution passed in 1980 – be overturned.

After the coup, Pinochet’s government adopted a constitution that defended repression of basic liberties and rights, and created a convoluted electoral system designed to favor right-wing parties.

Under Michelle Bachelet’s second government, a process to change the constitution has been passed and is currently being undertaken. While popular consultations are underway, many consider the measure to be inadequate, and unlikely to lead to a reform that will include meaningful input by Chileans.

First published 26 June 2016 – telesurtv.net

Published first time on my blog 11. September 2016

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Fattigdom, rikdom, skattelette, forbruk, ulikskap, nytale – Tid for opprør?

Me lever i eit kapitalistisk land med nyliberalistiske lover. Marknaden er Guden, menneska er undersåttane og forbrukarane. Framangjeringa frå oss som menneske er til å gni seg i hendene av hjå kremmarane, kapitalistane. Kvart år håpar arbeidsgjevarar (skulle heitt tankeranarar) som organisasjonen Virke på helst dobling av jolehandelen sine milliardar. I år håpar dei på over 50 milliardar i omsetnad. Skrik mange nok av oss opp og hyler: DET ER NOK KONSUM NO! ME MÅ NED I FORBRUK. UTJAMNINGA GÅR GALNE VEGEN. SNU I HALDNINGANE! Gjer mange nok av oss dette? NEI, ikkje enno!

Nyleg har det kome fram at den delen som lever under fattigdomsgrensa i Noreg har auka dei siste åra. Dette er eit symtom på kvart eit kapitalistisk samfunn der frisleppet av økonomien tek makta over utjamninga av økonomien. Dei superrike vert færre i tal og endå meir superrike, den neste rike klassen vert også rikare, avstanden til mesteparten av mellomklassen vert større og dei umidla lågaste vert endå fattigare og dei aukar i tal. Landsgjennomsnittet er høgt, og det er sjølvsagt heilt uakseptabelt. Kvar og ein av dei fattige er ein for mykje, mange av dei er barn utan skuld i det sjølv.

I velståande Noreg, med Høgre sitt slagord «muligheter for alle», vert ein møtt med ei forventning om å vera takksam for å bu i eit land som ivaretek alle. At mange i Noreg vert fødde inn i gode moglegheiter er sant, men at det gjeld alle er ei myte. Ei farleg myte! Dessutan eit ideal som er heilt bakvendt i høve til politikken som vert ført, nasjonalt og lokalt. Berre tenk på den «nytalen» som vert gjort av styresmaktene ved dei blå-svarte, og dei rosa-grøne før dei. Med sleip retorikk som peikar positivt på åtak mot dei med minst, at det skal løne seg å arbeide, vil Høyre og FrP t.d. kutte kraftig i barnetillegget for rørslehemma foreldre og høgne inntektskravet for å få foreldrepengar og sjukepengar. Samstundes kan ein lesa i deira statsbudsjett at dei vil gje 360.366 kroner i skattelette til alle som har ei bruttoinntekt på over 10 millionar kroner. Dei som tener over 10 millionar kroner, har sidan 2013 fått eit skattekutt som er hundre gonger større enn dei som tener mellom 150.000 og 250.000 kroner (nrk.no).

I en tabell vises anslått skatt i fjor og endring i skatt fra 2013 for alle personer som er 17 år og eldre etter bruttoinntekt. Tallene viser at:

  • For over 3 millioner nordmenn som tjener under 550.000 kroner, er fasiten et skattekutt på under og til dels langt under 5.000 kroner.
  • For dem med inntekter mellom 550.000 og 850.000 ligger skattelettelsene på mellom 6.600 og 9.200 kroner i snitt.
  • En inntekt på mellom 850.000 og 950.000 kroner gir 10.000 kroner i kutt.
  • En inntekt på 4–5 millioner gir vel 69.000 i kutt, mens de som tjener 7–8 millioner, har fått vel 100.000 i skattekutt.
  • 1.200 personer med over 10 millioner i bruttoinntekt har i snitt fått en lettelse på 283.200 kroner.

Anslagene for skatteendringer er regnet i forhold til skattereglene for 2013 justert til 2017.

Kjelde: nrk.no

Eit samfunn som berre ivaretek barn av «friske» og rike er ikkje verdt å forsvara. Her kan ein sjå ting i perspektiv: Den rikaste prosenten i verda kontrollerar 50 prosent av alle ressursar. Dei 10 prosent rikaste i Noreg eig 70 prosent av all finanskapital. Det er ei drastisk auke frå 1980, då eigde dei 49 prosent. På 1980-talet tente dei 400 rikaste i Noreg i snitt 26 årsløner. På 2000-talet tente den same gruppa 178 årsløner. I Noreg har talet barn under fattigdomsgrensa dobla seg dei ti siste åra. Skilnadane har gjennom ein gullalder for dei rikaste auka til same nivå som på 1930-talet.
Likevel syt dei rike som aldri før. Storkapitalisten Stein Erik Hagen, som har verdiar på 13,3 milliardar kroner, synes det var ei god investering å støtte FrP med to millionar kroner i førre valkamp. Å verte kvitt formueskatten, slik at han unngår å bidra med opptil 1,1 prosent (!) til fellesskapet frå verdiar skapt av folk som arbeidar for han, altså sel arbeidskrafta til kapitalisten, var hans store kampsak. I Dagens Næringsliv uttalte han at “nå er det verre her i landet enn noensinne” og at “vi er på vei i en sosialistisk retning, som i gamle Øst-Europa”. Snakk om å vera forvirra i sitt supersmale egoistiske kapitalistunivers. John Fredriksen er ein annan råtamp, han har for lenge sidan stukke av til utlandet med reiarmilliardane sine.

Med snudd absurd retorikk får dei superrike vera i fred med sin sutrementalitet, mens dei som vert ramma av fattigdom vert skambelagt, definert som utnyttarar av systemet. Paradoksalt nok aukar fordomane og den bakvendte retorikken av kva som skapar ulikheiter i samfunnet oppslutninga til lågskattepartia, som gjennom ikkje-progressiv skattegjeving gjev skattelette til dei absolutt rikaste, på bekostning av velferda til dei lågtløna som ikkje får særleg skattelette i det heile. Men, kanskje mange ser denne galskapen og stemmer deretter, ved kommune- og fylkestingsvalet i dag 9. september?

Verdiskapninga vanlege arbeidsfolk står for, og som funksjonshemma i harde yrker har stått for, har skapt verdiane kapitalistar som Hagen og Fredriksen er milliarderar på. Dei styrande parti hyller alt som er privat og som har ordet næring i seg, mens alt som heiter skatt, uansett kven som vert skatta og til kva føremål, vert avvist som verdas styggedom. Dette fører til skjult fattigdom i eit av verdas rikaste land. IKKJE NOK MED DET. DET FØRER OGSÅ TIL EIN RÅKAPITALISME, MED STADIG STØRRE MIDLAR TIL STADIG FÆRRE. DET GODE MED DETTE ER AT VILJEN OG MOGLEGHEITA TIL Å KVITTE SEG MED KAPITALISMEN SOM SYSTEM KAN VERTE STØRRE. DET ER OPP TIL FOLKET!

Posta under Noreg - Norway, Politikk, samfunn, Vår globale verd | Kommenter innlegget

Fremskrittspartiets bompenge-jippo.

– De siste månedene har Siv Jensen blitt kalt for «bompengedronninga». Tittelen er fortjent

Av Bjørnar Moxnes, stortingsrepresentant for Rødt – 21.08.19

«Er det en ting jeg kan love her og nå, er det at noe av det første vi skal gjøre når vi kommer i regjering, er å fjerne alle bomstasjonene». Dette sa Frp-leder Siv Jensen allerede i 2009.

Men hva skjedde etter at Frp gikk i regjering i 2013? Hvert eneste år etter har de satt bompengerekorder. Aldri har det vært så mange bomstasjoner landet rundt, nå over 250 i tallet. Aldri før har det blitt betalt inn så mye i bompenger, beregnet til 13 milliarder i 2019.

Administrasjonskostnadene i regjeringas regionale bomselskaper går opp.

Bompengerekorder og økende ulikhet

Frp har ikke bare brukt regjeringsdeltakelsen på bompengerekorder, men også på å øke ulikheten ytterligere.

Tre av ti husholdninger har fått mindre å rutte med etter at Siv Jensen fikk hånda på rattet. Dette viser regjeringas egen ulikhetsmelding. Blant disse er mange minstepensjonister, uføre og enslige forsørgere.

Frps bompengerekorder bør neppe få hele æren for at det store bompengeopprøret kommer akkurat nå. Folk betalte tross alt bompenger også for ti år siden.

Så langt er det bare en stor PR-jippo, slik vi er vant med fra et Frp med markeringsbehov i valgkampen

Det nye er at stadig flere henger etter. Tall fra NAF viser at det naturlig nok er folk med lavest inntekt som opplever at de rammes hardest av økte bompenger. Den økonomiske ulikheten bidrar dessuten til at folk flest opplever at de sjelden eller aldri har innflytelse over politikken.

Søndag gikk Frps landsstyre nesten enstemmig inn for en såkalt bompengeskisse. Hva de faktisk har gått inn for holder de hemmelig. Vi har enda ikke fått se detaljene i det som kan føre landet inn i en selvforskyldt regjeringskrise.

Ut fra lekkasjer i media ser denne skissa ut til å inneholde en mild moderasjon av bompengekostnadene, uvisst hvordan, men Transportøkonomisk institutt anslår at endringen vil bli liten for bilistene.

Det ligger an til økning av tilskuddene til kollektivtrafikk og statens andel av storbypakkene – mens de mellomstore får lite eller ingenting. I tillegg sies det at regjeringa vil gi opp å stanse veksten i biltrafikk inn i de store byene, og heller holde utslippene fra bil på stedet hvil – ikke redusere.

Frp sier ja, Venstre sier nei, Høyre sier tja, KrF sier så lite som mulig. Altså er alt dette i det blå.

Så langt er det bare en stor PR-jippo, slik vi er vant med fra et Frp med markeringsbehov i valgkampen.

De rike slipper unna

I arbeidet med «bompengeløsninga» fra regjeringa har det blitt snakket om fradrag for spesielt høye utgifter til bompenger. NAFs undersøkelse viser også, i likhet med annen statistikk, at de med høyest inntekt bruker bil mer enn de med lavest inntekt.

Siv Jensen har allerede gitt 25 milliarder i skattekutt, som først og fremst har kommet de som er aller rikest fra før av til gode.

Derfor vil jeg advare kraftig mot nok en ordning som belønner de som har best råd, og som bruker bil mest, framfor å hjelpe de som rammes hardest, med dårligst råd.

Bompenger er en måte å begrense biltrafikk på som lar de rike betale for å slippe unna. Det er en flat avgift som ikke tar hensyn til folks inntekt eller om det fins et reelt alternativ til privatbilisme. Selv om de med høy inntekt står for flere passeringer i bomringen enn de med lav inntekt, rammer det hardest for folk som har dårligere råd og som mangler alternativ til å kjøre bil når de for eksempel skal levere barn i barnehage.

Klimaendringene krever tøffe politiske tiltak, og en innsats fra oss alle. Da kan ikke de rikeste slippe med avlatshandel.

Når vi skal få ned  biltrafikken i byene må det skje på en rettferdig måte.

Det kan vi gjøre med blant annet følgende tiltak:

  • Gi bompengerabatt til de med dårligst råd allerede i statsbudsjettet for neste år, og se på ulike ordninger for å kompensere de med gjennomsnittlige og lavere inntekter.
  • Stanse store kapasitetsøkende motorveiprosjekter, og heller bruke pengene på kollektiv og jernbane.
  • Gjøre om bilfelt til kollektivfelt som slipper bussen fram og redusere gateparkering i villastrøk.
  • Avlaste familier økonomisk med gratis kollektivtransport for barn.
  • Full statlig finansiering av viktige kollektivprosjekter, som bybanen i Bergen, Fornebubanen og ny T-banetunnel i Oslo.

Rødt stilte forslag på Stortinget før sommeren som gikk på mange av disse tiltakene, og de ligger inne til behandling.

Derfor spør jeg Siv Jensen: Vil Frp støtte disse forslagene fra Rødt? Vil dere være med på tiltak som tar vare på byluften og klimaet for oss alle? Vil dere være med på å få ned biltrafikken i byene, slik at de som er avhengige av bil eller buss i hverdagen slipper å stå fast i lange køer? Vil dere sikre at de som har dårligst råd får hjelp med bompengeregninga, framfor å plusse på de store skattekuttene til de rike?

Hvis ikke burde Forbrukertilsynet vurdere Frps slagord «for folk flest» nøye for mulig brudd på markedsføringsloven.

Innlegg i nettavisen.no

ETTER AT DETTE INNLEGGET STOD PÅ TRYKK HAR DET SÅKALLA «BOMPENGEFORLIKET» KOME I REGJERINGA. KVA DETTE «FORLIKET» TYDER I PRAKSIS, VEIT OMLAG INGEN! IKKJE MELLOM DEI FIRE REGJERINGSPARTIA HELLER ER DET SEMJE OM KORLEIS DET DEI SJØLVE VART «SAMDE» OM SKAL TOLKAST. TRULEG IKKJE RART DET, NÅR PROSESSEN FRAM TIL DETTE VAR TEMMELEG KAOTISK, OG AT Erna stilte ultimatum for å få igjennom bompengeavtale i regjeringen.

SIRKUSET ER KOMPLETT! HER ER KVA FAGBLADET SKRIV OM DET:

Full forvirring etter bompengeforliket: Her er spørsmålene samferdselsminister Jon Georg Dale (Frp) må svare på

Samferdselsminister Jon Georg Dale (Frp) får mer enn nok å gjøre denne uka. Han må svare på et tosifret antall skriftlige spørsmål om bompengeavtalen.


fagbladet.no – 26.08.2019

Arbeiderpartiets finanspolitiske talsperson Rigmor Aasrud vet like lite om konsekvensene av bompengeforliket mer enn to døgn etter at enigheten var et faktum.

– Hvordan dette skal finansieres, får vi ikke vite før statsbudsjettet legges fram i oktober, sier Rigmor Aasrud til FriFagbevegelse.

– Det står ingen steder hvor pengene skal tas fra. Er det oljefondet, økt skatteinngang, mindre penger til kommunene eller skal det kuttes andre steder? Og hva innebærer en egenandel på 20 prosent for kommunene på nye prosjekt? Skal det gå utover skole, helse og omsorg? spør hun.

Erna stilte ultimatum for å få igjennom bompengeavtale i regjeringen

Spørsmålsbonanza

På Stortinget har hver enkelt stortingsrepresentant lov til å stille to skriftlige spørsmål til regjeringens medlemmer hver uke.

Arbeiderpartiet har fire samferdselspolitikere. De har fylt kvoten allerede i løpet av mandag formiddag.

Samferdselsministeren må svare på spørsmålene i løpet av seks dager.

Også andre opposisjonspolitikere stiller spørsmål om bompengepakka.

Bakgrunnen er altså enigheten mellom de fire regjeringspartiene om bompengepakka sent fredag kveld. Spørsmålene er langt flere enn svarene på hvordan man skal finansiere det hele.

Det eneste man hittil vet, er at regjeringen må finne to milliarder kroner på neste års statsbudsjett, allerede før man skal begynne å finansiere statens andel av bymiljøpakkene.

– Regjeringen skaper langt flere spørsmål enn de gir svar. Det er to uker til valget. Jeg tror det er mange ute i distriktet som vil ha svar på ting, og på hva som blir konsekvensene for sin egen kommune, sier Aasrud.

Siv Jensen er uønsket i byen av Sarpsborg Frp

Total forvirring

Partiets samferdselspolitiske talsperson, Sverre Myrli, vet like lite.

– Hva vil dette bety? Forvirringen er total, sier han til FriFagbevegelse.

– Byvekstavtaler skal opp i 66 prosent finansiering i stedet for 50 prosent. Hvilke prosjekter omfattes av dette? Gjelder det også nye prosjekter? Hva betyr det at Oslo kommune må bidra med 20 prosent uten å ta bompenger i bruk. Betyr det at prosjektet skrinlegges? Jeg tror mange nye prosjekt må skrinlegges nå, mener Myrli.

– Her spriker kommentarene i alle retninger. Venstre har en versjon. Frp en annen. Høyre og KrF ligger midt mellom. Dette er veldig forvirrende, sier han til FriFagbevegelse.

Han har nå spurt statsminister Erna Solberg om regjeringen har bedt om faglige råd og innspill eller analyser fra forskerne, til politikken i bompengeskissen som regjeringspartiene nå er enige om.

Transportøkonomisk institutt (TØI) har blant annet uttalt at de ikke er spurt til råds.

Han vil også vite hvordan samferdselsministeren nå vil legge opp arbeidet med en konsekvensutredning av Nord-Norgebanen.

Ap-politikere spør statsminister Erna Solberg om hvilke konsekvenser bompengeskissen får for byvekstavtalen med Bergen og Stavanger, om de vil få en egenandel på 20 prosent for investeringer på fylkeskommunale eller kommunale prosjekter?

Bompengeskissen sier ikke noe om egenandelen på 20 prosent vil gjelde alle framtidige byvekstpakker og om det inkluderer de allerede igangsatte prosjektene.

Hun vil også vite hva som er den økonomiske forskjellen på lokal egenandel på 20 prosent ved bygging av kommune- og fylkesveger, og egenandelen på 20 prosent i nye byvekstpakker.

Cecilie Myrseth (Ap) spør samferdselsministeren om hvilke økonomiske konsekvenser bompengeskissen får for kollektivsatsingen i Tromsø kommune.

Ingalill Olsen (Ap) vil vite om en forlengelse av nedbetalingsperioden til 20 år for bompengeprosjekter vil bety at den samlede bombelastingen blir mindre eller større.

– Mer sentralisering

Senterpartiets samferdselspolitisk talsperson, Siv Mossleth, synes det er positivt med kutt i bompenger, men mener dette blir småpenger sammenlignet med økningen som har vært og som kommer i årene framover etter allerede vedtatte bompengeprosjekter.

Hun klarer ikke helt å fri seg tanken om at dette er et spinn satt i gang for å berge stumpene til Frp i valgkampen.

– I disse satsingene sier man ikke noe om hvordan det skal finansieres, sier Siv Mossleth.

– Det går mer penger til byene og blir dermed enda mer sentralisering. Kommuner og fylkeskommuner kommer ikke godt ut av det. Mindre lokal handlefrihet i kommuner der det er lokal enighet om å innføre bompenger for eksempel å finansiere en bro eller tunnel. Det blir vanskelig for kommunene å cashe ut 20 prosent egenandel uten bompenger i store prosjekt. Det er bra at regjeringen går inn for en konsekvensutredning av Nord-Norgebanen. Enkeltelementer i dette er bra. Men det blir småpenger i forhold til den veksten som har vært, sier hun til FriFagbevegelse.

Posta under Noreg - Norway, Politikk, samfunn | Merkt , , , , | Kommenter innlegget

NATOs «løyndom» om atombomber i Europa

NATOs ulovlige atombombelagre

De ulovlige atomvåpenlagrene til NATO er kartlagt.

Av Manlio Dinucci.

Det er en råtten gammel hemmelighet. Men det er også en av de mest formidable benektelser hos Den Atlantiske Alliansen: Atombomber er lagret – et alvorlig brudd på internasjonale lover – i Italia, Tyskland, Belgia, i Nederland og i Tyrkia. 

Ved en feiltakelse skrev et medlem av NATOs parlamentariske forsamling dette i en rapport. Den ble øyeblikkelig inndratt.

De Forente Stater har utplassert atombomber i fem NATO-land – Italia, Tyskland, Belgia, Nederland og Tyrkia. Dette har lenge vært kjent (spesielt av Federation of American Scientists- FAS).

Men NATO har aldri offisielt innrømmet det. Noe har tydeligvis ganske nylig sporet av.

I dokumentet med tittelen «En ny æra for atom-avskrekking? Modernisering, våpenkontroll og fremmede atomstyrker» av den kanadiske senatoren Joseph Day, på vegne av forsvars-og sikkerhetskomiteen i NATOs parlamentariske forsamling, har «hemmeligheten» blitt avslørt.

Ved hjelp av en «klipp og lim» har senatoren uforvarende rapportert om dette i i det følgende avsnittet (nummer 5), fra en konfidensiell NATO-rapport:

«I NATO-sammenheng har De Forente Stater utplassert – i avanserte posisjoner i Europa – omtrent 150 atomvåpen, spesielt de B61 viktige bombene. Disse bombene er lagret i seks baser tilhørende USA og Europa – nemlig Kleine Brogel i Belgia, Buchel i Tyskland, Aviano og Ghedi Torre i Italia, Voikel i Nederland og Incirlik i Tyrkia. 

I det hypotetiske scenario der det vil bli nødvendig, kan B61-bombene bli transportert av USAs og Europas samlede luftstyrker».

NATO beskylder Russland for å holde seg med mange taktiske atomvåpen i sitt arsenal.

Men dette dokumentet slår fast at USAs atomvåpen er utplassert i avanserte posisjoner i Europa og i Anatolia (nært russisk territorium). Dette for å «sikre full involvering fra de alliertes side i NATOs atom-oppdrag, og den fysiske bekreftelsen på USAs atom-forpliktelser for sikkerheten til de europeiske allierte i alliansen».

Så snart senator Joseph Days dokument lå ute på nettet, var NATO raske til å fjerne det, og deretter publisere det i en annen versjon. Men det var for sent. Noen nettsteder (framfor alt i det belgiske De Morgen) hadde allerede gjengitt den komplette original-versjonen.

På dette tidspunktet sprang den uforsvarlige skribenten i dekning. Han skrev i Washington Post at dokumentet kun var et utkast til et utkast til en rapport til NATOs parlamentariske forsamling. Den skulle publiseres i november.

Men han kunne ikke nekte for det som allerede var blitt skrevet i avsnittet der han siterte fra den konfidensielle rapporten fra organisasjonen.

Dette bekrefter bare det vi har dokumentert i årevis:

I Aviano (i provinsen Pordenone) er USAs F-16C og D kampfly klare til atomangrep med 50 B61-bomber. (Antallet er anslått hos Federation of American Scientists).

I Ghedi Torre (i provinsen Brescia) er det italienske PA-200 Tornado klare for et USA-ledet angrep med 20 B61-bomber.

Fra 2020 vil B61 bli erstattet av B61-12, som er designet spesielt for de nye F-35 jagerflyene.

Alt dette er alvorlige brudd på Non-Proliferation Treaty som er ratifisert av både USA og Italia.

I mellomtiden krangler parlamentet om flyplasser, men ikke om Bomben. Det har de taktisk nok vedtatt enstemmig.

Oversatt av Ingunn Kvil Gamst for Derimot.no. Tidligere publisert blant annet på VoltaireNet.org

Sist publisert på steigan.no

Posta under Europa, Imperialisme, Vår globale verd | Merkt , , , , | 2 kommentarar

The Ultra-Right Government of Brazil are Turning Amazon Rainforest into Dust!

Amazon rainforest fires: global leaders urged to divert Brazil from «suicide» path

Experts say international pressure may be only way to sway Bolsonaro government

Large swathes of the Amazon rainforest are burning – video report

International pressure may be the only way to stop the Brazilian government from taking a “suicide” path in the Amazon, one of the country’s most respected scientists has said, as the world’s biggest rainforest continues to be ravaged by thousands of deliberate fires.

The large number of conflagrations – set illegally to clear and prepare land for crops, cattle and property speculation – has prompted the state of Amazonas to declare an emergency, created giant smoke clouds that have drifted hundreds of miles, and sparked international concerns about the destruction of an essential carbon sink.

“Our house is burning,” tweeted the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who called for emergency talks on the subject at this week’s G7 summit. But the response to the crisis has been mixed: while Norway and Germany have halted donations to the Brazilian government’s Amazon fund, the EU has recently signed a trade deal with South America, and the UK spent this week focusing on post-Brexit business with Brazil.

On Wednesday, the UK trade minister Conor Burns was shaking hands with his counterparts in Brasilia and declaring a desire to “deepen relations”. Asked about the fires, he declined to comment but reportedly said Bolsonaro’s government had “legitimate ambitions to bring prosperity to its people”.

Scientists say the ongoing destruction will have dire consequences for Brazil and the world.

Carlos Nobre, a senior researcher with the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of São Paulo, said the surge in deforestation was taking the rainforest closer to a tipping point beyond which swaths of the usually humid forest would become a dry savannah, with dire consequences for the climate, wildlife and forest dwellers.

Nobre said deforestation was on course to rise by 20-30% this year and was “very likely” to pass 10,000 sq km for the first time in more than 10 years. The trend has been worsening for several years, but it has accelerated under Bolsonaro, who has weakened the environment agency and expressed support for miners, farmers and loggers.

Raging fire in Tocantins, Brazil
Raging fire in Tocantins state. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

“The situation is very bad. It will be terrible,” Nobre told the Guardian. “A very large number of these fires are due to the cultural push that ministers are giving. They are pushing deforestation because it is good for the economy. Those who do illegal deforestation are feeling empowered.”

Nobre co-authored a study last year that predicted the southern, eastern and central regions of the Amazon would reach an irreversible stage of degradation once 20%-25% of the forest was cleared. This was not expected for 20-25 years, but Nobre said the tipping point was likely to be brought forward by about five years if this year’s rate of forest destruction continued.

In the five days to Wednesday, there were 7,746 fires in Brazil, according to data from the country’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). This follows a 278% rise in deforestation last month. The figures are preliminary, but a rising trend has been observed by other satellite monitoring systems.

Brazil has recorded more than 72,000 fires this year, an 84% increase on the same period in 2018, according to the INPE. Not all were forest fires, but more than half were in the Amazon.

In one of the worst affected municipalities, Porto Velho, environmental activists said there were fires around the city and the streets were filled with smoke.

“People are scared. The hospitals are full of people with respiratory diseases. In 60 years, this is the first time I feel difficulty breathing,” said Ivaneide Bandeira Cardozo, the coordinator of the environmental organisation Kanindé. “It’s a thousand times worse than in other years.

“Bad farmers think they can commit all kinds of illegality because they will suffer no punishment … It seems Brazil has no law, that all the laws are in tatters.”

In the soya frontier state of Mato Grosso, which has had more fires than anywhere else in Brazil this year, burning has been detected inside indigenous lands and nature reserves.

Smoke billows from a fire in an area of the Amazon near Porto Velho.
Smoke billows from a fire in an area of the Amazon near Porto Velho. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

The vast majority of Brazilians want to protect the forest, according to opinion polls, but the government has prioritised business interests. Bolsonaro announced this week that he would resume mega-hydro projects in the Amazon that were halted on environmental grounds. His son has proposed a bill in Congress that would further weaken protections around indigenous territory and nature reserves.

Nobre said one of the few remaining ways to prevent a dangerous loss of forest was through external protests and consumer actions.

“Politicians in Brazil pay more attention to international pressure than the voice of Brazilians,” he said. “I think international pressure is essential to reverse this tragic pathway. The agriculture sector in Brazil is very concerned that European consumers won’t buy Brazil produce. This may be the ultimate way to stop the Brazilian government from a suicide of the Amazon, which will have terrible consequences for the climate and for Brazil.”

These concerns were echoed by Thomas Lovejoy, a co-author of the tipping point study. In more than 50 years working in the Brazilian rainforest, he said this was one of its darkest moments, he said.

“There have always been some ups and downs, but the overall trajectory has been towards improvement. Now, Brazil is headed in the other direction.

“Under normal circumstances, the outside world would endeavour to help, but this Brazilian government is not interested in help.”

The scientists said there were already signs the tipping point was drawing closer. The dry season in the southern and eastern Amazon was more than 20 days longer than it was 30 years ago, droughts were more common, and plants that relied on high humidity were declining. In deforested areas, these trends were more pronounced.

Nobre said: “If the dry season extends two to three weeks more we will reach a critical moment. If it lasts longer than four months, this is the climate envelope of a savannah.”

Global heating is a major factor. As in Siberia, Alaska and California, climate breakdown is expected to make fires more frequent and more widely spread. Some of the biggest fires this week have been in the Bolivian Amazon, where deforestation has also been accelerating. According to Europe’s Copernicus satellite monitoring agency, this was the origin of the smoke that darkened the sky in São Paulo, thousands of miles away, on Monday.

There have been more large fires in Colombia and eastern Brazil this week than in the Amazon, where many agricultural burn-offs are in deforested areas.

In the Brazilian Amazon, only Amazonas state has registered a record for fires so far in August. Globally, huge fires in the Arctic have been even further from the norm, but Brazil remains the centre of concern because the problem is more immediately manmade.

This last allegation was condemned on Thursday in a letter signed by 118 civil society organisations. “The president doesn’t need NGOs to burn the image of Brazil in the world,” they wrote.

Concerns about the deteriorating situation have prompted protests at Brazil’s embassies. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has also urged Brazil to take action. “In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected,” he tweeted.

Macron said he would put the matter on the agenda of the G7 summit in France this weekend, while celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna and Cristiano Ronaldo have also raised the alarm.

In Brazil, a petition by the campaign group Avaaz asking the government to halt illegal deforestation has received 1.1m signatures. Federal prosecutors in Pará state are investigating why environmental inspections have declined and military police are absent from inspection operations, where they used to provide protection.

Some foreign governments and conservation groups are trying to deal directly with Brazilian state governments and NGOs rather than going through the national authorities.

Nasa image from 20 August showing smoke and fires in several Brazilian states including Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Rondonia.
Nasa image from 20 August showing smoke and fires in several Brazilian states including Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Rondonia. Photograph: NOAA/Nasa/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

The UK, however, has been more focused on building post-Brexit business relations. Brazil’s international trade minister, Marcos Troyjo, said that along with ongoing negotiations with the US, Burns’s visit was a sign that Brazil continued to have the trust of the outside world.

“I think there can be no more concrete proof that not only is Brazil open for business but the international community is willing to do business with Brazil,” he said.

The UK’s stance was condemned by Friends of the Earth. The campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “If this is what we are prepared to do to line up trade deals, rather than take a world-stage opportunity to protect the obviously irreplaceable Amazon, you have to wonder where our priorities lie. The UK government shouldn’t trade with any countries who are ignoring their Paris climate change commitments, least of all Bolsonaro’s Brazil when they’re burning their forests down to sell us and the world soya and beef.”

 

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