In our household of two permanent residents, one of us works as an independent artist while the other is engaged as a free tradesman. Neither of us could be described as public sector workers, other than in the broadest sense of the term.
As members of the general public though, we recognise the compelling need for broad based solidarity in these critical times, which is why we laid down our tools for the day and joined the November 30 strike. An injury to one is, after all, an injury to all.
The outcome of this ferocious attack upon the living standards of nurses, policemen, fire-fighters, ambulance drivers, cooks, cleaners, teachers, care workers and so many others is likely to blight the landscape of our society to an irreversible degree. It will severely undermine the well being of future generations.
The 'new austerity' is the final stage of thirty years of 'free market' reforms that have led to neo-feudalism and debt peonage becoming a reality for ever increasing numbers of people in the developed world.
It is important to understand that this is a project embraced by all mainstream political parties, whether they be New Labour or Conservative, or for that matter, Democrat or Republican.
Over these past thirty years we have seen the near destruction of 'private sector' unions in Britain, along with an escalating attack upon the public sector. What we are currently witnessing then is the settling of 'unfinished business' in the fight against organised labour.
It is precisely how unions are treated which more than anything else reveals the true nature of a government's commitment to genuine democracy anywhere in the world. Unions have a democratising impact on any society, and the historical record on this is very clear.
At last year's 2010 G20 summit in Toronto an agenda was agreed upon for dealing with the current economic crisis. The aims are to boost private demand while cutting the deficits in half by 2013. Government deficits will be slashed by reducing social 'safety net' programmes, focussing on social security and public pensions.
It is against this grim backdrop that Britain saw the largest strike in nearly a century take place last week.
In his role as the new chief commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London, Bernard Hogan Howe's responsibilities include the policing of demonstrations, and until last Wednesday the only available indication of his strategies had come from a recent student demonstration.
This involved deploying large numbers of police officers in a moving enclosure around the marchers, most effectively at the head. This tactic gives the police complete control of the day, with the ability to speed a march up, or to slow it down or stop it. Providing a new twist to the old adage 'to control dissent, lead it', the strategy also permits the police to direct and even divert the route in 'real time'.
As two ageing dissidents in our sixties, and with bladders that are nowadays in need of relief more frequently, we have considered taking a chamber pot along with us on our protests, but the solution of waste disposal eludes us. Having been surrounded, and thus 'detained', by officers of the law in the chilly out doors for several hours, and with feelings running high, the temptation to dispose of our waste products in the most obvious way would inevitably prove overwhelming.
With these depressing realities of pots and kettles in mind therefore, we decided to give the march a miss and instead spent the afternoon occupying the public space outside of St Paul's Cathedral.
'Occupy' was a little smaller, with people appearing to have gone off to other events that were taking place on the day. Free donated food was available in the kitchen, and the Starbooks library and welcome tent were functioning splendidly. The free newspaper continues to present a commonwealth of ideas, is a revelation to read, and ought to be more widely circulated. It is food for the soul to join this well organised and good natured gathering if only for a few hours.
Met commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe also appears to be taking his inspiration from 'occupy' events occurring world wide from London England to Cairo Egypt to Oakland USA, and his force now contains officers who are undergoing training in the use of 'less lethal' baton rounds. Hogan Howe was in fact prime minister Cameron's second choice as replacement for Paul Stephenson, who quit following the Murdoch hacking scandal. Our prime minister was denied the 'zero tolerance' expert in riot control from the US whom he had planned to fill the vacancy. Cameron's desires fell foul of a law requiring that the chief commissioner must be a native of the UK
Meanwhile deputy commissioner Tim Godwin is reportedly giving up his job to go and work for 'Accenture', which according to it's website is a 'global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 236,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011. '
Accenture then actually helps governments to become 'high performance' ones, the evidence of which is there for us all to see right across the globe.
So far as current US deficits go, they have an interesting history: ex-treasury secretary Paul O'Neill is on record for having tried to warn vice president Richard Cheney in November of 2002 that growing budget deficits were expected to exceed $500 billion for the current fiscal year alone, and posed a threat to the US economy. Cheney was dismissive: "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said, and continued: "We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due." Cheney sacked his treasury secretary the following month. O'Neill had also raised objections to a new round of tax cuts for the wealthy, and said the president rejected his plan to confront corporate crime after a long line of accounting scandals because of opposition from "the corporate crowd."
The US budget deficit now stands at $1.3 trillion, a figure that has remained magically static since the last high performing US government left office.
In Europe, last week's sale of German bonds was disastrous, with only half being sold, and some pundits are now predicting that the break up of the European economic union is merely a matter of time.
We have also watched as the lie that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons capability has continued on it's way to becoming common currency. This follows the recent publication of another IAEA report, and thus the door to outright war on Iran has been opened. http://antiwar.com/radio/2011/11/22/seymour-hersh-6/
The attack on Iraq and the destruction that followed have taught us nothing it seems.
Looking at the presidential material currently being offered to the people of the US, it is apparent that the candidates are supremely unqualified to oversee what will inevitably escalate into a regional conflagration or worse. We can trust however that the good people at Accenture will be on hand to make up for any short falls. This then is what our 'democracy' currently looks like.