Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Health Care Heresies

Thomas Riggins

Now that the Republicans and their neofascist fellow travelers have taken control of the House they have set them themselves the goal of repealing the recent health care reform the Democrats enacted. Flawed as that reform is it at least will enable 35 or so million people to get some sort of health insurance in the coming years. There are around 50 million without insurance at present. Hopefully these extra 15 million will also be covered.

The Republican reactionaries keep harping that we have the "best" health care in the world (we actually rate 37th among developed countries). Here are a couple of examples. The US has "the best medical care system in the world"-- Bob McDonnell, Republican Gov. of Virginia. We have the greatest medical care "the world has ever known"-- Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby.

So while reactionaries and rightist may consider denying this to be heretical, the following information from Science Daily may call their flights of fancy into question.

On November 29th Science Daily reported the results of an 11 nation study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund: "US Adults Most likely to Forgo Care Due to Cost, Have Trouble Paying Medical Bills, Survey Finds."

Of the 11 advanced industrial countries studied the US came in dead last with Americans having the highest numbler having to give up seeking health care due to cost, they also had the most trouble paying their medical bills [some 60 per cent of personal bankruptcies in the US are caused by medical bills another study showed]. Americans, even with insurance, have higher bills, more disputes with insurers, and more often have insurers refuse to cover procedures they thought were covered.

This is, of course, because of the for profit nature of health insurance. This is an industry that should be run out of business by a single payer government run system such as Medicare for all.

Here are some facts the study found.

1. 33% of Us adults went without necessary care, couldn't see a doctor, or couldn't afford to get medicine; in the U.K. and the Netherlands it's 5 to 6%.

2. 20% of Americans had problems paying for their care while in France it was 9%, Netherlands 4%, Germany 3% and U.K. 2%.

3. 35% of Americans paid $1000 or more out of pocket for medical care last year-- significantly more "than all of the other countries."

It goes without saying that the these figures are correlated along class and income perameters. The politicians who most oppose health reform for the poor have, of course, fully covered health care at taxpayer expense which, if made available to regular citizens they denounce as socialism.
The lead author of the study, Cathy Schoen, wrote, "In fact, the U.S. is the only country in the study where having health insurance doesn't guarantee you access to health care or financial protection when you're sick."

The study also found out that the people on Medicare have less problems with the US medical system than adults under the age of 65.

One can hardly imagine, given these grim realities, how Republicans and other reactionaries are able to carry off election victories of the magnitude they did in the 2010 midterms. The vast majority of the American people will continue to suffer not only with respect to medical coverage, but economically, socially, and in education. Yet they have the power of the vote and of wielding it to improve their lives and those of their children. They only need access to the facts, not readily provided by the establishment media. Lets work for and hope that the Left will do a better job of getting the truth out to the American people.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thomas Riggins

In Chapter Six ('Simple and Compound Labour') of Part Two of his classic work Anti-Dühring, Frederick Engels addresses a charge made by the German professor Eugen Dühring to the effect that in his work Das Kapital Marx has made a major blunder which amounts to a socially dangerous heresy regarding socialism. What could this heresy be?

Dühring says that Marx's theory of value is only the common theory that all values are the result of labour and measured by labour-time. But Marx sheds no light on the difference between skilled and unskilled labour. In fact Marx is wrong when he tries to explain the difference by saying one person's labour can be worth more than another's because it has more average labour-time compounded within it. See below where Engels says Marx has no such conception regarding the "worth" of labour.

Dühring says that all labour-time is of absolutely equal value but one worker can have another's labour-time hidden within his own. For example, when I use a hammer made by another to do my work. The reason Marx can't see this, and actually thinks, one person's labour may be worth more than another's is his prejudice against giving the same value to the labour-time of a porter and to that of an architect. He also refers to Marx's theory as hazy lucubrations.

Engels tells us that the wrath of Dühring has been brought forth by a passage in Das Kapital (it is found in section two of Chapter One of Vol. 1) in which Marx distinguishes between skilled and unskilled labour. It runs as follows: "But the value of a commodity represents human labour in the abstract, the expenditure of human labour in general. And just as in society, a general or a banker plays a great part, but mere man, on the other hand, a very shabby part, so here with mere human labour. It is the expenditure of simple labour power, i.e., of the labour power which, on an average, apart from any special development, exists in the organism of every ordinary individual. Simple average labour, it is true, varies in character in different countries and at different times, but in a particular society it is given. Skilled labour counts only as simple labour intensified, or rather, as multiplied simple labour, a given quantity of skilled being considered equal to a greater quantity of simple labour. Experience shows that this reduction is constantly being made. A commodity may be the product of the most skilled labour, but its value, by equating it to the product of simple unskilled labour, represents a definite quantity of the latter labour alone. The different proportions in which different sorts of labour are reduced to unskilled labour as their standard, are established by a social process that goes on behind the backs of the producers, and, consequently, appear to be fixed by custom. For simplicity’s sake we shall henceforth account every kind of labour to be unskilled, simple labour; by this we do no more than save ourselves the trouble of making the reduction."

The main thing to notice is that Marx is talking about measuring the value of commodities that their producers exchange with one another in a simple society of commodity production. There is no such thing as "absolute value" involved and Marx is only setting up his definitions and categories in this first chapter of Das Kapital. Here he only states the relation between simple and compound labour, or skilled and unskilled labour. Engels remarks that this process of reducing skilled to unskilled labour in order to quantify it as a measure of value, at this point, "can only be stated but not as yet explained." Dühring is jumping the gun.

Not only that, but, Engels maintains, labour itself can have no value because value "is nothing
else than the expression of the socially necessary human labour materialized in an object." Labour is the measure of value and speaking of the value of labour is like speaking of the weight of heaviness. Here Engels remarks on Dühring's "brazenness" in his assertion earlier that Marx thought the labour time of one person was more valuable than that of another and that labour has a value. It was Marx "who first demonstrated that labour CAN have NO value, and why it cannot" [it is the measure of value not value itself].

This notion of Marx's is very important for socialism, Engel insists, as it is crucial for the socialist goal of liberating labour power "from its status as a COMMODITY." It is also the clue to the view, unlike Dühring's that distribution and production are completely separate departments within capitalism, that distribution will be geared to the interests of production and that production itself will be governed, reciprocally, "by a mode of distribution which allows ALL members of society to develop, maintain and exercise their capacities with maximum universality."

Dühring is simply wrong if he thinks every worker creates the same amount of value in the same amount of time. One worker works faster, another slower, one has more skill, another less, that is why an average has to be arrived at which is the basis of the notion of "socially necessary labour time." This is also why the slogan "Equal wages for equal labour time" is really a bit utopian. Unions of course demand equal hourly wages for all workers in the the same job grade because of the difficultly of measuring the value that each worker actually creates. Now that some unions have agreed to a two tier wage system even they are tacitily admitting the impracticability of "Equal wages for equal labour time." Anyway women and minorities and nonunionists have often been paid less for the same labour time. This results in a tendency for union wages to decline, as we now see happening. If working people only understood the socialist model of economics they would never tolerate the treatment doled out to them by the owning class.

How will the distinction between unskilled (simple) and skilled (compound) labour be handled under socialism? Engels says that under private production the costs of training a worker to become a skilled worker is paid for by private individuals and so they reap the rewards. A trained slave sells for more money and a skilled worker gets a higher wage.

However, under socialism the cost of training is borne by society [or the state]. The worker therefore has no right to higher pay for the extra values he creates. The extra value is reaped by society and used for general social purposes (education, medical care, food subsidies, the fire department, etc). This explains why medical doctors in socialist societies are seen as underpaid. They are not. The state paid for their skill and they work for fair wages, not having astronomical debts to pay off to private lenders, etc. Another slogan bites the dust here as it is not possible to adhere to it in either capitalism or socialism and that is the worker's demand that they should get "the full proceeds of labour." Under socialism the full preceeds of labour are collectively distributed throughout society on the basics of social needs. It is only in this sense that the workers can receive the "full" proceeds of their labour.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Global Warming: More or Less?

Thomas Riggins

Many Republicans and other rightists deny there is any problem of global warming at all. The New York Times complains that Congress doesn't take the threat seriously. Meanwhile six billion tonnes of coal a year, half by China alone, is set to be burnt to fuel the world's industries. So is global warming getting worse or not?

Climate scientists rely on complicated and sophisticated computer modeling to come up with their estimates of global warming and its future consequences. Below is a brief review of four major scientific studies between 2008 and 2010 which will give us some idea of what is going on.

A Cornell University study was reported in Science Daily in 2008 which claimed global warming was being overestimated ("Global Warming Predictions Are Overestimated, Suggests Study on Black Carbon" ScienceDaily Nov. 25, 2008).

Black carbon is carbon in the earth's soil that results from the burning of organic material. There are many types of carbon in the soils of the earth and they are continuously releasing CO2 into the air-- at different rates depending on the source of the carbon.

It only takes a few years for organic matter in the soil to be released into the atmosphere as CO2-- except for black carbon. Scientists have found it takes from one to two thousand years for this type of carbon to convert to atmospheric CO2. Many popular computer models have not been been taking this fact about black carbon into consideration.

Once adjustment is made for this, the Cornell scientists reported, the amount of CO2 predicted to be released from the soil in the next 100 years is reduced by 20%. This is really significant because soil based carbon annually produces 10 times more CO2 than that produced by all "human activities combined."

This may reduce the estimate of future climate change, nevertheless, global warming is still heating the earth and a future catastrophe cannot avoided if we do not act to reduce this heating trend.

A ScienceDaily report from June 11, 2009 ("Carbon Emissions Linked To Global Warming In Simple Linear Relationship") from scientists at Concordia University, shows that there is a direct relationship between the amount of CO2 emitted and the rise in global temperature. Maybe we can't control natural CO2 emissions, but we have to control human emissions of CO2 which are exacerbating the natural carbon cycle.

Professor Damon Matthews, who headed this study, says that if there is to be hope limiting global warming to just 2 degrees [Celsius] we must limit ALL our FUTURE carbon emissions to 500 billion tonnes "about as much again" as we have emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution. That "all" means forever! Good luck with that.

On July 13, 2009, ScienceDaily reported on an article in Interscience ("Trapping Carbon Dioxide Or Switching To Nuclear Power Not Enough To Solve Global Warming Problem.") This report, from scientists at LuLea University in Sweden, found that neither converting to nuclear power nor trapping CO2 [two of most popular capitalist solutions, besides cap and trade a non solution] would solve the global warming problem. That's nice to know but they don't provide any alternative solution.

Finally, as of this week. An article published on November 22, 2010 ("Cloud Study Predicts More Global Warming" from ScienceDaily) doesn't give us much to look forward to. Scientists from the University of Hawaii Manoa have constructed what they think to be the most up to date computer model with respect to the future extent of the earth's cloud cover over the next 100 years as it reacts to global warming. Clouds reflect much of the heat from the Sun back into space before it gets trapped by green house gases. Well, their model shows that the cloud cover will be much thinner than other computer models have considered and so IF they are correct then even the worse predictions of climate change would be underestimates of "the real change we could see." It is up to us comrades. Neither the bourgeoisie nor its politicians can solve this problem

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chips Ahoy

Thomas Riggins

According to some recent news stories we all may be swallowing computer chips in the near future. Some big drug companies are planning to put micro-chips in the pills we take in order to make sure we take our meds (and of course use up those pills so we have to buy more).

Science fiction? Not in the least. Reuters reported on November 8, in a story by Ben Hirschler, that Novartis AG is hoping to get regulators to approve its new "smart pill" by 2012. Here is how it works. A microchip goes into the pill along with the meds, it transmits its information to a skin patch which in turn can relay the information over the internet or to a smartphone.

Sounds innocent enough. You really should take your meds and now your health care team can monitor you-- it's for your own good. The company also hope to "expand" the uses of their chip due to "the wealth of biometric" data that it can be programmed to report on. Hmmmm. There may be some reall risks here as who knows what information about your personal health these chips may be broadcasting to the outside world. Suppose you need to take more than one or two meds-- you can have all sorts of chips inside you at any one time broadcasting away.

Novartis wants to skip "full-scale clinical trials" since the chips are not themselves medicine, they are just being added to already approved medicines. But what are these chips made of? What affect may they have on the body? The article also asks how will the patient's private medical data be protected from third party monitoring "as it is transmitted from inside their bodies by wireless and Bluetooth"?

The regulators will have to address this issue but they seem supportive of Novartis plans. After all these broadcast microchips will make sure we are all taking our meds and this "should deliver better outcomes and [more importantly-tr] justify a higher price."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reflections on "Obama's Economic View Is Rejected on World Stage"-NYT headline, 11-12-10

Reflections on "Obama's Economic View Is Rejected on World Stage" NYT headline

Thomas Riggins

1. Interesting headline: Instead of "US Economic View" etc, the Times has personalized it to seem as if it is the president's personal view.

2. China, Britain, Germany and South Korea are the culprits. China is understandable it is not our "ally" but a revolt in the client states bodes ill for the empire.

3. BO (the US) wants to procure economic growth before reducing deficits. This core strategy is being outright rejected by other world leaders. This is a first for an American president at a G20 meeting.

4. The other leaders are upset over the Federal Reserve's devaluing the dollar and accuse the US of doing so to make the rest of the world pay for the American trade deficit instead solving its problems by decreasing spending at home. Nice try, but no cigar.

5. Here is what China told the US-- since the dollar is the world's reserve currency (for the time being) the US should consider the "global economy" not just its "national circumstances." Right. BO is supposed to come home and put US national interests second to those of China and others. That's a lead balloon if ever there was one.

6. Greenspan agreed that we were weakening the dollar to make the rest of the world pay for our mistakes!

7. Geithner denied this, saying we would never do that just "to gain competitive advantage."

8. Many other "big" powers see it Greenspan's way! The leaders of the UK (PM David
Cameron) and Germany (Chancellor Angela Merkel) dismissed BO's plea for stimulus spending and favored austerity.

9. This whole G20 disagreement is between the capitalists of the US and their allies (plus China) on how to get the world economy out of the doldrums but to the advantage of capitalists. BO's plan would favor American workers-- stimulus = more jobs-- and if the "world" follow's suit a bigger market for US goods so US capitalists also benefit.

10. The other nations reject this and want to help their capitalists through austerity-- balance their budgets by cutting social programs and reducing benefits to the masses of the working population and retired people. This allows for longer working hours and less taxes on the corporations to sustain benefits.

11. The US was more or less getting its way until this current G20 meeting-- the Europeans and others were reluctantly letting the US call the shots-- but the tea party takeover in our mid-term elections has weakened BO in the eyes of other world leaders so they are rejecting his leadership vís a vís the world economy.

12. The free trade accord with South Korea fell through as it was felt by BO's advisors better to return empty handed than to look as if (because he had) given too many concessions to get it signed.

13. Now that the world thinks WE manipulated the value of the dollar (as we did) to help our economy, we can't complain about the Chinese "under valuing" their currency. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

14. The sub-text of this G20 meeting is that plans are afoot for the creation of "rules for a new global financial order" not dominated by US capital-- that will truly be a New World Order-- but not the one the US planned on. First the decline, then the fall.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Popcorn, Pizza and Poison

Thomas Riggins

Science marches on continuing to expose health and safety hazards that the large corporations dominating both the governments and the people of most of world expose all of us to in their quest for profits and markets.

A recent example to come to light is reported in a November 9, 2010 article in Science Daily regarding the dangerous toxic chemicals in fast food packaging ("Dangerous Chemicals in Food Wrappers Likely Migrating to Humans.") Chemists at the University of Toronto have been looking for the likely origin of PFCAs (perflorinated carboxylic acids) that appear as chemical contaminants in human blood.

One common PFCA is found in human blood all over the world. This is PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). One of the chemists involved in the study, Jessica D'eon explained PFOA, the best known PFCA, like all PFCAs, is produced by the break down of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters (PAPs). "PAPs," she explained "are applied as greaseproofing agents to paper food contact packaging such as fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags."

These chemicals have been made industrially since the 1940s and are so widely used that they are found in the blood of most humans world wide. They are known to cause cancer and to have toxic effects. Industry has been successful in keeping them unregulated.

Scientists are now pushing for some government intervention but mere human health seems to always take a back seat to profits under capitalism. This new study shows that, in the words of
Scott Mabury who supervised the research, "the current use of PAPs in food contact applications does result in human exposure to PFCAs" in a significant way. The new research is also important because "some try to locate the blame for human exposure on environmental contamination that resulted from past chemical use rather than the chemicals that are currently in production."

Some governments are at least waking up to the possible need to regulate these chemicals, but they will drag their feet, if history is any guide, and allow lobbyists from the food and chemical industries to slow down and even postpone the implementation of regulations. Meanwhile, next time you unwrap your burger just remember you may be getting a little dose of poison with every bite.

As for pizza, a 2007 study carried out in Italy determined that the chemicals in recycled cardboard could be contaminating pizzas ("Chemicals From Recycled Cardboard May Contaminate Take-out Food, Researchers Say," Science Daily Nov. 30, 2007.) Here's the deal. Trying to be "green" (and no doubt to save on production costs) pizza box manufactures are turning to recycled cardboard to make pizza boxes.

The problem is the cardboard comes from many sources and often has printing on it, just as the pizza box does. Now there is a chemical in ink, DIBP (diisobutyl phthalate) which lurks in the recycled cardboard and the heat of the nice hot pizza inside the box causes it to leach out of the cardboard and settle down on the pizza so when you get your pizza with onions and peppers it actually come with onions, peppers and DIBP which has a similar make up to androgenic hormones (also known as testoids) in your body. Testoids can reduce sperm production and also induce sex differences along with other dire results.

The scientists who conducted this study have developed a test which can detect the amount of DIBP in pizza boxes (as well as other recycled materials used in food packaging). In Italy the use of recycled cardboard in pizza boxes has been banned. But what about the U.S.? Health conscious Americans can take comfort from the following 2010 news story by Trish Green:

"The Green Groove
Wal-Mart Recycles Cardboard Waste into Pizza Boxes

Pizza just got a bit greener at your local Wal-Mart!

Wal-Mart recently made a pretty bold statement, according to an article in Environmental Leader.com. The company wants to eliminate all packaging waste by reducing, recycling or reusing everything that comes into its 4,100 American stores by 2025.

Now that would be an amazing green accomplishment, especially for one of the world’s most recognized and successful companies. As part of this recycling mission, Wal-Mart is taking all of its cardboard waste and turning it into pizza boxes!"

Bon appetit.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

ENGELS on The Theory of Value

Thomas Riggins

Engels discusses the origin of the Marxist theory of value in Part II, Chapter V of his 1878 book Anti-Dühring confuting the views of the self styled "socialist" German professor Eugen Dühring. He does this by first taking issue with Dühring's faulty views and then presenting what he takes to be the correct, Marxist, outlook.

Dühring holds, in the first place, that the primary lesson of political economy is that the rule of wealth (and those who control it)throughout all world history is to be understood, in his words, as "economic power over men and things." Engels rejects this opinion for two reasons. First, the wealth associated with the ancient tribal and village societies at the basis of civilization was in no way created my "domination over men." These were cooperative non- class societies. Second, when we do come to more advanced class riven societies the wealth they created was more the domination over things that were then used to dominate men. Through out history we see "that wealth dominates men exclusively by means of the things which it has at its disposal."

The reason Dühring has explained wealth as primarily the domination over men is that he wishes to remove the discussion of exploitation from the realm of economics to that morality in order to resuscitate a version of Proudhon's "Property is theft" slogan. Dühring has divided the production of wealth into two great divisions; one of PRODUCTION and the other of DISTRIBUTION.
The production of wealth that is domination over things is GOOD but the wealth produced by domination over men is unjust and BAD.

Dühring's ideas applied to present day capitalism amount to the following: the capitalist system's production of wealth is fine and good and can be preserved, but the capitalist system's method of distribution is evil and bad and must be abolished. Engel's says views like this, that we can keep the capitalist mode of production and at the same time create a different and just mode of distribution, are "nonsense" and are expounded by people who have never grasped "the connection between production and distribution."

Dühring, having explained the origin of wealth, now turns to the subject of VALUE, and explains to us what "value" is. The value of a thing is, he says "the price or any other equivalent name, for example wages." The idea that Price = Value = Wages is absurd according to Engels.

So, what we have to find out is what value is and how it is determined. Dühring continues with a longer bombastic discussion of value and finally arrives at the conclusion that something's value depends on the labor time it takes to make it. He says: "The extent to which we invest our own energy into them (things) is the immediate determining cause of the existence of value in general and of a particular magnitude of it."

This is pretty pitiful as, Engels points out, this was already known, in the general way Dühring puts it, long before his (Dühring's) own time. And besides that, it is wrong in the way Dühring expresses it. It is not just your own energy-- you have to make something with a USE VALUE and you have take into consideration the SOCIALLY NECESSARY labor time it takes to make something.

But Dühring's theory gets worse. Besides the labor it contains there is another factor determining "value" and that is the fact another group of men besides the workers intervene and demand payment for the access to nature and the tools necessary for labor. This is done by force, "sword in hand," and amounts to an increase in the price of commodities and their value so that this group can collect its money. Dühring says this amounts to a "tax surcharge" imposed by force [added to the orignal or 'real' value].

Engels makes short work of this theory. If this is how prices are really set and value determined then what we have is, in effect, monopoly pricing. There are only two ways this could work. First all the sellers are jacking up the prices of their products. So as sellers they are reaping the profits of their "tax surcharge." But since all the products undergo this increase, the sellers, when they are buyers, also have to pay it and the surcharge cancels out. Engels says in this case "the prices have changed nominally but in reality -- in their mutual relationship -- have remained the same" and Dühring's forced increase in value is an 'illusion'."

The second way of explaining the increase in value is the "tax surcharge" actually represents real value that the men with "swords in hand" are getting-- namely they are getting value added to their products in the form of the unpaid labor of the working people. And this is just Marx's "theory of SURPLUS-VALUE." So Dühring's explanation of the creation of value is either an illusion or it is Marx's theory, a theory which Dühring rejects.

At least Dühring thinks he rejects it. His own theory, however, is just a "slovenly and confused" version of the theory of value proposed by David Ricardo and improved by Marx. Marx says: "The value of commodities is determined by the socially necessary general human labour embodied in them and this in turn is measured by its duration. Labour is the measure of all values, but labour itself has no value."

Dühring is trying to revive a really outmoded view that the value a commodity has is determined by the PRODUCTION OUTLAYS one of which, WAGES, measures what Dühring calls the "expenditure of energy" of the workers. This accounts for the production value of a commodity. The rest of the "value" is the "surcharge" added by the capitalist.

The view that wages = value = price [putting the "surcharge" aside] has been outmoded since the days of David Ricardo, Marx's immediate predecessor. Engels points out this view coexisted in Adam Smith with the view that labour time was the determinant of value but no one following scientific principles uses it now. However, there are still some who try to explain value this way [as true then as in 2010] for it is "the shallowest sycophants of the existing capitalist order of society who preach the determination of value by wages..." and who even say the capitalist's profits are themselves his wages-- i.e., "the wages of abstinence", of risk, management, etc. This is the kind of vulgar economics upon which Dühring founds his socialism.

Let's look at the real beginning of human society. At some time in the distant past primitive groups of ancient humans scrabbled about in bands spending most of their time in search of food. This conditioned lasted for untold generations from the time of our separation from the common ancestor we shared with the chimpanzees-- about five million years ago. Sometime in the last ten to twenty thousand years in our own species some groups (Engel's says "families") began to collect or create more food and useful instruments than they needed for day to day survival. A surplus of subsistence was created beyond the costs of maintaining the population and the surplus even was able to grow to the point of a creating a "social production and reserve fund."

The creation of this fund was a revolutionary historical development and the beginning of all human progress from then until now. However in "history, up to the present, this fund has been the possession of a privileged class, on which also devolved, along with this possession, political supremacy and intellectual leadership." Today, as in the past, this fund is a social fund made up of "the total mass of raw materials, instruments of production and means of subsistence." Every war imperialist or guerrilla, revolt, revolution, peasant uprising, worker's strike and election is a struggle over the control of this fund between those who control (or wish to control) it and those who make it. Socialism will exist when this fund is controlled by those who actually create it-- the productive portion the society-- the working people-- and it has become THE COMMON PROPERTY OF SOCIETY.

Today this fund, in almost every country in the world, rests in the hands of the capitalist class. This would be impossible if value was determined by wages. In that case the workers would get back in wages the value they created and there would be no capitalist exploitation.

It is, however, the quantity of socially necessary labour expended, not wages that determines value. The workers create more value for the capitalist than he pays out in wages and this fact f explains the origin of the profit on capital. It was Marx who discovered that these profits were merely a part, along with other kinds of appropriation, of the surplus value created by the workers. It is our duty as Marxists to educate the working people about these facts. One the workers are aware of the true origin of THE WEALTH OF NATIONS they will take steps to end their own exploitation and in so doing the exploitation of humanity in general.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Thomas Riggins

When it comes to health care and economic development socialists hold that central planning, public control of development, and strict regulation of industry and finance is preferable to an uncontrolled and unaccountable "free" market. There is scientific evidence favoring the socialist view.

Science Daily (SD) reported on November 1 that the journal HEART published findings of an Australian research team that found when the state imposes mandatory limits to the amount of salt private industry adds to processed foods [the more salt the greater the health risk] the results of the reduction in salt content "could be 20 times more effective than voluntary curbs by industry."

SD reminds us that higher salt content is directly related to greater risks of heart disease and strokes. It is therefore incumbent for any government that cares about the health and well being of its citizens to see to it that the private economic benefits aimed at by the private sector do not trump the health needs of the general population when it comes to the level of salt added to the food supply.

The scientists compared the results that obtain in three scenarios. Taking 6 grams per day of salt as the recommended maximum amount to be consumed they then studied and compared the results of mandatory state regulations, voluntary compliance by private industry, and compliance by individuals with health problems who were told by their medical doctors to reduce their salt in take.

You might think sick people and people at risk would show the highest level of compliance in eliminating salt from their diets and thus making for a healthier population. But the Australian scientists, this research was done in Australia, found if people were left to their own devices with only "doctor's orders" then the reduction of cardiovascular disease in the general population would only decrease by 0.5%. Not very impressive.

If the government relied on voluntary compliance and only cajoled the processed food industry to reduce the excess salt they contaminate their products with (they add as much salt as they can because the junk say sell would have no taste otherwise) then cardiovascular health in the general population would decrease by about 1%. Well, that is a 100% improvement over the "doctor's order's" group, but no way near getting people down to 6 grams a day.

However, if the government mandated a healthy salt level in processed foods and made private industry comply, the scientists calculated that there would be a reduction of about 18% in cardiovascular disease in the general population.

The scientists say, however, when dealing with a large population of millions of people even the 1% decrease of cardiovascular disease brought about by voluntary compliance is "substantial." But it pales, I think, when compared with the 18% that government regulation would achieve. The government imposed regulations amount to an almost 20 fold increase over voluntary curbs.

The scientists also point out that salt "is not essential at such high levels" as it is found when added to food. It is just a cheap (but horribly unhealthy) way to make the product palatable.

The scientists conclude their study with these words: "Food manufacturers have a responsibility to make money for their shareholders, but they also have a responsibility to society. If corporate responsibility fails, maybe there is an ethical justification for government to step in and legislate."

"Maybe?" The only government that really serves the people and not the vested interests would be a socialist government and there would be no maybe about it for a socialist government. Come to think about it, there wouldn't be any shareholders either.

Web address: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101191547.ht
    "Mandatory Curbs on Food Salt Content 20 Times More Effective Than
Voluntary Curbs, Study Finds"