Recession scenarios

Philip Ferguson

In the past couple few weeks the Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard, prime minister John Key, and other commentators have been talking about the recession, or at least the worst of it, being over. 

 Bollard is a fairly level-headed and reasonably sophisticated bourgeois economist and Key is a fairly level-headed, reasonably sophisticated capitalist political manoeuvrer. So their view of the current state of the recession is worth some consideration and can’t just be dismissed as capitalist propaganda.

 The evidence, such as it is, that has been presented to suggest NZ is coming out of recession is pretty flimsy, however. A news item that featured what they were saying on the subject showed a case of one house that had been sold in five days, whereas last year the same house hadn’t sold in months. That is hardly evidence for much at all.

 Harcourts’ real estate blue book in early July contained an ‘informational’ sheet in which Harcourts declared the recession, or at least the recession in house prices, over. Their evidence was improved house sales for the past two months. This verdict on their part seemed rather unconvincing – especially since it came in a blue book that was at least 1/3 smaller than the size of the blue books last year. If the housing market was really jumping back up, then the Realtor and the Harcourts blue book wouldn’t be the slimmed down volumes that they are at present.

 More importantly, a real recovery couldn’t be judged from house prices. No new value is created in the sale of houses – all that is involved is prices going up and down. If they go up, above the actual value of houses, these boosted prices simply draw money from elsewhere in the economy – and, usually, also involve the extension of more credit. [Read more...]

European election results – an overview

Mike Kay
The Spark July 2009

The March edition of The Spark carried a report of some inspiring class struggles by workers across Europe. Regrettably, that resistance has found very little political expression in the recent elections for the European Parliament. Support for far-right parties has surged, against a backdrop of the lowest ever turnout for a Euro-election, with just 43% bothering to vote.

  [Read more...]

Campaigning for living wage reform – ground reports

Unite union has launched a campaign in workplaces and communities for a national referendum on the issue of a $15 minimum wage. In this early stage of the campaign, Workers Party activists and other leftists are hitting the streets and public events to help gather the signatures to force the referendum. Here are some interesting comments, reports, and examples from the campaign on the ground.

[Read more...]

Christchurch Forum: Honduras – Democracy Under Attack

WP - Honduras Forum Poster - 27th July

7:00pm, Monday July 27
Workers Educational Association
59 Gloucester St (map)

Spark Audio: Interview with Matt McCarten

The Joel Cosgrove Variety Hour interviews Matt McCarten, ex-New Labour Party President and Unite general secretary.
Topics discussed include the split within the Labour Party, the Unite $15 minimum wage campaign as well as more general discussion about Union and its direction.
Download here.

Working class resistance and the economy

John Edmundson
The  Spark July 2009

The sub-prime crisis and credit crisis have finally brought an end to the “good times”. As trade has slowed down, unemployment has begun to rise and in some countries, large scale demonstrations have occurred in anger against the collapse of the economy and the attacks on workers that have followed.

If workers do not fight back, the recovery when it comes will leave workers worse off than before. As always, workers’ wages and working conditions will be cut in response to the recession and unemployment. [Read more...]

Pacer Plus:New Zealand and Australian exploitation in the Pacific

Byron Clark
The Spark
July 2009

New Zealand and Australian trade ministers met with their Pacific counterparts in Samoa to negotiate an “enhanced version” of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) dubbed “PACER Plus”. The negotiations have been controversial for two reasons, one is the exclusion of Fiji, which New Zealand and Australia currently have sanctions against. Fiji has been officially suspended from the Pacific Forum but not from PACER, which is a separate treaty.
The other reason is the likely possibility of increased exploitation of the Pacific by the regional powers. As Solomon Islands opposition leader Manasseh Sogavare told the Solomon Star News;

“As far as Solomon Islands is concerned, the arrangement would amount to opening up one-way traffic of trade benefits from here to Australia and New Zealand, which in any case is already in favour of these countries without the PLACER-PLUS arrangement” [Read more...]

Free Ahmad Sa’adat

Ahmed

Workers Party-PFLP solidarity blog

Campaign to free Ahmad Sa’adat

“This is your court and you possess the force to celebrate the trial and convict me on the basis of your lists of accusations, the public one and the secret one, and you can dictate a sentence prepared by the political and security apparatuses that are behind this trial. But I too possess a will obtained from the justice of our cause and the determination of our people to reject any decision from this ‘kangaroo court’…” -Ahmad Sa’adat

Currently there are over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli jails. This number is increasing daily as IDF Military Incursions and searches in the West Bank total over 500 separate incidents and 300 arrests each month, mainly targeting political ideology. This is not an unusual part of Palestinian political life and has been a crucial part of the Zionist strategy to eliminate political opposition to the state of Israel. An example of this can be seen when examining the political life of the current General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); Ahmad Sa’adat. Between the years of 1967, when Sa’adat joined the PFLP led Palestine Student Union, and 2002 when he was abducted by the IDF from a jail in Jericho, Sa’adat had been arrested 9 times and jailed for close to ten years for his involvement in the PFLP.

Ahmad Sa‘adat, General Secretary of the PFLP, was arrested again on the 15th of January 2002 by the Palestinian General Intelligence Service. He was then transferred to Force 17 (the Palestinian Presidential bodyguard), and held after that in President Arafat’s compound in connection with the killing of the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Ze‘evi, on 17 October 2001. The PFLP claimed responsibility for the killing, although Ahmad Sa‘adat was not formally charged with any recognisable criminal offence. This assassination was a response to the killing of Abu Ali Mustafa, General Secretary of the PFLP, who was killed in a targeted assassination by two rockets fired from an Israeli helicopter as he sat at his desk in Ramallah on August 27, 2001.

A petition was presented to the Palestinian High Court of Justice in Gaza calling for the immediate release of Ahmad Sa‘adat. This caused the High Court of Justice to request that the PA General Intelligence Service bring evidence against him. The Intelligence Service failed to do so and on the 3rd of June 2002 the High Court ordered the immediate release of Ahmad Sa‘adat as he had never been charged or brought before a judge.

[Read more...]

Picket this Wednesday (Christchurch): Real Jobs not McJobs

The government has made a deal with fast food giant McDonalds that will see young people receiving the unemployment benefit sent to jobs at McDonalds restaurants, and have their training subsidised by the taxpayer. Every beneficiary McDonald’s hires will get the company up to $16,000- the equivalent of about 8 months wages for a McDonalds worker.

Giving people low paying casualised jobs is not the solution to unemployment. This is not a scheme to help the unemployed, it is corporate welfare for a large corporation. As if paying minimum wage wasn’t enough for them, McDonalds gets the state subsidising its wage bill, and WINZ acting as its HR department – McDonalds has an annual staff turn over rate of over 100% because of its low wages and horrendous working conditions.

Come to the picket, let the government know we want REAL JOBS, NOT McJOBS and SOCIAL WELFARE NOT CORPORATE WELFARE
1pm, Wednesday (the 15th) outside WINZ High St, Christchurch Central

Organised by the Workers Rights Campaign.
Contact Byron byroncclark@gmail.com

Unrest in Iran

 

Demonstrator displays socialist tattoo

Demonstrator displays socialist tattoo

by John Edmundson

What is going on in Iran? The recent outbreak of massive demonstrations and subsequent repression by the Iranian state, in particular the Basij militias, has left many people confused. For all of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s faults, he has stood up to US imperialism over the years, refusing to bow to hypocritical US and international pressure over Iran’s nuclear programme. He has established close links with progressive governments in Latin America. Perhaps most importantly, he has stood firm on support for the right of the Palestinian people to fight for their homeland. And now he has become the subject of huge demonstrations, accusing him of rigging this month’s presidential elections, which he won with a landslide vote of over sixty percent. 

Supporters of the Iranian regime, both within Iran and around the world, have accused the demonstrators, who have adopted green as the symbol of their movement, of manipulation by Western interests, the same interests who sponsored the other “colour revolutions”, such as the orange revolution in Ukraine and the rose revolution in  Georgia. Certainly there is no doubt that the same Western interests that orchestrated those “revolutions” in Eastern Europe would like nothing better than the demise of the Iranian revolution and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They would like nothing better than the replacement of the current theocratic state by a pliable pro-Western leadership that would open up Iran to world capitalism and give imperialism (and Israel) a free rein in the Middle East. So what should the left make of the latest developments? Are we watching the latest case of a CIA engineered “colour revolution”, intended to roll back thirty years of Iranian revolution; are we seeing a new and genuine revolution of the Iranian working class and peasantry; or are we seeing something else? 

[Read more...]

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