That's capitalism


More families have been evicted from their homes in the 26 counties in recent years than during the equivalent period of the land war under Queen Victoria. After the richest five years in Ireland's history there are more homeless people on the streets and in bed and breakfasts than at any time since independence. The number on council housing waiting lists had increased from 26,000 in 1996 to more than 60,000 currently.

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Last year over 1.9 million tourists out of the 10 million foreigners who visited Thailand went to the areas populated by hill tribes. ''The hill tribes are important for tourism in the north. They come second, after trekking and exploring nature, to draw visitors,'' says Smithseth Chantusen of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. These hill tribes are acceptable to the government as a commodity but have little value as people. Many of them have no legal status and can be arrested for moving out of restricted areas in the north.

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According to the Dublin government, the Students Summer Jobs Scheme is "to provide income support for the less well off". If a student manages to pass the means test, it will pay a whopping e3.85 per hour (that's IR£3.03 in old money) &endash; which is just 65% of the minimum wage. And this is for working, truly a real education in the values of capitalism.

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Most European governments have been scapegoating immigrants, calling them freeloaders and scroungers. It's much easier to blame 'foreigners' than it is to build better homes, hospitals and schools. How embarrassing it must have been when the British Treasury had to admit that immigrants contributed £2.6 billion more than they received from Tony Blair's government last year.

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According to the Department of Agriculture, 26 county farmers pay just 1.1% of the total income tax bill. PAYE workers pay 82.6%. Farmers pay an average e1,173. PAYE workers pay an average e7,103. Isn't self-assessment a great thing!

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Sixty Americans own total assets of $331 billion. The richest of all, Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates, owns $8 billion more than the combined assets of 104,000,000 million Americans. We are told that the rich got where they are today as a result of hard work. Poor Bill must be knackered after all the overtime.


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This edition is No71 published in July 2002

Workers Solidarity 71