I’m going to try and put up a piece each Sunday of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring). This week is quite an international edition: the situation in Tonga, China & the UK…
Firstly China. Bloomberg looks at how the 70 richest members of the Chinese legislature are worth $US89.8 billion – up $11.5 billion on a year earlier: that increase is more than the net worth of all members of the US legislatures, plus the top level of the executive and judiciary combined. As the party encourages the rich to join and the joined to get wealthy, there is increasing disconnect between those in power and the proletariat that they claim to represent.
None more so than the agrarian proletariat, Mao’s heroes. The BBC looks at the rural peasants left behind, including families of those who went on the Long March, some of whom are now worse off in education and opportunities than when they joined the revolution.
Also suffering disconnect between the political class and their public is the UK, as it wades through the Leveson enquiry, becoming ever more clear that the media and MPs are/were in a tryst that didn’t involve the public’s best interests. When Rebekah Brooks had to resign from her place at the top of the media pile because of hacking at her newspapers of – among many others – a murdered school girl’s phone, she received messages of sympathy from the PM and all other senior Conservatives in government… and many senior Labour figures, past and present.
The public risks losing heart in the system, if they hadn’t already after all the MP expenses scandals.
Apparently they’re not poor due to a lack of money, but because of their sin. Their lifestyles of worklessness, family breakdown, bad parenting, drink and drug addiction, irresponsible debt, crime and lack of aspiration are the cause of their problems – not a result of them. The government have so far been winning the argument, using the same tactics we have seen and can expect to see increased here.
The only poor people shown are poor parents or criminals or drug addicts… the facts and statistics are manipulated to fit the caricatures. 120,000 families with multiple problems of joblessness, truanting and crime is “a factoid – something that takes the form of a fact, but is not. It is used to support policies that in no way follow from the research on which the figure is based.”
On a brighter note, Reading the Maps looks at the history of Tonga, and what we can learn from it. While Samoa hailed winning their independence 50 years ago – and was incorrectly portrayed as the first independent Pacific Island – Tonga was quietly celebrating the Emancipation Edict of their forward thinking king 150 years ago. Tupou I freed the serfs, and guaranteed every adult male a piece of land to work. He aimed for a way without the flaws of feudalism or capitalism.
It worked so well that Tonga managed to resist the pressures of all the colonial powers and retain their independence.
From the comments this week I’d like to highlight Draco T Bastard’s link to UnlearningEconomics’ free market double standards. UnlearningEconomics shows up some fabulous hypocrisy from right-wing think-tanks etc, demonstrating some great doublethink from the Right: “If anything bad happens under capitalism, it’s not true capitalism. But ‘true socialism hasn’t been tried’ is a silly argument.”
Perhaps if they read their heroes a bit better, they could avoid some of the pratfalls.