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Archive for the ‘War’ Category

A few days ago I heard from a dental nurse that her dentist had looked up the address of her patient before deciding how much to charge her. The patient lived in a good part of town, and so the bill for the removal of her wisdom tooth was bumped up – without her knowledge, of course.

That’s not fair! – was my initial reaction.

But then, I suppose, the dentist would argue that she can charge whatever she likes, and, further, that by doing this sort of thing, she would not have to charge so much to her less well-heeled patients.

Hmm.

Well, that sounds a bit fairer.

I suppose.

But, on the other hand, surely she is just squeezing out of her patients as much money as she thinks that she can get away with?

It all depends how you look at it. It depends on the ‘spin’. But what is the right thing to do?

If the dentist charges the same to everyone, then this is a bit unfair on the poorer patients. On the other hand, if she charges the wealthier more, then this would be a bit unfair on the wealthier patients.

But what is the right thing to do?

Charging wealthier people more for the same services seems to be morally acceptable. After all, this is how the income tax system works. The wealthier pay more taxes for the same governmental goods and services that the poorer will pay less taxes to receive.

It sounds fair.

On the other hand, in most situations, regardless of their wealth, people purchase goods and services at the same price. For example, the supermarket and the electricity board do not determine how much to charge people for their goods and services based on their wealth.

So, in practice, both things seem to be generally acceptable. And, on the whole, it all seems to be more a question of balance. Provided that the wealthier are not charged too much more than poorer folk because of their financial position, they do not create too much of a fuss about it.

But for any given differential between the two, a fuss, at some level, is usually made.

For example, there are some considerable forces at work both to try to reduce the tax burdens on the wealthier as well as to increase them.

As a general rule, the right-wing wants the differentials in tax to be reduced, and the left-wing wants them to be increased. And the only point that I am trying to make in this article is that there is no real solution to the problem. There is no right and morally correct thing to do. It is all a question of balance.

And so there will always be a tussle between the two camps.

But ‘tussle’ is surely too tame a word for what is, in fact, much more like a war.

If you think about the huge amount of energy and resources that go into this problem, it is clearly no minor tussle; the form filling, the accountants, the lawyers, the politicians, the Revenue services, the investigations, the financial planning and pension schemes, the hiding of funds in tax havens, the fiddling of accounts, and so on.

The enterprise concerned with this issue alone is positively enormous!

And it will probably remain so for a considerable length of time to come because there is no solution. There is no right and morally correct thing to do. There is nowhere to be found where to draw a line which will be acceptable to everyone.

It is all a question of balance, with some people leaning one way and with other people leaning the other way.

There is a permanent state of war!

But the balance between the two sides can be very much affected by the motives that appear to be behind the policies being applied.

And this is of considerable significance.

For example, the dentist can be portrayed as a Robin Hood figure, helping the poor by taking some more from the rich. But, on the other hand, she can be seen as something of a Scrooge who is simply trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of each of her clients.

The more that she can get away with, the more she charges.

And who could ever really know the truth behind her motives?

Now consider the following.

Should a woman who can carry one brick in her wheelbarrow be paid the same as a man who can carry two?

By and large, the women will answer Yes to this question, and the men will answer No. But, just as in the previous case concerning the dentist, there is no place where to draw the line that is acceptable to everyone.

For example, if the woman is to get paid the same as the man despite the fact that she does only half the work, then the men will see this as unfair. On the other hand, if the woman gets only half the pay because she does only half the work, then the women will argue that this is unfair because women cannot physically do the same job as the men.

And the important point to understand is that there is nowhere to draw the line that will be acceptable to both sides of the argument.

And so it is that the quest for women’s ‘equality’ will never be achieved.

Just as in the case of the dentist charging differential amounts to different patients, there will always be arguments over where to draw the line.

And, just as in the wheelbarrow case, there will always be different ways of portraying the opponents.

“Women are just too selfish. They expect to get paid the same for carrying one brick as we men will get paid for carrying two.”

“Men are just too selfish. They expect to get paid more than women even though women put in the same amount of effort.”

A permanent gender war over pay!

And, of course, the one-brick versus two-brick argument is just a trite metaphor for all the arguments that might surround pay. In the real world, the arguments over pay might be over the issue of, say, women in the military getting the same pay as the men despite the fact that they are very rarely asked to risk their lives. Or, perhaps, the argument might be over whether or not a woman who has chosen to take eight years away from her job in order to have children should get the same pay on returning to work as those men and women who have worked without such long term absence.

And, of course, the arguments concerning the two genders will not be confined solely to issues that arise over pay. These controversial issues will – and do already – extend to the family, the children, the home, the workplace, divorce, the justice system, the health services, and so on; in fact, they will extend to wherever there is an issue where one gender might seemingly be being treated differently, or preferentially, to the other.

And these issues can be made to be controversial wherever men and women function together in their lives – in other words …

… just about everywhere!

And in arguing for the line to be drawn so that it always heavily favours women, the feminists and their supporters have, indeed, managed to invade everybody’s lives just about everywhere.

Thus, in much the same way that there are huge and pervasive industries that have to deal with the ins and outs of our taxes and our welfare system in order to ‘draw the lines’ when it comes to money, other huge and pervasive industries have been growing in order to help to ‘draw the lines’ in the battles of the genders – though, thus far, these industries have been highly prejudicial against men.

But, because there is no way that these lines can be drawn in a manner that will be acceptable to everyone, there will always now be a tussle between the two genders! – with the tussle becoming much more evident – and much worse in nature – now that the men’s movement is growing.

There is no solution even to the problem of how much a woman should be paid relative to a man when it comes to carrying bricks in their wheel barrows.

And there will also certainly be no solution when it comes to most other matters.

The arguments are therefore going to be endless, and the balance is going to swing this way and that way for ever more.

What a terrible thought!

Not just over pay, remember. But in just about every area of life.

Thus far, however, for the past 30 years, the feminists have been arguing the case for women almost unopposed. The case for men has been silenced through the weapons of intimidation and political correctness.

In fact, there has not been much of a tussle at all.

But this is now changing.

Even though it is still the case that huge resources are being put into bolstering the case for women, the case for men, at last, is beginning to garner more and more support.

And, in the not too distant future, billions upon billions of dollars worth of our energies and our resources are going to be bound up in dealing with these insoluble issues – the issues surrounding the differential treatments of the two genders, and where to draw the lines.

What a waste of our time.

But there are three big differences between the tussles over drawing the line between those who have more money and those who have less (the dentist scenario, taxes etc) and between those tussles relating to gender issues.

The first difference is that our personal relationships, which are probably the most important areas of our lives – far more important than money in the eyes of most – are being interfered with by outsiders.

The second difference is that the industries that are being spawned to deal with these gender issues are encroaching upon people to an extent that is rapidly becoming unacceptable, and it is causing relationships to break down.

And the third difference is that the two genders are being divided into opposing sides to an extent that is probably unknown in history.

It is a nightmare scenario.

There is nowhere to draw the line! – and so there will be a permanent gender war; until, that is, the feminists and their phony victim groups are finally kicked into the oblivion where they belong.

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In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger compares the current drum-beating for war against Iran, based on a fake “nuclear threat”, with the manufacture of a sense of false crisis that led to invasion of Iraq and the deaths of 1.3 million people.In 2001, the Observer in London published a series of reports that claimed an “Iraqi connection” to al-Qaeda, even describing the base in Iraq where the training of terrorists took place and a facility where anthrax was being manufactured as a weapon of mass destruction. It was all false. Supplied by US intelligence and Iraqi exiles, planted stories in the British and US media helped George Bush and Tony Blair to launch an illegal invasion which caused, according to the most recent study, 1.3 million deaths.

Something similar is happening over Iran: the same syncopation of government and media “revelations”, the same manufacture of a sense of crisis. “Showdown looms with Iran over secret nuclear plant”, declared the Guardian on 26 September. “Showdown” is the theme. High noon. The clock ticking. Good versus evil. Add a smooth new US president who has “put paid to the Bush years”. An immediate echo is the notorious Guardian front page of 22 May 2007: “Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq”. Based on unsubstantiated claims by the Pentagon, the writer Simon Tisdall presented as fact an Iranian “plan” to wage war on, and defeat, US forces in Iraq by September of that year  a demonstrable falsehood for which there has been no retraction.

The official jargon for this kind of propaganda is “psy-ops”, the military term for psychological operations. In the Pentagon and Whitehall, it has become a critical component of a diplomatic and military campaign to blockade, isolate and weaken Iran by hyping its “nuclear threat”: a phrase now used incessantly by Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, and parroted by the BBC and other broadcasters as objective news. And it is fake.

On 16 September, Newsweek disclosed that the major US intelligence agencies had reported to the White House that Iran’s “nuclear status” had not changed since the National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007, which stated with “high confidence” that Iran had halted in 2003 the programme it was alleged to have developed. The International Atomic Energy Agency has backed this, time and again.

The current propaganda-as-news derives from Obama’s announcement that the US is scrapping missiles stationed on Russia’s border. This serves to cover the fact that the number of US missile sites is actually expanding in Europe and the “redundant” missiles are being redeployed on ships. The game is to mollify Russia into joining, or not obstructing, the US campaign against Iran. “President Bush was right,” said Obama, “that Iran’s ballistic missile programme poses a significant threat [to Europe and the US].” That Iran would contemplate a suicidal attack on the US is preposterous. The threat, as ever, is one-way, with the world’s superpower virtually ensconced on Iran’s borders.

Iran’s crime is its independence. Having thrown out America’s favourite tyrant, Shah Reza Pahlavi, Iran remains the only resource-rich Muslim state beyond US control. As only Israel has a “right to exist”in the Middle East, the US goal is to cripple the Islamic Republic. This will allow Israel to divide and dominate the region on Washington’s behalf, undeterred by a confident neighbour. If any country in the world has been handed urgent cause to develop a nuclear “deterrence”, it is Iran.

As one of the original signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has been a consistent advocate of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. In contrast, Israel has never agreed to an IAEA inspection, and its nuclear weapons plant at Dimona remains an open secret. Armed with as many as 200 active nuclear warheads, Israel “deplores” UN resolutions calling on it to sign the NPT, just as it deplored the recent UN report charging it with crimes against humanity in Gaza, just as it maintains a world record for violations of international law. It gets away with this because great power grants it immunity.

Obama’s “showdown” with Iran has another agenda. On both sides of the Atlantic the media have been tasked with preparing the public for endless war. The US/Nato commander General Stanley McChrystal says 500,000 troops will be required in Afghanistan over five years, according to America’s NBC. The goal is control of the “strategic prize” of the gas and oilfields of the Caspian Sea, central Asia, the Gulf and Iran  in other words, Eurasia. But the war is opposed by 69 per cent of the British public, 57 per cent of the US public and almost every other human being. Convincing “us” that Iran is the new demon will not be easy. McChrystal’s spurious claim that Iran “is reportedly training fighters for certain Taliban groups” is as desperate as Brown’s pathetic echo of “a line in the sand”.

During the Bush years, according to the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, a military coup took place in the US, and the Pentagon is now ascendant in every area of American foreign policy. A measure of its control is the number of wars of aggression being waged simultaneously and the adoption of a “first-strike” doctrine that has lowered the threshold on nuclear weapons, together with the blurring of the distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons.

All this mocks Obama’s media rhetoric about “a world without nuclear weapons”. In fact, he is the Pentagon’s most important acquisition. His acquiescence with its demand that he keep on Bush’s secretary of “defence” and arch war-maker, Robert Gates, is unique in US history. He has proved his worth with escalated wars from south Asia to the Horn of Africa. Like Bush’s America, Obama’s America is run by some very dangerous people. We have a right to be warned. When will those paid to keep the record straight do their job?

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