Do you FEEL poor or ARE you poor?

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Retrieved from here

‘You ARE extremely poor if you live from less than $1 a day’. That is at least what the World Bank says. They take into account the purchasing power of the local currency and inflation with as a base year 1985 (Ravenhill, 2011; 384). However, do all people below that line really feel poor? And do all the people above this line really feel rich? I think the real problem in the global political economy is that it is really difficult, maybe even impossible to define ‘the poor’. And how can you help them if you do not know who ‘they’ are?

We can describe the difficulty of defining ‘the poor’ by using two Georgie and Paul as examples: two homeless people from Camden Town. They survive from begging in the streets and they sleep in a tent on a hill near Camden. Sometimes they have good days and earn a lot of money, sometimes they have bad days and they have to go to bed without eating. Despite the fact that they mostly earn more than one dollar a day, a lot of people still think they ARE poor because they do not have a house and have to beg for a living. However, they do not FEEL poor themselves, because they got each other and a tent to sleep in and they do not want any help from the government. People that have a lot more money than them can feel much more poor, for instance, if they are not able to afford a car, a certain education, a big house etc. Simply because Georgie and Paul do not necessarily want those things.  In this way poverty is very subjective and defined in the way a person is able to buy what he/she desires.

When defining poverty, most people make a difference between absolute and relative poverty. The United Nations defines absolute poverty at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro as: “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to social services” (1992). In this sense Geordie and Paul are probably not considered poor because they do have access to those facilities. They could, for instance, go to a homeless shelter and request social services. However, they CHOOSE not to do this.

According to the united Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) relative poverty is poverty in perspective to the status of other citizens. When a person falls  under a certain general standard considering income, basic needs and capability standards of a society he is considered poor. However, both absolute and relative poverty mostly look at income and consumption and, as showed in the example, the economical condition of a person is by far not the only thing to be considered (2015, UNESCO). Georgie and Paul ARE considered poor in this perspective, since they are living below the general standards in the United Kingdom.

To conclude, there is a very big difference between feeling poor and being considered poor. You can be considered poor from one perspective and not-poor from the other without changing your living situation. I think it really depends on the person’s ability to fulfill one’s desires.  However, desires are probably even more difficult to measure than poverty itself.

Reference List:

Robert Hunterwade (2011) ‘The Globalisation of Production’, in John Ravenhill Global Political Economy (OUP 3rd edition), pp. 384

UNESCO (2015) ‘Poverty’ Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/international-migration/glossary/poverty/ [retrieved at 10-12-2015]

United Nations (1992) ‘World Summit for Social Development: Programme of Action – Chapter 2’ Available at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/wssd/text-version/agreements/poach2.htm [retrieved on 14-12-2015]

 - Mélanie Kamping

Does it cause inequalities?

The 21st century could be considered as the age of galloping technology development. From one year to another, all of the companies release new extraordinary devices, which aim is for example to improve industry and production. However, such a blessing of ‘mother technology’ is not a common thing for all of the inhabitants of the world equally.

The diffusion in technological development across the whole globe is still both relevant and visible. It is said to be a vital issue not only for people, corporations, but also the states. There are still some regions of the world that cannot keep pace in this kind of rat race, where the main price is becoming the wealthiest. The more technology is progressed, the more widening income inequalities become – the world has been divided on technologically ‘poor’ and technologically ‘rich’. Hence, there is still a gap which exists between wealthy industrialised countries and developing nations. But what are its causes?

First of all, it could be useful to see the historical background of technology, its development and spread. The First Industrial Revolution, which began in 18th century, had not only pros, but also cons. The positive benefits of this process are all of the agricultural improvements, increase of international trade, emergence of the working class, urbanization, etc. All of the changes have led to the increase of the power of countries like Great Britain or France. However, showing some drawbacks, these industrial powers, inter alia, by strong desire to control the markets, deepened the inequalities between themselves and other states, leaving them far behind. And this is the moment since when the inequalities have started to deepen, following the similar pattern over decades.

It cannot be also omitted that patents are increasing the gap as well. Their existence and the way they ensure profits from innovation accrue larger companies and their owners. Because of this, the huge amount of wealth which is a product of innovations boosts the wealth of the very richest but restricts the extent of trickle down (Allen, 2015). It is obvious, that the production for global market require up-to-date technology to ensure that this process will be as efficient as possible. However, big corporations, which aim is to earn as much as they can, guard their technology. It is like another source of profits for them, due to the fact, that they demand financial compensation for sharing inventions. This is why accessing newer technologies becomes harder – this limits less developed countries to copy technology in their development process (O’Brien, 2013: 271). In other words, countries that are far behind from these which are industrial powers, are facing a huge barrier to decrease the inequality gap.

These days, inequalities and power differentials may be compounded because of the fact, that the states leading the information revolution tend to be those that emerged strongest from the Industrial Revolution (O’Brien, 2013: 270), which were mentioned above. These are like two different mechanisms.

The first of those, is the ‘capital bias’ of recent technological change. Rapid automation, in this view, displaces labor entirely and delivers more and more of the returns on productivity directly to capital. The other mechanism called the ‘skills bias’, technological change has outpaced educational achievement, and the demand for skilled labor has outstripped its supply. This led to polarized job growth, where there is demand for skilled workers and their wages are bid up, but simultaneously, the unskilled and not educated enough are becoming disqualified. It can be observed for over the past 60 years, or even the past century. And technology is a factor that hollows out the labor market (Gordon, 2014).

Stephen Hawking’s words are suitable in this case to summarize above points:

“Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. (…) So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality”  (Long, 2015).

 

Anna Rainko

 

References:

Africa: A Land Up For Grabs

The general image we have of Africa is a continent that is underdeveloped. A continent that is much need of aid and assistance to reach even the basic needs of life such as water, food and adequate shelter. The international community has put forward schemes like the Millennium Development Goals and Poverty Reduction Strategies to support progress.

For me, the common phrase “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” comes to mind when thinking of how to improve lives in Africa. I acknowledge the importance of humanitarian aid needed to reach those most in need of food, shelter and sanity but giving aid to build a self-sustainable Africa is as vital to its long term progression. Africa is rich in its raw materials. Utilising the richness of its materials can be one of the ways to greatly improve Africa. Something that the international community has recognised and taken advantage of for decades. Ravenhill acknowledges that after the Second World War, the international trade between North-South has seen an increase in raw material exchange. One of these raw materials is the agricultural potential that the land gives. Africa has vast amounts of unused fertile land that can be used to provide employment, produce crops and then be distributed. Unfortunately, instead of treating Africa as equals to countries in the thriving west with respect and dignity, investors exploit it.

Land-Grab
http://wordpress.clarku.edu/id252-southsudan/2014/12/03/ramifications-of-land-grab-in-south-sudan/

 

Land grabs in Africa have become all too common. Instead of putting in capital to contribute to local communities, it’s being used selfishly as a means of supporting countries across the oceans. In the case of the gulf countries, after the food crisis in 2008, they began to fear that they would be left foodless. The food crisis led to a rise in prices for basic foods such as rice and led to protectionist measures to block exportation. The Gulf States realised that they needed a way to secure food supply in order to avoid any instability that effects international trade. These countries are near impossible to grow food in due to their immense dessert land, which meant they would have to grow it somewhere else. The land they chose was in Ethiopia. It boasted vast fertile land, close proximity and cheap labour. Land is sold cheaply to foreign investors and the cost of Ethiopian labour has been flaunted as “lower than the African average” (Addissie, 2004). The makeup of these plantations are seen as alien to local farming with their modern high tech greenhouses containing perfect identical crops. Basic supply and demand strategies will express that if a product or good is in high demand it is sensible to supply it at a higher cost especially if the buyers are wealthy. Instead the benefiters are money making investors and the Saudi Arabians, Kuwaitis and other Gulf inhabitants that will eat from the produce. Even though the law says Ethiopian land is public property, the public have no control over where the produce goes, who acquires the land and how much they will be paid for their labour.

However, the Gulf States are not the only ones to exploit Africa for its land. The Chinese have been doing so since 1990 and surprisingly other underdeveloped countries are joining in on this injustice to the people of Africa. Deals have been made between Bangladesh and Uganda for the former to grow rice. It is due to urbanisation, desertification and the rise in population that Asian countries are seeking agricultural alternatives in Africa to ensure food security. The case of Bangladesh differs from other land-grabbing deals as they have agreed to export 80 per cent of crops back to Bangladesh and give 20 per cent of their crops to the local population.

African land is clearly in demand and has increased local jobs, food production and generate money through renting of land. However, the vast African population that is currently plagued by hunger does not benefit from the utilisation of these things. A simple thing like raising wages or like Bangladesh, giving a percentage of crops to host countries can be a path to greater change. I appreciate that countries who invest are forced to by the need to secure food but it can be done fairly to contribute to humanitarian aid. This discussion goes beyond the realms of land, investments and profits to something greater; fairness in trade to save lives.

Sayeeda Ahmed

 

References

Addissie, A. (2004). Addis Ababa business directory. Addis Ababa. p55.

Liberti, S. (2013). Land grabbing. Verso. London.

Ravenhill, J. (2011) ‘The Study of Global Political Economy’ Chapter 1 in Global Political Economy (OUP 3rd edition), p3.

 

Please, been a consumer is so much better than been a Citizen, right?

It is unbelievable how they treat us like we are dumb!  Look, I know we don’t look very smart, but stop over doing it. How does it come that now transnational organisations are signing contracts with governments, states in secret and in such a way that we: you and me (citizens) we do not have any way of expressing our point of view in this matter?

What outraged me the most, is the lost of power that each and every single one of us is suffering! As citizen of the world, of a Nation and of a community: I want my political rights to be respected! and I think I am not the only one.

Let’s take an example. Have you heard of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? It is a serie of trade negotiations between the european union (EU) and the united states (US). Above all the outrageous points of those contracts, the worst part is that they are being carried out secretly! In view of this, we can consider an atrocity that in those trades-negotiations, they are giving the transnational organisation the power to sue Nation-States!

 

“ One of the main aims of TTIP is the introduction of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), which allow companies to sue governments if those governments’ policies cause a loss of profits.”

as said Lee Wiliams in the independent the 12 october 2015 in his article “What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you”.

Who has the power? How did we, citizens, let that power slip through our hands to end up there, far away, in pockets of toffee-nosed people? How does it come that in nowadays global political economy, the decisions making  has come to the hands of corporations? How democratic is the World Trade Organisation? (O’Bien and William 2013: 130)

 

To explain how a democratic sphere can be turn into a commercial sphere we could talk about the press. Let’s take the example of English press in the early XX century. So let me try to explain how the economic system- neo capitalism- is taking over the political system, -democracy-  through local processes that, I think, can be transposed into a global perspective.How do markets frame and gobble up the political sphere, how to transform Citizen into Consumers.

Some time ago, in the early XX century, newspapers were financed by political parties and by their lectors. We can stand up the importance of the political aspect of those newspapers as in the news they were publishing. As a result each newspaper had its own political orientation and targeted a specific class or group of political individuals.We can point out, that in this particular framework, news weren’t suppose to be neutral, but politically orientated. (That could sound crazy for us today, because we expect the news to be as objectives as possible).

It is interesting to underline is the key moment, when adds enter the news sphere. This changed this sector modus operandi. Ads companies targets were newspapers made for a middle or high class, that had a higher acquisition power. That means a more selective and restraint audience, most likely to be a future consumer.

On the other side, newspapers that had a bigger audience, with less acquisitive power, began to lose competitivity in the newspaper market. The radical press for example, lose its competitivity in the newspaper market given the lack of incomes others than the readers contributions and the political parties support.

The importance of financial incomes and its influence in the content that is been spread can not be underestimated. Incomes provided from ads to the high-middle class newspapers made them so competitive that the radical press had to shut down because of lack of means.

What I forgot to explain, is that those high-middle class newspapers did not focus on the same kind of news than the radical press. You could ask me why is that so important? Because news began, in that process, to be more sell if they were non political! (or less engaged if you prefer). This could be a way of explaining how corporations start seen masses, more as consumers rather than citizens. (Croteau and Hoynes 2014)

 

Laetitia Nauleau

 

bibliography

 

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/25/1250079/-When-Did-We-Start-Being-Viewed-as-Consumers-Rather-Than-As-Citizens -by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees the Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 06:54 PM PDT

 

TTIP. Written by Lee Williams, In  “the independient” on Monday 12 October 2015

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html

Oxford dictionnary online http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/politics

 

 

John Ravenhill (2011) ‘The Study of Global Political Economy’ Chapter 1 in Global Political Economy (OUP 3rd edition), pp. 3 – 19.

 

David Croteau, William (2014) Media/society : industries, images, and audiences. 5th edn. Los Angeles

 

O’Brien, R. and Williams, M. (2013)

Global political economy: Evolution and dynamics. 4th edn. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan

 

IS GLOBALISM A CONSEQUENCE OF THE COLONIAL ERA?

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Image source: http://rebloggy.com/post/africa-capitalism-imf-colonialism-neocolonialism/69905905367

Globalisation can be defined as the growing interdependence of the world economies (Homayounnejad), but in more detail it can also be defined as the process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and government from different countries, and it is motivated by international trade and investment and aided by information technology(especially the discovery of the internet). This process has an impact on environment, on culture, on political system (therefore the implementation of policies), on economic development the Third world countries in a particular way and prosperity, and on human physical well-being in societies around the globe (globalization101.org)

We can all agree that these days globalization is changing the world rapidly, radically and in ways that might be profoundly equilibrating, but there is a strong debate in what are the interests of this on going phenomena (Keohane 1971).

Globalisation have been taking place for hundreds of years, but has speeded up in an amazing way after the end of World War II, and resulted in the world we have today, that is: increased international trade, a company is now able to easily operated in more that one country, an increased dependence on the global economy, recognition of companies such as McDonald’s and Starbucks in LDC as well as the freer movement, of capital, good, services and people, which explains the strong migratory flows that have characterized our world in the last couple of decades. In order to understand this phenomena it is necessary to have in mind the key factors that accelerated the process of globalisation. First of all, the improvement in transportation can be considered the most important one as it means that people and goods can travel quicker and cheaper. Secondly there is more freedom of trade, which its promoted by international organisation like World Trade Organization (WTO); its main aim is to remove barrier within countries. A third factor is the improvement of communication, this was allowed by the invention of internet and IT. Lastly, the availability of cheap skilled labour made multinationals, like clothing companies, take advantage of that and set up sweat shops in LDC where the cost is less and reduced legal restrictions. Having said that a lot of people might argue that globalisation operates mostly on the interests of rich countries which continue to dominate the world trade at the expense of developing countries. The role of less developed countries in the world marked is to provide the North and West which labour and raw material with no gain (BBC 2014). In my opinion, this is all related and caused by Neocolonialism, which is backed up by the Modernization and Dependency theory. Neocolonialism can be defined as the continuation of the economic model of colonialism after a colonized territory has achieved formal political independence. This concept was applied in Africa in the second half of the twentieth century. The idea of neocolonialism, however, suggests that when European power granted nominal political independence to colonies in the decades after World War II, they continued to control and manipulate the economies of the new African countries. This still exists due to the success of colonialism as a hegemonic organisation of international production relations which had permitted a vast accumulation of wealth and progress to occur in nations of Western Europe (Hoogvelt). What we are witnessing in a “globalised” world today is very similar to the first new colonial phase which lasted from about 1950 to 1970. During those couple of decades the costs of the energy subsidized by the oil-producing countries was really low, the average price of crude oil went from US$4 per barrel to US$1.60 (1974). At that time it proved that the lost in trade to the developing region constituted to the imperialist profits to the advanced world which subsidized the Fordist way of life (Hoogvelt). Today it might not be in the oil industry any more but a similar process is happening in the clothing or shoe industry where multinationals set sweatshops in developing countries, by offering poor working conditions, unfair wages, extremely long hours, child labour, and lack of benefits for the workers due to the fact that these countries are corrupt and lack regulations.

Globalisation works hand in hand with capitalism, as there is no globalisation without capitalism. Some “dependent development” writers went further in analysing the dynamic unfolding of the global capitalism. They argued that each phase of capitalism creates new form of economic dependency, therefore globalism can also create a form of dependency of third world countries. Globalisation is also successful due to the strong, and still existing ties between colonizers (Western europe) and colonies (today’s LDC), that’s why is easier for them to get exploited.

Referencies:

“Facts about sweatshops” Available at: https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-sweatshops

“What is Globalization” Available at: http://www.globalization101.org/what-is-globalization/

“Neo colonialism” Available at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Neocolonialism.aspx

Hoogvelt, A. (2001): “Globalisation and the post colonial world – The new political economy of development”. 2nd ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Homayounnejad, M. (2015): “What factors have contributed to globalisation in recent years?” Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet. Available at: http://redbornecommunitycollege.com/_files/Curriculum/5F173131A1478B73B9D918395207B05C.pdf

JESSICA OBAH

M00482176

the dream continues…

tilt-desk

What is the difference between men and women?

There is no difference so why are men earning more than women in the 21st century.  There is this preconceived idea that men are more decisive and women are slow at making decisions even if that the case why does personality traits or even assumptions about women come into play when it comes to pay. When I ask my friends if the gender pay gap exists or even if they think that men earn more than them they automatically say “that’s not true” or “it doesn’t exist”. This evident within many groups; a U.S study has shown that many individuals are unaware of the gender pay gap. (Tharenou, 2012) They honestly believe that men and women are equal; little do they know that women in the 2015 earn less and are paid less than men and that they are practically working for free and in addition to that the gender pay gap is at 14.2%. (Topping, 2015)

The UN reports that the gender pay gap will not close for another 70 years at the current state; the ILO also has revealed that the gender pay gap has not changed for the last 20 years therefore the fight for equality continues. Thus this makes it an important issue for the global political economy because however hard women work they might never get what they deserve moneywise like men do. (Topping, 2015)

Women have the capacity to perform the way men do in jobs therefore they should receive the same pay. In addition women need to be given the same platforms as men so that gender equality at the workplace can be achieved. When women are empowered it creates a better workplace because women won’t feel that they need to work twice as hard as the men in order to get the recognition that they deserve.

The unfair pay gap occurs in a wide range of professions; Hollywood has been under scrutiny in the past few months because the wage gap between male and female stars are evident. Women in the film industry earn a lower wage compared to their male counterparts and this is also evident with athletes; England’s women’s football team earn around £20,000 per year and the average male premier league team player earns an average of £1.6 million a year. (Bates, 2015)

 This shows the extent of how little women earn compared to men and how unfair that being born a certain gender men’s you have more privilege than the other. I think that those privileged men need to stand up for women’s rights and help eradicate the gender pay gap that exists today so that we can live in an equal society.  In this day and age success is measured by how much money you have, how many houses you’ve got, how many cars you’ve got, basically material things matter the most. If a woman earns a substantial amount of money especially if she’s a single mother she is able to be independent, buy a house, buy a car, pay for healthcare, educate and take care of her children. Therefore gender roles are reversed because she is able to take care of herself, rather than depending on the man to provide all these things. If the gender pay gap exists she is not able to achieve these milestones; she will always rely on the man because the man will always be able to earn a better wage than her which is unfair. Gender should not be able to dictate how much money one earns or even how professional they are. (Tharenou, 2012)

The fact that many people still believe that there is equality within the workplace makes it harder for the gender pay gap to be closed; therefore people need to be made aware of the impacts of male privilege and we need to help break the glass ceiling. Society makes it even harder because everything is perceived in male way. “If society does not believe that women need to earn as much money as men for comparable work, as indicated for U.S. data, then it is probable that women will continue to be paid less in a conscious and/or unconscious bias against them”. (Tharenou, 2012)

I dream of a day when men and women will be equal, social, economically and politically. And I hope that I live to see that day.

Patricia Mandu

 Refrencing.

Bates, L. (2015). Ten facts you might not know about the gender pay gap | Laura Bates. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/10/ten-things-you-should-know-about-the-gender-pay-gap [Accessed 12 Dec. 2015].

Topping, A. (2015). Gender pay gap will not close for 70 years at current rate, says UN. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/mar/05/gender-pay-gap-remain-70-years-un [Accessed 12 Dec. 2015].

Tharenou, P. (2012). The Work of Feminists is Not Yet Done: The Gender Pay Gap—a Stubborn Anachronism. Sex Roles, [online] 68(3-4), p.199. Available at: http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.mdx.ac.uk/article/10.1007%2Fs11199-012-0221-8 [Accessed 12 Dec. 2015].

 

 

 

Doesn’t make ‘Cents’.

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©2014 MEEK, retrieved from here

As a student on his study abroad there a lot of new things that make an impact on you. One of the first things I noticed was the high number of homeless people on the streets in London. I had read before that poverty in the United Kingdom was quite high, but I never thought and never have seen so many people in the cold with nothing more than a blanket. It made a huge impact on me.
According to Oxfam, “The UK is the world’s sixth largest economy, yet 1 in 5 of the UK population live below our official poverty line”. 1 in 5 equates to roughly 13 million people living below this poverty line. How can such an economic powerhouse as the United Kingdom, which is also seen as one of the leading countries of the world, lack the resources and job possibilities that 1 in 5 of their citizens endure struggle daily?

A few other facts extracted from the Oxfam site show that poverty numbers have doubled over the last 30 years, whilst the economy has doubled, too. Somewhere this doesn’t equate up.

Thatcher’s decision to cut the tax paid by the wealthy (top rate) from 83% to 40% is believed to be one of the contributing factors to the poverty levels seen today. (Mudie and Jones, 2015) But shouldn’t people that benefited the most in our society, at least from a moral standpoint, pay back the most to this same society?
The percentage of total income paid in tax in 2011 shows that the richest 20% of society pay nearly the same (35.5%) as the poorest 20% pay (36.6%). (Mudie and Jones, 2015) And doesn’t this show that the richest have such a surplus of wealth that they can afford to contribute more? Yet in total they seem to receive the same tax breaks as the poorest of this country.

The trickle-down effect that Mrs Thatcher believed in showed in great numbers that it failed miserably. The theory that economic stimulation and growth, increased spending by the rich should boost the economy, and more jobs would trickle down the wealth on the poorer is not what the reality is now, in fact, there is greater inequality than before, more debt, and increasing financial crises. (Chu, 2015) I hope the scales will be balanced soon enough, as no one should live in poverty in this world.

Mario van der Meer

Word count: 400

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References:

Chu, B. (2015). “The wealth that failed to trickle down: The rich do get richer while poor stay poor, report suggests”. Independent, 19 January.

Mudie, K and Jones, H. (2015). “Breadline Britain: 20MILLION now living in poverty as landmark study reveals how tax system creates inequality”. Mirror, 8 February.

Poverty in the UK. (2015). Available from: http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/our-work/poverty-in-the-uk.

Forget about the french.. Robots are coming!

1445212982387A viral video of  a robot programmed to say no has spiralled through the internet and attracted hundreds of millions of views. Researchers at the Unversity of Massechutsists are testing a robot which has been trained to deny human instruction based on scenarios.

If this is a shock to you then you are quite behind on the status of robots in  the 21st century. You might not even know that they are after your job

They are everywhere! Car parks, supermarkets and now even in restaurants. This is not a new problem. Jobs have been lost  at the hand of technology ever since the introduction of the Spinning Jenny in the industrial revolution.  Aristian weavers lost their jobs and quickly had to find new ones in order to meet the demand for cotton. As business increasingly tried to find new ways to cut costs automation became the key to more production and less cost. A recent report said that 47% of jobs will be automated by 2034.This not relating to mid skilled labour such as cashiers and janitors but bricklayers, lawyers doctors and surgeons. A BBC report highlighted that a Chinese factory  in Hon Hai will replace 500,000 lawyers, surgeons and public sector workers  robots in three years with its pursuit to make processes more efficient.

The optimist would say that well like in the past we will find alternative jobs for people to do. This being true the rate at which automation is happening now has resulted in us not reacting quick enough. A study by Oxford Martin school study states that we  ‘will have to acquire creative and social skills in order to beat robots to their job’. Scary thought.

This is as a result of competing international markets as states and companies must keep their technologies up to date in order to ‘ensure that their enterprise are as efficient as possible’ (Robert O’Brien and Marc William 2013)

This is not also just taking away skilled labour jobs for the working class but also cutting costs and benefiting those who have the ownership of production. An economist article states that ‘the share of income going to the top 1% in America has risen from around 9% in the 1970s to 22% today’. This showing the ever growing increase of automation leads to the rich society benefiting from the extra product it creates.

This is a startling beginning for the political economy as the cracks of this epidemic are already beginning to show in the record low employment rates across the world.

All we can do is hope we can say no when it all gets a bit too automatic.

Harry Phinda

Shackles and chains.

forced_labour
Copyright unknown, retrieved from here

In the movies we see examples of oaths, pledges and fealties, gaining very little in exchange for life long services which are near impossible to get out of. In movies and shows, such as Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings, they might seem heroic, but in real life it takes a darker turn.

Bonded labour – a form of unfree labour, and you can say a form of modern day slavery. Even though it is deemed illegal by international law, this form of forced labour is still very much alive in countries across the globe with roughly 20 million people in its grasp. Bonded labour can be defined as a way a person provides his services to pay off a debt, with not knowing what his services might be. This is supposedly a thing of the past and some theorize it as pre-capitalist, but McGrath argues that “’free’ wage labour is actually only one option among many that the capitalist class may choose to employ” and that the reasons might not only economical, but could also be social and political. How is it still possible, even though it is illegal and supposedly abolished, that it still exists? For an answer we will look at India. According to Morgan and Olsen, over 11.7 million people are in forced labour with the majority in India.

Poverty, discrimination, and weak enforcement is what allows bonded labour or debt bondage to go on in India. Indian people are born in to a caste system. The system is slowly becoming less of a standard, but in agricultural areas it’s still very prevalent. The majority of the bonded labourers are born in to the Dalit caste system, which is considered the lowest in the caste and primarily worked with their hands in agriculture, construction or sanitation. While this might explain just the tip of the iceberg, it is a mentality that should not be overlooked. Just as this caste system, these workers are born in to the debt of their parents. Often new loans are taken on to pay off past debts which basically allows for never-ending contract. Even if they aren’t born in to debt, these people are often born in extreme poverty and try to get out of poverty by taking up a contract.

Without a formal contract, no salary or wages, or any idea what is still owed to their ‘employers’, these workers, which consists of entire households, have to work for up to 16 hour a day. With no knowledge of their rights, these workers are outside of the vision of the government, and as such enforcement of the international law is hard to up hold.

Sadly practices like these are still present in this world, and are most likely here to stay ,which is a hard truth. “One might consider forced labour and unfreedom as an ever-present possibility within capitalism, even though some of it predates capitalism.” (Morgan and Olsen, 2014)

Mario van der Meer

Word count: 492

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References:

McGrath, S. (2005). Unfree Labor, Capitalism and Contemporary Forms of Slavery, pp. 2.

Morgan, J. and W. Olsen. (2014). ‘Forced and Unfree Labour: An Analysis’ International Critical Thought 4(1), pp 4-7.

“Women. Like men, only cheaper.”

We’ve long moved away from the days when a woman is seen as the home keeping baby making machine that fixes your warm meal after your exhaustingly long day at work. Women have the freedom to be educated without underlying social influences to guide them into a certain life. We no longer are limited to studying home economics, needle work and domestic science courses. We can choose to study real economics, sciences and mathematics. By using our right to study these tougher subjects, women can compete with men in the global market of trade for example, owning a business, directing a movie or judging a case.

Unfortunately, it seems however many rights and opportunities women achieve on paper, the real world just doesn’t treat them as equals. A prime example of this is the appointment of Jeane Kirkpatrick in 1981 as ambassador to the United Nations. Despite her position and power, she felt as though she wasn’t being taken seriously by the U.S foreign policy establishment or in the United Nations. Jeane complained that she was hardly ever listened to and had no effect on American foreign policy (Crapol, 1987). It’s ridiculous to see that even after working hard to become equally qualified and able to stand in a position of power, women are still hindered by institutional sexism. Women are being treated as though they are worth less and have less value of opinions simply due to their gender.

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Another issue surrounding women in work is the pay gap. 2015 saw a few high profiled women criticising disparity in pay. Hollywood A-listers, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep are amongst those to address the issue. Lawrence publicised her anger after a Sony hack revealed that she had earned considerably less than her male co-stars in an essay she wrote for Lenny Letter newspaper. While Steep discussed reasons why it occurred, explaining that men control the film industry, in finance and in distribution. In America, for every dollar that a man earned, women were still earning only 77 cents in 2012. Similarly, in the UK women earned 82p for every pound that a man earned by the end of 2014 according to the ONS. The disparity does differ amongst age groups in the UK. The younger generation, 20s-30s, face no difference in pay, however as age increases the disparity increases also. Over 40s face disparity of 14% and over 50s in full time work is 18%.

Jo Swinson, the Minister for Women and Equalities and Business, announced “measures to help businesses analyse their pay gap and empower women to challenge their employers if they feel they are not being paid correctly.” Surely we can go further than simply encourage businesses to pay equally or give moral support to women that want to challenge their bosses (not that there’s anything wrong in that). Why not impose sanction on a business for unfair treatment for example in the form of fines? If business feel the repercussions of mistreating their employees we probably would see the pay gap reduce significantly.

It amazes me how versatile women are. Some are mothers, daughters, employees and wives all at once. Not only should women be seen as equals, perhaps even seen as superiors in a sense. Surprisingly enough, it seems Northern Ireland have taken up this notion. The pay gap in NI is narrower than the rest of the UK. They earn 91.1% of what men earn. However, if we exclude pay for part-time work, women not only get payed equal to men, but it’s been tossed the other way around. On average, women now earn 3.3% more than men in full time work!

Now don’t confuse me to be a radicalistic. Although it shouldn’t really be seen as radical to want women to earn MORE than men, after all men have been doing it for centuries.  I don’t advocate for further inequality by making men the receivers of lower pay. But as J.A Tickner says I just hope for “a future in which women and men could share equally in the construction of a safer and more just world.”

Sayeeda Ahmed

 

References

Crapol, E. (1987). Women and American foreign policy. New York: Greenwood Press.

Dugan, E. (2014). Gender pay gap falls – but men still earn 17.5% more. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/gender-pay-gap-falls-but-men-still-earn-175-more-9871401.html [Accessed 8 Dec. 2015].

Tickner, J.A. (1992). Gender in international relations: Feminist perspectives on achieving global security. New York: Columbia University Press. p25.