Economy

After a year of political turmoil, Venezuela turned a corner recently, at least according to an eye-catching October 21 op-ed in The Washington Post. Titled “It’s official: Venezuela is a full-blown dictatorship”, the piece claimed the country has become an “all-out, no-more-elections dictatorship”.

Rallies against the systemic violence against Aboriginal people were held in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane on October 22.

The call to action was specifically protesting the murders in custody of Wayne “Fella” Morrison and Miss Dhu, the shooting of Dennis Doolan and the abuse and torture of Dylan Voller in Don Dale prison.

As part of this year's Anti-Poverty Week, a conference in South Australia A looked at how a lack of jobs is changing the nature of unemployment into an increasingly long-term phenomenon.

Economist and author of Capital in the 21st Century Thomas Piketty gave a lecture entitled “Is Increasing Inequality Inevitable?” to a full house at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall on October 23.

Piketty presented detailed research on growing income inequality compiled by a number of scholars and sourced directly from national taxation and income statistics from primarily advanced capitalist countries, as well as some statistics from a number of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

The tribulations of major European banks, starting with “venerable institutions” like the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (the world’s oldest bank) and Deutsche Bank (Germany’s largest), have raised the spectre of a repeat of the crash of 2008 — a “Lehman Brothers times five” in the words of one market analyst.

Deutsche Bank has been found to be seriously under-capitalised, both according to the standards set under the Basel III international bank regulation standards and according to its own targets. The same goes for British giant Barclays.

Long-term US activist Angela Davis addressed an overflowing lecture theatre at Melbourne University on October 24.

In a wide-ranging lecture and discussion, Davis looked at the criminalisation and incarceration of communities most affected by poverty and racial discrimination.

Davis drew upon her own experiences in the 1970s, when she spent 18 months on trial after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List”.

Members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) at Caltex’s site in Lytton, Queensland voted to start indefinite industrial action on October 25.

NUW members decided to take indefinite action following attempts by the company to effectively cut workers’ wages by 15%. They had been pursuing a modest annual increase in line with the Consumer Price Index, to protect their current conditions.

A new report has found that methane leakage and fugitive emissions from unconventional gas fields are likely to be much higher than industry estimates, largely because it is neither accounting for nor reporting on them.

The NSW Coalition has sold 50.4% of the publicly-owned power distribution network Ausgrid to a consortium of AustralianSuper and IFM Investors. It is spinning it as a "win" for the mums and dads. The reality is otherwise. Without public ownership of energy, we have very little chance of moving swiftly to more sustainable options, as the climate science demands.

Ultimately, the only way to ensure a secure future for jobs is to replace the whole capitalist system with one in which human need is prioritised above corporate profits.

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