Vol. 120 No. 2 (February 2015)

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THE JOYS AND PITFALLS OF GAMBLING Christopher Bratcher

Excitement is a basic human need, especially among the young; and gambling is a long-standing source of such excitement. In certain forms, and in suitable environments, gambling can safely provide that experience of risk and adventure which people naturally seek. Abstract by Tom Rubens.

 

VIEWPOINTS D. Simmonds, T. Rubens, M. Page, P. Vlachos, C. Purnell

DEBATE: THE DEATH PENALTY SHOULD NOT BE RESTORED Barbara Smoker

Executing a person for murder cannot wipe out the murder for which the person is being executed. Also, there is statistical evidence that the prospect of capital punishment does not deter would-be murderers. Finally, capital punishment is bound up with the atavistic concept of retribution, not with that of reform and rehabilitation. Abstract by Tom Rubens.

THE ETHICAL AND ECONOMIC CASE FOR SOCIALISM Jerry Jones

The economic basis of socialism is common ownership of the means of material production and distribution. Socialism is a more ethical economic system than capitalism, and also a more efficient one.
Its superiority to capitalism hinges on its attitude to surplus labour. Surplus labour is labour produced in excess of work required to satisfy the immediate consumption needs of workers. Under capitalism, the fruits of surplus labour are stolen from workers. This theft is perpetrated in a number of ways:

  1. by the capitalist’s drive to increase profits and decrease wages
  2. by the merchant’s strategy of over-charging customers for goods produced at reduced wage levels
  3. by landlords inflating rents, and banks manipulating clients’ interest rates.
  4. by banks garnering interest from their own large-scale creation of money
  5. by various fraudulent and corrupt practices by big companies–including tax evasion through the use of tax havens.

Overall, the appropriation of surplus labour means a shrinkage in workers’ wages; this shrinkage reduces people’s purchasing power, which in turn diminishes market demand. The contraction of this demand then reduces productivity, and also, therefore, investment in production. Thus the appropriation of surplus labour leads ultimately to an accumulation of surplus labour which is NOT used to invest in new enterprises.
None of these problems would result from a socialist economy, since the latter would not appropriate the workers’ surplus labour. The workers would themselves be in control of their surplus labour, deciding whether to spend it or invest it. So, investment decisions would not be in the hands of a minority, whose chief aim was to increase profits for themselves.
At the same time, markets would continue to exist, as indicators of public needs and demands. But they would be ‘democratic’ in the economic sense–without monopoly interests dominating them or colluding with each other to keep prices high. Such domination would be precluded by state intervention, when necessary. Finally, a land tax would be introduced, to prevent the appropriation of surplus labour through rises in land prices. Abstract by Tom Rubens.

MARY & MARTIN LINCÉ MEMORIAL CONCERT

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