Fiddlers Reach, Grays, Thurrock Is Not The Place To Build An Experimental, Unproven Biomass Gasifier Power Plant.

Mick Hall tackles a serious environmental and health issue. Mick Hall blogs @ Organised Rage.

West Thurrock used to be the most polluted area in the southeast of England, over decades this has now changed - due to countless campaigns which resulted in legislation which banned industry from pouring pollutants into the atmosphere and the lungs of local people.

Now Proctor and Gamble wish to build a biomass plant right next to a residential area. It's been alleged by local people the land they intend to build it on was originally designated for a school and housing, but due to environmental problems it has been deemed only fit for industrial use. 

Whether this is true or not I do not know, what I do know is Thurrock has a history of multinational corporations treating local people in the most cavalier fashion and poisoning the very air they breathe. And when they have wrung out every last penny of profit, moving on, often leaving their pollution behind.

What is being proposed.

Procter & Gamble, Balfour Beatty and a Canadian company, Nexterra, are proposing to build a biomass plant expected to burn over 100,000 tonnes of wood a year – including chemically treated waste wood. The plant is to supply heat and some electricity to Procter & Gamble’s factory in West Thurrock as well as electricity to the grid. 
According to Biofuel Watch this would not be a conventional power plant but a gasifier: A conventional biomass power plant simply burns wood in order to power a steam turbine. A biomass gasifier exposes wood to high temperatures with limited oxygen, which produces a gas and that gas is then burned (also to power a steam turbine in this case).

Biofuelwatch has identified four main areas of concern:
1) An unproven and risky technology: Biomass gasification for electricity production remains an unproven, experimental technology. So far, Nexterra has built three such gasifiers worldwide, all of them in North America: One of them was closed after a ‘potentially lethal’ explosion, another one failed soon after it opened and the third does not appear to have started working successfully. Although there are risks of fires and explosions associated with storing and handling large quantities of woodchips for any power plant, there are special fire and explosion risks associated with gasifiers. 
2) Bad for public health: Burning virgin wood causes similar levels of air pollution as burning coal, with more of some pollutants and less of others being released. The plant proposed at Fiddlers Reach is to burn chemically treated waste­wood and this will result in more different toxins being emitted and in some toxins being emitted in greater quantities. Technical problems associated with biomass gasifiers result in a high risk of emission spikes and breaches of legal emission limits. 
3) Low efficiency levels: A gasifier that powers a steam turbine – proposed for Fiddlers Reach – will always be significantly less efficient than a comparable conventional biomass plant. This means that more wood will have be burned (resulting in more air emissions and more traffic) than would be necessary if the same amount of energy was produced from a more efficient plant. 
4) A threat to forests: Based on figures provided by the developers during the Public Exhibition and on figures taken from other planning applications for Nexterra gasifiers, we estimate that the plant would burn over 100,000 tonnes of woodchips per year. The developers claim that they will burn non­recyclable waste wood but the demand for the type of waste wood that they would likely be permitted to burn far exceeds the supplies available. Excessive demand for wood is a major cause of forest destruction worldwide. 
A Nexterra's gasifier designed to produce electricity is a very new and experimental process, it has been tested in North America but it was found to have major flaws. A report commissioned and published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change in 2011 stated:
Gasification and pyrolysis are still considered to be emerging and unproven technologies for the treatment of waste biomass fuel. To our knowledge, there are very few commercial scale gasification and pyrolysis plants operating in Europe and world­wide. .. [Such] plants face, or have faced, significant technical challenges in terms of treating heterogeneous waste streams, and there are several cases where plants failed to achieve their design throughput or air emission standards.
Guidelines for Biomass Gasification funded by the European Commission warn:
During operation of a biomass gasification plant there is an increased hazard potential due to the fact that a potentially explosive, toxic and combustible gas mixture is produced and consumed. The producer gas and residues (ash, liquids, exhaust gases) may cause the following major hazards/risks:+ an explosion and/or fire;+ health damage to humans (poisoning, danger of suffocation, noise, hot surfaces, fire and explosion); and+ pollution of the environment and plant vicinity.
Given all of this is it a good idea to build and operate an untested, possibly dangerous biomass 
gasifier power plant next to a residential area, or anywhere within close proximity to where people live. More so as the majority of the fuel the plant uses will have to be brought in on Thurrock's roads which are already severely congested due to the overspill from regular delays on the M25 at the Dartford crossing.


  1. God forbid they create jobs for people, then we wouldnt be able to moan about benefit cuts.

  2. They could create jobs in the British Army citing the same logic and then send the newly unemployed off to foreign climes to slaughter the natives. "Moaning" about benefit cuts sounds so quintessentially Tory.

  3. HAHA AM, Ive gone from being compared to LePen/Farage down to just a Tory, I must be softening! The point is, when is the Left happy about any job creation, when do they never trot out the enviromental angle/exploitative wage/socially destructive practice reason to not welcome it?

    How is the rise of Socialism coming along Mick (as claimed in a piece a last year)? Looking out from window in sunny Wimbledon, I dont see it much of it yet.

  4. DaithiD,

    you are more than able to take you oil rather than feign offence, which endears me to you in a rambunctious sort of way! The Left has always pushed for job creation. Do you think they want everybody on the dole? But you can hardly expect Mick to call for the type of job creation that in his view will be harmful to society. There would be absolutely nothing inconsistent in, say, Mick opposing the job creation that might come via a cigarette factory. What is wrong here is not Mick but the smearing of the most economically vulnerable in society as moaners. vulnerable

  5. Daithi, Another socialist Mick here :)

    I wonder would your view change about the 'moaners' if you should become too ill to work before you have paid enough into your private pension to keep you in the closeted life to which you appear to have become accustomed ?
    This can happen to any of us, and I speak from experience.

    Or when the capitalist system finally destroys itself, when all the debts are called in and everyone realises that the money they're based on is fictitious. Then all finance related activity will cease and those who get paid to 'analyse' it will be out of a job.

  6. Mick, Do you not realise that the Economy is God? The environment, health of the people, quality of life, etc are rarely if ever, considered by business or the government.

    Without subsidised industry and low tax rates, again if any, for corporations and kick backs for lobbied politicians and planners the world would go to pot.

    Until we reuse, recycle and restrict our use of materials we will need large damaging plants for getting rid of our waste. We can produce electricity also. So why waste time developing and using renewables when we can make a quick buck?

    I am sorry but until there is some logic like sustainable alternatives like renewable energy, and the technology and processes to reduce waste we will have to send our resources to hell in a furnace.

    Do you think we can just harness the energy of the sun or wind or tides? Or create jobs creating and managing renewables? Or developing infrastructure for clean transport? Sure space travel is just round the corner. We can leave this dump behind us and live on Mars.

  7. It may have been said before on here, but offense is something taken,not given. And I am a willing giver in that respect. It wasnt the vulnerable I was smearing, the "we" I refer to is the Left who I was sarcastically assuming membership of.

    The Left has always pushed for job creation.
    Its something they verbalise yes, but In terms of creating the right economic enviroment for job creation, I have to disagree.Certainly not state independent jobs.

    Do I think they want everyone on the dole?
    Probably not,they love their state funded quangos, and also a healthy amount on sickness benefit.(<- This sentence may contain sarcasm)

    It might be hypocritical of Mick to campaign against a cigarette factory on the basis of the enviroment if he is also campaining for tube drivers to keep their jobs given the destruction to the enviroment transport inflicts.
    Uber-tosser Russell Brand with his sweatshop produced clothing is finding out the consistency they seek in others, is often lacking in the self.

  8. DaithiD, it wouldn't be hypocritical at all for Mick to campaign against a cigarette factory on the basis of the environment or for health, social or similar reasons.

    Transport is indeed environmentally damaging but per person and distance travelled the tube is one of the most efficient forms of transport.

    In fact modern braking systems can reduce the emissions by 25%. That is the sort of technology we should be investing in, not biomass plants.

    Apologies, but although it was perhaps purely hypothetical it was such a glaringly erroneous statement I had to nitpick.

  9. Or when the capitalist system finally destroys itself, when all the debts are called in and everyone realises that the money they're based on is fictitious. Then all finance related activity will cease and those who get paid to 'analyse' it will be out of a job.

    Michael,I dont know what you think is occuring, or how its valued, but its wide of the mark.Money is just a unit of transaction, it has no intrinic value beyond that which we give it.What would you pay with instead, Gold? See what Buffet says about that, what intrinsic value is in it? Payment in flat screen tv's? Maybe ok for one week, what about the rest of the year?

    The key is moneys "value" is peer decided, not Goverment set else Zimbabwe wouldnt of become a basket case. A comparable process to footballers wages, peer decided not centrally set. Opposite to nurses wages in the UK, which are centrally set. Unlike nurses wages in the US which are peer decided.
    Do you see a pattern? Peer decision helps allocate things the way they should be. Its empowerment of the individual against the state, and actually the only type of democracy I trust.

  10. Daithi, My apologies, I obviously mistook the meaning of your comment.

    'sarcastically assuming membership of' (the left). Any wonder I found your comment ambiguous.

  11. DaithiD,

    how could the market be democratic? It creates plutocracy which undermines democracy because it distributes power very unevenly and disperses it along hierarchical lines. We don't need to be on the Left to believe that. Some great advocates of a capitalist economy saw that much - Keynesianism was based on the view that the market could not do what you believe it can.

  12. DaithiD,

    the Left, particularly the reformist Left are always pushing for more jobs, state or non state. The preference for the state is that Left wing thinking has a strong strand within it which sees a better opportunity to protect working people, more accountability than there is with putting them at the mercy of the profiteers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to protect the weak from the strong.

  13. I would lean heavily towards socialism but I admire the economist J K Galbraith whose theories go along with the premise Anthony outlined that "There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to protect the weak from the strong."

    Boom bust economics when the bust inevitability follows the boom and where laissez-faire capitalism is the norm until big business or the banks need bailed out. When deregulation occurs and corruption is endemic. When it is sink or swim. When the weak are disregarded or left in prison or without health care. That is capitalism. If I had a choice I would opt for something else.

    DaithiD often voices support for a United Ireland. What would be the point in that apart from increased economies of scale when the private corporations in a capitalist system don't protect everyone? When the rich/poverty gap increases and environmental havoc is wreaked on Ireland to make a short term profit?

    I see no logic in laissez-faire economics or environmental destruction. We have to care for people and the planet. We should think globally and act locally. Otherwise we'll just piss it all away.

  14. The reformist left have had their day. They claimed to have won better conditions for the proletariat, when actually the improvements were afforded by capitalism because it needed a fit workforce after WW2 so had to provide subsistence commensurate with that requirement. Keynesianism was part of this agenda, and that certainly was not socialism.

  15. AM, if left unchecked monopolies inevitably form, and work counter a properly functioning market. This is why they need to be prevented, Im still quite open on what form of regulation, the legal side is not specifically my expertise so I wont try and BS people I have all the answers.
    Why is it a democracy? Because there are always two prices for a product, literally all prices are displayed on things called price ladders, and consist of the price your peers are willing to sell at, versus the price your peers are willing to buy at. There is always some two and fro, and when a transaction occurs, there is an agreement between parties on a set price. So a small community has come together, each has had their view taken into account, then the aggregate of their decision is acted on.
    If it was the great stich up we are told, why did bank share prices crash in 2008?
    We have the power to hurt the 'profiteers' already.Dont buy the exploiters products, that protects the weak, dont outsource it to the Government, it all comes down to consumer purchases, literally everything is subject to it.

  16. DaithiD,"why did bank share prices crash in 2008?" because under the present economic system bust inevitably follows the boom.

  17. DaithiD,

    I am not sure recommending a system that sets footballer's wages is going to win you many adherents as it reinforces the view you wish to undermine. Greed of players has priced countless fans out of the ground. It is because of their greed that people like me can't take their kids to games.

    Two prices are like two swallows: a democratic summer they do not make. They permit a very limited choice while at the same time concentrating power in the hands of those at the top of the market. A democracy is about at what level within society resides the power to decide and who can do what to whom. Markets forces power to the top rather than disperses it. The market is a very inegalitarian power matrix.

    A properly functioning market can only but produce monopolies. It takes anti-market intervention, not market forces, to prevent the emergence of monopolies.

  18. Simon, I dont accept a free market preference, which Ive thrown into the mix is peer decided, and in the spirit of individual liberty and a United Ireland are mutually exculsive. I personally find it very weird that people think the answer to partition is somewhere in Connollys writings! Can you think of no changes to the world economy or social welfare since 1916? Socialism and a lasting United Ireland are mutally exculsive, and will remain so until Western Europe (all of it) turns to Socialism, along with Russia and China. If you think it unfair that bank shares collapse, dont invest in them, buy bonds instead why do you want to restrict the choice of others? The point they crashed shows its not the one way bet Leftists assume as a matter of faith.
    AM,I had to mention footballers wages on this one, i cant be a c*nt on every page and I really wanted to put on the Moloney/Premier League piece! But still yours is the inconsistent stance, in favour of a persons freedom of speech, but not their freedom of choice (and that includes economic choice).

  19. DaithiD,

    economic freedom?

    If ever a phrase was conjured up as a ready made accessible response to this it was Anatole France's observation: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread."

    How many people are economically free?

    People have little power over the economic circumstances in their lives because the concentration of economic decision making power in the hands of a rich minority disempowers them. Freedom of speech is vital if we are to discuss and explain this and the concentration of power in the hands of the greedy rich(Denis O'Brien, a case in point) threatens that also. What you call freedom I call greed. Any society that is driven by greed is not in my view one to be recommended.

  20. O Brien is a godsend for you AM, just like the rapey immigrant is a godsend for the hard right. No futher arguement is needed, just look and point and scapegoat. In the UK i think the average person has the opportunity to be economically free, if someone wants party all through their teens and twenties, but regret the flip side of those life choice in later years, measured out in things they cant buy, I wouldnt class that economic slavery. Slavery to desire, and vice and all earthly things, but not economic slavery.

    PS just so you know, I was the poorest kid in any school/college/uni class I have been in, whatever status you think im biased towards, its probably wrong.

  21. You are right of course. Capitalism and a United Ireland are not mutually exclusive. But Republicanism with its tenets of fraternity, equality and liberty seems to be mutually exclusive from the capitalism of today.

    Why desire a United Ireland if you are going to follow the same economic system? The people will be just as disenfranchised, corporations will call the political and economic tune and the gap between rich and poor will get bigger and bigger. Why call for a United Ireland if it is not to reduce the gap between rich and poor, if it's not to put power back on the hands of the people? If it is not to improve the quality of life of the citizen?

    Maybe a system like J K Galbraith's would work but Reganism or Thatcherism as an economic model. Why bother?

  22. DaithiD

    What I find sad about your comment is you have absolutely nothing to say about the issues I raised about the technology used in the proposed biomasse Power Plant. If we new today about the high concentrations of Asbestos in the old type of power plants would we continue to build them because they created jobs? it seems you would.

    I benefited workwise by working on a number of such construction/maintenance and repair project, as far as i'm aware it did not have a negative impact on my health. Some of my work mates weren't so lucky having found out later in life they had Asbestosis, the lung condition caused by exposure to Asbestos.

    As a union rep I can remember on one site challenging the safety of working in these conditions, the employer replied "the lads will have no problem with asbestos here, they have nothing to worry about on that score." Fortunately we had already had samples tested and were able to shut down the work until a company was brought in to clean this muck out. Should we have turned a blind eye and let work continue, I think not, a glimpse into a microscope at an asbestos sample would tell any rational person that.

    Believe it or not, it's not beyond the wit of human beings to create jobs that do not destroy living and working environments. Not always easy for sure, people and that includes governments have to have the will and the imagination to do it, or at the very least try to.

    I find it amusing that someone on the political right condemns the left as being against job creation when in the USA and UK rightwing and neo liberal administrations allowed, nay encouraged, the decimation of manufactoring and outsourcing to the third world by corporations like apple, etc, and for no better reason than extra profit. Profit I might add which now sits offshore in banks creating nothing for their home economies.

  23. DaithiD, By the way, I found your points about my lack of knowledge of an economic system since 1916 and your comment about the banks baffling.

    I wouldn't strictly follow Connolly's teachings or that from the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist. However there is much merit in socialism as explained at the turn of last century.

    There is also much merit with Capitalists like Galbraith who looked for a fairer model.

    I believe in appropriate technology, sustainability and an economic model that doesn't rely on boom bust or an increasing gap between the wealthy and those in poverty.

    I don't want to be a part of an economic model which sees 50% of the world's wealth in the hands of 80 individuals. I realise Connolly's socialism wouldn't fit in to a world model like this but I know there are alternatives that would.

    As for the banks. Give me a break. I don't invest in banks. I don't invest in anything. My money is held in the bank but that is real politik. I can't practically have it under my bed. I don't get a return. I don't have the freedom to do anything else. Personally I would keep the banks but I would have them under government control in the manner suggested by the late Tony Benn.

    The collapse of the banks was inevitable. What wasn't was the bail out by the government paid for by you and me and what followed - a little more regulation but business as usual.

    This term laissez-faire which means hands off until the banks or corporations get into difficulty then they are bailed out is a complete joke. They are making fools of us.

    My point is why bother remove the border if the economic system stays the same? If people are still going to suffer Thatcherite economics. Why not bring in a model suited to the wellbeing of all and not some? Why have a pretense of democracy when you can have the real thing?

  24. DaithiD,

    the problem is that he is not a God send, more a Lucifer send. And the comment suggests anybody citing evidence of the type of thing greed produces, is merely a begrudger.

    The poorest kid surviving poverty sounds like the argument the tobacco companies put forward when they find the 60 a day man who doesn't catch cancer.

    The average person in the UK has the opportunity to be economically free? And the real reason they fail is laziness. It reminds me of The Duke of Edinburgh. accusing the poor of being hypocritical: they were unemployed and therefore had so much leisure time yet still complained. The lazy and undeserving poor is an old ideological ruse coined in the 1800s to allow the rich to salve their own consciences.

  25. Woah this is getting as one sided as a gang bang!
    Simon, I dont accept your assesment of what a free trade United Ireland would be.I dont accept any analysis which strips opponents of Socialism of their humanity either. I dont think you lack knowledge, at least I wouldnt know enough to suggest that, but Connollys analysis is surely of its time?
    Mick, you need to play the whole story of job outsourcing, why is it cheaper to produce products abroad and ship them back? What would an internationlist have against jobs for the third world anyway?
    AM, we have corresponded privately, I could be a tobacco poster boy, or the truth that exposes the lie. Since last September, everynight after work and every weekend (every weekend!) Ive been bashing away at a single trading idea, if I succeed in starting my own fund, it wont be because anyone handed it to me. If it doesnt work, it will be my own fault, It wouldnt be the fault of Capitalism.But Socialists just see the end result, not the hard work that leads upto it.Its fucking hard, really really hard to be successful (and im not where i want to be just yet).

  26. Daithi,

    the same defence could be made for any dictator - it is really hard to get to the top. Which is not the issue: the system is designed to create losers. It is built around greed: people who want to acquire vast wealth that no individual actually needs but which society does need and could put to great use for societal benefits. What other than greed stands in the way of a more equitable distribution of wealth? Do I sense an implicit acknowledgement that the end result seen by socialists is less than wholesome? Any bank robber could tell you "don't look at what I acquired but the hard work I put into getting it"

  27. . What other than greed stands in the way of a more equitable distribution of wealth?

    It couldnt use the wealth if spread evenly AM. The day you spread it evenly, is the day is costs $500 for a loaf of bread, and the heirachy orientates around those with the biggest gun. America's founding fathers started from a point of an individuals liberty, and didnt end with socialism. I dont accept one system sets out to screw the people, and the other doesnt. Its quite an abstract position, one designed to herd the greatest number with the fewest sylablles. If the market was a stitch up, there would always need to be a willing loser on the side of the losing trades. I know how many companies go out business for bad bets as i used to do statistical arbitrage , and i needed to factor it in to my models.

  28. DaithiD, "I dont think you lack knowledge," I wasn't referring to any qualifications I have in economics or any academic background as an online debate rarely includes a person's C.V.

    Often, but not always, a person's qualifications or academic knowledge only allows them to justify talking a more sophisticated or elaborate level of polemic clap trap. Revisionist historians and many economists are cases in point.

    In fact, I was questioning your stance when you asked-
    "Can you think of no changes to the world economy or social welfare since 1916?"

    I explicitly mentioned economic models that arose after 1916. The reason I found your question strange is that I mentioned those models before you asked me if I could not think of any.

    As for creating jobs in developing countries I would favour a move away from poverty line wages and towards a more sustainable, intermediate technology so the people of those countries can stand on their own feet and not rely on Multinationals. Multinationals who, looking at the entire history, don't appear, to use your term, to have much "humanity".

  29. Simon, I myself have no formal economics training, thats why I consider myself a neutral observer to events.The business cycle is a natural phenomena, as humans value different things over time, sometimes irrationality creeps in and it becomes boom and bust.The fact that values shifts over time, means different skills of people are rewarded unevenly at any single point in time. Rockstars and journalists used to make more than footballers, now its reversed. I dont see this ebb and flow as wicked, and some government mediation of the phenomena would be worse than the problem it seeks to resolve.Which multinationals Simon, the ones that produce retroviral drugs, or cancer drugs? Or is it easier to tell the story via polluters, or arms manufacturers? What makes cooperation with colleagues across continents for financial motives wrong, but right for political motives?

  30. DaithiD,"What makes cooperation with colleagues across continents for financial motives wrong, but right for political motives?"

    What makes cooperation across continents wrong whether financially or politically is that it is rarely on the basis of partnership.

    It doesn't necessarily have to be so.

    I don't understand your bringing specifics like cancer drug producers or such into the equation. It only asks more questions than we can solve. For example I am in favour of reducing cancer rates as two thirds of cancers are preventable. I would spend more money on prevention than cure. The pharmaceutical companies guard their patents closely. Doesn't sound very philanthropic to me.

  31. DaithiD,

    irrationality does not seep in; it is at the root of the system and comes in waves. How natural the business cycle is when there is so much manipulation of wants, is a moot point. Ebb and flow is not wicked in and of itself but the acquisition of enormous individual wealth in the midst of so much poverty surely is. The guy who founded your religion said it would be easier for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. Capitalism is greed driven and greed sustained. Dress it up as we might but is there a more compelling explanation for it?

  32. DaithiD

    What is all this crap about hard work and the rest, if you look at the Sunday Times rich list most in the top ten either inherited wealth or stole in from the state. Your talk about life saving drugs is infantile as almost all have been created in tax payer sponsored, often uni labs. The WWW is a good example. Big pharma is up there with Wall st and the City of London
    when it comes to greed and fleecing customers.

    At least the Russian oligarchs and the US robber barons did not come out with crap like what they do benefits human kind.

    DaithiD asks
    "What makes cooperation with colleagues across continents for financial motives wrong, but right for political motives?"

    I'm not into the political motives of the bourgeoise you will have to ask them. But as to multi nationals, as you very well know such co-operation is not between equals, its exploitative as in the context you use its based on selling what 'you' might regard as a commodity, ie cheap labour.

    If we use your example you must also regard it as fine and dandy for 18th century merchants to co operate with what you call colleagues abroad, (you actually mean unequal business partners) when buying and capturing slaves from Africa and shipping them to America and the British colonies to be sold at a profit. (Ain't the history of capitalism something to be proud of)


  33. AM, Im donating all my money Sinn Fein before I die, ill send the lot of them to hell!
    Simon, without patents there would be a reduction in research. Swings and roundabouts etc. Ill declare on that my good fellows.

  34. Mick, Facebook is multinational, Google is a multinational. It neednt be a relationship of slave/master, but that wouldnt fit with your arguement would it? As long as workers have the right to withdraw their labour, why do you care at what price they are willing to work?
    AM, it might very well be greed based, but how would you structure a system that doesnt have that facet, but also doesnt infringe on a persons liberty? Who decides what is enough? How would it be enforced?

  35. DaithiD, "Simon, without patents there would be a reduction in research." I am not arguing for no patents at all. I am arguing against the current system of intellectual property rights which prices the developing countries out of medicine and creates monopolies for companies who produce those drugs.

    The patents shouldn't bind the market as strongly and shouldn't last as long either. Life-saving medicine should be available to all. Not just those in the west who can or whose governments can afford it.

    The current system is heavily imbalanced and unfair to the point of being unethical.

    I am surprised at anyone who is not a pharmaceutical magnate arguing in favour of such a sink or swim situation.

    Even many diehard capitalists want the rules changed to allow competition. Not just for the economy's sake but because their relatives can't afford the drugs they need.

  36. DaithiD, "As long as workers have the right to withdraw their labour, why do you care at what price they are willing to work?"

    We care because we are empathetic. We care about the insufficient pay and poor and unsafe working conditions that are endemic in many multinational firms' bases in developing countries. I can't speak for Mick but I care because the workers are human beings. Many can physically withdraw their labour but have no practical option but to work.

    If there was a viable alternative I am sure people would withdraw their labour. Why else risk your health or your life working in conditions less stringent than our own for pittance?

  37. DaithiD,

    Chomsky would appear to be on the money when he says "A basic principle of modern capitalism is that costs & risks are socialised, while profit is privatised". But at least you now seem to accept that greed is the engine. I think a system that increases the liberty of the more rather than the few is laudable. I believe the task of government is not to hold the ring so that the greediest can do well but to protect the weakest from the strong. Money is a great liberator and the less of it you have the less liberated you will be. If the liberty of a few to shaft and screw the rest of us is the liberty you want protected I don't at all mind the state curbing that liberty to the benefit of society.

    Can we eradicate greed? I don't believe so? Is there a risk of authoritarianism with socialism? Without doubt. It has never shown itself capable of doing anything else. Never trust revolutionaries. If the figures for security service penetration of say the Communist Party of Great Britain or the Provisional Movement, why would a revolutionary party be trustworthy in government?

    But, that said, at least we are moving away from the myth of the decent old industrious capitalist beavering away for the betterment of humanity and society to an acknowledgement that they are self serving greedy bastards who would rather see you die in the gutter than give you medicine if you could not pay.

  38. Sorry Simon, what do you mean competition? If someone can copy a drug that others have spent money researching and producing, eventually nothing would get done. Thats not called competition its called piracy. If the arguement is literally as you have described,I am not sure what Capitalists would argue differently? Do you have an example of this you could refer me to?

  39. Mick, Facebook is multinational, Google is a multinational.

    I rest my case, both are run by two faced shysters, back door Johnies.

  40. AM, I was against the bank bailouts, it was a Socialist solution to the problem, I understand that was the conclusion of the Owen Jones book you read too? In terms of greed, for arguements sake I was accepting it might be the motive of some. Im shocked you think the State is capable of deciding the worthyness of someones labour, and would do a better job than their peers. Do you trust the State to wield their power only in that area too?
    Simon, I think you are infantalising foreign people, seeing yourself as the White Saviour? As long as people are not slaves, I trust their rational choices in pursuit of self betterment.Perhaps "care" was the wrong word, it invites an emotional response.

  41. DaithiD,

    the bank bail outs were not a socialist solution but very much a capitalist solution guided by the same interventionist ethos (not anti capitalist) that you imply necessary to prevent the emergence of monopolies. It was a corrective measure to bolster up the stability of capitalism rather than move in in a socialist direction. The neocons and monetarists of the Hayek/Friedman school might see it as a socialist measure but that is for labelling purposes rather than analytical ones, but few others.

    I have yet to hear it said that the state is worthy of deciding anyone's labour. I think the question of labour value was very well addressed by Marx rather than the state. The state in a society that is supposed to be democratic has an obligation to prevent the democratic system being hollowed out to the point where it becomes little other than competitive elite democracy. That means protecting the vulnerable from the economic predators that prey on them and grind them into the ground in the name of freedom. A total different concept from the one you outlined whereby the state set labour value. Which makes me think you are no confident in your own argument, long assuming it was right without thinking as to why it might be. Now that the Left here have exposed all its fallacies you set up straw men which you fail to camouflage very well.

    No individual on this planet needs the amount of wealth that the greedy rich possess. Should Warren Buffet's billions be in his pockets or in the US health service, education system and public libraries?

  42. DaithiD, "Simon, I think you are infantalising foreign people, seeing yourself as the White Saviour?" Ah, I see the old derogatory ploy of charging racism when you have no valid points to back up your argument.

    "Do you have an example of this you could refer me to?"

    Yes I can. Medecins Sans Frontieresan entire campaign working against the big pharmaceuticals. Example.

    And... Intervention by USA

    The BBC also did a Report that is worth listening to.

    Apologies, I didn't have a chance to read the articles thoroughly as I am going to work. But I didn't want to keep you waiting. The first two links refer to the developing world and the latter to the more developed.

  43. AM, you have talked too much biomass on this subject, there is no getting through to you.

  44. Actually Anthony, Hayek and Friedman would have held opposing views on the bailouts. Although Thatcher proposed Hayek for the Nobel prize her policies were more in line with those of Friedman.

    Hayek believed that the market should be completely independent of the state and that no bank was too big to fail. Friedman and his followers were quite happy that the state should prop up banks and other failed private institutions. Their policy was to run down state enterprises until they almost collapsed then at the eleventh hour, pump masses of money into them, then sell them off for a song. Cameron is finishing the job now.

  45. Simon, are MSF die hard Capitalists? It was their advocacy of patent piracy I was skeptical of, Im yet to listen to the BBC link so perhaps its revealed in there, but so far you,Mick and AM could start your own Power Station with all this gassing.

  46. Michael,

    thanks for the clarification. My general point was based on their non-regulatory approach to Chile under Pinochet: this is the type of regime the capitalism DaithiD favours leads to: a mistrust of democracy, the uninhibited power of capital allowed to run rampant over the poor in the free market.

    Socialism is a far superior system ethically than one that is based on the power of naked greed. The problem for socialism is that the power hungry just reassemble under a different banner and make their bid to get to the top of the greasy pole. I don't have a problem with His mistrust of socialism; it is his lauding of such a rapacious, avaricious system such as the market.

  47. I couldn't disagree with any of that as I too share your fears about socialism, with visions of bureaucratic control and tiers of party privilege etc.

    There is a lot to be learned from the mistakes of the past, but I fear that most socialists haven't recognised the lessons. Democratic centralism, which was at the core of the communist party's theory and practice, is not democratic yet this is the basis of the internal life of the major socialist parties and would remain their favoured method of government.

    Many of Marx's theories have been proved correct so I'll stick close to him. Lenin's legacy is not so positive so I'm wary of those who hold him as an example of how to transform society.

  48. Mike,

    in my view Lenin didn't believe in socialism per se but in power. Socialist discourse was a way to attain power.

  49. DaithiD, I fear you are running round in circles chasing your own tail.

    I thought you were asking about evidence to show pharmaceutical companies abuse the patent system to price developing countries out of drugs. Which I have provided. Or that they price people in more developed countries out of drugs. I have provided evidence for that too.

    Are you really arguing that patients who can't afford non-generic medical drugs to cure serious illness like cancer or aids do not complain purely because they're capitalist?

    I think my statement has more merit than yours. For example, capitalists can be philanthropic. They can argue for a more equitable patent process without taking away from their economic outlook.

    I am unsure of what you are trying to say.

    Is it that all capitalists are happy with the patent process? Surely the capitalists who are in charge of the generic drug companies want competition? Surely capitalists suffering from cancer or aids want cheaper, generic drugs.

  50. Many of Marx's theories have been proved correct

    Michael,how would a billion dollar company like Facebook attain such value, based on code scripts written in a few hours if that was true? Additionally the majority of the workers never even had an input in this either. Its measurable that "value" comes from demand.

  51. DaithiD, "It was their advocacy of patent piracy I was skeptical of"

    Piracy is illegal. Campaigning for patent laws to be relaxed to allow for more generic, non-brand name drugs to be produced is perfectly legal. You are confusing piracy which is illegal with legal generic drugs.

    If more generic drugs are produced it creates competition in the market. The current patent laws are unfair towards the sick and greatly in favour of the pharmaceutical giants.

    Campaigning for the ability to reduce patent enforcement times and to create generic drugs sooner is legal.

  52. DaithiD,

    that would be use value which is not the same thing. In use value an apple that causes no labour to make it might command a high price if somebody was hungry enough or parched enough with sufficient cash to sell it to some exploiter looking an exorbitant price. It is as much Thomistic as it is Marxian. Ricardo also employed it.

  53. Answered by Anthony! Price and value are not the same thing. The labour instilled in actually designing and running Facebook, is a tiny fraction of the market value, which is based on the advertising revenue it brings in.

    How much of the advertising on F.B. could be termed 'socially useful'?

    Marx's Labour Theory of Value and Value, Price and Profit are worth a read.

  54. I don't want to reignite the above debate just wanted to add a recent example of pharmaceutical companies out-pricing patients.


  55. Hi could you please inform me if the Biomass plant is going ahead in grays and if so can this be stopped.

    1. Please use a handle when posting as Unknown