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latest news

Greece
Syriza-led government announces anti-austerity policies

30/01/2015: Markets and EU leaders react against Athens

  Greece

Saudi Arabia
’Defenders of democracy’ mourn despot’s death

30/01/2015: Atrocious human rights records no concern for Western powers

  Saudi Arabia

Greece
Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?

29/01/2015: For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

  Greece

Greece
Syriza victory shows austerity elite can be beaten

29/01/2015: An inspiration for workers and youth across Europe

  Britain, Greece

Greece
Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse

27/01/2015: Left parties fail to form government - Syriza goes into coalition with populist right Independent Greeks

  Europe, Greece

China
Slowest growth rate since 1990

25/01/2015: Economy decelerated 30 percent in five years

  China

Cuba
Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased

24/01/2015: Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates

  Cuba, US

Northern Ireland
Water service workers win important victory

23/01/2015: A victory for all workers and an inspiration to resist the ‘race to the bottom’

  Ireland North

Sri Lanka
Mobilise now to defend our demands

22/01/2015: Article first published in the Colombo Telegraph

  Sri Lanka

 US
Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address

21/01/2015: "Why can’t Barack Obama say “Black Lives Matter”?"

  US, Video

Russia/Ukraine
Facing a turbulent 2015

21/01/2015: As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall

  Russia, Ukraine

Greece
Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes

20/01/2015: Mass intervention of working class to struggle for socialist policies is vital

  Greece

Nigeria
The Massacre in Baga

19/01/2015: Socialism or Barbarism

  Nigeria

Review
‘Eleanor Marx - a life’

17/01/2015: Clare Doyle reviews ’Eleanor Marx - A Life’ by Rachel Holmes

  Review

 Video
Joe Higgins questions Irish Central Bank governor

16/01/2015: Socialist MP grills establishment over banking bubble and collapse

  Video

Nigeria
2015 general elections and the working masses

16/01/2015: Boko Haram and the war in the north-east

  Nigeria

  Video
Ruth Coppinger calls for referendum on abortion rights in Ireland

15/01/2015: "You march in Paris, yet uphold laws any religious fundamentalist would envy"

  Ireland Republic, Video, Women

 Video
A year of struggle in Brazil

14/01/2015: LSR members intervene in struggles of 2014

  Brazil, Video

Sri Lanka
New but uncertain period opens up

14/01/2015: President Sirisena aims for clean government but will face difficulties

  Sri Lanka

Iran
Labour and children’s rights activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, sentenced to another nine years

13/01/2015: International action needed to overturn latest conviction and to immediately release Behnam

  Iran

Germany
What is behind the ‘PEGIDA’ anti-immigrant demonstrations?

13/01/2015: Unions and Left must organise against racism and for jobs and decent living standards for all

  Germany

France
Millions march for solidarity

12/01/2015: Unity against racism and capitalism!

  France

New Zealand
Extreme poverty worsens

12/01/2015: Workers need to build political alternative to major parties’ big business agenda

  New Zealand

France
Counter terrorist threat with workers-led mass unity

10/01/2015: The shocking, cold blooded slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, and more killings in subsequent days, has been met with mass outrage

  France

Norway
General strike called for 28 January

10/01/2015: Two-hour protest against worsening working conditions

  Norway

Sri Lanka
Rajapaksa defeated

09/01/2015: Period of uncertainty opens

  Sri Lanka

Sweden
New elections cancelled

09/01/2015: “Peace deal” between government and right-wing opposition

  Sweden

Greece
Towards a Syriza government?

08/01/2015: General elections on 25 January

  Greece

France
Deadly attack on satirical paper Charlie Hebdo

08/01/2015: Defend freedom of speech! Don’t let us be divided!

  France

Hong Kong
Politics transformed by ‘Umbrella Revolution’

07/01/2015: A fighting democratic movement must be created to continue and build upon this historic “first round”

  Hong Kong

Israel-Palestine
A successful Socialism conference in the shadow of national divide

06/01/2015: Over 150 people participated in the ‘Socialism Conference 2014’ in Tel Aviv, organised by the Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM - CWI in Israel-Palestine)

  Israel / Palestine

Northern Ireland
The Stormont House Agreement

05/01/2015: Agreeing Not To Agree, Again

  Ireland Republic

Environment
Market forces hold back renewable energy

01/01/2015: Have capitalist governments around the world finally woken up to the danger of global warming?

  Environment

New Year
Political and economic ingredients for volatile 2015

31/12/2014: As crisis of capitalism worsens, vital to organise and continue the struggle

  Britain, Europe, World Economy

Britain
In defence of TUSC

30/12/2014: As the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition gears up for its biggest ever electoral stand…

  Britain, US

Britain

Con-Dem government propose denationalisation of NHS

www.socialistworld.net, 26/07/2010
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

For trade union led mass campaign to stop destruction of Health Service!

From The Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)

Using the cover of ‘saving’ money by reducing ‘bureaucracy’, the Conservative/Liberal Democrats (‘Con-Dem’) coalition government is effectively proposing the wholesale privatisation of the National Health Service (NHS). In doing so, Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg aim to finish what Margaret Thatcher started in the 1980s and Labour enthusiastically continued.

Andrew Lansley, the new Tory health minister, has set out his government’s plans to reduce the NHS to dust. Far from the stated aim of cutting bureaucracy and saving money, these plans are predicted to cost £1.7 billion to implement. Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, summed up the proposals: “From a major public service with a million employees, [the NHS] will have become a central fund with a minimal workforce, commissioning services from a string of private companies in a fully-fledged health care market.”

The NHS is due to be turned completely on its head and there is no doubt that chaos will follow. If Andrew Lansley succeeds in getting his legislation passed the NHS logo will be all that remains to be misused by a multitude of new health care providers.

Private companies that specialise in ‘out-sourcing’ of public services, such as Capita, Serco and many others, are lining up to take advantage of the huge profits they can make by the ‘denationalisation’ of the NHS. Richard Marchant, one of the heads at Capita, openly stated that the ‘problems’ in the public sector represent a ‘significant opportunity’ for his company.

The White Paper

Can it be managed by the ‘third sector’? Can it be cut? Can it be privatised? These are the three questions the new Con-Dem government is asking about the NHS.

The White Paper calls for more and more NHS services (including those which directly provide patient care) to be tendered out to ‘any willing provider’. Private companies will be lining up for their golden opportunity to take their pick of the most lucrative NHS services.

Profit maximisation in the NHS will have a profoundly damaging impact on a service, which was designed to have the needs of the patient at the heart of its core philosophy. Lansley is explicit about his desire to “create the largest social enterprise sector in the world”.

The idea of the ‘internal market’ was first introduced into the NHS by Thatcher in the 1980s and it was carried on with zeal by Tony Blair’s New Labour administration. One aspect of the market policy is that various NHS services get ‘split off’ into separate components and they are then tendered out to companies like Serco.

This process has happened wholesale in all NHS cleaning and catering services and it is happening increasingly with phlebotomy (blood taking) services. We have all borne witness to the damage inflicted on the NHS via PFI (private finance initiatives) which basically gave construction companies carte blanche to lock NHS trusts into long term, hugely expensive contracts for building new hospitals. NHS trusts ended up in massive amounts of debt as public funds were effectively diverted into the pockets of company shareholders.

The GMB union has identified around 640 current PFIs and more than 100 new projects in the pipeline (across all public services, although many may now be cut). The total cost was estimated at £250 billion over 25-30 years, four times the value of the assets built (£64 billion). This is equivalent to £8,400 per taxpayer.

Duplication of existing services will also be encouraged under the pretext of ‘offering choice’ and this production of excess capacity will lead to unnecessary waste.

Extended role of the GP

Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) are to be completely abolished by 2013. This will fundamentally change the structure of the NHS and radically alter the existing funding and commissioning of health care. These changes will be costly and complicated to implement.

Groups of GP surgeries (consortia) will be handed responsibility for up to 80% of the £100 billion health budget. GPs will increasingly have their eyes on budgets rather than on providing and accessing care for their patient population.

When money is a factor in a GP’s decision-making this will make purchasing the cheapest, possibly less effective health care option more attractive, regardless of a patient’s clinical need. GPs will end up avoiding referring patients on for specialist investigations and services that are deemed to be ‘too expensive’ or are not deemed to provide ‘value for money’.

35,000 doctors could form up to 500 consortia, which will then ‘buy care’ from local hospitals or other providers, including private organisations. They will hire staff to manage these processes. While some have welcomed this proposal, Unison reports that around half of GPs are opposed.

GPs are not trained for their new commissioning responsibilities and will need to employ existing commissioners to help them. Capita, for example, is already offering to ‘help’ GPs with billing and human resources etc. It is acknowledged in the White Paper that GPs will not fully understand all of the complex areas of the specialist services, eg mental health services, that they will be commissioning.

According to Rethink, a mental health charity, two-thirds of GPs say they lack the expertise to commission mental health services. Ignorance of the value of a particular service will rapidly lead to ‘disinvestment’ which is the current NHS buzz term for cutting a service.

There are some GPs who wisely realise that they are going to be handed a ‘poisoned chalice’ and will end up implementing the government’s hidden agenda of carrying out cuts to patient services.

‘Efficiency savings’, i.e. cuts of £20 billion, are expected over the next few years and if GP consortia are deemed to ‘fail’, i.e. overspend on their allocated budgets, the government is being explicit about the fact that there will be no ‘bailouts’. Any failure will pave the way for other groups with vested interests to take away the health care commissioning role from a GP consortium.

Effects on existing NHS staff

The abolition of the PCTs and SHAs will lead to masses of job losses as all of the existing staff cannot be absorbed into the new structure. Admin workers and other ancillary staff will be hit the hardest. In the meantime Andrew Lansley is already busying himself finding cushy, lucrative roles for the old bosses of the quangos.

Dame Barbara Hakin, chief executive of NHS East Midlands, has already secured a role for herself as one of the directors of the new NHS commissioning board. She will be paid £200,000 a year in the midst of ‘the very challenging financial position’ to which Lansley alludes.

In the meantime, the accelerated privatisation of the remainder of the NHS will mean that the contracts of NHS staff will change and our pay and conditions will most likely be driven down in the process. Staff will find that who they work for, what they work for and the way in which they work will change fundamentally.

Lansley is signing the death warrant for national pay bargaining and agreements: “Pay decisions should be led by health care employers rather than imposed by the government. In future, all individual employers will have the right, as foundation trusts have now, to determine pay for their own staff.” NHS workers’ pensions are also under threat.

The White Paper also proposes changes in the provision of staff training which will be outsourced to the cheapest bidder. There is a real risk that the content and the quality of training will evolve over time to incorporate more of a ‘business ethos’ with reduced emphasis on the needs of the patient being at the heart of operational philosophy.

Staff who entered the service because they care about patients will end up feeling completely demoralised as they are pressurised to ensure that ‘the company is successful’.

The cost of caring

The drive towards ‘payment by results’ and introducing ‘currencies’ for units of care will be pushed forward and standardised. This is to ensure that service providers can be compared with each other and to increase competition between an ever-growing number of health care providers.

Prices for service provision will inevitably rise as new technologies, medicines and treatments are refined and developed. An organisation called ‘Monitor’ will be involved in price regulation, but only for publicly provided NHS services.

Competition rather than cooperation will become the order of the day. Disputes between providers could become a reality and the resolution of these disputes via the courts could put further strain on the public purse.

Health and social services will be integrated further and their budgets will be pooled. This integration has already been started and staff are finding that they have to take on additional roles and responsibilities for which they are not trained. This has a negative impact on the quality of care a patient receives.

Integration of services also leads to services being centralised in one building and patients then have to travel miles out of their local area to access the service they need.

Funding arrangements for social care are being scrutinised by the government and they are openly admitting that they are considering voluntary health insurance as one of the payment options. Of course this option will not be open to everyone, particularly the unemployed and could directly lead to those most in need of services being excluded.

Patient information

The White Paper proposes radical changes to the way in which patients communicate with health care professionals. Patients and professionals will be encouraged to communicate about a patient’s health status online. This is a time-saving exercise and there is no evidence that patients have requested this style of communication or will value this ‘arm’s length’, and essentially dehumanising, approach.

There will be implications for patients as their confidential health information will be shared with a multitude of newer, profit-driven, health and social care providers and the government has yet to clarify the legal situation around this.

In reality it will be very difficult for GP consortia and the new NHS commissioning board to ensure that these many and varied health care providers are held accountable to the public.

A patient’s confidential information could end up being misused in a variety of ways and there will be more opportunities for confidentiality to be breached and privacy eroded.

These plans must be stopped

These proposed changes will make a mockery of the founding principles of the NHS constitution. Legislation still needs to get through parliament in order to effect the changes so urgent, nationwide action is needed right now to send a clear message to Andrew Lansley and the big business vultures that we, the NHS staff and service users will not tolerate the massacre of our NHS.

During the general election campaign Labour candidates liked to dress in the cloak of saviours of the NHS. This was and is pure hypocrisy. Labour’s 13-year reign saw the massive expansion of the internal market in the NHS while Private Finance Initiatives sucked up enormous amounts of public money, depositing them in the pockets of private, profiteering contractors. Lansley’s plan is but the next logical step.

While all three main parties agree wholeheartedly on the ‘need’ for private companies in the NHS the majority of public opinion wants the NHS to remain a publicly owned and run service. An overwhelming 89% of the public agree that “public services should be run by the government or local authorities, rather than by private companies”, according to a 2005 YouGov poll. A mass workers’ party that represents that majority view is desperately needed as part of the struggle to save the NHS.

We cannot sit back and allow this government to sell off the NHS. The Socialist Party calls for the formation of a broad coalition of NHS staff (nurses, ancillary and medical staff), trade unions, patients, carers, community and health campaigners to coordinate a nationwide campaign to save what remains of the NHS and rebuild it before it’s too late.

We urgently need a national trade union-led demonstration against all cuts in jobs and services. The slogans for this demonstration must include opposition to the destruction of the NHS and for kicking out the profiteers, as well as defence of health jobs and services.

The Socialist Party calls for:

End all privatisation. Return privatised services to NHS control.

Take PFI hospitals and all other privately owned aspects of the health service back from big business. Publicly fund and integrate them with the rest of the NHS.

End Foundation Trusts. For democratic control of local health services by elected health workers and community representatives as well as elected representatives from local and national government.

Nationalise the big construction companies, service companies, medical supply and pharmaceutical industries that are taking billions of pounds out of the NHS.

Build anti-cuts unions in every area to defend the NHS and all our jobs and public services.



Europe

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US: Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address, 21/01/2015

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NEWS

Greece: Syriza-led government announces anti-austerity policies
30/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Markets and EU leaders react against Athens

Saudi Arabia: ’Defenders of democracy’ mourn despot’s death
30/01/2015, Simon Carter, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Atrocious human rights records no concern for Western powers

Greece: Syriza victory shows austerity elite can be beaten
29/01/2015, Editorial of The Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
An inspiration for workers and youth across Europe

China: Slowest growth rate since 1990
25/01/2015, chinaworker.info reporters:
Economy decelerated 30 percent in five years

Northern Ireland: Water service workers win important victory
23/01/2015, Donal O’Cofaigh, Socialist Party, Fermanagh:
A victory for all workers and an inspiration to resist the ‘race to the bottom’

Sri Lanka: Mobilise now to defend our demands
22/01/2015, Tu Senan, International Coordinator of the Tamil Solidarity campaign:
Article first published in the Colombo Telegraph

US: Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address
21/01/2015, Socialistworld.net, via socialistalternative.org:
"Why can’t Barack Obama say “Black Lives Matter”?"

Review: ‘Eleanor Marx - a life’
17/01/2015, Clare Doyle, CWI. Article published in the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Clare Doyle reviews ’Eleanor Marx - A Life’ by Rachel Holmes

Video: Joe Higgins questions Irish Central Bank governor
16/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
Socialist MP grills establishment over banking bubble and collapse

Nigeria: 2015 general elections and the working masses
16/01/2015, Aj. Dagga Tolar and Kola Ibrahim, DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Boko Haram and the war in the north-east

Video: Ruth Coppinger calls for referendum on abortion rights in Ireland
15/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
"You march in Paris, yet uphold laws any religious fundamentalist would envy"

Video: A year of struggle in Brazil
14/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
LSR members intervene in struggles of 2014

Sri Lanka: New but uncertain period opens up
14/01/2015, Clare Doyle, CWI:
President Sirisena aims for clean government but will face difficulties

Iran: Labour and children’s rights activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, sentenced to another nine years
13/01/2015, Campaign in Support Workers of Iran:
International action needed to overturn latest conviction and to immediately release Behnam

France: Millions march for solidarity
12/01/2015, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
Unity against racism and capitalism!

New Zealand: Extreme poverty worsens
12/01/2015, CWI Reporters, NZ/Aotearoa:
Workers need to build political alternative to major parties’ big business agenda

France: Counter terrorist threat with workers-led mass unity
10/01/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) website editorial:
The shocking, cold blooded slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, and more killings in subsequent days, has been met with mass outrage

Norway: General strike called for 28 January
10/01/2015, Trond Sverre and Elise Kollveit (CWI, Oslo):
Two-hour protest against worsening working conditions

Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa defeated
09/01/2015, TU Senan, CWI:
Period of uncertainty opens

Sweden: New elections cancelled
09/01/2015, Questions answered by Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
“Peace deal” between government and right-wing opposition

France: Deadly attack on satirical paper Charlie Hebdo
08/01/2015, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
Defend freedom of speech! Don’t let us be divided!

Hong Kong: Politics transformed by ‘Umbrella Revolution’
07/01/2015, Editorial from Socialist magazine《社會主義者, of CWI in China and Hong Kong:
A fighting democratic movement must be created to continue and build upon this historic “first round”

Israel-Palestine: A successful Socialism conference in the shadow of national divide
06/01/2015, Or Dar, Socialist Struggle Movement, CWI in Israel-Palestine:
Over 150 people participated in the ‘Socialism Conference 2014’ in Tel Aviv, organised by the Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM - CWI in Israel-Palestine)

Environment: Market forces hold back renewable energy
01/01/2015, Pete Dickinson, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Have capitalist governments around the world finally woken up to the danger of global warming?

Britain: In defence of TUSC
30/12/2014, Clive Heemskerk, from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
As the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition gears up for its biggest ever electoral stand…

CWI: National Question a key feature of political crisis of capitalism
28/12/2014, Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI Scotland):
A socialist solution to national oppression

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Greece: Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?
29/01/2015, Article from Xekhinima (CWI Greece) website [dated 26 January 2015] translated and slightly edited:
For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

Greece: Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse
27/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, socialistworld.net, interviews Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Left parties fail to form government - Syriza goes into coalition with populist right Independent Greeks

Cuba: Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased
24/01/2015, Tony Saunois, CWI:
Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates

Russia/Ukraine: Facing a turbulent 2015
21/01/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall

Greece: Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes
20/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
Mass intervention of working class to struggle for socialist policies is vital

Nigeria: The Massacre in Baga
19/01/2015, H.T Soweto, DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Socialism or Barbarism

Germany: What is behind the ‘PEGIDA’ anti-immigrant demonstrations?
13/01/2015, Wolfram Klein, Socialist Alternative (SAV- CWI Germany):
Unions and Left must organise against racism and for jobs and decent living standards for all

Greece: Towards a Syriza government?
08/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
General elections on 25 January

Northern Ireland: The Stormont House Agreement
05/01/2015, Michael Cleary, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Agreeing Not To Agree, Again

New Year: Political and economic ingredients for volatile 2015
31/12/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
As crisis of capitalism worsens, vital to organise and continue the struggle

Latin America: The end of one cycle and the beginning of another
17/12/2014, socialistworld.net:
Document on Latin America, agreed by CWI International Executive Committee

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
15/12/2014, CWI International Executive Committee:
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Sri Lanka: Presidential Election January 8, 2015
11/12/2014, Interview with Siritunga Jayasuriya, USP (CWI Sri Lanka):
Socialist candidate challenges all other forces

Australia: Major community victory stops Melbourne’s East-West Toll Road
08/12/2014, By Socialist Party (CWI Australia) reporters, Melbourne:
Socialist Party leads successful campaign against Toll Road and for investment in public transport

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
27/11/2014, International Secretariat of the CWI :
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Ireland: Lies and distortions against community protests, the AAA and the Socialist Party
21/11/2014, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) reporters:
Government and Water Charges completely undermined

Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu threatens “heavy hand” response to synagogue attacks
19/11/2014, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM):
New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

Ukraine: Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions
15/11/2014, Rob Jones, CWI Moscow:
Working people need socialist alternative to warring oligarchs and outside powers

Northern Ireland: 20 years after the ceasefires
10/11/2014, Ciaran Mulholland, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
In 1994, the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries called ceasefires. Four years later the Good Friday agreement was declared to mark the end of the ‘Troubles’…

Germany: 25 years since November 9
09/11/2014, By Robert Bechert, CWI, who was living in Berlin in 1989:
Berlin Wall brought down by mass revolutionary movement

Elections in Brazil
07/11/2014, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Narrow win for Dilma sets scene for more crisis and instability

Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution
07/11/2014, Clare Doyle, CWI:
November 7th anniversary of workers taking power

Ireland: Stunning Dublin by-election victory, huge water protests…new chapter for working class resistance
04/11/2014, Kevin McLoughlin, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
How the Anti Austerity Alliance won a parliamentary seat and the way forward for the Left

Kurdistan: Battle for Kobanê at a crossroads
31/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
What does US military ‘assistance’ mean for the Kurdish struggle?

A ‘third industrial revolution’
28/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
New technological innovations are having a huge impact on the capitalist system, a subject explored in a new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society.