There has been a huge amount of concern about rising inflation in recent months, and it’s made worse by the fact that wage inflation has not been keeping up. A few workers in high-paid jobs have enjoyed higher bonuses and inflation-busting pay rises – it has just been reported that CEO pay has recovered to pre-pandemic levels for instance. But for the majority of workers, higher price inflation is now eroding the real value of what they earn.
More than a fifth of workers are struggling to afford the things they need to live. For them, the cost of living crisis is not some hackneyed political slogan but a fact of life. It spells real hardship. Its resolution calls for a rethinking of policies towards inflation and indeed the economy more generally.
Economics textbooks teach us that lower unemployment is the cause of higher wage inflation – the negative relationship between unemployment and wage growth forms the basis of the so-called Phillips curve. The textbooks also refer to the possibility of wage-price spirals, where higher prices fuel higher wages. This way of thinking gained support from the experience of the 1970s, when higher prices and higher wages coexisted, leading to a period of stagflation.
But the present shows us how price inflation and wage inflation can be decoupled. As a challenge to economic theory, workers are facing cuts in their real pay with seemingly no prospect of wages catching up with headline inflation. This is despite the fact that unemployment is low. Lower real living standards now represent the price of being in paid work and the cost of an economy that is jobs-rich.
Growth in pay, inflation and unemployment (%)
Why the low wage inflation?
Wages have actually been in the doldrums ever since the global financial crisis of 2007-08. Real wages sank in the years immediately after that crisis, and although they were able to increase again on the back of very low inflation from 2012 onwards, they only returned to 2008 levels very recently.
The fact that this is all they have achieved in a period of low unemployment is something of a paradox. It is not entirely clear how to explain this, but several factors are potentially important.
First, there is the decline of union power together with the rise in firm power. Unlike the 1970s, British workers are not able to collectively demand and secure pay rises via union organisation. They face bargaining at an individual level, and the best way to get higher pay is often to find a new job. The increase in market power of firms also helps to explain why profits have risen: they’re up around 60% in real terms in 20 years, compared to growth in workers’ real wages of about 14%.
Second, there are other measures of unemployment. While recorded unemployment has fallen, the actual level of unemployment is higher: workers on incapacity benefits – in relatively large numbers in particular areas such as Wales and Scotland – would be in work if suitable jobs were available, but are not counted in the official unemployment statistics.
The fact that there has been a recent rise in economic inactivity, with workers (particularly older ones) exiting the labour force, also suggests some hidden unemployment. This matters because it implies that workers’ bargaining power may be less than what the headline measures of unemployment suggest.
Third, there is the role of lags. While wage inflation may not be rising by as much price inflation now, in the coming months, some argue it will begin to rise and perhaps even overtake price inflation. This argument has been put by the Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, leading him to call for wage restraint.
But while the possibility of above-inflation wage rises cannot be ruled out, it seems far-fetched to think that workers – in all sectors and regions – will be able to assert their power in ways that protect their real wages. Indeed, before any lags are realised, the prospect of wage inflation catching up with headline inflation may be stifled by unemployment rising in response to the economy contracting.
Time for new policies
At present, central banks in the UK and other countries are fighting inflation by raising interest rates and reversing the “money creation” that they were doing under quantitative easing. With inflation forecast by the Bank of England to peak at around 10% in the next few months, this policy approach looks less and less convincing. Rather, new policies are needed to ensure that wages catch up with headline inflation, especially if workers are not to suffer economic harm.
It is a welcome step that the government is (belatedly) offering direct financial support to the least well-off in society to help with soaring energy bills. While the government announced some time ago that it plans to increase corporation tax from 19% to 25% for most firms from 2023, it has only just decided to impose a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to help pay for this support, having previously resisted pressure to do so. The wider lesson from this U-turn is that the state has a responsibility to protect the economically disadvantaged, and that includes redistributing income in this way.
Yet it is concerning that the support payments are one-offs. Will the government offer new cash transfers in the future if energy prices keep on rising? Its fiscally conservative instincts are likely to prevent this from happening.
In any case, support payments do not help raise wage inflation to levels that match headline inflation. This would be easier to achieve if workers had greater bargaining power.
Restoring the bargaining power of workers necessitates radical reforms. It entails reimagining corporate governance structures and giving workers more of a say in firms. It also entails strengthening union power and widening forms of public and worker ownership.
Only until we address the imbalances in power that entrench low real pay will we secure an economy that is sustainable and run in the interests of everyone, not just the few.
In this specific predicament, U.S. officials have to choose a strategy to deliver the aid without the perception of benefiting Hamas, a group the U.S. and Israel both classify as a terrorist organization.
When aiding people in war zones, you can’t just send money, a development strategy called “cash transfers” that has become increasingly popular due to its efficiency. Sending money can boost the supply of locally produced goods and services and help people on the ground pay for what they need most. But injecting cash into an economy so completely cut off from the world would only stoke inflation.
So the aid must consist of goods that have to be brought into Gaza, and services provided by people working as part of an aid mission. Humanitarian aid can include food and water; health, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services; and tents and other materials for shelter and settlement.
Due to the closure of the border with Israel, aid can arrive in Gaza only via the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, will likely turn to its longtime partner on the ground, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, to serve as supply depots and distribute goods. That agency, originally founded in 1949 as a temporary measure until a two-state solution could be found, serves in effect as a parallel yet unelected government for Palestinian refugees.
USAID will likely want to tap into UNRWA’s network of 284 schools – many of which are now transformed into humanitarian shelters housing two-thirds of the estimated 1 million people displaced by Israeli airstrikes – and 22 hospitals to expedite distribution.
Since Biden took office, total yearly U.S. assistance for the Palestinian territories has totaled around $150 million, restored from just $8 million in 2020 under the Trump administration. During the Obama administration, however, the U.S. was providing more aid to the territories than it is now, with $1 billion disbursed in the 2013 fiscal year.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is a U.N. organization. It’s not run by Hamas, unlike, for instance, the Gaza Ministry of Health. However, Hamas has frequently undermined UNRWA’s efforts and diverted international aid for military purposes.
Humanitarian aid professionals regularly have to contend with these trade-offs when deciding to what extent they can work with governments and local authorities that commit violent acts. They need to do so in exchange for the access required to help civilians under their control.
Similarly, Biden has had to make concessions to Israel while brokering for the freedom to send humanitarian aid to Gaza. For example, he has assured Israel that if any of the aid is diverted by Hamas, the operation will cease.
This promise may have been politically necessary. But if Biden already believes Hamas to be uncaring about civilian welfare, he may not expect the group to refrain from taking what they can.
Security best practices
What can be done to protect the security of humanitarian aid operations that take place in the midst of dangerous conflicts?
Under International Humanitarian Law, local authorities have the primary responsibility for ensuring the delivery of aid – even when they aren’t carrying out that task. To increase the chances that the local authorities will not attack them, aid groups can give “humanitarian notification” and voluntarily alert the local government as to where they will be operating.
Under the current agreement between the U.S., Israel and Egypt, the convoy will raise the U.N. flag. International inspectors will make sure no weapons are on board the vehicles before crossing over from Arish, Egypt, to Rafah, a city located on the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.
The aid convoy will likely cross without militarized security. This puts it at some danger of diversion once inside Gaza. But whether the aid convoy is attacked, seized or left alone, the Biden administration will have demonstrated its willingness to attempt a humanitarian relief operation. In this sense, a relatively small first convoy bearing water, medical supplies and food, among other items, serves as a test balloon for a sustained operation to follow soon after.
In that case, the presence of U.S. armed forces might provoke attacks on Gaza-bound aid convoys by Hamas and Islamic jihad fighters that otherwise would not have occurred. Combined with the mobilization of two U.S. Navy carrier groups in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, I’d be concerned that such a move might also stoke regional anger. It would undermine the Biden administration’s attempts to cool the situation.
On U.N.-approved missions, aid delivery may be secured by third-party peacekeepers – meaning, in this case, personnel who are neither Israeli nor Palestinian – with the U.N. Security Council’s blessing. In this case, tragically, it’s unlikely that such a resolution could conceivably pass such a vote, much less quickly enough to make a difference.
Topher L. McDougal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
“The majority of wound infections often manifest themselves immediately postoperatively, so close followup should take place […]”
Credit: 2023 Barbarewicz et al.
“The majority of wound infections often manifest themselves immediately postoperatively, so close followup should take place […]”
BUFFALO, NY- October 20, 2023 – A new research perspective was published in Oncoscience (Volume 10) on October 4, 2023, entitled, “Diagnosis and management of postoperative wound infections in the head and neck region.”
In everyday clinical practice at a department for oral and maxillofacial surgery, a large number of surgical procedures in the head and neck region take place under both outpatient and inpatient conditions. The basis of every surgical intervention is the patient’s consent to the respective procedure. Particular attention is drawn to the general and operation-specific risks.
Particularly in the case of soft tissue procedures in the facial region, bleeding, secondary bleeding, scarring and infection of the surgical area are among the most common complications/risks, depending on the respective procedure. In their new perspective, researchers Filip Barbarewicz, Kai-Olaf Henkel and Florian Dudde from Army Hospital Hamburg in Germany discuss the diagnosis and management of postoperative infections in the head and neck region.
“In order to minimize the wound infections/surgical site infections, aseptic operating conditions with maximum sterility are required.”
Furthermore, depending on the extent of the surgical procedure and the patient‘s previous illnesses, peri- and/or postoperative antibiotics should be considered in order to avoid postoperative surgical site infection. Abscesses, cellulitis, phlegmone and (depending on the location of the procedure) empyema are among the most common postoperative infections in the respective surgical area. The main pathogens of these infections are staphylococci, although mixed (germ) patterns are also possible.
“Risk factors for the development of a postoperative surgical site infection include, in particular, increased age, smoking, multiple comorbidities and/or systemic diseases (e.g., diabetes mellitus type II) as well as congenital and/ or acquired immune deficiency [10, 11].”
Continue reading the paper: DOI:https://doi.org/10.18632/oncoscience.589
Correspondence to: Florian Dudde
Keywords: surgical site infection, head and neck surgery
Oncoscience is a peer-reviewed, open-access, traditional journal covering the rapidly growing field of cancer research, especially emergent topics not currently covered by other journals. This journal has a special mission: Freeing oncology from publication cost. It is free for the readers and the authors.
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G77 Nations, China, Push Back On U.S. "Loss And Damage" Climate Fund In Days Leading Up To UN Summit
As was the case in primary school with bringing in presents, make sure you bring enough for the rest of the class, otherwise people get ornery...
This age old rule looks like it could be rearing its head in the days leading up to the UN COP 28 climate summit, set to take place in the United Arab Emirates in about six weeks.
At the prior UN COP 27, which took place in Egypt last year, the U.S. pushed an idea for a new World Bank "loss and damage" climate slush fund to help poor countries with climate change. But the G77 nations plus China, including many developing countries, are pushing back on the idea, according to a new report from the Financial Times.
The goal was to arrange how the fund would operate and where the money would come from for the "particularly vulnerable" nations who would have access to it prior to the upcoming summit in UAE.
But as FT notes, Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, the Cuban chair of the G77 plus China group, has said that talks about these details were instead "deadlocked" over issues of - you guessed it - where the money is going and the governance of the fund.
The U.S.'s proposal for the fund to be governed by the World Bank has been rejected by the G77 after "extensive" discussions, the report says. Cuesta has said that the nations seek to have the fund managed elsewhere, but that the U.S. wasn't open to such arrangements.
Cuesta said: “We have been confronted with an elephant in the room, and that elephant is the US. We have been faced with a very closed position that it is [the World Bank] or nothing.”
Christina Chan, a senior adviser to US climate envoy John Kerry, responded: “We have been working diligently at every turn to address concerns, problem-solve, and find landing zones.” She said the U.S. has been "clear and consistent" in their messaging on the need for the fund.
Cuesta contends that the World Bank, known for lending to less affluent nations, lacks a "climate culture" and often delays decision-making, hindering quick responses to climate emergencies like Pakistan's recent severe flooding.
The G77 coalition voiced concerns about the World Bank's legal framework potentially limiting the fund's ability to accept diverse funding sources like philanthropic donations or to access capital markets.
With just days left before the UN COP 28 summit, the World Bank insists that combating climate change is integral to its mission and vows to collaborate on structuring the fund.