Tag Archives | Austerity

Further Notes From Greece: Compromise and Capitulation

With the deadline fast approaching for an embattled and financially desperate Greece, Alexis Tsipras and his left-right coalition rallied and tabled a bail-out and reform proposal to the European creditors Thursday evening. Saturday morning saw the government of Greece, by a large majority, accept and back the proposal for negotiations in the coming days. In comes the desperate proposal, in come the compromises and capitulations.

Photo: Philly boy92 (CC)

Photo: Philly boy92 (CC)

Five months of stalemate and bluff have led to this weekend and, after everything that’s happened, it’s not surprising that Tsipras has finally been beaten into submission, made malleable enough to seek the reinstatement of austerity to his damaged and struggling country in the hope of debt restructuring and further bailout. It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing. Politics is the grinding wheel of disappointment.

Even when one is the wielder of great power and influence, political negotiation can be difficult and laced with traps, but when vulnerable, in a position of weakness and without any recognisable leverage, it becomes virtually impossible without compromising your position or appealing to humanitarian compassion.… Read the rest

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Piketty on National Debt: “Germany has never repaid.”

Via Daily Kos:

In a blistering interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit, Piketty [the famed French economist and author of the best-seller, Capital in the Twenty‑First Century] blasts Germany and it’s history of repayment of debt over the years, and it’s attitudes toward its fellow EU neighbor, Greece. In brief, he tells the interviewer in no uncertain terms that Germany never repaid their loans; yet they hold others to a higher standard of responsibility.

ZEIT: But shouldn’t they repay their debts?

Piketty: My book recounts the history of income and wealth, including that of nations. What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them.

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Notes from the Greek Crisis: the collective spirit

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It is hard sometimes in this modern age, to wake up and continue living without the weight of accumulated worry seeming too heavy to carry. Another day full of dread – complete with the cranial pressures of global news. Another day full of sorrow – worn thin by the liquid demands of human existence.

The world woke up this morning – Monday morning here in the Southern hemisphere – to face the reality of Greece’s resounding referendum. It took a while to sink in – ‘No’ to more austerity measures, ‘No’ to more troika bully tactics. And while we know it’s not that simple – as nothing gets wrapped up so easily without more trouble to follow – it still counts as a piece of old-fashioned magic, something not seen for so long we’ve forgotten what to call it. Sometimes a gift comes wrapped in a problem.

There is so much to say about the state of our global realities that it often pours out in streams, uncontrollable and chaotic, and without any clear signifying thread.… Read the rest

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The rebellion in Baltimore is an uprising against austerity, claims top US academic

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Ed Vulliamy writes at The Guardian:

For Baltimore to be the setting for the latest in a recent spate of high-profile police murders and riots in America – after Ferguson, New York and North Charleston – is especially compelling in the public imagination because the city was also the location for David Simon’s brilliant TV series The Wire.

Baltimore is the city from which Simon wrote for this newspaper in 2013 about “two Americas” in the “horror show” his country has become, one crucial element of which is that the US is “the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we’ve put in American prisons”.

The Wire, he said, “was about people who were worthless and who were no longer necessary”, most of them black, and who become the assembly-line raw material for “the prison-industrial complex”. At an event hosted by the Observer that year, Simon said: “Once America marginalised the black 10% of the population it no longer needed, it set out to make money out of them by putting them in jail.”

The Baltimore Sun last year documented a litany of police abuse of black people – mostly but not entirely men (one was a grandmother in her 80s) – as routine as it was savage, and compensation payouts of $5.7m since 2011 for the few cases pursued and vindicated.

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Chicago’s Austerity Mayor Might’ve Won, But A Progressive Movement Is Percolating

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Garcia giving his concession speech (photo by Aaron Cynic).

The race for Chicago mayor has wider implications than just how the nation’s third largest city will govern itself for the next four years. The city has long been a testing ground for disastrous “free market” reforms in education and home to many other privatization schemes, which only grew larger under Rahm Emanuel. While another four years with him as mayor could push this agenda forward, the recent electoral race has helped coalesce what could be a powerful movement of resistance.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

During the last four years in office, many have criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s imperial-like qualities. Between his “Mayor 1%” moniker, his style of legislating by press release along with a City Council that voted with him nearly 100 percent of the time, Emanuel garnered a reputation for running Chicago like a king, rather than a mayor.… Read the rest

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How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Buchheit analyzes privatization at Common Dreams:

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.” 

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000% 

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

We don’t hear much of that anymore. The public-minded sentiment of the 1950s, with the sense of wartime cooperation still in the minds of researchers and innovators, has yielded to the neoliberal winner-take-all business model.

In his most recent exposé of the health care industry in the U.S., Steve Brill notes that it’s “the only industry in which technological advances have increased costs instead of lowering them.” An investigation of fourteen private hospitals by National Nurses United found that they realized a 1,000% markup on their total costs, four times that of public hospitals. … Read the rest

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Fed Up With Austerity Policies, #Blockupy Storms Streets of Frankfurt

"Capitalism Kills" via @blockupy.

“Capitalism Kills” via @blockupy.

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Anti-austerity protests boiled over near the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt on Wednesday, with hundreds of people arrested after an off-shoot from an otherwise peaceful march clashed with police.

Around 10,000 anti-austerity protesters reportedly gathered under the banner of #Blockupy—an alliance united against the so-called ‘Troika’ of the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund who oversee bailout packages in the eurozone. The alliance opposes the economic policies behind such packages, saying they harm the poor and middle class.

According to the German news service Deutsche Welle, the Blockupy network “is composed of more than 90 organizations from across Europe—some big, some small—that have united in opposition to what Blockupy calls ‘the European crisis regime’.”

As Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday:

Some of the bigger member organizations include the activist groups Attac, founded in 1998 to advocate a financial transaction tax; the German political party ‘Die Linke’ (The Left), which currently has a little over ten percent of the seats in the national parliament; and even Germany’s second biggest union union, Verdi, which has over two million members.

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People as Livestock: The Cult of Fundamentalist Materialism and the Cheapening Life

Moyan Brenn (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Moyan Brenn (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Dan Mage, writing at OpEdNews, from 2011:

I first encountered the term “Fundamentalist-Materialism” in the work of Robert Anton Wilson; it appears in several of his non-fiction works, including “The Cosmic Triggger” series. As far as I know R.A.W. was the originator of this philosophical designation.”

 Is there any inherent value to an individual human life? 

Authoritarians of the left, libertarians of the right, objectivists, conservatives and even liberals and progressives fixated on “jobs” and “rehabilitation” of the socioeconomically dysfunctional give the answer “no; ” sometimes directly (as in the case of the Stalinist and the American conservative) and other times through actions, policies, and preferences (as in the case of elements of the “occupation” movement distancing themselves from “homeless bums,” “drug users,” and “ex-cons”).

Most of all, those with the power to set wages, prices, working conditions and societal expectation for those who have nothing left but their time and “docile bodies”*(Foucault) to sell, control and trade in human lives as commodities.

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The Oxymoron of Peace

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“Five centuries of European colonialism and global culture-trashing, and the remaking of the world in the economic interests of competing empires, cannot be undone by a single institution and a cluster of lofty ideals.”

Robert C. Koehler writes at Common Dreams:

“At the same time, values and ideas which were considered universal, such as cooperation, mutual aid, international social justice and peace as an encompassing paradigm are also becoming irrelevant.”

Maybe this piercing observation by Roberto Savio, founder of the news agency Inter Press Service, is the cruelest cut of all. Geopolitically speaking, hope — the official kind, represented, say, by the United Nations in 1945 — feels fainter than I can remember. “We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war . . .”

I mean, it was never real. Five centuries of European colonialism and global culture-trashing, and the remaking of the world in the economic interests of competing empires, cannot be undone by a single institution and a cluster of lofty ideals.

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