SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

October 1, 2012

Austerity in Eurozone

(This is a painful post and I apologize as I offer it.  I ask that those who can bear to look at it take a moment to reflect on the plight of these people.    They were heading into the global meltdown with us and at the same time.  Our president didn’t quite expect this as he took office.   Being a student of history has stood him in pretty well and he knew what had to be done and tried with everything in him to do it  (kinda like my hero FDR did).

His efforts to accomplish what had to be done were thwarted left and right   He had wanted massive jobs programs to rebuild our infrastructure, so people could feel good about working and putting food on their family tables.  We all are very much aware of the Republican issues of intolerance for Obama and their great need to have him fail.  All these partisan predilections were so much more important to them then the welfare of our people and our country.  So we’ve had to go through this suffering and seeming ineptitude because they were immovable and as Romney likes to say – resolute!

President Obama kept fighting the good fight, not getting what he wanted for us, but folks, he really tried and his instincts were correct.   Imagine where we could have been with just a little cooperation from the right.  Spending cuts were NOT the way to go – – look what that is doing in Europe  The opposite is needed – further investment!  Big bucks, big time, especially, now while money is cheap.    So just feel a little better about that guy up in Washington.    Jan)

Greece, Spain endure protests of Austerity

YANNIS BEHRAKIS REUTERS

A group of riot police officers shield themselves from flames after protesters threw gasoline bombs during protests in Athens. Police fired tear gas at demonstrators during a daylong nationwide strike.

Spain, saddled with 25 percent unemployment, is moving toward a bailout.

By Renee Maltezou and Julien Toyer REUTERS

Greek and Spanish demonstrators were out in force yesterday in Athens and Madrid in an upsurge of anger at new austerity measures being imposed on two of the euro zone’s most-vulnerable economies.

Greek police fired tear gas at rioters hurling gasoline bombs as thousands joined the country’s biggest protest in more than a year. Nearly 70,000 people marched to the Greek parliament chanting “EU, IMF Out!” on the day of a general strike against further spending cuts demanded by foreign lenders.

In Madrid, thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gathered for a second night near the national parliament, which was guarded by hundreds of police officers.

In public, Rajoy has been resisting calls to move quickly to request assistance, but behind the scenes, he is putting together the pieces to meet the stringent conditions that will accompany rescue funds. He will announce today a series of economic reforms and a tight 2013 budget, aiming to send a message that Spain is doing its deficit-cutting homework despite a recession and 25 percent unemployment.

On Friday, Moody’s will publish its latest review of Spain’s credit rating, possibly downgrading the country’s debt to junk status. On the same day, an independent audit of Spain’s banks will reveal how much money Madrid will need from a $130 billion aid package that Europe already has approved for the banks.

In Greece, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras faced a major test in the shape of a 24-hour strike called by the country’s two biggest unions. Ships stayed in port, museums and monuments were shut, and air-traffic controllers walked off the job. Trains and flights were suspended, public offices and shops were shut, and hospitals provided reduced service. Unions argue that Greece should remain in the euro but default on part of its debt and ditch the current austerity cuts in favor of higher taxes on the rich and catching wealthy tax evaders.

(Here are a few snippets from other newspapers online.  Most of us may not be ready to even think about this turmoil;  the suffering of the people and their own government coming down hard on them causing severe injuries while they are protesting.    What are these millions to do?  One can’t keep taking the blood out of bleeding people.    The following is only a snippet from USA Today 9-30-12, but they requested no reproduction of this info. . . so go online like I did and read it to your hearts content   Jan)

 September 30. 2012 –

MADRID (AP) — Tens of thousands of Spaniards and Portuguese rallied in the streets of their countries’ capitals Saturday to protest enduring deep economic pain from austerity measures, and the demonstration in Madrid turned violent after Spaniards enraged over a long-lasting recession and sky-high unemployment clashed with riot police for the third time in less than a week near Parliament.

The latest violence came after thousands of Spaniards who had marched close to the Parliament building in downtown Madrid protested peacefully for hours. Police with batons later moved in just before midnight to clear out those who remained late because no permission had been obtained from authorities to hold the demonstration.

.  .  .                    .   .              .     .     earlier, the boisterous crowds let off ear-splitting whistles and yelled “Fire them, fire them!” —referring to the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and venting their anger against tax hikes, government spending cuts and the highest unemployment rate among the 17 nations that use the euro currency.

On Friday, Rajoy’s administration presented a 2013 draft budget that will cut overall spending by €40 billion ($51.7 billion), freezing the salaries of public workers, cutting spending for unemployment benefits   .      .     

Madrid authorities put the number of protesters at 4,500 — though demonstrators said the crowd was larger. In neighboring Portugal, tens of thousands took to the streets of Lisbon Saturday afternoon to peacefully protest against even deeper austerity cutbacks than Spain has imposed.

  • “The government and the troika controlling what we do because of the bailout just want to cut more and more and rob from us,” Trinidade said, referring to the troika of creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “The young don’t have any future, and the country is on the edge of an abyss. I’m getting toward the end of my life, but these people in their 20’s or 30’s don’t have jobs, or a future.”
  • In Spain, Rajoy has an absolute majority and has pushed through waves of austerity measures over the last nine months — trying to prevent Spain from being forced into the same kind of bailouts taken by Portugal, Ireland and Greece. But the country has an unemployment rate of nearly 25%, and the jobless rate is more than 50% for those under age 25.
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