An austerity revolt has broken the French government. Will the EU follow? | John Palmer | Comment is free | theguardian.com.
If there were any lingering doubts about the seriousness of the crisis hanging over the future of the euro – and potentially of the European Union itself – the shock announcement of the dissolution of the French government should remove them.
The tensions within the French socialist government have been building up for months as the economy has threatened to “double dip”. But it has been public criticism by the French economy minister, Arnaud Montebourg, of Paris’s compliance (Read more…)
Merkel seeks Spanish support for unpopular austerity measures | In English | EL PAÍS.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Spain on Sunday for a two-day trip aimed at securing Spanish support for her austerity policies, now under fire in the European Union.
In return, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is seeking Merkel’s help to place two of his officials in top European positions. Specifically, Rajoy wants former agriculture minister Miguel Arias Cañete to receive a relevant economic portfolio, and current economy minister Luis de Guindos to head the Eurogroup, or gathering of European finance chiefs.
Merkel is currently under (Read more…)
This and that to start your weekend.
- Robert Reich discusses how the increasing concentration of corporate wealth and power is undermining the U.S.’ democracy, while noting that there’s only one effective response: We entered a vicious cycle in which political power became more concentrated in monied interests that used the power to their advantage – getting tax cuts, expanding tax loopholes, benefiting from corporate welfare and free-trade agreements, slicing safety nets, enacting anti-union legislation, and reducing public investments.
These moves further concentrated economic gains at the top, while leaving out most of the rest of America.
No (Read more…)
This and that for your Sunday reading.
- Robert Green looks at Quebec as a prime example of selective austerity – with tax cuts and other goodies for the wealthy considered sacrosanct, and well-connected insiders being paid substantial sums of public money to tell citizens they’ll have to make do with less: In a move that seems perfectly symbolic of the sort of politics his government represents, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced this week that the five members of the government commission charged with reviewing government programs and recommending where to make cuts will be paid the tidy sum of (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Robert Reich muses about how our economy would look if we actually paid people based on their contribution to society rather than their ability to exploit others. In related news, the Broadbent Institute’s next Progress Gala is looking all the more fascinating with the announcement that Reich will be the keynote speaker.
- David MacDonald studies the distribution of income from the tar sands, and predictably finds that the 1% has managed to suck up obscene amounts of income while leaving crumbs for everybody else. But let’s also note that the smallish gains (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- Rick Perlstein observes that Ronald Reagan’s most lasting contribution to American politics may be his admonition not to recognize flaws or past sins which might require serious responses – and that democratic discourse in the U.S. and elsewhere has yet to recover: (T)he baseline is this moment in 1973 when the Vietnam War ends, and that spring, Watergate breaks wide open, after basically disappearing from the political scene for a while. You have this remarkable thing, where Sam Ervin puts these hearings on television. And day after day the public hears White (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Danyaal Raza and Edward Xie write that a well-designed city environment can make all the difference in enabling individuals to live healthy lives: What if city council took our health into account when designing neighbourhoods? An idea gaining favour in major cities around the world is “complete streets,” a city-planning concept that promotes development of streets usable by all citizens, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, drivers or transit users. As things stand now, getting to schools, parks and stores without a car is only a dream for residents without the lush tree cover, (Read more…)
This and that for your Thursday reading.
- Linda McQuaig criticizes the Cons’ use of the tax system to try to silence charities who don’t match their political message: PEN now joins Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, the United Church and other groups that, having criticized an array of Harper policies, have been obliged to devote precious resources to defending themselves from a special probe of charities ordered by the Harper government.
This beefing-up of tax audits of charities is particularly striking when compared to Harper’s laid-back approach to auditing the real bad guys: corporations and (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- Joseph Stiglitz writes that while we should expect natural resources to result in broad-based prosperity, Australia (much like Canada) is now turning toward the U.S. model of instead directing as much shared wealth as possible toward the privileged few: There is something deeply ironic about Abbott’s reverence for the American model in defending many of his government’s proposed “reforms.” After all, America’s economic model has not been working for most Americans. Median income in the US is lower today than it was a quarter-century ago – not because productivity has been (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- The New York Times editorial board chimes in on how Kansas serves as an ideal test case as to illusory benefits of top-end tax cuts: The 2012 cuts were among the largest ever enacted by a state, reducing the top tax bracket by 25 percent and eliminating all taxes on business profits that are reported on individual income returns. (No other state has ever eliminated all taxes on these pass-through businesses.) The cuts were arrogantly promoted by Mr. Brownback with the same disproven theory that Republicans have employed for decades: There will (Read more…)
Assorted content to end your week.
- Linda McQuaig discusses how a renewed push for austerity runs directly contrary to the actual values of Canadians, who want to see their governments accomplish more rather than forcing the public to settle for less: Their formula for achieving small, disabled government is simple: slash taxes (particularly on corporations and upper-income folk), leaving government with no choice but to cut spending — or risk deficits and the wrath of Moody’s, Ivison, the National Post, etc.
The Harper government, deeply committed to this ideology, has followed the formula closely. It has slashed taxes (Read more…)
Social movements in Spain – 15M.
From Revolution News
Many things have changed and we need to know how to read reality and celebrate our triumphs. The emergence of the 15M movement did not result in an organisation which currently has a significant number of members. The 15M movement is a social movement. This means, it has served as a catalyst for “moving” social collectives, associations, non-mobilized people, initiatives… and in this sense it still exists today, as another step in the spiral of social reactivation. It radically changed the country’s political climate. The most visible consequences have been the (Read more…)
Assorted content to start your week.
- Stephen Hwang and Kwame McKenzie discuss the connection between affordable housing and public health and wellness: In 2009, researchers followed 1,200 people in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver who were homeless or at risk of homelessness. It was found that they experience a high burden of serious health problems like asthma, high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They are also at high risk for conditions like depression and anxiety, and of going hungry.
There’s more. We know that housing in disrepair can lead to accidents, fires and infestations. That overcrowding can lead (Read more…)
Beyond the European elections, another left-wing force is growing in Europe | Red Pepper.
However you interpret them, the European elections have challenged the mainstream’s business-as-usual way of doing politics in Brussels. But while many commentators ignore progress on the left, focusing exclusively on the rise of the far right, another left-wing force was making its voice heard the week before people cast their votes. Not through the ballot box, but on the streets, in protest against the neoliberal austerity policies being forced on Europe’s population from above. In Madrid, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Athens and elsewhere, including here (Read more…)
Dignity Marches In Spain Surround Parliaments.
Collective Marches with integrated platforms today under the banner of ‘Dignity’ have surrounded the headquarters of several regional parliaments to protest against cuts in public services, inequality and poverty that lead many citizens to despair.
Following the success of the marches that converged on Madrid on 22nd of March, the organizers have now explained that by surrounding regional parliaments they wanted to express that “the people are sovereign” and “remain vigilant” to the decisions taken in its name.
Filed under: Austerity Tagged: Anti-austerity protest, Spain
. . . → Read More: Parchment in the Fire: Dignity Marches In Spain Surround Parliaments
Tens of thousands march in London against coalition’s austerity measures | Politics | theguardian.com.
Russell Brand told the marchers there will be a ‘peaceful, effortless, joyful revolution’ against austerity in the UK. Photograph: Rex Features
Tens of thousands of people marched through central London on Saturday afternoon in protest at austerity measures introduced by the coalition government. The demonstrators gathered before the Houses of Parliament, where they were addressed by speakers, including comedians Russell Brand and Mark Steel.
An estimated 50,000 people marched from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London to Westminster.
“The people of this building (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- Andrew Jackson reviews the OECD’s economic recommendations for Canada – featuring a much-needed call for fair taxes on stock options: Special tax breaks for stock options primarily benefit senior corporate executives, especially CEOs of large public companies who are commonly given the right to buy shares in the future at heavily discounted prices. Options make up a big slice of the total compensation of senior corporate executives.
90% of the benefits of the stock options tax break go to the top 1% of taxpayers. The stock options tax break costs the federal government (Read more…)
It’s Time To Stand Up To Troika Austerity Part II.
In the first part of this article I looked at the mounting evidence against austerity by organisations as varied as Caritas, the ILO, the Council of Europe and the IMF. So why is the European establishment pushing for more of the same?
Social and economic misery and despair, growing inequality, dwindling public services, loss of hope and ballooning debts: this is austerity’s scorched-earth legacy. And yet, in a telling demonstration of the extent of their dangerous ideological fanaticism, Europe’s austerity zealots insist that Europe needs ‘more austerity’.
Take (Read more…)
The rights we enjoy today in Canada as workers and professionals were not given to us. It was through bloody at times, collective struggle that our rights as workers were imposed on the capitalist class. Power never makes concessions – struggles for basic working benefits must be fought for and taken. The price for humane working conditions can be as high as death or as in the case of Cleaning Workers Union in Greece, permanent disfigurement.
“Vassilis Kikilias, didn’t lose time. Less than an hour after he took office, riot police cracked down on a protest (Read more…)
The rights we enjoy today in Canada as workers and professionals were not given to us. It was through determined, bloody at times, never-say-die, collective struggle that our rights as workers were imposed on the capitalist class. Power never makes concessions – struggles for basic working benefits must be fought for and taken. The price for humane working conditions can be as high as death or as in the case of Cleaning Workers Union in Greece, permanent disfigurement.
“Vassilis Kikilias, didn’t lose time. Less than an hour after he took office, riot police cracked down on (Read more…)
Thomas Fazi: It’s Time To Stand Up To Troika Austerity Part I.
In my book, The Battle for Europe: How an Elite Hijacked a Continent – and How We Can Take It Back, published some months ago by Pluto Press, I argued that the austerity policies imposed on European member states (especially those of the periphery) by the Berlin-Brussels-Frankfurt ‘axis of rigour’ and by the troika were not only proving to be a colossal failure even by mainstream economic standards, but would also lead to – and in some cases were already leading to – nothing less than a (Read more…)
Leader in Austerity Push Appointed Head of Greek Central Bank – NYTimes.com.
By NIKI KITSANTONISJUNE 11, 2014
The announcement on Wednesday, by the General Council of the Bank of Greece, followed a sweeping cabinet shuffle on Monday that installed Gikas Hardouvelis, another economist and former government adviser, as Greece’s new finance minister. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras overhauled his government to give it new momentum after a weak showing in European Parliament elections last month.
Although Mr. Stournaras, 57, was widely credited with guiding Greece’s return to international bond markets in April and paving the way for crucial debt (Read more…)
Greece Wars With Courts Over Ways to Slash Budget – NYTimes.com.
ATHENS — The Greek government has made a range of painful cuts to salaries, pensions and jobs for public workers over the last four years, saying they were needed to satisfy the demands of the international creditors that bailed the country out. But the Greeks hurt by those steps, and the nation’s courts, have a different idea.
Steadily, citizens groups — including police officers, university professors, cleaning workers and judges themselves — have challenged the cuts as illegal or unconstitutional. And in case after case, Greek courts have (Read more…)
Portugal indebted to Angola after economic reversal of fortune | World news | Guardian Weekly.
There was no doubt about the firm handshake, but the smile looked a bit forced. The date was 17 November 2011, the place Luanda. Pedro Passos Coelho, the Portuguese premier, had just completed talks with the president of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, sealing an agreement that was both a boon for Portugal and deeply humiliating.
Six months earlier, Portugal, verging on bankruptcy, received a €78bn ($100bn) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. In exchange Lisbon agreed (Read more…)
After The Elections The Real Battle For Europe Begins.
by Thomas Fazi
Taking stock of the results of the recent European elections is not an easy task. Many commentators have described the outcome as an ‘earthquake’, citing the surge in ‘anti-establishment’ parties, with voters supposedly lured by two ‘extremes’: the ultra-right and the extreme left. But this is a gross simplification of reality. As the Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis put to me in a recent interview, ‘Europeans were not lured by the two extremes. They drifted to one extreme: that of the misanthropic, racist, xenophobic, anti-European right’.
In total, (Read more…)