Tag Archives: Austerity

‘Austerity’ . . . This Will Kill it!

Are we now seeing the beginnings of the destruction of the financial and corporate world as we know it? If this month’s Finance and Development report from the IMF, no less, is anything to go by, with its headline “Neoliberalism: Oversold”, the writing is certainly on the wall.

Before I go any further let me just offer a couple of official definitions of Neoliberalism so that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

  1. A modern politico-economic theory favouring free trade, privatisation, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services etc. Collins Dictionary
  2. Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. Investopedia.com

Over the last 30 years or so it has become very noticeable how there has been a gradual erosion of democracy, countered by an escalation in corporate power and unregulated abuse which caused the financial collapse of 2008 and continues unchanged to this day.

Interspersed with this we have been assaulted by ‘Austerity’ measures across the globe and which, it has become increasingly clear, are a device to sell off public assets at a discount to the private sector.

In addition, there has been an escalation in debt originated money supply that has placed governments in varying positions of obligation to financiers. Because of this ‘obligation’, lenders have not only demanded ‘Austerity’ but also increasingly violated the democratic process by ‘quietly demanding that governments go against, or ignore, the wishes of the people.

Both of these abuses were particularly evident in the case of Greek debt. Here a (newly elected) government referendum against continued ‘Austerity’ measures was not only ignored but harsher terms were inflicted, in what appears to be a punishment and to deter any repeat of such action in other debtor countries in the EU and elsewhere.

We have also seen public outrage and demonstration against the odious TTIP agreement, Fracking and in the UK the gradual destruction/privatisation of the NHS. These actions have been equally rigorously ignored/defended by governments and the non-elected technocrats in Brussels, showing a complete contempt for the people who actually pay their wages and expenses.

All of the above, plus a whole lot more, can be laid fair and square at the feet of the application of Neoliberal doctrines, as time is now showing. What time is also demonstrating is that they don’t work and are simply benefitting the already rich, by increasing their wealth exponentially at the expense of the many.

The bombshell this week is that the IMF experts, in the shape of Jonathan D. Ostry, Prakash Loungani and Davide Furceri, are actually confirming what we already know. I quote from the heading of their report

“Instead of delivering growth,

some neoliberal policies have increased inequality,

in turn jeopardizing durable expansion”

The paper goes on to say:

“Austerity policies not only generate substantial welfare costs due to supply-side channels, they also hurt demand—and thus worsen employment and unemployment.”

These findings suggest a need for a more nuanced view of what the neoliberal agenda is likely to be able to achieve. The IMF, which oversees the international monetary system, has been at the forefront of this reconsideration. ­

OR, to you and me . . . they got it badly wrong!

It explains why the IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, is at loggerheads with German banks over Greek debt. The banks want blood from Greece and the IMF are now recognising this will not work and will jeopardise the standing of themselves and Brussels. It could also be another nail in the coffin of this currently disintegrating project that is the EU.

(Even President Obama is now backing Social Security programmes he was previously against for the American people.)

And if that wasn’t enough, according to Zero Hedge Euro-Area manufacturing is near stagnation, damping confidence in the strength of the regions recovery.

The cracks are beginning to appear in the established and very abusive order of things, if the perpetrators are now publicly admitting there is a problem of their own making. We are talking here of fundamental beliefs that have dictated how governments rule and what place, if any, democracy plays in the process.

Millions of people are homeless and struggling to feed themselves, some so overwhelmed by what they have been made to face that they have committed the tragedy of suicide. That the civilised world has been taken to this place is a lesson for us all.

The values demanded by ‘the people’ are the correct moral values for Society because it is the majority who are expounding them. The minority view can only ever be the view of vested interest, as this paper has identified and the IMF are to be respected for allowing it to be published. If it were Brussels it would have been sat on!

So my friends, where do we go from here? As you know my mantra is “Awareness breeds understanding and understanding breeds change”. There can be no way forward with ‘Austerity’ after this damning report.

Any government who continues to pursue these measures should be ousted from power as totally lacking in credibility and care for the people who have placed their trust in its leadership. And that goes for Brussels as well!

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

TTIP – Time to Rebel!

“Never be afraid to try, remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.” ~Anonymous

At last, by sheer dogged persistence, (what other way is there), the infamous TTIP trade deal negotiations have finally come into the light  in all their macabre detail. The secrecy with which this agreement has been kept from public gaze is on a par with, if not exceeding, normal protocols for matters of (inter)national security when countries are at a war.

There is no doubt these latest revelations offer unquestionable evidence of an unprecedented power grab by the Pentagon, plus equally unquestionable evidence of how little respect our own European political system has for the millions of people who pay for it all.

The European Commission even went to the lengths of placing a 30-year ban on public access to any of the agreements documents at the beginning of 2013! Today their credibility lies in shreds as a body fit in any way to run, regulate or reside over the 28 member states it is currently (and occasionally) involved with.

We have all been aware for some time now that this odious trade agreement makes inroads into our democratic processes, something we have built and refined over centuries as we have become more civilised but the extent of those inroads now calls into question the morality of those in office who have been complicit in its development . . . and I include the President of the United States of America on that list!

To think that just one short week ago he was publicly saying to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and I quote:As you see other markets like China beginning to develop and Asia beginning to develop and Africa growing fast, we have to make sure our businesses can compete,”

This was then followed up by Merkel (also very much on the list). “It is good for the German economy; it is good for the European economy.”

We know Obama’s agenda, (of which TTIP is but a part), is to combat the growing power of China, which has now become a serious threat to the US current dominant global position . . .  but what the hell is Merkel about.

Is she not in enough trouble with the German electorate over immigration, without giving them another slap in the face by supporting this erosion of her people’s democratic rights? Or perhaps this is the very reason she is supporting it, as she won’t need them for much longer if it all goes well!

Obama’s words about “making sure our businesses can compete” is chilling. What the trade deal revelations show is that we are being returned to serfdom. Wages will be driven to the bottom and held there as we compete unequally with third world countries.

Whenever these differing wage levels crossover the lowest wage levels will always dominate in the cause of ‘competition’. It is for this reason and this reason alone that the Schengen border agreement was introduced to enable workers to easily move across Europe to where there is work.

Translated, this means where the wages are the lowest, thereby constantly holding down the standard of living of people everywhere. A particularly divisive aspect of Neoliberalism.

When we then look at the broader implications of what we now know, not only will wages be taken to the bottom and held there but so will the quality of our food, healthcare, social services, education and any other standards we have evolved to improve our quality of life and support Society. With this agreement and ‘Austerity’, we are being returned to the same third world conditions we will have to compete against.

Think about it. Currently, our food standards are far higher than the US (we won’t tolerate GM foods) and so this will have to end because this makes inroads into profits. Our world beating NHS will become obsolete because its very existence affects the ability of private healthcare firms to make profits.

Health and Safety, (much as we laugh at some of its absurdities), will be dismantled to alleviate costs of safety measures making inroads into corporate profits. With this protective legislation gone, compensation for injury will also disappear because companies won’t need to carry insurance, something else which affects their bottom line.

I’m sure you can think of many other values that will disappear in the course of “making sure our businesses can compete”. If I could see that lowering our standards would improve our overall quality of life I would be the first to shout about it.

However, as I look across the Atlantic I see vast unemployment, vast debt, the obliteration of a whole class structure and the gap between rich and poor widening at an alarming rate. When demonstrations against these trends occur they are put down with a brutality that often ends in death. The only beneficiaries of Neoliberalism in the US are Wall St and the corporations, certainly not the people.

This whole abhorrent episode has taken international politics and trade to a depth of depravity few of us would have thought possible. The credibility of our politicians, both here and abroad, is in tatters and rightly so.

Since 2008 they have abused our trust with corruption and a wholesale assault upon honest working people, driven by power and levels of greed unprecedented in our history. They have to be brought back under control and it can only be done by the people saying “ENOUGH”.

It is now within our control to fire the first salvo, because the British people are currently at their most powerful in confronting the Neoliberal values that drive Brussels. On 23rd June we have our ONLY opportunity to show the very people who have supported ‘Austerity’ and are now conspiring to enslave us under this outrageous trade agreement that we have had enough, by voting to no longer support their continued (mis)management of the EU.

Just ask yourself. With what we now know, do you really want them to continue on their current destructive course? We have to follow up on these credibility shattering disclosures with decisive action, or lose this golden momentum for real change for the better. The world will NOT fall apart.

It will be uncomfortable for a year or two whilst we band together with other countries who are equally enraged at what is going on but we are not starting from scratch. Think about it. We have an infrastructure in place that is Brussels. We should not disband it but rather take it over.

We have the power to do this by supporting new leaders to run it as a democratically driven institution. (Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Saunders and Yanis Varoufakis’ DiEM25 party are all evidence such people exist!)

I don’t know about you but I would sooner the short term chaos of uncertainty, by voting ‘Out’, than the certainty of being returned to modern day slavery, with low wages and poor food and healthcare, brought on by a regime that has secured its position by debt and our ratification of what they are doing, through voting to ‘Remain’ under their dictatorial power.

Surely ‘People Power’ is the only thing that can turn the tables on Neoliberalism, as can be seen with the leaking of so many damning papers inciting many millions to now rebel against political/corporate abuses, of which TTIP is just one example.

We have to believe in ourselves and our ability to create a new and worthwhile world for us and our children, or else what is there for any of us? It’s now or never.

Until the next time.

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes