Category Archives: Social policy

Mathew D. Rose: Greece – It’s a Revolution, Stupid!

As Greece’s struggles to secure relief from impossible-to-pay-debt that served to prop up otherwise insolvent French and German banks, and to be permitted to implement measures to reduce distress and restore growth, more and more observers are recognizing that this is really a struggle over democratic self-control versus rule by an unaccountable technocracy with inflexible rules, using finance as their enforcement weapon. This speech in the European Parliament today by UKIP leader Neil Farage echoes some of the themes of Mathew Rose’s post. Rose also explains how the many Germans justify the counterproductive destruction of a society that they have turned into a vassal state.

Read more...

Tom Engelhardt: In Whose America? Machine Guns, MRAPs, Surveillance, Drones, Permanent War, and a Permanent Election Campaign

The occasion for such reflections: machine guns in my hometown. To be specific, several weeks ago, New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the formation of a new 350-officer Special Response Group (SRG). Keep in mind that New York City already has a police force of more than 34,000 — bigger, that is, than the active militaries of Austria, Bulgaria, Chad, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kenya, Laos, Switzerland, or Zimbabwe — as well as its own “navy,” including six submersible drones.  Just another drop in an ocean of blue, the SRG will nonetheless be a squad for our times, trained in what Bratton referred to as “advanced disorder control and counterterror.”  It will also, he announced, be equipped with “extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns — unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.” And here’s where he created a little controversy in my hometown.  The squad would, Bratton added, be “designed for dealing with events like our recent protests or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.”

Read more...

The Rich and the Great Recession

Much research about the Great Recession in the US has focused on the boom-bust in housing wealth and spending of the middle class. This column argues that a large role was actually played by the rich. The savings rate of the rich went through a similar cycle as that of the middle class with rising wealth first stimulating their consumption and falling wealth restraining it. Most importantly, the wealth of the rich has become so large and volatile that wealth effects on their consumption could impact the whole economy.

Read more...

Time for #GreekLivesMatter

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

The Troika’s willingness to turn Greece into a failed state first, as a side effect of its “rescue the French and German banks” operation, and now, as part of its German hegemony protection racket, is killing people and in the longer term will only accelerate the rise of extreme right wing elements in the Eurozone. As Ilagi wrote last week:

Does the EU have any moral values at all? And if not, why are you, if you live in the EU, part of it? .

Because you don’t have any, either? And if you do, where’s your voice? There are people suffering and dying who are part of a union that you are part of. That makes you an accomplice. You can’t hide from that just because your media choose to ignore your reality from you.

Read more...

Will the Cavalry Ride Over the Hill in Time for Greece?

We’ve cautioned readers that Greece is in a very weak bargaining position relative to its financial overlords in the Troika. As much as Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is making sound, logical arguments and presenting proposals that if anything are too accommodating, despite initial cool reactions, many of Greece’s soi disant partners are diehard neoliberals and/or are politically constrained. Varoufakis is approaching them as if they can deal in good faith, when their idea of “good faith” comes from a punitive parallel universe.

Three important meetings today will provide a better sense of whether Greece is gaining any political ground in its uphill battle to roll back austerity.

Read more...

Snowstorm Post Mortem: How Safety and Administrative Convenience Trumped Needs of the Working Class

When it became clear that the supposedly epic blizzard of earlier this week was overhyped, at least as far as New York City was concerned, we wondered about the thinking process that led to the only shutdown of the entire public transportation system for a snowstorm.

We raised doubts about this measure, on a philosophical as well as a practical level. As we noted,

I’m bothered by the continued creep of safety concerns being used to restrict individual movements. Maybe I’m a dinosaur, but citizens used to be deemed competent to make prudent choices.

But the real, largely untold story of the transit shutdown and travel restrictions was the impact on people who were working what amounted to second and third shift, meaning not white collar professionals but service workers and their managers, most of all those with long commutes, as well as staff (nurses, orderlies, cooks, cleaners) in New York’s many hospitals.

Read more...

Mathew D. Rose: Hope for Greece, and Perhaps for Europe Too

Monday morning I encountered a word in a number of newspapers that I have not read regarding the European Union for years: Hope. The occasion was the election in Greece. I suddenly became aware of how long much of this continent has been living in what appears to be a never ending-crisis.

Read more...

How Much Success is Syriza Likely to Have in Ending Austerity?

While the election results in Greece have sent shockwaves through European technocratic elites and have rattled investors, it is not clear how successful Syriza will be in getting big enough changes implemented in Eurozone policies and its own bailout terms to end the humanitarian crisis, rather than just create the sort of bounce off the bottom growth that analysts like to depict as progress. Indeed, once you walk though the likely bargaining positions of the various parties, there is little reason to be optimistic on Syriza’s behalf.

Read more...

Media Demonization of Syriza: Pretending that Neoliberalism is Popular and Mainstream

We’re having two posts on the Greek elections tonight, since the media accounts are so slanted as to merit discussion. The notion that a democratically elected government would put broad social interest over continued, self-destructive sacrifices to financiers and their allies in European governments is so threatening that a large swathe of media outlets seem […]

Read more...

Ilargi: Brussels is a Bunch of Criminals

I was going to start out saying yesterday was the saddest day in Europe in 50 years, or something like that, because of the insane and completely nonsensical largesse the ECB permits itself to launch, aimed at once again saving a banking system, but which will not only not help the European people, it will make things even much worse than they already are. Which is also, lest we overlook that ‘detail’, entirely thanks to the ECB/EU/IMF Troika.

Read more...