Monday, March 14, 2011

In other news...

European austerity and other madness:

- Portugal: Precarious generation on the march:

The Precarious Generation Manifesto

We, unemployed, “five hundred-eurists” and other underpaid workers, disguised slaves,those who are underemployment or on fixed term contracts, self employed, casual workers, trainees, scholarship holders, working students, students, mothers, fathers and young people of Portugal.

We, who have up to now been complacent about the conditions imposed upon us, stand here, today, to contribute to a qualitative change in our country. We stand here, today, because we can no longer accept the situation that we have been dragged into. We stand here, today, because every day, we strive hard to be deemed worthy of a dignified future, with stability and safety in all areas of our lives.

We protest so that those responsible for our uncertain situation – politicians, employers, and ourselves – act together towards a rapid change in this reality that has become unsustainable.


a) The present is betrayed because we are not given the chance to show our potential, thus blocking the improvement of the country’s social and economic conditions. The aspirations of a whole generation, which cannot prosper, are wasted.

b) The past is insulted, because previous generations have worked hard for our rights, our access to education, our security, labour rights and our freedom. Decades of effort, investment and dedication, risk being compromised.

c) The future is morgaged , and we foresee it without quality education for all and no fair retirement pensions for those who have worked their whole lives. The resources and skills that could put the country back on track of economic tsuccess will be wasted.

We are the highest-qualified generation in the history of our country. So do not let us down with the prospect of exhaustion, frustration or lack of future perspectives. We do believe we have all the resources and tools to provide a bright future for our country and ourselves.

This is not a protest against other generations. Quite simply, we are not, nor do we want to, wait passively for problems to sort themselves out. We protest because we want a solution, and we want to be part of it.
- France: 10% unempoyment
- Angela Merkel's Grab for Power
Spiralling into the Moussaka (Which I should give more space to, since it pretty much spells out how doomed we are over here, as I have been pointing out in most of my latest posts, but I'm posting here for reference puroposes):

But that is not the worst of it. As I explained in my recent post on Europe's continuing mess, Greece was always going to be in trouble as soon as there was an economic downturn in Europe because they are trapped between the domestic policies of Germany and the inflexibility of the monetary system they signed up to when they joined the Euro. The austerity package is failing, but it is only failing to fix the symptoms. Without currency deflation the only possible outcome is lower wages for the Greeks, which will inevitably lead to default on loans, the exact thing the Germans and French are attempting to stop happening.
However I have to ask exactly what the EU are hoping to achieve. Let us for a minute pretend that the Austerity package does work without the collapse of the Euro banks and the Greeks accept the fact that they need to move onto a lower pay structure. Once the debt is cleared away Greece will suddenly appear as modern stable well educated economy with a low wage base that is extremely attractive to international companies. Under these conditions they may even become a net exporter into Europe.
Does anyone think that this will be acceptable to the French or the Germans ?
-  Call for a European Conference against Austerity, Cuts and Privatisation and in Defence of the Welfare State:
We... call for a European Conference against Austerity, to take place in London provisionally on Saturday 1st October, with delegations and representatives from trade-unions, social movements and progressive organisations across Europe
 -  The creaking European austerity machine

Class War in the USA

- A table is worth 1000 words
Financial dismantling of the American middle class in 8 charts
- 100.000 protesters in Wisconsin against the law that quashes union rights
- From American Dream to American Nightmare
U.S. job gains concentrated in low-wage industries (A model for future "recoveries" elsewhere?)
25 graphics showing upward redistribution of income and wealth in USA since 1979

The World as a System
- Immanuel Wallerstein: Structural Crisis in the World-System: Where Do We Go from Here?
- The great World Liquid Fuel Supply gap
Polar ice loss quickens, raising seas
- P.Patnaik: The World food crisis:
Per capita foodgrain absorption, taking direct and indirect absorption together, has declined in India since the beginning of "liberalisation", first gently and of late precipitously, so much so that the level in 2008 itself was lower than in any year after 1953. In China too, there was a sharp decline in per capita total absorption of foodgrains between 1996 and 2003. It improved thereafter but even by 2005 had not reached the 1996 level; it could not have jumped suddenly in 2008. Since the population growth in both these countries has come down substantially, even their absolute absorption in 2008 could not have been much higher than in say the mid-nineties...
... An argument is often advanced that to overcome the world food shortage, agriculture everywhere should be opened up for corporate capital. Even if we assume for argument's sake that such a move will augment food output, it will only compound world hunger by imposing a massive squeeze on the purchasing power of the peasants and agricultural labourers who will get uprooted to make way for corporate agriculture. There is no escape therefore from the fact that overcoming the world food crisis requires a revamping of peasant agriculture, through land reforms, through State support, through protection from encroachment by corporate and MNC capital, and through State-funded transfers and welfare expenditures for improving the quality of rural life. The point is: will neo-liberalism allow it?
The Great Arab Revolt of 2011
Saudi Arabia, now
- And investors don't like it:
Fears of sectarian uprisings in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have set off the first serious wave of investor flight from the Gulf
- Lenin's Tomb on Libya: Libya and Transnational Solidarity and The Revival of Imperialist Ideology


China reports largest trade deficit in 7 years
- China's Coal Reserves "Will Make it New Middle East", Says Energy Chief
Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday said China had set a lower than usual economic growth target and pledged to contain soaring prices as concern over runaway growth mounts.