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Europe: Welcome to Austerity!

June 7, 2010

Just reading through the corporate rag, NYT, this morning and I saw these two headlines: “Merkel Unveils Austerity Package for Germany” and “Cameron Warns Britons of ‘Decades’ of Austerity.” On the latter I nearly spit out my delicious cup of coffee — chap Cameron cannot be making “savage cuts” to dear ole Brittany. I never saw this coming at all! Cameron warned, “The decisions we make will affect every single person in our country,” but of course, what he meant was the cuts are going to hurt the middle and most of all, the working class (that is the people who work) – the wealthy and aristocrats will not be harmed by savage cuts. In fact, savage things never happen to the rich other than being served a slightly war mimosa. Nor, of course, will things like military spending face savage cuts. We shouldn’t be surprised when such things happen after a “undead, neo-liberal Zombie” is put in charge. If you have an itch to figure out what’s going over in the US colony, read Richard Seymour’s Lenin’s Tomb blog or his excellent new book, The Meaning of David Cameron.

As for Germany, Merkel has been on a roll. After the hold out on the Greece bailout, because she had regional elections in Nordrhein-Westphalen and did not want to be seen like she was helping the lazy Greeks (btw: Greeks work longer hours than Germans), she and CDU get rocked anyway. Then Horst Köhler resigned as president last week because the he made comments to the effect that it was important that Germany had troops in Afghanistan because that war is important for Germans’ “incomes” at home. And yes, in case you were confused, in Germany if you make imperialistic or militaristic or nationalist statements, you lose your job. Not sure why they’re so touchy about it. Then her leading conservative premier, Roland Koch, also resigned. Now Merkel is getting back to her roots – fighting the unions and implementing the more US-style, non-free market capitalism that helped bring about the Great Recession. You have to ask the German voter the same question you ask the British one: what did you think she’d do? To quote the former Cardinals coach, Dennis Green: “They’re are who we thought they were!”

As for how and why Europe is turning increasingly more to supply-side economics, despite the fact even though supply-side economists in the damn US recommend against it (see Tim Geithner), is a mystery (well, it’s not really mystery – it’s called neo-liberalism and these asses believe in it wholly and completely – it’s a just a mystery we these people believe in this). Probably the only propitious development is that what is left of organized labor, not to mention the millions of others who are dependent upon the social net, will wake up and get organized like our friends did in Greece. Unlike Americans, Europeans know the only thing standing between them and high levels of inequality and the violence of the market, is the last vestiges of welfare state (or at least I’d like to believe that). While fighting for it so should not confuse us about the real goals of the long-term fight, it is a worthy fight.

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