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Will The Unrest in Europe Inspire Protests in America?

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THE BATTLE OVER AUSTERITY MEASURES HAS MOVED FROM THE SUITES TO THE STREETS. WHAT'S NEXT?

By Danny Schechter, Author, the Crime Of Our Time

William Shakespeare put a key question this way; "To Be Or Not To Be?" Today's economists and policy makers pose a different choice: to spend or not to spend.

Governments throughout the west are in a panic as debt mounts and economies contract.

Their solution is cut, cut, cut, in the name of a doctrine called austerity. They are slashing budgets, trimming public payrolls and arguing fatalistically in the spirit of Margaret Thatcher's philosophy, "There Is No alternative." (TINA.)

Austerity is the other name for it. Confronting massive deficits fearful of losing investor confidence. European governments are pulverizing budgets and shutting down public services. The plan by England's new Tory government is considered among the most painful, if not draconian. It is justified as absolutely necessary.

This view is being challenged in the realm of the ideas and with a growing spasm of street protests rocking European cities.

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You have probably seen the pictures: A bloodied former Minister in Athens as rioters denounce the IMF which is demanding concessions from their government. Strikes in France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy had the SWAT teams out in force. A meeting this week in Germany by Eurozone Ministers is unlikely to please anyone.

At time when most people are saying the path out of the financial crisis and European debt problem is for individuals and governments around the world to cut back, the American economist Paul Krugman wants us to spend, spend, spend .

What's behind the fervor for austerity, he asks?

"The answer is" he writes, is "to reassure the markets -- because the markets supposedly won't believe in the willingness of governments to engage in long-run fiscal reform unless they inflict pointless pain right now. To repeat: the whole argument rests on the presumption that markets will turn on us unless we demonstrate a willingness to suffer, even though that suffering serves no purpose."

This argument has moved off the op-ed pages and into the streets. These protests conjuring up a revival of the class war confrontations of the 1930's are erupting as the Eurozone is fracturing.

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The marches are becoming more militant and bitter, as clashes between the police and angry protesters grow in intensity marked by scattered violence.

Symbolically, the one incident that received massive coverage was a student attack on British Royalty when Prince Charles car was attacked with some protesters chanting, "off with their heads."

Reported the Telegraph:

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.

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What is Stopping Us?... by Danny Schechter on Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 8:30:51 AM
I don't know but I have the impression that someho... by Marika on Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 9:22:55 AM
First, we have to use up all the snitches. Amerika... by Ned Lud on Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 10:45:11 AM
The Reagan spirit of "to hell with your neigbors" ... by liberalsrock on Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 9:25:26 AM
That, at least here at OEN, things have gotten bet... by Ned Lud on Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 10:56:32 AM
then let them eat cake. The comparisons to Rome an... by Allen Oliver on Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 11:28:52 AM
I do think that people can be broken down so much ... by Judy Palmer on Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 12:20:45 PM
but I needed that. The video of that eloquent com... by Kevin Tully on Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 3:37:16 PM
Violence does no good. When you take away what pe... by Doc McCoy on Friday, Dec 17, 2010 at 12:58:23 AM
Because cops will kill their own people.What made ... by Debbie S on Friday, Dec 17, 2010 at 12:59:28 PM