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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/3/19

Yellow Vests End French Austerity

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However, putting morality aside, economic austerity is a guaranteed recipe for low growth and especially in the context of a global slowdown. Thus, it is ineffective, wasteful and increases lasting socioeconomic inequalities.

Since Lehman Brothers in 2007 there has been a global economic slowdown, but for some unknown reason I seem to be the only reporter who has talked about the undeniable, factual "Lost Decade" in the Eurozone (2008-17). Annual economic growth averaged 0.6% during this era, a rate worse than either of Japan's two recent Lost Decades; it's also 3.5 times less than the global average of 2.1% over this timeframe Thus, the idea that austerity has been a total failure cannot be denied no matter where your ideas lay on the economic spectrum.

We are now widely expecting not just a global economic slowdown but a global economic recession. The blame is absurdly laid at the feet of China for daring to grow at 7% instead of 8% when the obvious culprit is the enormous stagnant backwater that is Europe. They remain the weakest leak in the global macro-economy.

You are crazy if you think Yellow Vests down to each man and woman do not recognise these economic realities: they are living it. They even articulate it better than I do half the time.

Prior to the budget news, I wrote how the Yellow Vests had already stopped another far-right goal: the privatisation of Paris' three airports. That's a € 10 billion deal.

The total tax cuts are only €10 billion as well. €1 billion were the result of lowering the corporate tax rate 2% no matter what, tax cuts for the wealthy/corporations occur with or without austerity.

The reality is that austerity continues, and I'll explain why: Essentially, Macron didn't want to waste his tiny amount of political capital by fighting for the small prize of austerity cuts. A much more lucrative prize for the bosses and stockholders is if he can successfully push through his backdoor raising of the retirement age to 64 as well as the shift to a universal, one-size-fits-all retirement system which even the mainstream media calls "radical". And then after that, another radical reform to the unemployment system.

These reforms will effectively redistribute upwards hundreds and hundreds of billions in the medium term, and they gut what I call "the French bad example" France's social safety net is a lot like a Scandinavian country despite also being a Western imperialist nation.

Macron has now backed down on privatizing more state assets (which was done the most under the recently departed Jacques Chirac) and on an austerity budget can the Yellow Vests stop his most sweeping "deforms" yet? The fights, strikes and protests began last month.

One thing is certain: the Yellow Vests have shown that persistence and bravery counts a lot in any fight.

Because the mainstream media is anti-Yellow Vest and pro-austerity, very few seem to have registered what the Yellow Vests have achieved. It's surprising, because the word of the decade in France and Europe is undoubtedly "austerity"?

What's certain is that the Yellow Vests have many goals which go beyond one year and 10 billion euros regaining sovereignty from Brussels, leaving the Eurozone to gain economic control and, for many, kicking Macron out of office. These are the next, admittedly-huge steps, but the Yellow Vests have undoubtedly had a laser focus on them since last November.

Were you one of the tens of millions of Frenchmen whose life has been worsened by austerity? Thank a Yellow Vest for finally achieving what countless French marches and votes could not.

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Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, (more...)

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