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Spanish Voters Reject Austerity

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Spanish Voters Reject Austerity - by Stephen Lendman

Since mid-May, Spain's M-15 movement began protesting for "Real Democracy Now," drawing large numbers of students, activists, unemployed workers, and other "los indignados" (the outraged ones) on streets throughout the country, defying a ban ahead of May 22 municipal and regional elections.

Tens of thousands said "No nos moveran" (We shall not be moved), opposing government imposed austerity to repay bankers at their expense. 

Experiencing its worse economic crisis in decades, official figures show around 45% of Spanish youths unemployed, a crisis affecting all workers facing worsening, not improving conditions, some of the worst in Europe.

In response to growing needs, Jose Luis Zapartero's Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government proposed 5% or more public worker pay and pension cuts, halting cost of living adjustments, raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, ending payments for births or adopting children, and more ahead, including reforming labor protections and pensions, not stimulus when it's most needed. 

As a result, the populist "Real Democracy Now" manifesto states:

"We are ordinary people. We are like you: people who get up every morning to study, work or find a job, people who have family and friends. People who work hard every day to provide a better future for those around us," calling for "an ethical revolution" for change.

The same crisis affects other countries throughout Europe, notably Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Latvia, Iceland, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, and elsewhere, what Michael Hudson calls a specter haunting Europe, showing no signs of letup under crushing debt burdens counterproductively dealt with by neoliberal austerity.

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On May 22, Paul Krugman's New York Times op-ed headlined, "When Austerity Fails," saying:

For over a year, the European "pain caucus" insists "that sound money and balanced budgets" solve all problems when, in fact, austerity destroys jobs and private-sector confidence, "threaten(ing) to make Europe the flashpoint of a new financial crisis."

As a result, "the confidence fairy hasn't shown up." It's plunging, not rising. Greece, Ireland, Portugal and other nations can't service their debts, and if one or more default, "financial dominoes" across Europe may fall because insisting banker interests come first is a diktat doomed to fail.

In the meantime, working households continue bearing the burden of bailing out banking giants responsible for the severest economic crisis since the Great Depression. 

How? The usual IMF solution, involving preserving capital at workers' expense - a package including wage and benefit cuts, less social spending, privatizing state resources, mass layoffs, deregulation, lower corporate taxes, maintaining debt service, and harsh crackdowns on resisters. 

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In the 1980s, it was Reaganomics, trickle down, and Thatcherism. Today it's "shock therapy," and forced austerity, the same scheme pitting capital against people - disposable workers tossed out for big money's gain, bankers most of all. Michael Hudson calls it a:

"neoliberal experiment....to drastically change the laws and structure of how European society will function for the next generation. If (successful, they'll) break up Europe, destroy the internal market, and render that continent a backwater."

Calling it a "financial coup d'etat," he said "bankers are demanding (and getting governments to) rebuild their loan reserves at labor's expense," Washington using the same ugly scheme.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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