Just yesterday it seemed like Greece was the Western European nation going down the tubes and, of course, it still is. However, these scenes from Spain seem awfully familiar, don’t they??
Thousands of jobless Spaniards marched through Madrid Saturday in the latest angry demonstrations against economic crisis cuts, as fears rose for the country’s financial stability.
…It was the latest in a string of protests that have erupted since Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced 65 billion euros ($80 billion) in fresh austerity measures on July 11, including cuts to pay and unemployment benefits.
“I am very disappointed and angry,” said Alba Sanchez, 25, who had come by car from the northeastern region of Catalonia to join the demonstration.
“People cannot allow all these cuts by this government that hates us.”
…Rajoy’s measures raise sales tax (VAT) and cut benefits for the newly unemployed after six months from 70 percent of basic salary to 50 percent. Previously, the reduction had been to 60 percent.
“That’s the final blow. They’re cutting benefits to those who aren’t working and raising VAT, which affects people who work,” said protestor Rafel Ledo, who had walked 500 kilometres (310 miles) from the northern Asturias region.
Saturday’s protests came as Spain’s economic and financial outlook darkened. The government cut its economic growth forecast for 2013 from 0.2 percent growth to a contraction of 0.5 percent.
Stricken by the bursting of a construction bubble in 2008, Spain is struggling in its second recession in four years. Unemployment is running at more than 24 percent.
Also on Friday Valencia, one of Spain’s indebted regional authorities, reached out for emergency aid from a fund of 18 billion euros set up by the central government for struggling regions.
…The indicators revived warnings that the banking bailout may not be enough to stabilise Spain’s finances, a key concern for the future of the eurozone.
Know what’s really fascinating about this? That so many Americans see this happening in Greece and Spain and think, “Gee, that could never happen to us!” Of course, it couldn’t! They’re just other western democracies (like us!) with overly generous social safety nets (like us!) and large deficits (like us!) and a huge debt (like us!).
Know what this mentality is like? It’s like being on a boat on the river and watching another boat just up ahead of you go over the falls and then saying, “Ha, silly Europeans! That could never happen to us!”