Remember When Greece Was The Only Bankrupt European Country?

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!”

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One Response to Remember When Greece Was The Only Bankrupt European Country?

  1. Admilsom says:

    Ari:I am a colleague and frnied of Mike Maday in CO Springs, CO, whom you mentioned in your book. Some insights that appear to be going unnoticed in CO and especially the bellwether county El Paso County, CO where even though Republicans own a 2-to-1 registered voter base but where El Paso also holds the 2nd highest number of Democrats in the state of CO. 2010 Midterm saw that Bennet won the unaffiliated (independents) in the county 51% to 25% going to the collection of 3rd Party candidates (4 being rightwingers, 2-o-1 in that pool) and Buck receiving 23% of that vote. Furthermore a State Senator, Dem majority leader Morse won re-election with a similar fashion in the county, (actually Morse carried 55% of the unaffiliated’s in his district) and won by 1.1%. Dem’s indeed turned out at a 82% rate in the early vote stage that included the mail votes. Election day voting was way down at 32% of all remaining voters, where Dem’s lost a few percentage points discounting the theory of a late surge. What this is telling me is that independents in CO and El Paso County rejected the Tea Party candidacies 7.5-to-2.5 in a state where there are supposedly more Tea Party affiliated voters. Furthermore the Maes-Tancredo vote has demonstrated a real fragmenting of the Republican brand and party where it appears only 190,000 Republicans are real party loyalists, (same number that McGinnis got in the Rep primary). This represents about 11% of the entire electorate that voted and about 25% or less of the entire registered Republican base in the state. What this means is foretelling going forward. In the end Donkeys remain herded, but the Elephants are splitting up.

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