Saturday, November 6, 2010

Don't Be Too Generous With French Austerity

Of course the college students were in the streets.  What else might one reasonably expect in Paris?  MeanMesa just supposes that the latest "economy mending" scheme from Mr. Sarkozy wasn't such a big hit with the working class folks.

The semi-comatose News Hour viewer arrives at the carefully crafted, pre-conclusion attitude very easily.  The French economy is in shambles -- thanks largely to the same forces which have plunged our domestic US economy into shambles.  

Oh my.  Something must be done to re-establish economic order!

How about scratching out a couple of extra years before we have to pay the pensions to all those French lefties when they retire?  Not a bad plan.  Naturally, there seem to be a few loose ends in the decision, but after a few days of mayhem on the streets, everyone will settle down and live with it. 

After all, something had to be done.

However, as MeanMesa tries to size this up and make sense out of it, a few other "flies in the ointment" keep buzzing about in an otherwise calming suave.  For one thing, there aren't enough jobs in the French economy to go around now, that is, with the current population of French workers.   Why add even more?  For another, a 62 year old Frenchman is going to have roughly the same difficulty earning a living wage there as he would here.

France has seen the same "out shipment" of jobs we've seen here -- and, unhappily, for the same reason.  Savage greed doesn't end at our shores nor do our oceans protect us from it -- especially not when the savage greed has sprouted in our own garden.  When the oligarchs seize control of any government, every regulation and incentive which might even remotely serve the national good is immediately branded socialistic and discarded.

Except in France, of course, the brand socialist doesn't carry quite the same stink as it does around here.  However, even this concept represents a task a bit too complicated for Fox "News" to teach the hill billies.  Better to just coast on the ideological terror campaigns of the Cold War.  If there's not enough paranoia left over, even after all these decades, to keep the old "Godless Communist" fires stoked, at least  there's enough to keep them smoldering.

So, what about all this European austerity?   Is it really the out right result of a too liberal social program for the working poor or is there a little more to its actual causes -- and benefactors?  Yes, the economies of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and a few others are in the dumpster, but does the largesse of these respective governments in providing unfunded social safety nets really represent the foundation of the whole problem?

Over here, it is apparently against the law to even so much as hint otherwise here in the "land of the free."  

However, in that MeanMesa is not actually one of the major players in managed media, an un-noticeably small infraction of the law might not bring the rapid exit of our corporate sponsors, especially given that we have none.  So, there seem to be a few untended, irritating observations still bubbling over the "lid of the pot."  Let's take a quick look at a few.

The Quantity and Price of Labor

We already know that the gleefully crafted Republican Recession has, as one of its fundamental root causes, an appetite on the part of the extremely short sighted oligarchs for lower labor costs.  Of course, for them there is the obvious answer of simply going off to the nearest third world dictatorship to shop for slave labor.  However, if American workers have no jobs and no money, these rich boys are left with a market where their customers are broke.

The only money maker left at that point is to increase the amounts these workers can borrow, leaving the desolated ruling class no option but to simple struggle ahaead, left with only a few bloody scraps of credit card and pay-day loan interest.

In the "austerity countries," there are the same sickening collection of "post free marketers" as here.  Blinded by their suicidal short term profit epileptic fits, lower labor costs are the "cat's meow."  Their wet dream is that the old musical chairs scheme will leave some other oligarch over extended in the no money, no customers, no business lurch after they have extracted the last few cents and left town.

So, for them, "austerity" means austerity for the working class.  The higher unemployment rises, the more desperate the workers.  Shuffling a few million 62 year old geezers in the fast food shops increases the available labor quantity.  Jobs become even harder to find, and wages being offered -- for every job -- continue to plunge.  Labor becomes more and more economical until, gosh, it's just as low as Bangladesh.

A Correction for Poverty Distribution but not Wealth Distribution

Not a one of these "austerity" countries went over the brink repairing roads, providing health care, subsidizing education or the like.  Yes, every one of them did those things, but not with "pretend money" which was claimed by the oligarch class out of the goodness of their socialistic hearts.  The working classes in these countries made regular payments for those programs every time they took home a pay check.  It was their money -- money contributed from the wages of the workers -- which had been voted on, levied and collected to provide those services.

Wealth only needed to be "re-distributed upward" when the oligarchs had  finally -- and mortally -- failed to recklessly continue looting the treasuries to make good their outrageous gambles of risk and greed.  Only when these plutocrats saw their paper castles collapsing like piles of autumn leaves did they, once again, trot out the "socialism" song bemoaning the greed of the lower classes.

The grotesque "austerity" programs were no more than the next step on the ladder.  The elite had already made all necessary provisions for their exclusive place on the life boats.  To make the trip across the Atlantic, only the nouns needed to be changed in the story.  Over here we use the term "entitlements" to characterize the old age pensions we wage earners have so loyally paid over the years.

Why, those Social Security checks, according to John Boehner's cronies, are nothing but extortion "gifts" we have extracted from the pockets of those who rightfully owned all that money all along.  Now, our domestic version of "austerity" means giving up our fraudulent "entitlements" without damaging the dollars made legitimately by the "masters of the universe" and their hacks in the Congress.

But wait.  Didn't the people getting Social Security pay for it?

This unsettling line of reasoning runs even deeper into the quick.  When we review the immense deficits of the W's autocracy, can we actually see that all those red-lined costs benefitted the public?  Was our country's infrastructure the proud recipient of all those billions?  Did education improve?  Did much of anything improve?  That is, "much of anything" beyond the accumulating wealth of the billionaire class?

Hell.  Did our aging public schools got so much as a roof repair?

To see the European "austerity" policies in "down home terms," we need not look beyond the W's deficit spending record.  In a sickening "mirror image" of the economic calamities in Europe, through an arcane collection of redistribution schemes tax money was first diverted to the "ownership class" without limit, then the ensuing economic disaster was blamed on the "uppity" working class who so selfishly demanded schools, roads and jobs.

After the "capitalistic" prosperity had been surgically removed from the economy, the "socialist" wasteland was left for the working class.

Another Reorganization of Ownership

Further, we shouldn't assume that the billionaires -- either domestic or European -- are losing sleep worrying about having accidentally initiated some sort of revolution.  The primary irritant in their lives is impatience.  They have to wait until the collapse progresses far enough that the prices of all the commercial assets they want to buy has reached "rock bottom."

After that, the portfolio of the oligarchs will once again stabilize.  When the mergers and acquisitions of all these "bargain basement" assets has been finally accomplished, those oligarchs know that the Congress and Senate will become even more interested in "serving up desert."  The role -- and even the existence -- of a middle class will fade to nothing more than a past-times phenomenon which was ultimately corrected in 2010.

Now that's some real "free market" capitalism by golly!

Just try to save as much as possible.  Times will get a bit rocky for a while -- at least two years, but MeanMesa sees all of this as a temporary glitch.  History tells us that the process of economically subjugating the masses may seem to lead to "high times," indeed, but time has a habit of correcting such momentary fantasies.

Even poor people remember the sensation of a full stomach, a warm, well fed family and hope for the future.  Not even Will Durant's expansive long time models present any historical evidence that an entire class of people will simply forget these things.

So, John Boehner and Fox "News," good luck with disguising everything about your latest  "austerity" scheme.  Just don't plan on the prospect that it will go on forever.

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