Saturday, May 4, 2013

What Could Be Coming Around the Next Bend

Trey Smith

Now that we're into May, people around the nation are starting to feel the impacts of the federal budget sequester that went into effect on March 1. There is a story by Tim Murphy at Mother Jones that offers a state-by-state look at some of the services being reduced or cut completely.

During the lead up to March 1, we were told that there was much handwringing in Washington as leaders from BOTH parties tried to forge a compromise that might avert the sequester.  That is difficult to take seriously because, now that the sequester has become a reality, little work is being done -- unless it involves inconvenienced business travelers -- to try to mitigate or reverse the situation.

Folks, what we have here is austerity, American-style.  If you want some idea what could be coming around the next bend, all we have to do is to take a look at what is happening in Europe, that region that got a head start on us in the austerity craze.
Unemployment in the euro zone hit another record in March, climbing for the 23rd consecutive month, with no end in sight to the economic and social catastrophe gripping Europe.

The unemployment figures came as hundreds of thousands of people marched throughout Europe and Greek workers launched a one-day general strike in opposition to the austerity measures being carried out across the continent.

The official unemployment rate in the 17-member euro zone hit 12.1 percent, the highest level on records dating back to 1995, according to figures published Tuesday by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This is an increase of 1.1 percentage points from a year earlier.

There were 19.21 million people unemployed in the euro area, a number that has grown by 1.72 million in the past year.

The countries that have undertaken the most savage austerity measures — Greece, Spain and Portugal — posted Depression-era unemployment rates, with 27 percent of the population of Greece officially unemployed, followed by Spain with 26.7 percent and Portugal with 17.5 percent.
Do you remember the mantra of Republicans when they took back the majority from the Democrats in the US House? They told us that their #1 priority was the unemployment problem. Well, neither they nor the Democrats have chosen to tackle that issue and, if we follow the same trajectory as Europe, the "official" unemployment rate is set to become a lot worse in the coming months than it is today.

But don't you fret none. Wall Street is flying high! Isn't that what really matters anyway?

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