Growing Poverty Fuels Europe’s Extremism

Exclusive: The European Union’s neoliberal economic orthodoxy has spread income inequality and even poverty across the Continent, spurring extremist movements to challenge this system, reports Andrew Spannaus.

By Andrew Spannaus

The rise of protest movements across Europe, with increasing support for extremist candidates and political parties, comes against the backdrop of a growing sense of insecurity for the middle and lower classes across the continent.

Flag of the European Union.

Less stable employment conditions and the stagnation or regression of salaries have created the fertile ground for populist movements on the right in particular, which now mix their traditional nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric, with criticism of the economic orthodoxy of the supranational European Union (E.U.) institutions.

In recent years the prevailing response from economists has been that many Western nations are simply unable to compete in sectors dominated by low costs and the high efficiency unleashed by globalization. This narrative, however, is used to hide a more troubling reality: government institutions have contributed directly to the economic difficulties with their own actions, driving down living standards through multiple waves of austerity and blocking attempts to break from the neoliberal principles that dominate among E.U. institutions.

The latest Economic Bulletin from the European Central Bank (ECB) presents a range of statistics that highlight the worsening of living conditions even among the wealthiest countries on the continent. First of all, the ECB admits that the official unemployment rate, high but improving, fails to account for categories such as workers who are part-time for economic reasons or who are no longer actively searching for a job. As we have known in the U.S. for years, broader measures of unemployment can make the actual rate practically double, taking into account problems that the headline statistic easily masks.

According to Prometeia, a respected Italian economic research institute, this alternative view of the weakness of the labor market may explain “why poverty levels are not following a descending path, since official labor market statistics may have hidden underemployment.”

The growth in the poverty rate across Europe confirms this impression, and shows that the vaunted social welfare state that European countries are known for has failed to protect citizens from the effects of the economic crisis.

In aggregate terms, for the entire Eurozone (the 19 countries using the common currency), poverty increased from 16.1 percent of the population in 2007, to 17.2 percent in 2015. This includes rises in wealthy countries, such as Italy, France, the Netherlands and Germany. The biggest surprise is found in the figures for Germany: poverty jumped by 1.5 percent over the cited time period, three times the increase in Italy and France.

Although it may not seem like a large rise, this statistic is notable because it goes against the common narrative of the strength of Germany as the leading economy in Europe. Germany has a large budget surplus (currently around 8 percent) and is a major player in industrial exports, in particular to new markets in Asia.

Based on this strength, German politicians often take a hard line on budget restrictions at the E.U. level, demanding that countries with greater difficulties cut spending and avoid violating the monetary parameters established for the Eurozone, which prohibit running deficits in order to boost public investment. “If only they were virtuous like us,” the attitude is, “then they also would see economic growth and more social cohesion.”

Expanding the ‘Working Poor’

The statistics on poverty undercut this argument. Germany’s economy has certainly continued to expand, but one of the side-effects has been the impoverishment of large segments of the population. If we go further into the numbers, we find that Germany has seen a big jump in working poor over the past 10 years. From a level below 5 percent in 2007, the figure reached 10 percent in 2014, before leveling off.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Clearly, one of the competitive advantages of the German economy has been blocking wage growth, and even reducing salaries and social protections for much of the population. Whereas in some other countries the gains from increased productivity have been shared with workers, in Germany the benefits have gone mostly to the top.

The main factor in creating this situation was the series of labor market reforms conceived in the early 2000s under the Hartz Commission. Peter Hartz, the Personnel Director of Volkswagen, was called on by then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to come up with a plan to address the high unemployment rate. The resulting proposals concentrated on increasing flexibility in the labor market, in particular changing the structure of subsidies for unemployment and welfare services.

The most severe measures came under “Hartz IV,” implemented in 2005, which forces those who are out of work to accept any offers they receive from the Federal Employment Office, on penalty of losing the meager benefits they already receive. This work requirement means that qualified professionals can find themselves earning 1 or 2 Euros an hour in “mini-jobs,” reduced to menial labor in arguably the most advanced country in Europe.

The social and political effects of the Hartz reforms are evident. Approximately 6 million people are in the subsidy system, and entire areas have come to be known as “Hartz IV neighborhoods,” dominated by people who feel trapped by a system that has provided flexibility for employers, but caused accelerating economic inequality.

Not surprisingly, it is in these areas that populist movements such as Alternative for Germany (AfD), or parties at the left or right extreme of the political spectrum, get their highest vote totals.

‘Success’ at a Cost

From a certain standpoint, Germany’s success in improving its economic indicators through the impoverishment of part of its population actually appears preferable to other alternatives under current E.U. economic policy.

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza party. (Photo credit: FrangiscoDer)

Given the strict budget rules prohibiting large-scale public investment, it has become mandatory to enact “structural reforms” aimed at achieving labor market flexibility, and allowing the entry of private capital into markets previously restricted by public regulations. Germany acted in advance, and also gave a massive public bailout to its banks; now it is held up as an example for others.

A worse scenario has played out in other European countries since 2010: not only structural reforms based on neoliberal ideology, but massive levels of austerity that “cut out the middle man,” so to speak, directly reducing living standards through tax hikes and deep cuts in social services.

When the real estate bubble burst in Spain starting in 2008-2009, for example, the country was forced to implement harsh budget cuts, raise the retirement age, and cut social services. Unemployment rose to almost 25 percent, with youth unemployment close to 50 percent, while the banks were bailed out under an agreement with the E.U., the IMF and the ECB (known as the “Troika”). After years of austerity the economy is now growing again; in this case as well, the cost has been the impoverishment of large swaths of the population.

In Greece, the situation is even more dramatic. Under fire for presenting misleading or false budget numbers – with the help of international banks such as Goldman Sachs – and criticized for widespread tax evasion and an overly generous social state, the Greek people have been subjected to continuous austerity. As a result approximately 15 percent of the population now lives in extreme poverty; a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease.

The E.U. and the IMF have cheered Greece’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, while being forced to admit that this “progress” has “taken a heavy toll on the society and tested its endurance.” (IMF report, Feb. 7, 2017).

One might think that these three examples of increased poverty in countries with very different images both inside and outside of Europe would lead to a profound reappraisal of the austerity policies implemented in recent years. For now, however, the leading players in the E.U. institutions have shown no intention to make a fundamental change; the “reforms” must go on.

Andrew Spannaus is a freelance journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.info, that provides news, analysis and consulting to Italian institutions and businesses. His book on the U.S. elections Perchè vince Trump (Why Trump is Winning) was published in June 2016.

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39 comments for “Growing Poverty Fuels Europe’s Extremism

  1. Drew Hunkins
    May 24, 2017 at 10:21 am

    The entire Western capitalist apparatus is sinking under its own greed and hubris. What replaces it is the key. Will it simply be more neo-liberal hyper-capitalism that takes the gloves off and moves to an overt police-prison state? Or will democratic socialism ultimately replace this monstrosity? Marx was dead on correct with some of his key predictions.

    • Dave P.
      May 25, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      It seems like, the first scenario is more likely to prevail in the foreseeable future. Also, it does not seem likely that there will be any meaningful opposition from the populations. A population subjected to 24/7 brainwashing from the tube and the media – whether it is in their homes, or at airport waiting for a flight or at a sports event – is essentially becomes inert. And the Masters who rule know enough to give the under class enough dough to keep them alive – enough to buy liquor, drugs to keep them in stupor. For the middle class they have devised a system to keep them in constant insecurity about their jobs, and lives in general.

      It seems to me that they are succeeding at changing the very nature of Man – human beings. Waiting at couple of airports recently , and watching the Tube (CNN) in front reminded me of the opening chapter of 1984. The meaning of Truth has been turned upside down. Paul Wolfowitz bragged at the start of this century about creating new realities.

    • Peter Loeb
      May 26, 2017 at 7:55 am

      TRUMP TO NATO:PAY “YOUR FAIR SHARE” WILL FAIL

      Trump’s lecture to NATO members to “pay their fair share” to
      help the poor American taxpayer may be be received with
      diplomatic propriety, but it will not…CANNOT… have
      any result. In the first place no one like to be lectured—in
      public—by his/her “boss”. Secondly almost all of the NATO
      members are suffering economic problems of their own.

      It must be well-known that NATO is the Americans’ army.
      The purchase billions of US weapons and are thus a
      major market for weapons.

      Given Europe’s economic problems,Europe’s dislike
      of Donald Trump orders with the demand to obey
      (eg the election in France for a non-Trump candidate)
      it remains an open question how long Europe will take
      being bossed around. This writer has no idea.

      May of the above areas are extremely complex in
      nature.

      A few more Trump lectures and the NATO which he
      commands to “pay its fair share”) which is to say more
      of the US share b e just dissolve.

      —–Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  2. mike k
    May 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

    We are in the death throes of the evil system of exploitation known as capitalism. The unrealistic dreams of infinite growth and progress are coming to their inevitable conclusion. The hangover from this colossal binge will not be temporary, but will occur in tandem with the other ecological, biological collapses that together will lead to human extinction. In some ways this will be very sad for the species that will be extinguished, but it other ways those remaining can say, “At last the greatest scourge on the planet is finished, and we can go on in relative peace…..” (Those remaining will not have language as we understand it. My putting words in the simpler species remaining’s mouths – which they may or may not have – is simply a literary device,)

  3. Paranam Kid
    May 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    While it is undeniable that economic hardship is growing in the EU, the situation is not as clearcut & comparable across zones & continents.
    1. The Anglo-Saxon capitalist, winner-takes-all paradigm, which is rotting from the core outwards, has not been the model in the EU, except in the UK of course.
    2. There is a distinct difference between north & south Europe: in north Europe it has been possible to combine social welfare with economic success, although economic growth has been lower than in the Anglo-Saxon realm. Germany being the biggest economy in the bloc, has been the envy of many, esp. in south Europe, but the other, smaller countries in the north have been more or less on a par.
    3. To lump Italy, and France in the same group of so-called wealthy countries as The Netherlands, and Germany is ludicrous. The former 2 are notorious for their undisciplined budget control, as a result of which poverty & sluggish growth are their hallmark, whereas budget & fiscal discipline have led to an enviable economic record in the latter 2. The north-south divide runs north of France, with a small wiggle diagonally across Belgium.
    4. Recently elections in The Netherlands and France have proven that right-wing extremism has been rejected by the voters; polls for the general elections in Germany in September show that Merkel’s chance for a 3rd term are pretty good, which would mean another rejection of right-wing extremism.

    What the various elections, both regional & national have shown is that, if the EU is to survive, serious reform is needed to address citizens’ concerns, and to stop the growth of right-wing extremism, a.k.a. fascism. France’s Macron and Germany’s Merkel have indicated they will get the Franco-German motor cranked up, aiming at fuller integration to better handle the challenges. Even though further integration is anathema to many people, who believe the hot air rhetoric from the populists, the fact is that there is still too much disparity to get the bloc as whole functioning in a unified manner, as the chasm between north & south shows.

    • filosofo
      May 25, 2017 at 9:21 am

      This comment reads exactly like an article in any mainstream German so-called centre-left newspaper simply translated into English, makes mainstream economic assumptions and thus contributes very little while being attached to a good article.

      • filosofo
        May 25, 2017 at 9:29 am

        Actually – it reads like an article in any mainstream non-tabloid German newspaper. “Fiscal and Budget discipline” are neoliberal garbage.

  4. F. G. Sanford
    May 24, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    This article aptly describes the structural malignancy, but the social symptoms it produces may be less than obvious. There are whispers among the disenfranchised. They see the crooked politicians who, in some of those countries mentioned, receive pensions for life after serving only one parliamentary term – the incentive to engage in any corruption for the sake of winning an election is gargantuan. Taxes are imposed, assessed and collected with a ferocity never before witnessed – and the public wonders, “Where does the money go?” Manual laborers with physical disabilities rendering them useless are expected now to work until 67, regardless of their complete inefficiency. One says to me, “They could give two young guys a job for what they pay me. I can’t do it anymore, so my job doesn’t get done. If I leave, I lose my pension.” Absenteeism is rampant. The vaunted socialized health system is notorious for providing doctor-approved sick leave. Care is best described as supervised neglect. Sure, I have read the accounts of some celebrities, university guest lecturers or visiting dignitaries who are cast upon this system in a moment of need, and they invariably extol the virtues: “I received such wonderful care, everything was so organized and efficient.” That’s not the reality the ordinary working stiff confronts. Waiting lists for specialty referral and surgical management are outrageous. Lines form, and people wait all day to have prescriptions renewed. Bribery to obtain appropriate care, or to simply obtain admission to a hospital is commonplace. Space availability creates a mechanism for extortion. Public services and infrastructure are neglected though taxes are collected with unmitigated brutality. Public offices are an invitation to self-enrichment. But where does the money go? There is wealth beyond imagination in the cloistered villas and exclusive retreats. The public knows this. They speak softly of the tales their grandparents told of “getting even” with rubber hoses and castor oil. Their eyes brighten when they speak of torchlight parades. They seethe with resentment knowing that their children have no future, but nepotism invariably provides for the children of bureaucrats and professionals. Public offices are still passed from father to son, though this is camouflaged and officially denied. Add to this the animosity inflamed by mass migration and the cavalier politics that have spawned that epidemic, nearly all a product of American neoliberalism and interventionism. When the cauldron finally boils over, the banksters will invariably be spared as they have been for generations. Some scapegoat element will be chosen to suffer the wrath. It won’t be pretty. I hope I don’t live to see it.

  5. Matt Krist Germany
    May 24, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Excellent Analysis!Indeed we have the biggest breeding Programm for Populists (normal People,lost in neocon’s globalism),or shall i say People,who simply love their Homeland,their Family and their friends,good People?Politicians of Partys like the AfD are extremly different from those,belonging to the mainstream-unity-block-Partys,which have the majority YET.Nearly all of them have worked in their Jobs. Have been succesful.Are no ‘Politicians’ but normal citizens .I know nobody of the mainsteam Partys who could say this about his Person.Nobody.Now These guys bite and scratch at once,if somebody is not against those new populists.We whish the new Party all the best,so they probably once can bring a Change in our countries.I think our friends in Austria will be the first who’ll get the work done.We’ll see it in October,when Mr. Kurz will become chancellor in vienna!

  6. backwardsevolution
    May 24, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    German, French and other northern European banks lent too much money to the poor European periphery countries (Greece, Spain, Portugal) who took on too much debt. Of course, their taking on debt was in order to buy the products of the rich northern European countries, who did very well under this system. Germany prospered, the others just appeared to.

    Greece should never have been allowed into the EU in the first place, but Goldman Sachs cooked the books in order to make a pig look good. Greece then ramped up and I think at one point spent the most on their military of any European country. Imagine, little Greece. It sure hasn’t helped them secure their borders, has it?

    Things fell apart, but the big banks who lent all of the money didn’t want to pay the price for their stupidity. They got bailed out when they SHOULD have gone bankrupt. If you lend to children, don’t expect to be paid back!, but they did expect to be paid back. Funny how that works. You or I would go bankrupt for lending to a bad risk, but not them.

    But someone has got to pay!!! “Pay up, Greece,” the IMF says. “Gee, maybe you could start selling off your ports, your airports, your public facilities, start selling your land off for ten cents on the dollar to the Chinese.” So the Greek people are put under austerity, pensions cut, their lose their land, their country is bought out, and why? So that rich bankers who lent to bad risks can be paid back.

    Disgusting!

    • tony
      May 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      Right you must know a lot of economy, Greece had postive balances before gping into SEA once went IMF admited to entering EMU.
      Once they entered they got negative balAnces.
      Goldmansach cooked the books than The wall street and many banks flooded it with consumer credit.
      What is happening now isall those bail out are paying the consumer credits along with the previous debt.

    • Matt Krist Germany
      May 24, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      The solution is simple and already calculated:The € will blow up in Inflation….and the syndicate :they simply smile and lough about stupid small people !
      Then they start the Game again.Like always in History.

    • Antonia
      May 24, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Oh! I am really tired of the statement “Greece should not have entered the EU”. You mean she should not have entered the Euro.Totally different. The so called fraud was engineering by the powers of the European Union according to Nigel Farage and apparently Junker admitted it.
      As for thieves,perhaps the Germans should refund the money that Hitler stole from the Greek banks during German occupation!

      • May 24, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        Should have read engineered. Sorry for the typo.

        • backwardsevolution
          May 24, 2017 at 3:09 pm

          Antonia – yes, you are right, Greece should not have entered the Euro. If they hadn’t, they could have devalued their currency, but now they can’t.

          Isn’t this just another occupation, but without the machine guns? Germany will end up (along with other foreign investors) owning Greece.

          They lend too much, get bailed out by the taxpayers (who are stupid enough to go along with them because they don’t understand they’re getting fleeced), and then turn around and milk the debtor country for all they’re worth. With cheaply-bought assets in hand, they start it all over.

          I’ve read that there was also a lot of tax evasion in Greece, doctors who were claiming they made barely any money, yet lived in beautiful houses, pools and all. A lot of corruption, bribes, nobody minding the store. The elite like it this this: it’s easier for them to loot when no one is looking, or they can pay somebody off.

          Greece should have left the Euro long ago and let these guys twist. Yes, there would have been bad times, but what’s worse: a few bad years, or years and years of austerity and the selling-off of your country? Iceland seems to have done just fine, even though all the so-called brightest minds said they would fall flat on their face.

          • Antonia
            May 25, 2017 at 9:51 am

            backwards evolution Thanks for your comment but I think you should not believe everything you read about the Greek people i.e. they are lazy, they are evading taxes etc. They are neither lazy nor evading taxes. I know Greek who have over two jobs, they go to bed at three in the morning and get up at six the same morning. Many Greeks may wish to AVOID TAX. In this there is a lot of tax avoidance by many rich people like Soros.

            If Greeks used old fashioned measures like hand pumps, they enjoy it, as a stupid western travel writer wrote in the 60s.

            In my opinion the German Government should refund with interest what Hitler stole from Greece. If the case was reverse the Greeks would have done so.

          • backwardsevolution
            May 25, 2017 at 12:06 pm

            Antonia – I don’t think the average Greek is lazy at all, and I’m sorry if I came across that way. They are working very hard just to keep their heads above water. It is the rich, connected people who have cheated the country, the politicians who put Greece in debt.

            Best of luck to you, Antonia.

    • Joe Average
      May 25, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      “Things fell apart, but the big banks who lent all of the money didn’t want to pay the price for their stupidity. They got bailed out when they SHOULD have gone bankrupt.”

      You’re correct! The Greek population shouldn’t have been forced to bail out their banks. By bailing out banks, their already high public debt had been inflated to a point which made it impossible to repay. Those who benefited from that accounting trick – financial scam – were mainly French and German banks and insurance companies who had lent money to Greek financial institutions. Forcing the Greek citizens to bail out their banks saved the asses of many French and German bankers.

      Joe Average

      P.S.: Your communication with Antonia shows that at least some people have woken up and see the dirty game that’s being played by the money changers.

    • Richard
      May 27, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Excellent analysis.

  7. cmp
    May 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    In 2010, when the Owner’s ‘.. wrapped Citizen’s United in robes of legal sanction..’ I was already in the 10,000 plus hour club of political activism, organizing and volunteering. .. And, thanks to Citizen’s United, by 2011, I had already personally witnessed the 2 Major Local Parties uniting their money in a plastic carpet movement for the benefit of their local business owners.

    (.. btw: back In 1976, with ‘Buckley vs Valeo’ it was in fact, both of the Major Parties, McCarthy was only left unnamed in the action.)

    In 2016, I knew that Bernie would not overcome the Super Two’s Day. .. No one, if they even get that far, ever does. But, in my State, our Primary, it was also over in March. This was significant, because their was also a State Ballot Measure for a referendum that I was working on with changing a State Legislation that had recently been passed, which made Dark Money much easier for the Owner’s of my State. .. Now with 85% of American’s against money in politics (..let alone, Dark Money..) guess how much help I received from the Democrats or the Republicans; – as well as their “heat sink” clubs? .. You guessed it, and last June, we had to drop the Referendum for the failure of not having enough volunteers to make the Ballot in time.

    And today, our State Legislature is crafting new Laws to make a Ballot Measure much more difficult in my State. .. Now, just how much from the McResistance do you think we are seeing for this one? .. Again, you guessed it.

    We have been told “It’s a Global World – Don’t You know?” (..for the Global Banker and his Corporate assets, that is..)

    … But, what does this mean for the Deep State?
    Per The Atlantic, ‘Can A Political Upstart Ride Obama’s Strategy To Victory?’, 4/21/2017:
    ~” .. So Macron turned to three young Frenchmen who got their start in politics as volunteers for Obama’s 2008 campaign, and who now run a political consulting and technology firm in Paris. Guillaume Liegey, Arthur Muller, and Vincent Pons met in Boston—Liegey and Muller studied at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, while Pons was a graduate student at MIT—and, after Obama’s victory, decided to explore which Obama-style tactics they’d be able to bring to France.. “~

    A last minute call to Macron; you say? How about, he was there from the beginning.? .. And Germany, it is coming up on September 24th.

    .. “It’s a Global World – Don’t You know … and, would you like a few fries to go with your McPolitics .. your McNews … your McResistance???”

  8. No More Neos
    May 24, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    The EU must dissolve in order for nations to return to its given authority to issue its own currency.

    “For those struggling with MMT, google “money created from thin air”. You’ll get lots of hits, including Bernanke admitting that’s where the $[29] trillion bank bailout came from, and German banks admitting that’s where credit came from.

    There is nothing new about this, it’s been the reality since we all abandoned the gold standard in 1971. Trouble is, the ramifications of abandoning the gold standard and using fiat currency were never explained to the people. And no way were governments captured by Neoliberalism ever going to use fiat currency properly. That is, to serve the majority of society.

    Governments and mainstream neoclassical economics professors continued to explain money as a limited commodity with an external value (like it had with a gold standard) and government budgets as being like household budgets (which they’re not: households can’t create currency out of thin air, but governments can) because it suited laissez-faire, Neoliberal capitalism to keep a huge supply of labor unemployed, underemployed or working poor people, for some perverse, peculiar reason.

    I often suspect governments and politicians don’t understand the ramifications of abandoning the gold standard and using fiat currency themselves. Either that, or they are VERY good actors.” ~ Kathy Heyne

  9. backwardsevolution
    May 24, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    No More Neos – “I often suspect governments and politicians don’t understand the ramifications of abandoning the gold standard and using fiat currency themselves. Either that, or they are VERY good actors.”

    They are very good actors. These guys make the rules and know exactly what they’re doing. (Ditto with every other lie we hear in the media – they know what they’re doing and they’re doing it ON PURPOSE, with intent). Then they get in front of the microphone and lie, like good actors do. They tell us, for example, that they’re going to invade some country because of “humanitarian” reasons, when a few years down the line we find out that it was because of the oil or a myriad of other reasons.

    Whatever the elite do, it is seldom, if ever, to help the average guy, but you wouldn’t know it from listening the politicians or economists, or other bought-and-paid-for academics and experts (who have to go along or they’re out of a job and blacklisted).

    “It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.” David Brin

    Power is not at the top of my list. In fact, it’s not even on my list. Unbelievably, power IS at the top of other people’s lists, the corruptible people who rule over us.

  10. Nick Yea
    May 24, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    This is ideology driven nonsense.

    It is simply a matter of fact that populations globally, especially in the West are materially richer than ever before. Arguably we suffer from an excess of bread and circuses.

    What Western populations object to, quite reasonably, and in-extremely, is to being replaced racially by non-Westerners biologically, culturally and having to pay for it.

    It is pandering to the mainstream parties to describe these non-extreme, non-aggressive positions as ‘extremism’. What’s ‘extreme’ about policies that would tend toward protecting low-wage workers, diverse cultures, peace? What’s ‘extreme’ about opposing the specific targeting of one continent for slow genocide by the UN’s code-term ‘replacement migration’?

    • backwardsevolution
      May 24, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      Nick Yea – agreed. There’s nothing “extreme” about it.

    • Joe Average
      May 25, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      “What Western populations object to, quite reasonably, and in-extremely, is to being replaced racially by non-Westerners biologically, culturally and having to pay for it.”

      Probably you’re referring to the so called Hooton-Plan. No one will be replaced. Without trade to “materially rich” will rapidly decline. Take a map and look at the natural resources that can be found in the West (US and Europe). If the West hadn’t bombed Libya into a heap of rubble, there wouldn’t be any refugees migrating from this country. The same game is being played in Syria right now. Why are NATO forces still in Afghanistan? The underlying common denominator of all the conflicts that are taking place can be traced back to the access to natural resources and economics.

      If you don’t want refugees entering your country, then stop buying products that contain resources that have to be imported from outside of your country. Don’t buy a mobile phone. Mobile phones and several other electronic devices contain Coltan. Coltan can be found in many conflict areas – Rwanda is the most prominent example of the recent history. Whilst Rwandan war had been used to secretly steal this resource. At the same time the businesses of weapons manufacturers and bootleggers reaped in huge profits. Do you really think Western intelligence services don’t know who’s illegally smuggling weapons into a conflict zone and secretly exporting natural resources? Where was all the oil sold that had been stolen by ISIS? The US even bombed – after dropping leaflets warning of the upcoming attack – some of those tankers driving towards Turkey. Another factor creating refugees is “land grabbing”. Land grabbing refers to buying large areas of land – by international corporations – and driving away the previous inhabitants. Dumping Western overproduction onto African markets contributes to the destruction of local farmers. If you don’t want migrants entering your country, then you should engage in fair trade only and don’t send any military abroad. The main requirement for reducing the amount of refugees is to be willing to spend a larger amount of money for consumer products. As long as you’re chasing for the cheapest product available you’re contributing to the problem. Also make sure that the supply chain is unspoiled of any resources that are obtained by exploitation.

      To sum it up: If you don’t want refugees, then don’t produce any.

      Joe Average

      P.S.: On a daily basis I’ve to cope with economic migrants from the hinterlands of Bavaria, Saxonia, Swabia, … Somehow I manage to get along with them, although I would like them to leave again. That’s life…

      • Joe Average
        May 25, 2017 at 6:20 pm

        correction:
        “Without trade to “materially rich” will rapidly decline.”
        “Whilst Rwandan war …”

        should be:
        “Without trade the “materially rich” countries will rapidly decline.”
        “The Rwandan war …”

      • Chris Carlen
        May 28, 2017 at 5:01 pm

        “If you don’t want refugees entering your country, then stop buying products that contain resources that have to be imported from outside of your country.”
        This is utterly absurd. You are trying to blame capitalism for the rotten policies of military interventionism combined with unrestricted immigration.
        The two have nothing to do with each other. Most manufactured goods are coming from China and other East Asian countries. These nations have engaged in no military interventionism.
        Even oil would be cheaper to obtain by simply abandoning the mid-east, letting the chips fall where they may, and then buying the oil from whatever tin pot despot wants to sell it. Then the US, e.g., could cut its military budget in half, and still face no real danger. That’s a lot of money which could be freed up for the real, productive economy.

  11. Pearce
    May 24, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    As chomsky has said, we all have to tighten our belts. Some (the strong) less than others (the weak).

  12. THOMAS W ADAMS
    May 24, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    Profiteering aside, all of this “necessary structural” austerity and poverty arises from the purely ideological belief that demands the highest profits from trade, services and manufacture, based upon the most competitive, lowest cost source, available. It has nothing to do with concern or provision of the “life sustaining” basic needs and care for populations. Globalisation destroys work opportunities, destroys the incomes people have come to rely on, incomes that are the very “backbone” of family and life commitments, raising ones family, paying the rent or mortgage, important commitments we give our lives to, trashed into the dustbin of soulless Corporate acquisition.

    All Nations subjected to the “globalisation” of lowest cost supply, are subjected to increased levels of poverty, and increased levels of “unemployed and working poor”, with forced austerities that cut provision of human services such as health, education, unemployment benefits, age pensions and retirement provisions. We can find no indications that such austerities will ever be reversed, they are intended to be “structural”. All of this can be identified as “mans ideological inhumanity to man”, and it is totally unnecessary.

    All such “ideological inhumanities” can be reversed overnight without the need to tax others or appropriate their wealth in other ways.

    We must get rid of any purely imaginary, ideological, market or man devised, accounting rules and restrictions, related to Government provision and supply of money. Those few that impose and enforce such restrictions do so because they fear losing any fortune they have amassed, but more importantly, they fear losing their “control” over the whole of humanity, because their control of money supply literally makes all others “slaves” that must conform as “they” dictate. Their “wealth” must be left intact; however,they do not need or be entitled to keep us all in slavery.

    The remedy will not harm or disadvantage anyone, rather it will advantage everyone and allow them to receive a “basic” share of World resources in order to sustain their human well-being and human “rights”. I grew up during the second World War. The British Government was forced to issue ration books, in order that the reduced supply of food and other essentials, could be shared equally throughout the population. It worked very well.

    My point is this; all sovereign Governments must take back the power that enables them, to print and issue controlled amounts of money, interest free and debt free. And to use this money, just like the British ration books, and to provide all that need it with a basic income, unrestricted, without any obligation or qualification, except that they need it. Our digital World will easily accomplish this task. The “Free Market” will quickly adapt to utilise all the new labour employing opportunities inherent in this change.

    There are many more advantages concomitant to the provision of interest free and debt free money, too numerous for inclusion here, to be known as “The Universal Economy”. Those presently in control will scream “blasphemy”, however their objections are all based upon their man-made, contrived, ideological and imaginary arguments formulated to sustain all the “Ivory towers” of their inventions.

    Adoption of this “Universal Economy” would abolish hunger, deprivation and poverty overnight, without taxing or stealing from others, and it would become the “foundation” of the domestic economy, and be insulated from the predatory, destructive interference that occur from the excesses of financial, exchange and commodity markets.

  13. rosemerry
    May 25, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Thanks for this article, with information not generally found so clearly. I live in France, and of course the Macron presidency will continue this trend, already on the way under his influence with the “socialists”, to destroy workers’ rights, negate environmental standards, help the rich and the big corporations and reduce any efforts to retain local and regional specialities in culture.

  14. Max
    May 25, 2017 at 6:06 am

    “Work makes a mockery of freedom. The official line is that we all have rights and live in a democracy. Other unfortunates who aren’t free like we are have to live in police states. These victims obey orders or-else, no matter how arbitrary. The authorities keep them under regular surveillance. State bureaucrats control even the smaller details of everyday life. The officials who push them around are answerable only to higher-ups, public or private. Either way, dissent and disobedience are punished. Informers report regularly to the authorities. All this is supposed to be a very bad thing.” Bob Black

    ” I once saw a photograph of a large herd of wild elephants in Central Africa seeing an airplane for the first time, and all in state of wild collective terror… As, however, there were no journalists among them, the terror died down when the airplane was out of sight.” B. Russell

    The elephants are falling on each other. Have the machine wash your car!

  15. DEAN EDWARDS
    May 25, 2017 at 6:46 am

    All of the above writers have a whiff of the shenanigans that have plagued the EU. The binding of countries through a monetary system was inevilable, but unfortunately, to be plagued by the sudden apex moment of neoliberalism. The laws of property originate from a system of serfdom which favoured the owner or in the modern fiscal arrangements, the controllers of banking and lending. I must agree that austerity and indebtedness are the key objectives of wealth generation and the EU’s formation enhanced the opportunities of exploiting nations, beyond ones own borders. The need to dispense with the current value system is paramount for the future success of a European Union, otherwise the experiment is doomed.

    Voices such as mine are disregarded in the face of vested interests and entrenched systems, but heed, the moment of reckoning will appear buoyed by the growth of dissent and machine of mindless revolt.

    Collapse is inevitable in the wake of stupidity, swelling anger and the failure to tend to the needs of so many downwardly spiraling social, ecological and environmental issues.

    There will be no salvation, magic pill or reversal of behaviour …. human beings are locked into time frames, political beliefs and needs-based dynamics that are glacial and difficult to turn around. Governance should be our system of salvation and steerage, but the system is rotted to the core.

  16. Steve
    May 25, 2017 at 9:23 am

    For decades, the elite in Brussels and in all the continental capitals embraced the idea that politicians, academics and bureaucrats know how best organize the public’s life. This premise is absurd.

    From the wars of choice conducted in the former middle east colonies, to the refugees that flow in as a result of those wars , and to all of the criticisms by the author above: how can any one actually believe what Europe needs or for that matter the world needs is more government?

    More avoidable poverty will surely follow.

    • mike k
      May 25, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Less bad government, and more good government is our need. No government is not possible. Extreme anarchists should read “The Lord of the Flies.”

  17. May 25, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Excellent writing thank you, Andrew. The poor are also fed to training organizations for supplying Al Qaeda, Al Nusra Front etc.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vFhE1AFIuk&feature=em-subs_digest

  18. Evangelista
    May 25, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Separating the economies of the nations of the EU, ‘North-South’ or any other geographic way, is an error to begin with: The nations of the EU form a homogeneous economic entity: The less industrial, like Spain and Greece in Spannaus’s article, that are customers for products of the industrial, and are clients for the banking sectors of the wealthy ones. With impoverishment of the customers and clients they, with less to spend and purchase with purchase less and miss payments on loan accounts. The rich nations, providing easy credit when they had excess money to lend and product to sell, encouraged spending and pushed loans, and development projects on the ‘poorer’, who ‘needed’ to ‘develop’. This saddled those nations with the debts the economic implosions of their economies have made burdensome. The rich now demanding continuations of payments add burden and push the poor into economic declines that they created and don’t want to accept portion of the burden of. They, instead, look to obtain further benefits by their insistence forcing sell-off of public properties to their private entities, who, for continuing to squeeze intend to have the money to buy the assets they are forcing into forfeiture. This is what the European nations did in the nineteenth century to governments of Arabia, selling them the need for ‘modernization’ and loaning them money to ‘modernize’, even though they did not have the economic generation capacity to produce the moneys repayment of the loans would require. They were not told that the modernizations, mostly socially beneficial, would produce social, but not bottomline returns. It as an early example of economic ‘warfare’, ‘civilized’ conquest instead of military, The same is happening in Europe now, with result going to be either warfare or economic colonialization of the ‘customer’ EU nations.

    Next, statistics of poverty percentages are not comparable between economies, at least without adjustments: If German workers average, let us say, thirty thousand euros per year and French twenty thousand, Spanish ten thousand and Greek five thousand, with the currency being the same, with the same purchasing power per unit across the EU, an ‘economic slowdown’ reducing all by fifty percent would leave the Germans still comfortable, the French slightly discomfited, the Spanish pinched, and the Greeks, already pinched, destitute. The Germans and French would, as they are doing, feel their loss, and, having invested their excesses in loans to Spaniards and Greeks to ‘put their surpluses to work’ to enhance their already higher incomes, would incline to want their interest-income to continue, and would, as we are seeing, be dismissive of the real suffering their desire to minimize their slight discomfort, as quotes of IMF and other financially insulated’s voices indicate, completely unaware, and uncaring, that extracting from the destitute is grinding those on the rocks into the rocks, and that history indicates their actions suicidal.

    Also, such things as “Doctors living in luxurious houses with swimming pools” in impoverished nations does not indicate horded wealth or available liquid assets: Luxuries and grand houses are bought when times are good and money is flowing. They do not evaporate, and often are not salable, when times have turned. In Greece, for example, where pensions and services have been cut, a doctor who once saw dozens of patients each of whom could, for money being available, pay asked fees, will have few patients, and those, without incomes, ill able to pay, if able at all. How will the doctor’s house, bought when times were good, reflect the doctor’s hard-times situation? How stupid do those wanting to gouge more after having already robbed the programs that were supplying money to the doctors have to be to imagine the doctors ‘must be’ still getting fees, because they still live in the same houses they did then? Answer, averagely stupid, like the vast majority who don’t care where their payments come from or comprehend the concept of the money they cut off no longer being there.

    In Europe, Germany and France, and Britain, too, are going into the tank. They are only starting from higher income levels, and so are taking a little longer, falling a little farther, probably falling toward pitchforks and torches those they pitched down to stay up longer may be holding up against them…

    • Kathy Heyne
      May 26, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      Just one thing to add, Evangelista. “Greece” didn’t start off in debt. The Greek public sector ( ie, the Greek government) was carrying very little debt. Most of the debt, by a huge margin was private: it was rich people’s debt. Brussels didn’t bail out Greece, it bailed out the EU’s banks, then socialised the debt through austerity and forced privatisation of public assets, pushing the burden on ordinary Greeks who werent responsible for its creation in the first place.

  19. Kathy Heyne
    May 26, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    No, no! It’s racism, if you’re a liberal and righteous fear of immigrants who don’t share our values, taking our jobs and sponging off the public purse at the same time and destroying our culture, if you’re a conservative.

    It’s never austerity. It’s never inequality. It’s never the economy, stupid!

  20. vetran
    May 27, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Poverty is rising in the EU, yet peoples are still voting for a system that impoverishes them as seen recently with the French election.
    Seem that people are more worried about the ghosts of the past than present and future dangers ; or they are not poor enough. By the time they’ll catch up with reality it will be too late!

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