The U.S. will never become Greece IF we reject conservative principles and austerity cuts

John Amato makes a good point about the constant threat from Republicans that America is moments away from becoming Greece because of the deficit:

“…after seeing the International Monetary Fund implore Great Britain to ease off its austerity program so their economy could heal, I had a little change of heart. See, one of the only reasons why many countries in Europe have suffered so much after the financial collapse has been because, instead of turning towards Keynesian policies that Paul Krugman has begged for, they’ve embraced the Conservative principles that the UK’s Cameron touted. And that decision ushered in very painful austerity measures upon the people of their nations. The effects of those decisions has been a non-existent financial recovery to their economy and an accompanying nightmare to their population.

[...] If we don’t want to become Greece (which can’t happen, anyway), we should never, ever consider austerity measures or conservative principles. How quickly the world forgets that it was under a conservative George Bush presidency that the global economy collapsed. Why should we ever turn to his acolytes’ beliefs to fix the problem now?”

A bad economy, another recession, high unemployment, suffering — or, in other words, the entire Republican strategy for the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Paul Krugman: a Romney victory could mean a double-dip recession

“I think there’s a real chance that he’ll manage to pursue a policy in the first couple of years that simultaneously blows up the deficit and depresses the economy,” Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, said on HuffPost Live Wednesday. “Tax cuts for the rich, who won’t spend them, and slash spending for the poor and the middle class, who will be forced to cut back. And so we end up managing to have a simultaneous deficit explosion and double-dip recession.”

Tax cuts for the rich do not help economic growth, according to two recent studies, and some analyses have found that Romney’s proposed tax cuts would help the wealthy the most. Romney also has promised to slash government spending by roughly one-fifth, which economists say would hurt consumer demand. But it is unclear whether Romney would be able to cut government spending so dramatically if Democrats maintain a majority in the Senate.

Krugman said that over the long term, Romney’s economic policies could lead to a “depression,” saying: “It’s the Republican policies that are much more likely to make us end up like Greece.” [...]

“I’m not seeing a lot of evidence that he [Romney] really does understand it [economics]… People say he’s a smart guy, but it’s not visible in his statements, and it’s not visible in his off-the-cuff reactions either. I don’t have a lot of hope that he actually would know what he’s doing at all or that he would even know how to pick the right people,” Krugman added.

Paul Krugman on HuffPost Live (see video) 

Greek for dinner?

Chania, Crete  (Photo credit: Atli Harðarson | via:

Lunchtime: let’s go eat under the bougainvillea in Crete

Street scene with the bougainvillea vines in bloom: Rethymno, Crete (source: tjensen99 | via visitheworld)

It’s time for lunch

visitheworld: Streets of Chania, Crete Island, Greece (by Guillaume Chanson).

Morning Bunker Report: Monday 5.7.2012


MITT ROMNEY on the other hand, is proposing the exact opposite. His tax plan would give massive tax cuts to the rich. (The top 0.1% for example, would recieved a $264,000 tax cut.) Meanwhile, in a closed-door fundraiser, Romney revealed he planned to make massive reductions in education spending. He is also proposing cutting funding for infrastructure, including the possible elimination of the Department of Housing and Urban development. — ThinkProgress

THE REPUBLICANS who control the House are using cuts to food aid, health care and social services like Meals on Wheels to protect the Pentagon from a wave of budget cuts come January. The reductions, while controversial, are but a fraction of what Republicans called for in the broader, nonbinding budget plan they passed in March. Totaling a little more than $300 billion over a decade, the new cuts are aimed less at tackling $1 trillion-plus government deficits and more at preventing cuts to troop levels and military modernization. The House Budget Committee meets Monday to officially act on the measure, the product of six separate House panels. It faces a likely floor vote Thursday. — MiamiHerald

FOX NEWS: Murdoch’s most toxic legacy — My complaint is that Fox pretends very hard to be something it is not, and in the process contributes to the corrosive cynicism that has polarized our public discourse. I doubt that people at Fox News really believe their programming is “fair and balanced” — that’s just a slogan for the suckers — but they probably are convinced that what they have created is the conservative counterweight to a media elite long marinated in liberal bias. They believe that they are doing exactly what other serious news organizations do; they just do it for an audience that had been left out before Fox came along. [...] In the digital era of do-it-yourself news consumption, it is easier than ever to assemble an information diet that simply confirms your prejudices. Traditional news organizations, for all their shortcomings, see it as their mission to provide — and test — the information you need to form intelligent opinions. We aim to challenge lazy assumptions. Fox panders to them. — Bill Keller

MICHELE BACHMANN makes shit up on CBS’ Face the Nation — Bachmann: “Actually, if you look at the 2010 elections, women went Republican. They didn’t go Democrat, and they will this time as well, because women are more concerned about the economy and jobs for themselves, for their husbands, for their children, and that’s not happened because Obama’s broken his promises.”— ThinkProgress

  • FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN responds — “Michele Bachmann has never had much command of the facts and that shows us exactly why… women are terrified of what the Republicans are talking about. They’re talking about basically stripping away their ability to have insurance pay for their birth control pills. Latinos are terrified of the Republicans because they seem to have a total tin ear when it comes to the basic needs of treating people with dignity. And the average American thinks that Mitt Romney doesn’t care about them. Here’s a guy that’s building, during a campaign, a mansion in Malibu with an elevator for his car. He had a Swiss bank account and invested in the Cayman Islands. I don’t think we’ve ever elected a president who’s invested in the Cayman Islands as a tax dodge before. This candidacy is a shipwreck, and for Michele Bachmann to go out there and claim that women are going to vote for Mitt Romney is perfectly ridiculous.” — Raw Story

JOHN MCCAIN STILL (hilariously / sadly?) trying to convince us he chose Palin in 2008 because of her ‘qualifications’ — Speaking about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney selecting of a vice presidential running mate, McCain said on ABC’s “This Week” that the “primary, absolute, most important aspect is if something happened to him, would that person be well qualified to take that place?” “I happen to believe that was the … primary factor on my decision in 2008,” McCain said, “and I know it will be Mitt’s.” — POLITICO | Seriously. Just STFU, McCain. [image: TBogg]

RON PAUL supporters are causing Mitt Romney major headaches in Nevada and Maine. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS————————————————————

OBAMA CAMP: You’re damn right we take credit for killing bin Laden  — The Obama re-election campaign doesn’t appear fazed by attacks from the right about “politicizing” the killing of Osama bin Laden, and on Sunday remained on offense over what it said was one of the president’s accomplishments. “The president hasn’t been spiking the ball,” said President Obama’s senior campaign adviser David Axelrod on ABC’s This Week. “This was the one-year anniversary. It’s part of his record. And it’s certainly a legitimate part of his record to talk about.” Axelrod said Obama followed through with his promise that catching the al-Qaeda leader would be a top priority. “And then he ordered a mission that was — was, frankly, risky, dangerous,” he said. “Bob Gates said it was one of the most courageous, one of the gutsiest decisions he’s ever seen a president make. And it turned out successfully.” Axelrod was responding to an outside conservative group’s ad — hailed by Karl Rove and widely discussed in the conservative blogosphere — that utilizes ominous music to sharply attack Obama for taking credit for the killing of Bin Laden on the first anniversary last week. “Heroes don’t seek credit,” the ad said. “Heroes don’t politicize their acts of valor.” “Yes, it’s the swift boating of the president,” the leader of the group told Mother Jones. Republicans were particularly peeved that Obama’s campaign commercial about the killing quoted 2007 remarks from his likely opponent Mitt Romney saying it’s “not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars” to catch bin Laden. — TPM

  • ONE YEAR AGO, President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden, ending a near-decade-long manhunt. Amid U.S. celebrations, it was largely forgotten that the delay in getting the terrorist leader resulted from blunders by George W. Bush and his neocon advisers, Robert Parry wrote in 2011. [...] Though it remains unclear what the long-term consequences of this action will be, Obama’s success – after years of Bush’s failure – does suggest one important lesson: U.S. officials would be well advised to ignore the special pleadings of the neocons who remain highly influential inside Official Washington. The neocons, along with other Bush advisers, exploited the 9/11 tragedy to justify a policy of inserting U.S. military forces into the heart of the Arab world to the detriment of bringing the masterminds of 9/11 to justice. That miscalculation did horrendous damage to both the United States and the people of the Middle East. It also allowed Osama bin Laden to remain at large for more than nine years. — Consortiumnews


Hollande versus Sarkozy via Flickr FRENCH ELECTIONS: “Mr. Normal” defeats “President of the Rich” — The defeat of the most unpopular French president ever to run for re-election was not simply the result of the global financial crisis or eurozone debt turmoil. It was also down to the intense public dislike of the man seen as “President of the Rich” who had swept to victory in 2007 with a huge mandate to change France. Most French people felt he had failed to deliver his promises, and he was criticised for his ostentatious display of wealth, favouring the rich and leaving behind him more than 2.8 million unemployed. Political analysts said anti-Sarkozyism had become a cultural phenomenon in France. The turnout was high, estimated at around 80%. Hollande is the first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand’s re-election in 1988. Thousands of cheering supporters, including many intellectuals and arts figures, massed at Paris’s Place de la Bastille, a flashpoint of the 1789 French revolution, where the left celebrated Mitterrand’s first historic victory in 1981. [...] Hollande’s manifesto is based on scrapping Sarkozy’s tax breaks for the rich and levying more from high earners to finance what he deems essential spending, including creating 60,000 posts in France’s under-performing school system. He has pledged to keep the public deficit capped but for his delicate balancing act to work he needs a swift return to growth in France, despite economists warning of over-optimistic official growth forecasts that need to be trimmed. — Raw Story 

  • GREECE ALSO rejects austerity — In a major upset that will not be welcomed by the crisis-plagued country’s eurozone partners, the two forces that had agreed to enact unpopular belt-tightening in return for rescue funds appeared headed for a beating, with none being able to form a government. After nearly 40 years of dominating the Greek political scene, the centre-right New Democracy and socialist Pasok saw support drop dramatically in favour of parties that had virulently opposed the tough austerity dictated by international creditors. — Raw Story
  • FOUR YEARS LATER and apparently the “give rich assholes free money” strategy isn’t work out so well. — Duncan Black
  • THE GERMANS will cling to their fantasies of prosperity through pain, and will insist that continuing with their failed strategy is the only responsible thing to do. But it seems that they will no longer have unquestioning support from the Élysée Palace. And that, believe it or not, means that both the euro and the European project now have a better chance of surviving than they did a few days ago. — Paul Krugman

THE FRENCH ELECTION offers good and bad news for Obama. “For President Obama, the sight of Nicolas Sarkozy, a fellow member of the Presidential class of 2007-2008, being sent packing by French voters will bring mixed feelings…When the campaign turns to questions of economics, what is happening in Europe should provide Obama with plenty of arguments with which to flay his opponents. Republicans say they want to slash government spending and focus on the deficit regardless of the immediate economic situation. The Europeans have carried out that experiment, and, to say the least, it hasn’t turned out very well. From this side of the Atlantic, the American economic recovery seems pretty impressive. After more than three years of economic stagnation, most Europeans would gladly take G.D.P. growth of two-to-three per cent and an unemployment rate of eight per cent.” — John Cassidy in The New Yorker.

WOMEN ARE the richer sex, if by “richer” you mean “making less money.”

I wrote about this subject on Equal Pay Day, before I came across Bryce Covert’s fabulous Nation post “How to Close the Gender Wage Gap In Just Seven Easy* Steps.” (Do read it for serious policy ideas written with verve.) One of her steps: raise the minimum wage. See? Easy! — Are Women the Richer Sex?

Meanwhile Greece is burning

Simela Pantzartzi/European Pressphoto Agency– Police dodged firebombs thrown by some of the protesters.

ATHENS — As hooded youths torched shops and battled police in the streets of Athens, lawmakers early Monday approved a tough austerity package that was expected to help the country avoid default.

[…] Makis Barbarossos, 37, an insurance salesman, said he had lost faith in Greek politicians.

“They’re all sold out in there; they should be punished,” he said, waving a cigarette in the direction of the Parliament building. “We should put them in small, unheated apartments with 300-euro pensions and see can they live like that. Can they live how they’re asking us to live?” Asked what the solution was, his answer was blunt. “Three hundred nooses,” he said, referring to the 300 members of Parliament.

Greeks Pessimistic in Anti-Austerity Protests –

Published on Feb 12, 2012 by 

Demonstrators set buildings ablaze and fireballs lit up the night sky in Athens, Greece shortly before Greek lawmakers passed harsh austerity measures designed to prevent the country from going bankrupt. (Feb. 12)

Γεια σου, Ελλάδα (via: boao)

emmanuelnegro: Athens, Feb. 12. Shit is real.(Photo seen everywhere on Twitter, I can’t estabilish who the author is. If you can help please let me know so I can give proper credit)

The following photos have no attribution / news source, apart from the Tumblr account. If you have a source for any photos below, let me know and I’ll note.

strelnik: Atene, piazza Syntagma | 12 febbraio 2012

via: iknowhowtoreblognow

via: bpalbores

via: temnastrana

via: theinvisiblecommission

Protesters have clashed with police in the Greek capital Athens, amid anger over fresh austerity measures approved under pressure from Eurozone ministers.

Demonstrators threw rocks and petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas. The clashes came after trade unions began a 48-hour strike.

Parliament is expected to vote on a package of cuts and reforms on Sunday.

Eurozone ministers say MPs must approve it before Greece receives 130bn euros ($170bn; £110bn) in bailout funds.

They are also demanding further budget cuts of 325m euros.

BBC — Read more [Images: Getty]

Sundog evening

Just waiting for The Walking Dead return and reading about the Greek government committing suicide. What’s up at your house?

via: ruineshumaines

American prosperity hits Greece. Hard.

Greece is on the Road to American Prosperity with new and improved austerity measures!

Greece used to have an extensive public health care system that pretty much ensured that everybody was covered for everything. But in the last two years, the nation’s creditors have pushed hard for dramatic cost savings to cut back the deficit. These measures are taking a brutal toll on the system and on the country’s growing numbers of poor and unemployed who cannot afford the new fees and co-payments instituted at public hospitals as part of the far-reaching austerity drive.

At public hospitals, doctors report shortages of all kinds of supplies, from toilet paper to catheters to syringes. Computerized equipment has gone unrepaired and is no longer in use. Nurses are handling four times the patients they should, and wait times for operations — even cancer surgeries — have grown longer.

Now Greeks will have the opportunity to go bankrupt over medical bills just like us. Isn’t that great?

Call me a socialist, but I’d rather see my tax dollars pay for a universal public health program – like Medicare for everyone – instead of paying for military bases all over the world and perpetual wars. You?

Meanwhile in Greece: Merry Crisis & Happy New Fear!


In Greece, two riot policeman walk by graffiti that reads “Merry Crisis” and “Happy New Fear”.

Meanwhile in Greece… #OccupyWallStreet #OccupyGreece

Thousands strike in Greece to protest government cuts

Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing youths in central Athens on Wednesday, where thousands of striking state sector workers marched against cuts the government says are needed to save the nation from bankruptcy.

Youths broke up marble paving slabs and hurled the chunks of rock at police in full riot gear. The police responded by firing tear gas grenades, chasing the protesters through the square into surrounding streets. (Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

via: nationalpost

America’s unemployed and under-employed: are riots inevitable?

“You have a lot of kids graduating college can’t find jobs. That’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kinds of riots here.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the radio with John Gambling, Friday morning

Riots or no, Mr. Bloomberg does have reason to be concerned about unemployment. He frequently describes New York City as having recovered from the recession more fully than the rest of the country. [...] Recently, though, the difference between New York and the rest of the country is not looking so clear. Figures released on Thursday by the State Department of Labor show that the city’s official unemployment rate rose to 8.7 percent in August from 8.6 percent in July, as the total number of jobs declined. (Age groups were not broken out in that report. Statewide, the unemployment rate among 22- to 27-year-olds in the first half of 2011 was 11.4 percent, compared with an overall unemployment rate for people 16 and over of 8 percent.) Continue reading…

Here’s an interesting observation on employment, manufacturing, and the middle class from Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University (via):

Indeed, the manufacturing sector is also where the world’s middle classes take shape and grow. Without a vibrant manufacturing base, societies tend to divide between rich and poor – those who have access to steady, well-paying jobs, and those whose jobs are less secure and lives more precarious. Manufacturing may ultimately be central to the vigor of a nation’s democracy.

The United States has experienced steady de-industrialization in recent decades, partly due to global competition and partly due to technological changes. Since 1990, manufacturing’s share of employment has fallen by nearly five percentage points. This would not necessarily have been a bad thing if labor productivity (and earnings) were not substantially higher in manufacturing than in the rest of the economy – 75% higher, in fact.

[...] The loss of US manufacturing jobs accelerated after 2000, with global competition the likely culprit. …there is an uncanny negative correlation across individual manufacturing industries between employment changes in China and the US. Where China has expanded the most, the US has lost the greatest number of jobs. In the few industries that contracted in China, the US has gained employment.

In Britain, where the decline of manufacturing seems to have been pursued almost gleefully by Conservatives from Margaret Thatcher until David Cameron came to power, the numbers are even more sobering. Between 1990 and 2005, the sector’s share in total employment fell by more than seven percentage points. The reallocation of workers to less productive service jobs has cost the British economy 0.5 points of productivity growth every year, a quarter of the total productivity gain over the period.

Let’s not forget the London riots last month: London’s rioters are the products of a crumbling nation, and an indifferent political class that has turned its back on them.” — Telegraph | Aug. 8, 2011

Incidentally,  What If The Tea Party Wins | ThinkProgress — 13 things the Teaparty thinks are unconstitutional: 

  1. Social Security
  2. Medicare
  3. Medicaid
  4. Children’s health insurance
  5. All federal education programs
  6. All federal antipoverty programs
  7. Federal disaster relief
  8. Federal food safety inspections
  9. Child labor laws
  10. The minimum wage
  11. Overtime and other labor protections
  12. Federal civil rights laws
  13. The union

And a timely graph from Paul Krugman (via), real income of non-elderly households:

Meanwhile in Greece via Reuters

A man pours a flammable liquid on his body to set himself on fire outside a Piraeus bank branch in Thessaloniki in northern Greece September 16, 2011. The 55-year old man had entered the bank and asked for a renegotiation of his overdue loan payments on his home and business, according to police, which he could not pay, but was refused by the bank. REUTERS/Nodas Stylianidis/

So is rioting inevitable here in America?  I suppose it’s possible that the Teaparty Republicans might decide to work with the President on some kind of jobs bill instead of just fucking around until the Nov/2012 election. It’s possible that people who once earned (or could hope for) middle class wages will come to accept a Rick-Perry-income for the rest of their lives. And it’s possible that if conservatives have their way and continue with this bottom-to-top income redistribution to the nation’s wealthiest (how? see 13 items listed above), that people will continue to be grateful for their paycheck to paycheck (or unemployment check to unemployment check) lives — losing their homes, unable to afford a doctor, never to retire — because at least they’re not Evil Socialists.

The better question might be: when people have nothing to lose, why would they NOT riot?

Government privatization and Minnesota’s government shutdown: this is Sparta! JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, The Real News Network
MICHAEL HUDSON, RESEARCH PROF., University of Missouri-Kansas City

JAY: So why should ordinary Americans or ordinary North Americans care about what’s going on in Greece?

HUDSON: Because what’s happening in Greece is a dress rehearsal for what’s going on in the United States. Already, a few weeks ago in Athens, the protestors had signs up referring to Wisconsin and the problems here. What’s happening in Greece in the last week is exactly what’s happened in Minnesota with the close-down of government. And the demands of privatization–Greece sell off its roads, its land, its port authority, its water and sewer–is just what Illinois’s been doing, what Chicago’s been doing, what Minnesota’s been told to do, and what American cities are trying to do. So you have an identical strategy being used between Greece and the United States. Greece is the first domino since Iceland. And the financial interests that are looking at this post-2008 debt crisis as a grab bag think now is the chance for us to make our move. Now we can take all this debt that we’ve built up and we can get out of the financial system, we can turn it into direct ownership of property. We can own the Greek islands, we can own the Greek public domain, just like we can own what Minnesota, Chicago, Wisconsin, and California own. And all of a sudden you have a huge virtual foreclosure process.  Read more…


A coworker’s husband is a state employee in Minnesota. I forwarded this article to her: One by one, Minnesota bars run out of beer — and here’s part of her response:

“We’ve got 22,000 state workers out of work, who are not paying MN tax, all road construction has stopped, so the state and all of those workers are losing wages and tax. all state parks are closed, no lottery sales, the horse race park has closed losing all of those workers’ pay and the revenues from this. We’re on day 13 of shutdown. The state workers can start claiming unemployment next week, costing the state more monies, but the workers will lose half of their normal pay, in additional to losing their contributions to retirement accounts. No back pay will be paid to them. Many feel the shutdown will last until the school year starts in September, because maybe that would make the Legislature wake up. (But maybe the beer shortage will have more impact.)”

This Republican solution in Minnesota is clearly a winner for everyone! What else can this political party f*ck up, I wonder?

Sparta 2011: America is Greece, according to Mitch McConnell

“We have a debt as big as our economy. We look a lot like Greece already. And it’s going to have to have broad impact on every aspect of our society in order to get this problem under control.”Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was unable to identify a single specific concession he’d ask of wealthy people.

Strikers clash with riot police during a demonstration in central Athens Tuesday June 29, 2010. Greek labor unions held nationwide 24-hour general strike to protest overhaul of social security, labor law. The reforms are part of the government’s efforts to pull Greece out of its financial crisis.

credit: Alkis Konstantinidis via nickturse

This is Sparta