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The gaping abyss of neoliberal "reform"

by talos Mon Jan 9th, 2012 at 08:12:52 PM EST





About a month ago, on the 16th of December, IMF mission chief for Greece, Poul Thomsen, told reporters that the country's economy
"...is continuing to trend downwards, reflecting that the hoped for improvement in market sentiment and in the investment climate is not materializing,"

Having finally recognized, after two years of producing an unmitigated societal and economic disaster, the failure of its plans, its estimates and its projections, one would expect the IMF to backtrack from its pro-depression policies, and start proposing something less catastrophic for Greece and the rest of the EU periphery (and eventually the whole of the EU and the rest of the world)... Well, no, one wouldn't really, if they knew the history of the IMF and the recent history of the EU debt debacle, but that would be the rational thing to do. Actually the IMF did the exact opposite: after a treatment that has driven the patient close to death, it is asking to increase the dosage of the same deleterious medicine in line with the Merkozy school of Hooverian economics:

"The numbers show that Greece's budget deficit continued to rise in November, while the recession, spurred on by suffocating austerity measures, has cancelled out a large part of the extra income that the government hoped to gain from emergency taxes.
Indeed, provisional figures from the Ministry of Finance show that the state budget's "black hole" broadened by 5.1% in the first 11 months of this year, reaching 20.52 billion euros, compared to a total of 19.5 billion a year ago.


In order drastically to reduce public spending, therefore, the so-called "troika" has asked the Athens government to carry out further severe austerity measures, including the redundancy of a further 150,000 public sector workers by 2015, in addition to the 30,000 who will be released by the end of this month.  The demands of the "troika"... were announced by the Minister for Administrative Reform, Dimitris Reppas, following a meeting with representatives of the international creditors: Matthias Mors, Mark Flanagan and Bob Traa.  Reppas explained to the officials that the redundancy of surplus state employees has not had the desired effect because the measure was applied hurriedly and without correct assessment..."


Along with all that, and a barrage of new taxes on the already buckling shoulders of employees and pensioners who cannot evade taxes, add the customarily sadistic and destructive extortions accompanying every installment of the "loan package" Greece has been receiving from the troika: demands for lowering or abolishing the minimum wage (it's ~8400 Euros/year net, theoretically, around 7000 Euros for youth entering the work force, and less than that for all the tens of thousands now forced into part-time jobs, usually with full-time schedules, and no overtime, and those who are months behind in salaries probably never to be received) and canceling the 13th and 14th monthly salaries (misrepresented as bonuses when they are part of a workers' yearly compensation, cut into 14 installments for historical and practical reasons) - and that's for the private sector. Public sector workers having had their (mostly) meager salaries slashed by anything from 30 to 60% over the past two years, and having been fired at random for months now, are planned to be drastically reduced in number (they were no more than 14% of the workforce to begin with note, near the OECD average) while most teachers, and quite a few doctors etc will be among the working poor.

Note that there is still one area in which Greek public spending outperforms most of the healthier economies of the world: defence spending. This is apparently, actively encouraged by both Merkel and Sarkozy.


Is it just a Greek thing?


The disaster that has befallen Greece, according to the various fiscal occupation authorities, is entirely of its own making, the reasons the IMF's predictions have failed is because of insufficient political support or not enough reforms. But is that  true? How successful have the policies of uber-hooverism been in less rowdy patients? Although fellow Eurotribers have recorded the myriad ways in which things go wrong in the peripheral countries they live in, let's just include recent headlines



IrelandTroika warns of future welfare cuts

The Coalition will have difficulty in keeping to its promise not to  adjust tax bands and credits in Government and will also need to rely on cuts in social protection to provide the "bulk of savings", troika officials monitoring Ireland's bailout programme have determined.

Two separate analyses by the EU Commission and the International Monetary Fund published before Christmas have disclosed details of proposed measures for the 2013 budget, which is unprecedented for Ireland. A  total of €3.5 billion in savings are planned; €1.25 billion in new taxes and €2.25 billion in cuts.



The analysis has also criticized aspects of Government policy, including its decision to make larger than expected reductions in the capital budget as well as the lack of punitive sanctions for unemployed people
who refuse to seek work.

...All of which lead to the obvious question: Ireland has done what the IMF wanted, but where is the reward?

Despite 'exceptional' efforts to meet IMF targets, Ireland has a rising deficit, sustained emigration and 15% unemployment... The fiscal adjustment, according to economist Karl Whelan, is the equivalent of "€4,600 per person... the largest budgetary adjustments seen in the advanced economic world in recent times". With annual "adjustments" of €3-4bn flagged until 2015, the euphemism of "purposeful austerity" cannot long camouflage the concerted assault on the - already minimalist - social contract...


...Costas Douzinas recently documented how the IMF blames the failure of its growth predictions, and austerity measures, on the impact of Greek public resistance. Yet in well-behaved not-Greece, the same bad medicine has resulted in a rising deficit, stagnant growth, sustained emigration, and unemployment at about 15%. In its latest quarterly report, the IMF praised Ireland's "exceptional" efforts to meet its targets,  but this praise comes at a time when the fiction of a reward for good behaviour is falling apart.



Portugal: Income inequality EU15 champion, is heading towards even greater income disparity, as are apparently all the already highly unequal "restructured" peripheral countries - this being of course not a side effect but an aim of the IMF / ECB/ EU programmes. Meanwhile, this year's logistic trick that reined in the Portuguese deficit can't be repeated next year:

The government had set a goal to trim the deficit from 9.8 percent of GDP in 2010 to 5.9 percent in 2011 and to 4.5 percent next year. The 2012 budget includes a plan to eliminate the summer and Christmas salary payments for state workers earning more than 1,100 euros ($1,443) a month. Tax deductions will be reduced and the government plans to increase the value-added tax rate on some goods.

Or as the IIF has put it:

Portugal, which has "experienced serious fiscal slippages," is trying to meet a deficit target of 4.5% of GDP. Doing so would require a fiscal contraction valued at 6.1% of GDP, in a year in  which growth is expected to drop by 3%. "This represents a very demanding objective and lack of progress could heighten market concern."



Spain: The new conservative government has already reneged on its promises as a result of troika pressure and missed targets:

Spain's new government said on Friday that this year's budget deficit would be much larger than expected and announced a slew of surprise tax hikes and wage freezes that could drag the country back to the centre of the euro zone debt crisis.
In its first decrees since sweeping to victory in November, the centre-right government said the public deficit for 2011 would come in at 8 percent of gross domestic product, well above an official target of 6 percent.
It announced initial public spending cuts of 8.9 billion euros ($11.5 billion) and tax hikes aimed at bringing in an additional 6 billion euros a year to tackle the shortfall.

And things look bleak for the foreseeable future:
Rajoy's government is taking quick action so as to meet a promise to slash the annual public deficit to 4.4 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012, come what may.

The government has acknowledged Spain will miss its goal of reducing the public deficit to 6.0 per cent of GDP in 2011 from 9.3 per cent the year before. The 2011 deficit may even top 8.0 per cent, ministers say.

The Popular Party government says the deficit slippage in 2011 could force it to implement another 20 billion euros in austerity measures for 2012, on top of the  originally estimated savings target of 16.5 billion euros.

The government also announced that the social security fund's accounts are worse than had been feared, with a 2011 deficit of 668 million euros.
The previous Socialist government had forecast a social security surplus

But it isn't just the unclean PIGS, who are in trouble, austerity (certainly the open-ended, turbo-austerity we're witnessing being implemented around the world) hasn't worked because it never worked in the interests of the societies subjected to it:

Indeed, austerity economics has not worked in one single case in Europe in the last two years. When David Cameron's government imposed a first round of harsh spending cuts in 2010, it utterly failed to revive the British economy as promised. To the contrary, it probably cut a budding recovery short.
Unemployment and the deficit as a percent of GDP remained high. Some pro-Conservative observers I met at the time assured me that the Cameron team, led by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was pragmatic and would reverse course on austerity if it wasn't working. Yet when growth basically ground to a halt in late 2011, the Cameron team only doubled down, making further cuts. We need more of the same medicine, they told their citizens, a record number of whom are unemployed. Britain is a hair's breadth away from outright recession only two years after its last one.

So, no Mr. Thomsen, the IMF / ECB failure was not due to some Greek particularity. It is systemic and ubiquitous, part and parcel of what austerity is supposed to do. Indebted countries in the EU periphery can get an idea about where they will be next year socially, if these policies are not resisted, by looking at Greece now. We're a year ahead as far as social despair is concerned (possibly a couple more years from richer countries). And until a viable european movement is built that doesn't just undermine the dominant narrative but offers a concrete pan-european alternative, the TINA-peddlers might just continue destroying country after country.

Negating the nattering nabobs of neoliberalism

Browsing around the national dialogues regarding austerity in the afflicted countries, I ran repeatedly across the sorts of arguments for austerity one is inundated with here in Greece, across Europe: these apologias can be filed under a relatively few tags: "TINA", "it's the people's fault", "paying for past excesses", "defective national character", "see this as an opportunity to reform", "omnipotent markets sadly ate our economy", "people should have elected better politicians to office", "too lazy" - feel free to add more. [ An aside: It would be a great idea if we could somehow gather and disseminate articles towing the austerity line from all over the austerity afflicted countries (this presently will mean "the EU"), either through tags, keywords, or on a Wiki. This might be a useful tool in pointing out the similarities of supposedly nation-centric analyses and helping debunk such rhetoric...]

Most of these justifications of austerity are moral in nature, the economic "therapy" is not primarily seen as a means to fix economic woes but as an instrument to punish naughtiness, some sort of puritan S&M on a continental scale. It is rarely that an obvious fact is noticed:

"Austerity economics" never calls for austerity from those who have gotten rich by being irresponsible, only from those who didn't benefit from it at all

Most of the stereotypes being peddled at home and abroad are easily seen to be lies, yet few bother to fact-check them. Most of the recipes for recovery are failing each day, yet it is those that say that this neoliberal madness has got to stop, that are portrayed as unrealistic. In Greece, as more and more people are being pushed to the margins and to pauperisation, pundits and bankers threaten society in a shrill voice about the Hell that awaits should Greece leave the Euro, truly ignorant of the Hell that most Greeks live in right now, and not mentioning the kind of Hell that 10 years of an austeritarian viciousness will wreck on the country. The "technocrat" (but what is the techne that he possesses, really?) Prime Minister, refused to draw a "red line" on the minimum wage or private sector worker compensation, as his only red line is "to save the country from bankruptcy" (which in his mind is obviously something different from its citizens bankruptcy), as more and more households go bankrupt already and lives are being terminally destroyed ).

However there is a problem with this rhetoric that I believe will become apparent in more and more countries as the crisis rages on: when people are dealing with a real destruction of their lives and fear for their capacity to feed themselves and the ones they love, all propaganda becomes ineffective (the Internet helps a lot as well). There is no spinning homelessness, there is no spinning the fact that you can't afford to pay your electricity bill, or your kids classes. This is the quandary that the Greek ruling class is finding itself in. Despite the virtual elimination of most left of the socialists' voices on TV and despite the fact that there now is not a single large national daily that doesn't support the Papademos government, the left is rising to levels that make even an attempt at electoral legitimation of policies, via the two party system, problematic for them. The elections which were supposed to be held on February have been moved to early April and more and more elite voices are pushing for an even later date, after September if possible, or even in Autumn 2013. This ineffectiveness of mainstream propaganda is the reason that the Papademos government is losing legitimization faster than expected, and the reason that popular rage is about to explode. This however is not expected to be confined in Greece anymore.

[A previous and briefer version of this diary was posted in Histologion]

Display:
Fine diary, Talos. Makes me wonder the best way to bottle people's pain and pathos to splash on the desks of the IMF, the Banks, Merkozy and staff. Particularly media-wise. Thanks for this.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 03:54:04 AM EST
PS Talos.  In your line:

"Most of these justifications of austerity are in moral in nature,"

i think you mean immoral. Since it's such a key description of the situation (not moral at all), i suggest the change.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 11:54:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The justifications take the form of morality plays.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:17:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i was only saying i believe he meant immoral, not "in moral." it's why i put (not moral at all) in parens, as a dictionary meaning. there was no attempt at finding a morality play, just word editing, that's all.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:52:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He wrote Most of these justifications of austerity are moral in nature, you quoted Most of these justifications of austerity are in moral in nature.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I corrected it after Crazy Horse pointed out the mistype. (Thanks Crazy Horse!)

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 01:20:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And, yes, the morality of the austerians is s sickly immoral kind of twisted morality.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:57:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "morality" of the austerians is boot licking, ass kissing, and toadying TPTB.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 01:01:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's also "common sense" for more ordinary people than I want to fathom.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 01:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In this situation "common sense" is shorthand for "how the hell did we get in this mess?"

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 01:06:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no, it's shorthand for "money is a thing", "the government is like a household", "savings create investment", and so on.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 01:07:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think you mean immoral. Since it's such a key description of the situation (not moral at all), i suggest the change.

It would be a mistake to stay in the same paradigm. We want an economy that produces and supplies everything the population needs.

by Katrin on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:26:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And we're in this situation because we pretended we could supply everything the populace wants.

Let's not relieve the populace of its responsibility to attend to its duties as enlightened voters.

Could there be a connection?

Maybe democracy is the problem, in the absence of education. For everyone.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:07:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - The Greek parents too poor to care for their children

Greece's financial crisis has made some families so desperate they are giving up the most precious thing of all - their children.

One morning a few weeks before Christmas a kindergarten teacher in Athens found a note about one of her four-year-old pupils.

"I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her," it read. "Please take good care of her. Sorry. Her mother."

In the last two months Father Antonios, a young Orthodox priest who runs a youth centre for the city's poor, has found four children on his doorstep - including a baby just days old.

Another charity was approached by a couple whose twin babies were in hospital being treated for malnutrition, because the mother herself was malnourished and unable to breastfeed.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 05:51:54 AM EST
Great diary.

I'm at a loss. How can one combat a religion like austerity?

You've laid out well how austerity is failing everywhere, including here in the UK. But the political discourse in the UK (see today's Salon) is all about how Labour have to "acknowledge the seriousness of the deficit" - it seems no-one cares about the seriousness of unemployment.

And this metaphor of country debt like personal debt is like some kind of indestructible weed.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 06:20:53 AM EST
That was the essence of my new year's eve -and you know how annoying it is when you have to conclude that your host is being a git.

What did we have there? Gordon Brown had bankrupted the economy. If he had not let debt accumulate under his watch there would not be the pressure to reduce it now (hello, Spain there? Besides, the UK public debt was not particularly high on the eve of the crisis -private debt was). This was deemed logically undeniable.

There was the idea that the crisis was the making of Brown. Nevermind that it started in a different continent. Also, I know Labour was in power for 13 years, but a policy you failed to repeal is not exactly the same as "your" policy, and certainly not your signature.

Also, it was of course thanks to the reduction in spending that the UK could borrow at a low rate (moning, Japan, how are you?).

No direct spending could have any positive effect since, you see, it would take so long. Uh? What about not firing a teacher, does that take long?

Deep down, they're not bad people, believe me. But they seem to have got religion. My guess from the wording was that they were Torygraph readers. There was a mention of "I have a problem with the New Statesman, I find it too far left".

Anyway... if you argue, it's rude because it's discussing "politics" (I thought I was talking about economics). And if you don't, you help the meme spread. How do you fight a religion indeed?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 07:17:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deep down, that's right. Deep down at the bottom of the sea is where they wouldn't be bad.

Without breathing equipment.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Steady there. They are, for all their shortcomings, my friends, and I won't take too kindly the suggestion that they be murdered.

What makes someone a bad person? That he wants people to suffer maybe? In that case, your present suggestion (I realise you don't really WANT it) would make you a better candidate than them.

They now live in Woking on an interest only loan, the wife having been given on return from maternity leave a (public sector, no less) position paying 40% less than when she left -they did get hurt by austerity.
And they are rather generous people. They do not like seeing poverty.

The problem is they have been led to believe (something that can happen on both sides of the aisle, John). And so they will promote things that lead to the opposite of what they would like to happen. Does that make them bad or deluded?

Essentially, they believe in markets, "believe" being used in the full religious meaning. So, of course "markets" too becomes an idealised version that bears little ressemblance to the real life. It's a pity that they should be like that, but I can see how easily it can happen if you grow up and live in the UK.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
don't mean to be bad people. But, it doesn't really take much time for one to keep one's self informed, and if one did so, one could see that they consequences of the German-led austerity drive are starting to show up in hospital wards in Greece, in the form of children suffering from malnutrition.

And when people begin to die from the effects of austerity, that is violence too, right? That in and of itself justifies a riposte of similar calibre.

I know what you are saying, these people don't mean for this to be happening, but, in the end, it is. And so...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:24:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"But, it doesn't really take much time for one to keep one's self informed"

Aye, there's the rub. Most of the sources of information that you find here would strengthen your belief. Which would make you reject even more sources like, well, this one, which scream otherwise.

It takes more effort to keep yourself well informed than just informed. For example, it's a freak coincidence that got me here. Even reading Krugman came from a coincidence (although I would probably have done it a couple of years later, when his name started circulating more).
I take the Eurostar most weeks and have access to the lounge with the newspapers and magazines. You really have to know what you're looking for in order to pick something that you will call "information", though most of them would call themselves so.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 01:35:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Self-foolery. The proper study of mankind is man in groups, but the pendulum of hyperindividualism has swung so far in the West that the citizenry can't think collectively. So they fail to attend to the electoral process.

All the information necessary for democracy to function has been nominally available since the Greeks partly invented it, but education is neglected.

Austerity is the fault of the heedless.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:22:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<block>And this metaphor of country debt like personal debt is like some kind of indestructible weed. </block>

This is the problem with political discourse today (and part of the reason why I don't dismiss the excuse of "electing better politicians" entirely. The truth is not obviously intuitive and requires substantially longer than one soundbite to explain - and is thus edited out of broadcast media and the above-the-fold portions of print articles. The "family finances" metaphor is immediately comprehensible (and has the added advantage of implying virtuousness). Doesn't matter if it's wrong: lying cynical politician 1, honest political aspirant 0.

Survival of the slimiest.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 07:19:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Businessmen and Economics - NYTimes.com

For the fact is that running a business is nothing at all like making macro policy. The key point about macroeconomics is the pervasiveness of feedback loops due to the fact that workers are also consumers. No business sells a large fraction of its output to its own workers; even very small countries sell around two-thirds of their output to themselves, because that much is non-tradable services.

This makes a huge difference. A businessman can slash his workforce in half, produce about the same as before, and be considered a big success; an economy that does the same plunges into depression, and ends up not being able to sell its goods. Nothing in business experience prepares one for the paradox of thrift, or even the inflationary impact of increases in the money supply (which is real when the economy isn't in a liquidity trap.)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 11:28:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But none of these exotic economic situations need happen when the country IS run like a sane household.

Countries shouldn't print money unless it's backed by production or services.

Competition isn't necessarily destructive, when regulated, as a parent regulates a greedy child.

This is all laid out in the Analects of Confucius, right, with which we all are familiar, right?

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:27:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm at a loss. How can one combat a religion like austerity?

The traditional remedy has been sufficiently crushing poverty to make people stop seeing the political economy as a morality play and start seeing it as an existential struggle.

Notable side effects include elevated risk of suicide, national suicide, violent revolutions, coups d'etat, sabotage and assassinations.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 07:44:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that's what I was saying. It's happening in Greece already. It's impossible to manage PR-wise a near total collapse of wages, public services and huge unemployment. People stop believing those that push for such things. If there is a left it will grow. If there isn't, a populist far-right will grow. Or Middle-Eastern levels of state violence will have to be used. Unless they figure out how to complement their stick with a carrot (or find a really convincing bogey-man), what they are attempting leads one way or another to a completely different political system.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 07:50:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes Jake S., but that's the method of the religion, not the remedy. The question was how can one combat a religion like austerity?

Like TBG says, a first step could be calling it a religion. The second is likely to be drilling TARA into everyone's awareness.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:00:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you combat a religion? You wait for the religion to destroy the society and hope that people will have a crisis of faith as a result rather than doubling down and blaming the heretics for the disaster.

Is there another way?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:16:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We must hope that there is -for the alternative is such a scary prospect.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I recommend you fatten yourself up so you put on a good show at the stake.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:28:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Historically, was there another way?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:39:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You defeat it with another religion and then smash their temples, burn their sacred texts and so forth.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:02:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And coopt their holidays.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:07:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What are the neoliberal holidays?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 02:44:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Precisely.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 03:33:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there another way?

(Thinking out loud)
Deprogramming on a massive scale, and TARA TARA TARA.
This takes access to media, which we don't have, which will be solved by the desire to make one of our own.

see viral, kopimi, entheogens, tribal gatherings usw.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How was the transition to secular societies in Europe achieved, historically, and over what timescales?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:58:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the tools and timescales available today are quite different than through most of history.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:07:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"This time is different"?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:13:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Arab Spring? Occupy? Showing shoes to the Bundespräsident? (Not in the same category, but...)

The new level of mass protest in China, despite The Party?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:29:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
each time was different, though the underlying pattern remains.

this time it has to be very different, because it's the final reckoning, even by their own warped belief system.

this setup has defied evolution's gravity too long. time to mutate or die out...

 

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 03:41:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fish know nothing of water.

It's mass two-way communication.

Anyone can know anything.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:37:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
can't track you on that comment, sorry!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 12:34:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was commenting in my own elliptical fashion, on your statement above "this time it has to be very different."

The first line indicates that those in the culture who read history seem rarely to understand when things actually do change.

The rest indicate that what's really new is mass two-way communication. The Internet. It really is a big change, like transistor radios were. When they came out, everyone could get the news.

With the internet, now they can gossip about it, and foment change.

Sorry about the inscrutability. I get tired of plodding.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Thu Jan 12th, 2012 at 09:51:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but I am not totally convinced that Atatürk is a desirable role model...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:20:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Sweden, I would divide it into two phases:

  1. About 1860-1960 the fight against the religious monopoly of the statechurch (Lutheran). Liberals, socialists and 19th century cultists against the conservatives and religious bureacracy.

  2. 1950 and onwards. The material wealth of the industrial society proves science as the mightiest god (its miracles are here and now). Secularism vs Christianity. The cultists switch sides and found the Swedish Cristian Democrats.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:13:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People could start by labelling it as a religion - a self-perpetuating irrational belief system that benefits a few at the expense of the vast majority of the population.

I've said before that the biggest failure in science over the last five decades has been its complete acceptance of pseudo-scientific economics as if it's actually a genuine science.

Instead of challenging the insane and multiply-refuted political beliefs that have slashed research funding, moved the talented into financialisation instead of research, and crippled the world economy, science chose to harangue spoonbenders, homoeopaths and dinosaur denialists instead.

And now there is no alternative, because no one of public significance has argued for one.

So it goes.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:36:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How can one combat a religion like austerity?

If it's a religion, what is their God?

by kjr63 on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:51:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Economic Equilibrium
by Katrin on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:58:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A fairytale.
by kjr63 on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 09:36:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is really an important point. We need serious, very serious, studies on the subject.
by kjr63 on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 12:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
kjr63:
If it's a religion, what is their God?

the perpetual profit machine, forever and ever, amen.

the really stupid thing is that once the present PTB are dethroned by events of their own too-clever-by-arf connivance, and we change systems, there will still be financial everests for these fools to climb, to assuage their egos.

their profits will just be harnessed to matters of business that reinforce the commons, instead of depleting.

it's not really the sick addiction to power that's the problem, as much as the destructivity the present system allows these psychos to achieve.

poor benighted sods need to be pointed towards socially acceptable goals to release their drive to excellence...

'power-with' instead of 'power-over'.

there will actually be more of the former once we put fossil folly behind us, power-freaks will always be around, sure as eggs. the culture in which they swim will change as a tipping point of people numbers happens. events are accelerating towards this global plot point.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 03:54:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this Eden of collectivity is going to require a much lower population density. My gut feeling is about six orders of magnitude lower.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:44:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it is temptingly simplistic to tie quality to quantity in that line of thought.

how about if the opposite is true? that actually more people means more brains to work on the problems.

distribution of wealth is much less orthogonal an issue, imo.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 12:33:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a vast majority of Greeks want elections held more or less immediately. I also note that between them, Syriza and the GCP have roughly 20% of vote intentions in those same polls, ahead of PASOK when seen together.

I suspect there is also quite a lot of volatility in those numbers given that polling in Greece also suggests that "Don't know" or "Nobody" are polling, between them, in the 30% range.

Given Papademos is losing legitimacy as quickly as ipecac syrup tends to have one lose one's cookies (and the metaphor seems to me to be apt), what do the facts on the ground in Greece portend for a democratic rejection of the IMF and the EU?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:15:38 AM EST
Does it matter?

Greece is now screwed if it defaults, and screwed if it doesn't.

Either way we'll see parents selling their kids into care more and more frequently now - followed by similar stories from the other southern economies, then the Atlantic ones, then Germany.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:38:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure it is screwed if it defaults. That's what everone assumes, "uncertainty in the bond markets" and all that hooey. I'm not buying it, all I see in the financial press is that countries will face "massive downside risk" if they default.

Oh yeah? What exactly are we talking about, and how is it worse than the alternative? That is the question I'm not seeign asked or answered.

That's why I'm asking.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 11:11:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
default would be mercifully quick, but they are going for the protracted agony, reinforcing talos' allusion to SM.

here's a taste of an excellent article which documents and explains a lot.

Peak Money Arrives | The Agonist

MF Global had made a very large bet on European government bonds, and didn't want to be restricted by the US limits on re-hypothecation, so it notified its customers that it was transferring their accounts to MF Global's subsidiary in London, since England has no limits on re-hypothecation. This meant a single customer account could be pledged as collateral multiple times to different banks. MF Global did not notify its customers that it intended to use their margin as its own collateral for its own trading activity.

The result was that MF Global was able to use customer margin multiple times with different bank lenders. This is the practice of using leverage to boost a firm's profits, but leverage also increases a firm's vulnerability to market losses. MF Global may have taken $1.2 billion in customer margin and pledged it as collateral to five different lenders, allowing it to create a position in European government bonds worth $5.0 billion. When these bonds sunk in value on the markets, the lenders watched their margin cushion shrink to the point where contractually they had to call for more margin from MF Global. At first MF Global was able to comply, but when five lenders are seeking more collateral from a firm that has little cash cushion in the first place, and when losses on the bond positions are mounting, a mad scramble takes place among the banks to seize whatever assets MF Global has, at the same time liquidating their trading positions to prevent any further losses.

Some lucky banks may have been holding on to the margin accounts that MF Global controlled (MF Global was not a bank and so could not itself maintain margin deposits). These banks might have requested permission to seize the margin accounts, or they may be done so unilaterally and risked the consequences afterward (the party holding on to cash in a bankruptcy is always in a superior position). However it happened, thousands of individual investors were absolute pawns in a brutal game of self-protection played by the big banks.

read the rest, it's all connected...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 03:34:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not jesting, but executions for this kind of carelessness and greed might tune the system well.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:50:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ugh...

there should be some punishment less, um, final than that which would serve as an equally powerful deterrent.

right now it's the opposite...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 12:37:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Greece is screwed now because any default will be far more messy politically than financially.

Greece is not Iceland, and the Greek people never got the chance to tell the money to fuck off.

So there will be some kind of no-default-then-default spasm, which won't be the clean break it needs to be.

If Greece leaves the Euro zone - or leaves Europe - expect something beyond the usual IMF riots, followed by something even less democratic than the 'technocratic' non-democracy in place at the moment.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 06:59:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also expect a slew of German commentary about how Greeks don't know how to govern themselves.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 07:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh. Has someone suggested Greeks can govern themselves?
by Katrin on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 07:59:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece is screwed under neo-liberal, predatory capitalism.

So, do something else.   :-)

Some actions that are immediately obvious, to readers of ET - (and probably nobody else):

  1.  Greek government starts paying it's bills in "Tallies"

  2.  Make the "Tallies" be the only form of taxation accepted by the government

  3.  Rehire all the government workers who have been laid off and pay them in "Tallies"

  4.  Institute a significant infra-structure repair & build and pay those people in "Tallies" as well

The goal with these actions is to inject a large amount of "money" into the Greek macro-economy.

Problem is Greek has been running a Current Account deficit for years ... if not decades.  "Tallies," being internal to the Greek economy, can only go so far as a means of exchange for imported (external) goods and services.  From what I can gather, the Greek macro-economy imports ~$69 billion worth of 'stuff' more than what it exports; a large percent of that being oil.  (How much?  Don't know.)  

BUT ... in theory ... "Tallies" used for alternative energy infra-structure build would lower oil imports by shifting electrical energy production from oil to wind, say.  Further, "Tallies" thrown into a electricity powered mass-transit build (trains, trams, etc.) in Athens and simultaneously increasing taxation on gasoline and diesel fuels (paid in "Tallies") would affect, in some way, the necessity for importing oil.

I note Greece is dependent on Tourism so a government run and favorable exchange rate for euros to "Tallies" might prove helpful for accumulating hard-currency (sic).

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Wörgl solution. Gesellian money.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:49:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Greece it does not even have to be Gesellian. In fact, I would argue that Gesellian money is a crude hack to get around having your fiscal policy institutionally crippled: If you are politically prepared to go Gesellian, then you should also be politically prepared to flat out print money and institute (implicit) hard currency rationing.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:03:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Communism and socialism are not dead, they're sleeping.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 11:11:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither is fascism.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 05:41:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If SYRIZA and the GCP managed to form some sort of electoral front, there is a very good probability that they would win the elections. It's not just the current poll numbers but the fact that people who would otherwise not vote, would be very tempted to do so. If one counts in the Democratic Left, (a right splinter of SYRIZA's largest component) which is booming in polls due to desperate "blairite" PASOK voters (from what was formerly the middle and upper middle class) deciding to leave a discredited ship and finding a "moderate" left they can live with,  the Greens etc... the "harder left" might have good chances of becoming a majority in the next parliament (they are polling already at historical highs). There are two major obstacles to that, though:

1. The only party calling for a united left front is SYRIZA, and they have already started cooperating with various left factions that have abandoned the Socialists when they brought in the IMF, on both a grassroots and a central level. The Communist Party however (without which as the numbers stand today there can't be a left government) is adamant about not collaborating with the reformists who want to beautify capitalism (I kid you not), and are rejecting any collaboration with SYRIZA even at a grass roots level. If that doesn't make sense to you, its because it doesn't make sense generally. This is a party that organizes its own separate demonstrations even when protesting the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. It recently attacked the Communist Party of Spain as being capitalist tools for participating in IU and the Party of the European Left. The only thing that might change their mind is massive pressure from their base, which, though happening at some level, hasn't been strong enough to move them yet.
The Democratic Left meanwhile seems more interested in talking with PASOK cadres and ministers than with their former comrades. It remains temperately anti-troika and anti-austerity, though it is much more likely to compromise with the powers that be, than form a part of a left-radical solution.
2. Even if the issue of collaboration between the left in Greece was somehow resolved (either by the strengthening of one pole, or the popular pressure on all of them), it is not at all a given that elections would not be postponed. The current parliament has been elected for 4 years, until autumn 2013 that is, and despite the conservatives having made a deal that elections will be held March-April at the latest, most of the elites don't like the idea and the conservatives themselves might have a change of heart should they begin to have doubts that they will be the first party come election day. In that case I can easily imagine some sort of "emergency" producing an agreement between the three coalition partners (socialists, conservatives and the far-right) to postpone the expiration of the Papadimos government until the end of the parliamentary period, late 2013, and beyond.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
talos:
If that doesn't make sense to you, its because it doesn't make sense generally.

I makes sense in a certain communist tradition - things has to get worse for the revolution to appear as it was promised by Marx, his apostel Engels and the holy spirit of the working class!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:19:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This might give you a good idea of what KKE is about

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:54:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
communist party to me, though I would hope they'd be a bit less rigid than your description, hopefully that is a negotiating stance. Indeed, I find myself having a hard time disagreeing with much of anything said here.

I do hope things turn out well.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 05:04:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See their letter to the PCE linked above. It's not a negotiating stance. For the KKE Palme's Sweden and today's Greece are just "capitalism" and any amelioration of it, is a bonus to the system. It's a binary proposition: you either establish 1 or you're at 0. If you form a coalition against austerity you're "hiding the fact" that austerity is but one tool of capitalism....
It is not incidental that the depiction of SYRIZA as EU apologist has to return to the Maastricht treaty (which 9/11 parties of the SYRIZA coalition were against BTW) because that was the only EU treaty that was voted on before Synaspismos' (the main coalition partner) left turn. They do not mention i.e. that SYRIZA voted against the Lisbon treaty. Because they do not believe in the politics of fronts. It is an open question whether popular pressure might change their minds.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 06:01:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be helpful if we knew the average salary versus the average Cost of Living (COL) in the PIIGS.  My guess is the average salary has been declining with the COL remaining at pre-Austerity levels.

Can anybody verify?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 12:06:01 PM EST
ISTAT, Italian national stats, has stuff on that and it's worse. COL going up, salaries down, unemployment up. But I don't know what bread basket they use. Over the past few years there are new costs for families that were non-existent or marginal before.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 06:45:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What new costs might those be, and what were the previous breadbaskets?

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 11:13:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would probably be a diary. What hits the average citizen most is the local reality. Communal taxation on property was abolished in toto by Berlusconi as a demagogic move. Prodi had actually waived them only for single property owners below a certain income. Berlusconi extended it to himself and took credit. This forced the municipal administrations to slash costs, services, etc, and raise prices on community services. The Tremonti austerity packages masked as reform further burdened citizens with costs in health and education that simply didn't exist before.  Then there were tax exemptions for the Church and far too many "non-profit" organizations. Further, Tremonti progressively abolished a lot of small tax exemptions for the average citizen while privileging the rich. It's perceived as unfair that in order to send kids to a public school, a family has to fork out payments to supplement an education that was a right before the so-called Gelmini reform and cannot deduct these costs, while the rich can send their kids to private Catholic schools and write it off. I'll leave this as a summary without further detail.

Breadbaskets for calculating inflation indexes become obsolete. It's a way of gaming the stats and hiding actual inflation. There have been popular campaigns to deride this tactic. No one buys national cigarettes or eats ciriola bread anymore.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 04:07:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you. Very informative.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Thu Jan 12th, 2012 at 10:00:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Talos, thank you for this excellent log.

Concerning Portugal, I note here that the deficit for 2011 is expected to be around 4% of GDP. This low figure was possible due to a technical transfer of pension funds from private banks to the State. This transfer was in the order of 3 G€ in 2011, meaning that without it the 5.9% target *might* have been reached all the same. Another 3 G€ will be transferred up to the midst of this year.

The deficit target for this year is 4.5%, which the budget should reach for a GDP contraction of 3%. When the 2012 budget was presented I thought this would never be possible, but today it looks plausible. The trade deficit is closing rapidly in spite of anything serious being made to reduce imports. It all depends on how deep the recession will be in Portugal's main commercial partners inside the Eurozone.

But Portugal is a small state, with the lowest minimum wage in the Eurozone and where a sizable part of the work force must recur to illegal labour services to have a salary. The same recipe will have different results in other states, especially larger ones like Spain or Italy.

Finally I'd note that in Portugal only large political parties have the means to source the sort of civil opposition to government that we have seen in Greece. The largest demonstrations ever seen in Portugal took place in March of 2011, ahead of the aid request to the Troika. At the time the main concern was to topple the socialist government.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 04:03:26 AM EST
All the focus so far has been on who put us in this mess.  On this particular issue, though, I think we need to turn the focus around.  We need to ask the forward-looking question, "What will these austerity measures buy us?"  For about 90% of the population, there will be great sacrifices with no return.  Why sign up for that?  Here in the US the powers-that-be are desperate to keep us from asking that forward-looking question because there are so many things we could ask it about, from pension plans the banksters loot with impudence to "educations" that give a monstrous debt load and no employability.
by rifek on Tue Jan 17th, 2012 at 05:05:03 PM EST


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