Friday, September 13, 2013

Blog 1: Austerity and the crush of the middle class

Austerity is the program of cutting public services provided by the government in an effort to cut government spending and reduce a deficit. This plan has been adopted to varying degrees by countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the UK. The result of these austerity programs is a growing wealth gap. The austerity programs of Europe have seen the top 10% of Europeans wealth increase while little improvement has been made to the other 90%. If these programs are unchecked some predictions but another 15-25 million Europeans at risk by 2025. Deep cuts to public spending often hurt the middle and lower income classes who depend on public services the most. Similar programs were implemented in Latin American countries in the 1980s and 1990s. In some cases it took countries almost two decades to work back to where they were before their economy faltered. Many believe a new model needs to be developed that taxes the rich more heavily, cracks down on tax dodging and investing this money in public services to shore up the middle class.
These events are significant because the austerity programs do not broadly impact citizens but rather runs along social classes, striking those who depend on the state the hardest. Often times these social classes are stratified along ethnic lines. Lower class or poor citizens are often immigrants seeking work in these countries. Another group widely hurt by the austerity programs are the youth. Young people are often untrained and unskilled laborers working in entry level position which are often the first to go. When a large number of young (especially male) citizens are out of work there is a greater chance of organized violence and rioting (such as in Greece). Riots like this can turn into outright looting and crime. The situation is very similar to that in China Blue. The top 10% are like the factory owners who penalize the factory workers (the lower class) for the owners’ mistakes. The same result is seen as in the film, the workers and the lower class will reach a breaking point and will then rally against the government.

David A Mackey

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