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Editorial

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Une hyper-austérité opiniatre et stérile

by Patrick Apel-Muler

An obstinate and impotent super-austerity programme

Translated Monday 5 July 2010, by Kristina Wischenkamper and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Time is passing, together with the good resolutions. The leaders of the richest countries on the planet used to pretend they were making big finance pay to avoid new economic disasters; nowadays they are making the people pay for big finance. The bill presented at the G20 summit is of an unheard-of brutality; to slash public spending in half between now and 2013, push through ultraliberal structural reform in G20 member societies and apply as widely as possible the sacrosanct dogma of free and undistorted competition.

Long gone is the time when Nicolas Sarkozy pretended to play the troublemaker waking up sleepy consciences. He has just declared a super-austerity programme for France and even his minister François Baroin admits to be preparing “the most difficult [budget] in more than thirty years”. He’s going to make sure he smashes all those social shock-absorbers that helped cushion France from some of the impact of the financial crisis: public investment, social protection, public services. Questioned about the freeze on the salaries of civil servants, the Mayor of Troyes answered that the government wants to “intervene in all aspects of the economy”. We have been warned! However, as for the hidden bonuses given to the Prefects – up to 66,000 euros – if they placidly and blindly carry out ministerial orders, they will continue to grow and grow.

The bad luck of some is the good fortune of others. The members of the Inner Circle have seen their fortune quite simply blossom in 2009. The super rich UMP donors (gifting between 3,00 and 7,500 euros) share with vampires a fear of the light of day. These millionaires indulged by the President preferred to postpone the meeting that they should have had with the presidential party. All this to-do surrounding Eric Woerth, the gold bars of Mr Peugeot, or the fiscal headaches of Mme Bettencourt, are wont to trouble the absolute calm needed to pursue fluorishing business deals. Newsflashes and headlines are for the dolts; sharks swim in other waters. But have no fear, once the laughing is over, Mr and Mrs Woerth will be back with their friends at the racecourse where they have interests far more important than stealing the pensions of tens of millions of French citizens.

To the reign of injustice will be added that of inefficiency. In stifling useful spending and social investment, the powers-that-be are killing off economic growth, cutting tax income as well as contributions to health and pensions funds while hiking the unemployment rate. This policy is aimed only at strengthening financial dividends and markets which, as everyone is beginning to see, don’t sit happily with social progress. To paraphrase Victor Hugo, one might conclude: “This government is a mule. it is obstinate and impotent”.


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