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Are You Ready For Austerity Riots?

Nobody expects it to happen here.  We go about our day to day lives expecting nothing much to change.  Yet beneath the calm and normal exterior of your average American existence lies something completely unexpected.

The veneer of civilization is razor thin.  And most people do not understand just how quickly things can devolve into chaos.

It doesn’t take much at all for chaos to break through that veneer.

I wrote a few days ago about the major disaster we have brewing with our national budget.  The salient point is that we have an unfundable and unsustainable amount of entitlements in the federal budget.

We’re not alone.  Countries all over the world, particularly in Europe, have built similar entitlements into their economic and societal structure.

Enter Austerity, Stage Right!

Austerity is a fancy term for reducing spending, cutting benefits and entitlements, and reducing deficits.  It’s used by governments that are in major economic trouble to avoid debt default.

Does this ever happen?  Yup.  Check out this list:

  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Romania
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • France

Quite the list.  Even more astonishing that each one of these countries has adopted austerity policies this year.

Now, some of these new policies are relatively benign, while others are more drastic.  But I think it is clear to just about everyone who is paying attention that our country will have to adopt austerity measures at some point very soon if we want to avert a complete meltdown.

And honestly, I don’t even know if austerity can save us.  But that’s another post for another day.

The Flaming Results of Austerity

Here’s the problem with austerity policies, required or otherwise.  They tend to tick off people who feel they are entitled to the tax coffers.  And these people are often so addicted to the money they receive that they don’t know how to survive without it.

And when you threaten someone’s survival, they tend to react poorly.  Whether the threat is real or simply a poor interpretation of reality is of little to no relevance to that reaction.

The Results of Greek Austerity Measures

Greece decided, in the wake of a near economic collapse, to cut spending.  Decided is a charitable word, they were actually forced to do it by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The cuts were somewhat straight forward.  A freeze in public pay.  A small increase in the retirement age. Some tax increases.  All designed to make up about 30 Billion Euros.

Well, the reaction wasn’t small.  Tens of thousands of people in the streets rioting.  A general strike by all of the major unions in Greece.  Greece was cut off from the outside world by the strike.

The Greek Parliament was stormed by 50,000 protesters.  Hooded protesters, in an action reminiscent of the Seattle WTO riots, roamed the streets throwing bricks and bottles through windows and at police.  Fires were set, homes and businesses were burned.

People died.

France Is Burning?

We all saw the pictures of France burning when the Muslims rioted over the last few years.  But what we haven’t seen is the pictures of the riots that are going on right now, as we speak.

They’ve been rioting now for about a week non stop.  The country is in a general strike.  The unions have shut off the flow of fuel through critical pipelines to Paris and the major airports in the country. Gas shortages are everywhere.

3.5 MILLION people are rioting.


Why are they rioting?  The government wants to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

So what happens?  France burns.  The people riot.

But That Can’t Happen Here, Can It?

Of course not, right?

Think again.  This will happen here, no question about it.  We have a massive base of people who feel the same kind of entitlement that the Europeans do.  And think about it.  Are we fundamentally different?

We are in far worse shape than Greece, France, Spain, Iceland, or any of the other countries that are seeing austerity riots this year.

The changes we’re going to have to make are far more than the two year increase of the retirement age that triggered millions of people to riot in France.

It’s not like it hasn’t happened here before.  Just ask the Korean shopkeepers in Los Angeles.  Or the folks in Seattle during the WTO riots.

It can happen here.

It will happen here.

Are you ready?

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2 Responses to Are You Ready For Austerity Riots?

  1. Who could believe that this could happen in The US. They thought that in Europe….and it is arriving. I don’t know if our politicians have the will to instill the necessary Austerity measures we need to keep our county from defaultin/ Thinking about it, i don’t think they do….they are too busy spinning what is happening and bailling out the banks…will they do it again? When will we see that WE are being robbed? When you hear “quanitative easing” , think of PRINTING more MONEY that e don’t have AND it is being GIVEN to the BANKS. We should be on the streets when that happens….but we are too busy with our day to day stuff.. and really do’t believe this crap can happen to us. It will though and manyof us will be surprised.

  2. The news world over is similar. The governments bailed out the economies after the melt down and since then the economies have slowed yielding lower tax revenues. Now governments have more debt and less revenue. Britain is on the right track with early drastic spending cuts. More than the U.S. recovery, people should be worried about the U.S government. Printing money is demonstrating the desperate efforts to prevent default on their debt. How long will the financial markets accept the soundness of the dollar? How long will foreign governments buy U.S debt. It may be the strongest currency at the moment because of the ability to raise taxes, but that policy right now would also be devastating. The longer the U.S. tries to avoid riots or here it is political turnover, the bigger the cuts when they finally arrive.