Sunday, October 17, 2010

Million-Man Marches

Europe is in a ferment of social dislocation and dissatisfaction. Just recently, Greeks were rampaging through the country in angry defiance of their government's attempts to reduce their deficit. Attempts to persuade workers that a healthier economy would be in everyone's best interests, and auger well for the future, were futile. There were protests, marches and there was violence in an expression of peoples' angry frustration.

In Italy tens of thousands of Italians marched in Rome at a trade-union-mounted rally for the protection of labour contracts. Their protest's purpose was to unequivocally inform the government that workers and their unions have no interest whatever in tightening their belts for the betterment of the country and its financial situation. Union leaders are calling for a general strike. The metal workers' union estimated the crowd turn-out at "around one million".

Europe is struggling with the results of the economic downturn, trying to rise out of the recession. The global agreed-upon stimulus packages each nation concurred with has created immense debt burdens and not enough jobs. In the United States President Barack Obama is experiencing the painful fall-out from the recession, and unprecedentedly-high unemployment rates have plunged his popularity among the electorate.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her speech about the recognition that multiculturalism has not worked out as expected in Germany, that integration has not developed, also pointed out that there are millions of immigrants in her country who have become a drag on the economy, as they have become heavily reliant on social services benefits and welfare.

In France, it is being reported that over a million people marched in cities across the country in an ongoing procession of protests and rallies. If it isn't riotous strikes, it's striking rioters.
The government of Nicolas Sarkozy is taking comfort in their tallies of protesters, claiming that the numbers are dropping. But the country has been placed in a standstill, with public services simply not available.

And truck drivers are planning to block roads, while the labour unions keep threatening larger and more vociferous protests and general strikes. President Sarkozy is not prepared to step down from his plan to raise the country's retirement age from 60 to 62. France's workers are absurdly pampered, with an inordinately weak work ethic and too many costly demands.

"The goal of this reform is to guarantee to all French people that their retirement and that of their children can be paid for. As head of state my duty is to look to the future and not profit from the past." Social security has been a true drag on the country, leading to unsupportable deficits. But the French enjoy their extended summer vacations, and all their union-bargained perquisites.

Oil refinery strikes in the country are threatening to put a standstill to all forms of transportation, including a lock-down of airports. And the unions claim that between 2.5-million and three million have joined street demonstrations. University students, never far from any kind of social fray, have been part of the protests.

One does not, however, expect legitimate protesters to loot and destroy shops and other places of private enterprise. This is where face-masked thugs come into the picture. Some of whom are just plain public threats, others union members and university students whose affinity with a state of anarchy brings them out of their virtual sewers.

Unions rule! They think. Pickets and riot police do not a civil society make.

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