Archive for Austerity Measures

Austerity – Do We Need It?

Posted in Benefits, Britain, Budget Cuts, David Cameron, England, Europe, Government Spending, Immigrants, Old Age Pensioner, UK with tags , , , on 20/10/2012 by floroy1942

Austerity is currently a dirty word in many countries across Europe at the moment, and with good reason. Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Holland and now the UK, are experiencing demonstrations about the measures governments are being forced to take to rein in booming debt levels. In countries like Greece and France they have had much the appearance of open warfare between the public and the police with cars being set alight by demonstrators and rubber bullets fired by police.

The Deadly Duo

The people have seen cuts to their salaries, increased taxes, and major reductions in social welfare as the government seeks to overcome the massive debt burden they carry through mismanagement by previous governments during the ‘good years’. In the past, many across Europe were throwing money away at any project that would keep them in power, Britain’s Labour Party under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are a prime example of this. It all came to a head with the banking crisis when huge sums of public money had to be used to bail out the greedy ‘fat cats’ who run our banks. After that things just went downhill.

But the reasons for the current crisis are different for many countries. In Greece for example, the main cause has been tax dodging by most of the population and basic corruption, coupled with very poor management of nationalized services like the train network which was running at a multimillion loss for years. In Spain much of the cause was the sudden bursting of the housing bubble, and extremely poor efficiency in government and local departments, and of course, corruption. In Britain it was Lionel Blair and his gangs of crooks who opened the floodgates to any ‘tom, dick or harry’ who wanted to come to Britain and take advantage of the rampant social benefits they showered on anyone who didn’t like the idea of working for a living.

Whatever the reason, the ordinary people are having to pick up the tab for the excesses of previous governments and those in power at the moment are being crucified by the populace for the measures they are now forced to take to try and ‘balance the books’. Naturally, the actions they are forced to take make them so unpopular that they will have little chance of being re-elected at the next round of elections for voters have extremely short memories.

Hypocrisy At Its Finest

I find it rather farcical that Ed Milliband of the Labour Party will address the crowds at a demonstration planned for London this next weekend, for he will no doubt play to the crowd and delight in bombasting David Cameron and the Coalition while conveniently forgetting that it was his predecessors who got us in this mess in the first place.  This will delight the crowd who will have long forgotten this essential fact. To me it smacks of massive hypocrisy!

To me, what people have to realize is that you cannot live in debt all your life, especially when it comes to a country. If we want stable and fair social services, stable prices and salaries, we have to overcome one of the over-riding problems with most individuals these days, and that is basic greed! It is one of the strongest defects in the modern generation where everyone wants something for nothing and will do almost anything to get it. There are tens of thousands of people in Britain today who have never done an honest days work in their lives because they live off the numerous handouts from Social Services. The entire system is so corrupt and rotten that many get far more from ‘the social’ than they could possibly earn doing a job of work, and they get away with it in spades.

The system is so full of holes that an immigrant coming into the country with nothing but the shirt on his back gets more money than an old-timer who has worked hard all his life. On top of that, after he is established he brings over his wife and ten children for which he gets more money, and then the grandparents, uncles and their children are welcomed with open arms. We have Tony Blair and his  band of crooks to thank for that mess. But do the electorate remember this, do they hell!

An Uphill Struggle

So now David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the Coalition are trying to solve the mess they inherited and getting crucified for doing it, and no, this is not a bias for any one political party, just a statement of fact.

It’s a similar story across Europe but  not for the same reasons. Countries have spiralled into debt and the muck has hit the fan so the people have to cough up the shares they have not been paying for the last twelve years or so. For any country to properly function there has to be an equal division of labour, payment of taxes and a government that is not susceptible to corruption. Sounds like Paradise, well it probably is and until mankind decides to put aside greed and selfishness and learn these basic facts we will never end the cycle of despair.

If we are lucky the crisis will be over in a few years, and then we can prepare for the next one which will surely come so long as people continue to want something for nothing and are too lazy to work for a living. I just feel sorry for those who really deserve the payments they get from Social Services, like those who are genuinely sick but have seen their benefits cut to pay those ‘playing the system’. It angers me when I hear many people who live in Spain throughout the winter claiming their ‘Cold Weather’ benefit, while those that really need it in the UK sometimes have to choose between eating and staying warm . Its acts like this that add to the debt mountain and make austerity measures all the more difficult for everyone.

 Roy.

An English Residents View of Spain’s Economic Woes

Posted in Britain, Budget Cuts, England, Europe, Government Spending, Spain, UK with tags , , , , on 31/12/2011 by floroy1942

Just about the whole world knows Spain has major economic problems at the moment, which makes it no different from the rest of Europe. Each country has its own reasons for the current state of its economy, Greece because it fiddled the books, Portugal and Italy because they  just spent too much etc etc. the list goes on. As someone who has lived in Spain for four years, I believe Spain’s problems are caused by something other than just spending too much.

Spain's GDP Takes a Nosedive

I freely admit I am no economy expert, but judge things more on what I see from day to day – the nitty-gritty analysis I leave up to the experts. As someone who has observed life in Spain from the sidelines as it were, in my opinion, most of the problems in this country are caused by three main things; 1. An ineffective government, 2. major corruption and 3. massive inefficiency.

Zapatero - What Could I Have Done Better? - Everything!

Under Zapatero’s government it seemed as though they were not interested in governing and solving the countries problems, just sitting in their ivory towers in Madrid and talking, which is something the Spanish are very good at. Ask someone on the street the time, and you end up in a half-hour one-sided conversation. They love the sound of their own voices!

Rajoy - A New Broom - Let's Hope So!

In just about all respects, the Zapatero government were a waste of space. Whether the new guy on the block Rajoy will be any better we must wait and see. But whoever is in charge, Spain needs a governing body that will be seen to actively tackle the root problems, and most important, keep the public informed on how and why!

Marbella Council Members In Court For Corruption

Spain’s second major problem has been around since the seventies, and that is corruption. Here in Marbella practically the entire local council was arrested a few years ago for massive corruption running into hundreds of millions of euro’s since 1991. This went all the way from the mayor down through city hall. Many of the corrupt officials are now in prison but the courts are still trying to track down the massive amounts of money that were siphoned off, and they are not getting very far.

Highly Dangerous A7 Between Marbella and Fuengirola

The results of the fraud can be seen everywhere in Marbella in rundown buildings, broken road surfaces and a generally poor infrastructure. The effects of this have been far reaching, for example, the street lights along a twenty kilometer stretch of the most dangerous motorway in southern Spain (A7 E340) have recently been switched off because two local councils don’t want to be the ones having to pay for the electricity.

The Shrinking Beaches

Every year beach sand is washed out into the Med but has for some time not been replaced because of cost. This means in effect that beaches along some stretches of coast between Marbella and Fuengirola are shrinking to the extent there is not much left when the tide is in. Eventually this will have a major impact on tourism, which lets face it, is Spain’s bread and butter for it doesn’t have any heavy industry apart from the building trade. Its only other real source of income is the agriculture sector.

An Unfinished Dream Home

The building trade, which has flourished ever since it began in the 1960’s suddenly died in 2008 due mainly to the banking crisis and the collapse of the mortgage market. This whole stretch of coast is marked by half-completed buildings that may never be finished.

 

Living on a Hillside

Realising back in the 60’s that tourism was a major winner, they have over the years built on almost every patch of open ground capable of taking a block of apartments or a villa (plus some that are not) and it has proven a major money winner for the country.

Demolishing Someone's 'Illegal' Dream Home

The Marbella council members made much of their illicit money in kickbacks for allowing builders to flout the existing building laws, and so currently, many people who bought their dream villa or apartment and moved lock, stock, and barrel to the Costa have had their home torn down because they were built illegally. This has happened to many over the past three years and even pensioners have been left on the pavement with their furniture. Now things are being handled in a more humane way and many such places will eventually be made legal. The builders guilty of the corrupt practices have of course pocketed the money and are long gone.

The sad thing is, the Spanish government did nothing to curb all these excesses, and the massive criminality associated with the building trade. Some people living in England put down vast sums of money to have a Spanish company build them a villa on the Costa, only to find all the ‘progress reports’ were lies when they come across to see their dream home and found it either as foundations only or perhaps a couple of walls. The builder of course was long gone with his ill-gotten gains. My own sister had a villa built and the local building company couldn’t even follow the plans for many rooms were the wrong size! This building fraud much like the Time Share fraud of old has been completely ignored by the government and the police, because let’s face it, it only happens to foreigners! 

Local Police - Car Bound

Another interesting factor is the police are only interested in ‘high profile’ crime. Spain’s traffic and local police are next to useless, preferring to sit on their fat asses in their patrol cars rather than fight  everyday crime like beggars and traffic violations which is one of the reasons Spain has the highest annual mortality rates for road accidents (35,000) in Europe. But gross inefficiency is not limited to  the police, its everywhere.

An Expensive Accident

My wife and I had occasion to go the the Marbella Justice building a couple of years ago, and when we entered the office there where about five people lounging at desks. One eventually came over and asked what we wanted. We gave them the paper we had received and the man tried to find the file relating to our business. Every table, cabinet and available floor space was covered with half-a-metre deep piles of files as if it was a repository for waste paper. After searching for about fifteen minutes the man came back and said the person dealing with our situation was on holiday and could we come back the following week because he could not find the file – no surprise there! The idea of a proper filing system seemed beyond the entire department. When dealing with the local council in some cases you get bounced from one department to another, and these are spread about in buildings all over town instead being together in just one. 

Latin American Call Centre - About as Far Removed From Reality as You Can Get

Dealing with Spanish companies like Vodafone or the electricity company is a nightmare due to inefficiency. You have to call a certain number to get someone to deal with your query or complaint and you end up talking to someone in South America who has no idea what you are talking about. If you start getting frustrated they turn abusive as has happened with my wife when calling Vodafone. When our internet dropped my wife was on the phone for almost two hours!!!

In all good faith, I cannot ‘paint everyone here with the same brush’ for there are many Spaniards who are kind, courteous, and do what they can to help within the rotten system, but generally speaking, Spain needs to inject a huge amount of efficiency into the day to day running of the country from top to bottom. The police need to get off their backsides and do the job they are paid to do by sorting out the corruption and fraud which is endemic here. The government needs to start governing properly and let the people know that it is doing so, otherwise little will change in the forseeable future.  

Happy New Year Everyone

I sincerely hope that the new government can come to grips with all the root problems here and get the economy back on track, for it is a pleasant place to live, and of course the weather is divine. This will be the last entry for 2011  and outside it’s 20*C with wall-to-wall sunshine. Just the way we like it!

Have a wonderful New Year and may your blog audience grow beyond your wildest dreams.

Roy.                           

 

2011 – A Good Year?

Posted in Britain, Environment, Spain, UK, USA with tags , , , , , , , on 23/12/2011 by floroy1942

It’s Christmas again and you have to wonder where the year went. For many of us this last 12 months has been somewhat of a trial, what with the economic crisis in Europe and the introduction of austerity measures, the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ that has brought death and destruction to many families in many countries, and not forgetting the various disasters worldwide.  Soon another year will be starting and we can only hope it will  be better than 2011.

February 24 2011 - New Zealand

Everyone lives in hope that things will improve, and the world can settle down once more to a period of comparative peace. The last year has seen more than its share of death and heartache, but when all is said and done, we do this to ourselves. Without dictators there would be no need for  an ‘Arab Spring’, and without greedy bankers and corrupt politicians there would be no need for austerity measures, but we are after all human and no-one is perfect.

February 26 2011 - Libya

As we see in countries like Egypt, there is no point in overturning a dictator if he is to be replaced by a military that will not bow to the will of the people. It is after all, the people that make a country, not governments or its landscape. In other arab countries there has been continued unrest because the will of the people has not been heard. Libya is still engaged in sporadic fighting since the fall of Gaddafi, and of course in Syria the story is far from over. If you wish to count all the countries that are embroiled in unrest you would run out of fingers and toes. In Iraq, now the last troops have taken their leave, we have secular fighting that looks set to continue for a long time, until one or other comes out on top, but as usual its the common people who suffer.

If you look to countries that are not actually fighting among themselves, you will find a long list that has suffered riots and/or major demonstrations over the past year. Chief among them Greece, Italy, Spain, America and even Russia. Most of these events are due to people protesting about the austerity measures put in place by their governments in an effort to try and balance the books. That they should need to do this is only due to their incompetence over the last five years, for they failed to live up to the golden rule; i.e. “Never spend what you don’t have”!

October 19 2011 - Greece

All today’s monetary problems stem from the fact that once political parties get in power they want to stay there, and will promise anything to achieve that. They say “Power Corrupts” and that is never more true than today. The governments of countries like Greece and Italy have raised salaries and encouraged massive tax fraud etc. just to keep the populace happy and themselves in  power. As most European countries are now finding out, eventually you have to pay the piper! I was going to include Spain in that category, but in truth, here the problem is massive inefficiency everywhere, from government down to the local shop. How these people ever had the audacity to think they could invade England in 1588 defies logic! Better they had stayed in South America where they only had to fight the local indian tribes!

Friday March 11 2011 - Fukushima

This last year has also seen its share of natural disasters in the shape of earthquakes, tsunami’s, drought and major flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives in these catastrophes, and in truth we have no-one to blame but ourselves. For as long as we continue to destroy our world piecemeal it will only get worse. As I have often said in the past, we are entering a new phase of mankind, and in the words of the ‘Bard’: “We ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Indonesia - Rain Forest Destruction 2011

However, the optimists among us will still hope that the next year in man’s evolution will see an improvement over the current troubles that beset our world. It can happen, if only people would think a little less of themselves and a little more of others. It is time to put away self! With more cooperation and an end to the constant power struggle that afflicts our leaders, the world could once again become a peaceful place where everyone can benefit. If we ourselves stop judging everything by ‘what is best for us’ we can go a long way to solving the major problems that beset society in most countries of the world. If nations like Brazil, China and many other Far Eastern countries can stop their constant attacks on our environment, and everyone can finally agree on measures to cut carbon emissions, maybe we can eventually slow the onset of global warming and reduce the natural disasters that plague our planet ever more frequently.

In the short and long term it is up to everyone, be we banker or beggar, to make the necessary changes in our lives that will bring about what we desire most, a happy and carefree life.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderfully happy Christmas, and of course, a fruitful and happy New Year.

Roy.

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