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The Austerity Is Too Damn High

The Romanian parliament was interrupted by a desperate effort by a private citizen to protest the government’s planned austerity measures.  Adrian Sobaru threw himself off a balcony and onto the floor of the parliament, his shirt imprinted with the words, “You killed our children’s future, you sold us.”

The  Romanian economy has been suffered serious contractions – shrinking by 7% in 2009 – and already accepted a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the IMF is demanding more cuts and more draconian reductions in critical services in order to qualify for the next installment of the IMF loan.

Measures in Austerity, rather than focusing on long-term growth, has been Prime Minister Emil Boc and the ruling Democratic Liberal Party solution which, despite its name, is actually one of the country’s conservative political parties.

When Mr. Sobaru fell, the parliament was about to cast a vote of no-confidence in the government and Prime Minister Boc’s right wing austerity policy. Opposition members walked out when, in the interest of basic humanity, the ruling coalition refused to delay the vote for more than an hour in light of what had occurred. This, unfortunately, helped Boc survive the vote and continue his short-sighted policies.

Reports indicate that Mr. Sobaru suffered severe facial injuries, but that his wounds are not life threatening. We don’t condone acts of violence against others or against one’s self. We also understand that sometimes, governments must make difficult choices.

What we at the Revolution do not understand is how people think a nation can be righteous and moral when it balances its budget to the benefit of distant, wealthy plutocrats while ignoring the cries of those most in need.

Our hope is that the IMF, countries across Europe, and politicians here in the United States will wake up to the true cost of austerity. The pattern is painfully simple – tax breaks for plutocrats are kept off the table, while programs for the rest of us are all fair game. This is not even about rich and poor. Even though many of the stories written about this global recession focus on the extremes – those who suffer from unemployment and are watching their benefits and hope slip away and the robber barons who not only helped caused the economic collapse, but have actually benefited from it.

This is also about middle class school districts that will be forced to cut corners to make ends meet under the “austerity;” it’s about federal grants and affordable loans for college-age children; it’s about commute times and traffic as our streets  fall into disrepair; and it’s about having enough police and firefighters to keep our communities safe.

While it may be easy to say “this could never happen here,” it also naïve. Romania’s unemployment this year is estimated to be 8% or one percent less than unemployment here in the United States. This is not some distant, undeveloped country, but a member of the European Union that had less than five percent unemployment only two years ago. Make no mistake. It not only can happen here, but unless we take action against those who would sacrifice our children’s future, it will. And that, Speaker Boehner, is truly something worth crying over.