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Public services Vs IMF
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-11-25 07:24:24
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Perhaps it is me but looking at the changes the countries in Europe that financially suffer and have to go through I found something common, the public services sector. Greece is already under the heavy observance of the EU and mainly the IMF and the first thing they asked from the Greek government was the decrease of the public sector even if that meant lay offs of hundreds of civil servants.

Then came Ireland and reading the measures the Irish government has to take to get the hep from the IMF there was one thing that headed any other measure, cuts to the public services sector. And then it is Portugal, a country that heads to IMF with speed the last few months – actually everybody has been wandering the last year who was going to be first, Portugal or Greece – and before even starting the talks with the IMF they already try to make an effect with cuts starting with the public services.

Zapatero talking in the Spanish parliament a few days ago announced cuts in front Spain’s financial problems and again the public sector had the privilege to be first while in Italy Berlusconi decides to change the education system to save money and since we are talking about money and education don’t forget the British government that is planning to increase the university fees. So obviously for all of them the public services is the reason for the financial problems Europe faces this problems and the solution is one and only, the head is aching we cut the head!

But what is this monstrous public sector that creates all those problems. Of course there is the state administration including tax offices and employees, ministries offices and employees and I suppose local authorities and their employees. But obviously this is not the problem because if you start your cuts form tax offices and tax employees then there is no income. What is left? Let’s see; schools, hospitals! They are the ones who obviously take most of the money since the IMF in Greece for example made a special effect checking the hospital expenses. And don’t forget pensions; they are another cost for the state.

Education is obviously a huge weight and chapter for all of them otherwise they wouldn’t bother to do what they do. But if you check the average classroom – secondary schools – in Europe has 35-45 kids. According to all specialists and reports form the beginning of the last century the average classroom should have maximum 20 kids if we want to make sure that all of them have equal chances and opportunities to get the right education. So we need more teachers. More teachers mean more classrooms, mean more laboratories, more courses and of course the necessary administration. By the way the one who thinks that schools or hospitals can work without administration have absolutely no idea what we are talking about. So we need more public services.

Hospitals, I actually have no idea where to start; doctors and nurses that their work has become so legendary to give material for television soup operas and reality shows. Do you know that doctors should not make more than three operations a day even if that includes plain appendectomy. There are doctors that make more than five bypass operation a day! Sometimes two or three nurses are responsible for 30 or 40 patients in public hospitals and this is European average. And when it comes to salaries lets not talk about it. Doctors and nurses ain the private sector might make money – occasionally a lot of money – but in the public sector their salaries compete tax office employees.

And if you think that talking about teachers and doctors is somehow a psychological argument what about the people who collect rubbish in the cities we live? They are public servants. What about post offices and the post men or public transportation. And of that’s not enough what about libraries and librarians, what about the museums and galleries that hold our national identities.

These are what IMF is demanding to cut, the nervous system of our societies. And all that for what? To help the cooperatives, the industries and the bankers? So education will be for the few, health will be for the few, a life with dignity will be for the few? So this is what we fought for the last twenty centuries? To discover that our ancestors 20 centuries ago lived with more dignity than us? Most of the headlines the last few days in Europe talk about IMF and cuts in the public sectors of the European states with the people and especially the civil servants reaction with huge demonstrations. Actually they are making it look like there is resistance from the civil servants and the public sector against IMF and all the effect to stop recession. The truth is that IMF tries to brake the last resistances before privatizing our lives, our future and our dignity!

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Emanuel Paparella2010-11-25 09:05:59
Wow! It all seems absurd and incomprehensible, but there is actually a philosophical origins to the above described idea that only “the best” in a society (read the wealthiest, not necessarily the most intelligent) deserve to survive and prosper while the others, i.e., the losers, deserve to perish. That idea was promoted by the sociologist Herbert Spencer and was dubbed it “evolutionary progressivism.” Its corollary idea is that of “the survival of the fittest” which people tend to attribute to Darwin but Darwin never uses that expression.” It is found in Spencer’s major work titled “Progress: Its Laws and Causes” published in 1857.

What is bizarre in all this is that it is tied to the idea of progress, albeit an inevitable and determinist progress. Later on it gets tied to a sort of capitalism which even the Popes in their social encyclicals have dubbed as “savage” and heartless, devoid of any compassion and solidarity, the sort of capitalism that rather than announcing progress it leads to regress and devastation.

So, one hundred and fifty years after Spencer, here we are in the midst of a “savage capitalism” which some misguidedly consider "enlightened" in its full bloom, redolent of Dante’s words in the Commedia spoken from the moon as he watches the jewel that is planet earth and exclaims: “e vidi quell’aiuola che ci fa tanto selvaggi’ [and I saw that flower garden that makes us such savages.]

Indeed, it is a great delusion to think that ideas do not matter and are not needed to sort out the mess Western Civilization is in. Does nihilism, positivism, dada, materialism, ring a bell? They are all tied to survival of the fittest. Those ideas, if not analyzed and rejected will eventually doom us. Just look around!

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