Well, no, I don't believe that December 2012 will mark the Earth's demise. If I had a nickel for every prophet of doom, I could pay off my credit card debt.
But, this caught my attention:
Greek left-wing leader Alexis Tsipras has accused the EU and German Chancellor Angela Merkel of "playing poker with European people's lives" by insisting on austerity measures.
Mr Tsipras' Syriza bloc is predicted to come first in new elections called for 17 June. Syriza wants to renegotiate Greece's international bailout....
In a BBC interview, Mr Tsipras said if the "disease of austerity destroys Greece, it will spread to the rest of Europe".
Banks were profiting at the expense of thousands of Europeans - in Spain and Italy, as well as Greece - left in poverty and hardship, he said.
"Therefore the European leadership and especially Mrs Merkel need to stop playing poker with the lives of people," Mr Tsipras said.
And this was a bit of a slap across the face:
The recent elections in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) have produced a great result for the German Social Democratic party (SPD) and a crushing defeat for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). After a dozen years, and with a vote share of 39.1%, the SPD has re-emerged as the strongest party in Germany’s most populous state. The CDU, on the other hand, suffered losses of more than eight percentage points and ended up with 26.3%, the party’s worst ever result in the state. After two years of red-green minority government, there is now a clear majority for the region’s minister-president, Hannelore Kraft, to continue....Meanwhile, in UK local elections last week, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were slaughtered at the polls, with Labour under anti-austerity leader Ed Milliband taking over several local councils. These local elections presage electoral strength on the national scale. While Prime Minister David Cameron doesn't have to call early elections because of the results, he was served notice by the voters that his austerity program does not meet with their approval. And as he's doubled-down on austerity as a response to the results, things will only get worse for him for the duration of his mandate.
The reason why new elections became necessary was that the FDP voted against the budget (they called it a “debt budget”) of the red-green minority government. Both the FDP and the CDU tried a familiar strategy during the election campaign: fearmongering about public debt. Even though the red-green government has reduced annual deficits since taking over from its conservative-liberal predecessors in 2010 and is planning to meet Germany’s domestic debt brake criteria as required by 2020, the state opposition tried to paint it as a profligate spender. On the other hand, Kraft, an economist by training, presented a more even-handed plan for the long-term reduction of debt that wouldn’t, in her words, punish children and reduce investment in education. She didn’t buy into the budget panic but offered sound medium- to long-term budget management.
Her strategy worked. If there is one key lesson from the NRW campaign it is that when there is a sensible fiscal policy on offer, short-term fearmongering about fiscal deficits and burdening future generations does not work....
The current strategy was never going to work. The German government should know this given that the last instalment of first world war debt, for instance, was paid only in 2010, 92 years after the end of the war. We need sustainable fiscal consolidation that doesn’t erode societies and economies. Short-term point scoring by unnecessarily scaring people about debt isn’t good and successful policy. Kraft has proven this once more.
And, of course, Socialist leader Francois Hollande is the newest occupant of the Elysee Palace, put there by voters on a platform of renegotiating the austerity deal implemented by his predecessor and Chancellor Merkel, and by promising to place a 75% tax on income earned over 1 million euros to fund both debt reduction and pro-growth policies.
Whew! Quite a trip around Europe. But it isn't limited to Europe.
As Deaniac pointed out in this piece, the Romney campaign has been upended, yet again, by an Obama ad that targets one of his perceived strengths: that he "knows business" and can "turn the country around". Of course, what the ad points out is that the austerity that Bain under Romney brought to the private sector would be the type of austerity that he would bring to public finances: gutting the programs relied upon by the poor and middle classes, while the rich make off as they always do.
This country is fighting its own austerity wars. The Ryan budget has been endorsed by Romney, and is a Randian's wet dream: decimating those who don't have the money to own vacation homes, while giving the "producers" all the fat of the land.
Vice President Joe Biden made an impassioned attack on the uber-Mensch mentality of the current GOP today in Ohio:
Let that sink in.
All over the world—here, in Europe, in the Middle East—the bulk of citizens are tired of the rulers "not getting" them. They're tired of those in power and position doing what they've always done to enrich themselves and secure their riches, while making sure that the bulk of people don't have the same opportunities. They're tired of the men and women with money bankrupting countries and industries, and then getting to do it all over again because they control the levers of power, or are "too big to fail". They're tired of being told that there's no money for education, or health care, or decent roads, or secure streets, but there is money for trillion dollar giveaways to corporations and the rich, who can never have enough money, but always want more and more while the societies in which they live go wanting. They're tired of people like the Facebook founders finagling ways to avoid paying taxes on the money they'll earn from the company's impending IPO while they see needed services cut due to a lack of tax revenue. They're tired of lies, of obfuscations, of condescension.
And they're not taking it anymore.
From the time that the 2008 collapse occurred, only two governments remain intact in the Eurozone. And those governments that came into power with continued or accelerated austerity are now facing revolts, and will collapse when elections roll around again. In the Middle East, the Arab Spring continues—haltingly, with much violence in Syria, but not abating. And other governments are increasing democratization, in an effort to stave off their demise.
The US is always the tough nugget. Thirty years of conservative dominance of politics and the media have created an apathetic citizenry, convinced that any action they take results in nothing. But, even with that going against President Obama, he's still on a trajectory to keep the Presidency, and the Democrats are in good position to retake the House and retain the Senate.
2012 won't be the physical end of the world. But a sort of world may just be coming to an end, or the beginning of an ending: a world in which those with wealth and power run roughshod over everyone else, concerned only with their own desires. Oh, they won't have a change of heart; they'll kick, scream, and plot; but at long last, they "will get us".