Monday, December 05, 2011

The neoliberal nightmare, Italian edition

Ed Harrison explains the video below in Italian minister breaks down in tears over austerity budget Credit Writedowns 12/05/2011:

Italy’s government has come forward with an aggressive 30 billion euro austerity package to prevent the country’s bankruptcy and pave the way for the fiscal integration that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing as the key to solving the European debt crisis. In the video below, Elsa Fornero, the Italian welfare minister, broke down in explaining the provisions to increase the pension age to 66. The package also increases taxes on housing, luxury items and via a 23 percent VAT, a measure Ireland is also taking. Approval is expected before Christmas.

And this is from a minister in a government whose only real purpose is to collect debts for big European banks by squeezing the Italian people as hard as possible!

This display of emotion on her part is in dramatic contrast to the adoration of austerity (for others) on the part of American political and media elites. Digby catches the New York Times editorial board advocating the abolition of Medicare in Premium Loser Hullabaloo 12/04/2011. She comments:

I don't understand what world these people live in. Do these people honestly believe that the elderly, most of whom are already sick in one way or another or are destined to become so (after all, it's a rare person who stays perfectly healthy and then dies peacefully in his sleep at age 92) should be forced into a more complicated system than that which already exists? It's as if they are being accused of irresponsibly running up big bills and must be taught a lesson in prudence before they die.

I would love to know where this penchant for making the health care system even more complicated and unworkable comes from? And why does everyone have to be a "consumer?" We are citizens and human beings and when we get old we get sick, period. Making elderly people shop around in order to live is utter nonsense when we know that the only reason to do so is to keep our "privatized" system reaping profits every step of the way.

It's the abstraction in all these debates that drives me crazy. People, not statistics. Patients, not consumers. Yes, health care costs are high and are absorbing more and more of our GDP, but the sick people are not the problem. Getting sick can happen to anyone and getting old is something that will happen to everybody (if they're lucky). Treating being human as a problem is the problem. [my emphasis in bold]
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