Draconian measures were taken this week in Portugal by the "Socialist" (only in name) Government of José Sócrates, yet another right/centre right Government asking the Portuguese people to make sacrifices, a plea repeated time and again as this long-suffering, hard-working nation slips a few cogs further back into the quagmire of misery.
And it is not because they are Portuguese. Go to Luxembourg, which tops all the socio-economic indicators, and you will find that twelve per cent of the population is Portuguese, the people who built an Empire stretching across four Continents and who controlled the coastline from Ceuta on the Atlantic coast, round to the Cape of Good Hope, the Eastern coast of Africa on the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Persia, the Western coast of India and Sri Lanka.
This week, Prime Minister Socrates launched another wave of his austerity packages, cutting salaries and increasing VAT, more cosmetic measures taken in a climate of laboratory politics by haughty academics devoid of any contact with the real world, a mainstay in the Portuguese elitist political class in the PSD/PS see-saw of political mismanagement which has plagued the country since its Revolution in April 1974.
The aim? To reduce the deficit. Why? Because the EU says so. But is it just the EU?
No, it is not. The wonderful system that the European Union has allowed itself to get sucked into is one in which the Rating Agencies Fitch, Moody's and Standard and Poor's, based in the USA (where else?) virtually and physically control the fiscal, economic and social policies of EU member states through the attribution of credit ratings.
With friends like these agencies and Brussels, who needs enemies?
Let us be honest. The European Union is the result of a Pact forged by a frightened and trembling France, terrified of Germany after its troops marched into its territory three times in seventy years, taking Paris with ease not once, but twice and by a crafty Germany eager to reinvent itself after the nightmare years of Hitler. France got the agriculture, Germany got the markets for its industry.
And Portugal? Look at the brands of new cars (these seem to be immune to spending cuts) driven by private motorists to ferry around armies of "advisors" and guess which country they come from? No, they are not Peugeot or Citroen or Renault. They are Mercedes and BMWs. Top-of-the-range, of course.
Successive Governments formed by the main two parties, PSD (Social Democrats, right) and PS (Socialist, centre-right), have systematically sold Portugal's interests down the sewer, destroying its agriculture (Portuguese farmers are paid not to produce) and its industry (gone) and its fisheries (Spanish trawlers fish Portuguese waters), in return for what? What have the trade-offs they negotiated brought, except for the total annihilation of any possibility to create jobs and wealth on a sustainable basis?
Anibal Silva, now President but formerly Prime Minister for a decade between 1985 and 1995, the years when billions were pouring through his hands from the EU structural and development funds, is an excellent example of one of Portugal's better politicians. Elected fundamentally because he is held to be "serious" and "honest" (in the land of the blind, he who sees is King), as if that was a reason to elect a leader (which only in Portugal it is) and as if most of the rest were/are a bunch of useless leeches and parasites (which they are) he is the Father of the Public Deficit in Portugal and the champion of public spending.
His "concrete policy" was well conceived but as usual badly planned, the result of an inept, uncoordinated and at times non-existent Spatial Planning department, second, as usual, to vested interests which suck the country and its people dry. A huge part of the EU funds were channelled into building bridges and motorways to open up the country, facilitating internal transportation and constructing industrial parks in the interior cities to attract the population back from the coastline, where the vast majority resides.
The result was that the people now had the means to flee from the hinterland and reach the coastline even faster. The industrial parks were never filled and those industries which were set up have in many cases closed.
A large percentage of the EU taxpayers' money vaporised into phantom companies and schemes. Ferraris were bought. Hunting trips for wild boar were organized in Spain. Private homes were developed. And Anibal Silva's Government sat back and watched, in his first term, as the money was squandered. In his second term, Anibal Silva himself stood back and watched as his Government lost control. Then he tried desperately to distance himself from his own party.
And he is one of the better ones. After Anibal Silva came the well-meaning, well-intentioned and humanitarian António Guterres (PS), an excellent High Commissioner for Refugees and a perfect candidate for UN Secretary-General but a black hole in terms of financial mis-management. He was followed by the excellent diplomat but abominable Prime Minister José Barroso (PSD) (now President of the EU Commission) who created more problems with his discourse than he solved, passed the hot potato to Pedro Lopes (PSD), who basically never had a chance to govern, resulting in the two-term sinister horror or horrors, José Sócrates, a competent Minister of the Environment, but...
The austerity measures presented by this...gentleman... are the result of his own ineptitude as Prime Minister in the run-up to the world's latest crisis of capitalism (the one in which the world's leaders came up with three trillion dollars from one day to the next to bail out irresponsible bankers, while nothing was ever produced to pay decent pensions, healthcare programs or education projects).
And just like his predecessors, José Sócrates demonstrates an absence of emotional intelligence, allowing his ministers to practise laboratory politics and implement laboratory policies which are bound to be counter-productive. Pravda.Ru interviewed 100 civil servants whose salaries are going to be reduced. Here are the results:
They are going to cut my salary by 5%, so I will work less (94%)
They are going to cut my salary by 5%, so I will do my best to retire early, change jobs or leave the country (5%)
I agree with the sacrifice (1%)
One per cent. As for increasing taxation, the knee-jerk reaction will be for the economy to shrink even more as people start to make symbolic reductions, which multiplied by Portugal's 10 million population, will affect jobs and send the economy further back into recession. The mentally advanced idiot who dreamed up these schemes has results on a piece of paper, where they will stay. True, the measures are a clear sign to the ratings agencies that the Portuguese Government is willing to take strong measures, but at the expense, as usual, of the Portuguese people.
As for the future, the Portuguese opinion polls forecast a return to the PSD, while the parties on the Left (Left Block and Portuguese Communist Party) fail to convince the electorate to vote for excellent ideas and concrete proposals. In the case of the PCP, it is higher salaries, greater production, the diversification of the economy and basically, respect for the people who have supported this nonsense for decades. An excellent product devoid of a successful sales department.
Only Portugal's elitist political class (PSD/PS) could be capable of punishing a people for daring to be independent. They have sold Portugal's interests down the drain, they have asked for sacrifices for decades, have produced nothing and continue to massacre their people with further punishments. These traitors are leading more and more Portuguese to question whether they should have been assimilated by Spain centuries ago.
How sickening and how inviting that Portuguese saying "Those who do not feel well should move". Right, the hell away from Portugal, as everyone who can, is doing. What a pitiful comment on a wonderful country, a fantastic people, and a telling statement on an abominable political class from the centre, rightwards.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea