Blog Archives

Hospital pharmacists warn austerity measures are negatively impacting patient welfare


d0ddbc8e68becda49551b1552a310ea3

Member countries of the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) have issued a jointly agreed statement expressing apprehension about the impact of public spending austerity on services to patients in hospitals.

Amongst the negative impacts of public spending austerity causing concern to hospital pharmacists are: increasing expectancy placed upon patients to meet the up-front costs of their medicines; the unintended impacts national cost-cutting measures are having in respect of medicines shortage; short-staffing in hospitals; diminished opportunities for healthcare professional training and development; and shrinking investment in areas of patient safety enhancement.

EAHP’s members have called for a European Commission review into the potential for greater joint level cooperation between governments in terms of reducing the detrimental health impacts of austerity measures. Such a review could be conducted in the context of both the pan-European aspects of these problems, and the remit of the European Union to take action in the area of public health, as per article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Speaking about the new policy statement, EAHP president Dr Roberto Frontini said, “Hospital pharmacists, by the nature of our profession, are highly attuned to detecting patient safety threats. So with the impacts of public spending squeezes now keenly felt in almost all European countries, we call for greater caution, care and compassion by policy-makers when it comes to the area of health. Too much progress has been achieved in previous decades to be casually discarded in a rush to resolve macro-economic challenges. Sober analysis must made of the patient safety implications of all decisions, as well as the impacts on sustainable health services.”

Dr Frontini further added, “I see significant potential value that could be delivered by the European Commission taking a proactive role in helping member states navigate the current financial challenges to health systems. Ultimately, we all have a duty to ensure that it is not the sick and vulnerable that pays the price of austerity.”

EAHP is an association of national organisations representing hospital pharmacists at European and international levels.

via Hospital pharmacists warn austerity measures are negatively impacting patient welfare.

Austerity And Resistance: The Politics Of Labour In The Eurozone Crisis


d0ddbc8e68becda49551b1552a310ea3

Europe is haunted by austerity. Public sectors across the European Union (EU) have been cut back and working class gains from the post-war period seriously undermined. In this article, I will assess the causes of the crisis, its implications for workers and discuss the politics of labour in response to the Eurozone crisis.

The underlying dynamics of the Eurozone crisis

Current problems go right back to the global financial crisis starting in 2007 with the run on the Northern Rock bank in the United Kingdom (UK) and reaching a first high point with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Two major consequences of the crisis can be identified. First, states indebted themselves significantly as a result of bailing out failing banks and propping up the financial system. Second, against the background of high levels of uncertainty financial markets froze. Banks and financial institutions ceased lending to each other as well as industrial companies. Countries too found it increasingly difficult to re-finance their national debts. The Eurozone crisis, also known as the sovereign debt crisis, commenced.

Nevertheless, this analysis only scratches the surface of the causes of the crisis. The fundamental dynamics underlying the crisis have to be related to the uneven nature of the European political economy. On the one hand, Germany has experienced an export boom in recent years, with almost 60 per cent of its exports going to other European countries (Trading Economics, 10 May 2013). Germany’s trade surplus is even more heavily focused on Europe. 60 per cent are with other Euro countries and about 85 per cent are with all EU members together (de Nardis, 2 December 2010). However, such a growth strategy cannot be adopted by everybody. Some countries also have to absorb these exports, and this is what many of the peripheral countries which are now in trouble, such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, have done. They, in turn, cannot compete in the free trade Internal Market of the EU due to lower productivity rates. Germany’s export boom has resulted in super profits, which then require new opportunities for profitable investment. State bonds of peripheral countries as well as construction markets in Ireland and Spain seemed to provide safe investment opportunities. In turn, these investments led to yet more exports from Germany to these countries and yet further super profits in search of investment opportunities.

Who is being rescued?

It is often argued in the media that citizens of richer countries would now have to pay for citizens of indebted countries. Cultural arguments of apparently ‘lazy Greek’ workers as the cause of the crisis are put forward. Nevertheless, this is clearly not the case. Greek workers are amongst those who work the longest hours in Europe (BBC, 26 February 2012). In any case, it is not the Greek, Portuguese, Irish or Cypriot citizens and their health and education systems, which are being rescued. It is banks, who organised the lending of super profits to peripheral countries, which are exposed to private and national debt in these countries. For example, German and French banks are heavily exposed to Greek debt, British banks to Irish debt (The Guardian, 17 June 2011).

What is the purpose of the bailout programmes?

Is the purpose of the bailout programmes to ensure the maintenance of essential public services in Europe’s periphery? Clearly not. On the contrary, the Troika consisting of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands cuts in public finances precisely for services such as education and health care. Is the purpose to assist peripheral countries in re-gaining competitiveness? Again, this too is clearly not the objective. The bailout programmes do not include any industrial policy projects.

The true nature of the bailout programmes is visible in their conditionality, making support dependent on austerity policies including: (1) cuts in funding of essential public services; (2) cuts in public sector employment; (3) push towards privatisation of state assets; and (4) undermining of industrial relations and trade union rights through enforced cuts in minimum wages and a further liberalisation of labour markets. Hence, the real purpose of the bailout programmes is to restructure political economies and to open up the public sector as new investment opportunities for private finance. The balance of power is shifted further from labour to capital in this process. Employers, ultimately, use the crisis in order to strengthen their position vis-à-vis workers, facilitating exploitation.

Are German workers the winners due to the export boom?

In contrast to general assumptions, German workers have not benefitted from the current situation. German productivity increases have, to a significant extent, resulted from drastic downward pressure on wages and working related conditions.

“Germany has been unrelenting in squeezing its own workers throughout this period. During the last two decades, the most powerful economy of the eurozone has produced the lowest increases in nominal labour costs, while its workers have systematically lost share of output. EMU[2] has been an ordeal for German workers” (Lapavitsas et al, 2012: 4).

The Agenda 2010 and here especially the so-called Hartz IV reform, implemented in the early 2000s, constitutes the largest cut in, and restructuring of, the German welfare system since the end of World War II. In other words, Germany was more successful than other Eurozone countries in cutting back labour costs. “The euro is a ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ policy for Germany, on condition that it beggars its own workers first” (Lapavitsas et al, 2012: 30).

Hence, while the mainstream media regularly portray the crisis as a conflict between Germany and peripheral countries, the real conflict here is between capital and labour. And this conflict is taking place across the EU as the economic crisis is used across Europe to justify cuts. In the UK, although not in the position of countries such as Greece, Portugal or Ireland, people too are faced with constant further cuts and restructuring including privatisations in the health and education sectors as well as attacks on employment rights. In short, across the EU, employers abuse the crisis to cut back workers’ post-war gains. The crisis provides capital with the rationale to justify cuts, they would otherwise be unable to implement.

What possibilities for labour to resist restructuring?

Considering that austerity is a European-wide phenomenon, pushed by Brussels but equally individual national governments, it will remain important that trade unions combine resistance to neo-liberal restructuring at the European level with resistance at the national level. To declare solidarity with Greek workers is a good initiative by German and British unions, for example. Nevertheless, the more concrete support is resisting restructuring at home. Any defeat of austerity in one of the EU member states will assist similar struggles elsewhere.

When thinking about alternative responses to the crisis, short-term measures can be distinguished from medium- and long-term measures. Immediately, it will be important that German trade unions push for higher salary increases at home so that the German domestic market absorbs more goods, which are currently being exported. Along similar lines is the proposal by the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) for an economic stimulus, investment and development programme for Europe. This new Marshall plan is designed as an investment and development programme over a 10-year period and consists of a mix of institutional measures, direct public sector investment, investment grants for companies and incentives for consumer spending (DGB 2013). Neo-Keynesian measures of this type will ease the immediate pressure on European economies. However, they will not question the power structures, underlying the European political economy.

A victorious outcome in the struggle against austerity ultimately depends on a change in the balance of power in society. The establishment of welfare states and fairer societies were based on the capacity of labour to balance the class power of capital (Wahl 2011). Overcoming austerity will, therefore, require a strengthening of labour vis-à-vis capital. As Lapavitsas notes, “a radical left strategy should offer a resolution of the crisis that alters the balance of social forces in favour of labour and pushes Europe in a socialist direction” (Lapavitsas 2011: 294). Hence, in the medium-term, it will be essential to intervene more directly in the financial sector. As part of bailouts, many private banks have been nationalised, as for example the Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK. However, they have been allowed to continue operating as if they were private banks. Little state direction has been imposed. It will be important to move beyond nationalisation towards the socialisation of banks to ensure that banks actually operate according to the needs of society. Such a step would contribute directly to changing the balance of power in society in favour of labour.

In the long run, however, even the change in power balance between capital and labour will not be enough. Capitalist exploitation is rooted in the way the social relations of production are set up around wage labour and the private ownership of the means of production. Exploitation, therefore, can only be overcome if the manner in which production is organised is being changed itself.

[1] This article was first published in Norwegian on radikalportal.no

[2] European Monetary Union

via Austerity And Resistance: The Politics Of Labour In The Eurozone Crisis.

Austerity Today


8716972088_c2cb095907_b

Protesters, upset over school closings and austerity cuts, march to Mayor 

Chicago Sun-Times
If the mayor was home on the Fourth of July, he’d look out to see hundreds in front of his home, holding signs that read “#onetermmayor” and calling austerity a reason for some of the city’s biggest problems. Dubbed a fight against austerity, the group 
See all stories on this topic »

Arbitrary austerity fuels organised crime in Europe


The Conversation
Until the 1990s, Europeans viewed themselves to be generally unaffected by the activities of organised crime, with the notable exception of Italy and, to a minor extent, Germany. But now, Europol’s recently published European Union Serious and 
See all stories on this topic »

Will the age of austerity harm health?


BBC News
Sandwell, like many areas that were heavily reliant on manufacturing, was hit hard by the recession of the 1980s. Unemployment rose steeply and poverty increased. In some respects, the area has never recovered. The West Midlands borough is now the 
See all stories on this topic »

End to era of austerity budgets within ‘touching distance’, claims Michael Noonan
Irish Times
Ireland is within “touching distance” of no longer having to frame annual austerity budgets, Minister of Finance Michael Noonan has told members of the financial services industry. “We have a difficult budget coming up in October,” said Mr Noonan 
See all stories on this topic »

 

An Autogestión Alternative to Austerity: Occupy, Resist, Produce!

Truth-Out
An Autogestión Alternative to Austerity: Occupy, Resist, Produce! Austerity policies continue to deliver pain to populations the world over, but shifts toward democratic self-direction deliver much-needed hope. Home · News · Opinion · Video · Art 
See all stories on this topic »

Portuguese coalition holds together

SBS
Portugal’s PM Pedro Passos Coelho says the coalition has found “a formula” that secures its survival after fears it would break up over austerity policies. Portugal’s centre-right government coalition has averted its break-up in a dispute over 
See all stories on this topic »

 

Greek Salaries Cut Another 10%
Greek Reporter
The austerity measures have also worsened a six-year recession and created a record 27.4 percent unemployment rate and put 1.3 million people – all in the private sector – out of work. Until Samaras shut down the national broadcaster ERT on June 11 and 
See all stories on this topic »

 

 

Portugal: A bitter pill too far?

Deutsche Welle
Those tensions reached a temporary climax this week when two top government officials resigned in Portugal. The architect of the country’s austerity, Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar, stepped down. He cited public backlash against his policies. Less than 
See all stories on this topic »

 

Spanish downturn a disaster for green energy
BusinessWorld Online Edition
MADRID — Spain’s wind turbine manufacturers are laying off workers and farmers who installed solar panels are facing ruin as austerity policies afflict the long-coddled green energy sector. Wind turbines in La Veleta wind park, in Monasterio de 
See all stories on this topic »
 
Lisbon finds formula to avert collapse
The Times (subscription)
Portugal’s centre-right coalition Government last night averted its collapse in a row over austeritypolicies after striking a deal which will reassure eurozone partners that a second financial rescue will not be needed for the bailed out nation. “A 
See all stories on this topic »
 
Portugal Government Lives, as Does Crisis
Wall Street Journal
Mr. Portas’ resignation Tuesday in protest over the strict application of austerity demands by the country’s international bailout lenders “was a personal decision,” Mr. Passos Coelho said. He added that Mr. Portas had told him he was committed to 
See all stories on this topic »
 
International financial news
The Daily Telegraph
LISBON – Portugal’s leaders are fighting to prevent a collapse of the coalition government in a dispute over austerity policies squeezing the bailed-out nation. LONDON – The Bank of England has hinted that it is unlikely to lift record-low borrowing 
See all stories on this topic »

Ireland’s Coalition Seen Secure Despite Lawmakers’ Revolt
Wall Street Journal
The coalition is preparing to detail in October more painful spending cuts and tax increases for its 2014 austerity budget to meet the conditions of the bailout Ireland struck with the European Union and International Monetary Fund in late 2010. The 
See all stories on this topic »

Portugal on brink of collapse sparking fears the country will not be able to 
Daily Mail
Portugal’s financial markets nosedived today amid fears that repayments on its £64billion bailout could soon become unsustainable as the government looked set to collapse following a spat over the country’s austerity programme. Share prices dropped by 
See all stories on this topic »
Passos Coelho: I will not go
Morning Star Online
Mr Gaspar said he lacked public support for the austerity programme the PM had brought him in to carry out. Mr Portas, who has demanded greater emphasis on growth measures, said he could not accept Mr Gaspar’s replacement, former junior finance 
See all stories on this topic »
Corporations Pay Lower Tax Rates Than The Middle Class
ThinkProgress
Simply put, “austerity fatigue” has the government that’s enforced steep cuts to public services on the brink of collapse. After the minister in charge of austerity plans resigned Monday, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho appointed a replacement who …
See all stories on this topic »
 
Portugal: The Price of Austerity
Council on Foreign Relations (blog)
The leader of the junior coalition partner CDS-PP resigned yesterday, complaining that the new Finance Minister (Maria Luís Albuquerque, replacing Vítor Gaspar who resigned Monday) represented a “mere continuity” of failed austerity policies. While it 
See all stories on this topic »
 
Greece pressed on austerity
Investor’s Business Daily
The next 8.1 bil euro bailout installment may be broken into smaller payments, the top eurozone finance minister said, as lenders push Athens to meet demands for economic reforms and gov’t job cuts. Greece doesn’t need the full payment at once, and …
See all stories on this topic »
Political turmoil rattles Europe’s fragile economies
Globe and Mail
 past several months. Political instability in Portugal, combined with troubles in Greece and Italy, raise the prospect of an austerity backlash, rather than the gaping budget deficits that have been a hallmark of the debt crisis in the 17-member 
See all stories on this topic »
 
 

Europe’s New Dismal Jobless Numbers


The euro zone has registered yet another record high unemployment rate of 12.2%, European statistics agency Eurostat reports on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Italy, the third-largest economy in the currency bloc, reported a first quarter jobless rate of 12.8%, the highest in the 36 years this data has been collected, Meanwhile youth unemployment rose to a staggering 40.5%, also an all-time record high, reports Il Sole 24 Ore.

Here is a breakdown of the alarming numbers:

-More than 26 million people unemployed in the 27-member European Union.

-More than 19 million unemployed in the 17-country euro zone.

-Euro zone average: 12.2%

-European Union average: 11%

Highest rates:

Greece: 27% in February 2013

Spain: 26.8%

Portugal: 17.8%

Lowest rates:

Austria: 4.9%

Germany: 5.4%

Luxemburg: 5.6%

In comparison, the United States was 7.5% down from 7.6% in the previous month and 8.1% in April 2012.

Youth unemployment:

-Euro zone youth unemployment: 24.4% up from 24.2% in January 2013.

-European Union under-25 unemployment: 23.5% down from 23.6% in January 2013.

Euro area inflation expected to be on the rise:

via Europe’s New Dismal Jobless Numbers – All News Is Global |.

Austerity could only ever bring Europe so far


There can be no solution to the European Union’s crisis without restructuring economic and monetary union

By

László Andor, Pervenche Berès, Joan Burton, Yves Leterme and Henri Malosse- The Guardian 

spain unemployment

Demonstrators in tents protest in Madrid about a youth unemployment rate of 40%. ‘The target must be full employment.’ Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP

Economic prosperity and social progress are key European Union goals. But for the past five years it has delivered neither. It has been in a double-dip recession since mid-2011, with unemployment now at a record high of 11% and no tangible improvement in sight.

The crisis has lasted longer in Europe than in the US or the rest of the world mainly because of poorly designed monetary union, without an appropriate framework of rules for banks and other financial institutions or sufficiently robust budgetary instruments.

So far the EU has only deployed the minimum collective response necessary for the euro’s survival: conditional emergency loans to troubled countries, conditional bond-buying by the European Central Bank, tougher economic policy co-ordination, and tighter restrictions on governments’ debts to assure markets of countries’ responsibility.

However, the reality of today’s eurozone is far too many people out of work, falling internal demand, increasing polarisation within societies – and a yawning chasm dividing relatively prosperous core countries from a periphery destined for depression. Without boosting macroeconomic demand, making labour markets more flexible in troubled EU countries – while often necessary – will not in itself create sufficient jobs.

Moreover, the pressure to make far-reaching “adjustments” often means that there is limited time to discuss reforms with trade unions and employers’ organisations before they are introduced, undermining reforms’ sustainability and sometimes leading to social unrest. Many citizens feel increasingly disconnected from national politics, and even more so from European decision-making, over which they feel they have little influence.

The real economy is being stifled by debt incurred by poorly regulated and supervised banks and other financial institutions in the pre-2008 age of easy money. As banks need to shrink their balance sheets, they are reluctant to lend to companies in the real economy. Meanwhile, the recession is pushing more households and companies into serious financial difficulties. All in all, Europe has not yet succeeded in eliminating uncertainty, and its people have paid a high price for this. The conclusion is clear: we will not recover through incremental steps that just appease the financial markets for a few months.

In the past year the EU policy debate has rightly shifted towards growth, as opposed to “austerity only”. But we still lack a robust recovery strategy worthy of the name. Such a strategy would require a new policy mix based on the following elements.

First, we must urgently set up an EU-level banking union to restructure or close down failed banks. Companies need access to more credit, under better conditions, to invest and grow. Europe’s financial sector must cut its debts faster, including through greater debt write-offs and shaking up banking structures.

Second, consolidation in weaker member states needs to be balanced by higher consumption in stronger EU countries. The monetary union cannot rely solely on squeezing troubled countries, which depresses overall demand. “Symmetrical rebalancing” requires structural measures in stronger countries, such as allowing wages to catch up with productivity and adequate minimum wages to prevent in-work poverty.

Third, if weaker member states are to regain competitiveness while keeping the euro, they need investment in the real economy. This must be based on sophisticated industrial policy and support for entrepreneurship, so that restructuring produces sustainable business models. If used wisely, EU funds such as the European social fund can be a major source of financial support, together with the European Investment Bank.

Fourth, Europe’s monetary policy must become more expansionary. The ECB has bought Europe time through its bond-buying pledge, turning itself into a conditional lender of last resort. That is to be welcomed. But it is becoming increasingly clear that Europe’s financial crisis cannot be overcome in a deflationary environment, so a different inflation outlook is necessary. We must rethink the ECB’s role and powers.

Fifth, Europe must invest in human capital – creating opportunities for people. EU ministers have agreed  a youth guarantee, to ensure that every young person gets a job, apprenticeship or learning opportunity within four months of becoming unemployed. Now individual member states must put it into practice. Similar “social investment” must be boosted across the board – for example, through the provision of quality childcare and the re-skilling of older workers. The target must be full employment.

European leaders should focus on finding a systemic, long-term solution to the crisis, restoring each country’s growth potential and convergence within the monetary union. Europe should convene a Bretton Woods-type conference to put in place an economic and monetary arrangement for the coming decades.

For such a lasting arrangement, a grand bargain between surplus and deficit countries is needed, ensuring a sustainable economic future for each. Some pooling of government debt, and cross-country automatic stabilisers (where, for example, the costs of cyclical unemployment are shared between the member states by using common European funds) should be seriously considered for Europe’s monetary union.

Rebalancing through aggressive reduction of government spending and similar measures in deficit countries (under the euphemism “internal devaluation”) is, without higher domestic demand in the surplus countries, a recipe for long-lasting recession and disintegration. There is no solution to the crisis without reconstructing Europe’s economic and monetary union, and without shifting the focus on to people’s needs and potential. Austerity could only ever bring us so far. We must now move to the next stage.

via Austerity could only ever bring Europe so far | László Andor | Comment is free | The Guardian.

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

OLD HOLLYWOOD IN COLOR

...because it was never black & white

LEANNE COLE

Art and Practice

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.

FilmBunker

Saving you from one cinematic disaster at a time.

From 1 Blogger 2 Another

Sharing Great Blog Posts

Wonders in the Dark

Cinema, music, opera, books, television, theater

Just Reviews

Just another WordPress.com site

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

conradbrunstrom

Things I never thunk before.

News from the San Diego Becks

The life and times of Erik, Veronica and Thomas

The Silent Film Quarterly

The Only Magazine Dedicated To Silent Cinema

Leaden Circles

First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air.

My Archives

because the internet is not forever

CineSocialUK

Up to the minute, fair, balanced, informed film reviews.

PUZZLED PAGAN PRESENTS

A Shrine to Pop Culture Obsessiveness. With Lots of Spoilers

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be” – Peter DeVries

thedullwoodexperiment

Viewing movies in a different light

Twenty Four Frames

Notes on Film by John Greco

Suzanne's Mom's Blog

Arts, Nature, Family, Good Works, Luna & Stella Birthstone Jewelry

It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

... it just has to sound plausible

NJ Corporate Portrait Photographer Blog

The life of a corporate portrait photographer who likes to shoot just about anything.

arwenaragornstar

A French girl's musings...

Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)

Australian movie blog - like Margaret and David, just a little younger

Octopus Films

A place for new perspectives on films, TV, media and entertainment.

scifist 2.0

A sci-fi movie history in reviews

The Reviewer's Corner

The Sometimes Serious Corner of the Internet for Anime, Manga, and Comic Reviews

First Impressions

Notes on Films and Culture

1,001 Movies Reviewed Before You Die

Where I Review One of the 1,001 Movies You Should Watch Before you Die Every Day

Movies Galore of Milwaukee

Movie Galore takes a look at Silent films on up to current in development projects and gives their own opinion on what really does happen in film!

The Catwing Has Landed

A Writer's Blog About Life and Random Things

mibih.wordpress.com/

Anime - Movies - Wrestling

Gabriel Diego Valdez

Movies and how they change you.

The Horror Incorporated Project

Lurking among the corpses are the body snatchers....plotting their next venture into the graveyard....the blood in your veins will run cold, your spine tingle, as you look into the terror of death in tonight's feature....come along with me into the chamber of horrors, for an excursion through.... Horror Incorporated!

Relatos desde mi ventana

Sentimientos, emociones y reflexiones

Teri again

Finding Me; A site about my life before and after a divorce

unveiled rhythms

Life In Verses

Gareth Roberts

Unorthodox Marketing & Strategy

leeg schrift

Taalarmen

100 Films in a Year

12 months. 100 films. Hopefully.

%d bloggers like this: