Social unrest in 2011

Written by  //  December 14, 2011  //  Rights & Social justice  //  5 Comments

Time names ‘The Protester’
as Person of the Year
Dissenters ‘redefining people power’
around the world
The magazine cited dissent across the Middle East
that has spread around the globe. (Time/Associated Press)
“Massive and effective street protest” was a global oxymoron until — suddenly, shockingly — starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester once again became a maker of history.

For a lighter moment – there are so few – Tear gas? Woof! It’s Sausage the Athens riot dog
(Reuters) – There he is, yelping with delight as the youths start hurling chunks of paving stones, barking his admonition at a cordon of cops fending off petrol bombs, sneezing as he scampers through the tear gas.
Meet Sausage the riot dog, an amiable ginger mongrel resident of Syntagma Square in central Athens, who doesn’t mind if you show up for a day of mayhem as long as he can join in.
Where the 1% Live
Occupy Wall Street and its companion movements throughout the world have focused attention on the top 1 percent of the income distribution, which raises the question—where do those 1 percent live?
Internal Revenue Service data shows that the top 1 percent are largely executives, managers or financial professionals, while smaller numbers are doctors or lawyers. But because the IRS data suppresses the locations of many of the very highest-income households, it isn’t actually possible to say where the top 1 percent live.
However, it is possible to figure out the locations of households with incomes of $200,000 and up (approximately the top 3 percent in 2008, the latest year for which IRS geographic data is available. Nationally the income cutoff for the top 1 percent was $380,354 in 2008).
These very high-income households are disproportionately metropolitan. This begs the question of all the other places the 1% have homes – they would only file personal taxes from one address.


Russian security council chief wants Web regulation
(Reuters) – The Internet must be subject to “reasonable regulation,” the head of Russia’s Security Council said in remarks published on Wednesday, a fresh sign of Kremlin concern about the use of social networks to promote anti-government protests. | Full Article
1 December
Pranab Bardhan: More Unequal than Others
(Project Syndicate) Inequality is on the public’s mind almost everywhere nowadays. Indeed, in the world’s two largest democracies, India and the United States, widespread popular movements against rising inequality and elite greed are becoming highly salient issues in looming national elections.
Yet, in both countries, some social inequalities have been on the decline over the last few decades. In India, certain historically disadvantaged groups (particularly among the lower castes) are now politically assertive. The most egregious vestiges of caste discrimination are gradually disappearing. Similarly, in the US, discrimination against women, African-Americans, Latinos, and homosexuals is declining.
These developments reflect a democratic advance in both countries. At the same time, however, the fabric of democracy is being torn apart by a staggering rise in economic inequality.
25 November
Paul Krugman: We Are the 99.9%
For who are the 0.1 percent? Very few of them are Steve Jobs-type innovators; most of them are corporate bigwigs and financial wheeler-dealers. One recent analysis found that 43 percent of the super-elite are executives at nonfinancial companies, 18 percent are in finance and another 12 percent are lawyers or in real estate. And these are not, to put it mildly, professions in which there is a clear relationship between someone’s income and his economic contribution.
Executive pay, which has skyrocketed over the past generation, is famously set by boards of directors appointed by the very people whose pay they determine; poorly performing C.E.O.’s still get lavish paychecks, and even failed and fired executives often receive millions as they go out the door.
Meanwhile, the economic crisis showed that much of the apparent value created by modern finance was a mirage. As the Bank of England’s director for financial stability recently put it, seemingly high returns before the crisis simply reflected increased risk-taking — risk that was mostly borne not by the wheeler-dealers themselves but either by naïve investors or by taxpayers, who ended up holding the bag when it all went wrong. And as he waspishly noted, “If risk-making were a value-adding activity, Russian roulette players would contribute disproportionately to global welfare.”
Occupy Everywhere: Michael Moore, Naomi Klein on Next Steps for the Movement Against Corporate Power
(Democracy Now!) How does the Occupy Wall Street movement move from “the outrage phase” to the “hope phase,” and imagine a new economic model?
5 November
(IPS) The Occupy movement has taken root well beyond Wall Street, inspiring thousands of dissatisfied workers and youth at Japan’s Occupy Tokyo demonstrations, which focused mostly on labour rights. At Occupy Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, hundreds of protesters are tackling local social and environmental issues in addition to the global financial crisis. And at Occupy Minar-e-Pakistan in the city of Lahore, a 100,000-strong crowd showed up to support cricket-idol turned politician Imran Khan, who analysts say is now a force to be reckoned with in the country’s turbulent political scene.
The Broken Contract — Inequality and American Decline
(Foreign Affairs November|December 2011) Like an odorless gas, economic inequality pervades every corner of the United States and saps the strength of its democracy. Over the past three decades, Washington has consistently favored the rich — and the more wealth accumulates in a few hands at the top, the more influence and favor the rich acquire, making it easier for them and their political allies to cast off restraint without paying a social price.
29 October
Occupy Europe: How a generation went from indifferent to indignant
Occupy Europe? From Madrid to Athens, young people facing a bleak future are casting doubt on European identity.
In some 40 in-depth interviews with under-30 youth in Spain, Greece, Britain, and France, the single point of agreement was the youths’ distrust of leaders. This is Europe’s first generation since World War II to have fewer prospects than their parents, and for now, they blame the politicians. The most common word they used to describe their lives: complicated.
(CSM) The youth of Puerta del Sol have taken some of their inspiration from the youth of the Arab Spring. Both groups have directly inspired young members of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in America. Indeed, from Latin America to the Middle East to China, the issue of jobless youth has become a worrisome global trend – what one British minister calls a “ticking time bomb.”
Yet each of these revolts is also rooted in its own grievances, with consequences that will be similarly singular. Few are more important than the growing restiveness of Europe’s young masses, both because of the size and breadth of the protests and because they come at a time when Europe’s finances – and collective identity – is increasingly fragile.
28 October
The Second Gilded Age — Has America Become an Oligarchy?
(Spiegel) The Occupy Wall Street movement is just one example of the sudden outbreak of tension between America’s super-rich and the “other 99 percent.” Experts now say the US has entered a second Gilded Age, but one in which hedge fund managers have replaced oil barons — and are killing the American dream.
17 October
Chris Hedges: A Movement Too Big to Fail
(Truthdig) There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking. So do Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi. So do the array of “liberal” groups and institutions, including the press, that have worked to funnel discontented voters back into the swamp of electoral politics and mocked those who called for profound structural reform.
Resistance, real resistance, to the corporate state was displayed when a couple of thousand protesters, clutching mops and brooms, early Friday morning forced the owners of Zuccotti Park and the New York City police to back down from a proposed attempt to expel them in order to “clean” the premises.
Europe’s Politicians Side with the Protesters
(Spiegel) Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Europe and around the world this weekend to protest against the global banking system. Politicians in Europe, engaged in their own dispute with the banks, stood firmly on the side of the demonstrators.
Taken together, though, the hundreds of anti-bank protests held in over 80 countries around the world on Saturday — an outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States — have been difficult to ignore. And an increasing number of politicians have launched efforts to tap into the anti-bank anger.
13 October
Nouriel Roubini: The Instability of Inequality
(Project Syndicate) While these protests have no unified theme, they express in different ways the serious concerns of the world’s working and middle classes about their prospects in the face of the growing concentration of power among economic, financial, and political elites. The causes of their concern are clear enough: high unemployment and underemployment in advanced and emerging economies; inadequate skills and education for young people and workers to compete in a globalized world; resentment against corruption, including legalized forms like lobbying; and a sharp rise in income and wealth inequality in advanced and fast-growing emerging-market economies. …
the laissez-faire Anglo-Saxon model has also now failed miserably. To stabilize market-oriented economies requires a return to the right balance between markets and provision of public goods. That means moving away from both the Anglo-Saxon model of unregulated markets and the continental European model of deficit-driven welfare states. Even an alternative “Asian” growth model – if there really is one – has not prevented a rise in inequality in China, India, and elsewhere.
Any economic model that does not properly address inequality will eventually face a crisis of legitimacy. Unless the relative economic roles of the market and the state are rebalanced, the protests of 2011 will become more severe, with social and political instability eventually harming long-term economic growth and welfare.
Eliot Spitzer: Occupy Wall Street Has Already Won
How the movement has already shaken up American politics, and where it should go from here.
(Slate) Suddenly, the issues of equity, fairness, justice, income distribution, and accountability for the economic cataclysm–issues all but ignored for a generation—are front and center. We have moved beyond the one-dimensional conversation about how much and where to cut the deficit. Questions more central to the social fabric of our nation have returned to the heart of the political debate. By forcing this new discussion, OWS has made most of the other participants in our politics—who either didn’t want to have this conversation or weren’t able to make it happen—look pretty small.
(CBC) Occupy Canada rallies spread in economic ‘awakening’
10 October
Why Occupy Wall Street is Not the Tea Party of the Left

(Foreign Affairs) Unlike other movements, the rallies across the United States have no distinct constituency, put forward few policy proposals, and have a shifting configuration of supporters. They are something new. These are “we are here” protests. See also How Occupy Wall Street Works — The power of protest comes from its capacity to disrupt business as usual. As long as protesters believe they are making progress through other means, they will not resort to violence.
8 October
Occupy America: protests against Wall Street and inequality hit 70 cities
The generation that opposed Vietnam has joined Facebook anarchists amid anger at tax breaks for the rich while ordinary folk tighten their belts
EU ‘indignants’ camp out in Brussels park
(AFP) The protesters have walked, some for months, from as far as Spain’s Atlantic coast to converge on Brussels where EU leaders will stage a summit dominated by Europe’s debt crisis on October 17-18.
Their aim is to hold a nightly alternative parliament in the park from October 8 to 15, modelled on Spanish protests and a similar gathering in central Athens’ Syntagma Square, ahead of a big public rally on October 15.
3 women share the Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Committee has awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to three women for working to promote democracy, security and women’s rights. Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni opposition leader Tawakkul Karman will split the $1.5 million prize. Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland praised the women for “their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” The Washington Post (10/7)
10 September
Mexico’s “Indignados” Have Had It Up to Here

(Truthout) The hundred organizations that cooperated in organizing the zocalo protest called their rally the National Day of Indignant Mexicans. Their purpose was to present an alternative to the “official” picture painted by Calderon, and to call for a different direction for the country. They charged that, in five years, the number of Mexicans in poverty has grown by ten million, that working income has dropped by a third and that three million more people find themselves jobless. The crisis has hit especially hard at young people, who are the fastest growing segment of the population. Seven million of them can’t find work and have no money to go to school.
15 August
Riots: the political battle lines are drawn

(The Independent) PM blames children without fathers and schools without discipline, while Ed Miliband blames bankers and MPs for failing to set a better example for society. Plus links to a number of related articles
14 August
Thomas Friedman: A Theory of Everything (Sort of)
LONDON burns. The Arab Spring triggers popular rebellions against autocrats across the Arab world. The Israeli Summer brings 250,000 Israelis into the streets, protesting the lack of affordable housing and the way their country is now dominated by an oligopoly of crony capitalists. From Athens to Barcelona, European town squares are being taken over by young people railing against unemployment and the injustice of yawning income gaps, while the angry Tea Party emerges from nowhere and sets American politics on its head.
There are multiple and different reasons for these explosions, but to the extent they might have a common denominator I think it can be found in one of the slogans of Israel’s middle-class uprising: “We are fighting for an accessible future.” Across the world, a lot of middle- and lower-middle-class people now feel that the “future” is out of their grasp, and they are letting their leaders know it.
Why now? It starts with the fact that globalization and the information technology revolution have gone to a whole new level. Thanks to cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected.
This is the single most important trend in the world today. And it is a critical reason why, to get into the middle class now, you have to study harder, work smarter and adapt quicker than ever before. All this technology and globalization are eliminating more and more “routine” work — the sort of work that once sustained a lot of middle-class lifestyles.
… So let’s review: We are increasingly taking easy credit, routine work and government jobs and entitlements away from the middle class — at a time when it takes more skill to get and hold a decent job, at a time when citizens have more access to media to organize, protest and challenge authority and at a time when this same merger of globalization and I.T. is creating huge wages for people with global skills (or for those who learn to game the system and get access to money, monopolies or government contracts by being close to those in power) — thus widening income gaps and fueling resentments even more.
Put it all together and you have today’s front-page news.
Roger Cohen: The age of outrage
… The fury and vandalism in major British cities follows huge social protests this year in Greece, where violence also flared, and in Spain, where tens of thousands have camped out in the streets from Madrid to Barcelona. Other nations, including Portugal, have seen a diffuse anger rooted in a shared conviction: things can’t go on like this. This European malaise is no stranger to a United States of high unemployment, economic bafflement, ideological radicalization and political pettiness.
Numbers tell part of the story. Youth unemployment in the 27-nation European Union stands at just over 20 percent, ranging as high as 45.7 percent in Spain and 38.5 percent in Greece. In Britain youth unemployment has risen from 14 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to 20 percent in the first quarter of 2011. About one in every five young European and young American is wondering how to get any sort of working life on track.
13 August
Howard Jacobson: They may be criminals, but we’re the ones who have created them
That form of looting known as corporate larceny continues to rage unchecked
(The Independent) The one shop not looted in Clapham Junction last week was Waterstone’s. A golden opportunity to nick a Harry Potter, or Anthony Giddens’ Sociology: A Brief but Critical Introduction, spurned. So that’s the end of the argument that looters were protesting against the high cost of acquiring an education.
Except it isn’t. You can’t identify a cause by isolating an effect. Punching someone in the face while making off with a pair of trainers you don’t even bother to try on … might not look like an expression of political disaffection, and every looter I’ve heard speak has spoken gibberish, but the best of us don’t always know why we do what we do, just as the most intelligent can’t always articulate their frustration. So I’m not buying the “criminality pure and simple” argument. Nothing is “pure and simple”, least of all criminality, whose roots have troubled thinkers from the moment mankind began to think.
12 August
Israel’s ‘social protests’ rattle Netanyahu government
(BBC) Last Saturday, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of a Middle Eastern city.
Demanding change, they were fed up with the ruling elite and said their government was no longer listening to its people.
But this was not Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. This was Israel.
Cameron’s law: PM planning crackdown
(The Independent) Police to have power to shut down social networks, remove hoodies and facial coverings, while looters could lose homes and benefits.
EUROPE’S ANGRY YOUTH Flash Points Across the Continent
(Spiegel) Violent riots like those that raged through London and Britain this week have rung the alarm bell for politicians. Frustration is also high among young people in other nations across Europe. As the gap between rich and poor widens, the next outbreak could happen in a number of countries.
…  Cameron’s government has described the rioters as criminals looking to plunge the country into chaos, but that’s only part of the truth. A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveals another piece of the puzzle: Of all the European Union countries, only Portugal is home to greater wealth disparity than Great Britain. SPIEGEL ONLINE has compiled an interactive guide to potential youth flashpoints in Europe
11 August
An Open Letter to David Cameron’s Parents
by Nathaniel Tapley
Why did you never take the time to teach your child basic morality?
(Common Dreams) As a young man, he was in a gang that regularly smashed up private property. We know that you were absent parents who left your child to be brought up by a school rather than taking responsibility for his behaviour yourselves. The fact that he became a delinquent with no sense of respect for the property of others can only reflect that fact that you are terrible, lazy human beings who failed even in teaching your children the difference between right and wrong. I can only assume that his contempt for the small business owners of Oxford is indicative of his wider values.
Even worse, your neglect led him to fall in with a bad crowd. British political commentary at its best – humourous and informative
London riots point to much wider risks of youth unrest
By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent
(Reuters) – Young, lacking opportunity, angry at the system and organising phenomenally fast over social media, London’s rioters show some of the same characteristics as the pro-democracy demonstrators of the “Arab Spring”.
But while those in the Middle East have marched in the hope of positive change, Britain’s violence has been almost nihilist, focused on looting and a quick burst of the sort of publicity and power inner-city youth feel they have long been denied.
Across the world, the financial crisis may leave a whole generation of young people with opportunities that fall well short of their aspirations, perhaps to the point where they might even abandon hope for the future at all.
The Sons of Brixton
Cameron’s Failed Politics of Austerity
The riots are set against the backdrop of Britain’s ongoing fiscal and sovereign debt crisis and the coalition government’s politics of austerity. They illustrate the critical connection between class politics and fiscal retrenchment.
(BBC) Riots in London and around the country over the last five days have seen widespread looting and buildings set alight. Dozens were left homeless after a night of riots on the streets of Tottenham on Saturday after a peaceful demonstration over the death of a man who was shot by police turned violent. Here is a timeline of what happened, starting with most recent events.
10 August
The Kids Aren’t Alright: What’s really behind Britain’s wave of youth violence?
(Reuters) What happened in London — and is now happening in Birmingham and Manchester — is not an obviously political protest; there are no banners on display, no clear demands being made. But it’s not simply a large-scale crime wave either. The perpetrators — mostly young men and women (some as young as 11) — acted in public. So what touched off such wanton destruction?
Westminster vows to evict social tenants involved in riots
Local authorities take tough stance on tenants involved in riots and looting, backed by housing minister Grant Shapps
[How does making marginalized people homeless as well improve the situation?]
Rioters without a cause
(Reuters) Most demonstrations have spokespeople, who sooner or later – usually sooner – seek to make their cause known and attract support to it. The cause might be, as in Glasgow, jobs and dignity; or it might be protests against racial discrimination, of which London has seen a few over the past three decades; or it might be against immigration. All of these, however much opposition they raise, had content and demands.
But the London demonstrations, and those in Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham, have no spokespeople.
RCI reports that “A British lawmaker has blamed the Canadian-made BlackBerry smartphone for having aggravated the ongoing social riots in Britain. David Lammy says use of the BlackBerry is enabling unsophisticated criminals to outsmart the police. BlackBerry messaging used to organize looting in London What will this do for/to RIM stock? We see a great ad campaign … 
9 August
Laurie Penny: Panic on the streets of London. A finely crafted personal account
(Penny Red) I’m huddled in the front room with some shell-shocked friends, watching my city burn. The BBC is interchanging footage of blazing cars and running street battles in Hackney, of police horses lining up in Lewisham, of roiling infernos that were once shops and houses in Croydon and in Peckham. Last night, Enfield, Walthamstow, Brixton and Wood Green were looted; there have been hundreds of arrests and dozens of serious injuries, and it will be a miracle if nobody dies tonight. This is the third consecutive night of rioting in London, and the disorder has now spread to Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham. Politicians and police officers who only hours ago were making stony-faced statements about criminality are now simply begging the young people of Britain’s inner cities to go home. Britain is a tinderbox, and on Friday, somebody lit a match. How the hell did this happen? And what are we going to do now?
Riots in London: London burns
… the prediction that I am least sure of, but which, if prescient, would be the most profound. Could there be a general hardening of public opinion towards not only crime (where public opinion cannot get much harder) but also welfare and other social issues?
(The Economist|Blighty) TO TOTTENHAM and Brixton, add Croydon, Clapham, Ealing, Lewisham, Hackney, Bethnal Green and Barking. The riots that began in Tottenham, north London, on August 6th, following the death of a local man in a police incident, have spread to other parts of the capital, and not just poor ones.
7 August

Fire rages through a building in Tottenham, north London, on Saturday night during the worst riots since Brixton. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA
Tottenham riots: a peaceful protest, then suddenly all hell broke loose
(The Guardian) Shops looted, vehicle torched and police injured in full-scale riot that spread across north-London suburbs
Netanyahu responds to Israeli protests
(FT) The prime minister names a cabinet-level panel to address the demands of demonstrators after 250,000 Israelis took to the streets on Saturday
Israelis plan million-strong march as protesters call for social justice
Campaigners vow ‘more pressure and more people’ after 300,000-strong demonstration across country
(The Guardian) … The social protests have become the most pressing issue for the Israeli government, with the potential, according to some commentators, to topple Netanyahu’s coalition. Opinion polls have put public support for the protests at around 90%. Protest leaders have insisted that bringing the government down is not their aim.
14 July
Spain’s indignants – Europe’s most earnest protesters
They may not know what they want, but they are starting to get it
7 June
The Rage of the ‘Indignants’

A European Generation Takes to the Streets
(Spiegel) For weeks, hundreds of young people have been camping out in central Madrid. And others across Europe have now begun following their example. Protests in Lisbon, Paris, Athens and elsewhere show that Europe’s lost generation has finally found its voice.
There is a feeling that unites young people throughout Europe, namely the belief that they will not be able to attain the same level of prosperity as their parents did. They feel that they have no future. They are well-trained, and yet they are not finding any jobs. This feeling has been smoldering for years, affecting the generation of “crisis children,” who grew up in a world shaped by economic and other crises, but who never took to the streets to fight for their interests.

5 Comments on "Social unrest in 2011"

  1. Guy Stanley October 12, 2011 at 9:17 pm ·

    Why Occupy Wall Street is Not the Tea Party of the Left — I had the occasion last weekend to visit the occupation in NYC. Its “look and feel” is that of a typical North American social protest– lots of music and banners, a chaotic trade fair of non-violent protest and a lot of political discussion. The protesters are in Zuccotti park because the police more or less corralled them there. What makes it “different this time” is that everyone is wired to the internet with cameras and cell phones and there is a bank of computers running a real time website and collecting supporting signatures. ( This is very possibly why the Bloomberg City admin has decided to let them stay there as long as they remain law-abiding, despite the massive overtime bills they are paying the police. The main secret of its success so far is that, as the article points out, simply by its presence the occupation is manifesting “indignation” at what politicians have generated over the last 30 years or so. By thus characterizing the issue as “Being or Nothing”–i.e. a Sartrian existential presence embodying a Hegelian moment of refusal —(oops! apologies for a BHL moment-it will soon pass) — the Occupation is making it almost impossible to be demonized by opponents. The occupation is a mass presence which is telling the political classes to deliver what it takes to make the US a political success–a responsive system that serves the real needs of its people–and in today’s world, a pre-condition for continued economic success. Talk about “the wisdom of crowds”.

  2. Diana Thébaud Nicholson October 20, 2011 at 8:01 am ·

    The condescending tone of this piece is positively breathtaking – note the contrast with the piece by Michel Kelly-Gagnon, published in the Gazette.

    Lettre aux indignés :: Column by Nathalie Elgrably-Lévy, Senior Economist at the MEI (published on October 20 in Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec).
    Chaque jour, nous en apprenons davantage sur le mouvement « Occupons Wall Street » auquel vous participez. Nous savons qu’il s’agit d’un mouvement bien organisé et généreusement financé par divers groupes à vocation « sociale ». Nous voyons également que parmi votre groupe, plusieurs organisateurs tiennent un discours d’inspiration socialiste ou communiste.
    En revanche, il est clair qu’une bonne partie d’entre vous sont simplement, et à juste titre, des citoyens excédés par le népotisme, le clientélisme et le copinage éhonté entre le pouvoir et le monde des affaires. Vous êtes jeunes et inquiets pour votre avenir. Vous voulez une vie meilleure. On vous dit que le capitalisme est la cause de vos problèmes et que seule une révolution à saveur collectiviste améliorera votre sort.
    Comme le système d’éducation contemporain ne vous a enseigné ni l’histoire ni les fondements du communisme, vous devenez la cible des vendeurs de rêves qui vous présentent une vision romantique et idéalisée, mais carrément mensongère de cette philosophie. Toutefois, quand on aspire à changer le monde, l’ignorance est inacceptable! Voici donc quelques vérités que les apôtres du communisme ne vous révéleront jamais. En lire plus

  3. Michel Kelly-Gagnon October 21, 2011 at 7:49 am ·

    Protesters need a better understanding of the facts The Gazette 20 October (posted on the Montreal Economic Institute website
    The protesters do have a legitimate beef about the bailouts to the financial industry and other large companies. The fears of financial contagion that accompanied the recent (and lingering) recession motivated governments all over the world to spend or risk trillions of dollars to subsidize or support companies deemed to be “too big to fail.”
    I think that there would have been less overall damage, now and in the future, if some of these companies had been privately restructured.
    This being said, one should understand that business subsidies are, in normal years, a tiny proportion of government expenditures. For example, in 2008, according to Statistics Canada data, subsidies to businesses represented three per cent of all government expenditures (which totalled $562 billion at all levels of government). And this three-per-cent figure includes subsidies to businesses that operate in the agricultural sector.
    I suggest that the protesters’ goals and messages would be different if they got a better understanding of how the economy works and what the facts are. They would then be better able to put the main blame at the right place.
    Read full article

  4. Diana Thébaud Nicholson October 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm ·

    Paul Shrivastava: Coup de semonce
    Occupons Wall Street renforce la nécessité de mettre l’éthique au coeur de la formation des chefs d’entreprise. Au Harvard Business School, les étudiants de première et de deuxième années ne doivent suivre qu’un seul cours consacré à l’éthique, malgré plus de 2000 heures d’études. Cela est nettement insuffisant. Read full article in La Presse

  5. Guy Stanley December 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm ·

    Re Where the 1% live
    Hmmm. Interesting as always. The income measured must be that of individuals filing separately, without taking wealth into consideration. I suspect that household incomes over the $384,000 individual cut off must be a lot more numerous, as it is not unusual for two professionals living together in the US to amass over that in gross incomes (university towns are thus under-represented if the aim is to capture prosperous households). Nor is it unusual for small business receipts to be in the same ballpark or higher, with the owners preferring to capitalize most of the returns rather than pay higher rates of income tax. The 384K cut off anyway is way too low to capture the significant wealth accumulated by the US billionaire families. I suggest a better guide is the Forbes 400 list–which includes quite a few small towns in Arkansas and elsewhere in the west and south as well as the zip codes noted by the IRS.

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