"We, the people, are paying for the super rich"

"We, the people, are paying for the super rich"

30th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Analyst warns that European leaders are not aware yet of the real concerns of the general public, voters, consumers.

By ignoring the concerns of ordinary citizens who feel they are not to blame for the crisis, European leaders are in danger of unleashing another French revolution, according to independent environmental advisor Wouter van Dieren.

The two day EU summit in Brussels which ended on Friday (27 March) has done little more than promising to inject 5 billion into energy and internet projects, and possibly pledging 25 billion extra for Eastern Europe, but the 27 member states are adamant that there will be no big rescue package for the European economy.

Independent sustainability consultant, Wouter van Dieren, a member of the Club of Rome, told BNR Newsradio:

"I'm afraid that the European leaders are not aware yet of the real concerns of the general public, voters, consumers. When you see the current French uprising, it makes me think of the French revolution of 220 years ago. There is great anger among the public because they are having to foot the bill of the swindling financial markets over the past few years."


Arrests after crisis protests
Paris, 20 March 2009 - Hundreds of people have been arrested in rioting in several French cities. On Thursday, a general strike brought France to a standstill. At the end of the day there were clashes between demonstrators and police in the centre of Paris. Strikes in Marseilles and Toulouse also got out of hand.

Protestors dance in front of a fire at the end of France's second nationwide strike in two months, to demand a boost to wages and greater protection form the crisis, on 19 March 2009, in Paris. More than a million angry French workers and students took to the streets in a nationwide strike to force President Nicolas Sarkozy to boost wages and protect jobs as the economic crisis deepens. Riot police used tear gas to disperse about 200 youths who threw stones and other objects and lit fires in the street as the Paris march came to an end at Place de la Nation in Paris. Around 20 people were detained.

The demonstrators are calling on President Nicolas Sarkozy to improve purchasing power and prevent mass redundancies.
We, the poor, are paying
The general public are well aware, Van Dieren says, that many timely warnings were given about the instability of the global financial system. Now the whole system has exploded, or imploded, and now the governments are saying we will have to accept cuts.

Demonstrator in Paris"One of the slogans in France was: We the ordinary people, we the poor, we are being made to pay for the super rich and their misbehaviour. That is highly revolutionary, in the sense that we saw the same thing happen two hundred and twenty years ago. You cannot harness that anger by fobbing people off with one billion here and one billion there, you will have to show vision. A vision of society and how it will look in the future."

The EU summit does nothing but try and keep the holes plugged, as usual, Van Dieren says. Making cuts, stimulating expenditure, those are old instruments for the old economy for times when there was underexpenditure of too much government spending. The general public is very aware of the instability of the financial system caused by the misbehaviour of the financial top echelons. For consumer confidence to return, he says, a linkage has to be made between getting rid of that instability, and energy supplies and climate control.

A man wearing a mask walks in a street during the protests on 19 March 2009, in Paris.

Van Dieren is scathing about the EU summit's achievements, saying it is only paying lip service to climate. "I don't see it there. That's surprising because economic recovery is inseparable from climate and sustainable energy measures. If the EU leaders don't understand that they are trailing way behind what is happening in the world."

Wind power Van Dieren admits that the word 'energy' is mentioned, but he points out it is not 'sustainable energy'. The measures proposed by EU member states are inflationary, he argues. Keeping oil prices low, or providing facilities for big business to purchase large quantities of energy at reduced prices, are measures that ultimately lead to an exhaustion of funds.

There is a better way, Van Dieren suggests:

"Energy investments in capital goods, such as long-term energy systems, which do exist, something that lasts for decades like wind parks or solar energy, are not inflationary measures. That is the way to actually achieve something."

Rob Kievit

Radio Netherlands



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