Friday, April 08, 2011

Portugal: Childhood's End

So I spent a little time this morning clikcing around the Interweb Tubes, looking for some Portugese newspapers and opinion pieces. If you haven't seen the latest, the spanking by the EU will be done with a 2x4 and not just the palm of the hand.
April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Europe’s rich countries pushed Portugal to make deeper-than-planned budget cuts in the heat of an election campaign in exchange for an emergency aid package estimated at 80 billion euros ($115 billion).

In an unprecedented intervention in national politics, euro-area finance ministers said Portugal can win relief by mid- May as long as it makes cuts that go beyond measures that failed to pass parliament in March and led to the government’s downfall.
Emphasis mine. So they marched and chanted and their political leaders embodied their opposition to voluntary cuts that would have left them (temporarily) in charge of their own destinies. Now mathematics, which doesn't acknowledge the power of marching and chanting, has made its own decisions and they will be little more than a protectorate of the ECB and the EU.
In a sign of how Portugal has surrendered control of its fate, the EU will intrude on the political campaign by trying to broker a cross-party budget-cutting deal between Socrates and the opposition party led by Pedro Passos Coelho.
So just what is their analysis of their own position? I came across the opinion section of Jornal de Noticias which Google Translate informs me has these paragraphs, albeit in Portugese. Note that this page does not have a date and time stamp, so clicking on that link tomorrow will probably give you a different result. In any case, here's one newspaper's take on the situation.
And that, to me, is the most important lessons to draw from this whirlwind of events. The inevitability of a foreign aid - and that Socrates is quite right - there is more than the assumption of the inability of politicians to deal with the problems of the country. It is true that speculators and the rating agencies acted and act like hungry jackals (just watch them froth while gazing at Spain, new potential prey), but the luck in the gutter that now is not exactly surprise anyone. To paraphrase a character in the media, "was written in the stars" we would need outside help. And the truth is that the way we started. Over time more.
Google has muddled the translation a bit, but you can see that the author gets it, despite his finger pointing that the "speculators and the rating agencies acted and act like hungry jackals." "(T)he truth is that the way we started" is a good indication that they're taking responsiblity for this:

I'd suggest that Portugese society became infantile and possessed a childish view of the world. They looked to someone else to give them treats so they could do what they liked. The editorial is the words of someone who is waking up to what they've done. It's a cause for optimism.

In other news, President Obama's proposed FY12 budget has a planned deficit of over $1T. One wonders if he takes his meals from the Presidential High Chair.

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