The New York Times reports on the disaster that is overtaking Spain:
[Eating garbage is] becoming increasingly commonplace here, with an unemployment rate over 50 percent among young people and more and more households having adults without jobs. So pervasive is the problem of scavenging that one Spanish city has resorted to installing locks on supermarket trash bins as a public health precaution.
A report this year by a Catholic charity, Caritas, said that it had fed nearly one million hungry Spaniards in 2010, more than twice as many as in 2007. That number rose again in 2011 by 65,000.
As Spain tries desperately to meet its budget targets, it has been forced to embark on the same path as Greece, introducing one austerity measure after another, cutting jobs, salaries, pensions and benefits, even as the economy continues to shrink.
Most recently, the government raised the value-added tax three percentage points, to 21 percent, on most goods, and two percentage points on many food items, making life just that much harder for those on the edge. Little relief is in sight as the country’s regional governments, facing their own budget crisis, are chipping away at a range of previously free services, including school lunches for low-income families.
For a growing number, the food in garbage bins helps make ends meet.
Not to worry, though -- the Spanish government is coming to the rescue with even more austerity:
Recession-hit Spaniards will this week be told to swallow yet more austerity as the government prepares a fresh round of reforms and another budget filled with spending cuts and tax increases that will allow it to seek a bailout from eurozone partners.
Pension freezes are also expected to form part of a raft measures to prepare the way for the European Central Bank (ECB) to give Spain support to control borrowing costs that will eat up a large chunk of next year's budget.
The budget is to be announced on Thursday, alongside the reform programme. Neither seemed likely to contain measures to immediately ease Spain's chronic 25% unemployment, which some analysts expect will rise to 26.5% next year.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: If it were the United States or the IMF or the World Bank imposing these policies on Spain, the German press would be aflame with proudly one-sided articles like this one (g) from 1983 (the neoliberal policies imposed by the 'Chicago Boys' on Chile have led to ruin and misery) or this one (g) from 2009 (the IMF and World Bank are forcing policy changes on developing countries by means of debt and poverty) and we'd see websites like this one (g) (advocating debt forgiveness for developing nations).
When international institutions impose those dreaded 'neoliberal' policies, the mainstream German press knows just who is to blame, and righteously thumps the tub, writing articles that read like attac press releases. When Germany does the same thing, the issue suddenly appears in fifty shades of grey, so to speak, and we are reminded that the nations affected have been 'living beyond their means' and that there is 'no alternative' but for them to get their house in order, no matter how painful that might be.
An instructive contrast!