The war on economic terror
There's a new war on terror about to hit off in my country.
This time, the terrorists are not armed with guns or bombs, they are armed with economic weapons of mass destruction.
On october 7, there was a strike by the socialist union in my country (Belgium) against the ongoing negotiations with the goverment and industrial bodies about employment.
Yesterday, all three uninions rejected the current proposal and a general strike on october 28 was announced. The government has publicly announced that they will execute their plans without the support of the people and despite any actions we may take.
What's the problem
The current government has consistenly favoured companies and the rich in their policies. But they have taken it one step too far.
They have given huge tax breaks to corporations, supposedly to fuel the economy and to create jobs. None of this has actually happened, the money is gone and unemployment is reaching a record high.
Their latest proposal is intended to keep people working longer (raising the pension age). This will off course shift unemployment to the younger generations who would otherwise replace people going on pension.
But, they didn't stop there. People who get downsized get a punishment, and their employer a break again. People have to participate in so-called employment-cells. The time they spent doing this is deducted from the fee the employer has to pay for terminating the contract.
This is becoming an act of economic terror!
What caused it
The governments is having dificulties in paying the pensions of an aging population with fewer young people working. This is off course an impossible problem, because the aging population has paid for it's own pensions during the course of their carreers. So, where is that money one would ask?
The answer is: "it's gone". Instead of putting the money into some kind of savings account or investing it, it was used to pay for other things like guns, roads, schools in the past, when the economy was booming. So, we are in this mess because the previous goverments wasted people's pension money.
We need to stand up to this and we need to do it now. Already, the rights we have acquired over time are being eroded. Some people are even questioning the right to strike.
I do not have a one-in-all solution for the current problem. But there are two things we need to take into account. How to fix the current problem, and how to avoid the same problem in the future.
One thing we need for corporations to realize is that they have to respect people. We have to keep them from producing in countries that do not have protection of workers (minimum wages etc).
We (the EU countries) are in the best postition to do this. Corporations like to forget that the community they use for workers here is also their consumer base. If we stop consuming their products, what will they do?
What if we were to block all products that are produced in countries without social protection from our markets?
What if we shifted the taxes on labour onto sales taxes, this would level the prices off local products and those produced in low-cost countries, additionally, having a machine or a person do work would be equally expensive.
To avoid the same mess in the future, we should ensure that the money we pay today for our own pensions is not wasted. We need to ensure that the government invests it properly so they can pay us what they owe later.
Written by Guy Van Sanden
Licensed under a creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.