Europe’s Protests: The Times’ False Impartiality Toward Markets and Austerity

Published on New York Times eXaminer NYTX, by Chris Spannos, September 28, 2012.

Watch the video The General Strike in Greece, 3.23 min … //

… In “Markets Falter in Europe Amid Protests on Austerity,” Liz Alderman and Niki Kitsantonis place markets above people as tens of thousands took to the streets this week to protest government imposed austerity measures in Greece and Spain.   

On Tuesday, tens of thousands surrounded the Congress of Deputies in Spain under the banner of “Occupy Congress.” In Greece, the Times referenced a police spokeswoman in Athens who estimated the general strike turnout there to be 35,000 to 40,000 people. But by walking the length of the march numerous times, NYT eXaminer places the estimate at well over 50,000 (some report much higher). And in Portugal, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets last week.

Rather than reporting objectively on Greeks and Spaniards protesting against austerity measures, Alderman and Kitsantonis report in a way that obscures their paper’s underlying partiality towards markets that “shuddered” in response to the recent protests. They tell Times’ readers that this “political instability startled investors.”

Alderman and Kitsantonis buried the painful effect of markets on people in their story, “The proposed cuts in Greece have ignited new anger, with many talking openly of increased impoverishment as the nation grapples with a third round of austerity measures in three years.”

Another recent article similarly emphasizes the interests of markets over those who are forced to suffer their negative effects. In “Markets Tumble on Unrest in Greece and Spain,” Stephen Castle and David Jolly wrote “the euro zone crisis sent financial markets tumbling Wednesday as Greece faced a crippling 24-hour strike and Spain cleaned up after violent protests near the country’s Parliament” … //

… In a separate blog post “The Perils of Pointless Pain,” Krugman asks “Where does austerity fit in to this story?” And he answers, that “Mostly it doesn’t.” And Krugman asks a question that his colleagues at the paper fail to, “When do the people of the afflicted economies say that they can bear no more?”

The massive demonstrations in Portugal and Spain and the general strike in Greece suggest that many people in these austerity plagued nations may be approaching the limit of how much “they can bear.” Many have expressed a desire to address economic crisis at the root of the problem.

For Krugman, “the roots of the euro crisis lie not in government profligacy but in huge capital flows from the core (mainly Germany) to the periphery during the good years.” However insightful Krugman’s understanding, for many on the streets the crisis has systemic roots in the very foundation of the economic system.

Organizers with the Open Initiative for solidarity with workers in Saloniki who are taking back their factory as a means to deal with economic crisis told NYT eXaminer that “the crisis is, at first, the system itself. It’s not just a crisis that will go by and we’ll be better. Capitalism is the problem.” This view — that is rooted in the belief that the people should not be blindly ruled by markets or investors and that they should have democratic decision-making say over the things that affect them — is resonating with many people, including in the U.S., who have been hit hard by the current economic crisis.
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