Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

If economic policies don't make things better

Governments are preparing for civil unrest if economies don't recover soon. How would your students compare these cases? Could they find similar preparations in other countries they are studying?

Britain faces summer of rage - police: Middle-class anger at economic crisis could erupt into violence on streets

"Police are preparing for a "summer of rage" as victims of the economic downturn take to the streets to demonstrate against financial institutions, the Guardian has learned.

"Britain's most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming "footsoldiers" in a wave of potentially violent mass protests...

"The warning comes in the wake of often violent protests against the handling of the economy across Europe. In recent weeks Greek farmers have blocked roads over falling agricultural prices, a million workers in France joined demonstrations to demand greater protection for jobs and wages and Icelandic demonstrators have clashed with police in Reykjavik..."

China Fears Tremors as Jobs Vanish From Coast

"As the global economic crisis deepens and the demand for Chinese exports slackens, manufacturing jobs in the Pearl River Delta and all along the once-booming coast are disappearing at a stunning pace. Over the last few months, more than 20 million migrant workers have been cast into the ranks of the unemployed, depriving impoverished towns like Tanjia of the much-needed income the workers sent home...

"In a nation obsessed with social harmony, the well-being of China’s mobile work force has become the top priority for a government that has long seen its fortunes tied to those of the country’s 800 million rural dwellers. Mao’s revolution, after all, was fueled by embittered peasants, and it has not gone unnoticed in Beijing that decades of heady growth has fed a widening gap between urban residents and those who live in the rural interior.

"Although the government has not released updated information about rural unrest, officials have been strategizing about how best to keep large protests and riots from spreading, should the dispossessed grow unruly...

"To ameliorate the hardship of idled migrants, the central government has announced a series of initiatives that include vocational training, an expansion of rural health care and crop subsidies to ensure that those who return to the land can make a living despite a slump in agricultural prices. A $585 billion stimulus package introduced in November, much of it weighted toward labor-intensive construction projects, is also expected to absorb some of the newly unemployed..."

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