One of the more lasting consequences of the tragic pandemic we have gone through for almost two years—besides the worst legacy of millions of lost lives, including some dear members of our own family—is the firm certitude that society changed. No longer we have the hopeful belief that tomorrow will be better than our present, with the suspicion that there might be another pandemic in the near future, with unforeseeable social, economic, and human costs to each and every one of us. No exceptions.
The barbaric Russian invasion of Ukraine has compounded all those fears of the inhabitants of the European continent, long accustomed to the economic bonanza and social harmony that the Post-World War II institutional order brought them. The raw images of civilian casualties from a senseless war in Europe has shaken the confidence of the still wealthy Europeans with the fear of worse times to come. One of the most affected countries has been France, with a generalized shutdown of all public lights at 9 PM sharp and the draconian restrictions of energy expenditures.
Note. This reproduction of Camille Pisarro’s Bountiful Harvest was taken from Wikimedia Commons.
Kim Willsher recently wrote in a The Guardian article: “Emmanuel Macron has warned the French they are facing sacrifices and what he called ‘the end of abundance’ at his government’s first cabinet meeting after the summer holidays. The president, speaking before ministers at the Elysée, said the country was at a ‘tipping point’ and faced a difficult winter and a new era of instability caused by climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…His cautionary and sombre speech, which were immediately criticized as ill-judged and a snub to the country’s out-of-work and poor who had already made sacrifices, came after a summer of extreme temperature, widespread wildfires , droughts and rains.”
In our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague we predicted that Western societies would make a re-evaluation of the critical role played by Minorities and the poorest members of society—overwhelmingly hired by the service industries to keep our communities functioning in times of extreme duress like a pandemic. The French unions reacted angrily to Macron’s words as they prepared to resist any legislative move to curtail their earned labor, unemployment, and pension benefits. However, the rest of French society tends to grudgingly agree that all the segments must share the sacrifices to affront the upcoming energy shortages next winter. The shortage of fuel and gas will not impede the social manifestations of discontent.
In Germany, the ruling coalition government announced several measures to counter the dire consequences of inflation and high energy prices for consumers. They are:
- One-time payment of Euro300 to consumers to cover their energy costs.
- A planned price cap for the basic energy consumption of the families.
- Retirees will also receive that stipend, but students will receive Euro 200.
- The successful 9 Euro ticket implemented last summer to use the public transportation all over the country will be extended with a higher price.
In a Bloomberg News Online article, Julian Lee predicts that rapidly replenishing gas and fuel storage capacities and reducing the amount of energy consumed by the citizenry will not be enough to stem the nefarious effects of Russia’s shortage. At present Germany has replenished 80% of their gas storage but their functionaries believe that they need to quickly find more alternate sources of fuel for the winter. The interrupted gas delivery system from Algeria to Europe, now supplying only the Iberian Peninsula, as it stops at the French frontier, will be eventually completed. However, the national interests still complicate the negotiations as the French insist that it should stop in their country and not proceed along to Germany and others.
These draconian measures will certainly have lasting psychological and physical effects on the inhabitants of Western Europe that we will pointedly discuss in future articles.
Stay distant.. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.
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Don’t leave me alone.