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November 21, 2012

Fancy viewpoint gives a glimpse of how Europe got into this mess

  • Easy money bred political vanity projects, bridges to nowhere, lax oversight and corruption — and slighted investments that might sustain long-term growth.
    Associated Press

    CABO GIRAO, Madeira Islands — The president of these Portuguese islands turned out, as he almost always does, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at his government's latest showpiece investment: a panoramic steel-and-glass viewing point perched on what islanders claim to be Europe's highest cliff-top.

    The price tag for the platform, parking lot and cafe was 2.5 million euros. That's a hefty outlay for a near-bankrupt archipelago of about 250,000 people which has 6.3 billion euros in public debt, needed a 1.5 billion euro bailout last year and has promised to be frugal. But development funds from the European Union, bankrolled by the continent's taxpayers, made it affordable by picking up 2 million of the tab.

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