Only sympathy will do for the Greek government. The alien policies imposed on it as a loan state are horrendous. They lead to disaster. If there is such a thing as a reverse Trojan Horse, the bailout from Brussels has to be it.
Greece’s beleaguered Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, blames, correctly in my opinion, the “absurd proposals” of creditors for the failure to reach a deal that could release emergency aid to avert default. Greece’s creditors refuse to alter their terms.
Readers will know I am keen to compare Greece’s treatment by Europe’s right-wing owned media with Scotland’s; so, apologies for continuing that theme.
Like anything left-leaning, any administration elected by an over-whelming mandate of the people, Scotland’s movement for democracy for example, or a mass movement such as Spain’s main opposition party Podemos, Greece’s Syriza is condemned by the supposed democratic neo-liberal states of the European Union, and the German banks. On the terms offered, extreme austerity, cuts in welfare, local services, and privatization of everything except air, only the banks can win. But not Greek banks. (Nor Scottish banks, UK owned.)
Media auto pilot
Any sense of an uprising against the devastating economic and social policies of ruthless bureaucracy and the crooked banks is crushed by smear from the media and press as ‘destabalising.’ When Greece announced it was in trouble the press went into auto pilot to keep control.
We were told millionaires there never pay tax, hospital cleaners were on welfare fit for a banker, and there were more Porsche cars sold in Athens than in all Europe. Some people swallowed that whole without it touching the sides.
The European Union’s response to the Greek Syriza-led coalition request for better terms and some delay is savage, a reaction that Spain’s main opposition party, Podemos, could face because it’s being projected as the next left-wing general election winner.
Greece has hours left to pay its next tranche of interest.
I have a radical solution.
The Greek debt should be written off.
I can hear the laughter from this distance. I am not an economist. I am sure, therefore, some will dismiss the idea as delusion. But I know the difference between justice and injustice, between fairness and usury. What is the alternative? Accept the Trojan gift and disaster is the consequence. Send it back and disaster is the consequence. Leave the EU and disaster is the consequence. Be forced out of the EU and …
Greece has already suggested it has a right to debt reduction, an understandable reaction to the frustration of being told by Brussels, that is, by the EBC and the IMF, take it or leave it. The Greek debt should be written off in the same way the German debt was written off in 1953, just eight years after the end of World War II. Greece was overlooked in the share of European largesse because it seemed very likely to elect a left-wing government. America, on the cusp of an inglorious era of ”Commies are scum’ attacks, and blacklisting intellectuals, decided to teach Greece a lesson. No help for you!
It is clear to everybody, and German banks too, that the policies inflicted on Greece have led to the increase of the Greek debt. “50% of young people are unemployed and around 40% of the population lives below the poverty line” says Syriza officials. This is the rip-off of a Wonga-type loan, thousands of percentage interest, for a long time to come.
Looking at the issues dispassionately as possible, no one would be blunt enough to accuse Germany solely for the Greek situation, but they are definitely main instigators of the current Pan-European situation together with the IMF and ECB. In the past 4 years, Germany has made 350 million Euros in interest from Greek loans whilst telling the world that German tax payers have been paying for ‘lazy Greeks to live the Life of Riley.’
There is very little difference from that warped view to the blatant lie from the UK government that they have subsidised lazy, drunk Scots for generations.
Reading the commentary of intellectuals concerned with saving Greece from pound of flesh banks leaves one feeling Europe is on the brink of totalitarianism under its current leaders and their policies. In effect, MEP’s are not entrusted with the powers that they should be entrusted with and the entire Union dances to the tune set by Angela Merkel and her accountants. Given that European countries have elected pseudo-centre left and right-wing governments over the years it is easy to see how they have managed to thrive without much opposition. (This is why I, personally, was sceptical when Alex Salmond averred it a reasonable notion an independent Scotland would be accepted as a successor state to the EU. I am sure we would be if not overtly left-wing.)
Until now the present Greek government has been paying loan instalments on time, 750 million euros was repaid recently to the IMF days before it was due, but Greece does not have the money to pay the next instalment. Thankfully, and honourably, Syriza MP’s protect their citizens first. They voted unanimously to ensure wages and pensions are paid at the end of the month and not the IMF.
The man of the hour
As Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis says, the situation of impending tragedy could, however, be avoided if the ECB released funds owed to Greece several days prior to the set date or even simply transfer the amount to the account of the IMF, (it is only a couple of days between the due date for payment to the IMF and the release date of owed funds from the ECB). Instead the Troika are trying their hardest to force Greece into accepting a new memorandum and further austerity and (official) bankruptcy which will really “screw the country in the eyes of the ‘markets’ and cause havoc on the high street.”
The EU was presented with a reform package by Varoufakis at the beginning of the discussions last February which, if implemented, will reverse the current situation and reform the European market as a whole, but, in Varoufakis’s cry for reason, “The Troika are not interested in positive measures; they prefer austerity!”
Varoufakis is candid: “I see many similarities between the Westminster Mob and the previous Greek government and the EU Elite. From where I sit it looks as though things are going to get much worse before they get better. The political elite is undoubtedly concerned about the uprising in the participation of the electorate across the continent and beyond. We were much easier to control when we were not actively participating in politics. We ALL woke up from our slumber just in time and we’ve got many, many years of lies and deceit to wade through.” [My emphasis]
Like the lie that Scotland is too small, too weak, and too poor a nation to survive with giving regular blood donations to the UK Treasury, the common fallacy pervading coverage by the world’s media of Greek negotiations is exemplified in remarks by Philip Stephens of the Financial Times. “Athens is unable or unwilling, or both, to implement an economic reform program.” This is the classic falsehood. Repeated over and over again it becomes fact in the public’s mind. After half-a-dozen announcements it must be truth. This allows third-rate hacks such as Stephens to claim, “Greece is squandering the trust and goodwill of its eurozone partners.” Proof please.
But the reality of the talks is very different. Here it is in Varoufakis’s own words:
“Consider what that means: an independent tax agency; reasonable primary fiscal surpluses forever; a sensible and ambitious privatization program, combined with a development agency that harnesses public assets to create investment flows; genuine pension reform that ensures the social security system’s long-term sustainability; liberalization of markets for goods and services, and more. So, if our government is willing to embrace the reforms that our partners expect, why have the negotiations not produced an agreement? Where is the sticking point?”
What is the sticking point?
Like the Tory party’s solutions for Britain the answer is only greater austerity for this year and beyond. Wealth must trickle upwards. Monies loaned and money made, all of it belongs to crooked banks. Then again, we here are all too concerned with fighting those policies to do more than wish Greece luck. Once upon a time Greece and Britain’s debts were similar but Greece got back on an even keel quicker. This time Greece is not given the same chance to flourish.