By Siv O’Neall
07 July, 2015
Axis of Logic
It was five years ago and Greece was on the verge of going bankrupt. Goldman Sachs and other vultures grasped the opportunity to fraudulently make an exceptional amount of money. False rumors were spread, the Greek financial circles were lulled to sleep, thinking (if they ever did!) that nothing really bad could happen to them since Goldman Sachs was backing them up. Speculators were attracted like crows to a newly plowed field.
And Greek financial corruption goes on as if there would never be any accounting. Everybody is asleep, except the banking vultures who are out for big game.
The super-rich in Greece don’t bother paying the taxes that the little people have to pay. They are finding loopholes of all kinds and they are also transferring their huge fortunes to Swiss banks where they are safe – for the moment at least. There is no doubt that the Greek running of its financial department was totally unfit for any country anywhere.
But now the Troika comes running. Hey, there is profit to be made. More robbing to be done. IMF, ECB (the European Central Bank) and the European Commission, which together make up the Troika are sharpening their claws. But alas, Greece is incapable of paying back the high interest that’s demanded, and all hell breaks loose.
The medicine applied by the Troika for the past five or six years has been austerity austerity and more austerity. The neoliberal mantra is to starve and kill the beast that’s in critical danger of going under – while the financial elite rakes in the gains from the country in its death throws.
So austerity was the way Greece would become solvent again. So they said. What went wrong? Well, something did, probably the basic medicine was the wrong one from the very beginning. The Greek economy has contracted by 25% since the IMF medicine was first applied five years ago. Workers are not being paid. Healthcare is in tatters. Conditions in the biggest hospitals are appalling. You would think you were in a developing country. Massive budget cuts are making not just hospitals buckling under the strain of austerity. The shelves in pharmacies are empty. Schools receive ever shrinking funds and school children go hungry since there are no more school lunches.
One out of four Greeks is now unemployed and 60 % of young people are jobless. What a terrific success. Retired people and the young are the worst hit – and of course the ones who were already poor. Who cares?
“As the country struggles to return to growth and international creditors demand tough austerity measures, unemployed parents fight a daily battle to buy food, leaving school kids picking through trash cans and asking playmates for leftovers, the New York Times reported. It has even gotten as far as kids stealing food and a high-schooler recently fainting from hunger.
…with unemployment in Greece recently rising to a record 27% and the economy shrinking more than 20% since 2008, malnutrition problems have become an increasing issue in the country. Last year, about 10% of elementary- and high school kids suffered from “food insecurity”, sending Greece to the level of some African countries, according to the paper.” (The price of austerity – Greek school kids going hungry)
But the two multibillion-euro bailouts were they not supposed to help the Greeks weather the storm? Didn’t all those billions help the Greek people? Of course not. That money went to the foreign banks. It was never intended to go anywhere else. From the very beginning of the Greek crisis, the bailouts have only been intended for the foreign creditors.
The Troika have absolutely no concern for human lives – they are just out to squeeze more blood money out of the poor Greeks. And the very rich Greeks have either fled the country (along with masses of the best educated intellectual elite), or they have moved their millions or billions out of the country, mostly to Swiss banks, which will remain blind at least until 2018. They will then be legally bound to remove the secrecy concerning money crossing their borders.
One positive thing is on the horizon though. The new Greek government, Syriza, is suggesting a limited form of tax amnesty for the capitalists who are willing to bring their fortunes back to Greece. They would be required to pay only a flat tax of 21% to induce them to bring their money back to Greek banks in a legal way.
We obviously don’t yet know what is going to happen as far as further bail-out money is concerned, but the Greek population yesterday, July 5, in the big Referendum, gave a resounding No to further loans from the Troika. Negotiations will follow, and we don’t know if either side is going to give in. It seems absolutely clear to anyone with half a brain that Greece would clearly deserve a massive debt relief. If not, it’s my hope that they will stand strong and clearly announce that a default is the only way out of this conundrum. Iceland could get away with it, Argentina could, why couldn’t Greece?
Whether they will stay in the European Union and whether they will keep the euro as their currency are the next two big questions.
We, the progressives in Europe, are so fed up with the total lack of democracy and transparency in this Big-Corporation run EU that we would rather see it fall apart. It was created to be a vassal to the Empire and its ruling Corporatocracy, and it has managed to bring austerity and increased economic inequality to most European countries. We are all suffering, retirees and the young the most, and the southern countries are the worst off of all. We all see the Greek No to further slaving under the money lending tyrants as a sign that we too can stand up and say NO.
Siv O’Neall is an Axis of Logic columnist, based in France. Her insightful essays are republished and read worldwide. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.