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View Diary: Deep poverty hits a new high (39 comments)

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  •  From != In. (0+ / 0-)

    I didn't think that would be tough for you.  And I'm sorry that you hate facts, but I guess it doesn't matter, talking to someone who feels they're an expert on something that they have absolutely no experience in.

    •  enjoy iceland's (0+ / 0-)

      socialized medicine, unemployment rate that's less than ours, barely over half of ireland's and dropping, and near absence of poverty. austerity sucks.

      48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam (The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers)

      by Laurence Lewis on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 12:48:22 AM PDT

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      •  Iceland's historic unemployment rate (0+ / 0-)

        Fluctuated between 1 and 3 percent.  This sort of unemployment nowadays is simply unheard of in Iceland.  As for the healthcare system, here's a random article from last month, and poverty is for the most part a "new" (at least in modern times) experience for the country (before WWII, they were one of the poorest places in Europe, mind you).  It's worst in the small towns; they were already having it the hardest before the crisis, and they're in pretty bad shape now.  You wouldn't believe how many empty homes you find in them.  People just leave because there's no work.

        Please don't misinterpret this; I love Iceland.  It's one of the most stunningly beautiful places on the planet, and the amount of incredible creative output from the country despite the small population continues to blow me away. But it's precisely because I love Iceland that I hate to see it so grossly misrepresented.

        Please... before you use Iceland as your "example" again... spend some time reading the news from Iceland.  Don't worry, there's a number of English-language sources -- IceNews, the Reykjavík Grapevine, etc.  Morgunblaðið has a nice English section on its site that's an aggregate from a bunch of them -- http://www.mbl.is/....  Follow it for at least a few months.  Then come back here and tell me how wonderfully they're weathering this crisis.

        Iceland is not in horrible shape in absolute terms; we're not talking about famine and pestilence here.  It's in horrible shape in relative terms.  They went from being one of the wealthiest countries in the world to having 2 in every 5 people upside down on their mortgages.  They went from building major new buildings to having to decide whether it's worth it to assemble the already-purchased scraps of planned buildings together or just let them rust away.  They went from digging long tunnels through mountains to towns of under 1,000 people to simply trying to keep the roads maintained.  I mean, for crying out loud, before the kreppa, they were even seriously looking into digging a tunnel to Vestmannaeyjar!  The collapse has been a very hard lesson for Iceland, and it's an insult to them to pretend like they're not still suffering from it.  That said, in the long run, a lot of good may come of it.  A lot of the talk in the Icelandic press, and the same which I've heard in person, has been highly retrospective.  That the boom made Iceland into something that it's not, that it changed people, that they were trying to be someone who they weren't.  I kind of gather a subtext of "trying to be Americans" from that, but you never hear it directly stated that way.  

        Iceland is a country that, despite a long and storied history, is still finding itself.  It changed so slowly for a thousand years, a remote hunk of rock with ~60,000 people, then in the blink of a lifespan, catapulted onto the world stage.  There are so many huge decisions about the direction the country will take that are being made right now, and nobody can see the future.  But I look forward to being along for the ride, and perhaps some day, playing a tiny part in it.

        •  let me make this easy for you (0+ / 0-)

          as iceland continues to reject "icesave," how is it doing compared to ireland and greece, which have saddled themselves with devastating debt and austerity to bail out the banks? and considering that iceland's economy had become almost wholly dependent on the mbs game, and was more vulnerable than anyone to its collapse, how is it that they've managed such relatively minimal impacts- even compared to ours? and if people are fleeing because there are no jobs, um, how is it that people from overseas are finding jobs there?

          48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam (The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers)

          by Laurence Lewis on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 02:13:23 AM PDT

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          •  Icesave is a totally separate issue (0+ / 0-)

            And, FYI, a court in Iceland just ruled that it does have to be repaid.  But the value of the assets of Lansbanki should -- due to how much the government pumped into the banking system -- be sufficient to cover it.  But the British and Dutch are still suing Iceland over the delay, in the EFTA court.  

            The Icesave issue is, and always has been, a trilateral international dispute.  The British and Dutch immediately bailed out their people (the Icesave accounts were largely individual retirement accounts), then sued Iceland for the money.  And it's worth noting that the British in particular are old strategic rivals of Iceland.  The rough road certainly was well in place when the British invaded and occupied Iceland in WWII, and continued as the British stole Iceland's fish for decades until the Icelanders eventually forced them out.  And there's a brand new dispute over herring.  And the British were definitely provocative when they involved anti-terrorism laws to seize Icelandic assets.  

            But let me reiterate: the Icesave issue has nothing to do with the IMF loans (the British and Dutch tried to get it to be a condition; they failed).  The IMF missed no opportunity to point that out.  It had nothing to do with the austerity measures.  It had nothing to do with how much debt Iceland racked up bailing out their banking system.  And on and on.

            And for the last time, The Icelandic Economy Has Not Had "Relatively Minimal Impacts", and I find it insulting how you keep playing down what is going on over there.  I've walked the streets of crumbling remote towns in Iceland, from Vestfirðir to Austfirðir.  Don't tell me how wonderful you imagine the Icelandic economy is doing!  And as I mentioned to you at the start of our conversation, I got the job because I was willing to take reduced pay, have a skillset that's rare in Iceland, and because Iceland has suffered a brain drain as a consequence of the crisis.

            •  compare iceland (0+ / 0-)

              to ireland and greece. or keep ignoring the vast differences in approach and results.

              and despite the court ruling, the government continues to say it won"t comply. and icesave is exactly the point. iceland didn"t bail out the foreign banks, saved its future, still got imf help, still has government services, is recovering better than we are, and doesn"t have ireland's imploding economy and greece"s riots.

              you can walk every small town you like, you"re still missing the forest from the trees.

              48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam (The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers)

              by Laurence Lewis on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 08:40:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've been comparing them the whole time. (0+ / 0-)

                And it's absurd to pretend that they're even comparable in terms of crises and solutions, since Iceland had no national debt problem prior to the banking crisis, had a banking crisis on a scale that no other nation in the world could even dream to suffer, had a floating currency, and was small enough for its collapse to be tolerated by global markets.

                You're simply wrong, wrong, wrong about "the government continues to say it won't comply".  First, there have been no objections and nor could there legally could be, and secondly, it's Jóhanna's government in the first place that was trying to get a repayment scheme going with the UK and the Netherlands!

                How many times does it have to be pointed out that Iceland got the IMF's help by agreeing to an imposed "Stabilization Pact", which is just a friendly way of saying, "Austerity" (aka, cuts in employees, salaries, and increased taxes)?  I've linked you to several articles about the effects of the cutbacks on education and social services -- the fact that you can still continue to deny the reality just blows my mind.

                Saying "still has government services" could also be said about Somalia.  "Greater than zero" doesn't mean "not heavily pared".

                Iceland's GDP growth is approximately equal to the US's.  Which means that Iceland comes out a huge loser, since they're way further in the hole than we are.  Their GDP fell by  over 15%.  The US at the worst was down 4%, and we're partway back up since then.

                Right, I'm missing the forest through the trees by looking at the effects of the collapse and telling you what you see first-hand on the ground in Iceland is not what you're claiming is on-the-ground in Iceland.  Next up I should tour Somalia and see people starving so I can be told by you that nobody is starving in Somalia, perhaps?

                •  you do realize (0+ / 0-)

                  that there is no framework or mechanism for repayment, right? you don't understand that previous rejections of court rulings and the two rejections at the polls have helped iceland recover, as it has yet to make any repayments. and we'll see how the government's current words play out, given the lack of mechanisms. and we'll see what happens if repayments do ever happen.

                  yes, iceland was much deeper in the hole- that's the whole point. there was no reason for it to recover, given the nature of its economic transformation since the 90s. so how did it happen? what's the difference between its recovery, its relatively small and shrinking unemployment rate, its ability to continue social services and hiring- the fact that it can recruit foreign labor into a market supposedly so devastated- and the desperation and deepening disasters that are ireland and greece?

                  i started this thread comparing iceland and ireland. you continue to ignore that they've taken different approaches and are headed in very different directions. try walking the streets of dublin. or cork. or sligo. or athens. or chania. try getting a job there. then get back to me.

                  48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam (The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers)

                  by Laurence Lewis on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 10:14:38 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  There were no "previous rejections of court (0+ / 0-)

                    rulings"; Iceland has never "rejected" a ruling of the Hæstiréttur, and there is no way to do so.  The referendums were not a rejection of any court ruling of any sort.  The referendums were a result of Ólafur refusing to sign the bills put before him, having nothing to do with court rulings.  There has been only one change in ruling coalition at the polls, which booted Sjálfstæðiflokkurinn from governance (although they're now leading in the polls again; people have such short memories  :P).  This put Samfylkinginn's Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir as Prime Minister -- but her government continued trying to negotiate a repayment deal.

                    To repeat: There is not, has not, and can not be, any rejection of a Hæstirétturinn ruling.

                    so how did it happen?

                    That's the whole point: It didn't.  Iceland has not recovered.  It's no longer sinking further into the hole, just like America, but it's still way down.  Seen what the Krona is at today?  114.4 to the dollar.  It was under 65 in 2007.  You call that "recovered"?  I mean, give me a break!  You call 2 in every 5 people upside down on their mortgages "recovered"?  You call the collapse of small-town Iceland "recovered"?  Iceland will recover eventually.  But at the rate it's happening, it will take many years; it's going no faster than the US's recovery, but they have a lot further to go.

                    Most foreign labor is leaving Iceland; the percentage of Iceland's population that is foreign born has been dropping.  I'm a very unusual exception, and I have no reason to explain to you yet again the circumstances that enabled me to get a job there.  Likewise, I will not yet again link news articles from Iceland showing the state of the "continued social services", since you see fit to act like they were never even posted because they don't fit your narrative.  Your insistence that it's not bad unless nobody foreign is hired at all and unless there no longer are any social services at all is like the global warming deniers' insistance that global warming isn't real unless we no longer get snowstorms in the winter.

                    try walking the streets of dublin. or cork

                    I was in Dublin and Cork in July.  Between trips to Iceland and a week in the UK.  I contributed to the Cork economy by buying a new video camera there after mine broke  ;)  I stayed in Dublin with a couple Irish guys on the southwest side near the N81.  And yes, we talked about the economy aplenty.

                    •  iceland previously rejected international rulings (0+ / 0-)

                      in accordance with the voters.

                      and i'll grant the obvious- that you know iceland better than i do. i wasn't aware of the latest two day old court ruling. but you don't seem to understand macroeconomics.

                      1) due to its involvement in the mbs game, iceland's economy probably was more dependent on the housing bubble than any other economy in the world. the collapse should have devastated it worse than any.

                      2) iceland didn't bail out the foreign banks, ireland did.

                      3) iceland's economy, which should be in the toilet, is growing, its social services still high relative to others, its unemployment rate low compared to others- including ours, and dropping. ireland's unemployment rate is nearly twice as high as iceland's, and still rising.

                      4) despite having thumbed off the banks, iceland was still able to raise foreign capital and get imf help, and its "austerity" is a walk in the park compared to what's happening in ireland- and greece.

                      we will see how and if they do pay off the brit and dutch banks, and how that will impact the recovery, but there is no doubt- none- that not having bailed them out has saved the one economy more than any other that should have been destroyed by the collapse.

                      48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam (The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers)

                      by Laurence Lewis on Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 12:05:48 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

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