I was listening to the PBS NewsHour last Wednesday as I was preparing dinner, when I heard something that made me drop my onions.
Not believing my ears, I had to find it on the web to see if I'd actually heard it right, and I found it here the next day. Let me give you the phrase from the report that stunned me:
And this extraordinary admission: "The financial system," he said, "is stronger than the will of the people."
Leading up to Wednesday and Thursday's parliamentary approval of austerity measures that follow last year's failed austerity measures, Papandreou faced so much opposition from his own party that he could not have passed the measures unless he reorganized his parliament - which he did.
Greece now faces further layoffs, lower wages, higher taxes - and perhaps most stunning of all - privatization of Greek assets. They have lost their sovereignty, and may now lose ancient treasures, transportation grids, who knows what else? They've set up a privatization agency under austerity plans agreed with the European Union and IMF and must sell off five billion euros in state assets this year alone.
Now I don't pretend to have much more than a modest grasp on economics, but I have heard some debate on all this. One point of agreement is that this bail-out is not going to be enough. Little discussed is that defaulting is actually an option - and the option the vast majority of Greeks favor.
Advocates of default point to Argentina's economic collapse in the 90's as an example why default right now is better than default later: Argentina tried the austerity route, which threw them into abject poverty before they finally defaulted.
The world didn't collapse. There are wonderful stories of the people, the workers, just carrying on, running the factories and the businesses after their corporate overlords fled the country with as much cash as they could stuff into their suitcases. The people arose to the occasion, taking over top management functions by teaching themselves how to market, do accounting, manage inventory. It took a while to recover, but Argentina flourishes today. Let's take a lesson from them, as we deal with the continuing global economic "crisis"
And what would happen if Greece defaulted? Banks would lose money? The banks that pulled off the Great Heist of 2008 would lose money? OMG the sky is fallling!
I imagine most Kossacks are at least passingly familiar with Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. If you aren't, you might want to snag a copy, because Shock Economics is precisely what is happening both here and abroad, and it's all about reducing us to nothing as the wealthy suck more and more of the planet dry.
This is a symptom, parasitism, of the fatal illness Capitalism is now suffering. An economic system that depends on continual growth and expansion simply cannot survive in a finite world with finite resources.
The financial system is stronger than the will of the people. Doesn't that mean "democracy is dead"? Doesn't that mean, "we the government you elected are going to force you, the people, to bow to your corporate overlords?"
We cannot let this stand.
How to fight it is the question. How to prepare for it is another. In the meantime, don't listen to the "end of the world" "crisis" crap designed to fear us into accepting austerity (ours, not theirs!) solutions.