On February 12, Greece's
banker controlled parliament passed sweeping austerity measures on top
of multiple previous rounds.
New ones include:
sacking 15,000 public workers in 2012 and 150,000 by 2015;
slashing private sector wages by 20%;
lowering monthly minimum wages from 750 to 600 euros;
cutting fast disappearing monthly unemployment benefits from 460 to
360 euros; and
reducing pensions many Greeks need to survive by 15%.
At issue is securing another 130 billion euro bailout. The more financial
aid Greece gets, the greater its debt, the harder it is to repay, the
more future aid's needed, and deeper the country's economic abyss heading
for total collapse.
No matter. Troika power kleptocrats demanded deep cuts - the IMF, EU
and European Central Bank (ECB). Money power dictates bankers get paid
first. People needs are sacrificed to assure it.
Since crisis conditions began, Greece's three major parties capitulated:
the social democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) led by
banker-sacked former prime minister George Papandreou;
the center-right New Democracy under Antonis Samaras; and
the hard right Popular (or People's) Orthodox Rally (LAOS) lead by Georgios
Karatzaferis. Until now, it went along.
Ahead of the vote, Karatzaferis said:
"It is unacceptable that right now our politicians' petty political
and public relations maneuvering should be leading the country to bankruptcy."
"The country is tumbling towards a cliff-edge, and a tough European
establishment is putting out the view that Greece cannot be saved and
lacks credible politicians. Our politicians back that view with their
Most often on issues of banker capitulation, differences among the three
are largely rhetorical. This time LAOS broke with coalition unity.
Nonetheless, at midnight on Sunday, after hours of perfunctory debate,
MPs rubber-stamped measures (199 to 74 with 27 abstentions) party leaders
agreed on earlier despite tens of thousands raging in Syntagma Square
outside parliament throughout the day and night.
Clashes also occurred in Salonika, Patra, Volos, Crete and Corfu. Expect
more ahead by growing numbers unwilling to accept social injustice destroying
their ability to survive.
Greece's working class faces impoverished neoserfdom. Those on pensions
have less than ever to survive on, and the nation's youths have no futures.
As a result, violent protests erupted. Police thugs clashed with people
demanding justice. Dozens of buildings burned.
Banker appointed prime minister Lucas Padademos, a former ECB vice president,
lied saying "living standards of Greeks would collapse and the country
would be dragged into a spiral of recession, instability, unemployment
and misery" unless predatory cuts are made.
He lied again claiming pernicious austerity measures will "restore the
fiscal stability and global competitiveness of the economy, which will
return to growth, probably in the second half of 2013."
In fact, under crisis conditions, Greece's economy is dying. In December,
manufacturing plunged 15.5% year-over-year. Industrial output sank 11.3%.
Unemployment topped 20%. Youth joblessness approaches 50%, and suicides
doubled since economic decline began.
As a result, capital flight's increasing. People are voting with their
feet and leaving. Those remaining face hospitals short of medicines,
unprecedented homelessness and hunger, schools without basic supplies,
and imagine what's coming when new cuts are implemented.
Moreover, bankers demand more. So far, mandated wealth confiscation
alone is their only excluded diktat, but it's happening incrementally.
Under systematic sacking, Greece's life force is dying in meltdown.
It desperately needs Argentina's solution. Nothing else offers hope.
In December 2001, facing economic collapse, Buenos Aires halted all
debt payments to domestic and foreign creditors.
Months earlier, IMF loans deepened the country's burden. Finally, $100
billion in debt was restructured. In 2005, it was completed on a take
it or leave it basis.
Stiff haircuts were imposed on creditors of around 65%. Most decided
something was better than nothing. In 2010, holdouts finally capitulated
on similar terms.
Sustained economic growth followed from 2003 through 2007. Vital debt
restructuring and a devalued currency assured it.
Greece and other troubled Eurozone countries can relieve their burdens
the same way. At issue is reclaiming sovereign rights by reinstating
their pre-euro currencies. They never should have sacrificed them in
the first place.
A Final Comment
Trapped under euro straightjacket rules, Greece surrendered control
over its ability to monetize debt freely, devalue its currency to make
exports more competitive, and enact stimulative fiscal policies.
Instead, it's entrapped by foreign bankers demanding tribute at the
expense of mercilessly exploiting the nation's working class, youths,
Financial oligarchs dominate ruthlessly. They make the rules, set terms,
issue diktats, control parliaments, and pressure, bribe or otherwise
force capitulation on terms no loan shark would demand.
They include mass layoffs, deep wage and benefit cuts, higher taxes,
selling off the nation's crown jewels, and more to assure bankers get
paid first. No wonder economist Michael Hudson calls predatory finance
"a form warfare."
It operates like pillaging armies, seizing land, infrastructure, other
tangible assets, and all material wealth. In the process, countries
and ordinary people are devastated.
Greece is effectively bankrupt. Only its obituary remains to be written.
Its people have a simple choice - leave or rebel.
Street protests and strikes produce nothing. Banker controlled parliamentarians
By whatever means necessary, replacing them is crucial. Nothing else
can work, and delay only exacerbates intolerable conditions.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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