Monday, July 6, 2015

Greeks Say 'NO!' To Neoliberal Economic Blackmail

Catarina Principe and Syriza - the Greek leftist party - were instrumental in ensuring the 'NO' vote on Sunday - against further Neoliberal austerity.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as repeatedly doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Given this definition,  the Greek people - by nearly a two-thirds majority - opted to end the insanity imposed by the European Neoliberals which had austerity as its main theme: basically raise taxes, institute public spending cuts and pension cuts in return for a very temporary bailout. The Greeks - living in the original cradle of democracy- said 'NO' and told their creditors to stick it up where the Sun doesn't shine.

They'd already been pushed to the edge of despair by a failed Neoliberal program of austerity which even the IMF admitted wasn't working. Indeed, since the austerity was imposed Greece's economic growth has contracted an additional 25 percent. There was no end in sight to this trend, or mounting debt, so why the hell vote for a new round? But to read the neoliberal response you'd have believed all their oxen were gored at once.

There was Gunther Krichbaum, for example, blabbing (WSJ, p. 8, July 6):

"For a successful operation the one who wants to be rescued must allow himself to be rescued. As Greece obviously doesn't want this, there's no option left for those who want to rescue it."

Uh, yes, there is Sparky! It is coming up with a more equitable bailout-rescue program. One that doesn't repeat the insanity of the past five years and only dig the Greeks in deeper. Moving away from a program that even the IMF admits doesn't work. Can you process that?  The point is Greece does want help but not to have a millstone tied around its collective neck and drowned.

Even the WSJ (p. A8) admitted that:

"Playing hardball with Greece by calling it into default on its loans to bailout funds that are financed by other Eurozone economies could backfire on creditors and increase losses face by these governments."

So it's in their interest to work with Greece for their mutual benefit, not a "handout".  The Germans and Merkel, above all, ought to be amenable to this after we in the U.S. helped bail them out in the wake of WWII  and massively forgave war debts - while implementing national reconstruction with the Marshall Plan. This was something for which we even paid much higher taxes to ensure the future German nation wasn't saddled with debt.

Having been the beneficiaries of such generosity in the past, could not the Germans find it in their hearts to be a bit more generous now to a Eurozone member whose departure would definitely bring instability? A rational person would believe so.

If as the WSJ notes (ibid.) interest reductions and extended (bond) maturities are "often not enough to resolve a debit crisis"- then what about outright forgiving debt? After all, it's been done before via the IMF and World Bank with African nations in the 1980s.

Indeed, one expert cited by the WSJ (ibid.) observed that "the Eurozone's extend and pretend strategy never cuts it".    A really successful restructuring "always requires the creditors to take a loss on the face value of their debts."

Good thinking! But amidst Neoliberal palaver and hysteria, as in today's WSJ's top editorial ('The Greeks Say NO', p. A12), one beholds reason and judicious response taking a backseat especially when the basis of the Greek 'No' is deliberately couched in lies and fear. The former was embodied in the insinuation that the creditors' offer was just fine and dandy and ought to have been swallowed as the "better choice" and the fear mongering by raising the specter the Greeks will let thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East flood in then send them to other European countries.

If this is the best that we can expect from the organs of Neoliberal finance capital, then there is not much more room for rational discourse than there is with the brainwashed defenders of the Warren Commission. In each case the rational person reaches a dead end.

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