Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Shop the Truthdig Gift Guide 2014
December 20, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Get Truthdig's headlines in your inbox!


Loss of Rainforests Is Double Whammy Threat to Climate






Truthdig Bazaar
All the Sad Young Literary Men

All the Sad Young Literary Men

By Keith Gessen
$16.47

more items

 
Report

Will Greece Be Ruled by the Bankers or Its People?

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Mar 3, 2012
Parti socialiste (CC-BY)

Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou

By Peter Bratsis, Truthout

(Page 2)

Whether voiced by German politicians or by Greek academics, the argument against popular democracy hinges on two key points: that Greece’s problems fundamentally derive from politicians pandering to the demands of the citizens, and, even more importantly, that the only proper judge of what is prudent and proper as policy is “the markets.” Only by appeasing the so-called markets can Greece hope to emerge from otherwise certain ruin. As such, dispassionate and pragmatically minded specialists are the ideal policymakers. Common people, blinded as they are by their self-interests, cannot be trusted, nor are they fully capable of understanding the policy necessities of the moment. The more autonomous that policymakers can be from popular pressures, the better.

The first wave of actions taken by the Papademos regime gives a very good indication of the kinds of policies such a detached and dispassionate group of policymakers would institute. One of their first innovations was to modify a policy first proposed by Papandreou in November of last year, a set of cuts to the pensions given to the disabled. The Papademos administration, in addition to deepening the previously proposed cuts, added a list of additional potential disabilities that included pedophilia and pyromania, among many others. Many foreign newspapers featured reports on this as, once again, a symptom of Greek pathology and mania for pensions and wasting money.  Government representatives quickly corrected such reports by noting that it was simply a list of possible disabilities, not disabilities that would be eligible for public pensions. One can easily imagine the meeting where Greece’s top policy gurus, likely armed with advanced degrees in management and finance, came up with the cynical idea that such a modification would deflect any serious discussion about the merits of cutting pensions to the disabled. This obvious, clumsy and despicable attempt to foreclose any serious discussion and criticism of the proposed law clearly demonstrates how the many are viewed by the few.

Far more significant, however, are the laws passed just a few days ago, February 12 (at midnight, so that the results were out in time for the Asian “markets”). In addition to the latest austerity package demanded by the troika, with its many cuts to wages and pensions and its plans for decreasing the number of public employees, there was also a repealing of many of the labor laws that existed at the time. Most of the protections and regulations that working people had fought for and won in the last four decades were eliminated, without discussion, in one night. As tens of thousands of protestors were tear-gassed and chased from the center of Athens, decades of laws were undone on behalf of the markets.

These policies are foolish because not only is it a mathematical certainty that such cuts to wages and employment will result in a greater economic downturn, fewer tax revenues and the deepening of the debt crisis, but it is also a certainty that a happy “market” does not equal job growth. The experience of the United States and most of Europe in the last 20 years has been of a great expansion of financialization and speculative capitalism, together with rising rates of unemployment and underemployment. Through automation, there has been a continuing and relentless decrease in demand for labor by capital.

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
Stanley Aronowitz and William DeFazio have aptly described this process in The Jobless Future, and there is no indication so far that they have been incorrect in their diagnosis. In Greece, this is doubly true, because never in its entire history has the private-sector labor market ever been more than 25 percent of all employment. Indeed, people who are self-employed in Greece, a staggering 30 percent (the highest rate in the world), outnumber those who work as employees in the private sector. If capitalism was unable to create jobs in Greece during the economic booms and expansions of the post-war era, why should we expect Greek capitalism to suddenly become a job creator now? With official unemployment already at over 20 percent, one can only imagine how dire the situation will become in the months ahead.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By Tempis Fugit, March 15, 2012 at 5:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

BlueOkie: Fast forward to the early 2000’s, Slick Willie and Greenspan, followed by Bush/Cheney, removed any accountability at the top.  Everyone was responsible to wealth, and wealth’s only responsibility was too itself.

 

Slick rebuttal. Far too slick.

“It ain’t our fault! The PotUS told us we had to do it!”

C’mon, grow up - if you aren’t an adult. If an adult, get serious.

Report this
ToyotaBedZRock's avatar

By ToyotaBedZRock, March 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Public Hangings Of The Political Elite Is The ONLY WAY To Make Them Understand The Consequences.

Sounds evil to say it but if they have cut off every other method of change they are signing their own lives away.

Report this

By Ed Romano, March 7, 2012 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

Reading, Thanks. I’ve read about small groups of people organizing their lives around truly democratic principles and trying to reach consensus among themselves. I was referring to nation states in my remarks. I don’t know if you are familar with Roberto Michels who years ago wrote Political Parties in which he spoke about the Iron Law Of Oligarchy. Michels argued that every large population is ruled by an economic elite and the majority is destined “to form the pedestal of an oligarchy.” Isn’t this the common thread of history ? When this argument is fleshed out I have had people say, “I don’t believe in iron laws.” It’s been my experience that most people will deny just about anything if it rattles their illusions.

Report this

By ReadingJones, March 7, 2012 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

I think the Vikings in their raiding trips made
decisions by consensus. However they were small
groups of warriors who were mutually dependent for
their lives.

The Yupik and the Inupiat and the Inuit were also
mutually dependent and had the custom of sharing in a
very harsh environment. My Inupiat wife told me that
most decisions were made in council and further that
leadership was earned by recognized competence.

I think it was the same in many tribes in the plains
but I don’t really know.

Report this

By Ed Romano, March 7, 2012 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

I was surfing around and came across this truly hilarious headline….. Will Greece Be Ruled By Its Bankers Or Its People. In all of human history when has it ever happened that the “people” ruled ?

Report this

By Jeff N., March 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

Blueokie, are we talking about Greece or the US?  I agree with everything you’re saying there, and certainly there are a lot of similarities between what happened here and what happened in Greece.. However, the economy of Greece is/was uniquely positioned to get hurt from a global financial crisis because of the type of industries they rely on for revenue and also the massive indebtedness the public sector was taking on throughout the past couple decades, whether it was hidden to the EU or not.

They still have a couple routes open to them at this point, and I’d be the first to applaud them for making the hard choice of defaulting on the debt, possibly leaving the EU, hopefully sacking most of their government, and starting again “from scratch” as Iceland, Argentina, and many others have done before.  Papandreou seems intent on carrying on this absurdity with the gradual bailout packages until the end of time, and it doesn’t seem to have worked so far. 

My point was that yes, it sucks that the average citizen is getting hurt by all this as they usually do in this world, but it is unavoidable at this stage of the game.  There is no way they can keep the pensions, benefits, etc. they were used to, at least in the short term, regardless of what choices they make right now.  What they can do is default, learn from the experience, and rebuild, one step at a time.  Better to get it over with sooner than later, no?

Report this
Blueokie's avatar

By Blueokie, March 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

Tempis Fugit, Jeff N. - I think our misunderstanding is from a matter of perspective, to me, it seems as if you are seeing the current economic situation as beginning in 2008 and the widely disseminated explanation. 

I can go back to the 1980’s when supply-side-free-market-globalization was implemented.  One of the known problems from the onset was that the system was designed to concentrate wealth and power and that the population wouldn’t easily resign itself to doing without while the gains at the top were phenomenal.  Also, 70% of the domestic economy was consumer spending and would tank with an immediate wealth concentration.  The answer was credit.  During the next thirty years, capital mushroomed at the top while flatlining or
dropping everywhere else.  Finance, predictably, became 40% of the economy.

Fast forward to the early 2000’s, Slick Willie and Greenspan, followed by Bush/Cheney, removed any accountability at the top.  Everyone was responsible to wealth, and wealth’s only responsibility was too itself.  What was one of the first things President Bush told the country after 9/11, “Don’t be afraid to fly
America, don’t be afraid to buy”.  The best thing the average citizen could do to help fight “The Terrorist” was to keep the American economy humming along, and we’ve got these new rules we call “deregulation”, the sky’s the limit.  Living within your means was tantamount to not supporting the troops, it was
practically treason.

The failure of personal responsibility argument reminds me of the line from “Animal House” after the Lincoln was destroyed, “You f***ked up, you trusted us.”, with the caveat, “Now you have no choice but to do as we say”.  The personal responsibility argument literally comes from the same Business/Government coalition and many times the same people who engineere and
profited greatly from getting us into this situation.  As for the “sheeple” argument, on how many issues does the public have a clear predilection that the duopoly ignore?  60%-70% margins on issues from Imperial wars, to health care, to the safety net are regularly ignored in favor of what “markets” (capital and wealth)  demand?  As gerard pointed out (3/5 8:37a.m.) any dissension was marginalized and dismissed.

Seriously, the people who controlled and expanded debt for the last 30 years, leveraging it out to as much as 70 to 100 times Capital, due to that being the only way to increase “profit” to concentrated wealth, are to remain intact while Austerity is the result of a lack of “Personal Responsibility”?  Incidentally, the entity that managed and securitized Greece’s debt (in the same manner as all debt) was Goldman-Sachs.  But I guess that’s not a pattern.

Report this

By truedigger3, March 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

All that talk about lazy Greeks and Italians who wants to enjoy a life they cannot afford is misleading bullshitting from the corporate media.
The Greeks and Italians work as hard as anybody else and it is sad how many middle class progressive people fall for that line of crap.
Greece current economic problems arise mostly from two reasons:
1) Many of the rich and banks in Greece borrowed money, mostly from German and French banks for investmnt. Many of that money was stolen or diverted to speculation in realestate and got lost big time with the world wide current financial crisis in the aftermath of the 2008 debacle.
The IMF, the European Central Bank forced the Greek government to assume resposibility of that debt, otherwise the Greek government will not be able to borrow from the international finacial markets.
2) With endemic tax avoidance by the rich legally by loopholes or illegally by outright cheating the government cannot get enough revenues to service this debt.
So insteaf of letting the rich return the money they stole or at leat taxing them to pay for the theft,
they impose austerity on the common people which means as usual the common people get the shit and the elite get the cream paid for by the common people from their hides, sweat and tears. What a fu*king farce!

Report this

By gerard, March 6, 2012 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

tempisfugit:  “To err is human; to apologize for it is divine.” (or words to that effect).  Greetings!

Report this

By penscot, March 6, 2012 at 7:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was under the impression the markets were supposed to
be working for us, not the other way around.
Not that it makes a difference: where the Greeks go
the rest of us soon will follow. I read a book by a
fellow called Duncan Macian (Amazon) that shows life
for most workers in America isn’t THAT much different
that what the Greeks are facing—and that’s in
Peensylvania!

Report this

By Jeff N., March 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

blueokie, calm it down with the anger and condesension and maybe we can have a normal discussion about the topic.  The fact that all of these organizations were praising Greece in 2008 probably has something to do with the fact that Greece systematically misreported their economic statistics for years while in the EU.  The government wanted to sustain the level of borrowing and public spending Greeks were accustomed to under the Drachma, and it all came to a crash with the financial crisis, not helped by the fact that tourism and shipping are their main sources of revenue.

So yea, not a great situation to be in for the greek people.  Whether Greece decides to default, leave the euro, or what have you, I don’t see how the people can really expect to avoid suffering for at least the short term.  The Iceland strategy doesn’t seem like a bad one for them at this point, but I’m sure its a bit more complex than that.  In either case, to say that the social benefits that have grown over the past decades aren’t going to take a hit, at least in the short term, seems to be pretty ignorant of basic economic arithmetic.  Maybe they can retire at 50, but it’s certainly not going to be the retirement they’re used to.

Report this

By ReadingJones, March 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

Gerard,

Please accept my most sincere apology for this error of
grammar. I certainly did not intend to imply that my
remarks made by you. I think I must be overtired so I
won’t make any more comments till I have rested. Being
tired is really not an acceptable excuse for being
sloppy.

Report this

By gerard, March 5, 2012 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

Reading Jones:  In your comment on 5, 9:36 you fail to make clear that you are NOT quoting me, but addressing your comment @gerard you are implying that you are quoting me. 
  This causes me to want to clarify by adding that I did NOT say anything which your comment includes.

Report this

By ReadingJones, March 5, 2012 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

@ gerard

The fundamental duty of government is to protect the
commonwealth from thr enemy within and the enemy
without. The enemy within is the most destructive.

The commonwealth includes but is not limited to the
educated and/or skilled workforce, the health of the
citizenry, the stability of the currency, basic
freedoms, the intellectual property of all citizens,
the rule of law and on and on.

The ravenous elites seem to believe that the
fundamental duty of government is to give them
welfare from the commonwealth. They seem to believe
that if they can steel something it is their duty to
do it.

I think I should have stopped a few sentences back.
Lots of laughs to all.

Report this

By gerard, March 5, 2012 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

TempusFugit:  Question—You wrote “... we (the sheeple) kicked the debt-can down the road and continued the Buying Spree – to profit from the “good-times”. We compiled debt blithely because it was cheap and we could maintain it on nearly full-employment salaries and tax revenues.” (and more to that effect previously)
  Never a mention of the tremendous expenses of the corporate promotion of environmental destruction and wars (over which the “sheeple” have little to no control). Plus no concerted efforts from the MIC to curb either excess, but rather a growing exploitation of resources, including human lives.
  Both excesses were not, and are not promoted primarily by “the sheeple” and when they protest they are squelched by being either ignored or threatened. How, then, can you blame “the people” primarily, implying personal profligacy as the primary cause?  An intelligent minority of them have been protesting for years—to little or no avail.  Is it not the primary business of democratic governments to listen to all their people, and not just to a small minority of elites?

Report this

By Tempis Fugit, March 5, 2012 at 2:39 am Link to this comment

Bo : Do you agree with these same bankers that now Greece must submit itself to their rule and to its people’s subjugation to peonage and debt slavery for the foreseeable future?  Can you understand that the main cause of tension in Europe, is that Germany is the obvious EU prize for the bankers

And can you understand that you are employing the bankers as a scapegoat for an entirely different phenomenon that was occurring?

Mind you, I’m not friend of bankers. They deserve a comeuppance. But so do we, the sheeple. Why?

Because both nations and we, the sheeple, went binging on cheap-credit, which is the underlying factor to this present discussion.  After accumulating sizeable personal/household debt/national debt, we kicked the debt-can down the road and continued the Buying Spree – to profit from the “good-times”. We compiled debt blithely because it was cheap and we could maintain it on nearly full-employment salaries and tax revenues.

Once upon a time, our parents worked and saved in the present in order to purchase in the future. This younger generation will have none of that. It wants it all and it wants it NOW!

So, the banksters seized the opportunity by offering both individuals and nations what they wanted. A nearly unlimited credit line at low, low interest costs with heavy consequences for non-payment.  This worked well for a great many years, but kicking the debt-can down the road can’t go on forever. The house of cards came tumbling down around our ears at the first whiff of a recession, that drastically reduced both personal income and therefore tax revenues.

Paraphrasing American philosopher George Santayana: “Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it” History does repeat itself, only in different ways.

We are reliving the socially wrenching Great Depression, though on a less drastic scale. The time came when we were obliged to pay the Piper for our own self-indulgence.

So, let’s be careful about pointing the finger of blame at the banksters. They were doing their job - they offered consumers what they wanted, a way to binge on cheap money.

If the bankers became rich as Croesus doing their job, it is because of the warped taxation structure that Reckless Ronnie left us, which is a sure-fire method to trickle-up revenue to the wealthy.

Report this

By Tempis Fugit, March 5, 2012 at 1:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bo : Do you agree with these same bankers that now Greece must submit itself to their rule and to its people’s subjugation to peonage and debt slavery for the foreseeable future?  Can you understand that the main cause of tension in Europe, is that Germany is the obvious EU prize for the bankers

And can you understand that you are employing the bankers as a scapegoat for an entirely different phenomenon that was occurring?

Mind you, I’m not a friend of bankers. They deserve a comeuppance. But so do we, the consumers. Why?

Because both nations and individuals both went binging on cheap-credit, which is the underlying factor in this present discussion. Both households and nations kicked the debt-can down the road and continued the Buying Spree – to profit from the “good-times”.

Once upon a time, our parents saved in the present to purchase in the future. This younger generation will have none of that. It wants it all and it wants it NOW!

So, the banksters gave them what they wanted. A nearly unlimited credit line with heavy consequences for non-payment. This worked well, for both nations and individuals, a great many years as we self-indulged ourselves in binge-spending at low interest rates.

But kicking the debt-can down the road can’t go on forever. The house of cards came tumbling down around our ears.

Paraphrasing American philosopher George Santayana:

Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it” History does repeat itself, only in different ways.

We are reliving the Great Depression, though on a far less drastic scale – for most but not for some. The time came when we must pay the Piper for our self-indulgence.

Will this be a lesson in history? Doubtfully, in a nation where history was 5 minutes ago and yesterday is ancient-history.

Report this
Blueokie's avatar

By Blueokie, March 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Jeff N - Get your feelings hurt fitting that shoe?

Let me ask you, do you know what GDP is, are you familiar with the formula to arrive at the number?  Do you know its strengths and weaknesses?  Do you know how it is manipulated?  Do you know the economist who invented the formula, and his opinion of using it as the key description of a country’s wealth?  Are you familiar with the success of “early retirement” to solve a disproportionate unemployment problem with younger workers?  Are you aware that prior to the 2008 unravelling of the Ponzi scheme known as debt securitization, that Greece was being praised by the EU, ECB, IMF, WTO, the Fed, and Wall Street for heeding their advise and successfully “modernizing” their economy?  Do you agree with these same bankers that now Greece must submit itself to their rule and to its people’s subjugation to peonage and debt slavery for the foreseeable future?  Can you understand that the main cause of tension in
Europe, is that Germany is the obvious EU prize for the bankers, that Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland are the strategy being used to that end, with the Germans being acutely aware of that fact?

Post anything you like, by your definition we are all trolls.  Its either disingenuous or naive however to post a transparent, predictable “opinion” constantly available from General Electric, News Corp., and Time-Warner, with reenforcement from Disney and Viacom, on a public blog, then whine when you get called on it.

Report this

By Foucauldian, March 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm Link to this comment

As a Pole, I too am well aware of the German militancy
dating back to the Teutonic Knights and sooner.  It’s
still a medieval psyche after the Wagnerian fashion of
unsung heroes and great deeds.  As an Easter-European,
I kind of identify with it.  There has always been a
love-hate relationship between the Germans and the
Poles.  Michener’s novel depicts it perfectly.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

I love the Germans.  Germans are among my relatives, in-laws, friends.  But I do not forget that they, more than any other people I know of, follow the Biblical precept: ‘Whatsoever thou settest thy hand to, do with thy might.’  Setting the Germans aflame might not be a good idea.

In any case, many people do not like being set aflame.

Report this

By Foucauldian, March 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

Point taken.

John le Carré, though, paints the young Germans as a
very progressive bunch:  Absolute Friends,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_Friends

But that’s to say nothing of the state machinery.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

I’d rather not set the Germans aflame, actually.

Report this

By Foucauldian, March 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

Robespierre115, March 3 at 7:41 pm


“Greece needs a revolutionary uprising that would set
Europe aflame ...”

Indeed, if not in Greece, then where?  Only in Greece
there are reasonable chances of success.

Report this
PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, March 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

Now why would Greece need jet fighters?

What priorities?

http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2010/12/14/is-greece-buying-weapons-from-israel-despite-the-economic-crisis/

Report this

By brianrouth, March 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

From Richard Wolff….http://soundcloud.com/brianrouth/greece-is-our-future

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, March 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

I am with Robespierre115 on this.

It is a post-modern coup.

Report this

By Jeff N., March 4, 2012 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

EmileZ, I am unfamiliar with the term field devil, is this a cousin of the common troll variety?

We’re all adults here.. I’m sure that blueokie will recover from the black stain that my turd-brain comment has left on his/her pride.  Although, in retrospect, I’m certainly not getting any points for originality on that one smile

Report this
mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, March 4, 2012 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

Lafayette - I was hoping that you’d chime in on this discussion as you live in Europe and usually have a far more on-the-ground perspective of what’s going on across the pond. Most Americans only know Europe as a) tourists (all of life for Americans is about being a tourist…...put it on a credit card and pay for it later) or b) spectators whose opinions are shaped by politicians and ideologues who know nothing about Europe.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, March 4, 2012 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

@ Jeff N.

I beg to differ.

I am a field devil.

As for calling you out, it was in defence of my friend, who as of yet has not commented here and has already been insulted by two people.

If you think “nice job turd brain” is an approriate response, well that is your decision.

Don’t try to lump me in with that sort of pathetic-ness.

Report this
Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, March 4, 2012 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

ASPIRATIONS

PB: Recent events in Greece have hinged on this tension. The Greek economic crisis is often presented as a product of too much democracy, of politicians bowing to the demands of citizens for jobs, pensions and low taxes.

Greece is also a nation on the southern perimeter of the EU. It’s demography is therefore similar to Portugal as is its economy. In fact, it is the Greek economy that should be the centerfold piece of any considerations of the Greek nation.

When we talk about a country living beyond its means,  what are the criteria? Simple, it’s government expenditures should be very closely balanced by its tax revenues. Clearly, Greece’s profligacy springs from just such a mistake.

Tax Avoidance is rampant both legal and otherwise. For instance, it is unconscionable that, legally, the second largest owner of property after the Greek State, which is the Greek Orthodox Church, should be excused from paying property taxes.

Also, the Greek economy has insufficient depth, most GDP is generated by two industries - Maritime Services and Tourism. As such, Greece’s economy does not generate the wage-scales that permit Greeks to afford a higher standard-of-living.

Both of these factors are reasons why Greece’s profligacy was its undoing. That and the fact that the Greek people were avid for the lifestyle that other Europeans had obtained from the Common Market. They aspired to that same standard of living. And there is nothing wrong about wishing to live better.

So, of course, their politicians – both on the Left and Right – did their utmost (sometimes illegally) to both provide and maintain that lifestyle. Which is how they got elected and kept their jobs. When, in fact, the economic underpinnings could not sustain the lifestyle expectations that the Greek people had set for themselves.

As regards Lifestyle Expectations, is there really any great difference between Greece and the US? Do Americans not have the similar aspirations for the well-being of their families? Are American politicians not elected because they promise to pursue those desires?

It is indeed sad, but the Greek Mess is one that was in-the-making from the beginning of its adherence to the EU. It was simply a matter of time. One cannot say the same for the SubPrime Mess, however.

We should have known better and we did not. Shame on us …

Report this

By Jeff N., March 4, 2012 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

EmileZ, I come here for a discussion of issues, so when I try to discuss my point of view about GREECE and someone responds by accusing me of hating immigrants, contraception, and Iran, then I quickly realize there is not much point to engaging said commentator on the issues any further, and embark on my subsequent, and more entertaining task of name-calling and all around character-bashing, for probably the same reasons that you decided to call me out rather than discuss the actual issue at hand.  We’re all trolls here EmileZ don’t deny the obvious.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 4, 2012 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

Greeks and Italians work more than the peoples of most other European states.  Their problem is political, not economic or financial.

Report this

By gerard, March 4, 2012 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

When countries get in over their head and run up debt that is impossible to pay off, the one and only remedy that capitalism has to offer is austerity which is code for “hitting the 99%—again” to wring out more tax revenues of any and all kinds.
Graft is overlooked. The atrocious expense of war as policy is overlooked. Human necessities are overlooked. Humanistic goals are overlooked.
  Maybe the logic is “There are more of them, so if they all pay just a little more it will mount up to more than if we 1%ers are called upon to pitch in larger amounts. Most of them won’t even notice a small increase, once they get used to it.”
  The problem that is never considered and solved is, how much money is being wasted on things that are harmful to everybody—the harm hitting the poorest people first and the richest people last.
  Inevitably a point is reached where the poorest poor people have nothing and the less poor (or middle) hurt so much they refuse to cooperate. Unless some people interfere with the rule of the markets somehow, things can only go downhill from there.
  But if to interfere with the markets is considered a political crime—then what?  If for the vast majority, austerity becomes punishment how can anyone reasonably expect that austerity will be the answer? The logical result will be even more distance between people, more injustice, more anger.
  Isn’t this the radical aspect of capitalism, the socially destructive aspect that is denied, to everyone’s peril?

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, March 4, 2012 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

@ Jeff N.

Wow, it’s impressive how you say things like turd brain and then try to insult my buddy.

Real classy.

Report this

By Jeff N., March 4, 2012 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Blueokie, Wow! Its impressive how little your response had to do with anything I wrote.  But I do enjoy how you somehow managed to extrapolate my questioning of basic economic math into a blanket hatred towards all things liberal.. and somehow Iran.  Nice job turd brain.

Btw whats with all the posts about hetero-troll, I don’t see his comments on here did he block me??

Report this
mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, March 4, 2012 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

vector56 - About the “early retirement” issue in Greece: I didn’t mean to suggest it was as huge an issue as Media and (anti-labor) economists claim it is. If there’s a bigger problem in both Greece & Italy it is/was tax evasion.

My cousins in Italy are telling me all sorts of interesting stories about how the authorities have begun to monitor day-to-day transactions of regular folk to determine if there’s tax cheating going on…..and herein lies the true problem: the corporations, banks, financiers, lenders and uberwealthy will get away scott free whilst regular folk will end up paying the bill for all the austerity reforms. It’s an age old story.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, March 4, 2012 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

@ heterochromatic

“Friends” by Ween

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixPQ9x6Gjpc

I love you buddy.

Report this
Blueokie's avatar

By Blueokie, March 4, 2012 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Jeff N - Thanks for your regurgitation of the Corporate Media story line and your demonstration of the effect of propaganda on middle class, “moderate”, white men.  Looking forward to your future posts on the dangers of single mothers, contraception, immigrants, and workers to the economy.  Let alone Iran’s failure to surrender its sovereignty to the Empire as being the apex threat to world peace.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, March 4, 2012 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

Bleh!!!

I just puked at my own comment.

Sorry Heterochromatic.

Report this
EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, March 4, 2012 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

@ ReadingJones

Actually, the chromatic scale is made up of half-steps.

Just a cute little factoid, like our cute little friend.

I wouldn’t be too hard on him.

Report this

By Jim Yell, March 4, 2012 at 8:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Internationalism is a lot like communism in that both make perfect sense in theory and are a disaster in practice. At the heart of it all is Corporate Profits trumping people power. Internationalism has allowed businesses to avoid regulation they dislike, has concentrated so much power in the few that they feel free to buy governments and to dismiss the electorate.

Most of the money borrowed in the name of the Public Debt has been pocketed by fraud and outright theft and then the treasury has had to pay to service the debt. We had laws to control fraud in this country and the Bush Administration amongst others ignored it and broke the regulations and that was cetainly a part of our current improvishment.

Greece is a case study in the death of democracy and the fault is not making the rich pay back the money they stole.

Report this

By balkas, March 4, 2012 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

and not only attack on democracy but also people and knowledge.
==
i am also for reducing some spendings, but not because ‘markets’ demand it, but
because we need to leave a few of the goodies for future generations and to stop the
global warming.
==
btw, the words under single quotes denote not only the fact that no one can understand
such words but also that whatever it represents, it does not exist in isolation or apart
from reality.
==
sorry to hear that even social democrats speak of “the markets” as having some kind of
will of its own [say, like a unicorn] and as existing apart from reality.
however, let us keep in mind that the 1% had been infiltrating labor unions and social
democratic parties for years now. thanks

Report this

By Jeff N., March 4, 2012 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

vector56, how is a population that is retiring at age 50 with 80% of their benefits a reasonable economic model for a welfare state that has operated above 120% debt to GDP (and growing) for over a decade?  System-wide tax evasion and an uncompetitive public sector to boot.

Report this

By ReadingJones, March 4, 2012 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

vector 56 re re your comment @ 3:05 pm on 3/3
You got it in one.

Heterochromatic

heteronomy rule by a force other than self that is
autocracy as opposed to democracy

Chromatic musical scale that proceeds by steps,
colorful

So dose your choice of avatar reveal that you wish to
be a force toward autocracy—-step by step or some
other darker thing. jus askin

Report this

By balkas, March 4, 2012 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

greek 1% pandering to people? but, of course, european and world 1% would ‘see’ it that
way.
they always had ‘seen’ that its the masses which cause all the problems and the world 1%
‘sees’ itself as the savior and guardian of peace, progress, justice, and unruly/uneducated
people.
so, if 1% rules 80% +, it rules the market also. markets do not exist per se or in a vacuum; it
is connected with all aspects of 1%‘s doings. 
and, of course, the masses had indeed been rendered ‘stupid’, unknowledgable by clero-
noble class.
and thus, once that is accomplished to a necessary degree, the clero-noble class can then
prove that the masses are indeed unruly, ‘crazy’, ‘stupid’, overly greedy, etc.
and as such must be reigned in.
what’s so novel about this analyses? this had been known for millennia but withheld from
the people! thanks

Report this

By balkas, March 4, 2012 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

as i see it, the problem is not “too much democracy”; the problem is
always not enough democracy or even timocracy.
or never enough of true information, enlightenment, transparency, being
of and for the people, etc.
and for people owners never enough power over their possessions,
threats of war, warfare, deceiving, lying, greed, etc.
in short, never enough hell for some people and peoples!! thanks

Report this

By balkas, March 4, 2012 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

i see the “special few” as the govt and not as levers between THEM [us]
and govt. or one could say that the 1%, which own 90% of america, rule
america and its govts.
and not the 1% own all the most parts of america: military, spy agencies,
fbi, and police.

Report this
vector56's avatar

By vector56, March 4, 2012 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

“Yes, they do have a problems with early retirement…something they will have to work on….”

mrfreeze: what problems with early retirement do you speak of?

Retiring at 50ish with 80% plus of your earnings is not a “golden parachute”. For some reason our Puritanical embeds want the little guy to work him/herself into a grave while the Calvinistic “beautiful people” retire in their 30’s?

Report this
Robespierre115's avatar

By Robespierre115, March 3, 2012 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment

Greece needs a revolutionary uprising that would set Europe aflame. The sad part is, if the people took over in Greece Obama and the EU would send in NATO.

Report this
mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, March 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment

Gerard - Thanks so much for your comment! You know, I have a lot of family in Italy who, in many ways are similar to the Greeks. I don’t know why it is that the Media, journalists or “experts” paint the citizens of countries like Greece or Italy as lazy or unproductive. When I’m in Italy visiting my cousins, they work as many hours as Americans. Yes, they do have a problems with early retirement…something they will have to work on….but I think the imposition of “austerity” measures will succeed in hurting the poor (big surprise) and protecting the bankers and speculators who couldn’t give a shit about the people.

Report this

By gerard, March 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

Again, the usual either/or dichotomy and nothing more:
“Greeks need to remember their power, their capacity to rule themselves and create their society according to principles of their own choosing. Otherwise, the heteronomy in their head will doom them to a nasty, brutish and long future of being managed by specialists and ruled by “markets.”
  I referred to this recently in another comment, and it irks me to fury because it is always—always—regarded as the end-point, the obvious dilemma, of any serious discussion.
  We will never get beyond it till we recognize its limitations as a “way to think,” a way to solve problems, a way to get free so that other alternatives can be conceived, discussed, tried, and verified by results,  modified or discarded.
  Only two alternatives?  Remember their “capacity to rule themselves” (whatever that means in specific, for instance?) or be ruled by “nasty, brutish specialists and “nonhuman influences”,  ie.
“markets.”
  The fact is that everywhere “markets” are omnipotent except in “socialistic” governments, and even there they are given empowerment in order to compete with states dominated by “capitalism.”  The idea of “democracy” getting no more than lip service in either case—and the moment the domination of the “elites” is threatened, it takes a back seat unless it gets out in the street, and in many cases bleeds and dies.
  What kind of shallow nonsense is this two-faced dilemma as a concept to rule the minds of ever more closely related human beings looking for a liveable future?  Just think for a moment:
  1.  What kind of “power” specifically? What steps are involved to make that power viable for self-rule?
  2. What “principles” specifically? How can those principals be conceived, tested, reshaped, promoted?
Specifically, what must people insist upon taking responsibiility for, and how can those principles be made self-evident to ruling elites (who obviously have no better ideas) How can any better principles be conceived or invented when social and economic experiment and invention are “forbidden” or “punished.”
  3. Is a “nasty, brutish and long” future of oligarchy the only alternative?  Of course not. Is violence necessary in order to bring it down?  Of course not. Just because that has happened before does not dictate that it must happen again and again. What is lacking is specifics of creative, nonviolent and consistent efforts to pull people together in large numbers, with different interests and skills, to propose new ways to deal with old problems, and to demand the freedom to bring democratic decision-making methods to the fore, experiment, be open to modification and accommodation to differences, be honest, be committed to a higher good, be inspired, be helpful, be cooperative.
  In various situations human beings have done all of these things in the past, at different times and places, under different circumstances.  Nothing prohibits them from devising peaceful ways to get together—rich, poor, educated, under-educated, closing gaps for the benefit of a sane and more possible future than “the market” or the “elites” will ever offer.
  Pardon the rant, but it’s exhausting to listen over and over to “authorities” being enslaved by the “either/or” over-simplification with nothing better to offer, pouring the same old yes-no into people’s heads with no suggestion of a possible, and much more interesting maybe.
  Call on the creativity of the Greek people—rich, poor, old, young - all of them, and see what might happen. Hold a socio-economic Olympics or something.

Report this

By Jeff N., March 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Too MUCH democracy, now theres a problem I wouldn’t mind having in the US.  I must admit I’m pretty ignorant as to the economies of the PIGS and whats going on over there, but I’m not sure what exactly Mr. Bratsis is recommending here.  From what I understand the people of Greece are about as productive as RMV workers from the US, big unsustainable pensions for mediocre work output.  The country doesn’t have a whole lot going for it in terms of industry or natural resources.  So, if they are having to compete with powerhouses like Germany, I think they are in some trouble no?  Obviously the people aren’t going to vote themselves a lower standard of living, so what is the alternative for Papademos?

Report this
vector56's avatar

By vector56, March 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment

Not only do I think my Hellenic brothers and sisters should leave the Euro zone I think America should back out of NAFTA and the WTO!

This “New World Order” was a trap perpetrated on the whole of humanity.

Report this
 
Monsters of Our Own Creation? Get tickets for this Truthdig discussion of America's role in the Middle East.
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Zuade Kaufman, Publisher   Robert Scheer, Editor-in-Chief
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.