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Numbers unite EU destroying Greeks Numbers unite EU destroying Greeks
by Thanos Kalamidas
2014-04-12 15:44:20
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A week ago, the euro-zone finance ministers signed in Athens the next 8.3 billion euro instalment of Greece’s bailout, congratulating each other for the successes of the austerity measures. These are the same measures that have brought nearly 30 percent of the Greek workforce into unemployment, over 70 percent of the youth looking without hope for any kind of job, over one million unpaid workers, thousands of homeless and 10 million people into existential desperation.

gre01_400Addressing his European colleagues, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras started his speech by saying that he was glad to be among people who could understand numbers. He ended the speech saying that for the last three years he has been the least popular person in Greece. He was right only in one thing: the euro-zone’s prosperity depends on numbers and not on the European people.

A few days ago and four years after Greece exited the market falling in the dependence of the IMF and the troika to survive bankruptcy, returned to the finance markets with a new series of bonds and actually managed to get over 2 billions Euros with 5% interest, a surprise from a country that a year before was ready for a euro-exit.

But first let’s see what the Greek finance minister said and his European colleagues agreed. From the beginning of the Greek crisis everybody pointed out that apart from decades of mistakes that piled onto the country’s international debt, the Greek entrance into the euro-zone was a result of political decisions and the necessary manipulation of numbers. Using accounting tricks, a country on the edge of a financial catastrophe looked for a few years as the country with the highest growth in Europe.

What the euro-zone financial ministers have always failed to mention is that the only difference between the Greeks manipulating the numbers and the rest of their partners in the euro-zone was that due to the huge general problems of the Greek economy, they were caught. Otherwise, with the exception of Germany, there is no euro-zone member that fulfils the fundamental economic criteria.

The third and fourth largest economies in the euro-zone and two of the biggest economies globally, France and Italy, have problems that make the Greek crisis pale in comparison. What really holds them inside the euro-zone – and we are not in front of a French or an Italian crisis – is the fact that a Greek-style crisis in one of these countries would mean a global economic catastrophe and a domino effect that would destroy a lot of economies that lay in its path.

What Mr Stournaras doesn’t say is that while the manipulated accounting numbers look good, the real numbers are devastating: manipulated budgets that show wishful incomes and minimized to zero expenses for pensions, healthcare and education. These results might make the ministers look good in the eyes of the bankers and ratings agencies, but they kill the future of the state and democracy.

And why democracy? Because to enforce measures  that violate the obligations of a state to its citizens, defy their rights to employment, healthcare and education, governments like the one Mr Stournaras serves, apply authoritarian approaches under a controlled representative parliamentarian veil, the result of an undemocratic electoral law.

Mr Stournaras was right to be glad to be in a room with people who could understand numbers, because all of them had been accomplices in a crime not only against the Greeks but also against the European people. In five years and in the name of the euro-crisis, using Greece as an experiment they demolished one after another every single fundamental right the European citizens had.

In the name of the recession, the European people lost their right to a welfare state that guaranteed them equal access to free-for-all healthcare and education systems. The wellbeing of the European citizens moved from the states to the bankers, and the growth of a country started depending on stock markets and ratings agencies. European solidarity was minimized to the countries with the triple “A” ratings and equality vanished somewhere north and south.

The 8.3 billion euros will not go to unemployed Greeks, Greek pensioners, homeless Greeks, hospitalized Greeks or Greek schools; they will go to pay interests and guarantees in the name of the European banks’ survival. Greece supposedly recovers, but the only thing that finds growth in Greece is the number of people who live under the limits of poverty and nothing else.

The measures on which the euro-zone finance ministers pride themselves increased the Greek debt in three years from 110 billion euro to 135 billion euro, and that to pay guarantees and usurious interests that allies demanded in the name of solidarity to save the banks. The same thing happened in Cyprus, Ireland, Spain and Portugal.

And now let’s have a look at the second event, the new Greek bonds, the return to the finance markets or the Greek exit from the crisis. The big question here is how it comes four years ago when the Greek debt had reached 115 billion euros al the Greek bonds had become poisonous and Greece was a destroyed country in the edge of bankruptcy endangering the whole Europe and in extent the whole world and today with the debt over 135 billion euros (with all the borrowing from IMF and EU) Greece is ready to return liberated in the finance markets?

The answer is simple. With the success of the austerity measures Greece return to acceptable levels. For who? For the ones who profited from those measures. A country where the health system has moved from the state and people’s right to private enterprises and outsourcing companies, where education for all has become private colleges with expensive fees, where pensions are barely to survive, where work is not a civil right but a privilege for a few, where an average monthly income of 1,200 euros has fall to 350 euros and that if you are lucky, where 40 hours week has become myth of the past.

Who profited? Definitely not the Greek people. It gets worst, because this was an experiment that created a precedent we will soon see applying in the rest of Europe. thanks to the Greek-crisis Europe returned to the dark ages.

But Greece has returned to the finance markets, you might say. No, it hasn’t. Greece has actually increased her dependency form private funds for political reasons that serve the EU leadership and their real allies (perhaps bosses). According to the agreements with the IMF until 2017 Greece was not entering the markets, borrowing the necessary money from the IMF with interest 3%. Make your own calculations. Greece could borrow with 3% but instead borrowed with 5%. Greece has put more debt on the head of the Greeks to serve political agendas who used Greece and they don’t care about the Greeks.

The answer is in the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immediate visit to Athens the day after the Greek return to the markets. The numbers as Mr. Stournaras pointed show healing of the economic wound but they needed to show that the numbers also move, money circulates and fear of bankruptcy has gone. Even if that means more unemployed, more homeless, more poor. But who cares as long the German industries and banks work.

Who cares if the German worker soon will follow the destiny of the Greek worker and the German pensioner will see his pension shrinking like his Greek equivalent. The numbers and the accounting don’t talk about souls. They talk about percent of exports, increase of profits and more income from taxes. They call it growth.

Mr Stournaras was wrong in the end of his speech. He has not been the least popular person for the past three years in Greece. He, Mr. Samaras, the prime minister he serves and their European allies who understand the numbers are the most hated people in Greece. And their legacy in the Greek history will be next to Ephialtes; the one who betrayed the Spartans in Thermopylae.


        
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Emanuel Paparella2014-04-12 19:55:47
Indeed Thanos, the above is quite an eye-opener proving that when power is the only criterion, people become means to an end in a political machinery which in Kant's view is a blatant violation of the categorical moral imperative; and that explains why the preaching to Russia about power and exploitation of people sounds a bit hollow. If one cannot explain to others what exactly keeps them together one has no right to preach to them about solidarity and peace and stability.


Nikos Laios2014-04-13 00:20:26
I think, in the process of building a united Europe to ausage and fulfill the Germano-Franco need of reseructing a 'Charlemainesque' Europe with Germany and France as it's power axis, humanity has been lost,and the people of Europe fooled. what has come to Greece will come to the rest of Europe.

The other unspoken demographic time bomb that has not been mentioned is the increasing ageing of the population, and the shrinking young, tax paying population at the base; who will pay for the social welfare system if there is less taxes being collected at the base due to the fact there are less you people being born ?

The question is difficult, and the answers even more so; but surely not the current dictatorial response which is being projected onto the people's of Europe by the current dictatorship...hu hum....I meant democratically elected leadership, and causing misery,angst,social dislocation, and a nihilistic lost generation.

Where will these people go? Emigrate to US, or Australia? The fact is things are only slightly better there, and their time is coming as well,when the societal problems will affected them by their own demographic time bombs.

There are two solutions: stay in Europe within the current solutions - which are failing - or leave the EU as individual nation states with their own currencies and interest rate mechanisms,and take their chances at negatiating with the world banks directly; and where I think they'll have a better response and outcome than EU states are getting from the Merkel troika, and if a state cannot cope, than better to bankrupt, and start anew.Not a good outcome for the bankers and bond holders,but better for the everyman at the bottom who is suffering.

If this does happen,who else will suffer as well besides the bankers and bond holders? Germany will off course: that's why they're not allowing this to happen, and are using Greece as a guinepig for its new social experiments that they'll be using on other EU states; he who has ears let him hear, you have been warned.

Suddenly the rebellion that Tsipras is offering doesn't seem so crazy after all;a 'new deal' needs be implemented, a forgiveness of all failed states in Greece's position.


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