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2008 Event of the Year: The Financial Crisis
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-01-11 10:11:13
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Every year since Ovi magazine became daily we have chosen either a persona or event of the year, but this year it took us a bit more to decide. Yes, we took in to consideration the comments and yes we read the mails and we did talk about it between us and with friends. We even checked the cover stories of the last year and guess what: Barack Obama had most of the covers compared to Alan Johnson, our persona for 2007.

But was Obama the persona of 2008? He definitely was the hope, the promise, the expectations, the controversy but it still remains to see. It remains to be seen if all this expectation will come true, if they will become acts and if the wind of change will not be proved just to be a gentle breeze. Don’t worry, I’m not pessimist or anything, Barack Obama made his revolution only with being elected in the place of the president of the United States but it is just not enough. You see, bad news is coming from just everywhere, the number of people losing their jobs, their houses, their lives is coming from everywhere and the people feel every day more and more defenceless.

And when the people feel lonely, ignored, without hope they act and because there is nothing left to them they act violently and we saw that happening the year before in France and the last months of 2008 in Athens. Again that was an idea for the events of the year but then again it was not enough because we have the feeling that this was just the beginning or better the first flame and what remains is to see if something will happen that will put out the flame or whether the flame will become a fire that will burn a lot of forests and lands.

Like wars have burned a lot of lands this last year, even the very last moment when people were hoping for a better year children died in Palestine and Israel.  Tens more kids and adults die everyday in Zimbabwe. And then we got the terrorism, it seems that every year terrorism chooses a new continent and this year Asia was the continent with India the chosen. Terrorism is the invisible enemy and I’m afraid it has many shapes and, apart from the known who hide in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have state terrorism like Mugabe’s and we have the ignorants’ terrorism like HIV AIDS and social prejudice, and yes unfortunately racism is still alive and over the last year was rising.

But again none of them could be persona or event of the year. But there is something which has access to all miseries and like an octopus has tentacles extending to every issue and most of all the worries and the end of dreams for most of the people and I’m talking about the financial crisis that has been building up over the last decade and like a volcano exploded this year. For the financial crisis we faced and not dealt yet there are people talking since the end of the '80s predicting that it soon will come the day where the use of a virtual wealth will pop like bubblegum. Over-consuming with borrowed money has become a lifestyle one way or another which we are all familiar. And despite all the warnings nobody seemed to have the will to do anything. The worst was that the blow came from the country that financially was leading the globe for decades, the United States.

And then the guardians started doing one mistake after the other and it took only a few families who couldn’t pay back their loans to pop the bubblegum bubble and make the price of milk all around the world unaffordable for the average family. Everybody this minute is waiting for Barack Obama to take over and lead the change in economics, find or at least suggest solutions, because one step before the fall of the financial system only solution that can work can be acceptable otherwise the riots in Paris and Athens will become a global phenomenon with starving masses rioting in supermarkets because they need food.

I have often written that globalization as the powerful seven or eight or nine dreamt about will never happen because there is another globalization that has succeeded for a long time now, the globalization of poverty and this is our enemy this moment, the greater enemy that gives the right to anybody who want to destabilized democracy to act and we saw enough of it over the last few years.

Ovi magazine has no Persona Of The Year for the year 2008 but we have an Event Of The Year and we think that this is just the tip of the iceberg with a huge trouble underneath that will change the world and the way we see and deal things for at least the next decade with great influence especially to the environment. And please don’t think that we forgot the environmental issues but again money is part of the destruction. The greed for more money demands more energy and that builds more nuclear power plants and destroys more rainforests.

We in Ovi magazine wish we would have a persona of the year somebody who has the solutions and acts and I wish nothing more than next year to write and editorial with all the good things and all the changes happening, but for the year 2008 the event of the year has been the financial crisis.

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Emanuel Paparella2009-01-11 16:10:03
Indeed, as in 1929 (when the stock market crashed), it was he event and not the persona that is remembered; Franklyn Roosevelt came later to take the chestnuts out of the fire. Similarly this year the event is more important than personalities. However, were we to put a human face on such an event to humanize it, I, for one, would choose Mr. Madow, Mr. greed in person who “mad[e] ou[t]” (he has the right last name) with some 50 billion dollars. Greed for money, which you also use at the end of your penultimate paragraph Thanos, seems to be the operative slogan here.

I still remember a university lecture by an eminent economist praising “the free market” a few year ago. He had put on the board a complicated formula, allegedly scientific and mathematical, which insured that an event such as the depression of 1929 would never happen again. When the Q.&A. period came I raised my hand and asked what seemed to me a rather reasonable question: “Where in this formula is human greed factored in?” The professor looked at me with astonishment as if I were a cretin who had understood nothing of his lecture, as if I had just lost an opportunity to be silent and then proceeded to dismiss my question as silly. He had no intention of engaging in a dialogue on the issue. I wonder now if he still thinks of that question as silly.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-11 16:48:00
P.S. I can just imagine Aristotle present at the above mentioned lecture, raising his hand and asking: but sir, where is the distinction here between human needs and human wants? For indeed, that is the distinction between a vice and a virtue which we “enlightened” moderns, Stuart Mill and all, have all but forgotten. A reading of the Nicomachean Ethics would indicate the boundary between greed (a vice) and frugality (a virtue), or cowardice and foolhardiness. The virtue of courage lies in between those two extremes. Unfortunately today we have turned vices into virtues and as the movie Wall Street proclaims “greed is good.” The results of not knowing the boundary any longer are all but apparent.

AP2009-01-11 16:50:51
Is the end of the world today and no one told me?

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-11 18:31:30
Not to worry! The financial crisis is only one of the many events going on in the world, and not even the most important one, just as it was not physical slavery but spiritual slavery that was the most alarming phenomenon in the ancient world of two thousand years ago, and indeed of today.

AP2009-01-11 18:40:28
Still "unfortunately today [and only today, we presume] we have turned vices into virtues"

AP2009-01-11 18:43:23
The needs are virtues and the wants are vices - all the wants? And if we think, for example, about drug addiction there is a physical need for the drug but it is a vice. And the need for food, is it a virtue or a vice? Not sure - I think it's just a need.

AP2009-01-11 18:44:46
You're walking on pretty slippery grounds.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-11 20:56:54
From the Nicomachean Ethics:

Each of the virtues is a state of being that naturally seeks its mean {Gk. mesoV [mesos]} relative to us. According to Aristotle, the virtuous habit of action is always an intermediate state between the opposed vices of excess and deficiency: too much and too little are always wrong; the right kind of action always lies in the mean. (Nic. Ethics II 6) Thus, for example:

with respect to acting in the face of danger,
courage {Gk. andreia [andreia]} is a mean between
the excess of rashness and the deficiency of cowardice;

with respect to the enjoyment of pleasures,
temperance {Gk. swfrosunh [sophrosúnê]} is a mean between
the excess of intemperance and the deficiency of insensibility;

with respect to spending money,
generosity is a mean between
the excess of wastefulness and the deficiency of stinginess;

with respect to relations with strangers,
being friendly is a mean between
the excess of being ingratiating and the deficiency of being surly; and

with respect to self-esteem,
magnanimity {Gk. megaloyucia [megalopsychia]} is a mean between
the excess of vanity and the deficiency of pusillanimity.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-11 21:08:16
In regard to harmful albeit pleasurable drugs: there is no physical need for drugs; they are not needed for survival, at least at the beginning they are a mere want which eventually becomes an addiction or a need which by its nature diminished both the free will and the responsibility of the user. Aristotle would have no problem distinguishing a virtue (a good habit) from a vice (a bad addictive habit). Since we live in relativistic times, it is now all up to the individual to decide what is good or bad; hence the rampant confusion and inability to distinguish a vice from a virtue. Of course, this has nothting to do with the financial crisis as the even of the year, but what the heck, it is a dialogue, of sort. I think it was Cicero that said that people begin talking and debating what virtues are only when they have already lost them.

AP2009-01-11 21:15:03
I don't think Cicero was right on that one.

Eva2009-01-12 00:03:00
I disagree with this choice of 'event of the year'.
Very much so.
In fact, profoundly.
Yes the financial crisis is a fact and all the bad things that happen in this world are facts, but why on earth do you want to claim this as the 'Event of the Year'!!!!????
Do we not already read about this every day in every paper around the world?
How bad things are? Wars, distasters? How much cr*p is going on in the world? Do we not already use this as spread on our toast every morning?
Why call this an 'event'?
It's not a bloody 'event'!
It's the world economy taking a dip, a turn for the worse - it has happened before and it will happen again, and yes people will suffer - as they have since people even walked on this earth.
The source of suffering changes, not the actual suffering.
And please - don't try to respond to me saying this is worse than it was before!
It is not.
A lot of sh*t has happened in this world!
You can see the glass half full or half empty, and I think with this statement, OVI Magazine declared the glass EMPTY, full stop.
In my mind, if you want to declare something as an 'event of the year', or 'person of the year', why not.... yes WHY NOT try to be positive, and chose an event that might bring some hope for the future?
Is there not enough negativity out there already?
Should we all just shoot ourselves now (if, indeed, we can even afford the bullet to do so!?)?
I am disappointed.
And depressed for that matter.
Thanos and Asa - !!!!!????

Eva2009-01-12 00:21:37
... and let me just add, that normally I'm seen as 'Scrooge' and seen as a very sarcastic and cynical person, the first one to point out the weak points of anything....
... but this just p*ssed me off!
I'm a journalist (not working as one right now, but I will be again shortly) and I have many journalist friends (in various countries, working internationally) who tell me over and over and over again how the only thing they are allowed to report are the MAINSTREAM NEWS - the most shocking, and most often bad news, these are apparently news that 'sell'.
And I'm NOT saying these things shouldn't be broadcast, of course not, but
effing hell... to declare the financial crisis 'the event of the year'?????????
Thanos and Asa, you have to explain this to me!
And then maybe hand me the gun..?

A.M.2009-01-12 05:23:25
To Eva: You do not have to be/ or to sound so hysterical/pessimistic. Personally, I believe things will get much worse than that but so what? Get used to it. What have you expected?

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